Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Mission Is And Will Be The Foundation Of My Life

Starsi Shirley on a bus in Ceske Budejovice

The street Starsi Shirley lives on

Hluboka castle near Ceske Budejovice

July 10, 2017


This week we went over to Petr's house. He is our investigator that is planning to be baptized on the 29th. He has a really nice apartment and is doing well with lessons and such. There just seems to be a gap between actually understanding and spiritual understanding. We need to work on receiving spiritual answers rather than just normal understanding.

The 2 kids that we have been teaching for the last 4 months finally have a baptismal date! Their grandpa is a member. Their mom actually started coming to church and she is allowing the older boy who is 12 to be baptized. His date is on the 29th as well. 

Yesterday at church, the branch president was gone so I was presiding and conducting. We had 2 members there when we started church. Eventually people trickled in and we ended up having about 5 more show up. The talks at church went a lot shorter than expected as well, and our third and final speaker started his talk with 35 minutes left in the meeting. So during his talk, I hurriedly threw together some thoughts and scriptures and ended having the closing remarks/talk for the last 10 minutes. Missions definitely give you opportunities to work under pressure haha :)

I'm not sure how much/ if I will have email time next week. We'll see. But this last week I have definitely been thinking about all that has happened these last two years. I even got to read through my journal that I've kept. One thing that I realized through all my journal writing was how the love for my mission has grown. I truly do love all the experiences that I have had here. I love the hard work that I have put into it. I love these people that I have had the opportunity to serve. I love the missionaries and the mission presidents that I have served with. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives hope and understanding to all who will hear it. And I love my Savior, who made it all possible. Who lived to give us the opportunity to learn, change, and grow. Who rose from the dead so we all will as well. I love it all. My mission is and will be the foundation of my life. In the words of my amazing mission president, "By serving a mission you have laid a firm and wonderful foundation for the rest of your life." What a blessing to have served here! 

The wedding looked great! (we sent pictures of Tristan and Aleisha’s wedding from this past weekend). It's too bad that Lyndi and Aleisha had to go get married just a few weeks before I got back! But I'm glad to hear it went well. I'm happy for both of them.

I'm excited for whatever you guys have planned to do when I get back. The schedule that you sent sounds great! We can travel wherever. You can pick! It'll be a surprise for me. I am excited to go to the Bostrons though!

Dreaming in Czech I guess happens ever once in a while, but it was never a regular thing. (we asked Josh if he dreams in Czech now)

I'm not sure what to buy for souvenirs still. I think I'll wait until next week. The schedule, as far as I know it, will be that I will be staying in Prague for 2 days or so next week with a lot of people from my MTC group. I assume that we will have time to souvenir shop there, so I'll get something then. 

I've started thinking about my homecoming talk already. No pressure, I just have to fit 2 years of stuff and experiences into a 15-20 minute talk haha. We'll see if I can even get across the message I'd like to.

This last week at district meeting, I got a little choked up. It kind of just came unexpectedly, and it surprised me because I'm not the type that really cries. I hope I can keep myself together during my homecoming talk. I'm not one that cries too often, but if I do, I feel like I am not one to keep myself together very well. I'd rather just deliver a good powerful talk haha :) 

Can't wait to see you! No crying too hard Mom! J 

-Elder Shirley

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Missionaries Are Branch Builders

Attending the U.S. vs. Czech Republic volleyball game at the world championship volleyball tournament

Starsi Shirley gets a new haircut

July 3, 2017


We had a lesson with our awesome investigator, Petr, today. He had the baptismal date for my last weekend here, but it is looking like he won't make it, just because of the lack of time. So the date was moved back two weeks today. I won't be here to see it, and he was a little sad about that, but it'll be better! I'll just have to get pictures. He is great though. He came to church this weeks and enjoys it.

I’m definitely getting excited to come home. Why wouldn't I right? :) I'm excited to see you and everyone again. But it'll be sad of course to say bye to all of these people and to leave a country and a people that I love. It has been really weird to be hearing about all my friends getting home...that definitely hasn't helped with the trunkiness, haha. But I’m not trunky enough to not work hard until the end!

Today for P-day we had a few lessons. So we didn't have a whole ton of time to go somewhere. But we did go up to the top of the big tower here in the middle of the city so that was cool. I'll send you pictures!

