Monday, June 2, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia June 2, 2014


This week was pretty busy. We had leadership council, an exchange with the sisters in Karlovac and we also had Croatia District Conference. Busy, but good.

Also, it has been cool this past week with some rain, so I think it might start warming up for summer this week, which is okay. We'll take it being cool for as long as we can!

Marko is down to 2 cigarettes a day. He is so close! Darja came to church this week for district conference which was really powerful and so did another one of our less-active members. President and Sister Rowe spoke with Elder Donaldson (of the seventy) and they all did such a wonderful job. It's so sad because the Rowes leave at the end of this month. They had a hard time making it through their talks; I think everyone in the meeting was crying.

I'm studying in the Old Testament (something I've never read all the way through before) and it is so interesting studying all the stories that I've heard so many times before. I'll let you know when I get to to the story of Samson :)

Even though hard days will come and go, I love being out here. I feel so happy, in-tune with the Spirit, active, and we get to serve people all day long. I think before my mission I really looked to other people to build me up, for support and for love. While there are people who will occasionally give that to us, we can't rely on these methods in order to feel comforted or rejuvenated. You can't call up a friend and say you're having a hard day, or pop in a movie, eat ice cream, or go on a run when you want. You really have to find a way to be truly independent and self-sustaining. I think that's unfortunately why some missionaries go home. I've really learned that the main source where we need to derive our strength from has to be through prayer with God. There's no other way to do it.

Sister Erbe just got her flight itinerary for her to fly home at the end of July and it is very surreal for both of us. This isn't just our lives from here on out?!

I love you lots!

Hope you have a great week!

Sister Orgill

P.S.  Wow, forgot to tell you, on my exchange, an old grandma SMACKED me with her cane this week. I have a mark on the back of my thigh from it. haha. She had all of her stuff on the ground and it looked like she had dropped everything accidentally, so she was leaning down so slowly to pick it up, and I ran over to go help her, and she picks up her cane so fast and starts hitting me. I couldn't believe the strength of that little woman! Yikes

Leadership Council

With Sister Peterson

On Saturday, we helped a member with her garden. 
We planted beans and weeded :)
I told Sister Erbe the "I hate nature story", ha ha

