Hello Everyone!!!! I feel like so much has happened in the last week, and like I have so much to say! The keyboards here are very strange, so forgive any mistakes, especially Z’s where Y’s should be, and visa versa. Alos, since Im in Slovenija, it’s telling me that EVERZTHING is spelled wrong. It’s a bit confusing. But anyway.
I’m in CELJE!!! Celje is an amazing little town about half way between Ljubljana and Maribor. It’s small – maybe 40.000 (compared to Ljubljana at about 300.000). But I’ll try and start from the beginning.
We flew in to Zagreb Tuesday morning and were met by President and Sister Grant. They are AMAZING. Both from Cedar City UT, and both very, very nice. I can tell that I am going to have a great relationship with President Grant.
After driving to the mission office in Zagreb we had a mini conference with the President and other senior missionaries that work in the office. We were all really tired from flying all day and night, so it was mostly just introductions and getting to know you things. Shortly before we arrived in Zagreb, 13 trainers from all over the mission came in as well, which meant there were 26 of us there – more than a quarter of the mission.
After dropping our stuff off at the mission office, we went out contacting in Zagreb. Contacting is essentially going up to people on the street and starting a conversation with them. I was paired with one of the Slovene Elders, which meant neither of us spoke Croatian, though my partner for contacting could at least understand what they were saying. So, we essentially just contacted in English, which was a perfect way to talk about the free English class offered at the Church. Contacting was REALLY fun. Even though neither of us could speak the language, we had a really, really good conversation with some German travelers about why God is important.
Anyway. We contacted for a little over an hour in central Zagreb, and then headed back to the mission home for a dinner with the Grants. Dinner was great, but we were all suffering from some major jetlag… The cool part of it was that the Ostarsović couple was also at dinner. I probably spelled their name wrong, but brother and sister Ostarsović were the first people to be baptized in Yugoslavia, the fisrt couple from Yugoslavia to be married in the temple. Their faith and their story was astounding. It was also crazy that we were sitting there having dinner with true pioneers. In America, there really are no church poineers anymore – the church has been established for so long. Here though, EVERYONE is a convert, and the pioneers are just regular, middle aged couples with amazing stories.
We woke up Wednesday after spending the night in the mission home, and went to the Chapel in Zagreb for an orientation. There are only two chapels in the Mission – Zagreb and Ljubljana. They’re actually very nice chapels. Anyway, the orientation was okay – just stuff about money, transportation, logistics, apartments, etc. (we each get € 225 each month on a BoA card). The best part of the meeting though, was the end. It was then that we got to meet our trainers and find out our areas! To make a long story short, it was announced that I’d be serving with Starešina Joshua Lyman in Celje, Slovenija. I had heard from my teachers that Celje was AMAZING, so I could not have been happier.
After the meeting was over, the 10 Slovenes that were there (5 new 5 trainers) all went to the train station and caught a train to Slovenija! The ride was great, but it was too dark to see much of anything.
We eventually all had to get on different trains since we were all headed to different parts of the country (Sister Erdmann to Kranj, Sister Dutton and me to Celje, Elder Wise and Sister Robertson to Maribor). After another hour or so we parted ways with the two Celje Sisters and headed to our apartment.
Unfortunatley, the apartment is…. far. About a 35 min walk from city center (which is where the Church, Sisters, etc are). But, I enjoy the walking, and it gives us a chance to talk to people on the street.
Our apartment is small, a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen/dinning room, but it’s nice and it’s clean. In any case, most of the day is spent out and about anyway.
Elder Lyman is fantastic. He’s been out for just over a year, and is from Cedar City. He is a fantastic trainer, and has been a real help to me (and will be as I try and figure out what’s going on here!). He told me that the goal of his training will be to try and help me learn the things he wish he knew when he first got to Slovenija. He let’s me speak a lot (encourages it) and is very good at the language.
Speak of Slovene… It’s tough. I can speak Slovene alright, but it’s understanding that’s the problem. People here speak very fast, and it’s hard to pick out where a word ends and where one stops. I try and say as much as I can, but I get kind of lost when the person responds… I’ve already seen improvement in the last week though, and I can tell that being in the county helps a TON with the language.
On my first day, we did a mix of contacting and tracking in the morning, which was very fun. I have come to realize over the last few days that I have absolutely no problem talking to strangers (it’s actually really fun!). Granted, it would be nice to understand them…
In the afternoon we taught English class! We offer three English classes (beginner, middle, advanced) for free at the Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Elder Lyman and I teach beginners (thank goodness) and had 6 students on Thursday. Not a ton, and we’re set the goal to have 15 regular students in the coming weeks. It was pretty funny during class to hear them struggling with the language as I am – just the other way around!
That evening we had a lesson with one of our investigators. I stayed pretty quiet during the lesson, but at the end, Elder Lyman let me give the baptismal invitation. It was so exciting to be able to extend that invitation and those blessings to a real person. And guess what – he accepted! We aren’t sure on a date yet, but we know he really wants to get baptized.
Also this week, I got to go to Ljubljana. I had to go to a place in Ljubljana that is pretty much a cross between a DMV and an Embassy, where I got all of my visa stuff sorted out. Sometime in the next two weeks I’ll recieve my Slovene ˝Green Card˝, and be an official resident.
Finally, today was Sunday and we had Church at our little branch. Today we had about 25 in Church (including 6 missionaries). It’s a small branch, and is just in it’s beginning stages. The members are wonderful though, and the branch had a great Spirit in it. I admire these memebrs so much, and wish the enitre Church membership had the same courage, drive, and desire to follow Jesus Christ, no matter how hard the situation may be.
I hope everything is going well, and I miss you all so much!! I’m running out of time, but want you all to know that I love you and that I couldn’t be happier right now. Next week I’ll have more time to get into the details about everything that’s going on (we’ll have 2 hours of email time). Anyway, I hope you’re all safe. Remember that Heavenly Father loves you, and that this is, without a doubt, His holy work.