Mom just wrote a long letter about our Home Teacher and a very good one so this letter has some meaning when it comes to learning how to be a good Home Teacher. First of all they come into the home. They get to know and love the family and they love the Gospel and take a gospel message usually-the First Presidency Message. We are trying to set up a sustainable home teaching program here in our branch. We want to try and meet the needs of the members and also to train the Home Teachers to function long after we are gone -- in preparation for the day when this Branch is a fully functioning Stake of Zion. I remember reading about the Priesthood history of Lund and seeing the periods when there was an acting “Priesthood Leader” I assume because it was because the presiding authority was an Elder and not a High Priest because none of the High Priests were ready, willing or able to serve as the Bishop. That is a little bit of how it is here. The town and surrounding area are certainly big enough to be a stake—but we don’t seem to have the number of members and priesthood leaders who are ready, willing and able to serve. So, even Lund went through similar struggles we are experiencing here in Osijek.
Things are looking up, however. We had 15 members to church last Sunday, 6 missionaries, 2 visitors and 4 investigators...27 of us! They only had prepared 28 cups of water for the Sacrament so they were nervous that they would have to do it again. I think our "chapel" will hold about 40. The chapel reminds us of the chapel you met at in St. Petersburg, Peter. President said the week he was here to make Dad the Branch President that we would move to a new building as soon as we fill the one we are in. We have begun to look at a couple of places around town. We are going to pick up a couple of members tomorrow who live about 25 minutes out of town. One of the two walked and hitchhiked the last two Sundays. He left home about 5:00 am. We drove him home after the meetings. Another lady may come and need a ride tomorrow also. And a young girl, lives out of town the other direction.
We returned late last night from a trip to Sarajevo with our two sister missionaries and two elder missionaries from Osijek. We rented a 9 passenger van Monday. Dad drove the van and I drove our 5 passenger car to Zagreb that afternoon with 14 of us from our Branch TO a fireside with Elder Rasband and his wife, Elder Richards and his wife, and President and Sister Rowe. We got home about midnight and then left around noon for Sarajevo Tuesday in the van. Dad and I have had extreme allergies and after all the traveling we were a bit tired when we returned.
The meetings were very powerful and we are grateful we got to go to hear the messages. President and Sister Rowe have a very real vision for this mission and the people here to learn the gospel and be baptized. They have talked about gathering the elect just like our Bountiful Stake President. Elder Rasband mentioned that Russia now has two stakes; the first one in Moscow and the 2nd one in St. Petersburg. He also told about other countries around the world where the church is quite new and they now have a stake also. He talked about the gathering that is taking place here in our mission and got all of us excited to help do what we can to get a stake, and then another, one by one, as we gather the people that are prepared to receive the gospel. It is a great thing and we are excited to be here and be part of it. (we still don't know much Croatian, but maybe we can help in other ways.)
As we drove home from Sarajevo we assigned the families in our Branch to Home Teachers. Dad and the two elders will be companions with other members to see if all can be home taught monthly. They will each have two different companions so they can help teach them how to do it. We have assigned the sisters in the branch to be visiting teachers but we still need some help to get them all assigned and someone to visit all of them, and we need to teach them what to do. So many of our members live far away from one another and many don't have the funds to even go on the bus to visit another member. We are hopeful that some of them can perhaps send a note in the mail. The hope is that we can at least have everyone get a visit or note or something to check on each other, to let them know we care about them, to see if we can help with anything and also give them a gospel message. The young missionaries are great and want to do all they can to strengthen our Branch.
I have been reading Jesus the Christ and take any few moments that are not needed elsewhere to just sit and read in it. I just love it. It is fun to read and discuss it with Dad. It is also fun for me to be reading in the Book of Mormon or the other scriptures and come upon something that I just read in Jesus the Christ. I am missing the class that we had in our Bountiful ward that just began again this week. It was a great class and I felt like a student again. We had three great teachers and each week about 15 of us showed up to discuss the chapter we had all read. I guess I need to create a class with Dad and we will talk about it together. If any of you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I really do love it and feel like my testimony of the Savior has really grown. One of the things President Rowe has encouraged us to do is study each day like the young missionaries do.
We love you. Cheer for the Cougars.