December 3, 2012
So first of all, Happy Birthday, Mom!...on Saturday....I had to make sure that that was first, that way there's not a chance of me forgetting it. I sent something off for the occasion (nothing too exciting...I'm a missionary) and I hope it'll get there by your birthday, but we'll see, I guess. I hope you have a great day!
Also, I am officially the definition of a man, next to my father of course. I just gave myself my own flu shot...and got it on video. It was so intense. I'm gonna try and send it, but I'm assuming the file is too big. yup...it's too big, but have a couple of cool pics from today! I don't have pictures of myself, but Sister Tanner and Elder A do, and I'll get the pics from them eventually.
So about bananagrams...I think everyone won once. That bites about about being sick! That's a terrible thing which is why I'm getting my flu shot today. Well, and because of the fact that it's been mandated by the mission. I'm still wanting to give it to myself. We'll see what happens.
Oh man...Testimony meeting...Ya. The last few months, I've had to bare my testimony because I've been conducting the meeting. But usually missionaries aren't supposed to because it's a time for the members. We have lessons and zone conferences to bare our testimonies. But we've also have had awkward silences at the last few meetings. So lots of quiet reflection time. It doesn't help that at the last testimony meeting we only had 5 people there, plus 4 missionaries.
Dad's watch sounds cool! Do you think you can send a picture?
So why did you buy a new Christmas tree? Did the other one loose to many needles? And what do you mean by "de-lighting"? Don't you want lights on a Christmas tree? And just screw the whole thing, if you don't feel like it. And as you guessed, I'm rather indifferent about the ornament situation. Doesn't really matter too much to me.
Speaking of J, I got an email from him! He seems to be doing well. How could you not be when you're serving in a freakin' ward? But he didn't have too much to say. Just that he's enjoying where he's at, which is good to hear. He's also in actual Salvador, Brazil.
1. Did you get your package?
Yup! So....I'm gonna go ahead and give the baby stuff to them today probably because I think tension and stress is mounting about the baby coming, and I think it might be a good way to relieve it...I'll explain more further down.... And I'll save the rest of the stuff for Christmas.
2. Did you meet with the guy yet whom the sisters referred you to?
We tried. We've been back a few times. We ultimately ended up getting peep-hole rejected (where they just look through the door and walk away. I don't think people realize how much sound they make when they walk up to a door, or how people can see when someone is looking through a peep-hole). I'm hoping that he has roommates who rejected us and he just hasn't been home. I'll keep going back until they open the door and tell us to stop. It took Elder M and me 2 months of doing that until the guy finally answered. It wasn't the best situation because he just gave us the Book of Mormon back and told us to leave, but he finally answered.
3. Ummm…why aren't you guys cooking more? Just curious…
Cuz of the 25% tax! Everything in the grocery stores has a 25% sales tax included in the price, which makes things more expensive, so unless you're making sandwiches, It's pretty much cheaper to just order food or eat out. It's so expensive to make things here. I think the cheesecake ended up costing around $20-$25 just to make it. It kind of sucks.
4. For Testimony meeting, does everyone speak?? Tiny branch, you know…answered above in the related section....
5. What American things would you like included in your next package? (That will probably go out sometime in January)
Maybe some good hot chocolate (I know that sounds weird for me, but someone else had some, and it was super good). It doesn't exist here. Some restaurants have it, but it's literally melted chocolate that they heat up. So maybe some good French vanilla stuff or something. I can't think of anything else that I wish I had as of late.
6. How was conference?
It was good! It all ended up working out! We woke up at 4, it was nasty...especially this morning when we realized we didn't change the alarm.... So we got to Zagreb, and had the meeting!
It was really good. The district president and a few other members spoke, and then Sister and President Rowe spoke. It was really cool. I think the most exciting thing about it was that our Melchizedek Priesthood rate in the branch just increased by 50% yesterday! Now we have 3 priesthood holders! D K who is 22, became an Elder yesterday! He also received his mission call to the California, Anaheim mission! He leaves in April. So Croatia will have a missionary out! It's so great. We're going to be starting mission prep classes with him soon. So I got to stand in on his ordination (and for a member from the Varaždin branch). That was cool. We also had a good lunch afterwards with chicken, all sorts of bread and pasta salads, and different types of burek. Unfortunately, I got the slim pickings because of the ordinations, but oh well.
it was really cool to see all of my friends in other branches, and the missionaries too. I got to see most of the Karlovac members, and people from Zagreb that I've met from doing a few exchanges there. It's cool to talk to the Karlovac members and actually understand what they're saying and be able to carry on a conversation with them. It's crazy how much easier they are to understand 5 months later. It kind of blows my mind.
Another cool part was President Rowe's talk. He relayed a story that Elder Rasband told in Sarajevo. He told the story of Elijah about how he was so discouraged and was so down hearted because of the people and the hardness of their hearts that he just retreated and prayed to die. He was then blessed with food that sustained him, but he still felt discouraged. He then went on to tell about how he went to hide in the cave because people were searching to kill him. While he was in the cave, Heavenly Father asked, "what are you doing, as my chosen servant prophet, hiding in a cave?" And Elijah answered that no good people remained, everyone that was left was evil, and they wanted to kill him. So that's when Heavenly Father told him that there were 7000 righteous people left and that he just needed to leave and find them. But even then, Elijah didn't have the courage to leave. And an earthquake came, fire came, among other things, and Elijah still wouldn't leave the cave. But finally, through the enticings of the spirit, Elijah left the cave, and found the pure in heart. It was then related to our situation. Everyday, it's hard to believe that there are prepared people out in the world when we are constantly getting rejected, but the Lord has prepared people that we need to find, and if we hide in our apartments (our caves) all day, we'll never find them, even if they are right outside. So we have to have courage and have faith in the Lord that we will be led to people who will receive us. It's kind of a cool analogy. It was pretty much given with the intent of helping the members realize that others around them will accept the gospel. And there's a goal here to have a stake by 2020, which would require 5 wards with 150 members each, so 750 members, but there are more than that. There are 7000 people. There are enough for 7 stakes, metaphorically speaking. But ya, it was a cool analogy.