With Sister Crump

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia May 26, 2014

Hi Mom
I'm doing great. My companion is great and the members are great. We are doing really well :)
This week was a bit of challenge- everyone kept cancelling on us! It was crazy. This really hasn't happened to me for a few months. Lessons with people who are so consistent and really never cancel, all fell through. I feel like Satan works double-time on the people we make contact with. Also, it is getting hot here. Maybe not actually all that hot, but I feel like seasons are so much more severe to missionaries because we're outside all the time. We talk about this all the time, but, even when we get results we don't like or don't anticipate, we continue showing our faith and obedience, regardless of the outcome, because we trust that God knows better than us. At the very end of our harder week,we were walking to an appointment after church, and a man stopped us on the street (this never happens out here) and he says "Hey! I LOVE YOUR CHURCH!" We started talking to him and it turns out that he's researched our faith quite a bit, has a Book of Mormon and came to church a few years ago. He brought up some really great questions he has about our faith that he wants help answering. We ended up talking for like 20 minutes on the street, and in mission lingo we call him a golden investigator. They don't come around very often, but when they do, you can tell that God has been preparing them to meet with you. He's 28 and seemed to be really sincere and normal. Tender mercy.
This week I was putting something on our Zagreb English facebook page and I saw that one of our less-active members was online. We have had the hardest time getting a hold of her (stopped by her apartment a little ways away, she's never there, called her a bunch of times, etc. etc.). She's been translating for the Church here for years and she never comes. It's crazy. Anyway, we ended up messaging her, set up an appointment, and got her new phone number and address. On Saturday when we had our appointment, we were trying to find her apartment, and the address that I had wasn't lining up with where she had lived before, so we figured she had moved. We got in a cab and asked the driver to help us find it. We found out that not only did the address not exist, neither did the phone number. :( We got back on a computer later on in the day to double check that we had written down all the information correctly, and it turns out that this woman we had talked to, had a really similar name to our less-active member here in Zagreb. She somehow was Facebook friends with our Jadranska Misija Sjever (Adriatic North Mission) page, but she wasn't in any way connected to the Church. We found out she actually lives in Beograd, Serbia, so we immediately called the elders there, gave them her information and they have taught her two lessons with members. She came to church on Sunday! It was the craziest whirlwind trying to figure everything out, but wow. Miracles happening in small ways.
In the lessons we've taught this week and in my personal study, I keep being led back to this analogy that we like to teach about Christ and anchors. I like to draw it out, but essentially it's this: there are a lot of anchors in a sea (which represents the world). From our perpective we are above water and we hang on to different bouys. Some of the bouys appear more well-kept, larger, more stable, even more decorated, and some are old, rusty, don't look very secure, etc. All of these bouys have anchors, and when you can see underwater, you can see that a lot of the seemingly-secure, large, and grand bouys have really shallow, light anchors. Some of which don't even reach the sand, but are just dragged around and they sway from side to side. Then, there's one plain-looking bouy in the middle. It doesn't look very impressive and it's simple, but when we look under water, its anchor is HUGE-- it takes up half the picture. The chains are firm and clean and it is solid. The bouy is the gospel and the anchor is Christ. We will not drift from the place we are planted, because He will never change. He will never drift. He is constant and He is firm. The other bouys represent different things; money, career, education, clothes, food, friends, prestige, fame etc. Not all of the buoys are bad, most are things that we actually need, but sometimes those things pass by while we're on our simple, little buoy. And sometimes we jump ship (or buoy). We forget that our buoy already had everything that we already needed, including aspects of the other anchors (family, food, job, etc.) We are standing still and we are not moving, while other things may appear to be more enticing, inviting and fun. We forget that our buoy is the strongest, and that while our seemingly simple and unimpressive platform stands firm, the other anchors ultimately will be taken over by the sea and will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of this life. Sometimes we think that we can go and try different things, and then when the time comes we can just jump back to to our buoy. The difficulty is that it is hard to turn back. It is hard to wade through the deep blue sea to find our way back, working through potentially life-threatening animals and thrashing waves. If we stand firm and are unwavering with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will never need to wonder what our ultimate destination will be.
I don't know if that makes sense, but I really like teaching with it because we get so caught up in other things (not inherently bad things) that we forget the first and great commandment. "To love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, might, mind and strength." We forget that that the ultimate purpose of this life is to come to know our Heavenly Father and to know true happiness through the way He has shown us.
I love you! Hope you have a great week!
Sister Orgill

Zagreb, Croatia May 19, 2014

Hey Mom!

This week was great! So many things that happened.

I guess the most exciting of which is we had the BYU Men's Volleyball team here in Zagreb this weekend! It was so crazy. We brought investigators and less active members to one of their games and it was really fun to watch them play a local Croatian team. The players came up in the stands and talked with everyone afterwards and all the members and investigators loved it. Then on Sunday, they all came to church. They piled in our Zagreb chapel with their wives and coaches and they sang a musical number, and a bunch of them came up and bore their testimonies. It was so powerful. The assistant coach for the team served his mission here about 10 years ago and he spoke for about 10 minutes in complete Croatian! Everyone was so impressed with him. He was so prepared and he had clearly thought out what he wanted to say. The Spirit was so strong in the meeting and it was also really cool because John (name changed)  who we met up with last week and D and D (the less-active couple who are both doctors) who we've been working with for MONTHS came to church for the first time in ages. I couldn't believe it. It was such a powerful Sunday to come back to church and the members were glowing.

The sad news this week is about all the floods in Serbia and Bosnia. The members and the missionaries are all fine. I'm sure that you actually know more about what's going on than I do, since you can read the news. We've talked to a bunch of the missionaries and have seen some pictures-- I know that the humanitarian couples here are doing a lot to help with some relief and housing for the locals.

