Week 18: Transfer Craziness and More!!

Dobro jutro everyone! You’re all fast asleep as I write this, and I hope everything is going great back home.

     I’ve had a good week, and the biggest news of the week is that we finally found out about transfers! I may have already explained, but every 9 weeks, missionaries are transfered – essentially switched around. Without beating around the bush too much, this is what is going to happen. Elder Lyman (my companion) has been asked to go be a Zone Leader in Ljubljana, and I’ve been asked to stay and hold down the fort here in Celje. Elder Dearinger from Maribor will be coming to join me. I’m so happy that I’m staying in Celje, at least for another 9 weeks. I feel like I’m just now getting to know the members, the city, the investigators, etc. so it would be a shame to leave. I’m excited to be able to serve with Elder Dearinget, and we should do great together!
     But a little more about my week.
     Last Monday, we had a great conversation with a 20 something year old guy we met a few weeks ago. He’s great, and speaks amazing English (probably better than many Americans…) He describes himself as a non-religious person, and says he believes in a “higher purpose, but not a higher power”. We spent a while talking about who God is, about the Plan of Salvation, and a lot about prayer. We talked in English with him, so I was really able to express myself as I wanted to. It was a nice treat 🙂 I hope that as we continue to meet, we can help him understand who Gos is, and why it’s important to have a personal relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. Anyway, he’s very intellectual, VERY smart, and is really into science, philosophy and politics. I like him a lot, and feel like I understand him in a more personal way than I do other investigators. Maybe it’s becuase I can see where’s he’s coming from. Maybe it’s just because he was speaking English haha.
     On Wednesday, we had a really good meeting with the Zone Leaders from Croatia. They are going from city to city to talk to the missionaries about keeping track of members, and working to get more of our members out to church. This is going to be a big focus over the next few months, and the mission is going to really work on “finding the lost sheep”. In Celje, we have about 60 members on record, and about 15-20 come to church each week. That’s actually not too bad, but we are going to work over the next 9 weeks to, at the very least, make contact with all of the less active and inactive members.
     The rest of the week was fairly uneventful. We spent some time contacting on the street, we prepared for Elder Lyman to leave Celje, and visited with a few of the members. Yes, I’m still playing the piano in church, and yes, I’m still praying that a better piano player gets transfered to Celje 🙂
     All in all this has been a great week.
     On Thursday we will get to go to the senior couples’ apartment for Thanksgiving, which should be a lot of fun. It’ll be nice to have some time to just stop, take a bit of a breather, and reflect on the mission so far. I really love Thanksgiving, and the fact the we have a chance to stop and look at everything God has blessed us with. I know that if we really look, we’ll see how much we truely have.
     Speaking of Thanksgiving, Christmas is starting in Celje! You may see in the pictures, but they haul giant pine trees down into the city, and put lights on them. The whole center of the city is getting strung with christmas lights, and I’ve heard it looks amazing when finished! I’m so excited!
     Well, that’s all I can really think of for now, and I hope I covered everything!! I love you all so much and pray for you every day!
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The BIG Christmas Tree!

The BIG Christmas Tree!

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Starešina Davis

Week 17: Zdravo Everyone!!

Zdravo everyone!!

     This has been a pretty good week, though it’s also been somewhat difficult. Last week, we had some of the best success Celje has seen in quite some time. This week on the other hand… has not been the same haha. But, that’s just how missionary work goes, and I know that we just have to keep moving forward. Always look ahead, never behind! This is the Lord’s work, and one rough week is not going to stop the work from moving ahead.
     I went to Ljubljana again on Tuesday, so I could pick my visa, which is the Slovene version of a “Green Card”. It took some time, but I finally have it, and I’m now a legal resident of Slovenija! Trips to Ljubljana are always fun, and we got to talk to quite a few different people on the train.
     On Wednesday we had a pretty neat experience. We were having a tough day – we had been contacting and tracting for almost 4 hours, and not a single person had listened to us. Finally, we decided to go and visit an older man we met a week ago. We rang his buzzer, but he wasn’t home. The day and night had just NOT been going well for us, so I said a little prayer as we were walking away that we’d have a miracle happen that night. As we were walking away from his apartment building, a car pulled up right next to us in the parking lot. Who was it? It was the man we were trying to visit! He just happened to pull in right as we were walking away. We ended up going inside and talking for about 45 min about the Plan of Salvation. He’s a great guy, and becuase of this little miracle we’re now going to start meeting regularly. So that’s my miracle of the week!
     Friday and Saturday were, again, very difficult (but fun!) days. On Friday we had a little adventure, and tracted in the small towns of “Ložnica pri Celju”, “Babno”, and “Medlog”. They are just tiny rural towns outside of Celje, but they’re full of almost nothing but single family homes (which means they’re hopfully full of families!). It was cool to see these new places, but not a single person would talk to us. Also, the very last house we knocked that night was a Jehovah’s Witness family… so that was a bit awkward! But you know me, I just had a good time exploring and seeing new parts of our area (:
     Saturday we decided we were DONE with tracting, so we went into the city center and tried to do some contacting. Again, nobody would listen… But, Elder Lyman and I put in the effort and did the work, which is really all we can do in the end. The redeeming part of Saturday was a little party we had at the Church. A few of the 20 year olds from the Branch invited the us and the Sisters over and made us Palačinke, the Slovene version of Crepes. We also invited our investigator Sandi, and we all had a really fun time making Palačinke together. We may be few in numbers, but the members here are AWESOME!
     All in all a great week. It’s true that this work is hard, but it’s without a doubt, the most rewarding and joyfull work a person can ever do. I love you all and hope all is well back home!
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Starešina Davis

