Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas in Brno

Elder Shirley and Elder Carlson with their new Christmas hats

Christmas presents under the little Christmas tree

Making clay nativity pieces on Christmas Eve at a member's house

Brno district

December 27, 2016

Hi Everyone!

It was good to hear and see you guys on the Skype call!

I'll just share with you a few Czech traditions that I experienced this last week. On Monday, we went to a member’s house and he had bought 2 carp and they were alive in the bathtub. Czechs eat carp on Christmas and the carp are sold on street corners all over the city. They are in big tubs and you can go up and buy one alive, or they can kill it for you on the spot. The member had it alive so that we could see him kill one. Then the other one was killed by my comp, Elder Carlson. We decorated their Christmas tree with them as well.

We made a ton of visits from the 23-26th. We went with the Sisters and stopped by as many members’ houses as we could. We sang a Czech Christmas carol for them (Narodil se Kristus Pan) and shared a verse from the Book of Mormon. We ended up finding a few less active members that we are planning to work with in the future. It was a lot of traveling and a lot of short visits, but it was great! Oh and with every visit that we made, people gave us these Czech Christmas cookies. They are called cukrovi and they are super good. But after eating some at every house you visit, it gets pretty hard to keeping eating at the 5th or 6th visit. 

Here in the Czech Republic, the main holiday is the 24th. We got invited to a member's house for dinner that night and ate the traditional Christmas meal with them, fried carp with potato salad. It was pretty good! Czech potato salad is hard to beat. We also did the apple cutting tradition where you cut an apple in half and if you see a star in the center it is a sign of good luck, but if you see a cross in the center it is a sign of sickness or death. We read from the Bible, the Christmas story with their family as well and acted out the story. It made for an awesome Czech Christmas experience.

Hope you all had a great Christmas experience as well! I know that Jesus Christ was born of Mary and that he is our Savior.

Love you all!
-Elder Shirley

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Working In a Threesome and Getting Ready For Christmas

Brno district after the Christmas concert. Elder Jensen arrived to make a threesome of elders. Elder Shirley was happy for the opportunity to wear a bow tie!

At a ballet performance

Scene from the ballet

Christmas decorations in Brno

Czech Christmas cookies

Contacting on the tram - one of the most common activities Elder Shirley engages in

With some members after doing service at their house

Brno district picture taken a couple of weeks ago

Some candid shots of Elder Shirley taken by his companion

December 19, 2016


Thanks again for that really awesome present that you sent! (referring to the photos of family and friends that were assembled into a Christmas tree shape). I also put your wrapped presents under our small fake Christmas tree and you sent so many that they don't even fit! You didn't have to send that many presents. But I do appreciate it.

As for me this week, a few pretty big things happened. We were having a pretty normal work week as of Wednesday. We taught a few lessons and met with a few people. Actually we had an interesting experience. We met with one girl in a restaurant and we were going to eat lunch and teach her. We ordered, talked a little bit and were just starting to get into the lesson when we finished our food. Our plates were taken and we paid for the food. The waiter then comes back and he isn't the happiest guy I have ever met. We had the Book of Mormon out on the table and he said to us, "If you aren't ordering a drink then you have to leave. This isn't an office, you can't just sit and talk." Keep in mind that there are about 5 other people in the whole restaurant. But he basically made us end our appointment and leave. The girl that we met with left and we didn't even really teach anything. That was a little frustrating. But we taught some good lessons and we have a few investigators that are progressing.

On Wednesday night we were on our way home when we got a call from President. He told us that Elder Carlson and I will be training. Elder Jensen had been visa waiting in California and had just gotten his visa. He flew in this week and came straight to Brno and now we are in a threesome and training. That was quite the surprise! Life has changed a little bit. But Elder Jensen is great and we are enjoying it.

We also had the annual Brno Christmas concert this week. The ward gathers and everyone invites their friends. There ended up being about 90-100 people at this concert in the church building. All of us missionaries were in the ward choir and we also sang Silent Night, the five of us, as part of the program. I can't say I wasn't nervous, but I think we sounded alright. I think the more and more I have to perform musically in front of people, the less and less I like it.

Yesterday, I had a cool experience. The Sisters in our district have a baptism this next week! And because I am the district leader as well here in Brno, I had the opportunity to give an interview for baptism. It was a good, spiritual experience and she is totally prepared. People here are waiting and ready to be baptized! We are excited for the ordinance on Wednesday this week. 

Today we will be at a less-active member’s house and we will be doing a Czech Christmas tradition with him. People buy carp (if you remember from last year) from these big tubs that are on the streets. He bought one and has it at his house. He invited us over to kill it with him haha. It should be fun!

