To Bri [his sister]:
You're welcome for the journal....don’t feel bad. I kind of forgot that I sent it ;). That's too bad about your car.** But hopefully soon enough you'll no longer need it. I'm doing pretty good out over here. For about a week it was really warming up and getting into the high 60's, but now it's back down to the 50's. But that doesn’t stop me from going out in short sleeves and getting harassed by old people that tell me I'm going to freeze (we just look at them and say "neču: no I wont") As far as new investigators that are solid....not really. We've been so busy this last week with moving apartments (I’ll explain that in the family email) and other stuff like that we haven't had a whole lot of time for tracting. But we met a few people that we're going back to talk to this week.
So some sad news....Croats think it's incredibly barbaric and kind of white-trash/hickish to eat horse. It's mostly a Serbian thing. Most people here think it's stupid to eat horse, so I wont be trying it while I’m in the country. I’ve just been eating same stuff as usual. Wait.....you know how strict Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays...especially during Lent? Well we were at someone's house teaching her and her mother and her dad made us dinner....a potato and onion salad with olive oil and apple vinegar on top and then he pulled something fried off of the stove and told us that we had to have some. It looked alright from far away.....but then he put it down in front of me and I saw a bunch of little tentacles.........a whole plate of fried squid!!....but I ate it. It wasn’t bad with lemon squeezed on it...but it was still squid.
The language is getting better. I’m understanding more of what I read on signs and books. The listening is getting better too. I still have trouble getting the whole idea sometimes, but I can usually figure some stuff out. It's funny when we walk around and people say stuff about us or mock us and think we can’t understand them. Oh well....it happens. I better get emailing other people as well, so I’ll type to ya later.
**Bri’s car was pummeled (as was Phil’s truck) by golf-ball/baseball sized hail last week.
First things first. Sorry about not e-mailing yesterday. Since everyone here is "Catholic" and Easter is one of two times a year when they can show it, the whole town shuts down from Friday until Tuesday. So I had nowhere to e-mail from. When I found out that we couldn't e-mail I wasn't too upset because I figured Mom would be here the next day to kill me, so I would end up having some communication with family regardless of what happened. Don't be surprised if this is how it happens next week too because we are having a zone activity at Plitvica (the waterfall place) for the day. It was such a hard choice. I had the choice to switch with a couple of missionaries that wanted to go to Plitvica and I would go to Lake Bled instead, but I figured Plitvica would be all right. I hope I don't regret my decision. But I also figured that I'll be here for 2 years and I’ll have other opportunities to go to Bled.
So it's been such a busy week....and not even with directly missionary related things. The Hs are the senior couple that we have here in Karlovac but they've been living in Zagreb for a while trying to find a place they liked here in Karlovac. They liked where we were living at B's house, but Baka really likes the young missionaries and the Hs don't understand that they're in Europe (they wanted her to remodel stuff because they didn't like the bathroom....it's been said that they are looking for America in a small Croatian town), So she didn't want them moving in. Well, they really couldn't find anything and they really wanted our place, so we took the opportunity to look for an apartment a little bit closer to town (okay....we were pretty much politely kicked out). So we found a place in our budget (300 euros a month...our limit is 400) and I actually like it a lot better than our old place. It's closer to town so we don't have to hike up hill to get home at night. It has 2 queen sized sleeping things (they are not beds....they are wooden boxes with an inch and a half of foam on top covered in fabric, but I can spread out) and it has the best missionary apartment bathroom ever!!!!!!!!!! For starters, at B's the toilet was in a small room next to the rest of the bathroom which is traditional here, but this one has the toilet in the bathroom. And we have a giant water heater. I've been taking cold showers for the last month because we didn't have a water heater at B's that was big enough for 2 full showers, let alone 3. So now we have a giant water heater....right next to the towel warmer. Yup...we have a towel warmer on our wall like a fancy hotel. And the best part is the shower. It's like a space ship/time machine. It has an overhead rain shower, jets on the wall, a hand sprayer, and a seat with sprayers on the wall behind it. It is soooooo AWESOME!!!!!!! Showering is by far the best part of my day. It's pretty much changed my life. Now I wake up in a queen-sized bed, shower in luxury, get out and dry off with a hot towel, and get dressed and ready for the day. And when we walk out, we are pretty much in town and we don't have to walk far. We are also right next to Kaufland, the grocery store, so it's a lot easier to carry our groceries. The only downside is the kitchen is a little small and I wish we had a little bit more counter space, but other than that, I really like it.
So other than that, Elder K left last Tuesday, so we are officially a regular companionship. It's kind of weird only being with one other person, but I don't mind it.