Also, more sad news, one of the Elders who I served with in Tuzla and in Zagreb is going home this morning. I cannot believe it. So many people suffer from depression out here because of the weather and difficulty adjusting. :/ It's always so sad to see someone go home early.

Thanks for always having faith in me. I was reading Uchtdorf's talk "Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?" (which is SO good) this week. I thought it was so interesting to think about all the things that we become so subtly addicted to (TV, internet, social media). One of his examples was food! I've focused these past 2 weeks on eating less and have lost it 3.5 pounds! We're playing basketball and tennis today, and that will feel really good.

Mark (name changed) is still on date to get baptized! He was a puffing machine when we met him, and now he's down to just 5 cigarettes a day. It's huge. There's no rule for how long someone needs to go without smoking before their baptism, but we talked with him and we decided that we would really want him to go about 2 weeks without smoking in order for him to really feel ready to be baptized. He's supposed to be completely done with cigarettes on Tuesday, so pray for him! He is so, so close.

So many great people, lessons, etc. I feel like this week has flown by. I really love working with Sister E. I'm so happy serving with her, she is so low-maintenance and we just get it done, even on days when it's hard. She only has 9 weeks left of her mission, which is crazy, but that's a pretty big motivator for both of us.

I love you lots and hope you have a great week!

Sister Orgill

At the volleyball game

Zagreb, Croatia May 5, 2014

Hey Mom,

It is crazy. This month marks my 1 year serving as a missionary! I cannot believe that. A lot of my good mission friends go home this summer (Sister Matthews, Erbe, Brotherson, etc.), which is pretty surreal to see their time winding down as full-time missionaries. Also, President Rowe goes home at the end of June and President Grant is coming here at the beginning of July. We somehow already have another transfer this week, and this is President Rowe's last time to get to shuffle us around. I'm 90% confident I'm staying in Zagreb, which I'm grateful for-- I love the people and being at the hub of everything.

This week was really good. We had mission leadership council this week at the Rowe's house and it was so inspiring. President Rowe has incredible spiritual depth and has so much confidence and faith in us, which is so inspiring for me based on how many times we have come up short. We had some really great lessons with members, less-actives, branch activity... I wish you could just be here and see what it's like. I can't even count how many times we have had spiritual promptings together to say something that we hadn't planned to talk about or reference something about someone's patriarchal blessing, or a specific talk, and the person asks us, "How did you know that? Did someone tell you about that?" We listened to a talk by Elder Holland about how as missionaries we need to be working 3x3-- us with the Spirit. If we don't have the Spirit then the Lord says "ye shall not teach," not that you won't be effective, or that you shouldn't teach if don't have the spirit, but much stronger. It's an actual commandment that we shall not teach if we do not have the Spirit with us in our lessons. Elder Holland says that if you do not figure out a way to work effectively as a companionship then you cripple yourself and your abilities to teach the people here.

Ilyana and Maria (names changed) are two phenomenal women that we're teaching. They blow me away. We have had some great lessons with them so far and I really feel like they could get baptized.

Darla (name changed) is a member and we have been working a lot with her and her husband. They both came to an activity for the first time since I've been in Zagreb. I was so excited to see them that I took them around to talk with everyone and it was so positive. At the same activity there was a group of girls that we had invited from the concert last week and Sister E was talking with them and introducing them to people. I love working with her. It is so neat to just look across the room and know that if there's someone that I'm worrying about then she's already taking care of them. We visited Darla again last night and we committed her to prepare to go to the temple in August so that her and her husband could be sealed together. Her husband is trying to read the whole Book of Mormon in the month of May. They are exceptional and I am so excited for them to start working towards this new goal.

Mark (name changed), the painter is still doing really, really well. We went over to his house to teach him a lesson and had some difficulty explaining a concept about forces in the world, so we pulled his wife over to help us translate (she's agnostic) and she ended up getting really into the discussion about the things that pull on us in this world. It was really neat for her to discuss and start to recognize the fact that there are real opposition forces that exist in the world. Also, seeing Mark's growth in the past little bit has been so neat. When we first started teaching him he was really pretty timid and not sure what he really believed in, and now he has so much confidence in his spiritual impressions that he's had over the past few months. I really think he will get baptized this month and that he will set the way for his family to be baptized as well.

