Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30 , 2015 - In which Slovakia becomes an independent district

Dear family,

Last week went well! We had a few really crazy days! Last Wednesday in particular was really exciting. During the morning Elder Prohaska, Sister Keppner, and I went to help S, a long-time investigator do a little cleaning in her house. I haven't said much about S, but she's very nice and has probably known the church for five or so years. She struggles to smoke a little bit, but we had a good lesson with her about fasting and prayer. S has a young daughter, who has a lot of energy. It's exciting to try and teach or serve when she's at full energy, because she's a little like a tornado. After we met S said that hasn't smoked, though she didn't make it to church.

After going to S's we went and visited a nice member in a town 30 minutes away by train. She invited the two other young missionaries also, and on the way back into town after our visit, the tram doors closed in front of Elder Prohaska with me and the other two elders on the tram. We had to spend an hour looking for Elder Prohaska! It was pretty memorable.

After that we went and served in a former's garden, taught G and H, and then we went and visited a less-active member, L. L has recently returned from a stay in the hospital and is now living with his girlfriend. Since he's come back two or three weeks ago, however, he's come to church every week with her. Wednesday we were able to meet with them both and L's girlfriend, L, told us that she wanted to get baptized and was already living according to the Word of Wisdom. We were pretty surprised when she told us that! :) We taught her again on Friday and had a good meeting.

Thursday we had a zone conference in Brno. We talked about teaching in whatever situation we find ourselves in. It was a wonderful conference and perfect for me and my district.

Sister McConkie also got up and had a segment at the beginning of training. A lot of times she gives a health announcement or something like that at the beginning of training, but this time she gave a pretty emotional training about the dangers of pornography and how we need to make plans for how we can avoid it and stay strong when we get home from our missions. That was also really good. We were all glad to talk about that.

H is doing well still. He's fitting more and more into the branch, and he's continually more interested in the priesthood and temple work as we teach him. He's still continuing to grow very steadily. Overall he's doing well.

L is also doing well overall. We don't teach her too much because she lives in Prague during the week, but yesterday after church she invited us to her home in Prostějov. We met her parents and they STUFFED us with delicious Vietnamese food. She is thinking a lot about baptism. She hasn't quite settled on a date yet, but she's moving in that direction.

A stake is coming in the Czech Republic! Yesterday the first independent district was organized in Slovakia, and so now they are completely self-sufficient as a country and not part of the Brno district. In June a combined Prague District/Brno District conference has been announced... so we think that the first stake is about to organized in our mission! We are so excited! The Lord is hastening His work here in our mission.

I'm about out of time, but I'm doing well. Thanks for the letters and pictures. Lots of love,
Elder Boyce

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015 - in which H gets baptized

Dear family,

Last week went well! H's baptism was on Saturday, which was a really nice service. There was probably 80-90% of the members there. We had a couple of wonderful talks and I think it was strengthening for everyone to be there. It was different from the last couple of baptisms that I've been to because only the members and the missionaries currently serving in that branch were there, and it was very good. A member baptized H and yesterday the branch president confirmed him and gave him a really nice blessing. We're excited for H to start growing in the branch and it seems like he's going to do very well. Lots of people came up to him and congratulated him on his baptism. It's already been decided that H will be a home teacher with us for now, but we'll try and work with the branch so that he'll be assigned to home teach with one of the Czech members. We think that the second counselor in the branch presidency would even be a good fit.

Right now we are teaching an investigator named L. She's from a nearby town and has been meeting with missionaries for a long while. She studies in Prague right now and mostly meets with the missionaries there but she's started coming to church every week now and seems to be growing a lot spiritually and growing in her faith in Jesus Christ. It's really great to see her grow, even though we don't meet with her much.

Other than that last week was pretty crazy. We were running all over town and it was pretty hectic. Elder Prohaska was feeling pretty ill a couple of days, which was a bummer. We feel like we're kind of struggling to help people progress along in the gospel. We need to do a lot of finding!

We don't have too much time again already, but thanks for the support! Pray for miracles during the next week :)

Elder Boyce

There was a solar eclipse during weekly planning.... pretty dramatic, as you can see :) The sun was supposedly 75% covered in this photo, but I can't tell! It was pretty dark outside, though.
This is another good photo that I didn't send last week.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015 - In which we eat cake, get beat up, and accidentally end up in a different area.

