Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sunday #3-- July 14, 2013

Highs and lows for week ending Sunday July 14, 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

Hello!!!!! Here is another weekly update, just a variety of comments from each of us about our highs and lows.  We love you all so much. 

1. Teaching with the sister missionaries. (evie came home, I mean upstairs from the church on the floor below where the lesson was, and felt so joyful after teaching a gal who speaks english and is here in prague studying. The sisters said that she testified and had a great answer to one of the questions that the girl had about God. Ev has really bonded to these missionaries and is so happy when she gets to see them)

2.  Went to Vysehrad (a castle) with the sister missionaries on their p-day.

3.  Tennis!

1.  Missing healthier food and missing dance.  (Now that we are done with our road trip to see all the missionaries, we can eat healthier. And when school starts, hopefully dance will be in her schedule as well)

1.  Going to sports night with all the Prague missionaries where we played soccer.  All the missionaries and the people they were teaching were just happy to play and it was so fun and whatever team lost they were just happy about it.  They were really good soccer players.

2.  Emailing Owen, Sam, and Andrew. (thanks cousins!)

3.  On Monday that’s the day we played basketball with Elder Osterloh and Elder Sewell (p-day for them this week).  My team was just me and Elder Osterloh.  Our name was “Team Bacon” and Wilson and Elder Sewell were “Team Even More Bacon”.  Team Bacon won the first game.  And Team Even More Bacon won the second.  So fun.

4.  The missionaries are just so fun to get to know. When we went to Slovakia and to Brno this week all the missionaries were just so happy.  I really liked Brno because we played a lot of games, like hangman, and we had pizza for like the 50th time in a week.  It still tasted good! (here is hyrum with Elder Sewell, at a restaurant that night, NOT eating pizza)

5.  I liked Slovakia because the Slovak missionaries are so happy and good at what they do.  There was something different about them.  A good different. 

Low:  No Lows

1.  Basketball and Futbol with the Elders
2.  The arrival of the basketball hoop 
3.  Meeting the missionaries in Brno and in Slovakia
4.  Walking around Trencin.  I liked seeing the castle and getting ice cream.

5.  Halusky (the elders say it's like Slovakian mac n cheese, only it's lots better than that.  can you see the bacon in this photo?)

1.  Car driving. (we really were in the car a ton.  Our drive was beautiful.  We are going to get so good at being happy travelers!!!)
2.  This week I really, really missed my awesome cousins, great friends, family, and ward. (Wilson told me about 3 dreams he recently had. He dreamed that he was at highland park with all his friends having lunch and then going out to recess.  He dreamed he was in the Imperial 2nd ward with everyone around him that he knows and that he could hear English.  He dreamed he was at the airport and greeting Ethan and Dallin.  I have been so proud of Wilson for his upbeat attitude ever since we told him about this mission call.  He has chosen to be faithful and optimistic.  But this week he needed to vent one night, and told me about those dreams.  He and I sat together and had a long good cry.  I was glad he could talk about how he is feeling as he adjusts.  It's impossible to predict how this kind of experience is going to affect each child.  He is an amazing kid.  They all are.  When I think of how different this life is from their normal summer life, it's pretty wild.  But I feel like we are "teaming up", like cute Liane Bell puts it, and trying really hard to love each other more because we are together alllllllllll the time:)  And like I've said 50 times, these missionaries are the best at bringing joy to the kids, and so we are so grateful for them!  Sorry to comment so much on Wilson's "low"!)

1.  Having fun with family 

2.  Goofing off with brothers

3.  Playing soccer with missionaries. 
Low:  no lows
PS, George didn't say this was a high, but he really liked this tiny sink we saw on saturday.  We thought, if cousin Anna were here, we would ask her what this sink reminds her of?

The highlights of my week were:
1.  TENNIS on James' p-day!  I haven't played in over two months so it was heaven.  BEST SPORT!!!  My weekly Fetzer tennis girls, Elaine and Shelli and Joan and Laurel O. and Laurel F, I thought of you a ton.  I wish you could all come over for an early morning tennis match with me! Have you played on clay?  Here are some pictures.  James did awesome even though his strokes seem like he is playing squash, and the kids all were fascinated by how you have to smooth out the court when you're done to prepare it for the next players.  

2.  Getting out to Slovakia where we had our fifth and final zone conference.  We have now met every single missionary, including the senior couples, and seeing how they are with our kids, I can tell that they are fantastic grandparents. We have so many couples in this mission and James and I talk often about how outstanding and different they all are.  We are blessed to have them!!!!!! They work hard and lead and watch over the elders and sisters in far off places and build branches and love members and teach the gospel and solve tricky problems.  

3.  We found my favorite soup for about 50 crowns (that's like 2.50$) at a vietnamese restaurant near our house.  And the noodles that we used to get all the time at la cai with friends are there too.  I know it seems like a shallow "high" but seriously!!!  This soup is comfort!   And I thought I wouldn't have it for 3 years.  I can't even spell it, but it's pronouced tom ka gai:):):)

4.  At church, James went to another city a ways away and I went with the kids downstairs to our branch.  As Wilson passed the sacrament and then went straight to the pulpit and gave a youth speaker talk, I wondered if some of the older members who were there 20+ years ago felt like they were having flashbacks of James as a missionary.  He served for many months with this branch, and he loved the people here so much.  Wilson was confident and reverent and adapted quickly to how they pass the sacrament here (Spencer Denison would be so proud!), and spoke about standing in holy places.

