Thursday, March 20, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia March 17, 2014

Hey Mom,

It sounds like you guys are having such a good time in North Carolina! Jenny sent me a bunch of pictures from the games and you all look so cute! I'm glad that you're all getting some down time to relax. 

We have had a crazy week.. I apologize in advance if this e-mail is kind of all over the place. We have a lot to do today, so we woke up early to come do e-mails and we're just kind of cramming in everything we need to do today.

We had Sisters' Conference this week at the Rowe's house, which was really great. I learned a lot and it was so fun seeing old friends again. We also had transfer calls! Sister W is going to Karlovac and I'm staying here in Zagreb and serving with Sister E. We're going to be STLs (Sister Training Leaders, but it always reminds me of St. Louis, haha) together, which is pretty cool because we're going to be traveling around Croatia and doing exchanges with the other sisters in the different cities. I think this is a way I can help out with English classes too. It's kind of bittersweet, because I feel like as soon as I start really learning how to teach and work well with a companion, we then have transfer calls and we get split apart. I know it's a good thing because we do a lot of growing when we're forced into situations that are new and unfamiliar.

President Rowe talked this week at Sisters Conference about how Elder Bednar said the best way to help a missionary grow, is to do everything you can to help throw them out of the boat (in reference to Peter showing and exercising his faith by jumping out of the boat when he saw Christ walking on water). I feel like President Rowe does a good job at doing that. There are so many situations that I'm in where I feel completely unqualified and incapable. He went on to say that those are ultimately the best opportunities to have, because those are the ones where you know you can't succeed any other way unless you rely completely and wholly on the Lord.

We have had a good week. M, the painter, is doing really well, and we are going to teach him tonight to hopefully get him prepared for a baptismal date. He has only come to church once, but he is so humble and loves learning more. His 9 year-old daughter, Bec, sat in on one of our lessons this week and loved talking about Christ. She asked if she could have her own copy of the Book of Mormon, so we gave her one and then an illustrated copy of the Book of Mormon, as well. We gave her homework to read from 1st Nephi and she said she would read with her dad. We are going to bring H (10) and her mom to a lesson with them, so H can help teach Bec. M's wife is so kind every time we come over and she even came to church with M last week.

We weren't able to go visit Mak and Ja this past week, but we're going on splits and tonight Sister B and Sister W are going to go do FHE with their family, since they are all off of work tonight.

Okay, maybe I'll get the chance to write you later today, but we need to get going for now. I love you lots and I'm so glad to hear that you are having a good time in North Carolina!

Love you!
Sister Orgill

P.S. Will you also tell Sister Zenger thank you so much?! I got her package and I gave the treats to the elders and they devoured them within the hour. It was so sweet of her! I loved reading the letters from the youth and hearing them prepare for their missions too.

Sisters' conference 

Zagreb, Croatia March 10, 2014

Hey Mom,

Today we're going to make sarma over at a member's house. It looks terrible, but it's yummy and is something that I've been wanting to learn how to make. Apparently it takes a while, so we're doing e-mails early so we can get up and going and so she (Suzana) can get to work. She is so good to us. After that we're coming back into the city and Sister Walker and one of the Elders in our district are having a cook-off, since they both love to cook. The rest of us will just enjoy judging the competition and eating good food. We've already resolved to wake up early to do a lot of running tomorrow morning to try to work all of it off.

This week we have a Sisters' Conference. All the sisters in our mission are driving up to Zagreb and we're spending the night at the mission home for the two day conference. I'm so excited to see some of the other sisters who I don't get to see that often (Marks, Hendricks and Matthews). Sister Rowe has been planning this for a few months now and it should be really good.

