Monday, March 26, 2012

He makes an appearance on TV and visits Slovenia...

~Quick comment about this picture...we all about fell over when we saw this picture for several reasons:
1. He does not have the "thumbs-up" thing going
2. He is not making finger pistols with both hands
3. It is about the ONLY picture known to exist
where he is actually smiling!

Here is his e-mail from this week!

Hello Family!!!!!

It's been such a busy week. I'll start of with newsy stuff and then I’ll throw in the things I forgot to mention last week. So the biggest thing from last week is that I was on Croatian TV! Here's the story of how I got there:

So the guy we teach English to is an "actor." He's having a new movie premier soon, so a local TV channel called 4 Rivers decided to have him on a talk show and film other aspects of his life as little inserts in the show. He really likes us and he always tells us about how he's gonna get us and our English class famous. So he had a bit of the show about us teaching him English. So the reporter and the camera man came to the church building and interviewed us about us being missionaries and about us teaching English class and then they filmed us teaching him a mock lesson. The reporter was asking a bunch of questions and finally he said, "Sorry....this isn’t for the interview, I’m just curious." and after we filmed, he said that he was thinking that maybe the 3 of us could be guests on his talk show one night and we could just talk about the church and being missionaries.

So the interview went well and we wanted to watch it on TV that night, but we don’t have a TV, so we asked our land lady if we could come up and watch it. 40 minutes in we got to our spot and it was pretty cool. They put our cell phone number across the bottom of the screen and talked about our free English classes, so hopefully we'll get some new students.

Funny story...The interview did some good. Elder Freeman, one of the assistants, called us on Friday and said, "You guys are famous." I guess he was contacting in Zagreb and some guy said something like "Hey....I saw you guys on TV and heard some stuff about you and you seem better than the Catholics so I think I’m going to go to your church on Sunday" So paid off for something.

Next bit of news: My dreams came true on Thursday. I went to a zone conference in Maribor, Slovenia. Since there are the most missionaries in Croatia (like 20) they try to even out the zone conferences by sending some of the Croats to Slovenia and some to Serbia. We got chosen to go to Slovenia. I was so excited when I found out. You don't even know. But anyways, on Thursday morning, we got up at 4, got dressed, walked 20 minutes to the Karlovac bus station, got there for the 5:45 bus and got to Zagreb. The assistants then picked us up and we drove the 2 hours to Maribor, had the conference, and repeated the process backwards to get home and got back about 10 that night. It's such a cool city. I got pictures....don't worry....and I’m even in one of them. While we were waiting for the assistants in Zagreb, we went to a bakery and I finally got to try some burek. I got the meat one. It was so greasy and so good! And then when we got back to Zagreb that night, we got some čivapi which is a Bosnian dish with a pita-like pocket bread, only actually real bread and way better, with a bunch of little sausages inside, and then you put onions on top. It was so good.

So that was the big news for the week. As far as teaching and tracting goes, this last week was known as cold shoulder week. It's a little annoying when you knock a door and some one comes to it just to lock the dead bolt. But oh well... Not a whole lot of interested people. And our investigators and teaching appointments all had scheduling issues, so we didn't have quite as many lessons as we would have liked to. But we had a lesson with a super cool couple. They're probably mid to late 20's and are some of the nicest people I have met here. They kind of remind me of the old next-door neighbors. They're super nice. It was cool talking with them because they both speak pretty much perfect English.....which is way awesome because I can actually communicate. They both believe in God and want to know more about him, but it's just not at the top of the priorities. But we gave them a Book of Mormon and she was really excited for it. They said we could come back next Saturday and talk more. Another cool part is that whenever we talked, they never contradicted us or threw out contradicting statements. They just said that it was interesting and a cool story and they wanted to hear more....which hasn't happened much before.

Some other random stuff.....Croatia, or at least Karlovac, has some funky fashion. Super tight/super bleached jeans are super popular. And if you're cool, you wear them with any high top shoe you can get your hands on. And if you're really cool, you throw on a fanny pack to go with it....yup....fanny packs are huge here. I didn't know anybody actually ever wore them, but they do. A guy in town the other day thought he was super cool because he had a white, leather, Lacoste fanny pack. Who knew that Lacoste actually made fanny packs??? Whenever we see someone with a fanny pack we always whisper, "pack pack pack!" to each other.

