I miss you!!! I really do. I just want you to know that. I am grateful for you and I think of you and still learn from you even though you are way too far away. How are you all doing? Thank you so much for your kind gifts and letters and love, you have been so good to us. I am sorry that I don't respond very well in a personal way. Just know that I love and appreciate your support! And the kids, who are missing you so much, love that you haven't forgotten us. We love you!!!
To follow up from last post, Wilson survived and did great on his week away with the 8th grade. Elder Bushnell and Elder Howell drove with me to the school in the ginormous mission van because James took the little car to the Toronto Foundation project earlier in the day with Hyrum. It was so fun having these elders on the long ride to and from school, and having them help me pick up the kids. I saw Wilson and was proud of him, more than I can explain. He can write about his trip someday if he wants. He is such a good boy.
A welcome home sign from the Munros!
Evie's week wasn't a sleepaway camp, she was touring prague and other areas nearby with a group from the high school, but she definitely had some stories to swap with her brother as they decompressed and talked about their experiences of the week.
I have photos of James and Hyrum's weekend at the Toronto Foundation project. They went to Zlin this year. Hyrum said that he felt more like a man after doing service with the group. They did work on a home that will be a place of treatment for kids with autism. There were over 180 members of the church, including some of our missionaries, who gave their guts to this place.
An awesome saturday baptism for the Ceske Budejovice missionaries. They had the service in our building, so I popped in for the last half!
This is how my kids look when they are eating cereal from America that their aunt shelli sent in a package:
Shelli and Jens, here is your bishop and his wife on the steps of our church! Thanks for helping us connect with them, and for all that you sent.
Sister Mendenhall, Sister Mills, and Sister Munro! We had these three couples to dinner before Sister Mills and her husband flew home. We were planning on having them until the end of December, but she needed to go home and get medical treatment so there were lots of tears and they are so missed, especially by the people in Ostrava.
Four days of training in Versailles for all the mission presidents and their wives in Europe. I kept thinking of our Jacque who served in this gorgeous town during her Paris mission. When we had breaks from our meetings, James and I went out on walks to find baguettes and cheese and yogurt and pastries. We also went on a tour with with all the other missionaries and church leaders to the Versailles palace. I was the youngest person there, but everyone was so inclusive and sweet to me. People gave me great ideas and listened and laughed with me and gave me insight into how I can improve as a missionary and a mom.
Where we stayed.
Can you see how perfectly trimmed the trees are?
Cute blue car.
Cute blue doors.
Cute blue ATM wall.
Me taking pictures of more cuteness.
Thank you, Uncle Martin, for teaching me what this sign means! I love it. This was just outside of our hotel garden. It means that in an emergency, people should reunite here. Back home, we always planned to reunite on Brent and Marie's front porch if there were an emergency. I think I'll frame this shot and put it in my kitchen. Just to remind anyone who is in our home that in a state of emotional crisis, they can come hang out in the kitchen to talk, relax, and eat James' food or Evie's cookies. Isn't it a great sign?
Versailles. (The interior made Downton Abby look casual.)
If you're amazed that James is actually smiling in this picture, you can thank Elder Dyches who took it. He lovingly ripped on James for not smiling, so James' reaction was a genuine laugh. Elder Dyches is going to talk at general conference next month, and we were talking with him about his speech. He said that he received a letter stating that his talk was to be 9 minutes, which actually means 8:47 so that he will be in his red seat by the time 9:00 is up. And when I asked him his assigned topic, he said that topics were never assigned. It's awesome to think of how much we will get out of watching conference, how much we will learn from the Spirit during that weekend, and that each of the talks are drafted based on their personal revelation and knowledge and experience. I really love that they are free to teach whatever they feel like God wants them to teach.
I thought of all my Imperial 2nd ward baker friends at this shop. Can you see the chocolate cakes up there? Gorgeous.
Shell, this one is for you.
Do other countries do this? Put yogurt in gorgeous little savable terra cotta pots? I bought the blue ones.
I know it's a cliche shot, but we loved this little market. James bought the STINKIEST cheese there, we had to open our hotel window when he ate it.
