Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 30 Last week of the transfer!

Draha rodino a kamaradi, [note: Dear family and friends]

What a week it's been! Lots of rejection, lots of tears and lots of beautiful tender moments.

Death and the Plan of Salvation has been on my mind all week. On Tuesday I had a really special experience. I was flipping through an old general conference Ensign and saw an article by Elder Holland on angels. He gave it in 2008. There was a picture on his page of a mom and her two daughters. One of the girls reminded me of Megan when she was little and I started to cry. For a moment I just longed for her to be here. I missed her. And then I had a glimpse. I saw me sitting in the chair where I was and then I saw Megan standing in front of me. I couldn't see her, but she was there and I just felt how she wished with her whole heart that I could see her. It was just a glimpse, but it was so beautiful.

Then on Thursday in the morning, Sister Izatt asked me questions about Megan and as I thought back to the accident, the hospital, the viewing etc. I started to cry again. Sister Izatt started to cry too and we just hugged and then everything was so so still. It was such a tender moment. We received permission to attend the funeral service of our Relief Society president's father-in-law. She's the only one that is a member, let alone a believer in her family. We dressed all in black out of respect and then took a 20 minute bus ride to the crematorium. I've never been to a non-Mormon funeral before, let alone one that was completely nonreligious. It was so so sad. There was no Christ, no hope, and no plan of happiness. It was cold and empty in there. Everything pointed to this being the end. They'd never see him again. The mother-in-law just sobbed and sobbed. I thought about Megan again, and about Christ and then about God's plan for us. I can't imagine ever getting through Megan's graduation without that knowledge. How I wish I could have just shared that knowledge with everyone there-That we live after we die. That life goes on. That God has a precious plan for us.

After the funeral Sister Izatt and I had a few minutes before our bus came. So we went into the woods behind the crematorium where there was a cemetery and just walked there for a few minutes. I kept thinking "If a man dies, will he live again? Yes!" It kept replaying over and over again in my mind and I knew it was true. How blessed we are to know that our Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for us and that because of Christ we will all live again with our loved ones when we die. Because of Christ we can find peace even when it hurts. Later that day we taught Jan-Ivan the plan of salvation and it fit in so perfectly with the events that had happened earlier. Yes, God has a beautiful plan for us indeed!

Our investigators are progressing well. We had a lesson with Jan-Ivan earlier in the week and talked to him about the gospel of Christ and he loved it! He said he's known that stuff his whole life, but never had he seen it presented so clearly and so well. He also accepted a baptismal date for the 22nd of this month! We are looking forward to working more with him. We met with him a few more times this week to teach him and each time I am so amazed at how humble he is. He loves to study and will take notes when we teach him so that he can go back and study about it later. He studies like no other investigator that I've met. He loves the Book of Mormon. We read Alma 36 together and he was so amazed at how simple repentance is. It really is! It's beautiful. Another investigator, Martin, accepted a baptismal date for the 29th. It's going to be tough though because he told us he doesn't believe in or trust his feelings. To je velky problem! [note: That is a big problem!] He said that feelings are lower than truth and what he believes in is truth. Feelings are like faith which as Alma says is not to have a perfect knowledge of things. Martin said he only believes what's been proven to be true. Oh dear! But he's sincere and has a good heart and we are just praying for a miracle. He's opened up a lot since we started teaching him. But we keep trying to tell him peace won't really come again until Christ comes. We'll keep working with him. Sports day this week was so fun and so successful. We really had a good turn-out and everyone had a fun time.

We had some scheduled time to find this week. We kontakted a guy on a bench na Namesti [note: on the Town Square] right before a lesson with an investigator. Turns out he's a priest from Liberec. He was so so cool! He said he'd stay on the bench so that after the lesson we could come back and talk more. So after the lesson we ran out there and had a lesson with him on the bench. Than we had to leave for another lesson and to teach English, but he told us he'd come back so that we could teach more. So we did! And he was waiting for us again on the bench. Afterwards he told us he wished we were in his congregation and we told him we wished he was in ours:) He'll be coming back in a few weeks so we plan to teach him more.