I’m trying to think of what else to say and I’m drawing blanks. I’m trying to upload pictures, but since Karlovac is a small town, there's only one internet place and the computers are the uploading is taking forever. Maybe I’ll just upload a few each week.

I’m gonna attach some Maribor pictures though. I think that's it for this week. Best of luck in all of your efforts and tasks at hand. Tell everyone I said hi and I’m doing fine....In fact I’m gonna be a stick when I come home because I’ve lost 7 pounds since being in the country....way too much walking...but the blisters healed, so I’m good.

Until next week,



~This picture serves no purpose here except it made me laugh! ~Dore

I have to tell you...this post was pretty heavily edited because this is a public forum...but if you know us or P.J., and you would like to read an unedited version of this post, let me know via FB (Phil's or P.J.'s). This post just doesn't do the real note justice. :)

Until next week.....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More Pictures.....yay!!!!

Turkish sandwhich called, "Kabob." It is REALLY good!
An old building in town

View from our apartment

A church in town

Karlovac...the only city in Croatia to have four rivers run through it. It's really cool!

I lost the bet....and other pictures

~Dore here...remember when I called this type of picture "cheesy?"....well...secretly I'm glad he included one. The next few are in P.J.'s words...

District 14-A~We're all crazy!

My tags and Cyrillic materials. Like my Serbian Orthodox Bible? Book with a cross in the MTC...AWESOME!

Missionary humor #1-gotta love it!

Close up of tags and Preach My Gospel

Yes, I'm 4 yrs old...We were trying to make ourselves excited about the switch. I think it worked!

The Serbs! Not sure what's going on- That's a Serbian scarf and flag.

So...even though he is doing a serious thing...isn't it nice to know they can all goof off and have some fun, too? Makes a mom happy....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 10....and the Elder goes to.......

~*Can you name this place? I couldn't either...but it's beautiful and this is where Elder Quinn is now serving!!!~

Family!!!! Hello! It's been the longest week ever because I’ve been dying while waiting for the chance to talk to you and tell you where I’m at!

So.....picture the last country anybody would think I would be in because I've been learning Serbian and before that Slovene? You got your guesses? Well, I am currently assigned to:

The great city of........KARLOVAC, CROATIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So yeah, starting last Thursday, I started learning the third language of my mission so far. Luckily Hrvatski (Croatian) is much closer to Serbian than Serbian to Slovene.

I have so much to tell you, so I’ll start off with last Wednesday. So I woke up in the hotel and President Rowe had some missionaries that came in from Belgrade come and have breakfast with us and then walk us down the hill to the mission home. Guess what.....One of the missionaries was Elder H, the Muirs’ nephew. I said that I was from Flower Mound, Texas and he said that he knew people in Flower Mound and that his uncle, Jon Muir, lived there. I just said, "no way! I've heard about you!" So we had breakfast at the hotel and it was so good! It was a continental breakfast, but I had a croissant that was super flaky/toasted on the outside and completely soft on the inside with cheese and different sausage meat. One thing that I’ve learned so far is that the cheese makes the sandwich. That's true here and about the sandwich I got in Paris. So after breakfast we went to the mission home and President Rowe interviewed Elder R while the rest of us hung out downstairs. After Elder R's interview, he didn’t have time to interview me and Elder S before the training meeting, so he just called us into his office to tell us where we were going and who our trainers were. So we went up there and he said, "Elder R, you're going to Banjeluka, Bosnia and Elder H is your trainer, Elder S, you're going to Belgrade, Serbia with Elder A and G, and Elder Quinn, you're going to Karlovac, Croatia and your trainers will be here later." So that's how I found out. I was a little jealous at first because I was learning Serbian, and Bosnia would be awesome, especially to be the first missionaries like they are, but I’ve come to love Karlovac in the last week. Oh yeah, and my trainers are Elder K (from Montana most recently, but used to live in College station.... we’ve already decided to settle our differences and not talk about Texas college football....A&M...gross) and Elder B who's from Orem, Utah. I’m still in a trio and I really like it.

