Tuzla, Bosnia, August 19, 2013

Week 3, Tuzla Bosnia August 19, 2013

Dobar dan!

This week has flown by! I cannot believe it's preparation day again. Next week I think we're going to go see a really beautiful castle just outside of Tuzla for our preparation day, so I don't know if we'll have a lot of time to e-mail then. I'll try to embellish a little more today to make up for lack of detail next week.

We have been BUSY. Some days with back-to-back lessons, which is really exciting, especially here where we have so few members. I feel like we're laying a lot of the groundwork for the growth of the church here in Bosnia.

S, one of our investigators is doing so well. She's stellar and is progressing so fast. I didn't know what her goals are; so, this week we did one of those Young Women's exercises where you write down the characteristics you want, or the type of person you want to be as a missionary, wife, mother and then as an overall individual. Sestra M and I went first to show her what it might look like, and then she went up and wrote down all these amazing qualities. At the top of the board she wrote "Married in the temple." Super cool! We gave her a picture of the temple to keep in her scriptures and to always remember where she wanted to be and what she was working towards. This week I feel like I've just had so many promptings to go and do things, which has never really been the case before in my life. I've found that when you're quick and immediately responsive to the Spirit, you have an increased amount of direction and guidance in your life.
We had to apply for our permanent visas this week which includes getting a Bosnian physical, complete with x-rays, blood and urine tests and psychological testing. It was thrilling, mostly just because we cannot speak this language very well. It turns out that Sestra M is deathly afraid of needles, medicine and doctors. No joke. She was so white the whole time we were in the hospital, and almost fainted after we got our blood drawn.  In the hospital there were hanging wires everywhere, construction in half the hospital, broken lights, wheelbarrows in the middle of the hallway and so much yelling... there really is just no way to capture my experience in a Bosnian hospital. Such a reassuring experience, haha.

We went down to Sarajevo on Friday for zone conference and the drive down was so beautiful for us... not so much for other people. The roads are really curvy here, so at least 3 people sitting in the back of the bus got sick and threw up. Apparently that's pretty standard here on the buses, if that tells you anything. Many of the city buses that are still used here for city transportation are legitimately from the 60s or 70s. It was definitely an adventure, haha. 
Do you know the song "The Prayer of the Children?" The song is about the war over here and the church in Sarajevo is right next to this memorial for all the children who died during the war, so we had a chance to walk around there after lunch. It was so sad, but I guess since Sarajevo is so big (largest city in Bosnia, then it's Banja Luka, then Tuzla), that it was a main place of contention during the split (both Serbia and Bosnia wanted to retain control over it). Sadly, there's a lot of residual animosity between the two countries.

Zone conference was really good. We talked a lot about the differences between spiritual power and spiritual authority and it made me think of 3 Nephi 7:16, 17 and the amount of faith Nephi had. Also, have you heard the story of Benbow farm? Basically he was a missionary in England and he wrote to the people in the cities he was planning to proselyte in before he got there, and told the people to start repenting because he was going to convert and baptize all of them before he got there, such was his power as a missionary. Sestra M loves telling that story and always reminds me that we believe that these miracles still happen today. We believe in the gift of tongues. We believe in angels. I feel like we've already seen so many miracles here, so I'm grateful that she helps me to recognize them and to expect to continue to see more miracles in all that we do out here.

Okay, stories. We realized this week that we haven't really adequately explained all that's been happening out here. I'm currently sitting next to my companion who is entirely incoherent, caught between fits of laughter, attempting to re-tell one of our many crazy adventures from this past week to her mom. I wish I could film this moment in time and send it to you. There are no words. I feel like I laugh at 90% of the things that happen to us out here because they're just so bizarre. This week was particularly eventful in terms of weirdness-- like how we got lost trying to teach an investigator and ran into an old deranged man carrying around a kitchen knife in the middle of a road (mildly terrifying at the time, but we're obviously fine now, haha), a really really old man named Mohammed who kept trying to kiss me on the mouth, teaching an investigator we had found the week before who was half-naked when we showed up to his house, and smoked and talked about politics the whole time (he was a delight), someone who showed up to Family Home Evening completely high, or others which just involved so so many slammed doors. There's just no way to convey the emotion, the hanging wires, broken lights, and the non-stop yelling in the background to these apartment buildings. Luckily we find it hilarious and know that we're protected, otherwise we'd go tracting in the suburbs.

My suradnica is awesome. People have written and asked about the hard times out here and told me not to sugar coat. I don't feel like I have been sugar coating thus far. Obviously there are some harder times and disappointing moments, especially when our investigators or members are having a hard time, because all we do is talk, think about and pray for these people all day long, so it can be really heart-breaking. There are a lot of hardships to life in Bosnia (and missions in general). It can be really easy to be discouraged about the language because it's one of the hardest in the world (according to the Balkan people, anyway... something they're really proud of), but that being said, I fought hard to be out here on a mission and have had to wait a long time for this (many people discouraged Sestra Orgill from going on a mission--boyfriend, etc.), so even in those harder moments and in times of fear or disappointment, I know I want to be out here doing what I'm doing. We've gotten really good about laughing off our mistakes with the language in lessons with each other, because they're inevitable and all you can do is just try your best.

If I could ask you all to do one thing this week it's be nice to people! Especially when someone is being impossibly rude. We have so much to be thankful for and so much hope to our lives, that we shouldn't let those little moments bring us down. I was reading in the Liahona this week and I just remember this line from one of the talks: "One of the greatest sins we can be guilty of is ingratitude." I know being over here has made me so grateful for all that I have in my life. Be grateful for all that you have and love the in-between moments. Have such a good week!

Thanks again for all your sweet letters and I'm sorry if I didn't have time to respond again this week! Love you all!

Sestra Orgill

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