Good morning everyone and happy new year! The fact that 2015 is over is something that’s still dawning on me. 2015 was the “year of my mission” – the year when I was a missionary the entire time – and I can’t believe it’s over.
Our new year’s celebration was pretty normal (how crazy can it really be as a missionary?), but I did get up at midnight to watch the fireworks. Our apartment is on the top floor of our building, and we have a balcony which overlooks the entire city center. So, at 12:00 I braved the cold to sit out on the balcony and watch the festivities. From what I can tell, there really aren’t any laws here on fireworks (or if there are, they are all ignored), which meant that when midnight rolled around there were fireworks everywhere. And these weren’t just sparklers – they were the real thing. It was a nice moment, sitting out there on the balcony watching fireworks and thinking about the previous year as a missionary. I’m excited for what 2016 will hold!
(Fun fact: Hitler stood on this balcony during WW2 after Germany took over Maribor. This is where he said his infamous “let’s make this land German again!” statement)
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful. The time around Christmas and New Years can be hard for missionary work since most people are either out of town or too busy with family to talk to missionaries. Even still, we saw some success.
We met with one of our investigators early in the week to teach him about the Restoration and Joseph Smith. He came to the lesson fairly apprehensive, and sort of had the idea (from what I could tell) that he’d listen to us for an hour just to satisfy us and then that would be that. But as we started teaching, he started feeling the Spirit, and got more and more interested. By the end of the lesson he was excitedly talking to us about prophets and dispensations, and told us that the idea of Joseph Smith made perfect sense.
A few days later he texted us and asked us to meet. He said that he had questions about priesthood and the Book of Mormon, so we gladly set it up. His attitude this time was completely different. He had read the brochure twice, and had very specific questions. He offered to pray at the beginning, and was anxious to get to the meat. It was so amazing to see what can happen to someone once they get a piece of the truth and feel the Spirit – they just want more! It was a testimony to me that our message is true and that all we need to do is help people feel the Holy Spirit.
All-in-all it was a nice week, although I’m excited for the holidays to be over. People will be back in school, walking around the city, and (slightly) less busy at home.
As I’ve thought about the new year, my mind obviously turns to goals. There are many things I want to work on – I need to do better at studying Slovene, I want to have more patience with people, I want to focus on talking to and finding families and young people, etc. etc. I have a long list of goals. But, one goal which I have and I think you should all have as well is to read the Book of Mormon again this year. I know that seems like a goal every year, but on my mission I’ve come to realize how important the Book of Mormon is. President Ezra Taft Benson was big on the Book of Mormon and he said
“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation. Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not.”
President Marion G. Romney further said this:
“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents.Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness”
These promises are real, and I know that I need to do a better job at making the Book of Mormon a greater part of my life. So, take some time this week and make a goal! Maybe it’s to read the Book of Mormon this year as a family. Maybe it’s to read it before I get home? Something – anything – to make the Book of Mormon a more central pillar of our testimonies.
I love you all so much and hope you have a great week back at school and work. Hear from you soon!