One of the highlights this week was District Conference (our version of ˝stake conference˝) in Ljubljana on Sunday. It was an all day event – 4 sessions, and members from all over the country came. It was a really amazing experience. It was my first real time in Ljubljana which was awesome! It seems like New York compared to sleepy little Celje, and the church building there is beautiful. Brand new, underground parking, classrooms, chapel, etc. A really great building, and only one of two church buildings in the mission (other is in Zagreb). The highlight of the conference was some very exciting news from the District Presidency (our version of Stake Presidency) – the Ljubljana Branch is splitting!!! Currently we have three branches (essentially mini-Wards) – Ljubljana, Celje, and Maribor. Starting on next Sunday though, Slovenija will have a fourth branch – the Kranj Branch (which will be in the city of Kranj, just north of Ljubljana). This news was SO exciting for missionaries and members. It’s amazing to actually see the fruits of our labors, and the labors of many, many generations of missionaries. The work in Slovenija is not fast – but there is, without a doubt, progress. The Lord’s work will ALWAYS move forward, regardless of the people, country, or continent. So District Conference was very exciting!
In terms of our work and the 30 investigator challenge from President Grant, this week was great. We didn’t get 30 new investigators. We did, however, get 3. For us, 3 new investigators in a week is fantastic, and we’re so excited. Our goal is to simply increase that number each week until we hit our goal of 30.
A little bit more about the work here in Celje and here in Slovenija:
I guess I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard. It’s VERY hard here. The young people don’t like to listen to us because they really have zero interest in religion, and they are mostly athiests. It’s hard with the old people too – they’re either hardcore catholics or communists, neither of which are easy to talk to about the Church! So the biggest challenge for us is simply finding people that are willing to stop and give us 30 seconds. Usually, if we can get 30 seconds from someone, we can get more. The hard part is just getting those first 30 seconds. We’re still in the process of finding out what works best! This all being said, we still have success. People here are friendly people, and so they’ll usually talk to us, even if they won’t let us share our message. So, we always eventually find those willing to listen.
Elder Lyman is fantastic. He’s been out for just over a year, and is a great trainer. He’s from Cedar City, and is the same age as me. He graduated High School in 2013 also, but went on a mission instead of going to college. He knows the language well, and has built a good relationship with the people here. He’s also very energetic and optomistic about the work, which is something I love. It’s so much easier to be happy when both of us are always moving forward with energy, not complaining or looking backwards. We get along really well.
So, on a different note, I thought I’d just share some simple and random facts about life in Slovenija. I thought you might want to know a little bit more about my everyday life.
There isn’t a clothes dryer to be found in this country… We have a washer in our apartment, which is VERY nice, but that’s it. So, our little balcony is pretty much filled with hanging garments and white shirts. It’s a bit of a pain to wait for things to dry! Once winter starts, we’ll have to start drying inside… cant wait for that!
Nobody here drinks water. Normally, if you invite someone into your home, the first thing you do is offer them water or something to drink. Here, if you ask for water they look at you funny… Instead, they all drink juice, called ˝Sok˝ (pronounced like Soak). It’s actually really good! You take your cup, and put a little bit of concentrated juice syrup in the bottom (they have almost any flavor you could think of). Then, you fill the rest of the cup with bubbly water. It comes out like bubbly juice. Its very very good. My favorite flavor so far is called Bezeg (with a bit Lemon). I think Bezeg is Elderberry in English. Not 100% sure though.
We do a lot of traveling around Slovenija which I love. In the last two weeks we’ve been to Štore, Žalec, Velenje, Ljubljana, and Celje. Then, next week we’re going Zagreb for a conference. It’s exciting to be able to more of the region.
I love you all so much, and think about you and pray for you every day. Until next Monday!!