Monday, September 28, 2015

Life in Jicin is Going Great!

Elder Bitner & Elder Shirley assembling some furniture for senior missionary couple

Ikea furniture needing to be assembled

A view of Prague

A sweet car seen driving around Jicin

The circus comes to town

Some of the elephants at the circus

September 28, 2015

Ahoj friends and family!

Life in here in Jičín is still going great! A few highlights of this past week:

On Thursday, Elder Bitner and I traveled to Prague for our monthly zone training. We met with the missionaries from Liberec, Mlada Boleslav, Hradec Králové, Pardubice, Ostrava, and Frýdek Místek. It gave me the chance to get to know some more of the missionaries here serving with me, and I got to see a few of the missionaries that I was in the MTC with which was good. We were trained on how to get new investigators to be progressing investigators. It was a good training for me because I still feel like I don't know too much about the mission field and what goes on here. President and Sister McConkie are awesome and I learned a lot from them. 

After training, Elder Bitner and I went and helped out the senior couple as they finished up their moving process from Prague to Jičín. We took their luggage and their bed in the van with us and drove back from training. We built their table and their wardrobe and they are now officially moved in, which is great. With the senior couple here, we sometimes get to teach with them. All of our investigators that have met them love them already, so we are already seeing how much a senior couple is going to help the work here.

We had a really good day on Friday. We taught someone with our senior couple, and then right after that we had another investigator tell us that he wanted to meet with us. We taught him the Restoration and he seemed to like everything we taught. We had an appointment later that night with a former investigator who is starting to meet with us again. As we walked home from the appointment with him, we ran into some of our other investigators. We talked to them a little bit and then walked home. As we got to our door, a car pulled up with 5 people in it. We had met 1 of them before, and they said that they were going to get drinks and wanted to know if we would come with them. We went and had a good lesson on the Plan of Salvation and they are set up to meet with us again this next week. I don't know if that made total sense, but it was a great day! It's amazing to see the hand of the Lord in our work.

We did some more service his week at a member's home. We have been over there a few times to fix up his house. I also enjoy when we get to do service. Other than that, the week was just full of missionary work. Lots of contacting and some tracting. This is hard work, but it is the Lord's work and it is great. Love you all!

-Starší Shirley

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Exchange With Zone Leaders and a Trip to IKEA in Prague

The town of Hradec Kralove - Elder Shirley went there for exchanges this week

The town of Nova Paka.  There are a few members of the ward that live here and Elder Shirley and his companion went tracting here this week.

Nova Paka

Nova Paka

The welcome sign outside of the church building in Jicin

The church building in Jicin

Czech currency

September 22, 2015

First off for this week is our investigator P. She is a solid Catholic that we have been teaching for the past while. We met with her 2 more times this last week and she still has plenty of questions. She has been testing our knowledge on the scriptures, and especially the Bible. But I'm grateful for all the questions and the opportunity to search the scriptures. There really is an answer to any question in the scriptures. It's hard to tell where our meetings with P will go because she has so many questions, but she is an awesome investigator.

This past Wednesday, I got the chance to go on my first exchanges with the zone leaders. I went with Elder Yentes to Hradec Králové. We had a super busy schedule planned and taught a lot of lessons. It was a good experience for me to see another Elder and to see how he worked. I was happy to return to Jičín on Thursday though. 

We are working with quite a few less-actives here too. One of the less-actives that we are working with was one of the first members of the Church here in Jičín. He left the Church about 8 years ago, but we are hoping to reactivate him because he is a great guy. We also meet with another less-active lady a couple times a week. Her only problem is that she doesn't attend church very often. We now have the senior couple here with us and they met both of our less-actives. The senior couple was able to connect with both of them really well which is awesome! 

Yesterday was an interesting day for us. Our senior couple has an apartment here, but does not have any furniture. So Elder Bitner and I took a bus to Prague and met with them and went to Ikea and picked out all their furniture. We shopped for a while and then loaded all the stuff into the mission van. Elder Bitner and I got to drive the car back to Jičín and unload everything in their apartment. It was an all-day activity and that is why I am writing my email today instead of yesterday. 