So I think that's it for district conference. So this last week, I spent time listening/watching the conference DVD's, and it's weird how conference suddenly becomes enjoyable when you're a missionary, because it was not something I recall enjoying before. But the talks were really good. I really liked Elder Holland's about the apostles and returning to the nets. It kind of made me reflect on what's gonna happen in a year when I get home. It made me think about how a mission is more than just a 2 year period in which you live like a monk and shun the outside world, and then -bam- it's over and you go back to whatever was going on before, and that's the end of it. It's just a sentence that you serve and then you go back to normal life. There are certain aspects that you leave behind that you are never supposed to go back to. A mission is supposed kind of open your eyes to things that were happening before, which can be done better, or even left behind completely. It's kind of a new way of looking at it. And I've been thinking about which things I would give up or change forever, and I haven't really thought of anything huge, but it's kind of a cool thing to think about. And the thought of keeping some of the things from the mission with me forever, doesn't really sound appealing or easy, but I figured that the atonement wasn't much of a party for Christ, and that's just how life is...or at least ought to be. Not always easy and enjoyable. But the trick is finding the things that are hard and difficult, and finding a way to make it easy and enjoyable. ..........Sorry...kind of rambling there. Hope it made sense. If you don't understand the reference, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-first-great-commandment?lang=eng ... I hope this makes it more understandable.
So about the baby stress and giving them the baby stuff now. I think it might be better to give them something to lift their spirits a bit.... He said that he was just scared to death that something was going to be wrong with his son, but we told him that everything was going to be okay. So just keep them in your prayers this week. The baby should come in the next few days.
So a cool story that we're still in the middle of just to end this email...So Zadar is a wet mess right now. It pours almost every day, and every night. It's like I'm living in Washington. Well we've gotten caught out in it almost every day for the last week. So a few nights back it was getting bad while tracting, so we ran for the post office and were hiding from the rain under the overhang there. So we were trying to define a course of action so we could avoid wandering around in the rain. While we were there, a young guy came up to us and asked us something in Croatian, but we couldn't hear him over the rain and thunder, so we asked him to repeat himself, after which he asked where we were from and we told him America. He then said, "Oh! I'm L," and threw out his hand and we talked for a few minutes. We found out that he's in Gymnasium (high school) and is studying photography. We told him that we have English classes, but he said that he was satisfied with his English. So he ended up having to leave, but we gave him our number for if he ever wanted to meet up and talk. So he left, and that was the end of it. Well, we were on the bus yesterday, and we got off at the break to use the restroom (it takes a break about 2 hours into the drive every time). Well we were walking back to the bus, when we heard a voice yell "Hey, guys!" We turned around and it was Luka. We were pretty surprised to see him, so then we talked a little about what we had been doing in Zagreb. So then we got back on the bus, and that was the end of it again. So I was kind of sitting there, wondering what I could have said, because one thing I've learned on my mission is that there's no such thing as a "coincidence." So I couldn't think of what we could have said to him to change things...like making him interested in meeting with us for anything. So it was a little disappointing. So we just sat there for another hour. Well, when we got into town, the bus stopped by our apartment to let some one off instead of going all the way to the station. So when we saw that we were stopping, we grabbed our stuff and ran to the front of the bus. Well, the bus driver was being a tool and ignored me when I yelled for him to wait from the back of the bus, so we ran to the front of the bus, but he shut the doors and kept on driving. Well I then heard a voice from behind me say, "Don't worry. There's a bus to Stanovi (the part of town where we live)" and it was Luka. We told him thanks, and then he surprised me by saying, "So what days did you say you have English class? Tuesdays and Thursdays, right?" I said "Ya, but those are beginner classes, and you're way above that." So he kind of sounded discouraged, and I told him that we could meet one on one, or he could bring friends that knew a bit of English too and that we could schedule a time. He then mentioned that he's been in the middle of writing some essays and said that he could use some help with grammar and that he wanted to meet sometime. He said that he would call us tomorrow, so sometime today! Isn't that crazy? It's another one of those situations where it seems like a coincidence, but I'm not that naive. It's crazy to see what led us to be in those situations at the right time. It still blows my mind. But that's my exciting story for the week!
So I best be going. The Tanners are here for p-day, so we're going to have lunch with them and the sisters (can only do that if there's a senior couple) and then the Tanners are taking us to the island to go see Krešimir Čosić's place there that he used to own (obviously before he died)...I don't know how to describe the place...It translates to court...It's a mansion that he owned on the island when he was alive. So that'll be super cool.
I love you all a bunch and hope you have a good week. Tell Grandpa Tom that I wish him a happy late birthday. I remembered that it was on Tuesday on Monday night, and by that time it was too late to do anything!