Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 7, 2012

Studeni  (Nov) 7, 2012

Dear Kiddos,

We have had a long, but successful day—well sort of--.  Dad wouldn’t check the election forecasts last night before bed because of his fear of the results.  We woke up about 5 am and still had the same fear so we stayed in bed.  Then finally we checked and weren’t surprised—but were a little sad to see that Obama beat Romney by 1 million votes (55m to 54m).  We were so bummed that we just about didn’t go to a meeting that turned out to be really amazing.

But Dad called the Elders and they tracked us down and we went to an Investigator's office and found him before our District meeting.  We met with the director of the markets here in Osijek.   We met him Monday while buying some produce at our fresh market.  He noticed our name tags and wanted to talk.  He said he was interested in religion so we asked if we could come to his home to talk or would he like to come to our home.  He said his wife wasn’t interested so we could come to his office to talk.  He is a very successful business man.  He said he made a few deals and before he knew it he had millions in the bank.  He has been generous with his money.  This morning while meeting in his office with the elders and Robert, he told us the political history of this country for the past 6-700 years.  He talked for the first 45 minutes so we only had about 20 minutes to talk about why we had come to meet with him.   All of us were very interested in what he had to say so it was a good meeting.  He said he would try to help us help our members get some jobs and lined us up with his assistant.   We will meet with her next Tuesday morning.  He has lots of space at the markets that he would let the members use and would give us some ideas.  He has sponsored some people in selling some herbs, oils and other specialty items that he has helped promote.  He said he had some ideas and would listen to any ideas our people might have.  It was a good meeting.  We’ll see what comes of it.  He has known the missionaries ever since they came to Osijek and has liked them.   He said he is a religious man and takes his problems to the Lord for help.  When he has problems he gathers about 17 of his workers and heads to the church to pray.  We thought it would be great to convert him and his friends.   President Rowe said we could look for a new place to hold church when we filled our chapel.  That would more than fill our chapel! 

In our district meeting we set goals for this next month and the end of the year;  we had some training and scriptures about baptism with dad doing a spiritual thought about baptism also.  Our missionaries do a great job and our meetings are very helpful.  We made a list of all our members so we can visit them all again this month.  Elder Mulder suggested we visit each of them monthly and teach them at least one missionary discussion each month and then start over.  Many of our active members have only been members for a few months and the other active ones are recently coming back to church.  So, they all need to be taught and re-taught to help them be really converted to the Savior; not just have a testimony of Him.  (Elder Bednar’s  talk, Sunday afternoon session.)    After the meeting we took the sisters to visit some members.  She is the visiting teacher to them.  It was a great experience as she learned a bit about being the visiting teacher and gave the lesson.  She and her husband don’t have much so I think she really enjoyed riding out in the countryside and being with the sisters.  While we had the lesson, Dad and Brother Bilić went through the parts of the red handbook that are in Croatian together.  He in Croatian and Dad in English.  All of these people are good and humble and wanting to learn.  It was a great experience.  We go early tomorrow morning to Beograd, Serbia for our Zone conference meeting with President and Sister Rowe.  Since we are so far removed from the other Branches in Croatia, we meet with the Serbian Branches. 

We really enjoyed the training and audit in Slovenia last Tuesday and Wednesday.  When we arrived in Ljubljana about 4:30 it was just getting dark and there was snow on the ground.  We met with the district clerk and also the auditor for Slovenia.  The District President was out of town.  This audit was slow in getting done because the clerk was new and they had to find the records.  But, all was in order and it went well.  Dad tried to help him learn what he needs to do, Dad speaking Croatian and the clerk trying to understand with his limited English and Slovene.  The auditor was the first person in Slovenia to get baptized and speaks English very well.  We had a great meeting for 3 plus hours and then decided it would be good to go back at a later date and do some more training.  We will probably go back in the next few weeks.  We went to dinner with the Hansens, the senior couple in charge of the Young Single Adults in Ljubljana and had a nice visit with them.  We spent the night about 25 km north and east of there in the town of Radomjle.  We stayed at a little place that has been around for many years and is full of old, wonderful furniture.   The breakfast was great with homemade apple strudel.  We drove through Slovenia on our way back to Osijek and stopped at the 2 other Slovenian Branches, one in Celje and the other in Maribor.  The country was so beautiful; so much like Switzerland and Austria!  We drove onto some side roads to wander around the little villages.  It was really a treat and we took the whole day getting back.  We stopped in at the church in Celje and met the missionaries teaching a man who gets baptized in another week.  There are no sister missionaries there and no senior couple.  In Maribor we met the missionaries again at the church, this time the sisters teaching a lady.  The senior couple in Maribor, the Ewells, are a cousin to Wilma and Gary.  We went to lunch with them and then they showed us around the city.  Everywhere the trees have turned to brilliant colors to make the trip even better.  We feel pretty blessed to have been able to travel around our entire mission. 

Friday night was our Fall Festival.  Dad and the missionaries bought several pumpkins, 30 donuts, apples, lots of candy, and juice and water.  I made about 5 dozen spritz cookies and frosting for the cookie decorating.   Several members came early to help decorate for the party.  I think most everyone loved the pumpkin carving best of all the activities and we carved some pretty good jack-o-lanterns.  They loved the apple bobbing and donut eating off hanging string.   The final activity was musical chairs with Dad being 3rd last to go out.  We had lots of members and lots of investigators.  A mom of one of the investigators made some great little cream cheese and sunflower seed appetizers that were really tasty.  It was a great party!

The highlight of last week was Sacrament meeting and Sunday School.   Many members bore their testimonies, never letting any time lapse.  As I listened to each of them (with translation) I really could envision this little Branch becoming a strong ward with the members getting along with one another, mourning for one another,  and listening to and sharing one another’s burdens.  It was such a great experience.   Sometimes I lose the vision of becoming a stake here in Croatia (I don’t know if Dad does), but as I look at how many people there are here walking around and we only have 52 of them as members…I think how are we ever going to get all of these people interested in the church and get them baptized.  Sunday I caught the vision of the members’ helping to take the gospel to all of these people.  That was one of our goals we set this morning, to have the members invite their friends into their homes and we will teach them there.  We are going to have a Sunday School lesson this Sunday about member-missionary work.  President and Sister Rowe just returned from a meeting with all of the Mission Presidents in Europe who were taught by the Area Presidency.  They said there is an urgency to get people taught.  That is why the age for missionaries has been lowered, so we can get more missionaries out preaching the gospel.  It is expected that 55,000+ missionaries now will become about 100,000 within the next year.  It is pretty exciting to be part of it.  We need you to continue to pray for us and for all of the missionaries.  And pray that Dad and I will be equal to the challenge of also being better finders, even if we don’t do much teaching.  This will be a step beyond  passing out cards.  We love you all so very much.  Stay healthy, happy and continue to serve one another.  Have a good week.  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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