Saturday, February 23, 2013

Someone pulled a WWE move on him and he loves his new area! ;)


Just a side note....Brianne, P.J.'s older sister, received her mission call and will be serving in the Denver Colorado North Mission!!!  She reports to the MTC (Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah) on April 3rd.  We are so excited for her!  Yes...we will now have 2 missionaries serving at the same time for about a year.  Note to those who are thinking about starting their may want to put more of an age space between kids! ;)  

That's so exciting about Brianne and her call. Wow...Denver North...that's nuts. Once again, that's the last place I would have ever guessed. She's going to love it. Do you feel old now that you'll have 2 kids on a mission in just 6 weeks?  ;)  

Oh, that barbecue sounds so good. I think I might kill for some right about now. It's been over a year now. I miss beef. It's been mostly chicken and pork, and now not really pork because of the Muslims here.  

So, answers for you!

1.  How are you liking your new area?
 It's great. The people are so nice here. You pretty much have to have something wrong with you if you don't get let in while tracting.  Everyone just wants to talk and be friends.

2.  How are you liking the English classes (so many classes, too!!)
 It's good. We had two classes with 20 people last Tuesday... I guess one of them was boring though, because one of the classes dropped to 6 on Thursday. But Advanced is fun too. We pretty much just play games and have discussions that will help their English. We teach Englins as service, so we've pretty much have cut religion from it. Now we have "uplifting thoughts" at the end and keep it pretty secular. We figured that if people get to know us as normal people first, the questions will come later when they see who we are and what we do, and so far it's a pretty true thing. That being said, the weirdest part about English class is going by "P.J." It just feels so weird. But it's kind of funny. 

We have a big guy named Tomislav in our advanced class, and he wanted to show the other missionaries a trick and asked me to help. I said okay. He told me to completely relax. I did. Next thing I knew, he picked me up WWE style and was spinning me around and dancing around while holding me above his head. It was terrifying. It was so funny though. We were all cracking up afterwards. I don't think I'll do it again though. 

3.  Have you bought a new suit yet?
no...but I probably need to soon.

4.  How is the food over there?
It's pretty much the same as Croatia. They don't really have any sit down restaurants here because no one can really afford them, but the little places that they do have are good. 

5.  How do you introduce the Gospel there?
Good question....We spent a lot of time thinking about that this week. It was something that both of us felt clueless about. We realized that you just have to go down to the basics, and just tell people about what it'll do for them. We talk about what it has done for us, verses what it is, when we first start out. For example, how it has blessed our lives, drawn our families together, and made us happy. We also figured out what we relate to the people on. We decided on prophets. So when we introduce or talk about the Book of Mormon, we talk about how it was written by prophets, and it's a story about a family overcoming problems. We then talk about how it's strengthened our relationship with God, and has helped our lives.

Religion here is basically tradition.  Every now and then, people are actually religious, but most of them aren't really involved with anything. 

It's still an ongoing process we are trying to figure out. 

8.  What brand are your appliances in the kitchen?  Not such a random question…Someone wanted me to ask you. 
I haven't got a clue. I know our air conditioner is a panasonic. There are a lot of LG units around her as well. I'll check the appliances and let you know though. A lot of the time they are "Goring" or something like that. 

Ya, the apartment is way nice. It no longer takes laundry 4 to 5 days to dry. Everything is dry over night. It's crazy. For some reason, the dish washer isn't working....along with the elevator in the building, so we have to call our land lord. But it's still a nice place. 

The senior couples are all great...Which brings me to sad news that I learned today.... The best senior couple ever, the Tanners, are leaving at the beginning of the month. They are the couple we had Thanksgiving with. Originally they were supposed to go home in July, but they recently extended until December....Well, things changed when President Uchtdorf skyped them last week. It turns out that Elder Tanner has been called to be a mission president somewhere in an English-speaking mission. They don't even know where yet. So now they are going home on March 1 and they have time with their families until July 1 when they start. It's sad that they're leaving, but maybe a bunch of us will road trip from BYU and visit them.

So we had a good finding experience this week. We went tracting and knocked on the second door of the night on the 14th floor of a big apartment building. Well, a young guy opened the door because he was leaving, not because we knocked...he didn't hear us. We scared him pretty badly. Well anyways, we started talking to him about the Book of Mormon, but he said that he had to go. But he called his mother over and we started talking to her, while the son was waiting for the elevator behind us. She asked us where we were from, and we said America. They were pretty shocked. Tuzla doesn't see a whole lot of tourists, especially from America. The son then started talking to us in English and seemed pretty excited. The mom invited us in, and the son said that we had to stay for at least 20 minutes because he would be coming back and he wanted to talk. 

So we went and sat down in the living room, and the coffee table caught my eye. It was a wooden table with a glass sheet on top and underneath the glass top was a bunch of old Jugoslavian money...bills and coins, ranging from now all the way back to the 1880's. I really like old money, so I started asking her about it. Well, you know that I'm weird.....for some reason in my white missionary handbook that I carry in my shirt pocket, I also carry a couple of foreign coins. One of them is my Australian half dollar and the other two is a Macedonian dinar, and an old dinar coin from Jugoslavia from 1965. Well I took out my 1965 dinar and showed it to her. She was looking at it and then got excited because she didn't have one like it. She then asked if I would trade it to her for a duplicate that she had. So I did. So now I have a 10-dinar coin from 1963. So that was cool. We then were talking about the Book of Mormon... 

