Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Special July 24th Commemoration

Hiking up Priest Hill

Karlstejn Castle

Monument commemorating the location where Czechoslovakia was dedicated for missionary work in 1929 and again in 1990
The new mission president (President Pohořelický) and his wife

A neighborhood where Elder Shirley recently worked

July 25, 2016

Hi Everyone!

This week was great! Elder Hudson and I are still going strong at 12+ weeks together haha. We had a little more success this week in finding investigators and things should start picking back up. We were only in our area 5 out of the 7 days this week though. We had an exchange in Brno with the zone leaders on Thursday and then we went to Prague (Karlstejn) the next day. Karlstejn was a really cool experience because that is where the country was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel. All of the Czech missionaries gathered and we went to the spot in the forest on a hill above the Karlstejn Castle known as Priest Hill. We conducted a program that was mirrored after the same program that was conducted there in the year 1929 when the mission was dedicated by Elder John A. Widstoe. In that day, there were only something like 11 missionaries, the mission president, and 6 members of the church. Now we have 3000 members, 70 or so missionaries, and a stake of Zion in this country. This commemoration is something that is done by the members of the Church in the Czech Republic every July 24th. It was a really cool experience and it was good for me to focus on the heritage of this mission and of the Church in this country. The history behind it and it reminded me that this work is so much bigger than me.

This country is a special place and God is preparing these people for us as a mission. The gospel with go forth boldly and independently. And that is why I am so grateful to be serving here. I have the opportunity to let the Lord work through me. Through my obedience and through my testimony. I go forth and preach the gospel every day because I love these people and they need it. Something that I have realized recently is that faith promoting experiences can be found if we search for them. God will answer our earnest prayers if we do our part and study it out. I have felt his hand in this work and know that He is guiding this church through the prophet. The true Church of Jesus Christ was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and we can find answers to any questions in life with this knowledge. The gospel makes sense. We are so blessed to have it. I know it's true. And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you all! Hope you have a great week!
-Elder Shirley

Some additional pictures of the commemoration on Priest Hill:

Elder Shirley with Elder Gunnell (a senior missionary from his first area of Jicin)

Monday, July 18, 2016

365 Days to Go!

In the tunnels underneath a church in Uherske Hradiste

The chapel in Uherske Hradiste

Finishing up a study session in the apartment

7 ties for $25!

The elders in the Uherske Hradiste district

A picture of the mission countdown timer that we keep at home

July 18, 2016

This week went well; pretty normal again. On Friday though, my companion had to go to Prague to finish up his visa work. So I stayed in UH and was in a threesome with the other two missionaries here for a day. We had an awesome day and taught a ton of people on the street. It was a little weird being in a threesome so I was happy when Elder Hudson got back at the end of the day. 

This whole last week, it has been raining quite a bit. It reminds me of Washington weather. It was a good change from the normal burning hot. A few of my pairs of pants are actually sun-bleached pretty bad from being worn for a year and through all this sun. My black pants are turning a kind of orangish color and my gray pants are going pink haha.

But, because it was raining on Saturday, we had a pretty cool experience. We had on plan to go do service at a member's house, but because of the rain, she cancelled on us. We weren't sure what to do. So we decided that we should either tract in the city or go to a different city and tract, offering service. So we decided to pray about it. We all felt strongly that we should go tracting for service. So we got in the car and prayed again about where we should go. We felt impressed to go to a specific city so we went there and started tracting. The very first lady that we tracted into said that she didn't need help, but she told us to tract the street behind her house and ask people for service there. So we did and after about half an hour, we knocked on one house and an older lady answered the door. She said she didn’t need any help, but she recognized that we were Mormon. She started asking us all the typical questions that everyone asks us like "What state are you from?", "How long will you be here?", "How long have you been learning Czech?" and so on. She said, "You can come in, but I don't want to talk about faith." We said okay, but of course, we had to bring it up :) We ended up having a really good conversation with her and at the end of the conversation we gave her a Book of Mormon. It was an awesome experience. 

It is amazing how sometimes you feel like the work is so hard. But every so often, we are blessed with certain experiences that help us keep going and help us to keep that faith.

Miracles happen often when we look for them. With faith, they happen always when we seek them. The Lord is in this work! We are blessed in so many ways that we sometimes don't recognize. I know that this Church is true and that the message that we share brings happiness and peace to all who will hear. 

This coming week we will actually be going to Brno for an exchange with the zone leaders and then the next day, we are going to Prague, and then on to Karlštejn to celebrate the anniversary of the mission opening up. It should be a really good week! I totally believe that this entire year will go faster than the last one, so I'll make sure to keep working harder! 

By the way, I ate cow tongue today, just a little piece for fun. It was really soft and I have to admit, pretty good. But the texture and just the thought of eating cow tongue made me feel a little weird haha.

{We asked him what we could send him in a package} As for what I would like in a package? I actually don't have bad allergies at all now, so you might not have to send the medicine! I'm probably still good on clothes. And I actually bought 3 ties this last week for about 10 bucks. You can get clothes for really cheap here! As far as requests go.....candy of course. Reese’s, Butterfingers, another box cake, boxes of Mac & Chees, etc. Whatever you like really; I’d appreciate anything!