Week 16: Dober Dan Priatelji!

Dober Dan Priatelji!

It’s been a great week here in Slovenija, and I hope life is equally good back home for all of you.
     After emails on Monday, we had a zone p-day, and all the missionaries in Slovenija came to Celje. The 16 of us just spent the day together, playing Ultimate Frisbee, Football (American football of course!), and more at the big park in Celje. Our zone is GREAT, and with only 16 missionaries here in Slovenija, I know that these people will definitely be friends that I’ll have for life. After p-day was over, I went with one of the zone leaders back to Ljubljana on the train while the other zone leader stayed in Celje with Elder Lyman.I ended up staying in Ljubljana until Thursday and it was great! Coming from Celje, Ljubljana seemed like New York to me, but it’s actually pretty small compared to anything back home in America.
     While in Ljubljana we had a few lessons, and it was really nice to be able to be a part of all of these lessons without having to work to set them up 🙂 We spent the exchange doing mostly normal missionary things that Elder Lyman and I normally do: institute, English class, lessons, etc. We also did a lot of contacting in the city center, which was a lot of fun. We have trouble sometimes in Celje finding people, but there are ALWAYS people out and about in Ljubljana which was really nice. Also, most of them were younger, college aged people, which was a lot of fun. Ljubljana is a really pretty city, and the closer you get to the center, the cooler and older the buildings get. One thing that I really enjoyed was seeing all of the governmental things that nobody else really cares about haha. I got to see the parliament building, different government buildings, the American and Russian embassies, etc. I think it just goes to show how big of a nerd I really am 🙂
     While on the exchange, we had to bring one of the senior couples to the airport, so I also got to spend a little bit of time in the city of Kranj! It’s the fourth largest city in Slovenija and is about 40 min north of Ljubljana. It’s a nice little town, and we had lunch there after dropping the couple at the airport (which is in Kranj). There are tons of mountains that far north, and Slovenia is SO pretty right now. The entire country is orange, red, and yellow, because of the trees. I’m not sure if you can see it in my pictures, but I tried to take some that show the fall colors here.
     Another very cool part of the exchange was preparing for a baptism! There’s a man in Ljubljana who got baptized on Saturday, and since I was there during the week, I got to spend some time helping prepare for the baptism. We had a lesson with the man, helped him try on baptismal clothes, prepared the program, etc. It was a lot of work, but it was a really good experience to be able to help prepare for that. Baptism is such a beautiful ordinance and such a special experience for people, so I’m really happy I had the chance to be a part of it.
     On Friday (I was back with Elder Lyman by this point) we had a conference in a Celje for all of the new missionaries and their trainers. It was called the “Return and Report” conference, and was focused on how the training is going. It was fun to see everyone from the MTC again, and the conference was great. President Grant was there and we talked a lot about how training is going, and about now moving forward. It’s crazy that our first transfer will be over in two weeks! Every 9 weeks in the mission, we have something called “transfers” which is when everyone is moved and switched around. They put together new companionships, assign people to new cities, have new missionaries come in from the MTC, and old missionaries go home. This transfer we’ll be getting one new Elder and one new Sister from the MTC, but other than that we have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m hoping that Elder Lyman and I will stay together here for at least another transfer. But we’ll see what the Lord has in mind!
     A highlight from the week was also on Friday. We had a lesson with two 18 year olds that we found and it was SO fun to teach people our age. They seem genuinely interested, and set up another lesson for next week. We have a few people in our branch in their 20s, but for the most part, this is an older branch. We definitely need a little bit of youth and vibrance!
     All in all its been a great week. We’re really happy with how the work is going, and I’m just feeling really happy overall! Celje is great, the work is great, and I hope I’ll get to stay in Celje another transfer at the very least. I’ve really seen the Lord’s hand in my life this week, and it has strengthened my testimony that the Lord WANTS to help us. What’s more, the Lord wants to help us with our small, specific, and personal challenges. All we have to do is exercise faith in Him.
     I hope all is going well back home! I love you all so much and think about you every day.

