Monday, December 28, 2015

Goodbye Jičín, hello Uherské Hradiště!

Elder Shirley and his Christmas presents

Buckets of carp on the town square for the traditional Christmas meal

Photos taken in Prague on December 23rd

The classic Christmas carp.  At our training meeting, we all pulled a scale off of it.  It is Czech tradition to pull a scale off and keep it in your wallet for the rest of the year.  It means that you will stay rich!

My scale is in the bag.  The "pig" lemon thing is another Czech tradition. You are supposed to put it by your bedside on Christmas Eve.  Everyone also cuts an apple in half for another tradition. If you get a star in the middle, it means good fortune for the next year. A cross means bad luck. {It looks like it will be a year of good fortune for Elder Shirley!}

My district after we sang at the missionary training meeting

Another picture of Elder Shirley and the Jicin district at the missionary training meeting

Elder Shirley's Christmas tree surrounded with presents

All packed up and ready for the transfer to Uherské Hradiště

Cathedral in Brno seen from the bus station

Seen on the bus ride from Brno to Uherské Hradiště

Also seen on the bus ride from Brno to Uherské Hradiště

Elder Shirley's Skype call on Christmas day with the family

December 28, 2015

It was a crazy week here! I'll try to fit in all the detail that I can!

On Monday, we had a pretty normal P-day. We bought some Christmas gifts and made some Christmas ornaments in preparation for the week.

Tuesday we had a good day of contacting. We also met with a less-active.

Wednesday was training day in Prague! We traveled to Prague early in the morning and walked through the streets and on Old Town Square to look at all the Christmas stuff! Right afterwards, we got together with 2 zones of missionaries, about 50 of us, and we sang carols right on the square. Tons of people stopped and took pictures and videos. It was cool! Then we went to the church building and had our training. We talked about the story of the birth of Jesus. President and Sister McConkie talked about different parts and related the stories to us as missionaries. At training, my district and I also sang a musical number, and it went really well!

Thursday (12/24) is celebrated as Christmas day here. As missionaries in our mission, we are told to try and visit as many people as possible during the Christmas week. So Thursday, all day, we went around and knocked on as many members doors as possible. We were in each house for about 10 minutes and we just showed them the Christmas video, A Savior is Born, then bore our testimonies, and then left. It was a great experience to get to preach Jesus Christ all day on Christmas! We ate a Czech Christmas dinner at a members house that night as well. We didn't eat the traditional carp, but we had kloubasy. We also opened all our presents that night!

On Friday, we made more Christmas visits all morning! Then around noon, we went to the senior couple’s house, and ate an awesome Christmas dinner. We got to Skype our families as well! 

Saturday, we continued to make Christmas visits, this time in Nova Paka. After we made a couple stops, we got invited to dinner again! We got fed a lot this week and it was great! I got a call that night and was told about transfers. I was told that I will be leaving Jičín and will travel across the country to serve in Uherské Hradiště. 

Sunday was my last sacrament meeting in Jičín and I gave a going away testimony. I said bye to all the members too. It was hard to leave a branch that I had grown close too, but I'm excited to meet another branch! We got fed again, one last time before I left. Then I packed all night and got ready for the travels the next day!

Today, Monday, was a day full of travels! I went to Prague in the morning, and then said bye to Elder Petty. I then jumped on a bus and went to Brno. I transferred buses at Brno and then got on one to Uherské Hradiště. I made it here safely and now I am with my new companion Elder Suwyn. 

I am excited to see what this new city brings! Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and Happy New Year!
-Starší Shirley

{This week we also received an email from a member family in Jicin that Elder Shirley and the other missionaries in Jicin visited. Elder Shirley says that this member family is one of the first members of the church in the Czech Republic and that this brother is the only Czech temple sealer in the world.  We are grateful to hear from this family and for their kind words and their hospitality to our son. In addition to the email, a couple of pictures were attached as well (shown below)}

Dear Shirley family,

It was a great privilege to meet your nice son. Elder Shirley is a very good missionary with strong testimony.  
He is very dedicated young man and is doing really well on learning his Czech. He works very hard at missionary work. You have raised a wonderful obedient son and should be proud of him. He is doing great.
We suggested him to take a picture and send it to you. Your son and his companion agreed with this (photos are in attachment).

Thank you for sharing your son with us in Jicin.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas From the Czech Republic!

We listened to a Christmas concert performed by a group called Smetana. Apparently they are a super famous group and it was really good. Catholic Kostels {churches} are freezing cold though! {Notice how everyone is bundled up in coats and hats!}

Inside a Catholic kostel (church)

 It is the start of Christmas week and we already have a ton of food from the members! Everybody here makes cukroví. They are these little cookie things. I'll probably be a little heavier after the Christmas season!

