Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 27, 2015 - In which I am a proud parent

Dear family,

Last week was pretty exciting! I felt overall quite a bit more healthy after last Tuesday, though after that day my stomach drove me crazy and I was pretty nauseated most of the week. It was very distracting when trying to stand and talk to people :) Our district is doing pretty well. Elder Petersen and Elder Nelson's miracle investigator, A, is doing well and continues to race towards her baptism on the eighth of May. I'll probably have my first baptismal interview ever with her on Friday or so.

L is doing pretty well. I haven't been out to see her myself during the last week. Considering how I wasn't feeling well most of the week and how she's undergoing chemotherapy, we didn't think it too wise to go out. Elder Smith and Elder Weyland went out to see her on an exchange, though, and she was doing better on the health end. She's struggling to read, etc. but she is keeping the other commandments, from what she says. She's still excited for her baptism on the sixth of June, and is counting down to it. Her mother, who seems to have at least a little bit of dementia, lives with L now. She also REALLY wants to get baptized, but we need to make sure how much she's understanding everything :)

H continues to do well. He blessed the Sacrament for the first time on Sunday. We had practiced it together during the week. He's twenty-five years older than me, but on Sunday I felt like a proud parent :')

(Speaking of being a proud parent, Elder Smith introduced himself in Czech during Sacrament Meeting yesterday. His went a little more gracefully than mine, in case you all remember how that went two months ago, but you know that I was shooting him thumbs up and don't-forget-to-smile-gestures from the back row. I'm probably unbearable as a trainer.)

L is also doing well. I haven't mentioned anything about her in a while, but we went to see her yesterday after church. She didn't make it to church, but we had a nice meeting together.

I'm feeling a little derailed from being sick. Just a little bit disoriented from our goals, we haven't had very good contact with the people that we would like to have contact with, etc. It's going to take a lot of work to get back entirely on track, I feel like, but we'll definitely try. I'm feeling a little doubtful that that will be enough, but I'm also trying to ignore those thoughts! Elder Smith and I both want to teach! :)

Thanks for all your prayers on behalf of me, the other missionaries, and my investigators! We definitely appreciate and need the strength from that. I hope that you had a great week, and that this will be, too!

Elder Boyce

On exchange in Brno
Today we went bowling for P-day.  Poor Elder Smith only got 35 points the first game. :'(

I'm starting to get fancy about my breakfasts (I need to send you Czech fruit tea, also, because it is soooo gooood. That cup is plum with cinnamon. Yummm)
Taking a break at a less-active member's garden. She showed us how to make dandelion crowns (because she about 100,000 of them)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 2015 - In which we make some plans

Dear family,

I can't believe it's only been a week (I suppose now eight days) since the new transfer has started. It feels like a lot has happened in a very short time and it's been unbelievable. My new district is great. Elder Nelson and Elder Petersen are doing really great work and have been very blessed already in their new transfer. They found a new investigator, A, that is progressing along at lightning speed. Elder Petersen is doing especially well in the transfer with a new companion. Elder Smith is also doing well.

We're all excited for a fresh start here in Olomouc. Last week duing his weekly letter to us President McConkie invited us to set some goals and a vision for this transfer. We did that in our companionships and also to a degree at district meeting. It was helpful for us to do that. I feel like we'll have the Lord's help this transfer, it will just be important for us to continually renew our commitment to serving Him.

We've put a focus this transfer on finding a couple of people from our vision and working with a couple of less-active members. We really feel the need to help L come back to activity this transfer and work with J so that he can progress. L was in a hospital for several months until the end of last transfer, when he was released and he came to church several weeks in a row. He's struggling to stay on the boat, though, so we want to try and help him come back. Last week we set the goal to with him to work on preparing for the Melchizedek Priesthood and to attend the temple, so we're hoping for progress there. J is a less-active member also on the vision that we had never had contact with until during priesthood session last weekend, when he suddenly walked into our building (I don't think that I had time to tell you about that last week). We also feel impressed to focus on finding from our vision families of four and YSA males that could strengthen the branch. We realize that after this transfer the year will already be half over!!

H is doing well. On Sunday he was ordained a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and next Sunday he'll bless the Sacrament. We are excited for him! We have homework from our branch president to practice it with him.

L is not doing well on the health end of things. She's had cancer for many years and recently it's come back out of remission. Last week she started chemotherapy again. She has good days and bad days, but she's not doing to well. We're not certain how long her treatments will last, but it's very difficult for her. The branch is already reaching out very well, particularly the Relief Society president. We hope that she'll be well soon and that her health will remain good enough for her to be baptized.

I had a nice spiritual experience last week when I remembered something that happened almost ten years ago. I hadn't thought of this experience for a long time. In 2007 around the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we went to Palmyra to see the Palmyra Pageant and some of the history there. We stayed for a couple of days, and one day we went into the Sacred Grove. I remember that we walked in and found a bench where we could sit together. We sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" and we had some time to think and pray. I remember feeling the Spirit very strongly and when the memory of this came back to me when teaching about the Restoration this week, I knew that in the forest where I stood in 2007 Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Yesterday I taught Elder's quorum and we talked about the great blessings that came from the knowledge about the First Vision. I'm grateful for such knowledge and that I get to share it!

