Quick Email, But a Lot to Say!

Good Morning Everyone!!

     It’s strange emailing on a Friday – you get into such a set routine as a missionary haha. P day was changed to Friday for just this week, since today we are leaving to go to Croatia for zone conference. We’ll be in Zagreb today and tomorrow, and should be back in Slovenia by Saturday evening.
     As usual, I’ve had a great week, and this week there have been a couple of highlights in particular. The first was that I finally had a chance to meet my Slovenian family!! After quite a few phone calls and some rescheduling, it finally happened 🙂
     On Wednesday morning I got up with Elder Rice, and both of us went down to Ljubljana. There, at the train station, we met Zlata (who I’m pretty sure is technically my 2nd cousin, twice removed, whatever that means haha). She is a SUPER nice woman, probably in her 60s, and was our “host” on Wednesday. She started by taking us on a walking tour of Ljubljana Center, showing us all the historical buildings, the church where she was married, etc. She also insisted on buying us a bag of fresh cherries from the market 🙂 The entire time that we were walking around she was telling me stories of Agnes (the one who came to America) and stories about all the family who stayed. Naturally, I was trying to jot down notes the whole time haha.
      My favorite of her stories about Agnes is this: After Agnes Zidarič (my great-great grandma) left and went to America, she was very poor, even in the States. Yet, she never forgot her family back in Slovenia. Multiple times a year, Agnes would send home big packages of American foods, toys, second hand clothes, etc. Zlata told me that during her entire childhood she wore nothing but hand-me-downs from the United States. While the rest of the children were in all grey and black and white, Zlata would have these bright, flowery dresses from Agnes in the States haha. Good to know that Agnes was still thinking about the family back home, and that it made such a lasting impression 🙂

      After our walking tour of Ljubljana, we went back to the apartment of Jožica (who is my 1st cousin, 3 times removed). Jožica is 88 years old, and is SO funny. She’s probably the spunkiest 88 year old woman I know, and she spent the whole time telling me stories (quite a few jokes) and just being friendly. Jožica and Zlata had a really nice lunch prepared, so we ate, talked, and shared stories. I ended up leaving that afternoon with a big book a family history, a photo album, and a promise of many, many, more visits. It was such a good day, and I felt so welcomed by them.

Jozica, me, Zlata

Jožica, me, Zlata

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lunch in Jožica’s apartment

     The rest of the week was great as well, though that visit was the highlight.
     One thing that I definitely need to mention though is one of our investigators. He is a man (about 55) and we’ve been teaching him for a while now. He’s a great investigator, and loves the church. He’s come to church every Sunday for almost 3 months, and has accepted everything we’ve taught. Most recently we taught about tithing and fast offerings, and he had no problems with it. He has a baptismal date for Saturday, July 11th, and so we’re in the midst of trying to organize everything for that. Pray that it’ll all go well!
     Well, it’s about time to head out to Zagreb. P day will be here in just 3 days, so I’ll be writing again soon. I love you all, and how everyone is having a great week and a great summer. Until Monday!

Elder Davis

Lakes, Waterfalls, and Great Investigators!

     Good morning everyone!

     We had a great week here in Kranj, and it started off with yet another amazing p-day. It’s amazing how much beatuy there is in this country, and how close it all is. SO much beatuy packed into such a tiny country.
     This Monday the Kranj district (me, Elder Rice, Sister Christiansen, Sister Redding, and the Johnsons) had a little adventure in Triglav National Park. It’s Slovenia’s only national park, but is pretty big, and covers a chunk of the northwestern park of the country. Our first stop was Bohinj Lake, about 30 minutes past Lake Bled. I loved Bohinj – it has the same natural beauty of Bled (if not more), without all the tourists! We spent a bit of time just wandering around the lake, putting our feet in water, and just enjoying the beauty.
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From the Lake we headed another 30 minutes into the park to the Slavica waterfall. It was a good hike further up into the mountains, and let out at an amazing waterfall. Everyone waited paitently while Elder Davis took a million pictures, and then it was back down the mountain haha. Overall, a great p day out in the stunning nature of Slovenia. 
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The rest of the week was back into a white shirt and back to work. We did a lot of tracting, though we’re also really trying to focus on doing other activities to find people. One of the things we’re doing this week is a “How do I start my family history?” night at the church, open to the public.We’ve never tried anything like this before, and I’m excited to see how it goes! I love planning and doing things like this, and next on the list is probably going to be a big service project sort of activity. I’ll let you know what we get planned.
     Another great part of the week were some of the lessons we had. We’ve been meeting a lot with one investigator in particular, and had a few lessons with him.
     At the start of our most recent lesson with him, we asked if he had read anything out of the Book of Mormon, and he responded by saying that he had read 1 Nephi 18-21. When I asked him what he thought about it, he said “well, I have a hard time remembering things, so I don’t know if I can say exactly…” At that point I sort of made the assumption that he hadn’t read, and was just trying to come up with an excuse. To my surprise though, he followed up with “…but if I remember right, this is the part where Nephi builds a boat and him and his family cross the ocean, but he has issues with his two brothers, etc.” It’s never felt so good to have an assumption proved wrong haha.
     After talking about the chapter for minute, he said “okay, so how exaclty do I become a member of your church? What are the steps to joining?” I don’t think I’ve ever been asked a more wonderful question, and we’re now working with him to get ready for baptism. There are still a few issuesto overcome, but I’m hopeful. So, the work continues!
     I really love, love, love teaching. Contacting and tracting? They’re okay haha. But as a missionary there really isn’t anything better than just sitting down and teaching someone the gospel. Lessons are always the highlight of my week.
     Well, I hope you’re all having a great week, and that everyone’s happy and healthy. Happy early Father’s Day to everyone!
     Anyway, I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
     Starešina Jack

 

Hello everyone from the beautiful little town of Kranj!

     It’s been a fun week, and I’ve had a great time getting to know my new area. Kranj is a small but nice town with an amazingly preserved medieval center. It’s up in the north-westernish part of Slovenija, and is right on the edge of the alps. It’s nice to wake up and see big mountains every day again. Oh, and our apartment is in a 200 year old building. Europe haha. 

I spy the alps!

I spy the alps!

     On Monday (this is still in Celje), we had p-day which was spent packing, getting ready to go, and saying some final goodbyes. We visited a couple of members at their houses, and then went to the church in the evening so I could say some final goodbyes. It was tough (as goodbyes always are), but the beauty of living in the 21st century is that we have email, phones, skype, airplanes… it’s pretty easy to stay in contact with someone.
     On Tuesday morning we got up early, I loaded my stuff into the car with the sisters, and then we headed to the train station. I said one final goodbye to my beloved Celje, hopped onto the train, and then was off! After a number of delays and missed connections, I finally ended up in Kranj, Slovenija, with my new companion, Elder Rice.
     Elder Rice is a great guy, and got to the mission about 3 months ago in the same group as Elder Petersen. Elder Rice comes from a military family, and one of his dad’s assignments actually brought their family to Serbia for 3 years! So Elder Rice is already kind of familiar with the region and the language, which is very cool. We’re having a great time together.
     The rest of the week was missionary work as normal. For the first time since I got to Slovenija, I had NO clue where I was, what streets went where, who the investigators are, etc. It was a bit strange. But, this is a small town and it shouldn’t take too long to get to know it. Anyway, we did some contacting and tracting, but by Wednesday or Thursday it had gotten so hot that nobody was outside. So then we just did tracting haha.
     A highlight of the week was definitely Sunday at church. I was excited to meet the members here, and well…. they are awesome! The Kranj branch is made up of some of the strongest families in Slovenija, and they actually have some babies, a few primary aged kids, some guys my age, and then obviously, adults. It’s a great branch, and I’m excited to start building relationships here.
     All in all it was a good week and I’m excited to be here in Kranj. Change is always hard – I’m still adjusting to all the new things that stem from being here, but change is good and we learn a lot from it. My goal now is to really figure out what my purpose is in Kranj. I know the Lord sent me here for a specific reason, and part of the excitement of transfers is getting to discover what that reason is.
     I don’t have any profound doctrinal insights to share this week, so I’ll simply talk for a second about how amazing the atonement of Jesus Christ is.
     It’s interesting –  we often think of perfection as something way, way, way off in the distance. But something I’ve realized, is that when we enter into sacred covenants with Christ, we are made perfect in Him – immediately. All of us who have been baptized are literally perfect in Christ right now. I read something that explained it well.
     It’s as if we have a checking account that is heavily overdrawn. We have some assets, but those assets are far outweighed by the debts we have. Then, along comes Christ. When we covenant with Him through baptism, it’s as if we are creating a joint account. Our debts flow into His account and His (endless) assets flow into our account. We still have those personal debts – they haven’t gone anywhere – but in the eyes of the bank (in the eyes of God), our account is just fine, since Christ’s assets more than cover our debts. And the beauty of it is that this process is immediate.
     It’s been on my mind a lot this week, and it’s hard to convey how amazing of a miracle this is. Christ asks that we do everything we can do to follow Him – nothing more – and in return He literally makes us perfect in the eyes of our Father. The more I study it and think about it, the more I realized how amazing of a gift this is to each of us. All we need to do is follow Him through covenants such as baptism, and then try our best to stay on the path. Trying our best is all that’s required. The rest is paid.
     I’m not sure why I’ve been thinking about this so much lately, but it’s an amazing thing to think about. I have such an unshakeable testimony in Jesus Christ and in His role as our Savior and Redeemer.  As Isaiah wonderfully said, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
     I love you all so much, and hope you can take a few extra minutes this week to really think about Christ and what He did for us. I hope you have an amazing week, and know that I pray for you daily. I love you so much!
     Jack

Dobro jutro!

     Well everyone, the day I knew was coming has finally come… Every two months, transfers roll around, and for all of this time I’ve simply stayed put. But now, after 8 glorious months in the city of Celje, I am being transfered to Kranj. How do I describe my feelings about this? I guess I’d say it’s a strange mix of great excitement, a bit of nervousness, and plain old heartbreak, all packed into one. A mission truely is the labratory of life, and you experience an entire lifetime in these two years.
     But I guess I can start with my week 🙂
     Monday was a fantastic p day, and the 4 of us went with Elder and Sister Hansen to the coastal city of Piran. I’ve gotten very used to the “European alpine village” feel of the country, and this was a completly different Slovenia. This was much more “mediterranean” and is like what I imagine Venice to be. Red roofs, winding little alleys filled with people on mopeds, and a general smell of salt and fish haha. It was SUCH a cool little town, and we had a great time. After making the 2 hour drive from Celje, we started by walking around the edge of the peninsula along the water. We of course had to put our feet in. We made a hike up to the old church, climbed the belltower, and just wandered for a while. The 6 of us had a nice seafood lunch, some ice cream followed by a little more exploring, and then it was back home. Such a good p day, and I loved the coast. Hearing waves and seaguls and touching the water actually made be miss home in a way… But it’s all good. I took a million pictures (of course) and will send those all your way.

(At the top of the Piran belltower. Look at the city and that sea!!)

(At the top of the Piran belltower. Look at the city and that sea!!)

(I just want to go back...)

(I just want to go back…)

    QZmLQU11EXB1pim-N1PF1vczscT7kGLXg61Y20ydDUs,DuV2OVHtKjInBdP-YlH35JNHFMFh23WzC-nS8gvxjp8 ddsrzsHXJxjHJoRFkQ_wdpN8cNIwtb0EmZablvK-jV4,Zcm792cOW0-_utSqieWfRaT9MBxXjRMUDTGxoMcOXEE xt3aQdpv-EM8YO7cxg848f6z_qY7NmbQ7awphVBifSo soGuQg7YY7DzQ1F4STINMPDGX84UlbCWg42-wg9plj0,lYKLPr69alVzyItEVTludeRFotkg2tETefawyHklz6M 1 W_8U5tfnDg6wY1cnpqftACHsMgl9ZJEt97fVJpw7Z88,_gQPOYH2N2-2eMCs0o1BiHrtL3sExsPiwJ04XOjN5_Y 6YXeHZMStDobICCjlzwb99rj2Nf9dtEjBSgVnoVm58o,KVKoL7FniBL8RzsMPGuyJn6qZ-Oikqnr44zLHOTVNUk I’m afraid the rest of the week pales in comparison to our Piran excursion, but it was still a good one. The biggest event of the week was definitely transfer announcements on Thursday. I guess I’ll get back to that topic…
     I’ve known for a while that I’d be leaving Celje. It’s unusual to stay somewhere 8 straight months, so being transfered was inevitable. But, it didn’t become “real” until Thursday when the announcements were actually made. That’s when I found out that I would be going to Kranj. I leave tomorrow morning for the new area!
     To be 100% honest, it’s been kind of a tough week because of that. With each and every goodbye, it hurts a little bit more. But I also feel more and more ready to go. It’s strange. In fact, I still can’t believe how strange missions are in general… the Lord takes a random 18 year old from California, plops him down in Celje, Slovenija, and then expects him to love the people there. I mean, people always say before you leave on a mission: “Oh, you’re going to just fall in love with the people there!” Honestly, I don’t think I had a clue what that meant. Now that I’m leaving Celje though, I don’t think I could understand it more clearly.
     In these 8 months, I’ve grown to love the members of Celje so, so much. When there’s only 20 members and you’re in the same branch for so long… you sort just think of them like your family. So saying goodbye to all of them has been hard. There’s really no other way to put it.
     That being said though, you don’t learn as a missionary by staying put. The Lord had things He needed me to learn in Celje, He had experiences for me, and had people I needed to meet. But I’ve done what needed to be done, and it’s time to move on and learn more things and meet more people! So this is also a happy thing. It’s a happy-sad thing haha.
     All-in-all though I’m excited for Kranj. It has what many consider the strongest branch in the mission, and is full of some very strong families. I cannot wait for the chance to get to know all of them, and I know there will be a lot I can learn from the people there.
     I know that the Lord has a plan for my mission, and so my goal is to simply be open enough to allow the Holy Ghost to guide me along that path. I love the people of Celje (and always will), I cannot wait to now grow to love the people of Kranj, and I am excited to see what the next adventures will be!
     I love you all so much, and will hear from you soon… from the library in… Kranj!
     Z ljubeznijo,
     Starešina Davis