It was a great week! I'm so glad that everyone is doing well and that you get to see Jen really soon!

Love you lots!!

Sister Orgill


Zagreb, Croatia April 28, 2014

Hey Mom,

I'm doing well. We have been busy, I don't know where the time has gone.

Sister Hobbs, who works in the office with us, loves music and for the past few months she has been trying to organize a spring concert at the church with local choirs and bands. We had a number of groups who said that they wouldn't come because it was at our church, but regardless of all that, this past weekend she totally pulled it off! The church was the busiest and most full that I have seen since I've been here. It was so much fun. We had about 4 groups perform, we saw people who we had talked to on the street who ended up coming, and everyone was asking when we were going to do the next one. It was such a positive community event. We got a bunch of phone numbers and met people who said that they'd want to meet up with us. I think the best part of the night was when everyone had finished getting refreshments and one of the conductors sat down at the piano and started playing traditional Croatian songs and everyone around the room all started singing together. It was so cute and it definitely was one of the best nights I've had on my mission.

I was reading through my old journals this week and I laughed when I realized that I have a life replete with mistakes--a mean comment or thought, an extra pound (or 10!) gained, being lazier and less-productive than I should have been, the list goes on and on. I love the idea that it doesn't matter how many times you fall down, wipe out, make a complete and utter fool of yourself, completely crash and burn. It really only matters how many times you get back up and keep going. You can beat yourself up over being imperfect, or you can lift your head back up and say you'll try better next time. I know I have developed the ability to be more relaxed out here, because there are a million and one things that are out of my control. Members, other missionaries, people on the street who we meet everyday. I wish we all wouldn't give up on ourselves as often as we do. We can be so overly self-critical.

I think I know what you mean talking about the transformation in returned-missionaries. I was talking this week with Sister E and we were talking about people that we admire. They are confident, not in themselves, but because they draw their confidence from God. I've noticed that there's a stark contrast between someone who has the merits of the world and is confident, but tends to be more self-absorbed versus someone who derives their confidence from an abiding faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. Someone who will more likely turn inward to focus on their own interests vs. someone who will continually be looking outward to help others, like the Savior did.

We went to Plitvica last week for Pday. So much fun! I'll send you some pictures of our most recent escapades. We're going to play basketball again today.

I love you lots! Glad you had a great week! :)

Sister Orgill

At a restaurant talking to some one on the phone. Sister E kept telling me I looked like a business woman and then proceeded to take pictures of me.

At a castle on our preparation day

Zagreb, Croatia April 21, 2014

Hey Mom,

We're going to Plitvica today, so we're up early doing e-mails, since we most likely won't have time otherwise.

We have had a really great week!! We have done 3 exchanges this past week (where we go to different cities and then split with the sisters-- one set comes back to Zagreb and the other stays in the other city), so we've been traveling a lot. It's been fun, but we're also pretty tired-- we've driven something like 19 hours this week. I think it wore me out so much, because on our last exchange when we were switching back, I accidentally put normal gas in the diesel car. AH.  It is so confusing! The mission recently purchased a bunch of new small cars, all of which use diesel. This has happened a few other times since cars are passed around between different missionary companionships, which makes me feel a bit better. Whoops :/

This Easter was so wonderful. Have you seen this video on the Easter page? I love it and we've shown it to lots of people. We had a Easter party this week at the church and I got a package in the mail from Sister Neuberger with TONS of candy, egg dye, decorations, etc. which was a huge contribution to the party. We hid candy everywhere around the church. Normally in Croatia they don't hunt for candy here on Easter, so it was so fun teaching that tradition to them and watching all the adults get really into finding all the candy. I forgot to bring my cord for my camera, but I'll send you some pictures of everything later. Here's a video that we showed at the party: It is really good.

