Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Youth activity with interesting scenery, Crispy M&Ms, and he's eating pork!!

~Sunset off the coast in Zadar~

Hello everyone!  This week's post will be a compilation from his e-mails to everyone in our family.  He wrote basically about the same things, but wrote about them differently to each of us.  Enjoy!   ~Dore


So Oklahoma sounds like it was fun. Wish I could've been there, but I had plans....and it was a bit of a long trip. Swimming sounds so nice. I wish I could. It's a bit of torture being on a nice coast, but we get by. 

(To his sister...)  Sveta Krava! Hurry up with your papers. I think you're the only person that's been spending like 5 months on filling them out. By the time you get them sent in you could have left and come back already........... I’m impatient and want to know where you're going. 

I got to spend 2 days in Zagreb. We went up on Wednesday for Zone conference and I stayed until Friday morning on an exchange with the zone leaders. The zone conference was really good. We talked about effective study and planning, and that what we do a lot of times is scheduling....just doing activities that are good, but really are just time fillers, and that what we should be doing is planning activities that will help us accomplish goals. 

The exchange was good too. We had a really good lesson with probably the most prepared person I've ever met. And we asked him so think about baptism and start preparing for it. It was great. He's a nice guy that the zone leaders found while tracting and they had a lesson with him....and we went back for the second lesson. He is so nice and has what he describes as a close relationship with God, and I wouldn't doubt it. He is just so prepared. We had a lesson about the plan of salvation, and everything we told him he already believed. He's thought about religion a lot, and the conclusions he's come to, are the doctrines that we teach. We would describe some parts, and he would say, "Well, my opinions a little different." and then he would describe his opinion, and his opinion would be what we were trying to get across, but better worded. It was funny. When he saw that he was in agreement with a lot of our things, he said, "How about I start a church off of my beliefs. It sounds like you agree with them. Want to join?"  The coolest part was at the end when he said, "You know what? About 2 weeks ago, I was praying and asking God that he would send a way in which I could follow him better and know more about him and his will for me.....I really am starting to think that that's how you got here....You were just a couple of weeks late."  I hope that he is willing to change some things, because he is such a great person....I guess that's one way I've changed now that I think of it.  I saw him just as a person. I guess it's just seeing that certain choices a person makes doesn't necessarily define who they are or what they can become. We are all the same in the respect that we all have different issues that we struggle with, but we also all have the same great potential ahead of us.....end of the preachiness....sorry.  That was pretty much the only super worthwhile thing to report about the exchange. 

The next big thing this last week was the trek. It was great! We had 3 youth show up....2 pretty much members and 1 nonmember. So we planned it to be about 12 km long (about 6.5-7 miles) and we planned for 3 stops/activities along the way. The first one was about burdens and to get there they carried heavy backpacks and we talked about how burdens can be lifted through the atonement and that it's not necessary to make things harder on ourselves by refusing to let Christ help. The next stop was about following the Holy Ghost. S****, a member, set up a string obstacle course around a park that we had to follow together, blindfolded. In order to go the right way, we had to listen for someone who was telling us the right way, while everyone else was telling us the wrong way, and we didn't know who was who. It was way good. Afterwards, S**** explained it and gave a spiritual thought. It was great until a 40 something year old lady went behind her and took her top off and stole my innocence. It was right in my view too....I don't think anybody else saw it because of the way we were sitting. So it probably looked weird when S**** was talking to us and I was looking in a different direction.....But eventually she put a shirt on and walked away....But then she walked back AND FREAKIN' TOOK HER SHIRT OFF!!!! It's not like it was a topless beach. Everyone else had swimsuits on. But then a van pulled up and thankfully blocked her. So yeah....I saw a topless lady at a church youth activity. Fun story, eh?

Zadar is still pretty awesome.  Zadar is pretty hot right now. I don't know what the temp is, but it's enough to make it slightly miserable. Pretty humid because of the coast too. But it's been good. So unfortunately, a lot of people here are centered on summer vacation as tourists, and the locals like to use it as a source of business, so I still haven't been able to meet any of our investigators yet because they are all so busy. We met a lady while tracting. Her husband is an invalid on death's door and her family doesn't visit her much, so she is stuck at home all day taking care of her husband. We were there for 2 hours while she talked about anything that she could think about. We were pretty much just soundboards because we weren't following for the majority of the time. But we had to fight tooth and nail to get out of there at 8 in order to get home on time. It was kind of sad. She said that she doesn't usually let guests come over, but we are welcome any time and that she wants us to come back.

