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