Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Will Missionaries Do in 20 Years: Farewell Mission President's Letter to Czech/Slavak Mission Parents

Dear Parents

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your wonderful children.  It has been a privilege for Sister Irwin and I to come to know your son/daughter as a disciple of Christ.  We have felt an instant love for them as soon as we learned of their call, but that love has grown and grown as we have shared experiences of this great work and come to know each other better.  We know that our missionaries arrived in good shape but we also know that if we did not send them home better than they arrived then we would have failed.  Three years ago it was made clear to us by the members of the Quorum of the Twelve that the way they would judge our success as a Mission President and Wife would not be by the number of baptisms we have or whether we create a Stake but rather by what our missionaries would be doing in twenty years time.  That is a wonderful illustration of how important our missionaries are to our leaders.  Our goal, therefore, has been to try to help each missionary grow.  We have tried to help them to not only establish the gospel in these great lands but also to establish the gospel in their own hearts.  We are anxious that they return to you – not having gone through a mission but rather having had the mission gone through them.  

For the rest of our lives we will have an interest in your missionary.  We love them dearly and we will miss them.

President and Sister McConkie will be a great asset to the work of this mission and they will bless the lives of the missionaries.  We know the McConkies and we love them and we know that the missionaries will love them too.

Thank you once again – we are full of admiration for you in all that you have done to have provided us with the best missionaries in the world.

Sincerely – David and Lyn Irwin

Monday, June 24, 2013

Barriers in Missionary Work

ahoj muje rodina. Jak se mate? Still hard at work here. I still can't believe I have almost been here for a whole month! This week was pretty sad because we had zone conference with President Irwin for the last time. I guess I only knew him for 3 weeks, but he was so awesome. I'm excited for President McConkie to come. He'll be awesome too! One thing I have realized this week is how truly blessed I am. I was born in America. I have a family who respects my free agency and I am a member of the only true church on the earth. FROM birth. God really trusted me to get work done. Yesterday after church we were talking to one of the Priest in our ward. His name is Jiři. I guess his family is originally from Russia and they became members because his father drove a taxi and he used to take missionaries to church. One day the missionaries talked to him about the church and the rest is history. He didn't talk much about his father, I guess something personal happened that he didn't want to talk about... but here is why I want to be more like Jiři. Every Sunday his family wakes up at 5 am and takes an hour bus to come to church. Church doesn't start until 9 am but the bus only goes at certain times so they wait for 3 hours just for church to start. Then when church is over they wait another 3 hours to be able to go home. He comes almost every week because he knows how much the ward needs priests to pass the sacrament. His sister isn't a member and missionaries usually don't visit them because they live so far away. Right now Jiři is 18 but he isn't in school anymore because he has to work and help his mother. (I asked him if he was going to serve a mission, that's how we found all this out) He said he wants to but he doesn't know if he will be able to. I guess he understands 5 different languages: Russian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian and one more that I am forgetting. He is so smart. I just wanted to cry after hearing all this. So many people don't want to hear what we are teaching so it's kind of hard sometimes but now when I remember Jiri and his family and how much they love the church, it gives me hope. There are people here that are willing to sacrafice so much because they know what I know. They know the church is true. One of our investigators, MY FAVORITE ONE, Vojta pretty much dropped us yesterday because his friends found out he was taking the discussions. They told him that he would never get a girlfriend if he became religious and his friends and the thought of a future girlfriend matter a lot to him, just like any normal 19 year old boy. He is leaving for 3 weeks on vacation and while he is gone he said he is going to decide whether or not he will keep meeting with us. I was so sad. Partly because what his friends say is true. It's really hard to date and be a member of the church. You are treated a lot differently. And this doesn't just happen in the Czech Republic, it's everywhere. People just treat you differently and question your morals and you have to just care more about God, but he says he doesn't have enough faith in God yet to do that. We are meeting with him one more time before he leaves and I just hope that the spirit tells him to keep meeting with us, despite what his friends say. I wish I could tell him all about Jiri and what he goes through, but it's so hard to communicate in Czech. He never understands what I am trying to say. I don't know... I guess I'll let you know what happens there. Despite all this I know that there are so many miracles happening here. Anyone that does agree to meet with us is a miracle because there is really no other reason other than the spirit for them to come. I am so grateful that I have the HOLY GHOST. WE had 4 people at church this week. That was a serious miracle! I hope you are finding ways to be missionaries because... it's important!!!! I love you all and hope you are well WE HAVE A BAPTISM TODAY. I AM STOKED s laskou Sestra Bruno

Monday, June 17, 2013

Belief in a Higher Power


My week was pretty crazy. We are still on the hunt for investigators so we did A LOT of kontakting this week. Like A LOT. Every time we are on the tram, we talk to someone. Everytime we are walking home from our apartment, we are talking to someone. But nobody is biting. 

