Good morning! It's monday, the 12th of August, and the kids are still asleep so I'm going to write this before they wake up. I wish I could find more time to write to everyone and talk to you about your lives and what is going on with you! I still feel weird sending out a big old blog instead of having individual conversations on walks with you, or over the phone or sharing a meal or chatting on the driveway or whatever. I love you all, and really don't know how we could do this mission without your current support and also without all the years of knowing you and learning from you before we came to Prague. You are blessings to us!!!!
So like I said, the kids are still asleep, James is in the other room getting ready for the day. After I send out this message to all of you, I will also get ready for the day and study and read in alma with the kids and start laundry. The kids wrote out their chore lists last night, so when I go to the weekly mission office meeting at 10, they can get to work. They do lots of jobs each morning, and then around the house so much when I ask later in the day. And especially when missionaries are here for a visit or a meeting or a meal, the kids are awesome at helping and hosting. I remember some of my friends telling me that I should have a baby when Evie was about 12 because it's so much easier to care for an infant when you have a built in baby sitter. Well, I'm not having a baby, but guess what! People who get called as mission presidents should take an EVIE with them always! Having a mission call is easier with an evie! She is, like I have said before, our sunday baker. Yesterday she made so many cookies from a new recipe she found, that she had plenty for the missionaries we had for dinner, and also took some downstairs for the missionaries and their investigator who were having a lesson, and then later took some across the street to the mission office for James and his assistants. Also, Evie is my banner maker and helper with decorating. Here is a photo of her banner I had her make for the outgoing missionaries. It says goodbye (na'sheldanou) missionaries. She also made a welcome banner outside our front apartment door.
And after we served all the new missionaries breakfast who had arrived the day before from Provo, when we were making tons of sack lunches for all the new missionaries and their trainers to take with them on their first day together, Evie was running to the store for me and helping make the lunches while James was taking the new missionaries to the foreign police with the office elders to get them all set with living here. We are having a hard time finding a basic ziploc baggy. We have big ones, or these tiny ones:) yay for cherry tomatoes!
And Evie and Wilson both do a ton of tending for us while we are with missionaries or when I'm helping the elders and sisters who are ill. I'm grateful.
James has been traveling a few days a week to cities all over both czech and slovak nations, visiting with district and branch presidents and meeting with missionaries. He sometimes teaches with them, other times he goes to their apartment and studies with them for their usual morning study routine. Last week he met with some great elders in Brno who only had two desks for personal and companionship study, so when James got to their apartment at 8:00a.m., they had an ironing board set up as a third desk so james could use one of their desks. James also usually goes to church on Sunday in other cities, and if we didn't have kids, I would always go with him. We will join him at other congregations about once or twice a month I think.
While dad is away with missionaries, here is what the kids have been up to, besides watching shows and doing chores and writing letters...
Of course, legos.
Talking to Owen after he had surgery back in salt lake.
Art-they all have been drawing or painting or in Evie's case, crafts, but these are both wilsons:
Working on a rap to send to cousins.
George turns on the treadmill to see how fast the wheels can move with his legos/bionicles.
Ev and I went on a little adventure all over the city to find an english language bookstore so she could get a book for school. It took much longer than running to frost's books on 2700 south, but it was still so fun.
Evie and her two very dear sisters. We LOVE THEM! She goes with them to teach sometimes, and to sing with all the elders at different metro stops, and to lunch, and last weekend they went to the zoo with the elders on their p-day.
Transfer week was as crazy as others told me it would be, but it was also so joyful! Meeting these missionaries at the airport and then going with them on their first walk to the castle and the overlook of the city was fun. I loved the time we had with them. This is the group we got to meet with at the MTC back in June!
And also so joyful, being with the missionaries who were going home. We love them! We had dinner and a testimony meeting at night and then then next morning took them to the airport, with loads of help from our assistants.
We will really miss James' assistant, Elder Osterloh, because he, along with Elder Sewell, were our first friends here. We felt like we said goodbye to a cousin, uncle, friend.
Don't they look related?