So out of the 6 of us, we have one in Serbia, two in Bosnia (Sestra T is in Sarajevo), and 3 in Croatia in Karlovac (me), Rijeka (Sestra J ), and Osijek (Sestra M).

So just some info about Karlovac (car-low-vatz). It's about 40 minutes south of Zagreb (we bus back and forth once a month for zone conferences) and it's a city of about 75,000 people. There are 5 elders here, me, elder K , Elder B , Elder M , and Elder C (my old home teacher.... you talked to his mom).

The city itself is sooooooooo Soviet. The center of town, which is called Centar, is the old-school Hapsburg-ish style of buildings, but right outside of that are 50 million communist bloc apartment buildings. They're everywhere. And further out from that are house/apartment/flat style spaces (like what we live in....much nicer than the high rises). Something about eastern Europe though.....Just from stepping out in the morning, even up the hill where we live, you just walk outside and you smell the essence of car exhaust and stale cigarettes. The whole town just smells like tobacco. Everyone smokes!!!! It's crazy. Oh yeah.... absolutely everything is covered in graffiti. Even in Zagreb. Oh yeah.... something cool about Karlovac, It's the only town in Europe that 4 rivers run through. But yeah, it's so different here, but I love it. We walk everywhere and I popped a big blister yesterday, but I’m doing just fine. I’m sad to say that I brought my camera, but they don’t have a slot in the computer for memory cards, so I have to get the cable and wait until next week. But the pictures of Karlovac online will be better because everything is still kind of dead right now.

The food has been so good so far. You'll be surprised to hear this, but I really like juice (Sok). It's so good here and it's what everyone drinks. It’s bad manners here if you don’t have some sort of drink or food for guests, so whenever we go in a door, we always get juice or some sort of kolač (dessert snack cake). Other food though.....The pizza is good....I know....go all the way to Europe and you're still eating pizza? But everything is good when it's not the MTC. But I also had a Kebab the other day. It's actually Turkish, but it's a sandwich of shaved meat with 2 types of sauces on it with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sprouts (picture next week). It was so good! I also had a Croatian version of a cheeseburger and that was awesome too. So I haven’t been to the grocery store yet, but I hear they have like 3 isles just dedicated to juices. They also have euro cream here, which is like Nutella with vanilla swirls in good! and they have ajvar, which is like a bell pepper paste that comes in a jar that you put on sandwiches. It's good too. Everything is good so far.

So my companions are great. Both of them have been out for 2 transfers so far, so 4 months in the country. With all of the experience combined, we only have 20 months worth of experience in the country in our whole district (the 5 of us)

So teaching appts. We have them everyday. There was a baptism 2 weeks ago. We have 2 baptisms scheduled for April 7th. One is for a woman. They started teaching her a couple of weeks ago and she is so awesome. She knows that it's true, so she's absolutely willing to do whatever we ask her. We taught her and her family last week. Her family seemed interested.... well, her mom did. It's so exciting! We also had a lesson with a branch member. She is probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She is just so nice. She speaks slow for us and makes us desserts and stuff. We also taught a family last night. They love to be with the missionaries and to teach them Croatian. They think that the elder "last name" thing is weird, so they asked me my first name, so now they call me P.J..... and my companions Hugh and Zack. It's kind of funny.

Church was rough. I bore my testimony and gave the prayer in Sunday school. People are super nice here. I didn't really understand anything though. And it's so hard to stay awake when you have jet lag and you don’t know what's going on. But we had about 20 members show up. We have the second largest branch in Croatia. I’m already bad with names and then you throw in names I’ve never heard before.... uh oh. Being in a branch is cool though. Everyone is pretty close and super nice.

No piano.... but I’m teaching the intermediate English class this Saturday. I’m a little nervous, but it'll be good.