We don't have anybody near baptism...but hopefully we will soon. The sisters do, though. They are teaching the branch president's mom, M*******. Her baptism is scheduled for August 25, so that will be cool. It's kind of cool how the family is all becoming members. It started with a 22 year old named D***** who went to Utah to go to school and ended up getting baptized. He came home to Zadar and his mom, S****, got baptized and his sister, B***** got baptized. After that, B*****'s husband, Ž**** (the branch president) and his daughter L**** (shes 9) were baptized. And now his mom is getting baptized. And this is all within the last couple of years. The bp has only been a member for a little over a year. And President's  16 year old sister is starting to read the Book of Mormon now, so who knows what's still coming. 

But ya, things are pretty good here. We went out to Supernova today, which is like a mall.....Guess what I found!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We went to Müllers today (a German store) and I got a milka chocolate bar with an Oreo filling.....and I saw a blue bag of m&m's, and I thought, "No way....I didn't know they had pretzel M&M's here!" so I walked over and picked it up.....except they weren't no pretzel M&M's.....they were freaking CRISPY M&M'S!!!!!!!!!!!!! It pretty much made my life. They are so good. They are the crispy ones with European chocolate. So freaking good. I just thought that you might be excited to know that they still make them.

On the walk back home, we passed a restaurant that was roasting whole lambs, pigs, and chickens on spits, so we decided to go there for lunch. It was such a good idea! We got a kilo of roasted pig and french fries for the two of us for like $10 a piece. It was the moistest pork ever. If all pork tasted like that, I might like it. I thought you might find that interesting. 

I thought of something cool the other day....Less than 5 months until we get to talk again. I think this will be the most exciting Christmas in a while for me. And as of next Saturday, I have 18 months left! The time is starting to go by faster. This last week flew by. And on the 11th will be my 7th month mark. 

I think that's about it. It's weird how everything changes while I'm out here. It doesn't feel like the same life I used to live. It feels different, so it's weird/hard to realize that everybody else is carrying on like before like nothing's changed. It's just kind of a weird feeling. But luckily I haven't really gotten homesick. No offense or anything, but I usually don't have a whole lot of time or mental emptiness to dwell on it. I think the craziest thing to think about is the fact that everyone back home speaks English....or Spanish....but the point is not Croatian. I think of scenarios of things back home and wonder if I'll be able to survive in certain situations with my Croatian ability, but then I remember that I can just speak English....Like if my car broke down and I went to the shop. I don't think I could describe a car problem in Croatian, but I have to remember that I'll never have to.....random thought.....

Well, I better get going. I love you all a lot. Thanks for the time spent on emailing me. I appreciate it. Tell everyone I say hi!


Monday, July 23, 2012

He loves his new area AND he has air-conditioning!!!

Hello, Family!

Zadar is so cool! There are tons of people....young people....and tourists right now, the sea is here, our apartment has a clima (air conditioner thing), and the weather has been nice! So yeah....this area had bikes until about 2 weeks ago....then they got stolen during tracting. So now we walk...a lot. It's not too big of a city. I'm used to walking from Karlovac, but a bike would've been nice. Oh well. The sea organ is pretty cool. We went the other evening, but it was covered in tourists so you couldn't really hear it, but it's still way cool. 

Yeah....I had never really heard of Steven Covey until I went to BYU. My old roommate is somehow related to him....like a 2nd cousin or something. That's too bad. Was he old? I don't really know anything about him.  I've never gotten a letter from Grandma yet....That's weird....

1.  Do you like your new area?
Zadar is awesome. I'll talk about it a little bit further down. 

2.  Do you like your new companion?
Elder M**** is way cool. He's from Sandy, Utah and he's been on his mission for about 10 months…the same as Elders B****, K****, C******, and K*****. It seems like I can’t get away from their MTC group :). 

3.  Are you on a bike?
Nope....the Zadar bikes got lifted a couple of weeks back....but I'm glad that someone else is now enjoying them....that's the missionary spirit, right?