-Elder Shirley

Everything is Great in Uherské Hradiště

Another successful service project in the forest with some members

Elder Shirley and his companion Elder Hudson at the start of another transfer

July 11, 2016

This last week was great! Honestly, nothing really new to talk about. There haven't really been any new adventures lately. But hopefully, there will be more to write about in the upcoming weeks! District Leader isn't too hard, there's not a whole lot to it. But I hope I can do it well!  My responsibilities are basically to teach/train at district meeting every week and do call-ins with the other companionships and with the zone leaders during the week just to talk about the progress of the missionary work in the areas. I'm doing great still in this area. At first, I was a little disappointed to not get transferred to a new city, but then I realized that I just needed to get over myself haha. Missionary work is essentially the same no matter where you serve or who you serve with.

The new mission President (President Pohořelický from the Czech Republic) is great. The only interaction that I have had with him is this last week when we had new district leader meeting over the phone. He is great though! My companion, Elder Hudson, is also great. We're already used to each other so we didn't have to worry about the first few days of the transfer being a little weird. Usually when you get a new comp you have to adjust to each other, but where we didn't switch, it made it easy.

We did a lot of tracting this week. At the start of this transfer, we decided that we are going to attempt to tract the entire city in these next 9 weeks. We'll see if we can get it done!

The branch here is great as ever. I've been here long enough to where I know them all really well. I actually gave a talk this last week at church. It was on 'How can I fulfill the commitment to always remember the Savior?" It was a pretty simple topic and I enjoyed giving it! I feel comfortable enough giving talks now so I wasn't too nervous. I didn't even write a script this time!

We don't get too many dinners fed to us; most of the time we just cook on our own. Sometimes we eat pasta. We also have rice and pork a lot, grilled cheese, and halušky. Got any other ideas for something to make in 30 minutes? 

Love you all lots! Good luck with everything this week!
-Elder Shirley

{With the latest terrorist attack in Nice, France this past week, we received a brief letter from the Czech/Slovak mission office regarding missionary safety.  I’ve attached the letter below.  It is nice to hear of the great care and concern that the mission president has for his missionaries!}

Dear Parents of the Czech/Slovak Mission:

As we hear about the different tragedies that are happening around the world, President Pohořelický has expressed concern for you as parents, and that you might be worried about the safety of your missionaries.  He wants you to know that the Czech/Slovak area is a safe place and that your missionaries are safe and happy here. We are always praying for their safety as I know that you are as well.  May the Lord bless you for your willingness to have your young people serve here in Prague.  We love them and we thank you for raising such valiant servants of the Lord.

Warm regards,

Sister Tricia Scott
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints
Czech/Slovak Mission
Executive Secretary

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Two More Months in Uherske Hradiste and a Calling To Be a District Leader

With Elder Lanham, my district leader for 4 months,  who was transferred to Liberec this week. By the way, that shirt I'm wearing, I bought for 3 bucks. Pretty cool, right?

July 4, 2016

Happy 4th! I hope you guys have a fun Independence Day. We probably won't do anything here haha. 

This last week was the switch of the new mission President! We had a "Meet the President" training on Saturday in Brno and it went well. Since they are both Czech, they have decided to do all trainings in Czech as well. It will be an awesome change and I think the entire mission will improve in their ability to speak and understand Czech because of it. 

This last week in UH a big summer festival thing started. So on the town square is a bunch of tents with food, actually mostly just beer, and they set up some bleachers and they have a sand soccer court in the middle of the square. It is pretty cool but it makes it a little hard to contact people there now. Everyone is drunk and we get yelled at by drunk people quite often haha. Nothing like being a missionary! 

In my first interview with President Pohořelický, which was only a few minutes, I really felt good about him being the new mission president. This mission will be led exactly how it needs to be led in the next 3 years.

So transfer calls came this last week and...........I am staying! Elder Hudson and I will be together another transfer. Four transfers in one area doesn't happen very often at all. I will get a total of 8 months in the city of Uherské Hradiště. I thought for sure I would be transferred to a new area this time, but I guess the Lord has something else still in mind for me. This city must have something great in store for me!

Last Monday, we had Family Home Evening and only one person ended up coming. He is an American that lives here every so often. He had heard of our church before but didn't know a whole lot about it. We showed the Restoration film and talked about the Book of Mormon with him. This past week he flew back to the states, so we left with him our testimonies. The Spirit was so strong and I really feel that this man will be baptized. It was one of the few lessons that I have taught in English, but it was powerful! 

Funny story, this morning when Elder Lanham, my district leader was transferring to his new city, his comp, who was staying in UH, got stuck on the train with him! And he didn't have any of his stuff or the phone. So he borrowed a phone from a random guy and called us and told us we have to drive to the next train stop to pick him up. So we had to drive about 25 minutes to the next stop to find him haha. And then on the way back, a few cop cars on the street flagged us down. I was pretty nervous, but they were just doing random license checks and they also breath checked me. It was a pretty interesting morning!

Oh, and by the way, I was made district leader this transfer. I am the oldest missionary out of the six in my district now and I'm supposed to lead them haha. Hope it goes well!

Love you all!
-Elder Shirley