So my apartment. We live up on the hill here (not too far from the castle in town.....yup....a castle!!!!). We have a house that's set up like apartments, with one main entrance, but then an entrance to our place. Our land lady is way cool. Missionaries have been living there for 7 years or so, and it's just her and us in the building. She makes us dessert and has us come up every once and a while and she makes us dinner after we pay rent every month. The apartment is different, but it's nice. I sleep on the pull out couch, because it only has 2 beds....but I don’t mind because the couch is bigger than a twin bed. The hand held showerhead is different, but I actually kind of like it. It's a cool place out here.

I think that's about it. I think I answered all of your questions. Sorry about the pictures.... But I’m glad that everyone liked the package of stuff. But yeah. I'm enjoying myself out here. I really do like it. Karlovac is awesome. Oh yeah.... we’re pretty close to Plitvice here (the lake national park.... look it up) so we're gonna go there sometime this transfer on a p-day. So I think that's about it. I'm already looking forward to talking to you next week.



P.S.: No one calls us Elder or Starejsina here unless we're at church. It's usually just our last name.... and since people pronounce the “I” as “ee,” my name sounds like queen.... and people notice that. When they see my name they're like "oh....kao kralica?" "Oh, like queen"? I just say yes, because it's not worth the hassle. Then they find out I’m from Texas and they say, "Oh.... like John Wayne and cowboys.... or like Chuck Norris (he's international, I guess)" and then they do a lasso or pistol motion with their hands.... and then they ask me if I lived on a ranch. It's pretty funny stuff.

*Picture courtesy of (2012).

Dore here...just a quick commentary... Part of the posts (dealing with people they are teaching) are heavily edited because we want people to have their privacy. Doesn't he sound good and happy? I have pictures that I will post soon. It took me a while to figure out how to reformat the crazy things!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Serbian and Slovene sound cool over the phone!

This is Dore (his mother) here...

Around 12:30 pm P.J. called us!!! Hooray!!! We spoke with him for about 2 hours. He sounded soooo good and happy! We begged him to say some stuff for us in either Serbian or Slovene and he sounded awesome. Of course, he told us he sounded like someone just learning the language, but it sounded good to us. He told us he would be traveling for about 10-11 hours to Paris, then from there he goes to Croatia.

Funny story...well, not really funny to us but....I was on the phone with an old friend ("old" as in we have known each other for a looooong time-hi Dawn!) tonight when Phil's phone rang. Thinking it was work related because Phil's phone always rings incessantly, it was ignored. Phil came down, checked his voice mail and told me to get off the phone right away because he thought P.J. was trying to call us again. I quickly hung up right on time to get a voice message. SERIOUSLY??? I missed a 3rd call?? He called to let us know that 45 minutes into his flight the windshield of the plane cracked (has anyone EVER heard of this happening??) and they had to go back, burn off about 1 1/2 hours of fuel circling, and then had to land and reload on another plane. So...he'll be getting to Paris much later than planned. It will be interesting to find out later how that affected connecting flights.

Odd thought I had....they really let these guys travel international without an adult?? Before someone reminds me that they are adults, which I know they are, technically, just take a look at a nineteen year-old guy and tell me they look like adults. P.J. said it was weird to be traveling that far without parents or chaparones. Ahhh...the life of a sheltered kid. They are traveling in a group of three sister missionaries and three elders. The highlight of his day (besides talking to his family) was eating at Subway. Hope they ate a will be a long time before they have another American meal.

He had nothing but positive things to say about his companions and the sisters (which is amazing in and of itself-one always hears nightmare-companion-stories) and overall the MTC was a very good experience for him. He is looking forward to finding out where he will be serving, and so are we.

P.J. told us there was a package on its way here with pictures so hopefully we will get them and I will post them during the next week. Any bets that we will be the only family not to get the cheesy requisite MTC photo of the Elder pointing on the map to the country where he will serve (or one of him holding his scriptures)? Any bets that someone's going to be offended that I labeled those photos as cheesy? Ah well...cut me some slack...we missed phone call #3....

