First, I'm in Sarajevo! I'm glad that Sister W gave you the update, she's a sweetie. She was so thoughtful and gave me this really beautiful scarf before I left.
It was so sad leaving Tuzla. Both me and Elder S left within a week of each other and I think that was pretty hard for a lot of our members. We have such a small and tight-knit group there. The members and our English students wrote me goodbye notes and there were a lot of tears, but another one of their favorite sisters is coming to Tuzla, so I think that will be good for them. It was crazy because when we started, Sister M and I were the first sisters there and we had virtually no investigators, and now they have so many people that they're teaching! We worked really hard, with 2x a week fasts, skipping meals, and lots of slammed doors. I really feel like I poured my whole heart into that city, so it's weird now being in a different place.
With all the sadness of leaving Tuzla, everyone here in Sarajevo has been super nice and has made me feel really welcome. The people that we contact on the street are receptive to just stop and talk, something we never had in Tuzla, and the branch here is a little bit bigger.
Sister H, my companion is actually someone who was in the MTC with me and she is the best! I got along with her really well, so it was such a relief to know I'd get to be serving with her. She's 19, from Blacksburg Virgina, and is REALLY good at Bosnian. She studies Bosnian grammar a lot, and she's totally conversant, whereas I still have a lot of umms and mmms when I'm speaking/thinking. I'll learn a lot from her, which I'm really excited about.
Our branch here is great! Sunday was really fun getting to know some of our members and investigators. I had to get up and speak with virtually no notice in Sacrament meeting, which is still not my favorite thing to do, but I'm a little more used to that now than I was before. We had a lesson with one of our investigators and we committed her to get baptized! She's 27, is divorced and has a little daughter who lives in Tuzla, and she is really sweet. She's getting baptized on the 21st of December, so we're going to be meeting with her a lot this next month to get her ready. We're having a big baptism on the 21st of December for all the members/investigators in Bosnia to come down to Sarajevo, and then we'll have a Christmas activity and party afterwards. It is going to be pretty cool and it came down to us as an idea from the Area Presidency. We're hoping we can get a few more people on date for that day. Also, one of the women that we were teaching in Tuzla just got on date to get baptized too! She is in her late 80s and is a hoot. I'll send you a picture of her.
We met with one of our investigators and members last night. They're gypsies, so they don't have a real home, they just move around from place to place every few weeks. We met up with them and Sister H talked with our member S, while I talked with F, a really sweet man who's getting baptized next week. I was able to talk for a long time with him about how he was feeling, how he grew up, some of his favorite memories, etc. He has seen some really sad things, but he has such a pure soul. He's in his mid-30s and has some sort of digestive difficulties where he can only eat certain things (I couldn't figure out the disease based on his description), he has a really hard time gaining weight, so he's REALLY skinny, and also has some problems with his knees. He is really intelligent and discerning of people. I tried to hold it in, but I started crying as he was talking about all the things he's been through just this week alone. He apparently never complains and his faith in the gospel is so strong and he is so excited for his baptism next week. He talked about the love he can feel when he's with the missionaries and at church and he bore his testimony to me about Christ. He is so pure and beautiful. He has never asked for anything from the church, but he lives in such dire circumstances of poverty that I just want to buy him cans and cans of peas since that's one of the only things he can eat. We're not supposed to do that, but I think we're going to talk to our branch president here and see what we can do. He is so skinny and his skin just clings to his cheek bones and eyes. His faith and testimony in Christ blew me away. He has a million and one hard things that happen to him all the time, but he is so strong and I'm so in awe of him. I know he will help so many people here. I've been studying a lot about spiritual gifts in 1st Corinthians, Moroni and D&C 46. I know that we all have been given gifts, but that we need to continue seeking after and praying to receive more gifts. We want to talk to F about recognizing his gifts and how he can use them to help those around him. He is awesome.
My friend Jenn wrote me this week and she's going on a mission! She's doing an internship right now in Japan for Disney, but she just feels like she needs to go when she finishes that up. It is so crazy and I'm so happy for her! She is wonderful. Hannah's been on her mission for 9 months, I've been on mine for 6 and hopefully we can get Jenn on hers soon, so we can all finish up school together.
I'm so sorry about Steven's concussion but it sounds like they had a really good season! The quarterfinals of state is amazing! He is amazing. I may not have time to e-mail him back this week because I overloaded my time on this e-mail (we're going to the war museum in just a little bit), but tell him I love him and I hope he's feeling better.
Lots of love,