Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29, 2015 - In which we meet everyone in Zlín

Dear family,

Last week went really well! Elder Page and I have been teaching a lot. We're doing pretty well, though I don't have a lot of time to go into details, I'm afraid. Sending all of those photos took a lot of time.... :)

During the last week I was able to meet a lot of the members and some of our investigators. Thursday and Friday we had branch activities, which were really nice. I sent photos for the blog :) We're working right now with a great couple that Elder Page and Elder Yentes found, J and K, who would be great for our branch. They have two small children and last week ate up the message that we shared about the Restoration. They both are excited to learn and strengthen their little family. At one meeting before I got here J apparently shared a thought that it's importantly for one to everything once in a while step back and make sure that you don't need to make changes in your life, and that seems like the approach he's taking to learning about the gospel.

We're excited to also be working with J (another investigator). His wife and daughter have both been baptized during the last six months and we're working with him to make the same step. He and his family drove us to the branch activities that we had last week and we appreciated the time that we were able to spend with them. J, M, and A are great. J is already living exactly as a member would, he just hasn't made the decision to be baptized yet. From what I understand there is some family opposition that makes things difficult, and I think he's concerned about making his other family members upset, but other than that we think that the main thing holding J back from being baptized is simply the decision to do it :)

I'm enjoying working with Elder Page! He's very diligent and is great. The branch here is also wonderful, but I'm going to have to say more next week because I'm truly out of time.

Elder Boyce

Last Friday we also went an on approved trip out to Kroměříž to see some world-famous gardens with a part-member family that we're teaching and some other members. I took a ton of photos, but I'll try to send you the prettiest.​



We totally played tag in this maze!

Tree of life!



This is a famous shot (this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

It looks like we're really red because I left my camera on a weird setting for this photo. Elder Page and I!

Making svičková last Monday before I left Olomouc.

A candid photo of me making svičková.

The result (I was working on the sauce)

District conference in the hall.

​I tried to do a panorama of the crowd at conference and failed a little bit... we had a full house!
Our church building.

We have a Star Trek pulpit!
Last Monday on the way to emailing there was a HUGE cloudburst with sideways rain... our front halves got soaked!

​Elder Petersen and I leaving Olomouc, with the other missionaries, our luggage, and the branch president.

Elder Smith and I as I'm leaving :(

Last week a missionary that served here for a long time was leaving and his family picked him up. The branch threw a BBQ for them, and we went. It was a nice chance to be able to meet all the members.Here's some Czech BBQ for interest (plus some dessert!)
I've taken almost 100 photos during this week!!!!!​ Zlín is a very atypical Czech town. It was established in 1920 by Tomáš Baťa. He had his shoe factory here, and got people to come by building them these brick cubes. They are all over the city! Because it's so new there's very little traditional Czech architecture. In fact 90% of the city is the red brick and white that you see here.

Baťa cubes on the hill

Our favorite old factory town

When we were tracting an older gentleman asked if we wanted some cherries. We said, "Sure," then he came and cut off three whole branches from his tree!! We weren't quite expecting that.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22, 2015 - In which I'm transferred and cry a lot

Dear family,

A lot has happened during the last week! I'm not in Olomouc anymore. I'm now serving in Zlín (pronounced Zleen) with Elder Page. I'm follow-up training again. I was really sad to leave; I loved the branch and the missionaries that I was serving with, but I'll talk a little bit about that later. Last week we also went to Prague for District conference. There were two sessions, one Saturday night that we watched in Olomouc through the Internet and one Sunday morning that wasn't broadcasted so we all went to Prague. We didn't become a stake, but President Kearon was there, and it was wonderful. Once again, I'll talk a little bit more about that later. As you know missionaries write their mission president every week, and so I write President McConkie everyMonday along with you all :) Most of the thoughts I want to share I shared in my letter to him, so I'm including a large chunk of it today:

"I have a lot of thoughts from the last week that I feel like I should share but can't quite glue together. There have been a lot of little things that have had a curious ring to them that make me feel like they're important.

"Sunday night was a really difficult night for me. This has been the most emotional transfer weekend for me by far. I've really come to love the people in Olomouc and the positive influence that it's had on me. I've felt that in Olomouc I've come to understand and love the Czech people more than ever before. I've been blessed by my association with the members and especially in being able to help L, H, and L make the covenant of baptism. Sunday evening I made goodbye calls... and it was harder than saying goodbye to my family at curb of the MTC! [Sorry, family.] There were no tears there. I was pretty emotional most of the evening and at one point, while we were praying with L over the phone, I said to myself, 'I wish that leaving didn't hurt so much. I wish I could sever the attachments that I've made here without so much hurt!' I was worried that I wouldn't have any room in my heart left for Zlín and I wouldn't be able to serve them there. I realized, though, that that's not right, and that honestly I need to leave all the love that I have for Olomouc in my heart and I somehow knew that the Lord would make more room in my heart to love Zlín. Even know I think of how much I love Olomouc and know somehow that I'll be able to love Zlín at least as much as I love Olomouc. I think that this is an important lesson to learn, but it's been making me cry a lot.

