Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015 - In which we plan better

Dear family,

This last week had some interesting ups and downs, and we the upcoming week will be crazy. We have training tomorrow in Brno, exchanges with the zone leaders Wednesday, culture night on Thursday (we're going to the philharmonic!), and then a busy weekend all over again. We weren't able to meet with our normal investigators last week or find any new ones, though we had a few good lessons with less-active members and a couple of good lessons on the street.

Last week had a great lesson with D, who is a less-active member that's on our branch vision to be reactivated but we haven't been able to meet with him in about two months. We got a much better handle about why he's not very active and what we might do to help him. He shared with us that he knows that he could be doing more and could be more but at the same time he had a content life with the habits and priorities that he had before baptism (like putting in an effort to get time off at work to come to church) and he's gone back to living the those sort of things when following the standards of the Church is inconvenient. He told us that he feels that it's right for him to come back to activity, though, but at the end of the lesson we weren't sure how to get him back on that track. We asked him what he was going to do to work on it and thought about it for a while and said, "We'll definitely meet again next week." We're taking that as a sign of trust for now and we'll keep on working with him to help him come back.

Sister D is doing well. We visited her and talked about obedience. We feel like she's doing better at coming to church (she's still coming about once every other week) and is really excited for her new calling, and in the next few weeks we want to talk about some more of the commandments. We're planning on talking about the word of wisdom this week and we'll see how that goes :) Our main focus is still to keep her attending church regularly and we'll see how it goes from there.

We weren't able to meet with J during the last week but we're set up to meet after English tomorrow.

At the moment it feels a little bit like our area is stagnating and we've been trying to think of what we can do to improve. We're working on trying to improve our skills in talking about baptism and being more clear when finding, but we also realized our planning could use some tweaking. Instead of focusing on calendaring we're going to be a lot more focused on people and their progress and what we can do the next day to help them progress in their faith and repentance and then it will be easy for us to see how we'll need to use our time. That might not make very much sense to you all, but it helps me to feel like I can help more people :)

We've been doing well, overall, and I'm running out of time! Thank you for the support and love. Have a great week!

Elder Boyce

Kitchen mishap (I melted the strainer)

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21,2015 - In which it gets brisk

Dear family,

This week also went pretty well. We've been working really hard and have been putting in a lot of effort!

The Lord has been sending us lots of little things to help us know that we're on the right path. For example, yesterday a member took us on a visit to a very ill less-active member in Hulín to give him a blessing. On the way home we transferred in Otrokovice (the city that shares borders with Zlín and shares the trolleybus system) and we were about to get on a trolleybus back to the center of Zlín but we remembered a less-active member that our branch president had wanted us to try to find that we had never been able to look for because we're almost never in Otrokovice. We tried to go looking for him but we got dreadfully lost on the way. We finally found the (extremely long) street that we wanted but we had no luck finding the correct address. We met this nice, old Seventh-day Adventist lady that was out riding her bike. She stopped and asked us if we were Mormons and got to talking for a little bit. After she found out what we were doing she decided to help and rode ahead to see if she couldn't find the house number that we were looking for on her bike. She left and we soon saw her again. She hadn't found the number but she talked with us for awhile again as we headed back the way we had come. She invited us to come to her church (and we of course invited her to ours). She gave us some candies and we headed back the way we came.

We eventually miraculously found the right address (we had missed it the first time), and the name of our less-active member was on the bell. We tried ringing him a couple of times, and then with time everyone else in that apartment building. No answer. We were starting to write a note for him before we left but then the son of the landlord came and told us that our less-active member didn't live there nor had he for a few years. He didn't know where he had gone and we started to leave. We went around the corner of the house and saw an older, bearded man with long, gray hair and no shirt leaning out the window. We asked him if he knew our member and he seemed to know where he had moved to! He gave us directions to a new address near the bus stop where we could catch a bus back to the center of Zlín (by now it was about 4pm and we still hadn't eaten any lunch). He didn't live there or in any of the surrounding buildings, and we had a whale of time trying to get around, but we were grateful for all of the people that had been placed by the Lord in our path.