Right after transfers, we packed up the boys and left for a 7 hour drive to Slovakia where James spoke at a multi-country conference for young single adults. I think there were nearly 200 young people. We left Evie home with a senior couple she adores, the Munros, and also the sister missionaries included her in their activities. Here are some photos of our drive. In some of them, if you look closely, you can find a castle. We like to play spy the castle as we drive the freeway, or "motorway" as they say here.
James also played his violin for them (and even though everyone loved his music, Hyrum is always the most fascinated person in the audience). These young people are amazing! So strong in their beliefs, against much opposition.
We stayed at a ski lodge which the church rented out just for this conference. There were institute classes in the day for the participants, ropes courses, firesides, tons of dances and opportunities to flirt with each other, etc. Our family just goofed off and mingled. We were only there one night.
Some of our senior couples who did so much to put on this conference:)
When the conference was over, James took a preparation day (p-day) and we went to a castle and then to the swimming pool at a hotel in the next town where we slept over for church the next day. The castle was amazing, but the entire 2 hour tour was in Slovak so let's just say that the boys and I were a little anxious to get out of there.
An old clock:
The poor tour guide was probably insulted by this body language.
Heading back to the car
Church in ZILINA! We loved this Slovak branch of the church. Wilson single handedly passed the sacrament to the congregation, and most of the time in Primary, Hyrum and George were the only students. Here is the sign of the church on this charming alleyway. Like many church meeting places in our mission, the members gather in an office building where we rent out a few rooms. Sister Wrightson, the primary president and senior missionary, whose husband is branch president, walked us out when we left. Aren't these great orange walls? And I saw my Slovak dear friend, Milada, who was visiting with her family from Utah.
Driving home to prague, right into a big storm. Beautiful! But we prayed lots as we drove through the worst part. We made it home, passing collapsed trees and fences, to the building and in our lobby were about 30 russian sopping wet tourists that the missionaries had invited in to get out of the storm.
Flying into amsterdam with James, on our way to England, for training with church leaders.
The next day, Saturday, back in Prague, James surprised us by finding the best burger tavern! Blue cheese and bacon and whatever else you could want! And the fries came with various flavors of fry sauce. And ICE in the drinks.
Walking through the park by our house (to get to sports night with 12 missionaries and the people they are teaching). Can you see the metronome behind Hyrum? It is huge when you get up close, and on the other side of it is a view of the city. There used to be a statue of Stalin there, they say the largest one of Stalin ever built, and the statue was destroyed by dynamite because it was too big to haul away. Now this metronome ticks back and forth and is somehow a symbol of the future without communism I think.
Elder knapp helping George out.
Of everything I do as a mission pres. wife, I love most to teach with the missionaries. When the elders text me or call me and ask me to join them for a lesson, I know I am in for a great time. I love watching these young men as they teach and truly listen to the concerns and thoughts and feelings that their investigators have. This is Isabel, right after her baptism on Saturday. I have had some sweet experiences with her and have also been with the Elders to teach her a little bit. She bore her testimony at the pulpit after her baptism. She said that four years ago she received her first book of mormon, but didn't read it because some people told her that mormons don't believe in Jesus. So she believed them, and then as she is studying here in Prague, she said that the missionaries contacted her and invited her to meet with them. EIGHT times she cancelled appointments because she didn't really want to meet. Then one day she was praying to God, asking him to send her someone who could help her grow closer to Him, someone who could teach her. She said before she ended her prayer, she felt God tell her that He had already sent to her exactly who she needed. She realized that the missionaries were the ones to help her be closer to God and Jesus Christ. So the next day when Elder Osterloh and Elder Sewell called her again, she said yes, and began her serious study of the Church of Jesus Christ. She loves the Savior so much and couldn't wait to feel clean and like she was starting her life new. The baptism was beautiful. James played the violin, the missionaries sang, and tons of people gathered to support her.
I love you family and friends! Next week I will have the kids give their highs and lows, but thank you for reading all of this and for caring about us. I am grateful for prophets and the scriptures, especially during hard times!!!, and for how I feel when I watch a baptism and for the faith of members around us and for missionaries and their enthusiasm! May you all be blessed and have a happy week!