This week was great. I feel like I've learned so much. It's always so hard trying to convey growth or experiences that we have out here. Still, one thing that I really liked was that,since we have had a bit of a harder time contacting people on the street while we're on our way to a lesson or making time to go door-to-door, we made time this week to do that and to do more finding, instead of just trying to get lessons. We met some really quality people (7!) who are interested in meeting with us. Last night we were contacting and we started talking to this man, and he interrupts me and says "Sorry, I'm from Turkey, I don't speak Croatian..." Sister Walker and I both looked at each other and then we laughed and we said, "Neither do we!" Haha. We talked to him for a while and he is a diplomat who works in the Turkish embassy, and he is Muslim, but he says that he truthfully doesn't know what he believes, that he just knows that there's a God. We got his information and are going to see him this next week. Each time we returned home after talking with new people we would immediately pray, plan for the next day and then start scribbling in our journals. It was so powerful to see how there was a visible increase in my faith every time we went out and showed our faith by being obedient, and how I desired to do it more. We have gotten better and better at the rule to "talk with everyone" and I know the Lord desires to bless us if we will but do our part.

One of the people we are teaching had a rough time again this week. He is so prepared, but he gets caught up in the bad things in his life that he has a hard seeing his blessings. We taught him that we weren't there to provide any temporal support or to change his financial situation, but that through God, WE can be changed. We talked a lot about seeking after optimism and positivity when nothing seems to be going right. We brought a set of Elders and a member with us to the lesson, because we were intending on letting him have a blessing if he wanted one. We told him that for the next few weeks, that all of us everyday would pray to God to help him, but that he was going to only pray in the attitude of thankfulness. That he would only say thank you for the blessings that he saw in his life that day, and everyday. He visibly was changed in that meeting. He had hunched shoulders and his fists were clenched when he would talk to us at the beginning, and by the end he was relaxed, smiling and making jokes. At church the next day we pulled aside one of our members, Antun, and asked him to help the person we are teaching feel welcome in Priesthood. Antun is so great, and said that he would take care of it. Igor came to church and stayed for all three hours! That was the first time he has stayed for all of church! He was glowing, said that he felt so happy and that he was so thankful for the little things that day, like the fact that the sun was shining outside. We still have a lot of work left to do with him, but we're helping him to get himself back up again. It was such a good lesson for me too and it reminded me of that story from Conference that I know I've shared before: 

"When I was a student at Brigham Young University, I lived in a house with several young men. My roommate, Bruce, was the most optimistic person I have ever known. We never once heard him say anything negative about any person or any circumstance, and it was impossible not to feel buoyed up in his presence. His good cheer flowed from an abiding trust in the Savior and in His gospel.

One cold, wintry day, another friend of mine, Tom, was walking across the university campus. It was only 7:00 in the morning, and the campus was deserted and dark. Heavy snow was falling, with a brisk wind. “What miserable weather,” Tom thought. He walked farther, and out in the darkness and snow, he heard someone singing.

Sure enough, through the driving snow came our ever-optimistic friend,Bruce. With his arms outstretched to the sky, he was singing a number from the Broadway musical Oklahoma: “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way”

I know that that positivity and goodness comes from trust and understanding in the gospel and in our Savior. It's a message that a lot of these people here need. So many of the people here have endured tremendous hardships-- scars from the war, troubles finding employment, family problems, etc.

We met with another family we are teaching this week. They were pretty distracted because of some things going on with their son having been sick and having to help him catch up on a lot of homework, but it was so positive and we had a great lesson with them. They all started off being kind of frazzled and running around, but then by the end we then got them all to settle down and focus. Sister Walker shared a great spiritual thought and then we all prayed together. The spirit was really strong and the father said that he felt really good and asked when we were coming over next. He asked us if on our next Preparation day if we wanted to come over to their house and he would teach us how to cook. 

Marko, the painter came to church with his wife! They were a little bit late but they made it just in time for Sister Walker's musical number and they loved sacrament meeting. We had brought Jusuf to a lesson at his house and it was so great. They got along really well and then after sacrament meeting on Sunday, Jusuf gave them a church tour for an hour. Wow. So, so good.