We weren't able to teach J again this week. He didn't come to church, either, yesterday. We're concerned for him but we're not certain what to do to help him. M was at church and said that he wasn't able to come because he needed to help K before she left for school in Prague later that day, but we hope to be able to see him again soon. He's so close to being baptized, but we just want to be able to talk to him again properly about what's going on.

There were some exciting developments in our branch last week. A member, E, came home from her mission last week. She spoke on Sunday and our branch was SO EXCITED to see her. There was a buzz in the air all of Sunday from her presence. After church we had our first correlation meeting with Brother Š in his new calling as branch mission leader. E asked if she could sit in and she was a huge help. During the last week in 12-Week Elder Dean and I have been watching training videos from the District about working with the branch specifically and during correlation we tried to bring up some ideas about how we could work together (for example that we could send him miracles once every couple of days through text) and when Br. Š didn't seem to quite get what we were going for. E leaped right in and talked about how much working with the members helped her during in her mission. We had talked about a promise that President Hinckley said that if we would work more closely with members our mission work could double in rate, and E talked about how in her last area that promise was literally fulfilled during the course of two or three months. E being there in correlation and otherwise made a big difference to the members, because instead of these ideas coming from just the missionaries or President V it came from one of their own. We've been struggling to work with some of our members lately but I think that E will make a difference in our branch through her example.

Sister D is still doing pretty well. She was at church yesterday and E told us that during Relief Society she mentioned that we had given her the idea to get visiting teaching going again in Zlín and she was apparently really excited to work to get that going again. I think that as we continue to visit her we'll be able to help her move toward activity, but I think her new calling is perfect for her to move along.

Love you!
Elder Boyce

PS Dad mentioned that you're trying to get a family mission plan going... Good work! :) Don't forget the most basic thing in missionary work is loving the person that you're talking to. Don't stress about what you're going to say to someone, just try to love your neighbors and friends and you'll know what to say.

PSS I realize I haven't sent any good photos in a while... I'll try and send some good ones during the next week :) I got some cool new sweaters today (it suddenly became fall!) and maybe I'll send some photos of me modelling them (because I know that's what you all really want to see ).

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015 - In which we're given talks and get looking for people

Dear family,

Last week went well! We put a big focus on trying to work with members and helping our branch get excited about missionary work. Last week I mentioned that we had some interesting conversations and we felt like there was something we needed to do to spark excitement in missionary work. Elder Dean and I had a strong feeling that we needed to talk to the branch to share something about enthusiasm, and so last Tuesday we called our branch president and talked to him about it and told him that we wanted to talk to the branch about it. He was excited for us to speak, and gave each of us talks yesterday. He told us that we could take the whole sacrament meeting if we wanted to, and that he would fill time afterwards. Elder Dean shared a thought for about five minutes and then I took almost the rest of the time. I talked about how love for the people around us gives us the ability to see what can happen in the lives of our friends and families and gives us the enthusiasm to try to keep serving even when things are difficult. I'm not certain what kind of effect the talk itself will have, but President V was grateful that we did that. We're trying hard to try to get things set up where we can teach with our members, but we were blessed with opportunities to serve with a member couple and teach Sister D with them afterward. We feel like we're at least making progress on trying to get working with our branch more often. Elder Dean and I at the beginning of the transfer both felt that we need to put work with the members up at about the same level of priority as helping J get baptized and Sister D reactivated.

Speaking of them, we STILL weren't able to meet with J but he was at church and we had a chance to at least chat with him and M after English. We're itching to talk with him because we haven't been able to have a proper sit-down lesson with him in quite a while, but we're praying that an opportunity will finally go through. We know that he knows that he needs to be baptized and he says that he knows, also, so we're just trying to help.