Church this week was pretty good! We had a good amount of people there and the chapel was about full! Our two recent converts are doing awesome and both have the Aaronic priesthood now and are full and active members. It is exciting to see the branch grow! With Petr's baptism coming up in a month and the Sisters here should also have a baptism soon, the branch with be seeing a lot of growth for this year. It is exciting to see missionary work making a difference and watching the church grow. That is what missionary work is all about! In the words of Elder Cook, missionaries are also "branch builders." 

A surprise this last week was that we got to go watch a volleyball match! The world championship volleyball tournament just happens to be taking place in this city. And the Sisters meet one of the American team coaches on the street who is a member of the church. We got to go to the game and watch the American team play against the Czech Republic. It isn't a usual thing to go to sporting events, but it ended up working out. It got me excited to be able to watch sporting events again!

Love you!

-Elder Shirley

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beginning Preparations To Return Home

Starsi Shirley with his companion Starsi Kevern

Several pictures taken in a town named Jindřichův Hradec

Dragonboat racing: their investigator competes in these races which are held in the river that runs through the city.

Starsi Shirley with a member

June 26, 2017


This last week was a little interesting and our usual lessons that we had scheduled fell through with our guy that has a baptismal date. He is still on to be baptized; it'll just be a question of getting all the lessons in and his acceptance of all the commandments. So we'll see!

President Pohořelický this last week gave us his own version of "My Plan." Apparently that is a program that a lot of missionaries get in order to prepare for the transition back into regular life. We don't have it here, so our mission President just made up his own version. Basically, it’s just goals and plans that we have for when we return home and how we are going to stay spiritually strong. Lots of, I wouldn't necessarily say, uncertainty. But I definitely need to set some goals for life! I'm not scared to come home, but it'll just be another adjustment.

I got to visit Brno one last time on Saturday. There was a priesthood conference there and the priesthood holders in our branch all took a car and drove their together. It was a great meeting. The leadership in the church here is phenomenal. I’m so grateful to know the strong active men of the church here. 

I've been studying a lot about faith this week. Hebrews 11, Moroni 7, Mormon , and Ether 12 are all awesome chapters about faith. Faith is a means by which God brings to pass miracles. As a district we are committed to having faith and showing that faith to God in order to be led to those prepared for the gospel and prepared to help this branch grow. Expect a miracle!

Glad to hear everything is well with all of you at home. Can't wait to see you soon :)

Love you!

-Elder Shirley


June 19, 2017


Our investigator with a baptismal date is still going strong! He has been to church the last 2 weeks and we have seen/taught him 2 or three times the last three weeks or so. It might not be the best term, but I could potentially hit a "buzzer beater" with this baptism on my last weekend haha :) 

Being in the branch presidency has been great! It has been really cool to see things from the "other side." It has also been a privilege to serve with President Chrdle, the branch President here. He is so awesome. He is definitely someone that I look up to and have learned a lot from. 

As for things to prepare for coming home...I'm not even too sure what we could prepare. I'm kinda moving back into an unknown world, so I'll just have to see how it is when I get back :)
Guess what? Nobody this last week wrote me except you and Dad haha. After the 2 years, everyone forgets about you haha :)

We had training this last week in Prague on Tuesday. President Pohorelicky gave an awesome training on faith. He is definitely an example of faith and it was great to learn from him. He talked about how we need a vision of what we want to accomplish and how we need to ask God for his help. I think that we all know that. Like it says in the scriptures "Ask and ye shall receive." But President focused more on how we can make a covenant with God and not only ask, but also sacrifice something, or give something, to show God our faith. President has big plans for the mission here and we just need the faith to see our goals achieved.

We had an exchange with the APs after training. It was great to be in Prague with them. The two APs right now are actually Elder Hanis, (my soon to be roommate), and Elder Carlson, who I served with 3 transfers back. 

That's about all I got I think....Today for P-day we went to a "neighboring city" called Jindřichův Hradec. It was really pretty and there was a nice big castle/mansion thing that we got to see.

Sounds like a great Father's Day as well! I honestly just miss all of your food. In that month and a half before I go to college you'll have to make everything for me again :) As for the first meal home....I might just have to request the classic roast and mashed potatoes (Sunday dinner). Or we could have cafe rio....or tacos! That's a Mom's classic too. Just do whatever. I'll be happy :)

Love you!

