Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Start of Transfer 2!

Elder Shirley and his new companion Elder Petty

We went to a concert this last week with a member and the Sister missionaries

Some awesome members here on Elder Bitner's last Sunday

More great members

October 26, 2015

Hi everybody!

This was the last week of my first transfer with Elder Bitner and we had a pretty good week! We had zone training this past Thursday. It was on being a successful missionary and setting good goals. President McConkie is awesome and got me pretty fired up to be a better missionary. We also talked a little bit about the Book of Mormon and the power that it has. We were challenged to read it before Christmas Day, so that is my new goal! 

After training, we went on splits with the zone leaders because they needed my companion to go do some baptismal interviews. I went back to Jičín with Elder Earle. He and I had an awesome time together and we literally talked to every single person that walked even somewhat close to us. We taught a lot of people and it really helped me with my Czech. Elder Earle and I also talked a little bit about transfers coming up and he got me pretty excited for the new transfer. 

A couple of cool things that happened this week were that we contacted a girl on the town square and she didn't really want anything to do with us. She was about to walk away, but I bore my short and simple testimony to her. She then turned to us and said that she would meet the next day. Testimony is powerful! We also contacted a mom pushing a stroller. She also wasn't interested, but he baby in the stroller looked up at us and keep saying the word angels at us. That was pretty awesome.

We finished the week strong with 4 investigators at church as well as 2 less actives. It was great to see the members of our branch so excited to have all of these people come. Our district of 4 missionaries also sang in sacrament meeting. We sang the song “Where Can I Turn for Peace”, which has only recently been translated into Czech. That was a good experience. 

I now have a new companion named Elder Petty. He is from Redmond, Washington and lived in the same stake that the Duvall ward is in. I've only been with him for about an hour or 2 but he's a great guy. He has been in the mission for quite a while so his Czech is great, which is a blessing for me because I need somebody to teach me! But I'm excited to see what this new transfer has in store for me! 

Here are some fun mission facts for you guys.  In order to qualify for a stake, you need 5 branches that qualify to become a ward.  In order to qualify as a ward, the branch needs at least 150 members on the ward list and there needs to be at least 15 active, tithing-paying priesthood holders. The Czech Republic currently has 4 branches that qualify to become a ward. My branch here in Jicin is 1 priesthood holder away from qualifying as a ward.  So, we need to either reactivate or to baptize another Melchizedek priesthood holder here, and when we do, the Czech Republic will be able to have its first stake.  So, there is a little bit of pressure on us right now, haha!

Time does feel like it is flying here! I did hear lots about state soccer and I think that that is awesome! The temple is a blessing to have so close in Rexburg. The members here don't get the chance to go very often I don't think. And if they do, it's a whole day thing for them. I've been trying to read more of the New Testament because a lot of people here know at least a little bit of the Bible. The weather is still quite cold, but it hasn't snowed yet. I think snow here just kinda depends on the year. I heard that the last 2 winters have been pretty weak with snow though. I found a hat and some gloves in my apartment so I didn't have to buy them. I probably won't buy boots unless it gets really snowy. We haven't really gone anywhere for P-day because they're aren't a ton of places to visit close by and getting travel arrangements is hard. 
The Church is true everybody! I love you all! 

-Starší Shirley

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hard Work Brings Fruits!

This is the life!

In front of the Skoda auto museum

A variety of Skoda automobiles on display in the museum

Elder Shirley, Elder Bitner and sister missionaries in the Jicin district

New Skoda on display in museum

District picture in the Skoda museum

A view of the town of Turnov

Another view of Turnov

Nearby castle named Trosky - Elder Shirley hopes to visit this on a future P-day.

October 19, 2015

Hello everybody!

This week was another good one. I feel like I say that every week, but it is always going great here in the Czech Republic! It was pretty cold this week and it rained most of the week too. It's a good thing I love the rain! A few of the highlights of this past week:

On Thursday, we took a trip out to a different city to do some tracting in some other places. We have already gone to a few close-by cities, like Nova Paka and Sobotka, so this time we traveled to Turnov. We had a potential investigator that lived in Turnov, but she ended up not being able to meet. We did an hour or two of tracting and it went really well! We knocked 2 houses that said we could come back, so we are planning on visiting them this week and hopefully we will be getting some solid new investigators.

We had a cool miracle this last week. Our senior couple was in a mall in Mlada Boleslav eating dinner. Right as they finished their meal, a lady walked up to them and said they she recognized their nametags. Our senior couple called us, we talked to her, and set up a meeting for the next day in the chapel. As it turns out, this lady had been taught a little about 3 years ago but she had lost all contact with the missionaries. We taught her the Restoration and I got the chance to ask her if she would be baptized. She loved everything we said and told us that she would be baptized on the 19th of December! She came to church the next day, and even bore her testimony in sacrament meeting. I am super excited for her.

We had to drop a few investigators this week for various reasons. We are still meeting with a few and hope to get quite a few more this next week. This week is the last in the transfer, so I will have a new companion next Monday. Elder Bitner and I have an awesome week on plan already for this last week and we are planning on doing some good work to end the transfer.

A couple days ago, we walked by an old man in the street. He turned to us and said something that I thought was really cool. He said "I see you guys all the time walking around all over the place. But you know what boys, it brings fruits. It brings fruits." Sharing this gospel is a wonderful thing, and over time, it will bring fruits just as this old man said.

Love you all! Have a fantastic week!
-Starší Shirley 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Birthday Wishes for Mom From Jicin

Birthday wishes for Mom

Downtown Jicin

No description provided by Elder Shirley. It reminds us of a room in a scene from the Sound of Music.

