First of all, happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is still full from Thursday, and I hope everyone had a great holiday. My Thanksgiving here in Celje was a bit different I’m sure, but still fantastic. On Thursday we went over to the Lamberts’ apartment (the senior couple), and spent a few relaxing hours there having Thanksgiving lunch, socializing, and playing a district game of “Naseljenci Otoka Catan”, which is the Slovene version of Settlers of Catan. It was a lot of fun haha! One of the highlights was the great American food, including real, homemade pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie doesn’t exist in Slovenija (how can they survive!?), but Sister Lambert made one for Thanksgiving. Overall, a wonderful day!
This week was also the first week of our new district (group of missionaries) here in Celje. Elder Dearinger is here and settled in from Maribor, and we’ve had a fantastic week. We get along great, and he’s a hard worker. Honestly, I’m not sure if you could find a bad missionary in Slovenija! Also, we have a new sister – Sister Nydegger – here straight from the MTC. She’s being trained here in Celje by Sister Cuthbert, and both of them are great missionaries. Overall we have an awesome district, and I can tell we’re all going to have a fun transfer.
In terms of missionary work, this week was great!
On Wednesday we found an awesome family while tracting. We talked to the mom for a minute at the door about who we are and what we’re doing, and then we asked if there was a time next week that we could come back to teach their family more. Usually, when you ask people that question, they all of the sudden come up with every possible excuse to NOT have you come back. This was not the case with her though. She, without much of a pause, said “Sure, that would be great! How about next Wednesday at 12?” I have no idea what will come from this, but it was such a faith builder for me to see that the Lord really does prepare people for us.
Another experience related to that happened on Sunday. We were doing some contacting along the Savinja (Celje’s main river) and started talking to a young guy just hanging out by the river. It turns out he’s our age, and a world champion hip-hop dancer. He told us that he would normally be inside at that time of the day dancing, but had a 10 minute break and decided to just come hang out by the river for a few minutes. We had a great conversation, and set up a time to meet at a nearby cafe next week. As we were walking away I thought for a minute about how the Lord really does direct His work. What if we hadn’t been by the Savinja at that exact moment? What if that guy hadn’t taken his break right then or there? Most people would chalk it up to coincidence, but I know the Lord really does direct us to people who are prepared. In the same way, I firmly believe that the Lord directs people who are prepared to us.
This week we also started meeting with an investigator who has known the missionaries for a while. He’s older, in his late 50s maybe, and has essentially been taught everything. He has also come to chuch quite a few times. He came up to me at the end of chuch last Sunday and told me that he’d like to be baptized by the end of the year if that’s possible. He’s a GREAT guy, and I would baptize him today if I could! There’s just one problem: smoking. He’s a pretty heavy smoker, and in order to be baptized he obviously needs to quit. So, one of my big projects this month is to help this man quit smoking. Honestly I’m a bit overwhelmed and nervous about this. I’ve never had to help someone quit smoking! I can probably count on one hand the number of people I know that actually smoke cigarettes, and I’m honestly not even sure where to begin. The Church has a great program for quittting though, and so we’re going to work on that this month. It’s a bit crazy sometimes what missionaries do and are expected to do. Here I am, and 19 year old stranger, yet I’m now working with this man to help him kick a lifelong addiction. But, that’s just what we do I guess haha.
Overall, this has been a great week (: The weather is getting colder and colder, and people are saying it could snow this week. But, I’ve got my jacket, and I’m (hopefully!) prepared for my first Slovene winter. Christmas is just about in full swing here, and Celje looks magical. They have a bunch of giant pine trees set up and lit in Center, and they’ve strung lights throughout the entire center of the city. Tonight is the big lighting ceremony, and I cannot wait for the Christmas season to really start!
Other than all of that, life is great here in Slovenija, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. My spiritual thought of the week is something we talked about during District Meeting on Friday. We were talking about missionary work, but I think that it can be applied to any kind of work in the church. It comes from Isaiah 60:22, which says: “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.”
We talked about this scripture, and about how the work we here do is similar to the work of honey bees, when it comes to measuring success. In the life of one honey bee, they only produce a tiny amount of honey – maybe a few teaspoons at the most. One honey bee may look back at his life and only see that tiny amount of honey. In that situation it would be very easy to think of oneself as a failure. But, if we look at the combined efforts of an entire hive, we truely see the success. This principle can be applied to missionary work, or really any work. A missionary in Slovenija for example, may spend two years here and just see a handful of people join the Church, if that. Similarly, a member of the church might put a lot of effort into a calling or project, but see very little tangible “success”. It’s for that reason that we need to keep a larger, eternal perspective. One missionary may baptize only a few people, but their work, combined with everyone else’s, leads to 300,000 converts a year. A church member may not see any success as they work in their calling, but they are helping to successfully run a worldwide church of 15 million. The Lord will turn the the work of a little one into a thousand, and a he will make a small one into a strong nation.
I’m not sure if that all came out as I had thought of it in my head, but I think the general idea is somewhere in there (:
I love you all so much, and hope everyone is healthy, safe, and happy!