We need to get going, but I love you! I l'm so glad to hear that you had a good week and that you get to go to North Carolina! Have a great spring break!


Sister Orgill

Quote from Sister Larson that I loved: "He makes us enough, He makes us whole, He makes us His and brings us home." 

Sister W-such a great cook

We went and made sarma today. Here are the pictures we took at Suzana's and the food prep. We are absolutely stuffed.

Zagreb, Croatia March 3, 2014


This week we had exchanges with Karlovac, so I got to go there again and spend some time with Sister E, a really wonderful missionary. Sister C (a sister who I actually had an English class with at BYU) came down here and served with Sister W. It was so much fun. While I was in Karlovac we met this PERFECT family. They used to live in Washington D.C. and they have one son who's 22 and then a daughter who's 15. They speak perfect English and are so funny. They made us palаčinke (crepes) and it was so much fun. We talked a lot about God and how we are all God's children. It was a slow moving lesson, but we just talked pretty in-depth with them IN ENGLISH! I often think that's why I was called to serve, speaking in a foreign language, so that I would be forced to teach simply. Whenever we get a chance to teach in English we get so much more over-complicated than we really need to be. I'm really excited to hear what happens with them.

One of my favorite lessons this week was with one of our members, Suzana. She is such a pure spirit. She works as a cleaning lady, is the only member in her family, she has had breast cancer twice, is married to one of the sweetest men I've ever met, has very little money, has 3 sons, and she is ALWAYS laughing. She talked to us a lot about how money does not buy happiness and how she was a testament of that. She has very few material possessions, but she says she has everything she could ever want, and she truly means it. She is in her 50s and is also one of the best cooks. She made us a lunch on Saturday (with the amount of food comparable to a full-fledged Thanksgiving meal), from things she had grown in her garden, and we practiced teaching a lesson about the law of chastity with her. We ended up talking about the importance of families with her and how there are blessings of protection and happiness when we keep this commandment. She broke down and started talking about how her husband didn't believe in God, but how he was one of the best men that she's ever met. They are so in love and are so cute together. We encouraged her to not give up on him and to share her testimony with him. He loves us and all that we represent. I am confident that he will accept the gospel in this life or the next. Their youngest son is 17 years old and he is so kind and funny. Every Saturday he goes by himself to spend time with his grandmother who lives down the road. He's such a good kid. I really hope they can all go to the temple together some day. Suzana got up on Fast Sunday and told the congregation about our lesson on Saturday and how she knows that families are sacred, pure and of God. She talked about her husband and how she wants to be with him for forever and how she wouldn't give up on him. It was so moving. She blows me away.

I am sharing a portion of Sister H's e-mail from this past week with you, because it was so powerful:

"All this week I've felt really strengthened in my understanding of the Abrahamic Covenant. I don't think we give enough weight and thought to this in the Church, but it should be at the root and heart of every Latter-Day Saint, and especially every missionary. We have to understand that God is a god of covenants- that the Lord's people are a covenant people, and that those covenants are necessary for salvation and exaltation, and they necessitate the Priesthood. We have to understand that the Lord scattered Israel, and that He has indeed spoken to his children across the world- but that it doesn't end there. We must realize that those portions of truth given to nations across the world are preparatory to a higher law, manifest in the ordinances of the Priesthood and revealed in modern days through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon should be engrained in our souls not only as a testimony of Jesus Christ, but as the foreordained instrument of bringing to pass the gathering of Israel, the restoration of nations to the Lords Priesthood power, and the preparation of the world for the Saviors coming. We have to grasp what it means to be a part of the line of Abraham, and how we are grafted into the house of Israel through baptism. We have to feel the necessity and joy of the Lords invitation to renew the Abraham Covenant with each of us individually first through ordinances of salvation such as baptism, and ultimately through ordinances of exaltation such as the endowment and eternal marriage. We must internalize our responsibility as Abraham's posterity to bless all nations- to share the Gospel and to participate in the gathering of the Lords elect. We should rejoice in Gods great plan of redemption- mortal redemption of the House of Israel, and everlasting redemption through the Atoning power of Christs sacrifice and our individual commitment to follow Him.

