Thursday, March 20, 2014

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.

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