Monday, September 16, 2013

Tuzla, Bosnia September 16, 2013

Hey Mom!
I know I say this every week, but this week was really good! We did so much, I don't even know where to begin. 

We visited a member who lives in Bijeljina (known for it's ethno-village), which is 3 hours away from Tuzla, but is still technically in our area. M, the member, made us lunch and showed us pictures of her family who used to live in Serbia, but just moved to Canada. Bijeljina is a Bosnian city that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, so it was interesting navigating our way around and reading her church material with her in Serbian. It was definitely an all-day excursion, but it was so worth it. She's older, the only member in her city and she lives alone, but she reads her Book of Mormon all the time and has been to the Frankfurt temple a handful of times.  We told her that before our next visit that she needed to give a Book of Mormon to one of her friends with her testimony written in it. She said no at first, haha and then said yes. We sang a few hymns with her and then had to go catch our bus. She cried before we left and said she loved us. She was awesome and has such a powerful testimony. 

We made it back to Tuzla just in time for FHE. The Elders decided that we were going to play musical chairs and N and everyone LOVED it. It was so funny to see. Lots of people here didn't grow up playing as many family friendly games as we do, so I know they all look forward to family night. After games we ended up playing Christmas songs on the piano and singing all together. I love the transition-- everyone gets really quiet and starts congregating more around the piano. Singing hymns all together with our members is so powerful.

This week we were also on Bosnian TV! What what? #celebrities #nobigdeal Haha just kidding. The Church donated a lot of equipment for eye care at one of the local hospitals here, so we got interviewed a little bit. They took our pictures and filmed us walking around, and then a few of our members saw us on TV. Afterwards we had juice with the director of the hospital here and it was a huge honor.  Everyone treated us with so much respect (SO different to how people treat us on the street, haha). 

J had us over to her house this week and taught us how to make burek! It was really great and I shared the spiritual thought with them from 2 Nephi 2:14 and 26 about how God wants us to have control over ourselves; how we were meant to act and not be acted upon. I told one of our members that it can be hard to quit smoking, but that we have all the tools that we need to be able to be better.  I explained that he shouldn't let cigarettes control him from being able to live his life and being worthy to hold the priesthood again. That was one of my favorite lessons so far-- everyone jumped on board and was so encouraging that he could do it. All the missionaries fasted for him yesterday. 

English classes have been going really well! They're so much fun, mostly just because we make our students talk a lot and play a lot of games. It was pouring this week during our classes and so the Elders said no one would come, but everyone came and then some! Our mission just came out with an English textbook for our classes so that we have more ideas and lesson plans, which is super helpful. After class on Thursday we went home with S and gave her mom flowers, chocolate and a Book of Mormon with our testimonies in it for her 53rd birthday. She said we were wonderful and she could feel our optimistic spirits whenever we were in her house. 

On Saturday we had a movie night for our English students (the long Joseph Smith film) and we had a bunch of non-members from our classes come! Everyone stayed for the whole movie and then afterwards people didn't get up and leave. So the missionaries just kind of split up and went and sat with people and talked to them about what they thought of the movie. Everyone loved it! It was honestly just one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. We gave out some Book of Mormons. The guy I was talking with is a doctor, who teaches at the University here and does bio medical research.  He is applying for an American grant. The interview for the grant is all in English, so he's taking our classes to help prepare him for that. He's going to bring his presentation into class next week and we're going to help him practice. He's super sweet, has a wife from Kuwait, 4 daughters and is a devout Muslim. He leaves in the middle of our English classes to go for call of prayer. When I was talking to him about the movie and our beliefs, he was super open to everything that I was saying (Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem, prophets living in the Americas, God appearing to Joseph Smith, etc. etc.), but the one thing he had problems with was Christ. He was like "No, no, no, God doesn't have a son. Here, I'll get you an English copy of the Qu'ran and you can read it." I told him I'd exchange the Book of Mormon for the Qu'ran and read it after my mission. He said okay. He was just so sincere and curious to learn. I think we have lessons with the rest of the people that we talked to! Wow, right?  S's mom, I, came to the movie too (she doesn't speak English but said she understood everything because of the visuals), and we talked to her about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith while we were walking home. She again talked about the positive energy that she felt while watching the movie. Awesome, awesome! 

Sunday was really good. S's mom, I,  came to church! She also shouted at me across the room during sacrament meeting when she saw my bag on the floor (REALLY bad luck to put your purse on the floor-- they believe 1) it will get stolen in the future 2) you'll have no money for the rest of your life 3) more bad luck upon you 4) "It's not sanitary") and then at the end of my talk she started clapping and cheering for me. She seriously kills me. I almost died laughing. J gave a talk about one of her favorite scriptures, I gave a talk about the Atonement and repentance and then Elder W talked about the 10 commandments. The spirit was really strong throughout the whole meeting. 