To end on a positive note....There's nothing better than to hear your kid tell you he loves you when you haven't heard him vocally for two months (is that all??? How will we make it for 22 more months?!?).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guess What?!?.....

So, guess who went to the travel office and found out that he has his Croatian visa? Yeah....ME!!!!! So I'm leaving at 5 on Monday morning and I'll be talking to you guys around noon. I'm so excited. I've got some good stuff from this week, but I'll wait until I talk to you to tell you guys. I sent a package on Thursday night, so you'll hopefully be getting it soon.

Love, P.J.

Dore here...I just posted his new address on the right. He would love to hear from anyone. I need to edit some of the letters because my computer is being lame and won't let me copy and paste anything and Croatian letters are beyond me!!! When I get home in a few hours, I'll edit and post the proper letters on the IMAC.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Week 8-Travel Plans, an offended sister missionary, and some ruined pants...

~Missionary Mother-Lode of Goodness-Aren't we nice to him?!~

From Elder P.J.:

How's it goin'? Sorry this is a super late email today. We've just been busy. I got my haircut this morning and then I had to do laundry and wait for 2 other haircuts and then we got dressed, wrote some letter stuff, went to lunch and the temple, got back and Elder S had a doctor's appointment for a weird fungal thing on his foot (he's fine), then we went to dinner, and then we had to run to the BYU health center to pick up his prescriptions. And now I’m here typing. Long day......

So now for the exciting stuff… I'm supposed to get out of here at 5:00 am on Monday morning.....if I have my visa. I just talked to the travel office and they said they wont know until Friday, so keep your fingers crossed that I either have my visa or that I'm getting reassigned to Portland for a few weeks. I was kidding around to Jake about that and we both thought it would be awesome. It would be the best of a bad situation. Actually, if I have to go stateside I hope it's somewhere cool. Like Oregon or the east coast somewhere.

So travel plans.... we got them last Thursday and it's been so hard to wait until now to finally tell you guys about them. So.... drum roll please...We leave 5 am to go to Salt Lake, and fly out at 8:36 to Minneapolis, MN and arrive there at 12:15 (I’m assuming that that's 12:15 in Minnesota...not mountain time). From there we hang out until 5:30 at the airport and then we hop on a plane and take an overnight flight to............PARIS!!!!!!! We fly into Chas De Gaulle at 8:00 am and then catch the plane to Zagreb at 9:45 and arrive in Croatia at 11:45 am. So yeah.... I’m going to France, even if it's just the airport. Isn't that awesome?

So about calling. Don't worry. I want to talk to you guys. I was thinking about calling you while I’m in Minnesota between 12:00 and 5:00 pm. Let me know what time works out for you and I'll make it happen. Email me back with a time before 9:30 and I’ll get back on and find it and schedule it in my daily planner......I have one of those now.

Thanks for the package. [see picture above] It's pretty awesome. Everyone else was pretty jealous. I just finished the last package last Thursday and I got this one on Saturday, so it was perfect timing. It's cool though. I tried to ration the other packages, but this one has to be gone in 6 days, so I’m just going through it. I also have a bunch of other candy that we've scavenged. They have free-boxes on each floor that people put stuff in that they aren't taking with them and the Russian speakers that have been here since December 20 just left and they left a mother load of popcorn and candy. We're having a celebration party on Saturday night. We're just gonna go through all of it. Speaking of which, I found the funniest toiletry bag ever. Well they kind of have a naughty abbreviation and it's just the same acronym all over the bag..... so I want to keep it....but it's kind of bad for a missionary. I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with it. But everyone thinks it's pretty funny.

This week's been pretty boring. TRC was a train wreck. We teach member volunteers as themselves and we had Nikola (a native Serbian convert that's going to BYU) and Austin (an RM that went to Serbia). They're both way cool, but it was ugly. We had an object lesson that was kind of lame that we were just going to bust out as a last ditch effort to kill time. This last week it was a 40-minute lesson about how to receive answers to prayer. So that being said, we didn't really look up the necessary vocab for the object lesson, because we were hoping that we wouldn't have to use it.....well, about 20 minutes in, with a bunch of other material to cover still, Elder R says, “We have an object lesson for you." Elder S and I exchanged terrified glances and just went with it. The object lesson is too abstract (one of it's many issues) for email, so I won't explain it, but it was ugly. We still don't know why he busted it out. We all had a good laugh about it afterwards though.