-Elder Shirley 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Constantly Reminded How The Gospel Has Blessed My Life

June 12, 2017


This last week was a pretty normal one for us. We did have an exchange though with the zone leaders! It went really well. They actually both came to our area and helped us in our city. My exchange was with an Elder that is actually from Rigby, ID so we know a few mutual people. 

Recently I think I told you about a guy that mentioned at the end of our English class that he had interest in the church. We have been teaching him the last few weeks and he is really cool. Anyway, he accepted a baptismal date this last week for the weekend before I come home. That would be awesome if he made it! :) We'll see how it goes. Tibor, who was baptized last week, is still doing awesome. I think he should be getting the priesthood in two weeks if everything goes as planned.

The work is going well! People are great and are prepared for the gospel! We are just tools in the Lord's hands. Again and again I am reminded and can see how much the gospel has blessed my life and how it can bless the lives of everyone so much. The church is so true! 

Love you!
-Elder Shirley

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Two Baptisms!

Baptismal picture with Starsi Shirley, Starsi Kevern and Tibor

Sestra Miller & Sestra Hayden with Vojtech

Tent that was used to get dressed for baptism

Ready for the baptism

River where the baptism was performed

Some members that Starsi Shirley and Kevern visited this week

June 5, 2017

Hi there!

The baptisms on Saturday went well! Tibor, our investigator, was baptized as well as the Sister's investigator. We met at 8:00 in the morning at the river. We did it early enough that people wouldn't be out on the river that early. There were about 10 of us there. I definitely feel blessed and am thankful that I could have and am serving in Ceske Budejovice at this time to have been able to teach and baptize Tibor. They both came to church, got the gift of the Holy Ghost, and willing be getting a calling and the Aaronic priesthood soon. Pretty exciting! :)

My companion wrote this, but I decided to steal it from his email....
“We went knocking doors yesterday, and had been knocking for about 2 hours with little success. We had passed the man who was handing out newspapers a couple times on our path. After the third time he talked to us and asked to meet!... Just kidding he didn't, he actually screamed and swore at us and shoved both me and my companion. He said he'd call the police if we knocked one more door. So... we went to the other side of town and started knocking there :) Can't let a little opposition stop us!”

Other than that, nothing too big happened during the week. We're just excited from the baptisms. I think that seeing these two baptisms will help push us to work even harder. We have a few other people that could potentially have baptismal dates this next week. 

Love you!
-Elder Shirley

Elder Shirley also sent the following information about the two individuals who were baptized this past weekend:

Their short stories: 
"When I came to the age when I realized that I am an individual with free and rational thinking, I started to search for purpose in life. My thinking of the purpose of life lied in freedom and truth. But my opinions on freedom and truth were crooked. Gradually I started searching in music, philosophy and theology. None of these things solved my desires. Religion interested me though. In religion I learned to look for God in Christianity. I liked that way of life. I also liked that in Christianity, I am a part of the purpose of life. But, I didn't like living according to what was taught. Because of that, I procrastinated actually joining a church and living it. After falling many times in my life after many years of failure, I realized that I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. After meeting the missionaries on the street and at the Church, I found out that my searching and my life failures would come to an end. I sealed my covenant with God by being baptized into the church."
Vojtech was found in January by Sister Heap and Sister Brown on a cold day in the winter. He saw how hard they were working and decided to talk to them for a while. From then he set up with them and they started to meet. He is from Slovakia and was raised a non-believer. He was interested in religions however as he grew up. He became a believer when he was 20 and met the missionaries ten years later. From the very beginning he believed what the missionaries taught him, but still had many trials on the path to his baptism. The break through point happened when he really started to read the Book of Mormon and scriptures, recognizing answers, and performing acts of faith. Through his own efforts to become converted, he finally felt right about his baptismal date and was baptized and then confirmed.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Chance Encounter With A Former Missionary

Starsi Shirley and Starsi Kevern with a former Czech Republic missionary and his spouse that they ran into in the C-Bud town square

May 29, 2017


For P-day today we didn't have anything planned, so we ended up just cleaning the house, eating lunch with the Sisters and then we went to the church building and I started teaching Elder Kevern how to play the piano haha. Pretty relaxed day!

Here’s this week’s update on our investigators: It's going pretty well with all of them. The two kids that we are teaching accepted baptismal dates for this next month but as it turns out, their parents want them to wait a little longer. But our other investigator passed his baptismal interview this last week and the baptism is planned for this Saturday! :) The Sisters here in Ceske Budejovice also have an investigator that is ready for baptism so we will be having a double baptism this weekend. We're excited! We just have to figure out all the little details this week and get everything ready. Our investigator asked me to baptize him and I think I might also be baptizing the Sister's investigator as well. We'll see.