We're facing some new challenges, but we're glad to be here in Olomouc. I've been sick for a couple of days (101.8 degree fevers aren't recommended, just in case you didn't know), but thank you for your love and support.

Elder Boyce

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015 - In which I stay in Olomouc to follow-up train

Dear family,

We had quite the whirlwind week! I unfortunately have very little time to tell about almost anything it feels like, but we had a pretty good week. Transfers were today. I'm still the district leader in Olomouc, and I'm follow-up training Elder Smith. That means that Elder Smith has only been here for eight weeks so far and we have some stuff in the First Twelve Weeks program. Elder Petersen is still here, and will serve with Elder Nelson who was my companion in the MTC. With process of time I'm getting reunited with all my old companions! :)

H is continuing to do well. We're continuing to teach him the lessons again, but last week we also took a little time and showed him how to add his family history information to and we showed him how to prepare names to take to the temple. He has very little living family, but is looking for his ancestors. He's really excited to take his father's name to the temple when he receives his recommend.

L, to whom we gave a baptismal date last week, is still doing pretty well. We met with her twice last week and she came to General Conference on Sunday. She seemed kind of burdened and weighed down last week. Last Monday when we gave her her baptismal date, she was really excited to be baptized. She still is quite excited to be baptized, but on Friday she told us about some problems and things that she saw as severe sins that she had in the past. Most of it seemed like just worry She quite fervently believes that she can be healed through the gospel, but she still hasn't found the relief that she's looking for.

We really enjoyed Conference last weekend. I thought the talks on families were wonderful as well as the talks about repentace, the Savior, and His grace. We felt the Spirit and there were some people there at Conference that had never been to church before.

We had a great week overall. I sent a lot of pictures, and we had a culture night at the puppet theater, service at L's house, and a nice trip to visit a member family whom we home teach. We had some technical difficulties at the library, so I now I have no time at all to tell you about it :) Sorry!

Lots of love until next week,

Elder Boyce

One of our English students is a part of a puppet theater group. She really wanted us to go and see it last Thursday for our transfer culture night. We actually ended up just seeing a rehearsal, but even though it wasn't quite what we expected we got to play with the puppets before and it.

Old props!  

Old puppets!
We named this one Jasmine.

Our English student was one of the gossiping townspeople. A bunch of other people kneeled down behind her and they would gossip with each other.

The hills in the background are in Slovakia!

​For snacks between sessions at General Conference we made a triple batch of pancakes... We needed four pans going at once!

The missionaries with President Zatloukal


Service project last Friday at our investigator L's house; working on making an extremely large hole to put in a fountain. We were ripping out all the bricks.

Elder Boyce, Elder Petersen and Elder Prohaska

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015 - In which we're April Fooled

Dear family,

Last week has been pretty exciting! It's been pretty difficult some days, but I'm learning a lot. The weather played April Fool's on us last week and a couple of days it dumped snow in the morning and then was mostly melted off by the afternoon. It's still been very cold and windy, though. I had to get out my long underwear again! Last Wednesday we went to the M family to do service in their garden. It was cold, but a lot of fun!

H continues to make good progress. He actually seems to be very on top of his own progress. He's still "anxiously engaged," I would say. The other day he asked us who his home teachers are, he's doing visits to archives to try and find his ancestors for family history work, and he reads just about everything Church-produced that he can get his hands on. He still needs to have an interview for the Aaronic Priesthood and needs a calling, but we're working with the branch for that.

Last week I told you about one of our less-active member's girlfriend, L. L is making progress really fast. She has come to church four times now and loves it. She feels extremely welcomed into the branch and loves attending and meeting with us. She has a lot of health issues and has had some tragedies in her past, but she sees how the gospel can help her overcome them and understands how it can heal her. The members also notice how she notices it and they LOVE her (it helps when she bears her testimony at fast and testimony meeting about how she believes that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the face of the whole earth!). They want her to be baptized really bad! She also wants to be baptized and this morning she accepted a date for June 6.

L also continues to do well. We went and visited on Sunday. She fasted for a baptismal date. She's still not too certain, but wants to be baptized and is just trying to decide when. She's excited for General Conference this weekend.

We've had a really nice Easter. We've been thinking about what happened 2000 years ago all week. Thursday one of the other Elder's investigators invited us over to her home with her family (who are all very Catholic) and they reenacted a traditional Passover meal with us in remembrance of the Last Supper. That was a memorable experience. Yesterday was fast and testimony and there were a couple of wonderful testimonies.

In the Czech Republic the biggest day, however, for Easter is Easter Monday. Today boys braid twigs into whips and walk around to women's and girls' homes to whip them (lightly) on the the rear end and to recite a funny poem. In exchange for their gracious whipping the men receive colored eggs. I don't get it exactly, either, but it's a funny tradition that they really enjoy. Missionaries aren't supposed to whip the ladies, but we went with a couple of members to other members' homes to watch, at least recite the poem, and share an Easter message. It was a lot of fun! Next week I'll need to send photos of the whips and the pretty eggs we received.

We're doing well here. I'm always working to be better and see miracles. Though I don't feel like we necessarily deserved them, lots of important blessings seemed to suddenly come out of the woodwork last week. It's already the last week of the transfer, but like Jesus during His last week we're going to keep going strong :)

Thanks for the love and emails. Have a great week!

Elder Boyce

PS Attached is the photo of our April Fooling :(