Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia September 15, 2014

Hey Mom,

Transfer calls this time around were pretty unexpected for all the missionaries. I'm getting transferred down to Zadar, and I'm working with Sister KropuĊĦek. They're splitting our Croatia zone because it's too big and hard to manage with exchanges, driving and such, so it will be a little bit different. It was sad having these be my last transfer calls. I'm excited for Zadar, but I'm also so sad to be leaving Zagreb and Sister Bradley. I love Zagreb so, so much. The members here have become my family away from home. 

Also, I feel so proud of Sister Bradley. She is SO FANTASTIC. She speaks the language so well even though she has only been out here a short time. She is obedient, a hard worker, her testimony has deepened, and she has become a really powerful teacher. I cannot believe that I won't be working with her, our members and the people we have been teaching here. I know I will just be a wreck on Sunday. 

President Uchtdorf says that goodbyes are hard for us, because we're not meant for them. We are made up of the stuff of eternity, and we are meant for eternal things, not endings. I think that is so important to remember in our relationships with everyone around us. Even if we are geographically separated, our relationships and the love we have for each other can continue and should continue to last.

This is the quote from Elder Uchtdorf:  
In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings,  children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that  endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions --temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy  awaiting the faithful. How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father. In His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.
This week was really good, but it's 8:00 at night, so I have to keep my e-mail short this week. President Grant asked us to have a spur of the moment trip to Serbia over this weekend to have a conference with the other sister training leaders to work on some items for English classes and help resolve some situations. There was a lot of driving, a lot of working, planning, skyping... ah. We drove up to Novi Sad today and that was so much fun to go see this morning. It is beautiful there. I love the Balkans.

Sister Orgill

Monday, September 8, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia September 8, 2014

Hey Mom,

We had a good week. Being able to be in Beograd was so much fun for me. It was a really amazing city and that was my first time there. I also got to drive through it (with my mission president and his wife in the car). I feel like now that I've tackled Beograd and Sarajevo driving, I think I can handle most things. It may not quite be Malaysian or Vietnam driving yet, but one day I'll get there ;) I didn't end up getting to see H while I was there, because we got there too late at night, but seeing Sister Hendricks and Sister Marks was really nice. I've been kind of far away from them lately, so it was good seeing old friends again.

We had Zone Conference this week and teaching went well. I talked with the Zone Leaders and we made a goal of everyone in our zone inviting at least 12 people a day to learn more, since finding people to teach is something our zone really struggles with. President Grant gets up and says we can be doing more. I agree with him. He told us a story of a mission in Europe right now who averages 30 new investigators a week per companionship. That means that they get 1000 turn downs a week. He said we need to be contacting and inviting 1000 people a week. At first I was kind of shocked, because when we're talking to people, we end up talking to them for a while, and getting 1000 conversations is a lot, especially since we are teaching full lessons throughout the day. He talked about the difference between having faith and being faithful (filled with faith). It was so powerful, and I know that if we plan to make it a reality, we can. The APs are going to try to reach it this week first. Sister Bradley is so great; she turned to me last night and says, okay, so how are we going to get our 30 investigators this week? Let's come up with a plan for how we could do it logistically and then take it to the Lord.

We went to a member's (Ljubica) house on Saturday night and she fed us yummy punina paprika again. It was so good. She told us her conversion story about her first missionaries and how they changed her life. Her son is serving a mission right now in the Adriatic South Mission. She got up on Sunday and bore her testimony of missionary work and how we need to be good examples of the gospel in our lives, because people notice and watch us. If we live the gospel and we're happy in the face of hardship and trials, then people will want to know why we are that way. She bore her testimony of taking care of the missionaries and of the sacrifices that we make to serve. She told them that everyone needs to cook for us and to be kind to us, because we're away from our families here.  The members here are so good to us, but it was so sweet of her to talk about the importance of the work we're doing here. It makes such a difference when the members want to be involved in missionary work. She is in her 60s, has some health problems, works everyday until 6, and lives far away from everyone, but she ALWAYS wants to come on lessons and to teach with us, even though it's a huge sacrifice for her. She gives us a hard time if we haven't called her to come on a lesson to teach with us! One time after one of our lessons with a less-active member she didn't get home until after midnight, but she loves doing it. I wish the missionaries in St. Louis would have called me up to go out teaching with them when I was in high school and college.

On Sunday our English student, (N from the bus ride to Zadar last week) ended up coming to church. We didn't even invite her because we thought she was still on vacation, so it was so neat that she ended up coming. There was a lull during testimony meeting, so she stands up and says, "well if no one else will, then I will!" and then walks up to the stand and bares her testimony. She talked about the struggles she had in her life and her experience with us on the bus. She talked about how she had been having a hard time, and she said, after she talked with us on her vacation, she knew that God was real that everything was going to be okay. She said that the problems she had in her life were all still there, but that there was a peace that came into her heart knowing that God was with her. I talked to her afterwards and asked her why she came to church on her own and why she shared her testimony. She said she knew that that was what God wanted her to do, and then she felt like He gave her the courage to do both of them. She is so great! She is a mother of 5, works as a vet, has such great desires, and is so in tune with the Spirit. We're going to hopefully teach her this week.

Also, M, the painter, is finally back from vacation, so we're going to go over and see him on Tuesday!! So excited to see him again.

We had a less-active member call us this week who I'd never met. A few months ago Sister Erbe and I had gone around and written down a bunch of names and addresses of less-active members and took a huge stack of Liahonas to go visit a bunch of them. Whenever we had access to a car, we would just plug in the addresses into the GPS and then stop by and leave Liahona's with a note if they weren't home. Out of like 100 people who we visited, she was the only one to call us back. She's younger and is in her 30s, but somehow we had gotten her address from an older set of church records and then she got lost in the transition to new technology and she wasn't on the branch roster anymore, so she hadn't been visited in years. She called us this week and was so grateful that we had found her and had contacted her. She said she loved reading the Liahona and invited us over this week for juice. She said she loves the Church, but has had a lot of health problems these past few years which has prevented her from coming. We're excited to meet with her this week and we got her records transferred back on the Zagreb branch roster, so she won't be lost again.