Well her son came back, and we dumbfounded him. It's his dream to go Miami some day. His name is S, he's 20, and speaks super good English. Well, as he said, he had met people from every country in Europe from playing soccer, but he had never met Americans before, but now he had two Americans sitting in his house. It was kind of funny. He then went on talking like we were going to best friends forever and talked about maybe meeting up in America day. 

Well we started having a lesson, and he kind of acted like he wasn't that interested at first, but you could tell that he was getting more and more interested. After we finished reading some verses, he made the comment that they were pretty powerful. He then mentioned that his mom and dad are different religions, so he was half and half but he didn't really believe either of them. He said that he believed in God, but other than that, he didn't believe much. He said that he was interested though.  

He mentioned later that he wasn't sure how we ended up at his house, but that there was a possibility that God had sent us there. He was also impressed by the fact that we were out sharing our message and that we were so worried about other people's happiness. He is super cool. 

Well, there were other things said, but in short, we are meeting again next Sunday, and they agreed to start reading the Book of Mormon. It's so exciting. He wants us to come over when his dad is home, that way he can prove to his dad that he speaks English (I guess his dad doesn't believe him).

I think that's about it for now. I love you a lot, and I better get going. All is going well here. I hope all is great at home in Flower Mound. 

Oh...something else....So guess is flying home from his mission today? It's blowing my mind....Elder Jake Follett. Isn't that crazy? From what he's said, he's sad to leave, but that's the way it's supposed to be. 

Well, until next week,

He's now in Tuzla!!!


So, here I am, sitting in the library here in Tuzla, Bosnia, e-mailing you!  It is definitely the place that is the most unlike any other place that I have ever lived!

We did get here safely. We were originally scheduled to leave last Wednesday, but the police station in Zadar, along with the one in Varazdin for Elder C, couldn't cancel our visas by then so we had to wait another day. So Wednesday was a late day. Since other elders weren't coming, we had to deep clean the apartment. I was up until 2. Then we woke up at 5:30 to finish packing and to get our luggage to the bus station. Our luggage wouldn't fit in the Matosich's car, so we sent the luggage on the bus, beat the bus there and then just waited for our luggage for like half an hour at the Zagreb station. We then stowed our luggage at the bus station. Which was very lucky. So just to give a sense of time, we left Zadar at 7:00 and got to Zagreb around 10. We then went to the office to just wait for the 12:00 bus to Tuzla. Well, we lost track of time, and when we finally looked at a clock, it was 11:43. Needless to say, we got up and booked it out the office. We thought that we were going to miss the bus, which would mean that we would have to wait for another 7 hours for the next bus. So we ran out the door and luckily a senior couple was there, so they drove us to the bus station. We got there faster than the tram would have gotten us there. We managed to barely make the bus. It was quite frantic! But then we had a 5.5 hour drive. New Mexico is nicer to drive through than Slavonia and north Bosnia during the winter; just fields and dead trees the entire time. So we finally made it into Tuzla around 6:00 that night.

When we got off the bus,immediately a gypsy kid tried to take a piece of my luggage and carry it for me, but I wouldn't let go. He kept on trying to grab it out of my hand. Luckily he didn't get it. But he did get Elder C's. He carried it out of the station, and then demanded money for carrying it for him. He only had a 10 lipa coin, which is about 2 cents. The kid got mad, made a fist, and demanded more, but we didn't have anything. We then walked to our apartment.

The next surprising thing about this city is all of the mosques! They are everywhere. It's really weird how the predominant religion just switched from Catholic to Muslim! (he's speaking about Croatia being predominantly Catholic)   Also, we get to hear the "call to prayer" all the time. I'm not sure how many mosques there are in Tuzla, but we have like 4 nearby our apartment. And we can hear the call to prayer from inside...including inside the church which is right nearby. I think the oddest thing is that all of the people look like Croats, and they speak the same language, but they all have Turkish/Muslim names and they all are Muslim.

There are also a ton of gypsies here! They are everywhere. All of the kids are cool with us though because of our members and stuff. So they always come up to us and high five and stuff.

People are super friendly here. The other night, I said hi to a lady, and she then asked me how I was! She asked how I was! That was mind-blowing to me. People usually don't even say hi back. They also tend to like Americans here. We have English class starting this week. It's usually good if you have 8-15 people in class....We somehow managed to have 5 classes with around 20 people each! We have close to 100 English students. I'm not sure how it happened, but it'll be interesting.

Church is interesting here. We have a group, not even a branch. So we have church for an hour. We have an opening song, announcements, a sacrament hymn, the sacrament, (then we put the sacrament away), then we have one talk, and then a 20-25 minute lesson. We then finish with a song, and it's over. It's kind of nice. It's also great because we only have a 45 second walk to church. It's just outside the door of our building and around the corner. The church is small. It's just a single room with a table, a white board, and 15 chairs. It has 2 bathrooms, and a little closet. That's the church building in Tuzla. We have 6 members here.