4.  Does your apartment have air-conditioning??  I hope so…..
YUP!!!!! :)

5.  How big is the branch?
Hmmmm.... smaller than Karlovac. We have about 10 to 15 active attendees and somewhere about 50 on paper. The Branch President is awesome. His name is Ž**** and he's been a member for a little over a year now and he's up to his neck in church calling, but he's way good and on top of things. He's like 33, I think, and his wife and daughter are members too. His wife is pregnant with a boy so that's exciting. His brother-in-law and mother-in-law are members, and his mother is getting baptized in August. He speaks pretty good English and has a good sense of humor. We get to spend a lot of time with him, because Elder M**** is first counselor, which means if I stay here after Elder Marks leaves, I’ll eventually be first counselor also. This leads into the scary story of the week.....So every senior companion gets an advance which is 3000 Kuna extra so they can buy transportation tickets, pay utilities, etc.... So Elder M**** doesn't have an advance yet, which normally wouldn't be a problem, but the branch also doesn't have a bank card, so whenever the branch needs money for welfare/whatever, the senior companion just pulls out the money, gives it to the Branch President and gets it reimbursed....well.....guess how long we lasted without the advance? Yeah....about 3 and half days. By Friday both of our accounts were completely empty. So we figured that we would make things work, not worry, and we would be provided for. So we scrounged all of our change together and we had enough for 2 loaves of bread. We had some meat and cheese. So we survived. And for the first time ever I found money on the street here! 10 whole Kunas....yeah about $2...but still....money! So it's all good now. Don't worry. The Tanners (the senior couple) are coming today and bringing money for us from the office. And that's more than enough until the reimbursement comes in.  We survived....

Something else cool about this branch is that we have youth....4 of them. And only 3 are related, so we have 2 different families of youth! Also, only 2 of them are baptized.  The one that is baptized turned 18 and so that's why she's baptized. But D******, the 12 year old, almost 13, is really cool. He considers himself a member, and wants to serve a mission. He speaks pretty good English and is a funny kid. We hang out for about an hour or two a week, just to keep a bond strong with the missionaries. He tries to teach us parkour, but when I see him jump off of stuff, I just see a plane ride back to America or Germany on a stretcher, so I bow out. We also try to do some sort of youth activity every Saturday to involve them. This week we are trying to plan a mini trek to celebrate pioneer day. I'll let you know how it goes. 

6.  Do you miss your old companion?
We did well together. And after 4 months of being with someone 24/7 and you get along with them, it's kind of weird to be apart. But it's a constantly changing party out here!

But yeah, Zadar is super cool. The only bad thing is that Zagreb is a 4-hour bus ride away, so that won’t be too fun on Wednesday for zone conference, but the bus can be alright sometimes. It's sometimes nice to have an excuse to just sit for a few hours. 

We have some solid investigators here, but I haven't been able to meet them yet, because it's major vacation time. So hopefully this week! We also have a bunch of potentials to meet up with. It's pretty cool here. People are usually pretty impressed with our language abilities, because most of the foreigners here can't and don't try to speak Croatian, but we do both. 

Sorry I don't have a bunch of cool pictures yet. We are going to explore Centar today for p-day. It's so cool. Around Centar is an ancient roman wall, and the inside has a bunch of old Roman buildings and cathedrals and ruins. So hopefully I’ll have some cool stuff for next week. 

I better go! The sisters are here at the church to use the computers, so I've got to scram!


Monday, July 16, 2012

He's moving on.....Transfer!!!

~P.J.'s new area.....beautiful!!!~

Hello, Family!

The last few days have been busy. A lot of pictures were taken at church and a couple of minutes last night were spent packing all that I have here, because I am getting transferred! I wasn't expecting it at all. It came as a complete surprise. I knew that they were closing down a companionship in Karlovac, and because of that, I assumed that one person from each companionship would stay and that the other two would leave. Since Elder B  has been here for 8 months and I've only been here for 4, I thought that I would stay. Well I was wrong. We got the call Friday morning that said that Elder B  was going to Osijek (over in the bit of the country that boarders Serbia...he's in the Serbia zone now), and that I was leaving as well, and that both of the other elders, Elder C***** and K*****, were staying to man the fort in Karlovac. That being said, I'm pretty excited. I really wanted to mess with you and not tell you were I'm going and just email it to Mollie or Bri that way they could tell you after you freak out a little bit, but I don't think that I'm capable of being that cruel.

So here it is: I am going to.................................................ZADAR, CROATIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to be living it up on the coast for at least the next two months! I'm gonna get so awkwardly tanned....unless I just fry....(I know...."Wear sunblock!!!"....whatever....). Oh it's going to be great! Expect some good pictures!