The most exciting thing about this last week is that we had I***'s baptism. We met with her like 4 times last week just to make sure she was ready for it and she definitely was. The scariest part was when we asked her whom she wanted to baptize and confirm her. She asked Elder B to baptize her..........and me to.....confirm her. I said that I would, but honestly I was terrified. I didn't know how it was going to work out. So I memorized the standard part of it, and then I just looked up and memorized words that I thought might be useful. It was pretty funny. Whenever any of the branch members heard that I was going to confirm her, they would say "That's great....in English?" and when we said no, in Croatian..... they all had the same look of good luck..... and said, "Wow....that's great......" I don't think anyone really had too much confidence in me. But it went all right. Rather well, actually. The baptism was great though....although the font was a pain. We used the infamous portable font. This font travels around everywhere and since its creation, some elders decided that the elbow pieces that connect the corner were too hard to fit, so they threw them away. So now you have to be super careful and rig it so it doesn't fall over....even after it's full. Filling it was also a problem. The church has tiny water heaters, so we would use those until the heater was empty and then we also just constantly boiled water and poured it into the font every twenty minutes...but you can’t use all 4 burners to heat water at once. They figured that out in December when they overheated and burnt out the stove. We were at the church all Saturday just filling the font. But the baptism had a good turn out. President and Sister Rowe came down from Zagreb with a bunch of senior missionaries and a bunch of the branch showed up too....even people that I haven't seen at church before but never miss a baptism. Elder M and I taught about faith and repentance while I*** and Elder B were changing and the lesson went pretty well.
On Sunday we had the confirmation and then Elder B, Elder M, Elder C, and I did a musical number for Easter. Elder C played the piano and the rest of us sang. We sang, "Beautiful Savior" in Croatian. I think it went pretty well.
Yesterday was pretty cool. We went normal grocery shopping and then we walked a couple of miles to a store called Interspar, which is just a grocery store with a bigger selection of things other than food. We had to buy a new iron, I bought a dictionary, and we just got other odds and ends. After that, we went back to B's for an Easter Monday lunch that she made for us. It was sooooo good. She made us Sarma which is like a beef rice mixture wrapped in cabbage leaves and then boiled/baked/steamed in a soup/sauce stuff. It was awesome. Then she brought out a bunch of roasted pork on a pastry noodle dish that absorbed all of the flavors from the pork. And then she brought out cake and baklava for dessert. It was so awesome. We then helped her move furniture out of our old apartment that the Hs didn't want into the attic. Then we went out and explored the old cemetery in town and then hiked up the hill to the old castle. The cemetery was the biggest cemetery I have ever seen. It goes up the side of the hill and then it goes down the hill on the other side of the street. It's way cool. The graves here are almost all family plots and they have things raised up from the ground like tomb things. There are tons of fancy statues and just super old graves. They have it split into sections too. They have a Jewish, Orthodox, and then Catholic sections with Muslim graves sprinkled throughout. The castle was pretty cool. You can’t go inside unless you set up a group tour, which we didn't know, but you get an awesome view of Karlovac from up there so it was still worth it. And then when you go down the hill on the other side there's an old church and just some cool old buildings. It's finally starting to really green up and blossom from all of the rain recently, so it's starting to look more like the pictures you've found online.
I’m doing fine on toothpaste still and I can’t think of anything that I need. The master bedroom looks way nice. The TV and the Mac are best parts by far. I think you're gonna get too fancy for me by the time I get back home. It's kind of been hitting me how different things are here. The other day I was thinking about how big our house is. 2800 sq ft. doesn’t seem too big by America standard, but that is giant! I've seen some apartments with kitchens the size of my closet at home with a tiny bathroom off of it and then a living room with a pull out bed that’s about the same size, maybe smaller, than your master bedroom. Also, I haven't seen anyone with a dryer or dishwasher since being here. Everyone just has indoor drying racks and clotheslines on the balconies. I'm just realizing how spoiled I was back home. I had a car....that's the weirdest part. They are such a luxury here. And I had a job. The economy is pretty rough over here....especially in Karlovac. Unemployment is pretty huge, but somehow people manage to get by on so little. It just seems crazy that I had it much better off back home than over half the city here. I lived in a big house, had a job, my own car, and a dryer, dishwasher, a computer with Internet connections in my house, and multiple other things. All of those things are just so rare here...especially to have all of them.
I'm still not big on female music artists....or MoTab. I haven’t changed that much. But if it's too much of an issue, you can just not do it. I'll be fine if it's taking too much of your time.
I think that's about it for this last week. Not too much going on here ;). It's funny how much my mind has changed. Just the thought of going to the movies or just watching TV for a few hours, or even napping just seems so foreign. I'm starting to wonder how I ever found the time to put it in my schedule. When you plan out your days the night before, it really makes me see how short the days are. It's really weird. Another one that we talk about and laugh at.....It seems so scandalous that we ever hung out/socialized/went on dates with girls. It just seems so taboo now; it's hard to believe that it ever happened. Oh the things that happen to your mind when you're a missionary.
I better get movin' on. I still have to e-mail President Rowe.
Until next week,