Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Love from Croatia

Lippizan Horses

Changing Tires in for Snow Tires


Serbian Flags

Monday October 29, 2012
Dear Kiddos,
We have had another great week; have thought about all of you and what you are doing, missing you but keeping busy and still happy to have this great opportunity of serving our Heavenly Father and learning so much.  Dad has gone to pick up some cleats that were left in the town of Đakovo, about 40 minutes from Osijek.  I decided to stay here to write an email to you.  We are leaving in the morning for Ljubljana to train the new District Executive Secretary.  We have emailed back and forth and we are excited to be able to go there again and meet this member.  He is anxious to learn and do his calling in the best possible way so we are looking forward to being with him.  I will try to keep this short and send a few pictures with it.  

Last Monday we went with the Elders to Đakovo to see the Lippizan horses.  The Sisters had gone with us another time and chose not to go again.  We took Nancy and Greg there right before they got on the train to leave us.  This trip with the elders was such a great day.  It was the perfect fall day!  Nice sun, clear skies with a couple of clouds and a perfect temperature.  We went to see the Moms and their little foals who were hanging out together in some beautiful gently rolling hills.  It was truly a glorious day.  We felt bad the sisters hadn’t joined us and we wish all of you could have been there with us.  The Lippizan stallions are famous horses who have been show cased in Vienna, Austria for years.  They are born black and then turn white as they mature.  The man in charge of the place was very pleasant and said we could take a look where ever we chose to wander.  Dad gave him a pass-along card of the SLC temple (1 of the 200 you sent to us).  The man was really sweet and said he wanted to show it to his wife and kids.  We haven’t taught much with the cards, just encourage them to look up the Mormon web site and we are hopeful that  when they are contacted by the missionaries in the future they will ready to be taught.   Who knows, maybe one of our grandkids will be the one to teach them.  We are getting more bold as we meet people and are still looking for a family to teach.  

We were busy teaching a piano lesson, reading the Book of Mormon, taking a member to the doctor and then back to stay in the hospital for some more recovery, going out to help Dad's Counselor learn more about being a counselor in the Branch presidency and then taking a mom and her son to Serbia to some of their family who they hadn’t seen for 5 years.  They were pretty worried about going to see them, but when we arrived they were met with hugs and warm greetings and really glad to see each other.  It was really great to see how much they had missed each other and wanted to be together.  We were there for about 3 hours so when we were returning home it was pretty dark.  As we were driving along the country road to the freeway about 45 miles an hour, out of nowhere we came upon a tractor without any lights on.  I let out a loud gasp and grabbed Dad’s arm.  He instinctively swerved around the tractor and then had to correct out of a slight fish tail.  It was a pretty scary few moments!  We stopped the car and had a prayer of thanksgiving for our safety.  We thought it would have been a lousy way for all of you to see Croatia…to come and take us home.  I don’t know how many of you remember that in dad’s patriarchal blessing he was given the blessing of being safe on the roads.  We have been so grateful for that blessing several times over the years and were grateful once again.  

This past weekend we enjoyed a visit from Elder and Sister Smartt, one of the counselors to Pres. Rowe.  They took us to dinner Saturday night and we chatted for 2 ½ hours until he and Dad remembered BYU was playing football and they could listen to the game.  We talked about the work here and some of our concerns.  We feel that our members, poor as they are, need to sacrifice something and save up to go back to the temple.  When we went this summer with 8 of our members, none of them had any money to help pay their way.  They did bring food for the bus ride there but that was all they could do.  I told the Smartts we wanted to give them each a piggy bank (made from yogurt cartons) and ask them to start saving so they could pay their way to go to the temple again.  The District President suggests they save their money for a month at a time and then put it into the “other” account at the Branch under temple.  He said it will be too much of a temptation to have the money at home.  Pres. Smartt told us to not get discouraged, that we were doing a good job, and this was the Lord’s work and He would help us.  Sometimes it is almost overwhelming looking at the struggles the members go through.   We feel very strongly that we would like to help them get lined up to work.  We want to help them become self-reliant and teach them begin to store some food, one can at a time.  There is so much to do.  It would be great to have all of you here to help us help them.  

We had a great Sacrament meeting with the Smartts followed with Pres. Smartt teaching our Sunday School.  It is a real treat to have the mission leaders come participate in our meetings.  Pres. Smartt talked about dealing with adversity and the trials we all have to go through.  He promised all of us that as we keep the commandments and pray for Heavenly Father’s help, He would be with us to guide and help us.  Heavenly Father wants us to be successful.  Dad and I feel just the same.  We have the Lord helping us all the time.  We are blessed each day.  And part of our blessings are seeing and knowing how well each of you are doing while we are gone.  Just as we were promised by President Taylor when he set us apart, we can see how you are watched over by angels.  You are all doing right and helping others and when you do that, you are blessed beyond measure.  Please keep saying your prayers.  Heavenly Father delights to bless us.  Thank Him for those blessings and continue to pray for one another.  We are thinking about all of you getting together tonight at Jason and Robyn’s, about Tasha and Germey’s fiesta farewell and birthday celebration tonight and Peter holding down the fort in Missoula and leading his class in being such a good student and friend to all.

We love you and will enjoy Slovenia tomorrow for all of you!!

Love, Mom and Dad/Mutti and Bumpa

Elder and Sister Ivins
Matije Gupca 7a
31000 Osijek, Croatia
385 (0) 91 444-8114 (Elder Ivins)
385 (0) 91 444-8115 (Sister Ivins)

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