Dear Family and Dear Friends,
I hope you know that I love you and James loves you and our kids love you! Thank you so much for all the ways that you support and bless us. I don't know how to appropriately thank you for your emails, your cards, letters, calls, comments on this blog, packages and prayers. You are so good to our family. We know we have the greatest friends and relatives.
One creative way that Bryant supports us is by taking the Czech flag with him when he goes to places like the U stadium or Solitude. If you ever see these flags, stop and hug the person holding them. It's probably Bryant or Aimee or Kelly or Brian or one of their kids. My nephew Sam (in the ski picture) and all the other McConkie nieces and nephews and I think even the adults took turns skiing down moonbeam with the czech flag. I love it! It makes me feel like our two homes are connected!
Highs and Lows for the past 6 weeks:
1. It was my birthday. I liked getting my remote control car. (he also got some scriptures that we had bound here in prague--not as exciting to George as a red range rover, but James and I had fun giving them)
2. When I made a fort in my room.
3. Being with my favorite brothers.
4. Getting baptized. I liked when I went under the water and when my dad said to the missionaries (as they gathered around George to confirm him and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost) "you're his uncles and grandpa's today."
(Elder Knapp baptized George. In a letter to cousin Jessie, George explained why he chose Elder Knapp to baptize him. He said, "I picked him cause he was really like nice to people and he was one of the AP's and he baptized me. And I was his favorite McConkie kid. Cause we spended time a lot. Sometimes we would walk to the castle together with the new missionaries and we would play basketball together every saturday in the park in the summer." We also had a gathering up in the apartment after the baptism, where everyone was invited to sing happy birthday to George since it was his actual birthday.)
1. When Elder Sewell left (he came from England for George's baptism and to visit the mission. He will always be "elder" to us even though he is now a returned missionary. We loved having him here!)
2. When Elder Knapp left.
3. When Wilson got really angry at me because I was being a little bit annoying.
1. Meeting new friends from Jicin, going to Branch Conference in Hradec Kralove and Brno.
2. Packages from people we love.
3. Seeing George get baptized.
4. Basketball at school on Saturday mornings.
1. I didn't like it when I broke my finger.
2. Saying goodbye to Elder Knapp because he's been the AP for the longest time. I love how nice he is and he is willing to do anything to serve the Lord.
1. Elder Sewell came.
2. Hanging out with Elder Sewell.
3. Playing basketball with Elder Sewell.
4. Playing hot potato with Elder Sewell.
5. Foosball with Elder Sewell.
6. I made the basketball team.
7. Traveling with Dad to Brno and Olomouc.
8. Basketball practices and games.
9. We have no school this week.
10. Packages/deliveries from family and friends.
11. The Olympics
1. Elder Knapp and the Elders in his group left.
Elders Strobel, Knapp, Hansen:):):)
2. I miss my friends back in Utah.
1. Seeing my best friend and her dad in Paris (Thank you ALDERS!!!!!)
2. Seeing Heidi Moore. (who came for a couple of days with her husband Gary. We loved seeing them!)
3. Seeing Elder Sewell.
4. Studying women's rights in school.
5. It's monday and I'm not in math class. What could be better?
6. End of Semester.
1. End of Semester.
1. One of our missionaries was in the hospital for a few days. It was so sad and I felt incredibly helpless with the language barrier and with James being out of town. Lots of tears and lots of prayers. But everything is ok now! YAY! Here's a picture of George and Hyrum playing in the hospital corridor:
3. Goodbyes are not getting any easier. I love these missionaries and feel so blessed to know them!!!! Here is our group in prague right before 6 of them were transferred to other cities:
And here are Elders Burton and Boysen and Sewell saying goodbye to Elder Knapp when we took him to the airport last week.
1. George's baptism.
2. Two new great Assistants to the President --Elder Boysen has been an AP for 2 months already, and now we have Elder Burton. Here's Elder Boysen teaching at a zone training meeting.
3. Arrival of new elders!
Waiting for the new missionaries to get off the plane.
Eight new elders!!
UNO with trainers of the new missionaries who all came to Prague to meet their new companions. Hyrum and George love to have someone to play with!
Everyone cheers and claps when James announces the city and the trainer for each new missionary. He has them come up one by one.
4. Elder Sewell's visit--such an exceptional, joyful person.
Here we are teaching him how to play spoons while James writes a fireside talk. We feel that our 2 hour spoons tournament was a success because Elder Sewell's new personal goal is to someday play spoons at the fetzer cabin. We couldn't help ourselves, we told fetzer stories a little too much.
5. Seeing the boys integrate with new Czech friends as we ate meals at the homes of various families all over the country. Boys don't need to speak the same language. They just need legos or nerf guns or iphones and they are all instantly friends. I loved getting to know the parents of those kids, all amazing church members.
6. The four sister missionaries in Prague taught the missionary lessons to George to prepare him for his baptism. He learned a lot and so did I. They really helped him feel responsible for his own spirituality and progress. One day I walked in and saw him reading the scriptures on his own, not a typical thing for him to do previously. I'm so grateful for the Spirit that we felt when they taught!
7. It snowed!
8. The park by our apartment has created an olympic games area where we can see and try out all kinds of olympic sports!!! People are coming to see it from all over, and we are happy to already be close. The opening night we watched fireworks from our bedroom window.
9. Seeing Wilson's self portrait in the hall at school!
10. Sitting with James at Wilson's basketball games.
11. Lots of other blessings in our lives right now:
Two incredible Elders. Elder Esser and Elder Chezik
Our Medical Center where I go often with missionaries and our own family. Isn't it pretty?
A trip to see a woman James loves and taught when he was a missionary. She lives very far from the church now, in a place that is smaller than a village. We had fun seeing her and meeting her dogs.
Elders Gashler and Prymak drove in front of us to show us how to find her. What wonderful elders.
The great Sister Mendenhall, wearing her missionary apron as she shops for spices. She is constantly working with her husband to make great food for the young single adults. This is our little nearby market, like 7-11 used to be for me back home, only they sell a wide variety of foods.
Making a salad for the first time. Thanks to our friends in Germany for the precious Ranch dressing!!
After a Branch Conference in Brno where we all taught the women of the branch. I learned so much that day about the Book of Mormon.
Eating clementines with three great boys.
Today's office meeting. I walked in and they had a cake and decorations and beautiful roses for my birthday. This is my third birthday in the mission field. I keep thinking of my first and second birthdays as a missionary. 20 years ago today, and also 19 years ago today, I received gorgeous cakes and visits from the wonderful Tita family. It was such a privilege to be with the Titas in Argentina, and with all of my companions and the members there. They taught me how to speak spanish, but also how to love others instantly, warmly. They taught me how to let down barriers and how to live the gospel. I look up to my Argentine loved ones and all of my companions and my mission president and his wife so much. Every day of my life since then has been different and more blessed because of my mission. I can't believe it's been 20 years! And now I am grateful to be in a different home, learning from the people of this country. The Gospel of Jesus Christ binds us and gives us strength every day! I love you all so much. love, Laurel/Sister McConkie/Hermana Springer:)