Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31, 2015 - In which I pick up Elder Dean

Dear family,

Last week was pretty crazy! I don't have a lot of time, unfortunately, but it was really crazy.

I mentioned that after Elder Page left on Monday morning I had to find some way to have a companion for Monday and Tuesday until I got to Prague so I had to bounce between Uherské Hradiště and Zlín before I connected with Elder Nelson in Olomouc. We traveled to Prague together Tuesday afternoon, where we had trainers' training, a nice dinner with the McConkies, and stayed in the one of the elders' apartments in Prague (there were nine missionaries in that apartment... crazy). The next morning President McConkie paired us with our companions (mine is Elder Dean from Eagle Mountain, Utah) and then we were on our way. It was an ordeal Wednesday morning because we kept on getting shuffled from place to place to keep us out of sight of the new missionaries. Then there was a big reveal where President paired us together as if it was a game show. We sat in the McConkie's living room with the new missionaries on the front row on the couches with us on some chairs behind them. President called each of the new missionaries up one at a time and started telling them about the city where they're going. The trainers knew instantly who they were going to be with so we were all whispering intently in the back row. Since we got to Zlin we've had a great week, we've been working hard. I met the secret goal from President McConkie and worked hard enough to get Elder Dean to fall asleep in church yesterday from sheer exhaustion :D

Elder Dean is a great missionary, he already knows how to be courageous. He contacts whole bus stops of people and the other day leaped up onto a planter to try and talk to about ten people at once. If we lived in the days of preaching on top of soap boxes, he'd get along just fine! He is doing really well in his Czech and yesterday bore a pretty solid testimony at church. He told about when he first came into our chapel he felt really strongly that this is where he's supposed to be.

We made some pretty specific goals for the transfer for trying to help people prepare to be baptized and reactivated, and we also want to find a younger couple that can be a strength to the branch, and we set goals for trying to work with members. We put a focus on obedience and hard work, and I think it set a good tone for the transfer, especially since it's Elder Dean's first. We were also able to coordinate with President V about a few less-active members, which was a great blessing.

We weren't able to meet with J or Sister D last week, which was too bad, but we still found some great people that we hope to be able to meet with this week.

I'm doing pretty well, and am excited for the new transfer! I'm just about out of time, but have a great week.

Elder Boyce

After dinner and trainers' training last Tuesday we went up to this lookout point in a park near the church building in Prague. This is where President McConkie took me and my group our first day in the country and told us all about the history of the city and the Velvet Revolution. It was cool to come back again.

Karlův most -- Charles's Bridge

This is my new companion! And it was first time drinking Kofola!!!!!!!!! (I was so proud it's our national treasure)

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015 - In which the Lord hath granted me a son, as the saying goes

Dear family,

Last week, while not a banner week for finding or teaching results, was still a great week. I loved training and got a lot out of it. Not very many people stopped to talk with us last week, but it was still a good week.

J is doing pretty well. I mentioned last week, that though he didn't have a set baptismal date, he agreed to have a baptismal interview on Thursday. His interview was successful, and at the moment were mostly praying about how to help him accept a baptismal date. He's shared with us personally that he knows that baptism is the correct step eventually, and we don't want to just drill "You need to be baptized" every lesson, so we're trying to think of different ways to help him strengthen his faith and see how the gospel will bless him. We're going to try to get some other members involved with him to help him strengthen relationships with members that he might not talk to as often.

Sister D is doing really well. She's definitely at the critical stage where she's either going to be reactivated really soon or not for a long time. Lately she's realizing that she needs to change, which leads to interesting lessons because she's not quite certain how to deal with this knowledge at the moment. She's doing well, though, because she's continuing to study the gospel and the messages at church seemed this week to be tailored right at her. She wants us to talk about the atonement when we come next week, which we'll, of course, be happy to do :) As for other less-actives D isn't making a lot of progress right now. Last week the misisonary that baptized him came to visit and talked with D for a while about the Melchizedek Priesthood. We hope that it'll help him. President V also gave us a list of about 20 less-active members in Zlín to look for, which we spent a fair amount of time with last week. Not too much came out of it, but I think that it's a signal that he's trusting us a bit more... or testing us :)

We had Zone Conference last week and it was SO GOOD! President and Sister McConkie's trainings helped me a lot, especially as I've been applying them together. President McConkie talked about having a higher vision even when things are difficult and Sister McConkie taught us about prayer. I learned a lot that helped me personally We talked about the characteristics that we want to have when we become parents and then talked about how God perfectly fulfills each of those characteristics, and how since each of us as children of God are more than just His creations (like how the child of an architect is more than just the skyscraper that he designed), He wants to just to be involved in our lives. Sister McConkie's training helped me realize that God is already present in our lives, but I can talk to Him just as much as I could talk to my best friend. I've been trying to remember that as I pray since then it's been in a word wonderful. I feel like when I pray now that God is there, like a second companion! It's helped me to be better (you're more motivated to be better when God is walking with you side by side). It's helped me to do what President said, to have always have my eyes high, because when God is with me it's easy to remember that. I haven't felt like that 100% of the time since training, but it's helped me so much. I've been praying a lot more to involve God in the details of our work, and I know He's listening.

