|Week-end house on the Drava|
|General Conference on TV|
It has been a great week. We so enjoyed watching (but mostly listening in English) to Conference. We were able to see most of the sessions. We began watching the Sunday afternoon session after getting into bed but when we both began to fall asleep we decided to listen to the session later. Hopefully we will be able to do that later this week. Elder Holland’s talk about faith was so powerful. Grandpa Babbel used to say about giving a talk: stand up, speak up and shut up. Elder Holland did just that as he talked about having enough faith to believe. We had a great turnout Saturday evening and even more on Sunday morning…25 of us watching and listening together. We had cooked some pork on Thursday and made pulled pork sandwiches to eat between sessions on Sunday. Several helped cut up oranges and apples to go with it and we had chocolate chip cookies and popcorn throughout the day. There were so many good messages. I think whatever our role (mother, grandmother, daughter, child) at the time of Conference and whatever our calling is at the time, we each receive different inspiration as we listen. So much of this Conference seemed to apply to missionary work and to families. Dad and I left the Church to drive a couple of members home in between sessions and then drove across the bridge to the other side of the river. We sat in the car and talked for a while. Before conference began on Saturday, we had talked about some concerns we have for members and others and what we could learn from Conference to do to help each of them. As we listened and then were able to talk together there overlooking the Drava River, we came up with a few ideas that we felt were answers we received during Conference.
[The following is a small insert by Dad.] Before conference started, the Sister Missionaries asked President Korajac (our Branch President) to ask all of us who were there to watch conference, to come up with a question we wanted some help or direction with. I wrote: “What is my vision for Osijek, Croatia?” How long will it be before we come back? What are the milestones that will bring us back?” During the conference I made a note of several things we could do. I wrote “We will come back to share some major milestones (baptism, temple sealings, creation of a ward, a stake, construction of a temple, births of the next generation) only if we develop deep abiding friendships with the people we already know. That is the kind of friendship we have with our family, the dinner group and a few of our neighbors. I wrote down a few of the things we needed to do to develop these kinds of friendships and I wrote down a few names of where to start.
Sitting by the river watching the water flow swiftly down-stream was a reminder that we had to get moving because our time is far spent. The time has come for us to be a little more bold as missionaries and see what we could still do before it is time for us to come home. As we were driving up our road to cross the bridge we saw our Landlady and her husband and family walking on the “Ceste”.
After talking (actually discussing a little intensely about who we should arrange the meeting with first and who second) and pondering and silently praying, we left the river and came back to our home and asked our landlady if she and her husband and their two boys would like to come upstairs on Monday evening for Family Home Evening (today). We decided the lesson would be one sentence from the Proclamation on the Family. She said they would like to do that. We invited a single member mom and her two kids to join us. Her son is the same age as the oldest of our landlords’ boys and we thought she could help translate. We had such a great experience. We welcomed them into our home one by one by their names, Ivan, Silvija, Markus, Petar, and Kristina, Luca (Anna was still at school), Kay and Jim. Does that sound a little familiar? We then explained to them what home evening is and a short outline of what we would do. I told them sometimes it ends up being a fight between two prayers. Their youngest son (Petar who is 6) had a bit of a challenge to try to listen so it was nice for them to know that that was perfectly normal. We first sang I am a Child of God in Croatian with them and then Dad asked me to pray in Croatian. It was quite a short prayer but they said they understood it. Then our landlord (Ivan) read (he only speaks Croatian) from the Proclamation to the World about the family: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We talked about families, traditions and loving one another. We watched a 2 min. video, The Coat, based on a true story from the life of Heber J. Grant. Then we also watched The Good Samaritan, 5 min. video and talked about loving your neighbor. They were very interested and wondered if our Bible was the same as their Bible. We have not found many Croatians who even have a Bible in their homes. Our landlady, Silvija, knew the story of the Good Samaritan and our member, Kristina, explained in Croatian as we watched the video. Both of the videos have only a few words at the beginning or end. Silvija recognized the scripture at the end of the video. We were going to play Uno but Silvija said she would rather talk. We showed them our Book of Mormon and said this was another witness of Jesus Christ. Ivan took the Croatian Book of Mormon and was very interested in it. We took it back from him and said we would like to write (our testimony) in it and then give it to them. Silvija said they would read it. We had hot chocolate chip cookies and then ended. It was such a wonderful experience. It was very natural with them asking many questions trying to understand us better. We have wanted to share more about why we are here as missionaries but the timing was finally right. We have talked a lot with her over the past 10 months and feel a great friendship with them, and felt that this was the time to help them understand a little more about us and the Church. After all went home Dad and I were on a bit of a high, feeling like we had just taught some good friends what we believe and why it is important to us. Dad has memorized the Proclamation on Families and we both feel it is modern day scripture and should be shared with leaders across the world. What wonderful things could happen if leaders everywhere helped strengthen the family. We love you all and hope you enjoyed conference as much as we did. Thanks for getting together with Peter while he was home and Peter, thanks for coming home to be with the family.
We just wanted to add that we followed up today (Tuesday) with Bozo and Zoran and had a very nice discussion about the messages from conference. We also talked about the milestones in the lives of our friends that would bring us back to Croatia. We told them about the chart that we have in an old journal that lists all of the kids and the milestones in your lives. We told bozo and Zoran that there are some things that will bring us back if we develop the kind of mutual friendships that bind us together forever. We’ll talk more about that later. Thanks for looking out for each other. We love you so much. Mom and Dad/Mutti and Bumpa