Not too much else happens around here except lots of contacting on the street and tracting. It's tough work, especially when I can't understand people, but I just go with it! The language slowly progresses through talking to people and listening closely to what they say. I can still go through a church meeting and not understand much, but I think the grammar concepts are making a little more sense now. 

That's all for the week! Love you all and have an awesome week!

-Starší Shirley

We asked Elder Shirley several questions in a recent email; here’s a paragraph with responses to those questions:

It sounds like everything is going great at home. Dan and Abrea both sound like they are doing awesome in soccer. I write some of my letters from a local library and we write some from the computer at the church building. The members here are great and most of them actually speak English, but they are patient with my Czech. Most of the members in this specific branch actually translate for the church! But, I have not been fed by a member yet. I won't actually get to hear General Conference until October10th here. We get it a week after you guys. Our investigator that we had on baptismal date must have dropped off the face of the planet or something because she hasn't responded to us in over a week, which is too bad. It is starting to get pretty cold here, so you can tell that it is Fall now.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fairy Tale Festival Week in Jicin

Doing some service at a member's house on a bright sunny day

Eating bramborak, a traditional Czech food. It is grated potato with some seasoning that is deep fried.  It wasn't too bad!
Posing on the dragon in Jicin

A character seen at the annual Fairy Tale Festival in Jicin.  The other pictures below show additional sights from the festival.

September 14, 2015

Hi everybody!

A few highlights from this past week.

On Tuesday this week, it was one of the sister missionaries birthdays in my district. To celebrate, we went and got McDonalds. That is the first American food that I have eaten in a while. We also do a game night at the church on Tuesday nights. We play ping pong and have a couple other games to play with anyone that shows up and that was pretty fun. It’s hard to talk to people at events like that though because I don't know any words or phrases except gospel words. 

We have a new investigator this week who is a strong Catholic. But she was interested in our church and we got to teach her why we believe what we believe and got to answer all of her questions. She speaks really good English too, so I got to teach some in English, which is really nice. But it did feel a little weird because I'm used to teaching in Czech.

A little while ago, we learned that we would be getting a senior couple here in Jičín with us. We were pretty excited and on Friday Elder Bitner and I took a bus to Prague to pick them up and take them to Jičín. Their names are Elder and Sister Gunnell from Meridian, Idaho. We took them on a little tour of the city and of the church building. They really enjoyed it and are excited to be serving here with us. I've heard the great impact that a senior couple can have in an area so I'm excited to have them here. Being with them also reminded me of my awesome grandparents who just finished their mission in Brazil. 

Saturday was a cool day. Jičín is also known as the fairytale city. Every year they have a fairytale festival here to celebrate. The fairytale festival was this past week. All the missionaries get 3 hours a month to do a culture day. We chose to go to this fairytale festival that was happening here in Jičín. It was pretty cool and there were lots of booths with food and Czech made things. There were lots of fairytale characters walking around. It was a fun day.

We have a couple of other investigators. Neither of them came to church this week but we are trying hard with both of them. One of them is on baptismal date and we are hoping to get the other on date as well. 

Something that I have noticed as we have been meeting with our investigators this past week is that all of their questions can be answered in the scriptures. I have already come to love the scriptures and the answers that you can receive from them. We were asked this week why the Book of Mormon is so important. The Book of Mormon is what sets our church apart from the rest. It contains the convincing evidence of the gospel. I am thankful for the scriptures and for the personal revelation that we can receive from them. 