On Friday we were tracting the apartment building next to a less-active members home when they weren't able to talk to us, and we weren't get a lot of answers through the downstairs bell. I prayed that someone would talk to us, and before I could even start to say amen in my heart the bell crackled to life! I jumped about a foot in the air (Elder Page can testify of that) and then started to talk to them. I know that God is with us, and I'm so grateful.

Today were transfers! Elder Page is gone to Jihlava! I'm training a new missionary!! (I'm a dad, so to say.) I'm way out of time.

Elder Boyce

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015 - In which we find some people

Dear family,

We had a great week! There were some pretty unusual challenges, a lot of praying, and a lot of talking about how to help J. We really baked here in Zlín, but we were still blessed with some miracles.

J has been the biggest topic of conversation and thought this week in our companionship. He's SO CLOSE to getting baptized. We weren't able to meet with him at all during the week, but we talked to him last night and he said that he feels like Saturday is still too early. There are still a few obstacles for him to overcome. Though he's not planning on being baptized this Saturday, he did agree to have an interview on Thursday so he can talk with Elder Shepherd (our district leader) about whether he's actually spiritually prepared, even though he doesn't have a firm date set. We're really hoping that he'll soon resolve concerns and are sort sitting on pins and needles for the moment. We still feel like he's doing well, and know that the decision to be baptized is his alone. He came to sacrament meeting yesterday and when he found out that we were going to Prague today for visa work he offered to drive us there. He picked up one of his daughters from the airport a little after we had to be there, but we had a good time during the three-hour ride to Prague :) One of his tires went flat on the way and we helped him get the spare on, and you can't come out of that experience without a stronger relationship!

We found a couple of really great people during the week. On Tuesday we met P and M. P is about 25 years old and is here from Zlín. We met him in an interesting way. It was boiling hot on Tuesday afternoon and we were out contacting on family history. There was NO ONE out and we weren't quite certain where to go. We felt inspired to hike up the hill that we were to try and follow up with an investigator that we hadn't heard from in a while. On the way up the hill we P. He was really interested in finding out more about family history, and we found out that during some English contacting a couple of weeks ago he met Elder Shepherd and gave him his phone number for the reminder text that we send. He had received the text that we sent out earlier, and was planning on not going, but because he met us he said he that he changed his mind and he came and had a good time at English. We met last Friday and taught him how to start with family history and we told him that we could tell him how his family can be together forever. He set up with us to talk about before English tomorrow!

We also met a woman named M on Tuesday morning. She is originally from Guatemala but met her Czech husband in Chicago and has been living in the Czech Republic for about seven years. She said something to us that I've never heard before: "My family are all Mormons back in Guatemala. It seems like being Mormons makes a really big, positive difference in their life. How do I go about joining your church?" We told her that we could take care of that :) She committed to come to sacrament meeting on the 23rd, but unfortunately we wouldn't set up to meet or able to exchange any contact information. Though we weren't able to set up with M, we felt really blessed by the Lord to meet her and P and the others that we were able to meet during the last week.

We were also really blessed to spend some time with our branch president over the weekend. He was the only one that came to game night with his kids, but we spent some time being able to chat with him about the branch and some needs that we have. After church we also went through the entire branch list and he gave us assignments of people to look for.

That's pretty much everything that's new for now. Sister D wasn't able to come to church, but she should be coming next week. We're trying to push forward through the last week of the transfer (somehow it's week 9 again)! We want some new people to teach! Thanks for the love and prayers, and sorry for no photos again this week :)

Elder Boyce

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015 - In which we bake

Dear family,

This week was pretty interesting. Zlín was extremely hot and we baked here! Despite the heat we tried our best to maintain a positive attitude. Lots of people have been hiding inside during the day so we made an adjustment and went knocking on their doors even more than normal. Lots of our plans fell through and didn't turn out quite the way that we expected. Though we taught a lot, we only managed to get one member lesson set up, and we weren't able to get too much set up in general, actually!