So I leave tomorrow. I gotta catch the 7:55 bus down to Zadar. It's about a 3 hour drive south! It's going to be so strange actually having something to do and look at on P-days because there is nothing to do here in Karlovac after week 3.....I don't think I'm going to miss the town at all, but It's sad to leave the people. The members are so great here and it wasn't too long ago that I finally felt like I could connect with them because I could finally understand what it was that they were saying, but oh well. I will still get to see all of them every 6 months at district conference. I'm a little nervous about going, but I think it will be good. I get to switch dialects. Over here in Karlovac, the language is Štokavian and Kajkavian, but Zadar is the start of the Dalmatian coastline where they speak čakavian. It won’t be that big of a difference though; just some weird pronunciations of words.

 The fiesta would be a cool car if it had more power to it. I see them every once in a while around here, but mostly just Opels, Fiats, Peugeots (nasty french cars), and a few Fords. A Focus would be cool though. That's what I thought your new car was when I first saw the little attachment pictures. That sucks that the car already was a little messed up though.

Another package? Cool, I'll take it! There's not really too much I'm missing. I don't know if you can get your hands on any, or how easy it would be to ship it, but I could really go for some Gatorade powder. I'm not sure if you can even get it at the grocery store anymore, but it would be way good. And the cd's would be great!

Well, the awesome place that you and dad found with the cool dock....is pretty much my new city! But it sounds like a cool place.

Now to answer your questions:

1.  How are your contacts holding up?  What are your plans when you run out?  Please don't try to make a year prescription last for two.  Can you see an optometrist over there?
So far so good. It's been like 6 months, And I’ve only used 3 pairs....and no infections yet, so....so far, so good. Sure, those three pairs should have only lasted me 6 weeks...but oh well. I guess it's what you would call a missionary miracle! It's almost like the fish and bread story in the Bible, but with contacts in Croatia.

2.  How are your clothes holding up?  Do you need anything?
Clothes are good....well, the suit has been in pretty poor shape for about 4 and half months now....I'll probably start looking into getting a new one since I'm going to be in a city with stores that aren't cheap little china shops.

3.  Any new teaching appts?
We got to go teach a less active man and his nonmember wife with the H****** this last week! His name is D**** and he lives south of Plitvica, so a good 2+ hours away. He is the coolest guy ever. He is so nice and loving; just a very bright and radiant guy. He loves church and everything to do with the gospel, but he and his wife  can't make the 2-hour trip to church, so he's starved for contact. He has an interesting story. He was a refugee from Serbia. He came here during the war. Then he went back to Novi Sad, Serbia, where he met missionaries back in 2005 and was baptized in Beograd. He then moved back to Croatia and now lives in Korenica. His wife works at a daycare and he is a park ranger of sorts. He sits in a tree stand all day throughout the summer and watches for forest fires on the mountainside. Yeah, it sounds like watching grass grow, but it's an important job. Well, when we got to his house, we got out of the car and he just walked up and hugged me and said, in English (it's very limited, but he loves using what he knows), "Welcome, my brother!" He was so happy to have us there. We went inside, met his wife, and he showed us every picture/letter he had ever gotten from a missionary. It was way cool. And then when we started the lesson about faith, he ran into the kitchen, and put in a Motab cassette for lesson ambiance, I guess. The lesson was great. His wife is shy and quiet, but she has a little bit of interest and is very nice also. I feel bad for them though. He said that he gets a lot of discrimination in town, because Korenica's small and a lot of the people there know that he's Mormon, not Catholic, and Serbian, not Croatian. And apparently they still aren't too fond of Serbs there. But it was so great going out to visit him. I don't think I've met anybody as warm and loving as him before.

4.  How are your investigators doing?
Good. Luckily the other elders have met them all before, so it will be a smooth transfer. It's a little sad to be leaving them because it feels like we are finally seeing real progress in our area.

5.  Any exciting news about transfers?
See above.......

I think that's about it for this week. I don't have a lot of time left. We have some stuff that we have to do today before both of us leave in the morning. I hope all of you have a good week! I love all of you. And Mom, have fun looking up Zadar. I bet you'll know more about it then I will!

~the old church in Zadar, the Sveti Donatt...I’m not sure how old it is, but I bet you can find out.....~

  ~Zadar Coastline~

~One is of the sea organ....its a pipe organ thing that's played by the waves going into them....it's one of the stereotypical Zadar things to see/sea....hahaha.......~

Monday, July 9, 2012

American 4th of July feast, a table set nicely, and an amazing teaching experience!