The apartment is so nice! It's the best I've lived in. I'll see if I can attach pictures. Shutterfly won’t work. So we have a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, and a balcony. We live on the 3rd floor, and we have an elevator. We also have a DISH WASHER!!!!!!! That's quite the rarity over here. We also have a full size fridge. I've only had a mini fridge under the counter for the last 7 months. My bed is great! Much better than the Zadar one. You could fold it in half. But this one is great. I'm actually sleeping through the night now! That might also be because we have central heating, which is also a great blessing. Zadar didn't have heating. But now we're always warm! Everything about the apartment is better!

So's been freezing. It started snowing the day we got here and stopped last night. Luckily it didn't start sticking until yesterday, and it's already melting. It's a pretty humid cold though, so it goes straight to the bone.

The Winters seem really cool. I met them when they first came to the country. They stopped by Karlovac last June. They had us over for dinner last night. She is a great cook! And Elder C and I are companions. It's crazy. I asked him what he would've said if someone had told us during one of the home teaching lessons we had or just when we were hanging out (at BYU), that we were going to be mission companions in middle-of-nowhere Bosnia. It's pretty crazy to think about.

It's been a great start here. I'm excited to see what happens. Funny side note...we've already bought a new phone. The elders here tried to be helpful by buying us a phone before we got here. We complained a lot to the financial secretary, Elder Erwin, because we didn't like the phone at all and he said we could get a new one...So we got a nice Nokia with a touch screen. It's a lot better than the one we had.

The best thing about Bosnia so far...they have Fruit Loops! They aren't quite the same...they are all dull colors and they have a lot less sugar, but they are still really good.

Everything is a lot cheaper here! We can get lunch and dessert for 5km's it's great! One Bosnian mark is about 3.5 kunas, and the taxes are lower, and things are generally cheaper...which is why we get less money every month, but oh well.

I'm glad to hear that everybody is doing well! I better get going. I hope you can make sense of this email!

Love you all!
Until next week,


Friday, February 8, 2013

And the Elder goes to.......


Hey Family!
Please prepare yourself for my last email from the wonderful town of Zadar, Croatia...or just Croatia in general! So I have to be a little short today. I'll email more later if I have more time...if I don't say it all right now. I don't have a whole lot of time because we are taking the ferry out to the island for one last time and we are going to hike the mountain on it with the sisters and the senior couple. 

So that part that you must be dying for! So, drum roll please....I am leaving Zadar on Wednesday after 6.5 months of being here....Elder A is leaving as well. Zadar is going to be without Elders for the next little while, which should be interesting. So I will be going to TUZLA, BOSNA I HERZEGOVINA!!!!...or Тузла, Босна и Херзеговина (my  cryllics need a miracle. I feel like I'm four when I read's so slow) So ya, I'm in the process of canceling my visa. Well, Elder A is making his way up to Varaždin, Croatia (north of Zagreb). Elder A C  (my friend/home teacher from BYU) is coming with me to Tuzla. I'm pretty excited. I think it'll be different and fun. 

So we leave on Wednesday. We are driving up with the senior couple, who have a conference there this weekend, and then we catch our busses. I'm not looking forward to that drive. Everyone says that Bosnian roads are pretty bad and it's a 6-7 hour bus ride...and I still have to pack. The cool thing is that we get a new apartment and we get to buy everything to furnish it...well it has furniture, but we can get counter top appliances, a vacuum and stuff like that. We get to buy it and get it reimbursed. I just hope that this apartment has an air conditioner. If it doesn't, I'm moving right away. We get a decent allowance for housing, which will get a pretty nice place in most cities over here, but I can picture a senior couple, or another set of missionaries looking at an apartment and saying "Ah, this is good enough...and it's cheap!" But that won't fly....We'll move if we have to. I'm tired of living in a freezing cold, mold covered, every drain in the bathroom clogged torture chamber. I'm gonna live somewhere nice in Tuzla, even if I have to kill someone to get it. But ya...I don't really know much about Tuzla. I'm hoping that I finally get to try horse there.  

So the plaque looks really good. You must think I'm really uptight or something ;)...."  Before you tell me…yeah…I know the official name is Bosnia and Herzegovina, but hey…no one is perfect, right?" You act like I'm hard to please, or something like that ;). 

(Very poor pic of his new plaque hanging in the foyer at church)

So ya, that letter from Grandma didn't send. I have a cool thank you card for her that should be getting there sometime in the future. That's cool that Mollie won a suck up award. Tell her that I say congrats. 

Ya, I'm thinking about staying until my official release date, which oddly enough is one year from today! So I officially have one year left on my mission! I just realized that! That's so nuts! 

I'm so excited for Brianne. I can't wait until I hear where she goes. Do you have any guesses? I talked to Elder B on the phone. He said that his sister gets her call on Wednesday! 

So I've gotta go, but just to give you something to think about, I know I made fun of you all the time for being a counselor, but I've been thinking about it, and I think it would be super cool to be United States Navy or Army Chaplain.....I'm being serious.....just a last minute note to scare you! I love you a lot!