Friday, March 16, 2012
I'm so happy!
My dearest family and friends!
Fireworks are coming out of my face, I'm so happy!
Answers to questions: Our sweet investigators are doing so well! We're in the Frieburg, Germany temple district, and many of our members just went up this last week, as we had another Czeh language week in that temple. We currently have 12 sisters in the mission.
This email is just full of good news.
1) I forgot to tell you in my last letter that another one of the wonderful investigators I taught in Ceske Budejovice was just baptized a couple weeks ago. She is such a doll. She is an older lady, that struggled coming to church, because she has some health problems, but is now attending faithfully and making covenants with her Heavenly Father! I really bonded with her. I remember teaching her the word of wisdom on my very last night in that city, and she accepted it beautifully. At the end of the lesson, she gave me this little statue of a saint that she had on her shelf. She had two of the same one, so she basically said they could be our "friendship saints," and every time we looked at them, we would remember the other. Haha. She's a beautiful person, who is not one bit shy about sharing the gospel with every person who walks in her door. Literally.
2) This weekend, this country was blessed to have an apostle of the Lord come to Prauge! Elder D. Todd Christofferson came to speak to us on Saturday and Sunday. Our most progressing investigator was able to come to every part of the experience, traveling up on Saturday with the members, and even going to the young adult session that night. Because she speaks French, after some nudging by the members, she was able to speak in French to Elder Causse and his wife, the accompanying seventy who returned with the apostle. She was also able to shake the apostle's hand. What a blessing. My companions and I couldn't have been more grateful for the opportunity our members, investigators, and less actives had to feel the love of the Lord, through an apostle called of God. Talking to our investigator, and one of the less actives that was able to go, they were just beaming, brimming with the spirit. They were both so moved, and so inspired by different parts of the messages that were given.
We missionaries gathered from across the mission and all rode up on a private bus to Prague on Sunday morning. That day was literally one of the best days of my entire life. I tried to pay special attention to the Spirit that day. As I sat in the big conference center, with over 500 saints from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I noticed that I felt some of the deepest peace I had felt in a very long time. It was an overwhelming calm and comfort.. I felt like I was wrapped in my Savior's arms. On my mission I have felt so much joy, but also so much worry, stress, and heartache. It makes me tear up to think about the feeling I felt in that conference center on Sunday. Sister Christofferson spoke about the Atonement. She told a story of visiting a good friend of hers when her friend, who happened to be an incredible pianist, received her two grand pianos back, that were in being fixed. As they were carried back into her house, her friend exclaimed that she couldn't wait! They had to try the sound! So, she told Sister Christofferson to pick any church hymn she wanted, and to start playing on one of the pianos. Sister Christofferson made all sorts of comments about how she wasn't a great player, and that she had only had a few lessons when she was young, and she would really only be able to play the very simplest thing they could find in the hymn book. She hesitated and protested, but her friend just told her to play, and she would accompany her on the other piano. As Sister Christofferson began to pluck away at one of the hymns, her friend came in on the other. Sister Christofferson called it the most magnificent musical experience of her life. Her friend came in, embellishing everything Sister Christofferson had to offer, playing the most beautiful runs, and turning the once simple hymn, into a real masterpiece. They played for a full hour like that, Sister Christofferson giving everything she could, with her errors and all, and her friend making up the difference. She likened this experience to the beauty and grace of the Atonement. As I pondered on what she said, I thought about all the moments on my mission when I just didn't know if I could give my investigators, companions, or members the things that they needed. I often doubt that I can do what the Lord is asking of me, because the first thing we all think of is our weaknesses, right? Sister Christofferson assured us that THAT is why we have the Atonement. He has suffered all. He has gone all the way there and back. He knows us and He loves us. He has suffered that we might not. His Atonement is always there for us, and He pleads for us to turn to Him, rely on Him, accept Him, and apply his atoning grace. I know that as each one of us applies the Atonement in our lives, we can feel that overwhelming peace, comfort, and assurance that I felt that day. Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior! He can make up the difference.
3) Transfers! To finish off the Sunday night, President called me and invited me to be a trainer. I wasn't too surprised, as there were three sisters coming in, and I'm grouped in the most senior sisters in the mission. In fact, my two companions from the MTC and I will be training the incoming sisters. I went back up to Prague on Tuesday for some training, and on Wednesday morning I met my new companion! Want to know something crazy? 1) I knew her before! She was in my relief society at BYU the year before. 2) She's Czech! Haha. Crazy, eh? Her parents are from Ostrava, which is on the eastern part of the country, but she was born and raised in Bountiful. Her American name is Melissa Pysnak.. her Czech missionary name is Sestra Pysnakova, with a few accents. She is absolutely wonderful. I knew she was coming in, but I didn't think I would be so lucky as to get her. Her Czech is already fantastic - she's probably at about a 3rd transfer level, so that's no problem, and she is just full of the spirit. We're going to get along so well. For the next two weeks, actually, since one of the sisters in the MTC broke her finger, Sister Smith will be staying with us, until she heads off to her new city. Thus, we'll be in a threesome for just a little while longer, which is fantastic, as we've got baptisms to plan! Sister Izatt is finally off to a new adventure - going to a very small village in the Czech Republic and driving a car, since her area spans a couple cities. She's going to do great, but I will definitely miss her.
I wanted to write you one more thought. This week we worked a lot more with members of the church who have lost their faith a little bit. I have learned something very valuable about faith, and about how we gain faith, and continue to build faith. We learn in the Bible that faith without works is dead. We cannot build faith unless we put some work into it. If I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon - that it is truly anothe testament of Jesus Christ, and that I grow closer to him as I read it - I will lose that testimony if I do not continue reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. Faith is a gift from God, and it requires nurturing. We must continually show our faith, and exercise our faith, that it may strengthen. Faith begins by works and grows by works. May we all continue to strengthen our faith and testimonies every, single day!