The main great news is that J agreed to work together to be baptized on the 22nd of August. We weren't able to meet with him at the normal times last week, but we stopped by last night. We talked about how Peter first met Christ. We used Luke 5 as a base. It was a good lesson. At the beginning of the lesson J told us that he feels like baptism is the correct decision, but is mostly praying about the timing for when he should be baptized. We talked about faith and how it seems to us that his situation is very similar to Peter's there in Luke 5. I'll let you read it yourselves, but it shows how Peter left EVERYTHING to follow the Savior, because he felt something and knew that Jesus was something more than a normal man. The Spirit was there very strongly. We feel like J needs to make a similar decision, like Peter did. We invited him to be baptized on the 22nd and he immediately answered by saying that he would pray about it and also said that he would need to speak with his parents and his older daughter, K, about the decision. I don't think that his parents know much of anything about how he and his family are religious now, and we know that K isn't very supportive. I think that he'll go for it in the end. Even if he doesn't make the 22nd, Elder Page and I agree that if it won't be that day it'll be soon.

We had a few other great successes. Sister D came to church again, we met some really interesting people on the street, and so on :) We met a man from Rome who was here with his wife on vacation. He had heard a lot about us, but a lot of it was wildly inaccurate so we had a fun time answering all of questions about how we actually do believe in Jesus Christ. We had a meeting with a new investigator, M, who also had a lot of great questions. M is from the United Arab Emirates, and talks pretty fast in pretty garbled English. He doesn't speak any Czech. He doesn't have much of a Christian background, so it's exciting to see him hear and put together in his head for the first time a message about Christ.

The heat has been adding some excitement to our work here. And when I say excitement I mean extreme awkwardness. Czechs typically loose all of their clothing when it's hot, and so when we tract we often meet people in their underwear. I've seen more old men in only their underpants than I've ever wanted to see. Sometimes you have to look really closely into people's eyes! :)

Today we went to the Zoo for P-day. I didn't have time to photos, but it was a lot of fun :)

I'm out of time, but we had an exciting week and we're excited for the next one.

Elder Boyce

Today we are at the zoo! We just fed stingrays.

Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015 - In which I have a Samuel the Lamanite moment

Dear family,

Last week went pretty well. We had some interesting ups and downs! We met some great people that were really nice, and at those times it was really easy to be a missionary. On Friday we had a funny experience where a lady was really apologetic as she was hurrying away from us for an appointment. We gave her a pass-along card, and she was so grateful and promised us to take a look as she hurried away. It was the most validating pass-along card handoff ever :) We met some other great people that we're set up with and we have a good-looking week ahead of us. We had some more difficult moments, though. For example where we were stuck in circles not being able to help someone understand that prayer actually does work or more than half of our current investigators going on vacation for two weeks and so on. Friday was a really difficult day, and it was difficult to keep going. We decided, to though, and as soon as we went back out someone threw beer at me from across the street. I felt like Samuel the Lamanite, though, because it didn't hit me and even though it landed right in front of me all that splashed on me was one drop! Even though this week has been difficult, it made me think that the Lord is definitely aware of me and not letting me go through something that I can't handle without His help. While there may be crazy or upsetting things flying around me, I still know who I've trusted.

I don't have time to go into too many details, but we did teach Sister D this week. We talked about having help from the Savior while changing, because she sometimes shares feelings of being overwhelmed. I think it was good, and it's great to hear her testimony. We hope that she'll make it to church next week.

We taught J on Tuesday. We had a great discussion about the Sacrament, why we would want to remember the Savior in the first place, and how we can remember Him during the Sacrament. He and M had some great insights about the Savior. He just needs to make his own decision to be baptized, but we're doing our best to help him.

We're working hard here in Zlín. We're praying a lot and always trying to fine-tune our finding and the other aspects of our work. Thanks for all of your love and prayers! I'm out of time, but have a great week!

Elder Boyce

The sunset on Thursday over downtown. We were coming back from tracting

Sunday after church we had a BBQ to send off our missionary. We made a lot of apple muffins, which were a hit! :)

The spread. We had an opekání like during my first week in Zlín. Behind me was the fire for us to roast špekačky (sausages).

The most gourmet fruit cake that the world has ever seen. M made it for our missionary.

Today we went to see this cathedral/former monastery, Velehrad. Every year thousands of pilgrims gather here because it has a connection to the patron saints of Europe, Cyril and Metoděj (I don't what there English names are), who introduced Christianity (and literacy if I remember correctly) to this end of Europe. I only got some exterior photos because photography inside wasn't allowed, but it was a pretty cathedral. There was an interesting exhibit about how many thousands of pilgrims even managed to gather here in 1984 during Communism despite lots of government opposition.

I liked this statue because you don't often see statues of the resurrected Savior here. The inscription is "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" Matt. 11:28