Merry Christmas to all of you! I'm excited for our Skype call this Sunday! I'll probably be on around 17:30 my time which is around 9:30 your time. Hope that is alright! The bishop is having us over to let us Skype.

-Elder Shirley

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How Members Can Be Better Missionaries

The photo Christmas tree that we sent to him with pictures of many family members and friends.  Elder Shirley said "This is probably one of the best things I have gotten on my mission!"

Working hard......

A couple pics of the Czech countryside - things still seem pretty green for December

December 12, 2016


We had another exchange this week. I was with Elder Stacey, who is from Idaho Falls, ID. We were in the MTC together so we are pretty close. It was fun to be with him and to serve with him for a day. We taught our guy that we have on baptismal date. We taught the Word of Wisdom and it went really well. He said that he has tried to quit smoking in the past but couldn't. Maybe faith can help this time! He said from our lesson on, that he wouldn't smoke. We'll see how it went! 

We did a lot of teaching and street contacting at the start of the week. We tried to fit a bunch of lessons in Wednesday and Thursday. A lot just ended up not coming or cancelling. So we were mostly just on the streets. But it was good to have a few good hours to contact both days. We had MLC (missionary leadership conference) this past weekend. It was in a little hotel kind of a thing outside of Prague. It is owned by a member here and we had the whole place to ourselves. We planned for a good solid 8 hours about what we can do in the upcoming year and in the upcoming trainings. It was pretty long but needed to be done.

We stayed the night there on Friday and then on Saturday, we had a great training on how we can better work with members and how members can be better missionaries. The ward mission leaders from wards and branches were invited and it was really cool. There were some really good insights as well. Specifically we talked about 3 things that members can do better: 1) Members can more often use religious words and phrases in everyday life. That can spark interest when we talk to our friends. 2) When our friends ask "You believe in God?” we can respond, "Yes I do! It is great. Why do you ask?" 3) When we invite people to learn more about our church, let them know before you ask them that you still want to be friends no matter if they say no or yes. That way if your friend feels uncomfortable about religion, they know that even if they say no, you can still be friends. I know that member missionary work is the most effective way! Everyone has friends that are prepared to receive the gospel! 

Yesterday we also had a cool experience. Bishop invited us over for dinner and we went caroling with their family for an hour or two. It was really fun and reminded me of my family! Overall, a great week!

I got all of the packages and the one from Thanksgiving! Thank you! That Christmas tree of all the pictures was probably one of the best things I have gotten on my mission :) 

Love you! 
Elder Shirley

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Přineste Světlo Světu (Light The World)

Several pictures of the Brno town square with the Christmas market set up

Instead of Santa Claus, they have Ježíšek, which means baby Jesus. We were talking to somebody about that today on the tram and decided that baby Jesus makes a lot more sense than Santa.

December 5, 2016


This week we were in Prague with the assistants for exchanges. It went well and we had a good time. We tried to stop people on the street and have them look up the Light the World video on their phones. Nobody wanted to would be quite a bit easier with iPads here!

The #Light the World campaign was actually translated into Czech. Our mission uses the church material well, so we have been using that pretty actively. In fact one day this week, Elder Carlson and I, for morning workout, went running around the city for an hour and a half and took chalk with us. In Czech "Light the World" is "Přineste Světlo Světu”, which literally translates to "Bring the Light to the World." We wrote "Přineste Světlo Světu" 38 times around the city and in the city center. The Sisters in our district did it as well. We are hoping that with the thousands of people here through the holidays, people will see it on the ground and look it up on their phones. 

We traveled to Zlin, a city that is in the Uherske Hradiste district, for a district meeting with the missionaries there this week. It was cool to be back in a city that I had visited so often in my 8 months while serving in UH.

We also had an exchange with Elders from Olomouc. I was with Elder Collins and we had one of the best exchanges I've had. I'm not even sure why. Everyone seemed to listen to us and we found quite a few investigators. We even gave somebody a baptismal date on the street! Haha unfortunately it was declined. We taught our investigator that has a baptismal date and he seems to be progressing well. He prayed at the end of the lesson for the first time which was awesome!

We had a great sacrament meeting on Sunday, and it was very well attended. I think there were 80 people there, one of the biggest since I have been here in Brno. We found a lady from Zimbabwae (not sure how that is spelled) and she invited us to her church that evening. So we went with her yesterday night to the Pentecostal church. It was interesting...pretty different from ours but it is good insight to see how other churches work.

The cold is here! Every day we have to wear long sleeves, sweaters, coats, scarfs, gloves, and 2 pairs of socks. I don't remember it being this cold last year. All the more fun and memories with the contacting blocks in the freezing cold weather not being able to feel your toes haha. But there is nothing better than the Christmas season as a missionary! Jesus Christ was born of Mary and really lived. He taught us the way and is our example. We can follow him thanks to a living prophet. He is our Savior and is the light of the world.