Dear family,

We had an INSANE week! Last Friday was Elder Prohaska's birthday, and he somehow planned it so that he managed to have cake just about every day of the week. His family also has sent mountains of Swiss candy (they have it easy from inside Europe) and so we were drowning in (really delicious) cakes and candy last week. Elder Foster's greenie still hasn't come yet, but a couple of them finally arrived into the mission, so there's been another shuffle. Elder Petersen (who's in his second transfer) came from Ostrava and will be serving with Elder Foster here in Olomouc as long as it takes for the new missionary to come (they won't be switching back and forth between Olomouc and Ostrava, though).

H is doing well! He had his baptismal interview on Saturday and did well. He's going to need a lot of support after his baptism, but he has really honest desires and with time he'll be a solid member. The branch president also seems really excited for him. They talked for a while before church yesterday, and Honza also seems to respect him a lot. We're getting the baptism ready for this Saturday, and it sounds like a good number of members will be able to come (it helps that there will be a family history event at the building right before the baptism!) He seems to be fitting in more step by step so we're excited for a good transition into the branch.

We had exchanges last week, and while Elder Prohaska was in Brno with Elder Sylvester, someone attacked them! They tried to stop a man, who seemed very normal, but then they asked if he believed that families could be forever. He started to freak out and gave Elder Sylvester a black eye and kicked Elder Prohaska. He chased them around and screamed at them for about 10-15 minutes. The bystanders did nothing. Elder Sylvester kept repeating, "Sorry, sir, have a nice day," which infuriated the man even more! They finally got away, though, but Elder Sylvester was bleeding everywhere and they went to the hospital (Elder Prohaska was fine). He didn't need stitches, but has a wicked three-inch-cut (and is a great example of not reviling against those who revile against us).

Yesterday we tried to visit a member family near the Slovakian border. We had a few incidents on the way, and missed our stop (the train only stopped for about 30 seconds, and left while we were still trying to make it to the door). We had quite the adventure, and accidentally ended up in a completely different city. Three train tickets later we finally ended up at the member's home (who is a solid single mom that has the strongest youth in our branch) and had a nice visit (they also gave us cake for Elder Prohaska's birthday!!!)

Last week I feel like my testimony of the Savior has really grown. We've been showing some investigators and members that speak English well a youth video about the sacrament that's really powerful and talks about the Sacrament and the Atonement. This past week I've been struck with what it means that Christ has suffered the pains of all men and how He's taken upon himself our pains, sicknesses, afflictions. As I try to write about what I've learned it sounds a lot like the things I've known and believed all of my life, but I've really felt the Savior lifting me during the past week. I believe more know that He suffered everything that we will ever suffer, and I'm grateful that He helps US to change so that WE can change our circumstances. It's been great to see that, I'm excited to help others have similar experiences with the Savior.

I'm afraid I've gone pretty overtime, but I love you all! Have a great week!


Elder Boyce

Last P-day we went on a walk through the forest... we found this bird-stalker over a field of rotten corn!

We also found this "beaver castle" near a hunter's cabin in the middle of the forest.

You had to crawl through this tunnel...
To get to into this beaver's home. There were some family photos on the walls.
We went with Elder Foster, Elder Gashler, and one of their investigators, D. She stole my nametag and wore it the whole time :( :(


Yesterday we tried to go visit a member after church. It was going to be a very complicated trip with all the transfers that we had to make, but on the first train it only stopped where we needed to get off for about thirty seconds. We were still making it to the door. So we accidentally went to Ostrava yesterday! (There's a strong branch there and that's also where Elder Prohaska started his mission.)
Today we went to the very top of this cathedral!
There was a very large bell.

This was about halfway up. There were several sets of stairs, and this was the tallest and most dangerous-looking that we had seen so far. We thought it was the last one, until...
...we had to go up this one! Here it was DARK.

It was a beautiful day. There might be a storm blowing in, so it was extremely windy but we had a great view of the city and the clouds.
Olomouc + gargoyle.
More views of Olomouc and gargoyles.

The other two elders came a little late :)

We were as high as it's possible to go.
The other two towers.
If you look carefully, you can see the ring of a balcony where we were.

