This has been a good week here, and has been pretty crazy! We’ve done a lot of exploring and traveling this week, which I am always excited to do. On Monday after emails we went on a bit of an adventure to try and find “Jama Pekel” (Hell Cave), which is supposed to be a pretty cool cave outside of Celje. It has a waterfall in the cave, and a large river running through it. Anyway, the 4 of us took the train out to the town of Šempeter, and then caught a taxi up into the forest. We hiked around until we found it, but, as luck would have it, it was closed… It was okay though. The weather was BEAUTIFUL (high 50s) so we hiked around in the mountains there and just did some exploring. It ended up being a really fun p-day.
On Wednesday we did another little bit of exploration! We took a train about an hour north of Celje to the town of Velenje, which is the 5th largest city in Slovenia. Velenje was very interesting. The first thing I noticed was that it’s very socialist (or at least it was in the past). It’s very planned out, and filled with communist style apartment buildings. There is a large center square which has a giant statue of Tito, the former leader of Yugoslavia, on one side. The square is called “Titov Trg” (literally Tito’s Square) and until the 1990s, Velenje was called “Titovo Velenje” (Tito’s Velenje). So it definitely has a communist past. Today though, it’s just a normal town. We actually found it to be very prosperous, and it’s full of families. We tracted a few house in a few different neighborhoods to get an idea of the people, and all of them were very friendly! From the little trip, we’ve decided to definitely come back and start doing missionary work there.
On Friday we had the Adriatic North Mission Christmas Conference in Zagreb! We got up early and all drove down to Croatia, and then spent the whole day there in Zagreb. All of the missionaries in the mission were there, and it was a BLAST! We’re very isolated up in Slovenia, and it sometimes feels like we’re our own mission, since we go to Slovenia and stay there our entire mission. So, it was great to get to know all of the other missionaries from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro. We played games, heard from President and Sister Grant, saw a few slideshows and videos from the year, etc. We really have a gerat mission. I feel so blessed to be albe to spend the next two years with these missionaries in this amazing place.
After the Christmas Conference was over, becuase of the confusion of travel and getting everyone home, I somehow ended up in Maribor with Elder Dearinger. This was my first time in Maribor and it was a beautiful city! I wish I could have seen it in the day, but I still enjoyed it. We had to wait an hour and a half for a train to Celje, so we were able to eat some dinner and walk around Maribor center. I’ve now officially been in all four cities open to missionaries (Ljubljana, Kranj, Celje, Maribor)! We finally got home though, and went straight to bed.
The craziness continues though. On Saturday we had our Celje Branch Christmas dinner and party, and it was great. The members did a great job planning this, and everything got set up and prepared really well. Our chapel is also our multi purpose room, and it looked pretty good! The sisters of the Branch cooked traditional Slovene food for dinner, and it was a blast. About 30 minutes into the evening though, the power went out, and stayed out for maybe 45 minutes, until somebody could find an open store and get a new fuse… I couldn’t help but laugh – almost 40 Slovenes just chatting in the pitch black chapel while we tried to play piano music to keep some sort of Christmas Spirit present… It was kind of a comedy of errors. In the end though, it all went great, and everyone had an amazing time. We missionaries did a 20 minute Christmas program with readings from Luke 2 and Matthew, as well as a few Christmas songs. All in all, a great activity, but I was DEAD by the time I got home.
Another interesting story from that. One of the people that came to our Christmas dinner was a woman from our English class. She’s an older woman, and she’s so, so sweet. Anyway, I mentioned to her that I was getting a cold, and she told me I needed to be drinking tea with honey. We talked about that, and she told me one of her hobbies is making homemade herbal tea. Well, the next day we came to the church for something, and sitting on the doorstep was a gift bag that said “For Jack Daves”. In it was a giant jar of homemade herbal tea from her garden, as well as a jar of really nice honey. It was such a nice gift, and I can’t believe she went to all that trouble. It was so sweet of her! So that was maybe the highlight of the week (:
My thought for the week is one of my favourite scriptures: Isaiah 9:6. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” This week I hope we can all simply remember this verse. The holiday on Thursday is about remembering and honoring our “mighty God”, the Prince of Peace. I know that as a missionary this has come to mean so much more to me, and I am excited to share His message of peace with the people of Slovenija this week.
I love you all and hope everyone back home has an AMAZING Christmas!