Love you!
-Elder Shirley

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Week In Brno

Ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner!

Elder Shirley with the town of Brno in the background

The Thanksgiving feast enjoyed by the Brno missionaries. Elder Shirley says, "Our sister missionaries here in Brno are awesome!They literally cooked everything for us." Thank you Sisters Valentine and Huylar!

Christmas tree lighting in the Olomouc town square

November 28, 2016


Tuesday was a pretty normal day for us here, one of the few normal ones that we have had lately. We had district meeting and just did a lot of street contacting that day. It is kind of interesting that recently we haven't had a whole lot of street contacting because we honestly just haven't had time. We have been missing the 2 or 3 hour contacting blocks recently with the lack of time. We had English class and then met with our investigator afterwards. 

Wednesday we were on an exchange with two Elders. We had a pretty good day and were running around the city to catch trams and buses. Missionary life is always fast paced! Exchanges are always successful days. We came away from the exchange with 2 or 3 potential investigators. That night, we drove to the city of Třebič and did a little finding in their area. We also visited their district meeting. We drove back that night and had a late lesson. We taught the guy about baptism and actually ended up reading Moroni 8 with him. He is a really cool guy and didn't even get offended haha. We ran to get home at 9:30 that night. 

Thanksgiving Day was pretty good. We had on plan to visit a castle but it didn't end up working out. It was a normal day until about 5 o’clock. Our sister missionaries here in Brno are awesome! They literally cooked everything for us. We ate dinner together in the church building. All us Elders did was buy rolls from the store across the church building. We are definitely blessed to be serving around sisters during the holidays!

We went to another district meeting in a different city on Friday. It was in Olomouc, which is probably the prettiest city in the CZ. There are a lot of college students there and it made for some good contacting there too. Every year at the end of November, the city lights the Christmas tree in the town square and everyone gathers to see it. There were soooooo many people there. It was really cool! And now there are Christmas markets all over in the city. Christmas time is here! Best time to be a missionary! As of a few hours ago, we put our Christmas tree up. Pulled it off the shelf from some missionaries that left it there in the past and plugged it in haha. Pretty simple process and a pretty small plastic tree.  

It looks like you all had an awesome and exciting weekend! It was good to see all the pictures of the family. At least I feel a little bit like I was there. I liked the picture of everyone sleeping in the family room haha. Also, Brett and his facial hair?? He can grow more than I can!

Here are a couple of questions we sent to Elder Shirley and his answers:

Q.  Where is your companion from?
A: My comp is from all over the states. His Dad is in the military (AIr Force) so he has lived in about 8 or so states and also lived in Germany.

Q.  How are your investigators progressing?
A. As far as investigators go, we have one guy with a baptismal date that we are regularly meeting with. His name is Dan haha so it fits in with the family. 

Love you all!

-Elder Shirley

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's a Blessing to Have Sisters In My District Who Can Cook!

Brno district.  Sisters Valentine and Huyler, Elders Carlson and Shirley

Jihlava town square

Elder Shirley with Elder Plewe

Most of the original June 2015 MTC group

November 21, 2016


This week was awesome! With being zone leader, we have a lot to plan. It is definitely hard work, but a lot of fun at the same time. And with all of the planning and traveling that we have, we are getting behind in at home like dishes haha. We had training last week in Slovakia. That was my third time going there. It was a really great training. Elder Saben came from the Seventy and gave a big portion of it and we had a little question and answer with him as well. He is such a wise man and knows the scriptures almost better than anyone I know. On Thursday, we were in Prague for mission leadership council and Elder Saben was there as well. He led a great discussion about how our mission can improve.

A few highlights of this last week. We had an exchange with Elders from Jihlava. We went and picked them up in their city on the way back from MLC. So I got to see a new part of the Czech Republic. A boy in our primary here was baptized this last week. It was a great service and was well attended. We did service at a less active members house. They were moving apartments and we moved a ton of boxes. As it turns out, I lost one of my missionary tags somewhere in the midst of it all. We found 2 awesome new investigators this last week. Both college aged guys who are open to hear more.

About an hour ago we were contacting in the city and I met a guy that thought he knew the Bible so well that he could prove that we were wrong. We ended up having a pretty good conversation but he just kept denying the thought that God called another prophet. It was a testimony to me about how the gospel is simple. When people are confused it is because they try too hard to understand the simple doctrine that it really contains. God loves us. Jesus is our Savior. We have his authority on the Earth and we can return to Him. The simpleness of the way!

My companion Elder Carlson is great; fun to be around. And we will be together for the holidays so we are preparing for that. He came out into the country 2 months after I did, so he’s just a little younger in the mission than I am. 