I have a testimony of the Abrahamic Covenant. I don't fully understand it, but I know that it is central to my purpose as a missionary, and to our joy and responsibility as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know that God lives, and that Christ is our Savior. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and was translated by the power of God through His servant Joseph Smith, who restored the fulness of the Gospel to the Earth. I would add my voice to those who have come before me-- I feel the testimony of this truth "like fire in my bones" and I know that this work is God's work. How blessed we are to have the Gospel! May we ever cherish it and renew our understanding of Gods perfect love and plan for us, and our commitment to Him through covenants, and may we with courage and confidence go forth to bless all those around us with greater understanding of Gods love for them. "

She's incredible, huh? I miss her and hope we get lucky enough to serve together again. I know this is the Lord's work and that this is where I'm meant to be right now. I've never been more sure of anything in my life.

I love you! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Orgill

Ouc church building in Zagreb

Funny dog at Suzana's home
In Karlovac by the river with Sister Erbe

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia February 23, 2014

Hi Mom,

I'm so glad to hear that the service project went well! Steven said it was really fun. 

Joe Shumway is great! Thank you for sending me his talk. I only read a little bit of it but I will print it out and read it later today. 

Haha, your pretzel trick would have worked on me, too! You're such a good teacher and are so patient. I wish you could raise a lot of the kids out here who are going through such hard times. They need so much love and the family structure here is just not as strong as it needs to be for people to ultimately be moral and happy. I really believe the biggest reason why you and Dad are such good parents is because of the gospel.

I feel like I keep saying this, but Zagreb is the BEST. I wish everyone in my mission had the chance to serve here at some point. It was such a good week. Igor really wants to be baptized. He still has a few hurdles to get over and we want to make sure that he really is committed to living the gospel. He is doing wonderfully well. He has had a lot of hard days and since we started meeting with him I feel like Satan is working on him double-time. He has had so many problems come up, but when I asked him what were the first things he did when things were hard, he said, I read in the Book of Mormon and I prayed. It was still a hard day for him, but he said he felt peace when he did that. 

Hearing from Elder Charles a few different times was so wonderful. He and his wife are such good speakers and everyone was just scribbling down notes the whole time they were here. Towards the end of one of his first talks Elder Charles shared his credo for success: He said, "It is to obey the gospel with such exactness that the Holy Ghost cannot be constrained from being your constant companion. Then you will have success." 

Often times we talk about faith being like a seed. If we ever feel weak in the faith or in the spirit, we need to always remember that we can nourish, strengthen and let it grow. (Read in Alma 32) Sometimes we forget that there is a God. He CREATED us. He loves us and He roots for us every day of our lives. He talks to us and wants us to talk with Him. He wants us to learn and grow so that we can live with Him again. We cannot forget the things that we have already learned. Reading our scriptures every day, saying our prayers, going to church, etc. are commandments that were not given us to make us miserable, but to enable us to have the greatest amount of peace and happiness in our lives. To help us to feel closest to our Heavenly Father at all times and it helps us to learn and become like Him! So many blessings that we foolishly miss out on from not being exactly obedient and striving to become more like Christ. (Almost obedient, almost blessed).

I just have to end with Elder Holland's testimony from his last April Conference talk: "In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of {a} boy’s affliction or {a} parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.....What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine. I know this work is God’s very truth, and I know that only at our peril would we allow doubt or devils to sway us from its path. Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe."

I hope you have a wonderful week! I love you!

                                      Cute Sister Walker (my companion)                                                               

Kreŝo, one of the members who is preparing to serve a mission.
Wow! All of the missionaries are so proud of him.