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 kola─Ź (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 it.....so 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.

Love,

P.J.

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 www.croatiatraveller.com/Zagreb_region/Karlovac.htm (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!!!

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