~Elder Quinn can fry up some chicken...thanks to his Chicken Express days!~

~Table set for the 4th of July dinner (wow...considering these are four 19-21 year old guys...check out the table setting!  I want to know which one of them had a mother who taught him that???)~

Bok, Family!

Guess what is this week? July 11th....know what that is? It's my 6 month date. Isn't that crazy? I know I'm not supposed to keep track of time or whatever, but it's not messing with my mind. It's just crazy to think that I'm already a quarter done. I'm pretty sure that I can do everything 3 more times. Does it feel like it's already been 6 months to you?

I'm glad that Bri's birthday went well. Texas de Brazil sounds so good right now. I could go for sirloin or something. Oh my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I haven't had steak since Texas de Brazil before I left. That's too bad that Mollie couldn't go, but she doesn't like meat anyways.....

So I got a surprising email from J***** W***** this week. I've been thinking about writing a letter, but I haven't gotten around to it. He said that he was guessing email addresses and he was hoping that it was right. But it sounds like he's doing well in Brazil. It's weird to think that it's almost been a year since I've talked to him.

Your 4th of July sounds good. The swimming part, especially. I was never a huge fan of swimming, but now that I can't, I miss it more. Especially since it's so hot and humid. The rivers look so good when we walk by them! If you think "Little Niagra" was cool, just wait until you come here and go to Plitvica. You can't swim there, but it's cooler, I'm sure.  Our 4th was good as well. I'm attaching pictures, because Shutterfly won’t upload on this computer. But we had Fried Chicken, Mashed potatoes (from the branch garden), salad (also from the garden) with ranch dressing (from America), Velveeta (from my birthday package), cherry Koolaid, and lemon white chocolate chip cookies. It was all so good. And Elder K***** busted out a can of A&W root beer and we all had little shots of it (yes, their apartment has shot glasses). It was so good. Fried chicken, fake cheddar cheese, and root beer.....just like America. It was kind of funny. Everybody pitched in stuff that they got from packages and had been saving for a special date.

And what the heck, Steve Nash? He used to be cool. He was pushing the limits by going to Phoenix, but now he is officially dead to me!  
1.  Did you guys ever get your fan?
So we bought a fan at Kaufland. The thing is so ghetto! You touch it and the metal post bends, but it does the job. It helps, but it's still hot.
3.  How is English class going?
English is going all right. We have 3 students and none of them seem super interested in the gospel yet, but we keep trying.
4.  Did you find anything out about transfers?
Nope. We get the calls on Thursday or Friday. The only news is that we are pretty sure that Karlovac is getting lowered down to just 2 elders, but even that's a rumor...although I'm guessing it's true. And the rumor that Tuzla, Bosnia is opening... It's definitely opening. We just don't know if it's this transfer. Cool story: Sis. Turner, the mission nurse was looking for an apartment for the senior couple and doing health inspection stuff, and these two 20 something guys came up to her and said, "Is the church here now!? We used to live in Salt Lake City and we were baptized, but our parents died in a car accident a little while back and we moved back to Bosnia, and we haven't been able to find the church for a while now." I guess they were super excited and emotional. Isn't that just crazy? In a city of a couple hundred thousand people, they run into each other. So Tuzla has at least 2 members that no one even knew about.
5.  Who are you teaching?
 We had an awesome lesson with a lady this last week on Saturday. We hadn't met in a couple of weeks just because we had been busy, but I called her on Friday and set up a time for 10 in the morning. The previous time that we met she had mentioned that she had issues with organized religion, and that she didn't see the need for it and wasn't too thrilled with it in general. Well Elder B**** and I had been thinking about organized religion, and it's something that comes up a lot, but we never really had a good solid answer for it, other than "it's what we're commanded to do.....we help each other when we have church".....Well, we finally got the conference Liahona from April this last week....better late than never, I guess. And I’ve been reading through it during studies. Well, on the first day I was reading, I found a talk from the Saturday morning session called, "Converted to his gospel through his church" by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom. The whole talk is about how the purpose of the church is to help us live the gospel. It was so perfect. And the even better part is that she knows perfect English, so we were able to use it. So we set up the lesson and asked L***** (a member who  knows perfect English and went to school where M***** taught...they already kind of knew each other) to come with us. She came and the lesson was great. We talked a while about her career, like usual, and she was showing L****** photos from different reunions and things,  and then we started the teaching aspect of the lesson. She started by saying that she read what we had asked her to (Moroni 10) but she told us that by saying, "I read what you asked me to." We asked her how she felt when she read and she said that she really likes it and says that as far as the chapter goes, she believes it is true.