We had a good lesson with Sister D on Friday. We felt that we needed to talk about service and callings, since we figured that's something else that she needs to be reactivated. It was a good lesson, and we taught with M and V, members who moved recently into the branch from Olomouc. We were going to invite her to ask to be a visiting teacher on Sunday, but during the lesson that ended up not working out to invite her, (because we found out that visiting teaching isn't functioning right now in Zlín ) and so we changed the commitment to something else related to service. We were REALLY surprised, though, because Sunday she was sustained to be a counselor in the Relief Society presidency. We had no idea she had a calling coming already. There's still a road ahead of us to help her be reactivated (she wasn't at church to sustain herself in her new calling), but we're excited for the progress there by her accepting a calling.

Overall we feel that things are going well here in Zlín. Elder Dean is still doing well. His Czech is improving, but I'm trying to find more ways to help him get integrated into the conversations that are going on around him because he feels like he gets lost. I'm kind of struggling how to involve him more in that way, but overall he's doing well and growing and he loves our members a lot. We're looking high and low for people on our branch, and we found a couple of people last week that are according to it. We're just trying to keep adding to that!!

That's pretty much everything that's been going on, but we're doing well and are happy :)

Elder Boyce

Out favorite missionary!

Just a bit lost...Daniel is the one with the map!

Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7, 2015 - In which we want to spread some vision around

Dear family,

Last week went well, like always we've been working hard and are seeing good from it. We taught more last week than we did the week before and though a lot of things fell through, we were still almost always able to find someone to teach by searching in the area where we were going to teach in the first place. We're trying to get some gears in place and some people preparing for baptism!

Unfortunately last week J wasn't able to meet with us, he came to English, though and it was nice to see him there. He didn't come to church Sunday because he wasn't feeling well, but we hope to be able to see him again this week. We fasted about how to help him and to a certain degree we feel like he needs to come to baptism himself, but we want to encourage him this week to perhaps get a calendar out and start praying about dates so he'll have a goal that's his.

We also met with Sister D last week. She's doing well. We had a good discussion about the Atonement and how justice and mercy work, and she came to church on Sunday. We think that she needs to just be encouraged along. We're thinking that the next step with her is to teach towards receiving a calling of some sort; to be active she needs to accept a responsibility and we're thinking that perhaps talking to her about her potential in that way will motivate her to attend sacrament meeting more regularly.

We're looking and working hard for a young couple that is according to the branch vision, but unfortunately we didn't find any new investigators. We're hoping to have more going on this next week on that end.

We had a couple of interesting conversations yesterday and we feel like there's something that we should do to spark some more excitement for missionary work in our branch. We got the impression from a couple of members that they feel that there's something missing and we feel like we as a branch need to set our eyes back on the ideal of of what's possible in Zlín and to especially help each of the members see that they are capable of doing something that will make a difference. We feel that the members can have a huge impact on what we do to help people come to Christ, but we feel like that idea could maybe use some reemphasizing now. We're hoping to talk with our branch president tomorrow about this vision and ask for him to give us talks or 20 minutes after sacrament meeting or something like that (whatever he wants, really) so that we can talk to the members about it. We will see how it goes, but we feel that this will help the branch.

Elder Dean is doing well. He's finding out that missionary work (and learning Czech) takes a lot of constant persistence, but he's learning a lot. We're learning a lot together while preparing for our teaching appointments and the other things that we have going each day. His Czech is improving, though he seems to want it to go a little faster. On Saturday we were coming back from an appointment and he felt a little down because he couldn't understand an old man that we were talking to and I told him that at day 10 or 11 in the country he shouldn't be worrying about it (at least not until he gets to day 600 or so...). He's a hard worker and he's already really dedicated to our branch. We've been learning a lot together about the Savior during our studies and it's been great to use that as we teach people during the day. He's also really excited to help the branch get more excited for missionary work.

We're both doing well and are trying to just stay yoked with the Savior here. We're out of time, but have a great week!!

Lots of love,
Elder Boyce