WHY DOESN'T ANYONE BELIEVE IN GOD???? is what I would say if I was discouraged, but I'm not. Proto jsem tady. (that is why I am here) And that is what I keep telling people when we kontakt them and they don't believe in God. 

We have had some pretty cool miracles this week. While doing all this kontakting, we have actually had 2 lessons result from it. Sestra Woodworth does this really cool thing were she asks people if they have time while we are kontakting for us to teach them a lesson. Most of the time they don't, but they will at least give us their number, but sometimes they do! We taught 2 lessons this week with people that had time. One of them was a 20 year old boy who didn't believe in God, but did believe in a higher power. We told him God was his Heavenly Father and we talked about how he loves us and gave us the Book of Mormon. Then he asked if he could have a copy and we said of course, but neither one of us had one with us!!!! It was a serious missionary fail moment. I WAS SO MAD AT MYSELF. We made an appointment to meet him the next day and give him one, but when we called the next day he had already gone home for the summer (he is only studying in Brno, he isn't from Brno) but we said we would keep in kontakt with him and in 3 months when he gets home, the sister missionaries will be all over it. He just needs a little more preparing.

Then we had another kontakt in the park with a man who had just called his boss and lied that he was going to the doctor when really he just wanted to spend an hour in the park. We were scared because at first he wasn't interested in talking about God, but we won him over with our charm... haha not really... and he invited us to sit down next to him in the park and ended up asking us what we teach people about our church. He had awesome questions. He didn't understand why God was important, he thought there was just a higher power and he didn't know really what happened when we died, or that we lived with God before. I guess he tried to be religious when he was younger but he never felt anything and he told us after we talked to him that he had learned a lot and felt different and that he was going to tell all his friends... BUT ALAS, he isn't from Brno either. He is only in Brno like 5 times a month, but maybe we will catch him the next time he is here. He just needs to be prepared too! 

I am definitely learning patience. hahaa

BUT we do have 2 investigators. One of them, Jana just turned 18 and she is getting baptized!!!! WE ARE SO HAPPY! But her parents don't know... Kind of a hot mess.
The other is a 19 year old boy, Vojta who thinks he is so cool (and he kind of is) he works on motorcycles and has million friends and is having a hard time believing in God all the time because he thinks that sometimes God isn't there and sometimes God isn't fair. AND he hates when people tell him what to do... which makes commitments SO HARD because he doens't keep any of them!!! UGHHH But we love him so much. It's definitely tough

FUNNY/ SCARY story of the week:
Yesterday in our lesson with Vojta we read 3 Nephi 11 because we wanted to teach him about Jesus Christ and make sure that he felt that Jesus Christ was his Savior. We read the chapter and then we asked if he had questions. There is a verse in that chapter that says if you are not baptized you will be damned. And he said that that wasn't fair because his family/friends don't know about the gospel and they haven't been baptized and it's not fair that they should be damned, but we didn't realize that the word damned and lost were so close (ztraceny is lost and zatraceny is damned. The difference is 1 A!!!!) so we thought he was saying lost and we were really confused and couldn't answer the question and then we got home and realized what he was saying and we were so scared that we had just told him that he and his family were going to be damned because they weren't baptized. SERIOUSLY HOT MESS. Luckily he is meeting with us again on Wednesday so we can clear this up. We kind of tricked him into meeting with us again because I made him take my memory journal home with him because he is my first investigator that I ever taught in Czech and I wanted him to sign it. So he has to meet with us again to give it back. hahah. But IT was one of those moments were I was really sad I wasn't serving stateside or english speaking. I'm so embarrassed! 

I hope everyone is doing well

P.S. This Wednesday is the Sacred day of Bruno... weird huh? A member told me that on Sunday. They love that my name is Bruno and I am serving in Brno. 