December 21, 2015

Ahoj everyone!

This past week was great! A lot of preparing for the Christmas time. We have been trying to set up with everyone to get a visit in during the Christmas time. I'm really excited for this next week as well! Past week highlights:

-Monday we had Family Home Evening again. We got a few people to show up. We read the story of the birth of Jesus in Luke. We have basically been reading this passage to everyone that we meet with. I love how in this story, that the angel says that Jesus Christ's birth is a gift for ALL people. The Savior was born for each one of us individually. 

Tuesday- We had district meeting like usual in Jičín. Then we went out and tracted for a few hours. We found a couple potentials which was great! We finished the night with our weekly game night at the church building. 

Wednesday-We did some less active work and contacted all day. One of our less-actives has a handicapped man that she takes care of, and he decided that he wanted to arm wrestle. So I arm wrestled him and he was way stronger than I thought. We figured it's probably because he pushes himself around in a wheel chair all day! Definitely one of the hardest workouts I've had in a while haha.

Thursday-We went to Nova Paka and did some finding there. We also set up with an older couple and they are now new investigators! We had English class as well.

Friday- Half of the day Friday was spent moving a member. They bought a new house outside the city so we helped them transfer over all of their furniture. It reminded me of my family moving! We also went to a Christmas concert later that night.

Saturday- Met with our new investigators and had a good lesson. They declined our baptismal commitment though. But we'll work with them! We met with some less-actives again as well.

Sunday- We had our Christmas church service. We ended up having 8 investigators and 7 less actives show up for it which was awesome! Elder Petty and I did a musical number in sacrament meeting, and I was pretty nervous, but it turned out alright! We also helped out in the Primary's Bethlehem. I was King Ceasar! 

Tubs of carp came out onto the town squares yesterday! We have a couple tubs in Jičín. Pretty crazy. I'm not sure if we'll get fed for Christmas dinner so I don't know if I'll get to try it. {Carp is the traditional Christmas meal in the Czech Republic and several days before Christmas, vendors set up tubs on street corners filled with water and live carp since Czechs like to eat their carp as fresh as possible} 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas! Love you all!
-Elder Shirley

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What Can I Give Back to the Savior This Christmas?

In Petrin with the district. Prague castle is in the background

Elder Shirley & his companion Elder Petty in Prague

A selfie with Prague castle in the background

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the apartment

Petřín lookout tower

Several pictures of Prague

December 14, 2015


Hope everyone had a great week! We had a good one here! You can definitely feel that it's Christmas time! Lots of shops, markets with Christmas stuff, and lights everywhere! I love Christmas time! This week was good!

Monday- We had Family Home Evening again. The lesson was on Christmas of course! The lesson was based around the question, what can I give back to the Savior this Christmas? It made everyone think and it made me realize that we have so much to give back!

Tuesday- We had district meeting in Mlada Boleslav. We watched the Christmas devotional from the first presidency and it was great! I really enjoyed Elder Bednar's talk about the Nephites. We also had a branch activity that night. We got Meet the Mormons translated into Czech and we gathered a bunch of members, less actives, and investigators at a member’s home and watched it together. It touched a lot of them and was a good activity.

Wednesday - Nothing too special. We tried to find somewhere to do service on Christmas Day, but not too much success.

Thursday - We had a meeting with our baptismal date! He is a great guy, but doesn't know hardly anything about Jesus Christ. So we are starting at square one with him. But he is awesome! We also taught English that night.

Friday- Met with some less-actives and did some finding. Good day!

Saturday- Last week, when I had visa work in Prague, my companion contacted a lady that was in charge of an outdoor music display. She said that she'd love to have us come and sing. So we took a trip to Prague and met with 13 other missionaries and went and sang for this event. It was on a hill in Prague called Petřín. It was really fun and we had quite a few people video us and take pictures. One of the coolest things I have gotten to do!

Sunday- - We had 2 less actives show up to church, but no investigators. It was a great meeting though. In second hour, we got to go to Primary because we are involved in the nativity scene that they are doing for Christmas. Primary is insane but the kids are awesome! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!
-Starší Shirley

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Reunion with MTC Group in Prague

Sunset in Jicin this week

Another sunset picture

A pipe thing that a member has here. She has had every missionary drink out of it for the last 20 years.

December 7, 2015


I'll get right to it this week.

Monday: We had P-day. We didn't do a whole lot. We went to Mlada Boleslav for most of the day. We had FHE again in Mlada. This time we only had 1 investigator show up with her 2 kids, but it was still fun! 