I'm still struggling learning Czech and I rely on my trainer a lot. He is great and he is helping me to learn as fast as possible. I'm sure the language will just come with time and practice. All is well here in Jičín and I am enjoying being a missionary of the Lord!
That's all for this week! Have a great week everyone!
-Starší Shirley

Elder Shirley sent a separate email responding to some questions that we had asked him recently.  Here are some of his responses:

It’s good to hear that Sugar-Salem soccer is still winning and that Dan is playing well. It’s good to hear that Abrea is doing awesome too! I'm missing canning season! I loved eating all of the peaches. I don't get any of that here.  The language is still way hard but my companion is good about it. Today on P-day, we kinda deep cleaned our apartment and it reminded me of Saturday jobs! I haven't eaten anything crazy yet, which is good. Living here isn't much different, but everything here is sooo cheap. You can buy a package of noodles for 8 crowns, which is about 30 cents. An average meal at a restaurant cost 100 crowns which is about 4 bucks and we can make meals at home for like 40-50 crowns. We get in every night by 7:00 or 8:00pm, depending on the day. Also, a slight difference is that here they go by military time. I don’t have a specific calling/assignment in the ward here, but we do teach different classes every week.  I heard that it takes around 6 weeks to send a package here. And I could also use another sweater.....maybe blue. Just a suggestion though, haha. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Into the Flow of the Mission Schedule

Sister J. She is a member here. We meet with her every week and she is awesome

This is in Sobotka, a small town near Jicin.

A view of the countryside outside of Jicin

The tower in Jicin

Every road here is cobblestone like this

Some other food that we eat. Those are like 100 pound pieces of meat. They shave it off and put it into a tortilla. I thought Dad would especially like this. We eat here once or twice a week. I don't think this is traditional Czech food though.

September 7, 2015


This week was a good one! After almost 2 weeks in the Czech Republic, I feel like I'm into the flow of the mission schedule. This week started off with a progression training this last Tuesday. All of the people that came in my group gathered in the city of Brno to talk about adjusting to mission life and talking a little bit more about what goes on in the mission field. The travel there from Jičín to Brno took about 3 ½ hours there and 3 ½ back. It ended up being a pretty long day. Our mission president, President McConkie also shared some good thoughts at the training. He talked about a story in the Bible, in Mark 2. It is about how the four men carried their friend to the house where Jesus was teaching the people and lowered him down into the room from the roof of the house. He talked about how we are the 4 men that are carrying our friend, or our investigator, to the Savior. It probably wasn't easy to carry someone through the city and lower them down into the house, just like it isn't easy to carry our investigators to the Savior and his gospel. But the love that we have for the people will allow us to keep going and keep teaching. 

We taught a few good lessons in people’s homes this week too. The family that we tracted into 2 weeks ago unfortunately dropped us midway through this past week. It’s hard to find someone that is as great as they were and then to have them not accept your message. But the work goes on! We decided to go tracting again a couple days ago. We knocked on about 5 doors and got to teach a couple lessons on their doorsteps. As we were stepping away from the fifth house, a man walked by us and asked us how we were doing and what we were doing. We got to share a quick version of the Restoration with him too and he really liked our message. We are meeting with him again later today to teach him more. It is awesome to have those experiences and realize that the Lord is helping us in this work. 

Every week here, we teach an English class. We share a spiritual thought at the end of the class period also. This last week, one of our English "students" really liked the verse that we read from the Book of Mormon. We set up a gospel lesson with her and taught her today. She liked the story of the Restoration and we actually put her on date for baptism for the 10th of October. She is the first person that I have had on baptismal date so that is awesome! 

This past Friday, one of our investigators invited us to a singing thing that she had at another church. We decided to support her and we attended this Czech church meeting/concert. It was definitely different than any other church meeting that I have been to. It also made me realize that every church has some truth, but because we have the Book of Mormon, the priesthood, and a prophet today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contains the fullness of the gospel. I am grateful to be a member of this church and get to share this message with the Czechs. 

We had a service day on Saturday. Elder Bitner and I went over to one of the member’s homes and he asked us to help him work on this house that he is building. This week, he wanted to put some cement stairs in on the outside of the house. He had us dig a huge hole by the side of his house so he could pour the concrete. It was some pretty hard work but it reminded me of my job at Western Fence these past 2 years where I had to dig all the post holes. We had a good time.
That is all for this week! The Czech is still pretty hard to understand and to speak, but I'm slowly learning. The people here are awesome and I'm learning to love being a missionary of the Lord. Have a great week! everyone!
-Starší Shirley