|Getting Milk from Malu Muu|
|Osijek Branch--Fall Festival|
|Fall--Outside the Church|
November 13, 2012
Today we had a couple of very interesting meetings. We met with the assistant to our new friend who runs/owns the public open-air markets in Osijek. We met him a couple of weeks ago in the market by our house. He was standing by us while we were shopping for fruit and vegetables. He saw our tags and turned around toward us and began talking with us. He speaks pretty good English. He told us he was very interested in religion and we asked if we could come to his home and tell him why we are here in Croatia. He said his wife would not like it but he invited us to come to his office. We also talked about some of the problems that our members have because they don’t have jobs. We told him a little about some of the members. When we met at his office the next week he told us we could meet with Ljiljana and tell her about what we are doing and what we need.
While meeting with the Assistant, we gave her a printed copy of the talk by Elder Oaks to Enterprise Mentors about the programs of the Church to help the poor and the needy. She was looking at the paper while I was talking and telling her about (1) Fast Offerings for members of the Church; (2) Church Humanitarian projects, primarily for non-members; and (3) Person to person (Members) to others, one on one. It was powerful for me to explain to her a little about the Law of the Fast. We explained that the fast offering funds are pooled world-wide by the Church and funds are available here in Osijek to help our members here. We also shared with her a few chapters of Jason Fairbourne’s Tool Kit for Micro-Franchising. She was familiar with many of the names as she thumbed through it and seemed very pleased to receive what we gave to her and said she would like to receive the whole package.
The Assistant told us about her role in coordinating a cluster of little businesses that are selling organic vegetables and herbs at their own little specialized market. We talked to her about a few of our members who are not working including a young single man in his 20s that graduated from high school with a certificate for flower arranging and landscaping; a sister who would do a great job cleaning homes; our laid off firefighter and several others who are unemployed. We also told her about a couple that has some extra land out of town quite a ways. She took everything in stride and told us we could bring these people in to meet with her one on one and she would do her best to help, including free space at the market for a time and some operating capital if a reasonable arrangement could be agreed on. We told her that Tiffany had suggested we find someone local who understood how the local economy and business systems work. We told her she was an answer to our prayers and those of our members and our family. Mom was inspired to ask President Rowe to assign Gary and Ann to come here and help us establish some community gardens for our members so they can sell the produce in the markets starting next spring. (This is still just inspiration, not mentioned to Pres. Rowe yet.)
The context of our meeting and conversation was very interesting because Mom and I had spent a good share of our P-Day on Monday talking about the welfare needs in our little Branch. We had studied together and read about caring for the poor from the scriptures, especially the Old Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants. We also read from the handbooks that the objectives of Church welfare assistance are to strengthen needy members and help them become self-reliant, spiritually stronger and maintain their self-respect and dignity by giving them opportunities to work and serve others. The handbook explains that the Lord’s storehouse includes Members’ offerings of time, talents, compassion, materials, and financial means that are made available to the bishop to help care for the poor and needy. The Lord’s storehouse, then, exists in each ward (branch). The branch president is entrusted with the responsibility of using the resources of the Lord’s storehouse to care for the poor and needy members of our branch. The Branch President uses the gift of discernment, sound judgment, and compassion in determining how best to help those in need. Each circumstance is different and requires inspiration. We are trying to trust the Lord and go and do what he wants us to do. We need your continued faith and prayers. (Dad was an amazing spokesman for the Church and described so carefully what about the Church’s plan to help its’ members and help them learn to be independent in the process.)
Today we had a very nice session with our most faithful investigator. As you may remember we have been reading from the Book of Mormon. We were interrupted when his mother died about a month ago and he went back near the coast to visit her grave for All Saints Day which is the day after Halloween and is referred to here as the Day of the Dead. It is treated much like our Memorial Day. The graves are covered with flowers and burning candles in little red plastic covers to keep the wind from blowing them out. So now he has missed church about 7 times in almost 6 years. The last three were to visit his mother when she was sick, when she died and most recently on November 1. When he returned we read from 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection. He especially loved the words, “O death where is thy sting?” Today we continued to read in Moroni where we left off before he went away. We started reading chapter 8 about the abominable practice of baptizing little children. I drew the familiar circles of the Plan of Salvation on the board and tried to explain in English (with Elder Bates helping to translate into Croatian) about the spirit world and the opportunity for everyone who has ever lived and who will ever live, to have the opportunity to be taught the fullness of the Gospel and receive the ordinances including baptism. We talked about the blessing of going to do this work in the Temple. We asked him (who is still a practicing Catholic who goes to mass almost every day) what he thought about Mormon’s letter to Moroni. He said all good men know in their hearts that what Mormon wrote was true. We then read D&C Section 138 together with him and Elder Bates in Croatian. We asked him what he thought about what President Joseph F. Smith learned from his vision of the Spirit World. Again, he was very positive and was so happy to learn and talk about it. But he also said he wanted to go back home and study and read and understand it better so we could talk about it more. He was very tender and kept holding his hands over his heart telling us how these things made him feel.
We love you and miss you. We’ll meet you in our prayers.
Love, Mom and Dad, Bumpa and Mutti. xoxoxox
Elder and Sister Ivins
Matije Gupca 7a
31000 Osijek, Croatia
385 (0) 91 444-8114 (Elder Ivins)
385 (0) 91 444-8115 (Sister Ivins)