Tuesday: We had district meeting in Jičín. For our district finding activity, we went out on the main street in the city and sang hymns and Christmas songs. While the other 3 sang, I got to contact people! It was a fun experience.

Wednesday: We had a little Christmas party at the church. We set up some decorations and made some crafts. We don't have too many branch activities, so it was a good time to be around the branch during the week!

Thursday: Nothing too special. We had a few less active lessons. One in Mlada and the other in Jičín. Other than that, just some contacting! 

Friday: On Friday, we went to Prague! I had to go there and do some visa work. There apparently are 4 steps to get your visa, and this was the first. My MTC group was back together for the first time since the MTC. It was great to see all them again and hear about their experiences. Most of the day was spent in Prague, but we drove back to Jičín that night and finished the day with a couple hours of tracting. 

Saturday: We did weekly planning like usual in the morning and then we had the rest of the day open. We tracted during most of that time in two different places in the city. We found a few potentials in a small neighborhood outside of town.

Sunday: We had a great fast and testimony meeting. I still don't fully understand people, but I can catch the main ideas. Elder Petty and I ended up teaching gospel principles class and young men’s after that, so that was fun! We were also volunteered this past week to be the district that sings at zone training on the 23rd. So we've started practicing a four-part a cappella version of Carol of the Bells. I'm the worst singer out of the group, but I think the song will turn out alright.

That's the rundown of this last week! Talk to you all next week! 
-Starší Shirley

This is a paragraph of responses to some of the questions that we sent to Elder Shirley this week:
Work is a little slow sometimes. The language is still pretty hard. I definitely don't know as much as I would like. I get frustrated sometimes, but hey, that's how learning a language is! Cooking is great as usual! Sister Boza showed up how to make this Guatemalan dish which was super good. I made tortillas, but it took a long time. We only have an hour to cook and eat, so we can't get too fancy haha. You can tell everybody that I'm loving it here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 in Jicin, Czech Republic

Ready for Thanksgiving dinner

The Thanksgiving feast

Traditional Czech wreath. You light a candle every Sunday night before Christmas

The Christmas tree on the namesti (the town square)

Christmas lights in Jicin

More Christmas lights in Jicin

Christmas display in the mall in Mlada Boleslav

November 30, 2015


I have noticed that my emails every week aren't full of too much detail, so I've made a plan to be better!

On Monday, we did a family home evening in Mlada Boleslav with the Sister missionaries. We had a few investigators show up and a few less actives. We will be having it again tonight!

On Tuesday, we had zone training in Prague. It was a good training on member lessons, on working hard, and a thought on Jesus Christ from John 10:1-16 about how Christ is the good shepherd. As part of the training, they split us off into pairs and had us go contacting for a half an hour. Elder Earle and I jumped on a tram and walked up and down it, contacting everyone that was in it. It was pretty cool!

Wednesday, we went to Nova Paka and to Mlada Boleslav, and taught a few lessons in both places.

Thursday was Thanksgiving! We ate a great dinner prepared by the Gunnells, and ate with the Sisters and with a member. It was nice to get a Thanksgiving here away from home! 

Friday we took a bus to Lázně Bělohrad and met with some awesome members that lived there. They got baptized by the first missionaries that came and served here after communism. The members here are so strong!

Yesterday at church, we had our Primary program! We had 8 kids in it and it was great as usual. Sunday night was also the lighting of the Christmas tree on the town square. Basically the whole city got together on the square. It was pretty cool!

At the end of November, I am about half way through the Book of Mormon. We, as a mission were challenged to finish it before Christmas. This time reading it, it is as good as ever! 

I love this gospel and I love being a missionary! I have seen that this gospel changes people's lives and makes them happier. I am thankful for that! Love you all!

-Starši Shirley

Sister Gunnell wrote us a short email on Thanksgiving day and said the following:

It was a great Thanksgiving Day! Starsi Shirley ate so much he couldn’t finish his pie!  By the way, he has grown ¾ of an inch in the 3 months we’ve been here.  We measured him and he is now 6’ 2 3/4”.  People have been noticing :)  We have a mark on the wall for him!

This is a paragraph of responses to some of the questions that we sent to Elder Shirley this week:

This week was good! It was the Christmas season kick off this week around the country. The next transfers are on the 28th of December, so I know that I will be in Jičín on Christmas. Thanksgiving dinner was great! I did miss having berry pie though! We had home-made stuffing, 2 small turkeys, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and green bean casserole. Church attendance was back to normal and we didn't have any investigators there this week. I have maybe grown half an inch...probably more like a quarter. The Sisters in my district live in Mlada Boleslav. They are from Guatemala and Utah. Elder Petty (his companion) still has another transfer after this, so he won’t be going home until February.