We then moved in to talking about organized religion....And I don't want to get all missionary with you, but it was one of those experiences where you feel like an instrument....you open your mouth and words come out beyond your control. I don't even remember what I said, other than the fact that it was about organized religion, and the need for it so we can live the gospel. And then we read verses from Moroni 6 about coming to church and being led by the spirit. But it was pretty powerful, for me at least. But L****** talked about her experiences with being a convert, going inactive, and coming back into activity and how the church helped her. It was so good. We finished the lesson by asking her to come to church. She had been to activities in the past. She said that she would try to come. So fast-forward to Sunday at church. Guess who came? M****** showed up! It was the first time we've had an investigator at church in over a month. It was so good. And all the members were talking to her and she looked like she was enjoying herself. We asked her if she would stay for Relief Society, and she said that she didn't know that church was for 2 hours, and that she had never been invited to stay for the next meeting, but she said that she would. I talked to her before she left, and she seemed very happy and like she enjoyed herself. The only down side is that everything in church was about temples yesterday and we have never mentioned temples to her before, so now we have a direction for our next lesson. Now we are working on teaching her about prayer and the need for it. Except unfortunately she is going down to Split on the coast on Thursday to visit grandkids and she could be gone for up to 2 months. But we'll see what happens.

I think that's about it for today. I don’t have a ton of time to say much else. I love you all a bunch and hope you have a super awesome week! All of you stay out of trouble!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Birthday boy!!!!

~Elder Quinn's Pinnochio dessert~

~Up Close!~

Good day to the family!

What the heck? I leave and everyone starts getting all fancy and spoiled. New office, nice tvs at home, $1,000,000 coconut pillows, Christmas trip to Florida, new car.....what the heck people? Send some love over here...... My birthday was a good one....And Venice...beautiful. I'll talk more about that later....

So the new office looks way nice. I hope it works out well for you. Is it the office spaces on the other side of the building you were already in? Thanks for the facebook update. Sometimes I miss it, but oh well. It's almost been 6 months without it. Did you know that Wednesday is my 19 months left mark? I finally made it out of the 20's. Supposedly that's the longest part. We should be getting transfer calls towards the end of next week and I’ll find out what my fate is for the next 2 months. I’m pretty sure I’m staying here in Karlovac, but you have to expect the unexpected. You say it's hot there....it's about the same here right now. It got up to 42C in some parts of Croatia yesterday (which is about 107.6F) but here it stayed around 39C, which converts to about 102. And it's still way humid here too. It's terrible. It usually cools off to the 80's by about 4 in the morning. I’m kind of getting used to sweating. As long as I’m up doing something the heat isn’t that bad, but when I have to sit or try and sleep in it, it's absolutely terrible. I think Elder B**** and I are going to call the mission office today and get some fans approved, so we can buy some for our apartment. The frozen wet rag only works so well...(get a rag wet, freeze it, and go to sleep with it wrapped around my neck).

So the new car! At first I thought it was a Focus and I got way excited. Then I saw that it was another Edge. It's still super nice though. The color is much better this time around. And I'm glad the air conditioner is better in this one. And that sound system sounds awesome. Not that I have any really good music to play on it right now anyways. I miss my music so much. Next to you guys, that's what I miss most. It looks like a nice car, but it still has a little too much cross-over SUV estrogen dripping off of the front and back bumpers. I’m glad it's still leather. And sweet back up camera. Now you can see the lawn mower behind the car before you run over it.....too soon still?

And the flask next to the cereal isn’t too bad. Here you have center isle kiosk things full of Karlovačko beer right next to the cereal in Kaufland. It's pretty much everywhere.

And no, B***s apartment doesn't have air conditioning either. If it did I would've already killed them. That's too bad that you got sick. I've gotten kind of nauseated a couple of times. One time I threw up off the bridge into the Kupa about 20 feet below. It was gross but it looked cool. Another time I just threw up at the apartment before bed. I think I just ate something funky both times. But that's the extent of being sick that I've experienced. I used to think it would be cool to be sick because you just stay home and sleep all day, but now with the heat, that would just be a curse.