As far as finding new investigators this week, it was pretty rough. We went out contacting or tracting quite a bit this last week without anyone setting up an appointment with us. We are hoping for a better week with finding this next week.

My companion and I are working hard. We work well together too, I think. We were talking to a few ladies on the town square this last week and had just gotten shut down and as we were walking away, I heard a yell. We turned around and saw this couple, a missionary that served here 20 years ago and his wife, running towards us. They had just gotten lucky to see us at the right time in the right place. They ended up coming to English with us.

We have our weekly English class on Tuesdays. I don't know if I mentioned this a week or two ago, but we always end our class with a spiritual thought. Right in the middle of the thought that we were giving, one of the students stopped us and said "I want to learn more about you church!" That came as a surprise and we are now currently teaching him.

Overall, I'm doing well! I’m starting to get sun-burned, so I'll come back with some good missionary short-sleeve tan lines I think. 

Love you!

-Elder Shirley

This week, we had the wonderful surprise of receiving an email from a former Czech Republic missionary who had returned to visit the country and ended up running into Elder Shirley and his companion. He sent us the picture that is attached to this blog post as well as the following email:

Hello Brother and Sister Shirley,

I was a missionary in the Czech Republic back in 1997 - 1999.  My wife and I are visiting the country for a week.  On Wednesday evening we had a sweet experience.  We ran into your son and his companion on the náměstí (town square) in Budějovice.

20 years ago České Budějovice was my first area and I was there for 7 months.  So it was a sweet experience for me to return and see the city again.  The exciting part for my wife and I was running into the missionaries!  We visited with them for about 10 minutes and then went and attended English class with them.  There was actually an older gentleman in the class that I remember from English classes when I was there 20 years ago.  That was fun!

Anyway, your son seemed to be doing well.  He has a newer companion in the mission (as you probably already know).  I just thought as a parent you might appreciate a picture of your son and his companion and to know that he is doing well.    I know he'll be coming home soon and I'm sure you're very excited about that.  As a former missionary here I can testify that your son is being watched over and protected and the Lord's hand is helping him daily in the great missionary work taking place in this wonderful land of the Czech Republic.  The work here is hard and it is slow, but the people are marvelous and the church is growing.  

Anyways, I just thought you would appreciate news of your son and a picture of him and his companion.  Take care and I hope you have a happy reunion with him soon!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Make A Difference For Someone Else

P-day in Cesky Krumlov with the new C-Bud district: Sestra Hayden, Sestra Miller, Starsi Shirley, Starsi Kevern

May 22, 2017


My new companion, Elder Kevern from Saratoga Springs, UT, is great! He works hard and for only being in the country for 2 months, he speaks the language very well. We aren't too similar to each other, but enough that it's fun. We still go running in the morning. I enjoy it a lot more now than I did at the beginning of it. I already feel pretty in-shape so I'll be fit when I get back home.

Our investigators are doing great! One of them has a baptismal interview today. We're excited to see how that goes! There are two other kids that we are teaching. They are 11 and 12. Their grandpa is a member and they had expressed interest in wanting to be baptized in June. So we should have a few baptisms coming up in the near future :) 

In answer to your question, two things that have impacted me a ton on my mission have been my mission presidents and also the examples of missionaries older than me. I really look up to both President McConkie and to President Pohorelicky. It's been a privilege to have known both of them and to have been guided by them in my mission. I've realized how much and how great of an impact a missionary leader can make on other missionaries. There is nothing better than a great example to look up to and to work with. I think that applies in everything in life, not only on a mission. We all need to be an example because it can literally make all the difference for someone else. I guess that is why we always say to be an example in all that we do! People see when we live by the example of Christ. 

Question of the week (from Elder Shirley’s sister Abrea): Tell me about the most interesting person/investigator you talked to this week and what they said.

Answer: Maybe it's not the most interesting person of the week, but we did talk to one lady on the street that said she wasn't really interested, but then she asked us, "Why does God have to be a man? Couldn't it be a woman?" We told her that we actually do believe in a Heavenly Mother and she was really intrigued by that. She asked if she could meet with us and talk more haha. So that was pretty cool and pretty interesting.

Gotta go, love you lots!

-Elder Shirley