After church we walked around with S, A and I and explained to I why we were fasting and why we don't spend money on Sundays. A talked about her baptism, etc. We're going to commit I to be baptized this week. She's been living the word of wisdom, reads the Book of Mormon and has almost daily contact with the missionaries. Pray for us that our commitment to her to get baptized will go well!  We went to the W's for dinner on Sunday and then tracted for a good 3 hours straight. It was seriously so much fun. There are always some funny stories associated with tracting, but we talked with a bunch of people that might be interested, which is great! We haven't had a big block of time like that for tracting in a while, so we loved it.

Tonight we're doing exchanges. The Sister Training Leaders just changed the schedule: Sister Matthews is going up to Banja Luka tonight and Sister Compare will come stay here with me in Tuzla. We then have Zone Conference in Sarajevo again on Friday. We'll be busy with a lot of traveling this week.

We need to get going, but I'm so glad to hear that you had a good week! That always makes me so happy! Give Skippy a big hug and a kiss for me! 

Love you lots!!

Sestra Orgill

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tuzla, Bosnia September 9, 2013

Hey Mom! Ćao ćao!

Ahh, so many e-mails this week, so I apologize ahead of time if I can't respond to all of them.

I finished reading the Book of Mormon this week, which always makes me feel good! I've also been reading in the New Testament and D&C and will probably finish both today, too. My goal is to read all of the standard works on my mission. The big one that I always have a hard time getting through is the Old Testament.

Yesterday was Sunday. As I think I told you before, we're really pushing for making the church here a member-branch, not just a church run by the missionaries. So, we assigned J the talk, V the musical number, and S the lesson. J didn't show because she had to go to the doctor (she's been really sick lately), but everything else turned out great! S absolutely rocked her lesson. It is so awesome seeing her growth just in these past few weeks.

After church we met with S and taught her about Christ. Since we only have one good translation of the Bible here in Tuzla (it was expensive and one of the Elders bought it up in Zagreb), the members don't really get to read that much in the Bible. I brought my English quad and we went through some of the ways that she may want to start studying about Christ's life. She is so hungry to keep learning! Seriously, every time I call her she is in the middle of reading her scriptures, the Liahona, Preach My Gospel, writing in her journal, watching a church movie or working on a Sunday School lesson. She's such a powerhouse. Her influence has been so great that she's rubbing off on everyone around her! We taught her about budgeting and the word of wisdom, and she he told her mom and her friends all about it! Her mom has been off of cigarettes and coffee for a week! And they're planning on opening a savings account since most people here are just used to spending all of their monthly pension.We're thrilled! Her mom is so sweet to us and cooked us dinner (our second dinner cooked by a local, if that's any indication of how often we're invited over to people's homes for meals, Grandma, haha), and we asked S to invite her to take the lessons with us some time this week :)

B is still indecisive about baptism. She knows the church is true and that she will be baptized eventually. It's just a question of when and leaping with faith, but we're not giving up on her. She's been investigating the church for several months now, and she's more active in church than some of our members.  Her mom, J is baptized and she's having a really rough time right now. She's convinced that since her baptism everything has just gone completely wrong and she always talks about how she just wants to die and finally be at peace. So sad. We visited her on Saturday and told her that we still have trials in life even after baptism, but it's a blessing that she's baptized because now she knows how to better overcome them. She agreed and shared her favorite scripture with us. We encouraged her to share her testimony more with her daughters, and we talked to her about how she can be a strength to those around her. She bore her testimony to her daughters (B and D) and it was great! We still need to keep working with them. She invited us to come over this week so she can teach us how to make burek. We call her every day to check in on her and she calls us her daughters. I love her.

Also, another one of our members has picked up smoking again. The Elders always walk over to his place and he's typically just sitting in his room, smoking and reading the Book of Mormon! Ahh! Sigh. We're working really hard at strengthening our members, and I've decided that people just need love.

We don't really have any new investigators from this week, but we've been pretty busy with visiting our members and current investigators that we haven't really had a chance to go finding. This coming week we've blocked out a lot of time to go tracting and contacting to find new people to teach.

Everything in terms of day-to-day missionary life is going well. I can feel my Bosnian improving, which is always good. I'm anxious to get to the point where I don't have to formulate sentences in my head, proof-read them to myself and then say them out loud to people. Sister Matthews and I are trying to up the ante on our language. Maybe the Lord will bless us by letting us stay together. Sister M keeps saying how you normally don't get along this well with your companions and she's been getting more emotional the closer it gets to transfers (still three weeks away, haha). She really is such a sweetheart and I feel so blessed to have her.

I love you so much!! Have such a great week! Go Cards!

S ljubavlju,

Sestra Orgill