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:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A New Companion And A New Calling As Zone Leader

Sisters Valentine and Cyrier and Elders Hymas, Hanis, Carlson (Elder Shirley's new companion) and Shirley

Elders Shirley and Chapple

November 7, 2016


Transfers came! The call came on Saturday while we were in the car. Elder Hymas and I were both new in the area, because we opened the area this transfer, so we had no idea who was going and who was staying. It turned out that Elder Hymas left and went to Prague. But I "left" the area as well. They actually closed that area after the one transfer it was open. But even though my area was closed, I stayed in Brno. I will be serving with Elder Carlson, who was in the apartment with me last transfer. I will be moving into his "area" and will be zone leader with him. So it kind of sounds like a big change written all out, but I will be in the same apartment with one of the Elders that was there last transfer. It should be really fun! Elder Carlson and I got along last transfer living together and we are looking forward to this one. 

Thanks to the fact that my area was closed down, there is now only one Elders area here in Brno now. So we are just combining our investigator pool. It looks like we should have a lot of people to teach. We have 3 people on baptismal date and a few others progressing. It should be quite the change from what I am used to. We'll see how it goes!

Cooking is going great! I ate a really good dish this last week at a member's house and I'm going to try and do it this week. It's called potato goulash. Other than that, nothing new, except Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming so I'll probably be trying something new in the new future.

The weather has been pretty cold lately. It might not look too bad, but when we are outside for 2 or 3 hour intervals, it gets cold pretty fast, especially in the evening!

I have a question for you guys! As in you and Dad and the family. Multiple times a day, probably too many too count, I have the opportunity to promise people blessings that the gospel brings. What kind of blessings, specific, do you have thanks to the gospel? What kind of blessings can I promise to an atheist or an agnostic person to help them want to believe and live the gospel? Your answers will be much appreciated :)

Yesterday, we drove to Prague and our first real stake conference was held! The Republic gathered and heard talks from our newly sustained leaders. It was a great meeting and awesome to see the members of the stake gathered together for the first time after the stake being established. 

Other than that, I probably just have one experience that I would like to write about this week. On Tuesday, I was on an exchange with Elder Carlson, (the Elder who is now my companion - haha). We had a meeting with one guy that evening at his house. He had given us his address and said he would be there. So we drove to his neighborhood, parked, and walked down the street that he lived on. This street was right behind a big and beautiful church. We saw a group of people outside one of the houses there and as it turns out, that house was the address that we had. We walked by pretty awkwardly, not knowing what to do, until one of the people standing in the crowd broke off and came and talked to us. He said he knew the guy that had invited us and that they were having an activity with a bunch of students in that house. He invited us in and we sat around a big table. As it turns out, this group of 20 students meets pretty often and has an activity probably comparable to mutual or seminary. We prayed, read in the Bible and then played a Bible trivia game with them. It was pretty fun and really cool to see these college students meet and have this kind of activity on their own. After the game, they gave us the floor to speak. They knew we were Mormons and were a little curious about what we believed. So we had the opportunity to teach these people the Restoration. We taught for about 20 minutes and then they all had questions for about another 20 minutes. You could totally tell that a few people were really feeling the Spirit and had interest in our message. It was an awesome experience, probably one of the coolest I have experienced here. 

Halloween was this last week! I hardly even realized because nobody celebrates it around here. I actually dressed up this year! We had a Halloween party with the ward on Friday. We had like 10 minutes to run home and find a costume so we just grabbed some sheets and wrapped them around our bodies and put a pillow case on our heads with a tie tied around it and we called ourselves Nephites - haha. The Halloween party was pretty fun! At the end of the party, the ward made us do a "Fear Factor" kind of a thing. We sat at a table in front of everyone and they made us eat 2 things. The first was called Olomouc cheese. It basically is the worst cheese ever, but the Czech people like it. It smells like a wet dog and it is so strong. We six missionaries were all gagging trying to swallow this piece of cheese down. The members thought it was super funny. The 2nd thing ...I forgot what it was called, but it was a little cube of meat that is in Jello. I don't know how to describe it. It is like half meat and half gelatin. That was pretty bad too. (I suspect this may be head cheese or something similar that he is describing hereAnyway, fun Halloween experience for me! 

The Church is true! God really does bless us.

Love you!
-Elder Shirley