Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January 1, 2013

Branch Christmas Party

Christmas in our Apartment

Senior Sisters

Zagreb Mission Conference

Missionaries who have served and are serving in Osijek

Gingerbread House at the Branch Party

Snejana and Neva who made the Gingerbread House

Branch Party

Branch Party

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Siječanj 1, 2013

Sretna nova godina  Happy New Year! Dear kiddos!

It seems like forever ago that we sent a letter home.  It has been so nice to celebrate with you over Skype.  You all look wonderful and we were so impressed with your talent show and reading and acting out of the nativity.  Thank you for including us.  We felt like we were at home for the two hours we had with you.  We do love each of you so much.

We had a very nice Christmas here in Osijek!  The mission Christmas conference was really fun.  President and Sister Rowe are a great mission president and wife.  I remember Jonny and Michael talking about their presidents while they were on their missions.  They said (and probably the rest of you also said, too) they were sure their president would be a general authority following their mission.  President Rowe is of the same caliber.  And Sister Rowe is such a great support and help to him.  We love them both.  It is always so
fun to be with all of the other missionaries, to eat and have fun with them and then to have a pep talk and assurance that the Lord is in charge here on our mission and will help us as we seek for it.  I asked President Rowe if all was okay following interviews with him.  He said, "Everything is good.  We have a good boss."

I don't know if you guessed the reason for Pres. Rowe and Pres. Babič’s (District Pres. for Croatia) visit to our Branch on the 23rd.  They came to call Zoran Korajac to be our new Branch President!  We have been so excited for the last few weeks anticipating this happening.  Zoran is such a good guy, with a strong testimony, full of faith, very humble, compassionate and hard working.  He has spent his past few summers on the coast where he makes twice as much as he can make working here.  When Pres. Rowe called him he told him the Lord was calling him to be the Branch President and wanted him to stay here in Osijek.  He was afraid to pray about it because he knew the answer before he prayed.  So now we are praying for a good woman to become his wife and praying he can find a better job here in Osijek.  We decided that is part of our mission call now and most every young woman we see walking down the street Dad will ask me if that might be the one for Zoran.   It is so great to have a Branch president who speaks the language of our members and can relate to the members far better than we can.  Dad is one of his counselors so he will continue to help however is needed.  Our call when we came was "member/leader support" and to do whatever else our president needed.  We are thrilled!!!

Our Branch Christmas party was really fun.  We had about 40 people with ham for about 75!  After everyone had all they could eat, we sent home left-overs with many people.  We had lots of members and
investigators come, ate, sang carols, played some ping pong and enjoyed watching a friend of Zoran’s break dance (like Seth and Tim).  One of the great traditions for Christmas here in Osijek is to go visit your friends and eat their special Christmas cakes, which are sort of like petit fours.  We went caroling with the missionaries and were invited in to a couple of homes to eat cake after caroling.  We also caroled for our landlords and ate their cake and talked with them.  We spent about an hour and a half caroling in a rest home.  One of our members lives there.  Many of the residents have Alzheimer's.  They didn't know who we were but sure enjoyed our singing.  We went up and down the halls, and in and out of rooms that had 3-4 people in them.  They would follow us and some would join in singing.  It was a nice day!

Two things we have really enjoyed in the last couple of days:  Our friend Božo, the 72 year old most active member of our Branch (not yet baptized) came by Saturday morning on his walk to Aljmaš.  We joined
him and walked for part of his 36 mile walk.  He does this weekly.  We talked about his dream of having a wife and children and that he was so sad that had never happened.  We talked about the spirit world and
that he could still realize that dream one day.  He has a brother who died very young while serving in the army and his mother died last fall.  I told him that maybe our dads were teaching the gospel to his mom and brother right now in the spirit world and that as soon as he was ready, he could go to the temple and do the work for them.  He is the one that we are reading the Book of Mormon with each week.  He has a testimony but something is keeping him from really seeing the truth.  He told us that day that he has a large stone inside him that he has to remove before he can get baptized.  It was a great walk and talk.  As Dad and I returned home we talked about it being like on the road to Emmaus.

Second, we have been trying since we arrived in Osijek to contact a member family who lives about an hour away from here.  After having no success on the phone again today, we drove to their apartment in
Županja to just see if we could maybe find them home.  The mom invited us in and we had a great visit with her and her daughter and son.  Her daughter is taking tests to enter medical school this fall and the son
was busy studying.   They are very busy but said they would love to join us at church some time.  It was a nice visit and we are hopeful they will really come when they can.

We have had a very nice couple of weeks celebrating Christmas and New Years. We received many Christmas cards in the mail from you and our siblings, nephews and nieces and friends.  We were so surprised to receive them and have really enjoyed each one.  We have read and re-read the cards just like we have looked at and re-looked at the photo book from all of you.  We are still thankful to be here and know that this is where the Lord wanted us to serve.  We love the people here and are so excited for Gary and Ann to arrive and get acquainted with the people throughout this mission and help to hasten the work.

We continue to see the hand of God helping and directing us each day. We know we have been blessed far more than we deserve.  And we know part of what we do is a direct result of each of you praying for us
and all the missionaries.  Tanya reminded us that we need to write a few of our blessings down each day so we are trying to be better at be a little more reflective.  We love you each so much.

Love, mom and dad/mutti and bumpa

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