President gave us permission to go to a huge service project in Zilina. It's called the Toronto project and members from the Czech/Slovak area come to do service. There's a fireside the night before and then the next day is packed with service projects. We came down on Saturday in the morning with Simona. We were so grateful for the time we got to spend with her. We wanted her to see that the church is for people of all ages because she hadn't ever met any youth members. It was great meeting so many members from Slovakia, seeing members from Brno, and also seeing Derek! That was a treat. Also, President and his wife were there and I just love them. For the service stuff we cleaned up a skolka [note: preschool] and also picked up trash around a dam.

Derek, Sister Izatt, Simona, Sister Pyšňáková

With mission president and his wife

I love you all so much! I wish you a beautiful week. I can't believe it's transfers already! I've loved the transfer here in Banska with Sister Izatt and all of my district. I learned so much! But I know that I'll serve where the Lord needs me next transfer and I'm looking forward to it, wherever I go! Mam vas vela rada! [note: I love you!]

S laskou, Sestra Melissa Pysnakova

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week 29 Dalsie tyzden [note: Another week]

Draha rodina a kamaradi, [note: Dear family and friends]

It was kind of a hard week. Lots of kontakting and trakting and no one interested in our message. Our investigators are at the point where they just need to get baptized because there is nothing more we can teach them or do with them really. We need a miracle. We have a handful of very prepared people who would just blossom and help the kingdom of God grow if they'd just take that step of faith.

We stopped by at Tesco Express to see a former investigator who told us he works at the meat department and that we should stop by. He’s a jolly fellow and talked to us over the counter for a few minutes. He asked us if we had a Bible or book of some sort and we said we had the Book of Mormon which he wanted to see so I pulled one out of my backpack and he grabbed it with his raw meaty bloody hands. Then he was like “Well my hands are dirty and I don’t want to get the book dirty so just take it back and bring it to me at our next meeting.” And then he hands me the book that’s now wet and has a piece of raw meat on it. It was so gross. Sister Izatt thought it was the funniest thing ever. Oh, the things that happen each day. Sometimes they are just so funny.

We then had a meeting with a guy named Martin. He is in his twenties, is attending vet school in Kosice, and is Lutheran. It was a good lesson and we taught znovuzriadenie [note: restoration]. But he refused a Book of Mormon and we asked him if he was afraid of it being true and he said yes. He didn’t agree to another lesson yet. I hope his heart opens up one day. He told us that whenever he was in a tough situation in life or something big happened he’d always meet the Mormon missionaries after that. We were like “Martin! God is trying to tell you something…” It takes courage though to go against traditions and the mainstream. I feel for these people. I really do. But it’s truth. And truth requires sacrifice.

One day on the Namestie [note: Square] we kontakted a very thin, classy, beautiful middle-aged woman. We accidentally scared her because she was looking off deep in thought. But she was so nice! Sister Izatt started the kontakt and was totally led by the Spirit in knowing what to say! We have our normal things that we say in kontakts “Prominte, dobry den, sme tu ako misionary, sme mormonky (we’ve added that one recently to avoid being confused with Jehovah's Witnesses) hovorime s ludmi o knihe mormonovej…” [note: Excuse me, hello, we are sister missionaries, we are Mormons, and we talk to people about the Book of Mormon]. But Sister Izatt didn’t do the typical kontakt. Later she said she felt the words just coming out of her mouth and she had no idea what she was saying. But whatever she said the woman needed to hear. We asked to share our message with her and she said “Teraz mozeme?” [note: Right now, can we?] So we sat down right away on the Namestie and taught her znovuzriadenie [note: restoration]. It was beautiful! Her name is Helena and she has 3 children. They live in Zvolen. The lesson was simple, but beautiful. At the end Helena thanked us. She told us she was having a hard time in her life right now and that her meeting with us was what she needed. Then she started to cry and she got embarrassed. But she asked us if she could hug us and she did and it was such a good and beautiful hug. We hugged like we’d known each other for years, not minutes. That’s what the Spirit does! We got her kontakt information and she wants to meet again. When she walked away Sister Izatt and I sat there for a few minutes just marveling at the miracle of being at the right place at the right time. We said a prayer of thanks. I’m grateful for the tender mercies Heavenly Father sends us when we’re feeling down and wondering if we’re doing any good here. What a beautiful day! I am so so exhausted! We had an all-kontakting day and we were literally on our feet all day! But I am so so happy! My whole body aches, but I’m so happy!