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 - In which we fly everywhere in a whirlwind of chaos

Dear family,

Last week was crazy! Teaching for two areas is a lot of work! We were extremely busy last week with trying to cover our areas. They were scattered everywhere all over Olomouc and the countryside and all day (including after morning workouts with investigators) and it was pretty chaotic. It was pretty difficult to fit in all of our studies and everything at normal times, and at times it felt like important things were getting left by the wayside.... Last week was fun, but very insane and it went a million different directions at the same time. Elder Foster is still waiting for his new companion to come from the US, so we were still all together this week. Apparently a two of the four of the new missionaries have their visas now but have to get out of their missions somehow (since they're in the middle of a transfer cycle now in their US missions their departure in those missions would have to be approved by the Mission Department, apparently) and another two are still just waiting for their visas. We still don't know when anyone is coming!!! :)) Elder Foster won't be serving with us this anymore, though. Until his new missionary comes he'll be serving with Elder Gashler, splitting half of his week in Olomouc and half of his week in Uherské Hradiště (which is about an hour and a half away). It was lot of fun to serve with him, but it might be for the best that we'll only be working one area so we can do a better job getting all of the things we need to do other than teaching done!

H is still doing well. During the last week we focused on finishing Lesson 5 (the after-baptism lesson from Preach My Gospel, but the Area Presidency wants us to teach that before baptism). Since we taught about family history and temple work he's already started working on his family history with the My Family booklet. We also started having him teach us parts of the lessons over again this week. Saturday he taught Elder Foster (with our help) the second half of the Restoration. Though it was a little bit jumbled up (he got tangled on some of the more minor details), he's understanding the most important things. He's still doing well and growing spiritually. He only has two weeks before his baptism now, so we're going to be working on last preparations for his interview this week and doing a lot of review.

The branch is still super cool. Saturday a member invited us out to a soccer tournament that his son was playing at because some of the other dads on the team wanted to find out more about us. That was a good experience. I still think that it's nice to serve in a little branch! :)

Things are going well! Even though we won't be with Elder Foster this week, we'll still be pretty busy. I had a twenty-minute talk during Sacrament Meeting yesterday. The weather is slowly starting to warm up; soon it will just be sweater weather again! That's just about everything, but thanks for the support.

Elder Boyce

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015 - In which there are a lot of opinions

 Dear family,

Last week was pretty exciting! Elder Foster is still waiting for his new companion (he should be coming this week, supposedly!) so we spent the whole week in a tripanionship. It's been exciting, and we've spent a lot of time on splits with members trying to cover everything in our two areas, which has led me to feel a little dazed and confused :) Adding just one companion also seems to add about ten times as many opinions about EVERYTHING, especially the things that aren't very important. It's been exciting.

The members and investigators here caught wind that it was my birthday on Thursday. They somehow learned how to make angel food cake from scratch and stripe it blue and gold for Ravenclaw (somebody noticed that about half of all my clothes have Ravenclaw colors) and made it for dessert at family home evening on Monday. They also gave me a Czech copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (they somehow found that that's my favorite Harry Potter book). It was a funny surprise. Some of them also came to lunch on Thursday with us.

Tuesday we had a great zone conference! The Missionary Department sent us Meet the Mormons, so that was a good chunk of our training. We also spent a long time talking about the Book of Mormon, and we had a lot of great insights about what sort of a positive influence it can have on someone.

We had a really interesting Sunday yesterday. We were travelling almost all day, from picking up an investigator in a town 30 minutes away and riding the train with them to church to visiting a graveyard with another investigator because it was the six-month anniversary of his mother's death to taking a trip to a town two-and-a-half hour train ride away to visit a member. I'm a little over time so I can't regale you with all the details, but it was really tiring (and really uplifting at the same time).

H is still doing really well. He's continuing to grow and is recognizing positive ways that he's been changing. At one meeting we made a list of ways that he's changed during his teaching process. He's very committed to living the commandments. As soon as he understands something, he is very eager to do it!

Thanks for all the love and support! I'm out of time, but lots of love!

Elder Boyce
Some of the YSA managed somehow to make me a Ravenclaw-striped angel food cake at FHE! (Elder Foster in the background)

A gift for me????

A gift!!!! A Czech copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Playing Harry Potter Catchphrase at YSA FHE.

​Birthday lunch with some YSA (how did Elder Foster get into all of these pictures?)

​A sweet cathedral that we saw tracting

​It's been suddenly really warm this last week (and by warm I mean about four degrees Celsius) here in Olomouc, but yesterday we went and visited someone in the frozen north!
A member from Plzeň (the other side of the country) was up in a spa town because her son just had surgery and in the Czech Republic they sometimes diagnose a month at a spa as recovery for surgery. President McConkie assigned us to bring them the Sacrament because we're the closest branch. The town (Jeseník) is a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Olomouc, so we spent 5-6 hours travelling yesterday. Jeseník had gorgeous views, though, and it was a nice visit. You could see the clouds swirling at a million miles an hour.

You can't see the other mountain (from our train window) because it's snowing so much​.