Well, we had one of our 3 English students drop already. He came to one class and saw that it was just he and Š*****, the nicest member ever. He didn't come back again.

What the heck with the Christmas vacation? I've never been on vacation during Christmas...well before this upcoming Christmas....which isn’t even vacation. It's just in a different place. But that sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe I'll try and get some leave...military style. I've heard they do that. So I'll join you in Florida. (Dreaming on his part....~Dore)

I miss good soda. I've taken a liking to Coke because it beats nothing. Fanta here is strange and the other soda choices are sprite and Cockta, which is a weird pomegranate cola drink. So Coke is the least of all evils. But I miss Sunkist, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, and Gatorade. Slovenia has Gatorade though. We just need to go to another meeting there and stop by a gas station. Maybe Croatia will get better products after it joins the EU next July...if the EU is still around by then. I hope they join, switch to the euro, and then the euro crashes. I could buy all sorts of cool stuff for way cheap.

So my birthday....it went like this: First of all, there really wasn't a Venice trip....tear....tear...sniff....sniff (I’m assuming you already knew that). But we woke up, got ready for the day and went to the church for a solo English class with one of our new students, M***. That went pretty good. Afterwards we went to Tiffany’s for lunch...one of the more expensive restaurants in town. Then we went to the slastičarnica (sweet shop with the palačinke...crepes.... chocolate, ice cream....) next door and got dessert. I got the Pinokio cup...It was so gay. I'll attach the pic....but it’s two scoops of ice cream (vanilla and strawberry) with a ton of whipped cream, a face made from wafer things, a bunch of sprinkles, and it’s all on a plate that looks like Pinocchio. The guy gave us a funny look when the others ordered if for me, and it was a little embarrassing, but oh well. Then we went to the church and the other Elders gave me some good stuff. I got a kilogram tub of little cola gummies (they’re  one of my favorite candies), a couple of milka white chocolate bars, a couple of kinder eggs, a remote control car that the other Elders got for free when they bought a new vacuum, and a Croatia soccer garden gnome. It’s all pretty awesome. Oh yeah. Go back in time a bit to the night before. Our landlady, D*****, called and asked if we were home because she had a cake to drop off. She remembered that it was my birthday. So she dropped off a cake...look on Shutterfly. And so go back to my birthday. After the church we went to have a lesson with A***** and I*****. I don’t know how they knew it was my birthday...I think we mentioned it a few weeks before, but they remembered. They had some good cookies and a giant hazelnut Swiss roll. So we ate that and then they brought me out a present. They said that they wanted to get me something because its not everyday that you turn 20, but they didn’t know what to get me so they got a couple of things that they thought I might need. They got me a thing of shower gel, a thing of axe, and a giant hazelnut chocolate bar. After I opened it, I smelled my armpits and said, "yup...I need it." They just started laughing and said, "We didn't mean it like that." It was so nice of them. It meant a lot that they remembered and that they bought me something. They are so nice! So after that, we had the cake from the land lady with the other elders. It was really nice. Then after that the H******* picked us up and took us to their apartment and we had some ice cream with raspberries. B****** and Đ***, a super cool couple from the ward were there too. It was cool. Then we went back and went to bed on sugar overloads. It was a good day. Not the usual birthday routine, but it was one to remember.

I think that's about it for the week....wait...we had an American family show up at church yesterday. It was kind of funny. I saw a 9 and 13-year-old boys walk in and I was wondering who they were. Then the dad walked in, I waved to him and paused because I had no idea which language to use with him. He looked at me and asked if I knew English. I laughed and said yes. I first thought that it was an old missionary returning with his family. We've had a couple of them so far. But he wasn’t. It was a family from Arkansas (mom, dad, two boys, and a daughter) who was rv'ing through Europe and their last leg was through Croatia trying to do some family history research in some local graveyards here. It was nice to have them at church. They were way nice people. So that was interesting. But I think that's the extent of the week here. Nothing too thrilling. I'm excited for our 4th of July feast. That will be soo good. Have fun in Oklahoma if you go. And I'll tell Bri happy birthday here too. I hope everything goes well for you. Enjoy the new car! I uploaded some new pictures to Shutterfly. Enjoy!

I love you all a bunch! Have a good week!

                                        ~Cake from the landlady...Wasn't that sweet of her?  Love how she looks after these guys!!!~