For our finding activity we finally did what I’ve wanted to do since Brno. CHALK ART on the Namestie [note: Square] !!! The idea was from Elder Romero, since he’s an amazing cartoonist, to draw in chalk the first vision, while the rest of us would talk to the people who gathered to watch. I should fill you in on everything we went through to get permission from the city to draw there…We’ve wanted to do it for weeks now. We ended up having to go to the Urad or city hall to get permission. We found ourselves in a lady’s office and she was telling us we’d have to fill out this paper and then they’d have to approve it etc. She asked us who our leader was here in Banska and we were like…uh we are! She looked incredulous and said there had to be some leader over us so we said we had a President in Prague. She was like “But in Slovakia?” We were like, uh, we are… She asked us where our building was and we said Kapitulska 8 [note: church meeting address]  and she said “Okay, who takes care of that?” “We do”, was our response. It was so funny. She asked if there was someone older so we told her about Elder Nye who was older and lived in Zvolen, but didn’t speak Slovak. At that she was totally blown away and told us to fill out the form and come back some other time.

Sister Izatt and I went back a few days later and brought in the paper. I had tried to fill it out for doing chalk art, but it wanted three different leaders and I ran out of people to put down. Anyways Sister Izatt and I sat in the hall for 30 minutes or more waiting for this lady until she returned to her office. We handed her the form and a sample of our artwork and she approved our activity for today! Sister Izatt and I talked about it later how you receive strength on your mission to do things like go to the city hall and in a different language talk to all sorts of people who work for the city, trying to get permission to draw the 1st vision on the street…I love it!

Elder Romero drawing the First Vision
Eder Romero and Sister Izatt
Banska Bystrica Town Square

I really enjoyed the finding activity! Elder Romero did such a good job drawing and Sister Izatt wrote out the first vision. The rest of us kontakted people on the sides, especially those who stopped to look and read. It was so fun! We met some great people. Sister Nye took pictures of us kontakting which is something I’ve always wanted and I finally got it! I’m so grateful!

Pavol and Simona were the only ones who came to our sports day, besides us missionaries, but we had a great time. Sister Izatt kicked the ball over the fence into the yard of some military facility. We tried the zvoneks [note: doorbell], but no one was there. What would they do if a war started right then? No one was in their office…Anyways, Elder Romero hopped the fence and got the ball in his nametag with all of the cameras around…not the wisest, but at least we could play. We walked home with Pavol and Simona after. I love them so much! I wish they’d be Mormon. A drunken guy came up behind us on our way home. He suddenly walked into the busy road and laid down. My stomach churned at that and Pavol went over and got him out of the road before cars came. His police side came out and he walked with him for a while. I was grateful Pavol was there, but I was most grateful for the word of wisdom and for the hope the gospel brings into our lives so we don’t have to turn to counterfeit atonements to get that.

Yesterday church went well. We had 3 members there and 4 investigators. I led the music in Banska, bore my testimony and said the closing prayer. After I sat down the Slovak elders turned to me and with huge smiles on their faces told me that my Slovak is really good! It made my day! I still speak more Czech but as long as the Slovak is in there somewhere it's good. A lot of people we talk to think we are Polish :) In Buca we held sacrament meeting and a lot of Roma came. I again led the music, bore my testimony, said the closing prayer and taught Sunday School. I love it! The Elders had some great news for us. President approved the beautiful green building on the Namestie [note: Square] in Zvolen so we can go ahead and rent it for now and hold church there until Germany approves us to buy it. Hooray! The work is moving forward.

Also something neat that I've noticed is that it's getting hard for me to pray in English:) That's the best news ever! I said the prayer in English in correlation and could not pray comfortable. The words kept coming in Czecho-slovak and I couldn't express myself well in English. Yeah.

I'm learning and growing lots. I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

S laskou, Sestra Pysnakova

Elders Buhler, Tenney, Romero and Sisters Pyšňáková and Izatt