Everything else has been pretty ordinary. Oh yeah... Do you know who Alex Boye is? He's one of the 3 black guys in the Tabernacle Choir and he's done a bunch of solo stuff. He's pretty young and he's British (not that that matters at all....just giving a background). Well anyways, he was the speaker at the fireside on Sunday. He performed a couple of songs and talked about his conversion story. He was so funny and so uncouth for the MTC. For example: 
"I used to scrap a lot when I was younger. That means fight. But it wasn't that bad. I would just get black eyes every once in a while. Not that you could tell though."
 When talking about how someone invited him to a church activity by asking if he liked chicken "Of course I like chicken. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess that a brother likes chicken."
 His piano player was a black friend of his and he said he was like a Mormon Stevie Wonder. When he said this, the camera went to the piano player and he started playing through squinty eyes just moving his head around the room. It was so funny. 
He also mentioned that his piano player served a mission in Arizona 20 years ago and that's why he's so tan and if you're going to Arizona, you'll get that tan. 
It was so funny. A good breath of fresh air from the usual.

So some bad news....I was hosting last week and jumped up some steps to catch a closing door so I wouldn't have to slide my card to unlock it and my foot caught on a step, I tripped and fell, and may have put quite the rip into my suit pants. Please don't be mad.....I feel terrible. I tried sewing it up, but I don't think it's reparable. So at the moment, I'm wearing mismatched suit jacket and pants. I'm going to try and match a black pair of pants once I get out of here and see how close I can get. I still have a bit of sick feeling in my stomach because they were expensive. Sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!

So we were at dinner the other night and Elder R said something to the effect that when we see good looking sisters we wonder what's wrong with them and why they aren't somewhere else married and pregnant. One of the Polish-speaking sisters at the table called him an a-hole with no censorship. We found out that the next day (Monday) she was turning 27....oops. But I’m not the one who said it, so I’m not on a hit list. I still laugh about it though. 

I’m gonna put a package in tomorrow with some stuff to send home like my watches and blessing and look for it eventually. I'm not sure when it will actually get there.

So this will probably be the last time I email you for a while...depending on when my new p-day is, but I’ll be talking to you on Monday. I'm looking forward to it. 
So, until later on tonight, or Monday, 
I love you guys!!!!


From Me (his mom):

Ahhhh!!!! Loved your e-mail. So funny and soooo P.J.!

Don't worry about the suit pants. No biggie. From what I've been reading, a lot of guys go over to Europe and get their old ones altered because I guess European suits are cut differently than American ones and they don't want their clothes to scream, "American." You are just cutting out the "altered" part. If you need to get a new one, just let us know and we will take care of it. It may actually end up cheaper anyways; depending on which country you go to.

Holy Smokes!!! Your traveling schedule sounds brutal! But then again, after being in the MTC for nine weeks, I bet you don't even care.

So, about the white tie…. We were looking for something more stylish, but really, that was the only one that was able to get wet. At least it didn't have a zipper!!!

I am sooooo excited to talk with you!!! In fact…I'm taking the whole day off because I refuse to even chance missing this call. Are you calling dad's phone? The other thing we can try is for you to call us, and then we can call you back on the number that shows up. I don't care if we go through the calling card or not.

You just e-mailed….gotta go.

His Reply:

The phone card will be great, although I should have just bought one here. I could get like 300 domestic minutes for like $3...but oh well. And the tie will be great. Supposedly the church in Serbia is starting to grow like crazy. They have a new door approach where they don’t introduce themselves. They just start talking about the gospel. That way they don’t reject the missionaries. They reject the gospel. Supposedly it's working. It's pretty cool. I wont be able to read anything after I read this, so you'll probably just want to dear elder anything else. Sorry, I have to go, but I’m excited for Monday!