Week 8 – Final Post from America!

Živjo Family and Friends!

It’s finally time! It’s hard to believe that by this time next week I’ll be in Slovenia with my new companion starting my “real” mission. If all goes according to plan, this should be my last post from America for the next two years. Yikes!! On Monday morning, I leave Salt Lake and fly to Chicago, from there, I fly to Frankfurt, Germany. From there I fly to Zagreb, Croatia, where I’ll likely spend the night. Finally, I’ll take a train with Starešina Wise, Sestra Erdmann, Sestra Dutton, and Sestra Robertson from Zagreb to whichever city in Slovenia will be our new home!! 2 of my teachers predict my first area will be Ljubljana. We’ll see.
This week has been great, and very busy. We’re trying to finish up everything we need to do before we go. Today was my last time in a temple for 2 years, and that’ll be something I definitely miss. In addition to that though, my day has been filled with packing, laundry, and more packing! Just a few more things I have to do before Sunday night.
As if the week wasn’t great enough we also had Elder Scott (one of the 12 Apostles) come and speak on Tuesday. It was a fantastic devotional. He spoke on prayer, and I really loved the fact that an Apostle spent the time talking about something so simple and fundamental. It was a real testament to me about how important prayer is for everyone. One of the things I really loved was when he said that “Heavenly Father doesn’t care how you speak to him or how eloquent your prayers are – He just wants to hear from you!”. So, everyone, take that Apostolic advice! Heavenly Father just wants to hear from you every day – it doesn’t matter what your prayers sound like. In fact, prayers (in my opinion) should be just like a conversation with your father, since in reality, that’s what a prayer is. Just tell your Father in Heaven how your day was, what you’re thankful for, what you need help with, etc. Prayers are not made more effective when filled with wordy language.
But I’ll get off my soapbox now (at least ’till I get to Slovenia!).
All in all, this was a great week, and I just cant wait to be in Slovenia. I love you all!
– Starešina Davis

Week 7

Well this is it… next week is officially my last week in the MTC, and then it’s off to Slovenia! Even though we’re all pretty nervous to have to speak to real Slovenes, it’s so exciting to be able to actually go on our “real” mission. And it is coming just at the right time. I’m not sure how much more of the MTC I could handle. It’s an awesome place, but it’s hard being completely isolated from the rest of the world, and it’s hard to sit in class for hours and hours each day. We’re all going a bit stir crazy I think (8 weeks will do that to a person), and just want to get out there and do real missionary work! 

I forgot to mention the devotional I prayed in! It was great to be able to sit up on the stand during the devotional, and see it from that perspective (and from those comfortable seats!). I gave the opening prayer and it went just fine. The speaker that night was Elder Don Clarke of the 70, and a member of the Missionary Executive Committee. He works closely with the Prophet and Apostles to run the missionary department. He was an excellent speaker, and gave us some really practical advice for our missions.
I guess I’ll share a few things I learned this week (sorry for the lack of cohesion in this!):
I learned that it’s okay to say “I don’t know”. We were teaching “Marko” (a recent convert to the Church) about temples, and he asked us quite a few questions that I honestly didn’t know the answer to (or questions that don’t have an answer). Up until this point, I thought that as the missionary it was responsibility to answer every single question the investigator has. What I realized though is that I don’t know everything, and that people wont get angry or offended if I simply and humbly tell them that I don’t know the answer.
In connection with all of that, I learned that a teacher (or missionary in my case) shouldn’t hand everything to the investigator, so to speak. I realized that it is so much more helpful to the investigator, for them to find some things out on their own. If they don’t, and if I simply tell them everything they’ll ever need to know, they’ll never gain their own testimony. An example of this was in a lesson on the word of wisdom. Our investigator essentially asked us why we are not allowed to drink coffee and tea. Initially, I wanted to jump into a discussion about heath, about obedience, and about following the counsel of modern prophets. Instead though, I decided to talk very simply about following God’s commandments, and then asked our investigator to read the scriptures we had discussed, ponder them, and then find out for himself through prayer if what I was saying is right. Again, another lesson to me that the missionary is simply there to teach and invite. God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost do the rest.
So those are some of my thoughts from the week.
On a happier note, we get our flight plans tomorrow! That’ll tell us exactly when we leave, and what our itinerary is. It’s so exciting!!
Anyway, I love you all so much, and think about you all of the time.
– Staresina Davis

Week 6

Živjio  everyone!

This is officially week 7, and we get to go to Slovenia in 2 weeks from Monday! A week from today, we get our flight plans which will tell us exactly when we leave and what our itinerary is. I’m so excited!

 

This has been a great week though (as they always are!). Each week, we do something called “TRC”. Instead of teaching a lesson to an “investigator” who isn’t a member of the Church (which is what we do almost every day), each week we teach a lesson to a returned missionary member, so we get practice teaching people who are already members of the Church. This all happens in Slovene of course. It’s a bit hard though, since (according to our teachers) there are only 7 known Slovene speakers in the Utah valley, all of them returned missionaries. Sooo, on Wednesday morning we got quite a treat. We got to Skype with an actual Slovene!! Her name is Nada Stoianović, a woman living in Celje, Slovenia. She joined the church in 1993, which means she was one of the first members in the entire Balkans. She was SO nice to us, and let us teach her over Skype for 30ish minutes. I was shocked by how much I understood. Granted, she was speaking VERY slow for us, but it was still encouraging to be able to understand and converse with a native like that. She had an amazing story about joining the church, and about being (essentially) the only Mormon in that part of Yugoslavia. Her Spirit was amazing, and you could sense she had one of the most rock solid testimonies I’ve ever seen. Anyway, Skype was amazing, and we get to do it every week until we leave.

 

Also new this week, us 5 Slovenes did a full, 24 hour, “no English day”. It was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wanted to say so much, but just couldn’t form the sentences in Slovene! The hardest part about it was that I am somewhat conversant in Gospel topics, but know absolutely NOTHING about “every day” conversation in Slovene. That’ll be something I need to work on.

 

Yesterday we had our lesson with Bostjan, and it was…. interesting. He’s the investigator that’s a bit difficult, and we went in there planning on teaching about the Plan of Salvation. Well, as we started, I had the thought that maybe we should be teaching about something a little more simple and fundamental: faith, baptism, atonement, etc. but ignored that thought, since Elder Wise and I had already planned out a full lesson. The lesson went okay until he started asking questions. He wanted information on deeper doctrinal points concerning the life after death that I can barely answer in English, let alone Slovene!! So that got the lesson a little off track and made it a bit difficult. It was okay though, and was a good lesson for me in how to handle lessons that don’t go exactly as we plan.

 

Anyway, I love you all and miss you! Know that I’m praying for all of you and think about you all of the time.

 

– Starešina Davis