(We told Josh about how we spent the weekend in SLC and left Dan and Abrea home)
Dad does know you well. That sounds like a great and relaxing weekend. You are definitely a shopper! :) You left Dan and Abrea home alone as well? That was brave of you two. 

I'll be missing you guys during the holiday season. Our holidays here will be good too. This district will be together for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas; it should be a fun time. We have Sisters in the district that know how to cook so we are lucky!  That is definitely something to be thankful for.  We'll see what we can manage to make. 

The Czech Republic is great because of the people. There really are great people that live here. The buildings and cities are beautiful. The food is delicious. 

Dan is really still sitting it out from basketball? (due to an ankle injury) That's hard. Hopefully the team manages without him. Abrea seems to be doing great too! That's awesome that she is starting (on the freshman girls basketball team).

This week will be packed, so we'll for sure stay busy! Love you lots!
-Elder Shirley

Monday, November 14, 2016

We Need to Come to Know Our Savior

The Brno district at the famous Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Brno

Pictures from the Brno ossuary - all of the wall are made of human bones and skulls!

Elder Shirley's Halloween costume

At the ward Halloween party

The Brno missionaries eating out

From what I've been able to figure out, Limona Dovy Joe (translates to "Lemonade Joe") is a 1964 Czechoslovak musical comedy film that is a parody of the American Western. Apparently, the film enjoys a near-iconic status in the Czech Republic

Haha! Missionaries don't get to watch movies like this while serving.

November 14, 2016


This week for us was probably one of the most successful on my mission. We have a lot of people that we are teaching and working with right now. A little different than what I am used too, but I am definitely happy for the blessings we are getting right now. This week we will be in Prague and in Bratislava so we will see how things turn out this week. 

The biggest thing that happened this last week was on Thursday. All the missionaries gathered in Brno to have interviews with the mission president. There were about 18 of us here and since only 1 goes at a time, we all went and did finding together. We went to the busiest spot in town with about 14 of us at a time and we sang on the street. Half sang and the other half contacted people. Because interviews last a while, we were out doing that for a few hours. We also ate lunch as a zone. It was really fun and I enjoy working with all of the missionaries together. I think sometimes, it is hard to feel that we are connected to something bigger and better than just our work in our city, but we got to see and feel how strong the missionary work here is in our zone when we all come together. And a big “thanks” to all the missionaries for coming to our city and helping us here. 

Being a zone Leader is great! We are in contact a lot more with President and with the APs. We call all of our areas in our zone every week and have to check on their work and get information about people they teach. We go on exchanges with District Leaders and with new missionaries. At some point, we will also lead a training session when all the missionaries get together. We also go to mission leadership councils (MLCs) and talk about how we can be more successful in our mission. Oh, and President wants us to visit all the districts this transfer and go to their district meetings. So we will be traveling quite a bit in the near future. Definitely a little more planning, but still mostly just the same missionary work.

Our area right now is doing really well! We have 2 people on baptismal date and they are looking good. We found a few new people this week as well. Elder Carlson is an awesome missionary. He just gets out and works hard. He talks to everyone all the time and is a good example for me. 

Recently, I have taken quite a bit of interest in the life of Jesus Christ. It is amazing to me how many opinions people have of Him in the world. So I think it is our job to come to know our Savior for who He really is. Like Elder Bednar has said, "We can come to know the Father by coming to know His Son, Jesus Christ." I know that as we study Jesus Christ and as we read of Him, we can come to know Him for who He is and what He did. We can know that He really did live and perform miracles. And as we come to know Him, our relationship to God, our Heavenly Father, is strengthened. Jesus Christ is the foundation of this church and leads it through His living prophet. 

I can't wait to talk to you at Christmas either, even though it is still a little more than a month out haha! I'm sure we can get something arranged to make it work! Congrats to Dan and Abrea in basketball! I hope to hear good things about both of their seasons. Every time I see pictures, I can't believe how much they have both changed. It'll be weird to see them again!

I'm not surprised to hear about the election. We have literally been hearing about the election for months. Literally everyone, once they find out we are from America, asks us what we think about the elections. I am honestly pretty glad to be a missionary and to not have seen all of the election process. All I know about the elections is that everyone, at least as far as the Czech Republic goes, thinks both candidates are bad haha. I am just pretty glad that the elections are over already and people can calm down a little. 

We did get snow one day this week. It has been sooo cold!

Thanks for the packages! I'll be in Bratislava tomorrow for training and then in Prague on Thursday for MLC (mission leadership council), so I'll probably be getting them soon! 

Have a great week everyone!
-Elder Shirley

Below are some beautiful pictures Elder Shirley has taken from around Brno recently: