The Work of Salvation

     Well, another week has flown by here in the fairly tale land of Slovenia. It was another busy week for me, but a truely great one. Here are some of the highlights:
     On Monday we had a fun p day with the sisters and one of the members here in Kranj. We drove up north to the alps and there my theory that Slovenia is the most beautiful place on the planet Earth was confirmed. We went to a little lake that is the source of the Sava river. The water was unbelievably beautiful, and the whole scene was backdropped by the sheer Julian alps. So. Amazing.

I still haven't gotten over the fact that I live here.

I still haven’t gotten over the fact that I live here.

DSC02678DSC02740

p day selfie!

p day selfie!

We were at the "three borders" - Slovenia, Austria, Italy

We were at the “three borders” – Slovenia, Austria, Italy

A little Russian church up in the mountains

A little Russian church up in the mountains

     On Friday I had a pretty special opportunity to share some of my excitement about family history. Elder Rice and I got up early in the morning and made the drive down to Zagreb where we spent the day at the young single adult conference that was going on. There were young single adults from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and I was asked to give a presentation on why family history is important for young people and how people can get started with their family history. It went so well! We talked about the different reasons why each member of the church needs to be involved in this important work and then I showed them how to get started. We filled out pedigree charts, created familysearch.org accounts, and had an all-around great time. In honor of Elder Scott, I’ll share one of his quotes on family history (a quote I used in my presentation). It is honestly one of the most amazing promises I’ve heard from a general authority before.

Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple and stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life.” – Elder Scott

     This is a truly amazing promise from an apostle of the Lord and I hope that my presentation and work with these young adults helped get them excited about family history. It was great getting to meet all of them, and I’m convinced we have some of the best young adults in the world in our mission 🙂
     The other highlight from the week was the work with our miracle investigator. Watching him progress has been like watching a seris of miracles unfold right before my eyes, and I still cannot believe how prepared he is. He has a strong desire to get baptized, and the whole thing has been a testement that the Lord really does prepare people.
     The work of salvation is the happiest work on the face of the Earth, and I honestly couldn’t be happier right now. I was reading in the Book of Alma this week and there were two verses that really stood out to me. Here, Ammon speaks about their missionary experience (chapter 26):

29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.

     Ammon starts by talking about the challenges they’ve faced as missionaries. The trials I’ve faced aren’t half as bad as the ones Ammon lists, but the principle is the same – missionary work is not an easy task, and it involves a LOT of rejection. But, in verse 30, he goes on to say that he goes through all of this just for the chance that he might save one soul. I feel exactly the same. As a look back on the year (more actually) that I’ve been here, I can see that even one acceptance – one chance to save a soul – is worth all of the rejections in the world.
     I love you all so much and look forward to hearing from you soon. Love,
     Elder Jack

Miracles Abound

Hello everyone!

     This was a good week in Kranj, and a busy one as well. We had zone conference with all of the missionaries on Friday, and then on Sunday Slovenia had it’s district conference (our equivalent of Stake Conference). Both were wonderful conferences, and district conference was an opprotunity to see the members from all 4 branches. When the church is so small, it’s easy to really get close to the members.
    The real miracle of the week though was a referral we got from Mormon.org. Here in Slovenia, we don’t exactly get a lot of referrals from the internet (this one was maybe my second or third), so when we saw that we’d recieved one, we were understandably excited haha. We set up to meet him in the church on Saturday to talk about who we are, and the lesson was… well, amazing!
     He is a young man from the Netherlands but is living here to study. He told us that he wasn’t raised religious, but after deciding he was missing something in his life, started to do some research on the internet. Well, one thing led to another and he found himself on Mormon.org, and then eventually in the Kranj church building 🙂 In talking to him, I came to the conclusion that he’s probably the most sincere and prepared person I’ve talked to. He follows Mormon Channel on instagram, watches “Music and the Spoken Word” everySunday, was able to pick President Monson out of a picture, loves the Word of Wisdom, thinks the idea of a restoration makes perfect sense, to name only a few things. Talking to him was honestly a blast, and he’s such a cool guy.
     At the end of the lesson on Saturday we told him about district conference the next day, and told him there would be 3 sessions, at 8:30,9:30, and 11:30, and that we’d love to see him at one of them. But, wanting to see as much as he could, he asked to come to all 3 sessions. Less than 24 hours after meeting the missionaries, he wanted to attend 6 hours of church with us haha! He seemed to really enjoy it, and when the last session was over I asked him what questions he had. He responded that all of it was pretty clear execpt for three things: “One, what does everyone mean when they talk about having ‘priesthood keys’? Two, what exactly are the 12 tribes of Isreal? And three, what is a patriarchal blessing?” I had to just laugh, and told him I would be happy to answer those questions when we met next. He is progressing quickly, and I feel so blessed to have the opprotunity to help teach him.
    The Lord really does prepare people for this gospel, and miracles really do abound in this work. Being a full-time missionary is like having a VIP ticket to watch the Lord’s miracles unfold right before your eyes, and it still amazes me – even after more than a year of this. I truely believe that “the Lord is hastening His work” as Isaiah would say, and that we as members are living in the most exciting time of Church history that’s ever been. One thing which I believe is contributing to this hastening is the internet. Up until this point in the church, missionary work has always been done person to person, door to door, contact to contact. Although this is good, the internet now gives us the chance to literally “flood the Earth with righteousness”. So, this week take a minute and think about how you can help perpetuate that flood of righteousness!
    I love you all and hope you have a great week. I pray for you always, and remember to keep me and those I’m teaching in your prayers. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures to send home, but don’t worry – there will be some amazing photos in a week 🙂
     Love,
     Starešina Jack

The Prayer of Faith

     Živjo vsi!

We had a wonderful week in Kranj, and I would say that this was definitely a week of miracles. We started out the week with a group p-day in Ljubljana with the four missionaries there. We decided on a whim to go bowling, and it ended up being so much fun! We were all TERRIBLE, and so the 8 of us just spent the entire time laughing at each other and enjoying some fun together.

(Bowling! The fantastic "Kranjubljana" District: Sister Redding, Sister Duffy, Sister Nydegger, Elder Rice, Elder Lewis, Sister Erdmann, Me, Elder Hughes)

(Bowling! The fantastic “Kranjubljana” District: Sister Redding, Sister Duffy, Sister Nydegger, Elder Rice, Elder Lewis, Sister Erdmann, Me, Elder Hughes)

     After bowling we had district meeting, and it ended up being one of the more spiritual district meetings I’ve been to. Instead of some sort of specific training or practice out of Preach my Gospel (which is what we normally do), we ended up just having a group conversation about prayer and the power of praying with faith. It was a very open and frank conversation, and we came to the conclusion that as the Kranj-Ljubljana districts, we can do a lot better at praying sincerely and specifically for our investigators, members, and others. At the end of the meeting, we decided to make a goal for each companionship to help at least one person accept a baptismal date this week. The Spirit was so strong as we kneeled in prayer to confirm this goal with the Lord.

After district meeting was over, the 4 of us walked back to the bus station to head up to Kranj. When we got there, to all of our surprise, the sister’s investigator was standing there waiting for the same bus. The sisters went over to talk to her, and then ended up teaching her during the bus ride home. Becuase I was just a row or two behind them, I was able to listen as they taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and helped this girl accept a baptismal date for the end of October. Less than an hour after we had made our district goal, the sisters helped someone accept a baptismal date! This was a faith booster for me, and gave me the confidence I needed to know we could do the same.

(A district selfie while waiting at the train station: Sister Erdmann, Sister Duffy, Me, Elder Rice)

(A district selfie while waiting at the train station: Sister Erdmann, Sister Duffy, Me, Elder Rice)

     Tuesday and Wednesday were great, and we met someone who is amazingly prepared. While doing chalk on Tuesday I stopped a guy my age on the sidewalk and shared with him what we were doing. We talked for a while, exchanged numbers, and then I left him with the Restoration brochure to read. Only a short while later, we got a text from this same guy saying that he had been so enthralled in the brochure that he had missed his train home! So, we went down to the train station and had a second lesson with him on the same day. The spirit was powerful, and we gave him a “Testimony of the Prophet Jospeh Smith” brochure and a Book of Mormon. The next morning he texted us asking if we could meet and talk some more. He had read the whole Jospeh Smith history brochure and how had questions about him and about the Book of Mormon. He just seems hungry for the truth, and I’m so excited to keep meeting with him.

     Thursday we met with a young guy who we found while chalking, and taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ about about how we help people grow closer to God through faith, repentance, and baptism. It was a good lesson, the Spirit was definitely there, and he accepted the invitation to be baptized in October as well! The Lord has really been helping us to accomplish amazing things.

I feel like amazing things are happening right now in Slovenia. In the Bible Christ says to his apostles, “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” I’ve never really grasped how great of a promise that is, and this week has taught me a lot. As we’ve exercised faith in the Lord and sought to help bring people unto Him, He has helped us find and has truely opened doors for us. All we have to do is exercise faith… and then ask!

I love you all so much, and hope you have a great week! Keep me and all of those we’re teaching in your prayers. I can’t wait to hear from you 🙂

     Love, Jack

Dobro jutro in lep pozdrav moja družina :)

Happy Monday!

     The weeks here are just flying by, and this was another good one.
     We started off the week on Monday with p day. We invited the 4 Ljubljana missionaries up to Kranj and then the 8 of us spent the day together. We found a sand volleyball court and so had a blast playing a big group game of volleyball. Honestly, I think the best part was just being able to have my feet in sand again! After volleyball, we ordered pizza to the church, ate dinner together, and then had our combined district meeting. Since neither Kranj nor Ljubljana has a senior couple right now, we’ll be having combined district meetings every week until the beginning of October.

(This week's culinary creation? Homemade beef jerky.)

(This week’s culinary creation? Homemade beef jerky.)

DSC02583 (2)

A little dusting of snow on the alps!

A little dusting of snow on the alps!

     Tuesday was a chalking day for us, and it was very successful. We drew pictures of Moses and the Red Sea, Noah’s ark, and Jonah and the whale. Under this we wrote out Amos 3:7, and then in big, bold letters, “Where is today’s prophet?” It was a great question and it really made people stop and think for a minute.
     Friday was a pretty unique day, becuause in the evening we all had the chance to go to a big piano concert in a catholic church in Ljubljana. Paul Cardell is a fairly famous Mormon pianist, and he’s working with our mission right now to put on a few concerts. The first was in Ljubljana, and it turned out beautifully. Some of the Slovene family came, as well as a few investigators, and it ended up being a fantastic night. Hearing “The Spirit of God” played inside a large catholic church was definitely a cool experience haha.DSC02550     On Saturday

we decided to try a new finding activity: true or false board. We wrote “How well do you know Mormons?” on a board and then had 8 ‘true or false’ questions surrouding it, such as: “True or false: Mormons are Christians”, “True or false: Mormons are primarily Americans”, etc. We invited people up to test their knowledge about Mormons, and many people did. It was very easy to talk to people like this, and it was a lot of fun for us and for the people participating. We’re planning on doing it again this week!

 

(A rainy day finding activity)

(A rainy day finding activity)

     Overall this was a fantastic week, and I had a really good experience contacting on Sunday evening. I stopped this 18 year old kid in the center square and we started talking. When I asked him whether or not he was religious, he told me that up until 3 months ago, he was a staunch athiest, but that he now believed in God. When I asked him what changed his mind, he told me the story of how his mother died 3 months ago, and told me about the experiences he’s been having as a result. I was able to testify that through God’s Plan of Happiness, we can ALL live together again as families. It felt so amazing to be able to truely share a message of hope with him, and tell him that although his mom was gone, he would have the chance to live with her for eternity. There was just a very powerful and sweet Spirit present, and he happily accepted a Plan of Salvation brochure. It’s little experiences like this that remind me why I’m on a mission, and I wouldn’t trade the chance to share a message of hope with people for anything.
     I love you all, and I hope and pray everything is going well. I’ll talk to you soon, and until then… imam vas rad!
     Elder Jack

Happy Monday!

     Good morning everyone!

     Nothing too special or different this week, but still another great week in Kranj 🙂
     I still can’t believe I got those family names, and this week I started the process of putting them into FamilySearch. When you discard duplicates and people who are living (or those with no dates attached), there should be an initial group of about 4,500 that can be added to my family tree. Then from there, I’ll start sorting through the ones with no dates. This is going to be quite the project haha!
     My week was good, and on p day we went to Lake Bled and Bohinj. Although it was cloudy and rainy, it was stunning (as it always is). We enjoyed a few hours there walking around the lake, taking pictures, and just enjoying this beautiful country.

(I tried to take a panoramic from the castle!)

     From Tuesday to Thursday Elder Rice and I had our exchanges, and Elder Petersen came down from Maribor to spend a few days with me in Kranj. It was a lot of fun to get to work with Elder Petersen again, and we were able to have some great lessons together. On Wednesday morning we had a lesson with a middle-aged woman who paints and collects art for a living. She’s a very, very nice woman, and during the lesson she told us she feels something when she talks to us that she’s never felt at any other church. The only problem is that her family is very catholic and she is afraid what it would do to her home life if she started moving toward joining the church. It’s sad to see someone’s fears overpower the Spirit they’re feeling, but we’re going to continue to work with her.

    On Friday we did our weekly chalking. This time we decided to draw a big path through the center square. It was the “path back to God”, and along the path we drew little stops (like faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc). It looked great, at it actually became really fun! Little kids on their bikes would come and ride through the path, and it became a game for all the families in the square. We had a number of great conversations with those families.

(Sister Erdmann and I chalking the day away)

(Sister Erdmann and I chalking the day away)

     This week we also met a man and have started teaching him. He’s in his 20s, and as much as I’d like to say that we found him, he really came to us. He’s at a pretty low point in his life right now and is looking for a way to get back on his feet and headed the right way. One thing I remember him asking us during our lesson was how God can still love someone who makes so many mistakes. It was a chance for me to testify of the love God has for us and of the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The message that we carry is truely a mesage of hope, and there is no better feeling than being able to help someone feel that hope.
     I love you all so much and I hope school is going great. I can’t wait to hear about it! Hear from you soon 🙂
     Love, Jack