"During the past few days I've been also learning really important things about the Savior. Saturday morning during personal study I read Mormon's account of the destruction of the Nephites. I was struck by his empassioned plea immediately after his account of this destruction for the Lamanites to believe that they're part of God's covenant people and for them to repent. He teaches them basic truths about Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God, He suffered and died for our sins, He rose from the dead the third day, and because of Him we will live again and can be saved through our repentance. It strengthened my testimony of the Savior and it made me feel the importance of every person I meet knowing also that they are a part of God's family and about the Savior.

"District conference also taught me a lot about the Savior. It's always impressive to see how timely the messages giving during General Conference are, but the same thing was true during district conference. I loved the talks about living water and light, how we ought to forgive, and the importance of gaining a testimony of how Christ is at the head of the work. I felt spiritually fed by being there with all of our wonderful, wonderful members. One of the people that I baptized, P from HK was sustained to be ordained as an elder in the Melchizedek priesthood. I was so excited! I think I hopped about a foot out of my chair when I heard his name read. I felt at the conference that Christ is leading us.

"Elder Petersen and I had an exchange at the end of last week. It was a pretty good exchange, but we made some dumb mistakes in planning that were a good example of what NOT to do. We didn't exercise and felt like we were crawling through most of the day. We made some good goals to improve.

"It's so difficult for me to express why I think these experiences have been sticking in my mind and why they feel so important, but I think I'm seeing the Lord teach me what I need to be taught. I'm excited to be able to love the people of Zlín, to serve with Elder Page, to teach people about the Savior, and to work hard in the Lord's vineyard. I'm excited to improve, but I feel that the Lord is happy for what I'm doing. I'm praying that I can feel a sense of urgency in my chest, like Elder Holland said."

There's a lot more that I could tell you! This has been a wonderful week, and instead of the normal letter I wanted to share more about how I've been feeling. Olomouc is doing pretty well. It's in good hands. Our mission is down on number missionaries for the next several months, so our area was combined with the other elders'. (Eight Czech missionaries left the mission, plus I think six Slovak missionaries, and no replacements came this transfer. That's a big hit in a mission where eighty is maximum force.) Elder Smith and Elder Nelson are serving together, and Elder Petersen left for Prauge. L is doing well, though she didn't make it to conference over the weekend. Neither did H. I'm confident, though, that Elder Smith and Elder Nelson will do well to keep Olomouc strong. I'm excited to be here in Zlín. Elder Page and I have already taught a great family that they've found and I'm excited to be serving in such a great area. I've got some pictures that I'll want to send you of the conference and of Zlín, but that will have to wait until next week. I'm out of time again. Just now that I'm doing well and am happy and am to be here.

Love you!!
Elder Boyce

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 15, 2015 - In which everything that can happen happens

Dear family,

This has been one of the craziest weeks ever! Last Friday the other elders' investigator, A, got baptized. It was a hectic week trying to get that thrown together, because she was sick throughout the week and wasn't able to meet to have a baptismal interview. We were hoping to have it last week, but she was sick even then. The updates on her health created a day-by-day drama because we didn't know at what point we would need to call off the baptism and it was extremely stressful.

We managed to meet, though, Thursday at the last minute to have the baptismal interview. On Friday we had a nice baptismal service at a nearby lake, and about fifteen members came. Elder Smith and I sang "How Great Thou Art" in Czech during the service, Elder Petersen baptized A, and Elder Nelson confirmed her yesterday.

The week was still more hectic, though. Thursday the other Elders had to go to Prague for a doctor's appointment unexpectedly, so Elder Smith and I taught three lessons and had A's baptismal interview in the span of two hours, but. Right after everything fininshed Thursday Elder Smith and I ran to the train station (when the other Elders were getting in to Olomouc) to catch a train to Prague. Elder Smith had visa work there on Friday, and we had an exchange with the assistants Elder Earl and Elder Cowley... until Elder Smith and I had to catch a 1:40 train back to Olomouc to catch the baptism at 5, which we caught again just by the skin of our teeth.

Elder Earl and I had a great lesson with L there in Prague during our exchange (she was there for an exam). We talked about doing hard things and obedience. I shared an experience from Wednesday. Wednesday at the end of district meeting A texted and told us that she was still sick and couldn't make her baptismal interview. There wasn't anything we could do, and there was of course no one at fault, but we were all feeling pretty grey and frustrated. After that we weren't feeling excited to get back to work and to talk to people. We were feeling discouraged and it was unbearably hot that day. We got out off the building, though, and Elder Smith and I headed towards a stop where we would need to catch a bus an hour later. We tried talking to people about the gospel, and we didn't have a really miraculous experience finding someone that is interested to learn more, but we did teach someone. Afterwards it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of our shoulders. It was a great learning experience for me about how doing the simple things that I know that I need to be doing, and especially when it's difficult to make myself do that, makes me so happy! I think L also appreciated hearing that, as well.

