By the way, I forgot to mention on Wednesday that you can email me all you want now. I have an hour to email now and so I'd love to hear from all through email! I can only email family back, but I'll try to respond through letters (although so far it seems like there's little time for that here - I all the sudden am amazed at every letter I ever got from a missionary, ha).
How are you all?! Danny, I hope you're liking the internship. I bet Michael's having a fantastic time in London. Abby, I LOVED your last letter in the MTC. It made me so happy to hear about everything! How is that missionary experience going? When I read about what you did, I thought to myself "My sister would be the best missionary." You are so bold already! They had to teach us that in the MTC. Because of you, I've decided to be bolder. This is the gospel, after all! We are believers and see the blessings of it every day. Let's tell everyone, eh? I've thought about Lauren every day - I wonder how she's doing in the MTC. The first week can be a little crazy. She sent me her info, but I lost it. Abby, can you forward me her contact info (and her farewell talk if you still have it in an email). Mom, I don't know if she decided to send out an email to friends, but if she did, will you forward that to me for the rest of my mission? Thank you! Oh, and I don't know if Sister Folsom still reads these, but if she does, can she forward me Siostra Folsom's emails, please?! I'm anxious to hear how she's doing.
Ok well, here we are in a library in Ceske Budejovice. My first P-day in the field. Missionary work is just about the coolest thing ever, I think. What do we do all day? We go into people's houses, sit down with them, talk about their spirits, their thoughts, their lives. We pull out the scriptures. We testify. We bear witness as representatives of God that He sent His Son, and that we don't have to do everything alone. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, our pains, our sicknesses, our sorrows. He understands, he loves us, his Atonement is more real than we very often realize. We contact random people on the street and we get to hear their stories and play a small part in their lives, even if only for a moment. We haven't had much time to contact so far, as these sister missionaries I'm serving with have really done their work. We have 4 progressing investigators, 1 with a baptismal date, and 2 we're hoping to set up dates with soon. We have so many less actives or recent converts that we're working with. Our week is already full of meetings with new people we contacted just this weekend. I can hardly keep up, and it's magnificent. This area is really moving as far as interest and new investigators. The other day a couple lessons fell through, and so we did our first real block of contacting for only about an hour and a half. Ha! I laugh thinking about it. I contacted a handful of people on my own and handful of others with one of my companions. With 3 we really get around! It was just the most interesting and exhilarating experience. EVERY person was radically different. One man particularly stood out. I went up to speak to him, and while my understanding is quite low at this point, we spoke for a while. He was having, it looked like, an extremely hard day. He was very drunk, so he was a bit out of it, but I could tell that without that influence, he was a decent, normal man. I just didn't know what to do. You could see so much suffering in his face. He wanted to let it out, but he wasn't sure if giving it to a young girl, wearing a name tag, was the right place to put it. I felt myself come out of the typical contact we deliver and I told him that I knew this message would help him. I plead with him to give it a chance. He teetered, but unfortunately I think he was just too sad and drunk to really commit to anything. I saw him later that day in the grocery store. I hope I run into him again.
Ah, yes, yesterday we had church! I had met a couple of the members before as we teach with them often, and we had FHE on Friday night for those without families. However, I was excited to meet some more, and excited to see how many of our investigators and less actives would show up. We really pounded on church attendance in our lessons last week. Fortunately, two investigators showed up! However, there were many that did not - mainly less active members. There are some less actives we work with that are in the most dire situations. You just wish they would grab hold of the gospel. I know Heavenly Father makes it up. I know the Atonement can fill in the gaps. Often, Heavenly Father requires much of us on this earth, and often when you receive that promise that the gaps will be filled, and then you don't see it for a very long time, it's difficult to endure and keep going, right? The blessing could be just around the corner, but for all you know and all you can see, it could be hundreds of miles away. Faith is so key. How can we endure without it?
Anyway, wow, the branch, I love them so much already. The struggle in this area is definitely keeping the branch functional and alive. While there is much interest and we are teaching a lot, the branch struggles to keep itself together. My companions have done loads and loads of work to keep it even in existence. We have incredible people here in this area who care so much, and I know they are called to keep the church alive in Ceske Budejovice. How grateful I am for their willingness.
Well, I should go. So much to tell! I'm happy! So happy. I'm studying my face off to learn Czech. I couldn't see quite as clearly in the MTC what I was learning that language for, but now that I'm here, I can't stop eating it up. Understanding is a big challenge. I don't think the frustration has caught up to me yet, but I'm sure it will. I'm studying as fast as I can to try and soften that blow, ha. But all is well and I'm really loving it here. I didn't think I would ever love the work as much as I do! But I do. Whoo! I'll try to attach pictures from a little vylet (outing) we went on today.
Sestra Lucy Brimhall
A picture of the namesti (city center) of Ceske Budejovice. We pass through it multiple times a day, and I think much contacting will occur there.
Picture in the namesti in Trebon. The elders in my district are Elder Darrington (going home in 5ish weeks), Elder Schindler (District Leader and trainer of an Elder in my MTC group - Elder Heath). They're hilarious! I'm excited to serve around them.
Outside a kostel in Trebon, the little city we traveled to today. It's about half an hour away from Ceske Budejovice.