Thursday, June 7, 2012
40 Year Celebration of the Church in Croatia!
Hello Dear Family, First off, Happy Birthday Betsy! We hope you have a great day all day on the 5th! We have been thinking about you and hopefully we will be able to skype you. If not, we love you so very much! We hope all of you remember Betsy Tuesday. We also hope this gets to each of you. I am writing this is the car as Dad is driving back to Osijek from Zagreb. It is fun to have this ipad to type on while driving but we don't know yet if our internet will work when we return to our place tonight. Our landlord said we could use his wifi but we haven't tried to connect yet. As dad said we have been on the road pretty much since we arrived in Croatia.
President and sister Rowe are very nice. They are like each of you and we feel a connection to them already. We have met 4 of their children. Their second son is in Fruit Heights living with an aunt and attending Davis High. The aunt's daughter has been over here going to school so they switched for a semester. The mission home is nice and big...bedrooms for each of the family, a guest bedroom and lots of bunks in one room in the basement for missionaries to stay for conferences. They took us to dinner to a great restaurant across the street our first night. We have been eating Croatian food, lots of good bread, fresh fruit and salads of all kinds of vegetables, fresh and grilled and used in the salads. We have yet to have any desserts so I am really missing chocolate chip cookies, brownies and anything else with chocolate in it.
Thursday morning we met with the President in his office. He wants us to help build up the branch in Osijek. 3 of the 4 active members are traveling in the car with us. We also have 1 set of elders, 1 set of sisters and dad and me. The Branch has about 40 less active members. 1 man really likes to come but also likes to attend his Catholic Church. Since he is a baptized member of the Catholic Church he doesn't want to get baptized into the Mormon church.
We arrived in Osijek Thursday evening and took the sisters to dinner. We ordered way to much so took the leftovers to the elders and met them. Then all of us went to meet Mariana and her grandmother to arrange to take them with us Friday morning to the celebration on the island. Uglijan. Mariana speaks English very well and her grandmother, Mirjana speaks English better than we speak Croatian. We showed them our picture book of all of you which gave us a common connection. We drove to Zadar on the coast of Croatia and took the ferry to Uglijan where the celebration was. The meeting was held on the estate of Kreimir Cosic. Two LDS families purchased a 30 year lease of the place. The building is made of stones with lots of stone walls around the grounds. They have begun to plant many things and the whole place was beautiful. An old beautiful. We ate on the grounds, and had a fireside that night on the grounds after dinner. Ann Madsen, Truman Madsen's wife, spoke for a few minutes along with several former basketball players who had played with Kresimir, all members of the church.
After all was done for the evening we spent a couple of hours driving people to the different places that had been arranged to house all of the people (about 300 of us) for the night. Many residents on the island have homes like a bed and breakfast. One of the senior couples had moved to Zadar a couple of months ago to take care of all the plans for this conference. We stayed in a large home with 4 elders and 1 other young man. 5 people were baptized early the next morning at 7:00 am in the Adriatic Sea. It was a really nice experience. Mirjana was the oldest baptized and got the coldest getting out. The others were cold but didn't seem to mind. It was pretty exciting and a great way to celebrate the beginning of the church in Croatia 40 years ago. The couple Kresimir baptized 40 years ago was there to celebrate and spoke at the baptism. I got to go and help cut bread (really good bread) and fruit for the breakfast, scrambled eggs, fruit, bread, juice and wonderful yogurt for breakfast.
After breakfast we broke up into groups, one for the priesthood, one for the young adults and one for the RS. Elder Kopischke, the Europe Area President spoke to the Priesthood and then answered questions. Sister Kopischke, Sister Rowe and Ann Madsen spoke in our meeting and then answered questions. It was really a spiritual meeting. I spoke to Sister Madsen today at our District Conference about her talk. I told her how much I had enjoyed it. She spoke to the women about the priesthood, how we need to respect the priesthood, our men who have the priesthood,help them honor the priesthood and use the priesthood to bless others. It was a good talk that I think was helpful to the women in Croatia (and all of us). Sister Madsen had an interpreter for the meeting so the Croatian sisters would know what she was saying. Because she had an interpreter she had time to think and listen while the interpreter was talking. She said it wasn't her words she was using but that the words came to her what to say. As I watched her speak in the meeting I noticed how she was thinking and listening. While we were in the MTC we were taught to ask "heaven sent questions". Before we talk we need to listen and let the spirit help us know what to say. Sister Madsen's experience was a great example of what they were trying to teach us in the MTC.
There is so much to tell you and I have gone on way longer than some of you will have time to read this. We are happy and doing well but homesick for all of you. We miss you! We miss the chaos! So enjoy being together for us. Our new home in Osijek is really nice. Very large with lots of room for all of you to visit. I don't know if we will be here for the entire time or not. Our place is a smoky smelling. I am trying to be brave and ignore the smell. We just bought some cleaner and are going to clean our place...it looks clean but I hope we can get some of the smell gone with cleaning. We bought some sheets and towels yesterday and pillows. We need dishes, pots and pans and food. Tomorrow we will try to get organized and get some things to make it feel more like it is our place.
We had a wonderful, spiritual weekend. We love the missionaries, young ones and old ones. The members are great and happy. Pres. Rowe and Sister Rowe are great and were excited today as they spoke about Croatia and things happening here. Everyone has been challenged to help invite others to come to Christ and enjoy the plan of happiness. We are excited to meet more of the people and invite others to come back to church and enjoy the blessings of the priesthood and the blessing of feeling and loved and helping one another. I love you all. Dad loves you all. Happy Birthday Betsy! We hope to get connected and mail this off and then skype with you tonight. Love and kisses and hugs!!! Mom and Dad/ Mutti and Bumpa