On Easter we sang in the choir, I gave a last minute talk, translated for a bit, and then went to the Rowe's house afterwards. Sister Rowe had just gotten back from the Frankfurt temple on Saturday night and she somehow managed to make this huge Easter lunch for all the missionaries, family and friends. It was so yummy and thoughtful of her. I think she's superhuman. We then were invited over to a member's house for dinner to meet her whole family. She had made one of the biggest meals I've ever had in my life, complete with 6 different types of meat, yummy desserts and a lot of grease...(we're going on a 6 mile hike today). Her family isn't LDS, but they were so sweet, taught us all about Croatian Easter traditions, and loved laughing and telling stories. It was so much fun.

We need to get going, but I love you lots!

Hope you have a great week!

Sister Orgill

Here's a quote by Holland that I remembered last night as I was falling asleep for harder times...: "If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who have ever lived."

Zagreb, Croatia April 14, 2014

Hey Mom,

We had a good week. We did a last minute exchange with Banja Luka this past weekend, so that meant that I was able to be back in Bosnia. I was able to I serve with Sister Marks again! It was so much fun. I loved seeing her again. She is stellar!!

They don't have a lot of investigators so we didn't teach any lessons, but it was great because we went into this part of town that's close to center where they want to move.  We went contacting for most of the time (stopping and talking to people on the street). Banja Luka is notorious for being a tough city, so we went and tried out contacting in this new area and it was so good-- probably the best night I've had on my mission in terms of our success rate. We used English flyers and so many people were really receptive to listening and interested in hearing more about the Gospel. We passed out about 200 flyers to young people in less than an hour.

We're going to Pula and Rijeka today (look them up online, they have some really beautiful photos) and we're doing another exchange over the next two days. This time Sister E is going to Rijeka and I'm staying here in Zagreb with a new sister who is still being trained, Sister C.

I am so short on time today. I love you! Hope you have a great Easter!

Sister Orgill

Zagreb, Croatia April 7, 2014

Hey Mom!
I'm so glad you guys got a chance to watch all sessions of conference! I thought a lot about our family as I listened to the messages. We've only watched 3 of them so far, but hopefully we'll finish watching the rest later this week. There was a lot about returning back to the basics, keeping the commandments, and recognizing that wrong will always be wrong and right will always be right. I think my favorite talk so far was from Elder Zwick about understanding people and their point of view. I think that is so important and so often we are quick to judge other people and we don't take the time to understand or listen to them. He did such a good job.
This week was good, we had an exchange with Karlovac, so Sister W came back to Zagreb with me and Sister E went back to Karlovac with her old companion. It was fun being able to work with them again. Everyone here loves Sister W, and we were able to see a less-active woman who loves Sister W's cooking and spiritual insights.
We also had Zone Conference this week, where Sister E and I taught a portion of the training. We prayed and prepared a lot to know what we should say and we had it down to the point where it was really fluid. Then in the meeting, 2 minutes before we were supposed to start teaching, I felt like we should change what we had prepared. I turned to Sister E and told her what I thought and she agreed. So, we changed the outline in the minute that we had for how we were going to teach it, and throughout, we didn't always know what we were going to say, but I really felt the Spirit guide us in the meeting.
We need to get going. I love you tons! Hope you have a great week!
Sister Orgill

 Me and Sister E

At the Hall

Zagreb, Croatia March 31, 2014

Hey Mom,
We had a good week. We are going to play basketball again today with the elders. 