Starešina DavisIMG_0441

Week 15: Castles, Croatia, and More!

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The "Real" Counts of Celje

The “Real” Counts of Celje

Hi Everyone!!

     This week I will be going on my first exchange today! Exchanges are something that happen every few months, and it’s when companionships essentially “mix” for a few days. For this exchange, I will be going to Ljubljana most of the week with one of our Zone Leaders! I’m so excited to be able to see Ljubljana, and stay there for a few days. It’ll be very different from life in sleepy Celje, so I’m excited for that little bit of change. It’s going to be a great week!
     This Monday was definitely the best P-day we’ve had yet. After emailing, Elder Lyman and I and the Sisters took a taxi up the mountain to “Stari Grad” – literally “Old Castle”. It’s up on the hill right across from the City Center, and it’s an awesome castle! From what I gathered from the informational signs, it was built in the 1300s by the “Counts of Celje”. At one time, the Counts of Celje were one of the most powerful dynasties in this part of Europe, and even more powerful than their Austrian and German counterparts. Anyway, the castle itself was really cool. It’s suprisingly intact, and just looked like such a classic European castle. There was walls, a moat, a really high tower, thone rooms, etc. From the top of the castle, you could see ALL of Celje, which was so cool. Anyway, I can see why this is considered one of the best Castles in Slovenija.
     We spent a lot of time knocking doors this week, and decidied to go a little bit outside of Celje. We call it “going off the map”, since the area we went to is not shown on our big wall map of Celje. Anyway, it ended up being great!! The problem we run into inside Celje, is that missionaries have been here for 15 or so years. Celje is a town of 37.000, and so by this point everyone pretty much knows the missionaries, or has seen the missionaries somewhere. So, we wanted to try getting out to an area that hadn’t been touched, and where nobody and any ideas about who we are or what we believe. My favorite encounter was with a middle aged woman North of Celje. She’s a mother of a 4 and 6 year old, and we started talking to her outside her house. She eneded up really opening up to us, and told us that she feels a lot of guilt becuase she cant spend more time at home with her young kids (she teaches school in Ljubljana). We were able to have a really spiritual conversation with her about familes, about the responsibilities of parents, and about how the gospel blesses families. We also told her about Family Home Evening, and she LOVED that idea. All in all, a very good conversation, and we’re going to come back and talk more in a few weeks after she is done with the Slovene equivilent of Midterms.
     We spent all of Thursday in Zagreb, Croatia! We got up early and drove with the senior couple, which was a stunning drive. We actually ended up driving right through the town where Agnes Zidarič (one of my relatives) is from! It was such a cute little town. But anyway, we got to the Church in Zagreb, and a great conference with all of the missionaries from Slovenija and Croatia. Our visiting General Authority was Elder Dyches of the 70, who is part of the Europe area presidency. We talked in the conference a lot about some of the problems in the mission, and how we can become more effective missionaries. We talked a lot about using our daily planners and area books. He also gave a great talk on faith, and praying with faith.
     It wasnt until lunch time on Friday that I realized it was Halloween!! There is no halloween in Slovenija, though American halloween has begun to creep its way over. People now start to put out pumpkins and things like that, but there is no trick-or-treating.
     Nov. 1 is the Slovene version of halloween, called “Day of Rememberance of the Dead” (roughly). It’s not like halloween though. On this day, everyone in Slovenija goes to the graveyard to remember the dead, and then they fill the graveyards with these beautiful red candles. It’s a great tradition! We went with some memebrs of the Branch to the big graveyard in Celje. A few weeks ago, one of the members here took his own life, and it’s been rough for some of the members here. They all feel some guilt, though in reality this man had some hard mental challenges, and so there was really little anybody could do. I never met him, but Elder Lyman knew him, so, we all took candles to his grave, and had a moment of prayer and rememberance. It was a really touching experience, and I love the idea of spending Nov. 1 remembering those who have passed away.
     Anyway, it’s been another great week in Celje! Thank you all for your emails (sorry if I haven’t responded yet – I will!) and I hope everyone is doing great!
     Starešina Davis