Some of the women I look up to so much. This is Sister Texeira and Sister Ballard. When I looked at them throughout the conference, they were taking notes and contributing so beautifully. Strong, spiritual women.
The Treaty of Versailles was written in the room where we had all of our meetings. Elder Kearon talked about some of the details of World War 1 and then about the peace that was such a contrast as the treaty was being signed. I know nothing of that time period, except for Dad's lesson on it last year around his kitchen table, but I think he wanted to remind us that in painful, horrific circumstances, we have to hope for peace and work for it. We can believe in peace and light and love and in a God who is the source of these things.
Some of our dear friends who started this journey with us in the MTC. Actually, we met them over conference calls in trainings months before the MTC. They lead the Leeds mission.
President Millar, Camilla Millar's father in law, was telling us all about his mission president--bruce r. mcconkie. He said he thinks of president McConkie every day. We like President and Sister Millar so much!
A boat ride on the Seine river. We were really missing you, mom mcconkie, as we passed the museums that you took us through 10 years ago.
More dear friends from the MTC. It was great to see everyone at this conference, and like I've said in other blog posts, it feels like a zone conference for us when we gather. We all understand and support each other instantly. I wish I could take our missionaries on a boat ride past the eiffel tower after their zone conferences!
So while we were gone, our kids were tended by the wonderful Mendenhalls and Munros, our two senior couples here in Prague. They make our kids feel so special. They even let them design their own pizzas. Can you see the gummy bears and hot dogs on there? Elder Munro and Elder Mendenhall drove tons every day to and from school. And all four did cleaning and cooking and the Mendenhalls stayed overnight each night. We feel so blessed that these dear missionaries were happy to help! As some of you know, one of my biggest concerns when we started this mission was HOW would I ever find a great tender for the kids during the August and September conferences that I was expected to attend. It has been an incredible blessing to watch the relationships between these couples and our kids develop. Not only were the kids safe and cared for by these dear friends, but they were also having a ton of fun.
Harry Potter sounds so fantastic with an Australian accent! Thank you Sister Munro!
Sister Munro did all of our laundry while we were gone too. So sweet!
Thanks to Elder Bushnell and Elder Howell, these three are now into YoYo-ing. The elders bought them all yo-yo's while we were gone.
I was a driver for the primary activity on Saturday. I signed up to take my two boys and two boys from the branch in our car, which you can see at the bottom of this picture--the black one. When I went downstairs to our parking lot to get the car out, I was boxed in by tons of cars that were at the church for district training (like stake training) because it was conference weekend for the district. I was so embarrassed to have to interrupt their meetings and ask all these men to come out and rearrange their cars for me to get my car out. It took a while, and is tricky because the only exit leads out onto a busy busy street, six lanes of traffic and 2 tram lines and no emergency lane, so there really isn't any where to go. Our branch president was brilliant in how he organized everyone and solved my problem, then he backed out for me since I knew I would crash. Next time, I will go re-park my car next to the exit before anyone comes to our back lot.
Primary activity to lots of mazes!
Wilson's latest creation. Ricardo.
My friend in the branch sent this to me after District Conference and said, "the question is, where is george???"
We met with the District, which is made up of 5 congregations, in this conference hall because we don't fit in the church. We had a 2 hour general session in the morning, then a two hour adult session after that. I am amazed at how, even with wood floors and echo-y rooms, these people are so reverent. Their kids are so quiet, I'm not sure their trick! I was amazed. I sat in the front of the room with James and his counselor in the mission presidency and the district presidency. When we sang, I looked out at the members who had traveled far, many of them, to gather. I felt how good they are, how loved they are, and super strong. They were so warm and wonderful to us. And our missionaries, I tell you, are so easy to love it blows me away. I am proud of them and love every second that I get to chat with them before and after meetings. K, I am going to bed. I love you all! God loves you too!
PS - This is James. One thing you should all know is that at the conclusion of Laurel's talk in the General Session of the Prague District Conference there was a particular investigator that was so moved by her talk that he started to clap. Similarly moved, the rest of the congregation joined in. It was a touching and spontaneous reaction to Laurel's genuine message of love and hope. I've never seen anything like it in my life. However, if you know Laurel it will not come as a surprise.