We get transfer calls this week (this will be my last transfer as a young missionary), so I'll find out if I'm staying in Zagreb for 11 months or if I'm going somewhere else.

I love you lots!! Hope you have a great week!
Sister Orgill

Monday, September 1, 2014

Zagreb, Croatia September 1, 2014

Hey Mom!
It was so great being able to talk with you last week! You are so great!
We didn't end up getting a car to help us get around, but took buses between the three cities we were working in-- Rijeka, Zagreb and Zadar. The only bus that they offered from Zadar to Rijeka was this 5 hour bus along the coast, no highways or anything (otherwise it'd normally be 2-3 hours). It was breathtaking. Croatia is so beautiful! 

We are tired of traveling, but we're almost done with it. This afternoon I'm going to Beograd, Serbia to pick up another sister with President and Sister Grant, and then the two trainees that I've been working with this past week are going to stay in Zagreb for a day and work here. We have been working hard and traveling a lot, which takes it out of me. Weirdly enough, I know it was such a blessing that we had to travel so much and didn't end up getting a car. On our bus ride home last night I met this really great girl named Anna who lives in Croatia (been here for 4 years) but is from Texas. She's 25, has a Croatian boyfriend and loves living here; she has a Masters in Public Policy and she studied political science as an undergrad. She is so sharp and she was so much fun to talk to. I talked to her about the church and she talked about some friends that she had who were LDS in college who had served missions. We got her phone number and we're going to meet up with her. So neat!
Also, on another one of our bus trips down to Zadar from Zagreb, one of our English students, who we've been trying to teach, walks onto the bus with her 10 year-old son. She was sitting behind me and I was talking to her about her life and some problems she was having. She told me that she didn't believe the fact that we were on the same bus together was a coincidence. Soon into the ride, I started to get so car-sick. Ah! So, I had Sister Bradley trade seats with me, so they could talk, and it was so perfect because right from the start they just clicked. As the conversation went on, the things they talked about and the analogies they used were so different from the things I would have said. That was such a powerful reminder for me to see that we were all called specifically for these people; it's not enough for one of us to speak. Sister B has things to say in that will touch and help them in ways I never could. Our English student was locked into a 4 hour bus ride, and Sister B worked her way slowly through the gospel lessons. It was so perfect! N, our English student, left the bus with a Book of Mormon and a promise to read it while she was on vacation this week. When she gets back we're going to meet with her and teach her. It was also really neat because we have been praying to find families who we can teach. On the bus this week we found out N has 5 kids, she works as a vet and has a great husband. So wonderful Often times the people that we're looking for, and the answers to our prayers are already placed in front of us. God has already given us these opportunities, we just have to be willing to recognize and act on them.
Another great success was in Zadar this week. We were working through the sisters' area book there, and we found the names of a few people who had studied about the church previously and their addresses. We went to go find them a couple of hours before our bus left The first woman that we went to go find, lived pretty far out, so the further we got, the more I thought about turning back. We fortunately kept going, and then we realized that we had limited information about her--her last name wasn't listed. We started asking everyone in her building if they knew who she was or if she lived there. After about 12 doors, we all started to give up thinking that she didn't live in that building and were about to go go find another person before our bus left. I guess the sisters had tried her phone number a bit ago and she hadn't been interested. We ended up trying again, she answered, we told her we were in her building and asked if she'd want to meet and talk about the Book of Mormon. She said YES. We found her apartment, and had one of the most powerful lessons I've had on my mission. She was so strong and all the things we were teaching, she was really excited about and she said it made so much sense. She's a university professor who teaches economics, and she was also just so wonderful. She and I really got along and I was sad to leave, because I knew I wouldn't be able to teach her again. We left her with Alma 32 to read and the sisters are going to go back again this week!
We went back to Zagreb on Friday for the branch BBQ-- a lot of planning went into it and a lot of members, less-active members, and even more investigators and visitors showed up! It was great being able to visit with everyone, and it was so great watching all the missionaries just work so well with the members and investigators. We have such a strong group of missionaries here in Zagreb.
This week we also found so many great potentials and invited two new people we contactred to come to church. They both came! Also, so did 50 something German tourists! The church in Zadar is pretty small, so people were flooding out of the chapel, because there weren't enough chairs to fit everyone. We had 84 people I think, altogether. I guess the stake president in Munich organizes a big trip every year for the members/families in the neighboring stakes, and they get a big group together to come down to Croatia for summer vacation. It was so much fun practicing the few German words that I know with them. We helped out with Primary and I helped with these 4 super cute German boys, ages 6-9. I asked wie geht's (how are you?) and they all look at me and with huge smiles say GUT! The little German children had bright blonde hair and cute accents. It really was so much fun for me! We sang I am a Child of God in Croatian and in German and a few other Primary songs. That group of children was so pure and so sweet. It just struck my heart how close children are to the Spirit. 

This week will involve less travel. I get to see H (who was baptized) and Sister Hendricks again tonight in Beograd--the three of us from Sarajevo back together again! I'm so excited. We also have Zone Conference, so Sister B and I are teaching again, which will be fun. I cannot believe how fast the time is going! Every week just goes by faster and faster. Hannah just got home from her mission and gave her homecoming talk on Sunday! It's starting to hit me that my time out here is limited, and I'm just trying to give my all during the time I have left.
Sorry this was so long. I love you so much and I hope you have a great week!
Sister Orgill