Sunday we had quite a few investigators at church. J from English class and the S couple both made it and they seemed to enjoy it. We had a great meeting with J where we talked about the Gospel of Christ. We weren't able to meet with the S family or with J, but we hope to see them again soon.

Thanks for the photos of Suzie's graduation! I hope that all of the details flying around today made sense, but we had a good week overall :) We're going to be in Prague again this weekend for the combined district conference. All of the members in the Czech Republic have been in invited, all of the missionaries are going also, and President Kearon will be there to speak, as well. We're hoping for a good conference :) This is also the last week of the current transfer, so we'll have to see where I'll be next week!

Elder Boyce

Elder Smith and I sang during A's baptism.

A less-active member showed us how to make some traditional Czech food before we went to help her in her garden. DELICIOUS!

​Monsoons are arriving... the last two nights HUGE thunderstorms have come in (rather dramatically)

Today for P-day we went to pick strawberries for P-day with L... and we all wore rice hats. Don't ask me how that one happened!

Monday, June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015 - In which summer arrives to cleanse the earth by fire

Dear family,

We've had a busy nine days since we last wrote! We've had L's and L's baptisms, both of which went well. Elder Smith and I taught a lot last week. A lot of our newer investigators are starting to become progressing investigators, like Mr. S and J (who requested the Book of Mormon through The last time we visited Mr. S we also met his wife, who is really nice. The S (the S family) wanted to come to church yesterday, but they didn't make it and said that they will next week :)

L's baptism was nice. A lot of members came and H gave a talk during the meeting. (Proud parent moment: Elder Smith and I helped him write his first talk.) It was held at a pool of a hotel near the center of Olomouc. It was HOT down there, but it was hotter outside! I confirmed her yesterday at church.

H is doing okay. He's living in an spare room of L and M's. We're still meeting with him a couple of times a week to keep up on him. He gave his first talk on Saturday at the baptism :')

L's also doing well. Her baptism was well-attended. In Prague there's a lot more members that speak only English, so it was very interesting for me because basically all of it was in English and Czech. The talks and everything was at the mission home/church building in Prague, and then the baptism was at a pretty spot near the outskirts of Prague. I confirmed her the day after her baptism in Olomouc and she's excited to be a new member.

It's suddenly become extremely hot in the Czech Republic, almost too hot to think. Send Otter Pops :) I'm out of time, but enjoy the pictures and your week! I think that Suzie is graduating from high school this week, so congrats!!!!!

Elder Boyce

Another one from Bratislava conference with Elder Kearon (stolen from Elder and Sister Cottle). You can see that I make my district sit on the front row!
Country villages

Summer has arrived! It is boiling hot and muggy again in the Czech Republic. This is a photo I took on the train on the way to the M's yesterday. It was about 90 degrees outside but probably more in the train. The countryside was beautiful, though.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May 30, 2015 - In which we go to Bratislava!

Dear family,

We've had a pretty exciting week! We've found a couple of new people this week that seem to have some potential. Both were referrals; one from a member and the other was someone that went to and requested a Book of Mormon. Our man that requested the Book of Mormon is a cool guy and we're excited to go back and teach him some more next week.

We're pretty excited for L. Elder Nelson and I our going to her baptism today! We've met with her a couple of times this week, and she's doing pretty well. It at least seems to me that she's more excited for her baptism than ever before. I think the opposition that she has been going through with her family made her realize how much she really wants to be baptized. She called us last night and told us that she was extremely nervous, but we're certain that she'll be doing fine soon :)

We had a couple of interesting lessons with L this week. This week she had fallen off the bandwagon a little bit of reading every day. She was still keeping the other commandments, but no reading. Yesterday we turned our lesson into a "Why we read the scriptures" lesson. It was actually a really good lesson. The Spirit was there, and she seemed to be understanding. At the end of the lesson it seemed like her focus was fading, though, and so we asked her what SHE was going to do because of what we had learned together. She said something about how she would focus more and she even came up with giving up one of her TV shows so she could read the Book of Mormon for a half an hour everyday. It was a good lesson :)

We really enjoyed training this week. Elder Smith and I learned a lot. It was a great battery-recharge for being excited to bless others even when it's difficult and there were a couple of other specific things that we learned. The journey to Bratislava was really long, we left our apartment at3:30 am, walked to a far-away bus stop to catch the bus to the train station (normal trams and buses don't run that early), caught our train at4:24, had training, and then our first train on the way back left Bratislava 35 minutes so we missed our connecting train. We had to wait two hours for the next connecting train and didn't get back to our apartment until 9:30... 18 hours later! We were a little crazy by that point but it was good.

Have to run to L's baptism!
Elder Boyce

Ready to wack the crazy people off with my scriptures and stab them with my keys (I'm a little paranoid at 3:30 in the morning)

It looks like LA to me.

At the training with our favorite missionary front and center!

18 hours later back at the same bus stop... not amused.