I love you all so much
Sestra Bruno

Monday, June 10, 2013

Missionary's Secret Weapon

So let me tell you what:

IT has been RAINING SO MUCH! We thought it would never end! I guess there was flooding in Prague. It made me so grateful that I am in Brno because in Prague they had to shut down most of the trams and they are having a really hard time getting anywhere. A lot of our appointments were cancelled and we are just having a really tough time! Luckily the sun has finally come out this past week-end and let me tell you, people are a lot more receptive to hearing about how the gospel brings joy when the sun is shining! 

The language is definitely tricky tricky. I maybe, MAYBE understand every fifth word that people say. And I definitely understand when they tell us that they don't believe. But I'm not letting it slow me down. I'm trying to speak as much as I can and when they don't understand me, I just smile. I smile so much. I think it is because so few people do it here. They just need a friendly reminder. But they are so nice... and really try to help me practice my Czech. Me and Sister Woodworth made a goal that we were going to kontakt someone everytime we are on a tram. It is so hard going up to someone all by myself and trying to speak Czech to them. Sometimes they don't understand, and a lot of the time they aren't interested in talking to me about God, but whenever I ask if I can practice my Czech with them, they help me! My companion told me I am a secret weapon because it's hard for people to tell me no. I think it's because they all think I am a lost 12 year old and it's hard to say no to some one who is either smiling at you, or looks like they are lost. It's a great strategy though. I have slipped in a lot about the church that way. Mostly people just think I'm crazy, which is true... but then other times they listen to what we have to say. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can kontakt better I would love to hear them. It's pretty hard in Czech, but I will try anything!

This has definitely been a week of firsts:

My first time dropping an investigator, don't ask... that was a hot mess.
My first time getting dropped. That was the saddest thing ever. They said that they had their own church and just weren't interested.
My first time bearing my testimony in sacrament meeting in Czech! Everyone was laughing so hard. Probably because my Czech was soooooo bad. But the man that gave a talk afterwords said that it was fate that I was in Brno because my name is Bruno. And everyone says they love my smile. So that is my advice for the week. JUST KEEP SMILING! Even when people are telling you NO, because they might change their mind. You never know.
My first time solo kontaking. We did a singing display and I kontaked people in the namesti allllllll by myself, in CZECH. It was terrifying, but I know Heavenly FAther is helping me.

It was so good to hear from all of you. Especially about the squirrell. To that I say, what the Heck??? And also, bahahahha. I'm glad you are all having such a good time. I love you and I am working so hard I promise!

Love you love you love you
Sestra Bruno

Monday, June 3, 2013

Brno District Going Away Dinner for Elder Salas

Elder Salas Going Home Party

Our new District includes:  
L to R...back row

Elders Neumann, (Salas), Carlson, Boysen, Foster, Greener, and Clem

front row (Brother and Sister Salas), Sisters Woodworth and Bruno, and the Martin's

Smiling Makes a Difference

That's right. It's not a joke. I really am serving in BRNO. And it is beautiful. I still can't believe I am here. My companion is great. She is really really nice and really really energetic. Which is good.
So this was definitely a week of firsts. First real life contact. First real life rejection. First real life missionary success. It seems like almost every person we talk to says they are atheist. And I know it shouldn't but it makes me so SAD! They have all grown up that way. At least that is what President Irwin said. He said that when communism was around, in schools they would tell the children to sit and pray to God for candy. They would and nothing would come. Then they told them to pray to Mother Russia for candy and the teachers would put candy bars on their desks. Now there is a generation of people that don't believe in God. It is hard, BUTTTTT there are still some people that ARE interested. And I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has put them in my path!!!!

We are meeting with a man we met walking near our church build (which is awesome by the way. I'll have to send a picture) And he speaks Russian... which is rough to understand... especially since I don't know Czech!!! But he said that he was interested in meeting with us and he was going to come to church, but he had to work! Then we met another man on the tram who said he would meet with us! 

My companion says it's because I smile so much so I have been trying to smile every chance I get. When someone looks at me, I say "Dobry Den" and smile and sometimes we get them! 

Contacting is probably the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life, or so I thought. Then I went to my first week of church in Czech. I understood almost nothing. It was sooooooooooooooo scary. Then we had to greet all the church members and they were talking to me in Czech and I was so scared. But it was great. The members are so nice. Really so nice. And their conversion stories are really beautiful! 

One girl got was meeting with the missionaries when her brother died and now her mother blames her for his death. Even though she is going through all these trials, she is still firm in the faith. It is amazing to me!

Anywhoooo Mam Rad Brne. To je uzasne!!! 

s laskou
Sestra Bruno