5.  I love that our apartment is in the top floor of the church.  Sometimes I come home after being on the subway or tram and in the busy world outside, and it feels like such a sanctuary.  I love that the missionaries teach all day here, in the floors below, so that I get to see them a lot as we come and go.   It reminds me of how I felt many years ago when I entered the LDS church in New York City across from I think the Lincoln Center.  It felt like a burden of business was lifted the second I walked in.  Here's a picture of the stairway that leads from the sunday school rooms and youth center up to our door:  

6.  Here we are at our Penzion in Trencin, with a great view of the Trencin Castle.  This little town of 56,000 was first mentioned in 150 A.D.  An inscription on a rock below the castle dates back to 179 AD.  Slovakia is a beautiful country and I loved feeling back in time in this town.  Our dear friend, who now lives in SLC, Milada, is from Trencin.

7.  I met these great women who did the translating of the Book of Mormon into Slovak, which just came out this year!  That is a great big story that I should have James write down sometime, it was a miracle.  

 8.  Because some wonderful Elders in Brno invited me to teach with them this week, I got to feel like a real missionary again.  I mean, I feel like a real missionary, but I hadn't had the chance to really teach someone in a small setting until that day.  I loved it! During the lesson, they asked me to bear my testimony of the Holy Ghost, so I talked about what Shelli taught at Hyrum's baptism last year--that unlike a dear friend who comes to visit and then has to leave, the Holy Ghost has the potential to be constant, if we live worthily to have it.  It is a gift in our lives.  When the missionary translated what I said into Czech, then asked the man if he would like to have that gift in his life, the man basically said, absolutely and why couldn't they hurry the process along and let him get baptized soon.  These elders have taught him so well, and he loves coming to church and the book of Mormon and he comes to lessons with great questions about it (we spent the first part of the lesson talking about the Isaiah section in 2 Nephi, which he seemed to be loving).  Anyway, I feel indebted to those missionaries for inviting me to teach with them.

I'm finishing off this way-too-long blog on Tuesday night, even though it was started on Sunday.  James is out of town and has been meeting with a District presidency today, and did planning and a lesson with some elders with one of their investigators, and had lunch with the Young Single Adult senior couple coordinators about a conference they are planning for all of eastern europe and tomorrow he will meet with more missionaries and study/teach with them.  This is what James loves most, I think.  Even though he is an inspiring speaker and leader, I think he mostly loves to be with the missionaries and go visit people.  I remember him coming home from studying with David Doane or Xander Moffatt back in Salt Lake, and how happy he was.  And I remember how at peace he felt after doing bishopric visits, being with people in their homes and seeing how they were doing.  I know James loves these missionaries and the people of this land.  So if he were here, that is what he would probably say is his "high", that he gets to be with people and help them know of Heavenly Father's love for them and to teach of the blessings of coming to Christ!

I love you family and friends!  May you be safe and inspired and happy!!

Laurel/Sestra McConkie and all the mcconkie missionaries

P.S.  I know these blogs are brutally long, and pretty uncreatively written.  But if you have ever received a text from me, you'll know that I canNOT keep it short and I'm not sure that will change.  But the great news is that every week, I will put pictures up with my letter so if you are not in the mood to read, no worries!  Just check out the photos:)


  1. Don't ever worry about your posts being "brutally long." I love every word! It is such a treat to get a glimpse of your life there as we are missing you. Love you!

  2. Sorry to hear about Grandmother Great. My highs for the week definitely include your link to this blog. Never apologize for this fabulousness! I love the pictures (especially the slice of life shots), the individualized highs and lows, and you made me cry reading about your testimony last week. You are wonderful!

  3. Laurel thank you so much for this wonderful blog! I am so happy for your triumphs and trials. This is now bookmarked. I look forward to keeping in touch. We love you and miss you.

  4. Thank you for every word! I love the format. It's perfect. Love, J.

  5. Laurel, what a gift you are giving us by letting us peek into your lives. You are already sharing so much of yourselves, thank you for sharing with us! You look just like the sister missionaries! No doubt they all adore you and your family. We love you so much. We will read this every week! Please give hellos and hugs to all of you from all if us! Love Gerolyn

  6. Laurel -- I have been thinking about you so much and was so happy to get to see your blog. I loved reading it all and am so excited for your family and for the missionaries in your mission that get to serve with you. I can imagine how much they love having you and your family there. As I read about you teaching, it took me back 20 years to our mission. How I miss those days and getting to share the gospel each day :) Know that you are all in our prayers -- I love you!

  7. This is so awesome! I LOVE seeing how your darling children are making good memories!! What a fun adventure you are on Laurel!! Mike and I have been talking about you and James over the past few weeks wondering how you are doing. This blog makes me so happy to see what you are experiencing together. Isn't the Gospel amazing? We had a family return from serving as mission presidents in Brazil, speak in our ward today. And do you know what they said? They said they saw the "parting of the Red Sea everyday" on their mission---they saw and experienced miracles every single day!! I know you and James and your children will get to have the same experience! How powerful your testimonies as well as your children's will be--when you return. We are so thrilled for you guys!! We love you tons and will continue to keep you in our prayers. Love you Laurel---Jill and Mike Hirst

  8. Thanks for the blog posts, Laurel - I'm glad you were persuaded to do this. It will be a great record for your family, and a good exercise for your kids in having to record their doings, as well as a benefit to us. Good to get more glimpses of you guys doing great work in a beautiful setting, and to help me picture you young kids as mission president and mom! On the tennis thing, I have never played on clay and have never wanted to. Having to do court maintenance afterwards makes me even less excited to try that. Grass, though, is an entirely different kettle of fish.
    Matt Mason

  9. I testify that as far as we could tell from our visit, all of the above is absolutely true. This is a remarkable family, doing a miraculous thing!