We had leadership meeting this week with all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders from our mission together up in Zagreb, and we set new goals for this month and for training. That was the second one that I had been to, and it was really neat hearing about all the miracles happening around our mission.
Harold (name changed), from Sarajevo, got baptized on Saturday! We went to President Rowe's house to skype in and watch it, since Sarajevo is about 6 hours away by car. It was such a beautiful baptismal service and Harold was so ready and excited to be baptized. He is stellar. I was a basket case the whole time. He tried talking to me on Skype after the service and I could barely say "I'm so proud of you!" because I was just so completely overcome with emotion. Gosh, get it together. Then Harold started to cry, too. We forget what a blessing it is to be baptized and to have the gift of the Holy Ghost in our lives. If we could have that enthusiasm and level of happiness every time we received a spiritual prompting or partook of the sacrament...
Events of the week: 1) Mark is so close to getting on date for baptism! He is understanding everything that we teach, he just is having a hard time recognizing his answer to be baptized. 2) Ivan came to church and tried to get up and share his testimony, but then our second counselor said we were out of time... ahh. He told us what he was going to say afterwards and he did such a good job. 3) Katherine (name changed) is doing great! She said she would pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true (for the 5th time), and I really believe she'll do it this time. 4) Sister W is coming up here tonight and we're doing an exchange while Sister Erbe goes back to Karlovac. 5) Sister Erbe's bed broke.. we discovered that the beds we have were designed for children. Sister Erebe's 5'10 and got a basketball scholarship. We're looking into getting new beds. 6) Got a lot of work done in the office...  7) We watched Women's Conference last night. I thought Sister Burton did such a wonderful job. I loved her talk. 8) We're so excited for General Conference!! Make sure that you carve out some time to watch the sessions!! One of the women in our branch here is working on translating the talks right now and she says that they're really, really good.
We need to get going. Sorry I didn't really tell you more, but I'm glad that you all had a great week!
Love you lots!!
Sister Orgill

Zagreb, Croatia March 24, 2014

Hey Mom,

We had a good week over here... We have been busy. I feel like we have so many things that we need to be doing right now. Fortunately, being busy as a missionary is a good thing. :)

We had a lot of people pass through Zagreb for transfers, so that was really fun to see missionaries again. We also had 3 new missionaries come from the MTC, so we went to their training session with President Rowe and their new trainers, and Sister E and I did a little presentation for them about adjusting to missionary life.
Sister E is my new companion and she is a saint. She's from Oregon, really self-motivated, smart, and she laughs a ton. It's been really fun working with her these past few days.
We had more sisters pass through here for a night on their way to Zadar for a baptism, so we went on splits with them and had a contacting contest to see who could pass out the most Book of Mormons and get the most contacts. I was with Sister S (my MTC companion) and it was really fun being with her. We met some really great potentials that night and we're excited to see if we can set up some lessons with them this week.
One of the people we have been teaching, Ivan (name changed) has been kind of depressed.  We called him and said a prayer with him on the phone this week and he started to feel better again. We went over to his place this week with the Elders and they taught him about the priesthood and then gave him a blessing. The next day he called us and said that he felt so full of hope and that he hadn't felt so happy in 6 months. It was so powerful. I started crying after the phone call. I pray for him every night and we have been working so hard with him the past few weeks. We are going to give him to the Elders to teach just because it's hard for us to always have to bring a member or someone else with us every time we teach him.
Marvin (name changed) came to church again this Sunday!! And he taught US the lesson this week from his reading and he did such a good job. He has such a good understanding of the scriptures and why we need to be obedient. He still has been unable to recognize his answer that he needs to be baptized, but he stayed for Sunday School on Sunday and we talked all about the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It was the perfect lesson for him. His 9 year-old daughter is still sitting in on our lessons and she is so great. We are going to invite their 13 year-old son to sit in on the lessons too.
We went to the zoo last week for P-day and then ended up going to President Rowe's house and playing basketball afterwards. We're going again today before he has to go to Banja Luka. It feels so good to run around and get some good exercise. We've been running a lot this week and we've been so sore, which I guess is a good thing. Have you still been exercising? I have been so bad about it the past few weeks for some reason, but now that it's getting warmer it should be easier.
Wow, I can't believe President Hintze read my letter at Stake Conference... I don't really proof-read my letters, so I hope it sounded okay.
I love you lots! Hope you have a great week!
Sister Orgill

We had a lot of people pass through Zagreb this week for transfers and other things, so I got to hang out with Sister S, from nothern California, and I took her to this place called California Burrito.. It's decked out with all things California, so she loved it :)

Me at California Burrito