Fall colors around Jicin

Fall colors around Jicin

Trees around Jicin

A tower discovered while out and about on P-day

Elder Shirley says that the picture doesn't do this justice - you need to see this in person!

October 13, 2015

Hello everybody!

I hope all is well with everyone! It is getting to be pretty cold here lately in the Czech Republic. But the work is still going! Elder Bitner and I have spent a lot of time this past week trying to find new investigators through contacting and tracting. I do believe that the Lord has prepared people to hear the gospel, we just have to find those people. 

We taught a few great lessons this past week with investigators and with some less-actives. We also had an investigator come and listen to General Conference on Saturday which is awesome. 
I have been reading a lot out of the Book of Mormon lately as well as the Bible. We get lots of questions asked to us and I know that anything can be answered with the scriptures. I have come to realize that through listening and learning about other people's thoughts of religion, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really does have the fulness of the gospel. I am so glad to have this knowledge and to have the opportunity to share it.

General Conference was this past week for us in the Czech Republic and I thought it was really good. I enjoy listening to, learning from, and feeling the Spirit of our prophet and apostles. I especially enjoyed Elder Eyring's talk about the Holy Ghost. I also enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf's talk. I am grateful to have modern day revelation from these great men. I was impressed with the 3 new apostles as well and am excited to have them serving in the Quorum of the Twelve. 

Also, for those who don't know, transfers in my mission are every 9 weeks instead of the regular 6. 
The work continues here in Jičín. Being a missionary is a great experience. Love you all and have a great week!

-Starší Shirley

We asked Elder Shirley several questions in a recent email; here’s a separate email to Shiree with responses to those questions and some additional info:

Good luck to Dan and Abrea this week with soccer and basketball! I love hearing about their sports! I'm glad you guys are still finding time for the temple. The closest temple to us here is a couple hours by train, so we are definitely lucky to live in Rexburg. Bowling sounds like fun...you guys are lucky that I wasn't there to beat you all! It has gotten pretty cold here and the heaters have been turned on in our apartment as well. 

Transfers will be in 2 weeks. I'll probably stay here because my companion is leaving and they usually have someone stay in the area. The best part of my day is meal time, of course! Haha and when we finally stop someone and they actually want to talk to us. For breakfast, we eat cereal. Lunch is usually light and I usually make some noodles. Dinner is most often stroganoff and sometimes frozen pizza. Every evening we plan and then I write in my journal and do whatever else. I have gotten to play basketball 3 or 4 times, but I haven't for the last couple of weeks. P-days are usually just relaxing and cleaning the apartment. We haven't really gone anywhere yet. The Czech people are pretty friendly, but it always just depends on the person. We've gotten swore at a few times, so you always meet those mean people haha. I have been healthy so far and hopefully that keeps up!

Your birthday is tomorrow! Happy Birthday Mom! You are the best. I'm sorry I can't be there to celebrate with you, but I'll be thinking of you. I join in with Elder Holland and everything he said at conference. I owe you everything. So thank you. Love you lots! Have a good week!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Familiar With the Country and Really Blossoming!

Elder Shirley & his companion Elder Bitner (picture courtesy of Sister Gunnell)

Elders Shirley & Bitner (picture courtesy of Sister Gunnell)

A service project. Elder Shirley says "we basically just hit this guys house with these axes"

Another service project - cutting down a tree at the church building

Some Czech food.  "This is a mushroom cake that I'm sure Dad would love. I ate the whole thing and it was actually kind of good."

A bunch of ducks

Some random statue heads

Elder Shirley baked bread!

October 5, 2015

Hey everyone!

This week didn't have too many major events that happened. A lot of the time is spent here going contacting and going tracting. We choose a new part of the city every day and go try and talk to people about the gospel. I think it's funny how many people here are either scared of us, ignore us, or won't even walk by us on the sidewalk. I think most of the people here in Jičín have seen or talked to the missionaries before and they know who we are. Something that has been a little hard for me though is just walking up to people and trying to start a gospel conversation. It's hard enough because I don't know the language, but it's even harder when people respond and I have absolutely no idea what they say! But I'm learning to love it! I'm just glad my companion is good at Czech!

We have about 3 investigators right now that are meeting regularly with us and they are all progressing well. It's cool to be able to relate the gospel in a personal way to all different kinds of people, no matter what their life is like. We are also meeting with 2 great less-actives. One of them have started coming back to church and the other keeps inviting us back to his home, so that is great!

Even though I won't hear general conference until next week, I did hear about the three new apostles. I am very excited to have Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, and Elder Renlund as apostles. I am also very excited to watch conference. Conference feels like such a bigger deal to me now than it ever has before.

The biggest event of this last week happened at church yesterday. We had branch conference and a new branch presidency was called. The district presidency came and President McConkie and his wife came as well. We got to hear some great talks from them. 

Elder Bitner and I are doing awesome here in Jičín! Being a missionary is great and the gospel is great. I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity to share what I know with the people here that have been prepared by the Lord.

Love you all!
-Starší Shirley

{In addition to Elder Shirley’s weekly letter, we received a surprise email and pictures from the senior missionary couple who recently started serving in Jici (Elder & Sister Gunnell). Their email is included below.}

Dear Shirleys,

Just wanted to let you know we are a Senior Couple serving with your son in Jicin.  We took these pictures one weekend before we were able to move here for good.  Just thought you might want to see them and also know what an amazing son you have!  We love him so much and he has been a great help to us. He has really blossomed over the past couple of weeks now that he is more familiar with the country.  He translated for me, Sestra Gunnell, during Sacrament meeting yesterday.  He will be a great asset to the work here in the Czech Republic!  Sincerely, Starsi and Sestra Gunnell