Zone Conference

The temperatures are rising, rainstorms are brewing, and the blessings are pouring – A great week here in the Adriatic!

This past Tuesday, our Podgorica district got a nice change in the schedule and boarded a plane to Beograd for Zone Conference! It was a great day as we were able to learn from President Grant and his wife, Sister Grant. I loved learning new insights and meeting up with fellow missionaries. Some thoughts that were touched on that I will share:
1. Luke 10 – Martha vs. Mary
2. Master planner then master teacher – “If it doesn’t matter where you want to go, it doesn’t matter what path you take.”
3. “There’s no missionary who would linger if he knew the message of the restoration”
The language is improving little by little for me – I try to have as much fun as I can with it! I can understand just about every word my awesome companion says but anytime a native starts speaking it’s a blur. Humbling moment this week on the streets: I stopped a middle-aged lady and asked her how she was doing (in her language obviously) and then she looked at me, right in the eyes, and in the sweetest voice said “I don’t speak english” and walked away. Ouch – Good dose of humble pie for the week ha.
As Easter was celebrated this weekend in Montenegro, us 4 elders were invited over to the 19 year-old members’ home for a feast with his family! My first in-home meal with a family. All the other missionaries told me how hospitable they are here and the great amounts of food they serve, but I had no clue lets be real. After juice, boiled eggs, and some cultural games, we were fed a huge meal which consisted of meat, meat and more meat – It was delightful. The most I’ve eaten in quite some time. After eating, we shared a spiritual thought, and right as we were about to walk out the door, his sweet mother brought out a huge cake. Oh man, couldn’t pass that down either! Safe to say – I love the Balkans, and I won’t be coming home skinny.. ha I’ll find the gym when I get home!
Finding and Teaching are awesome for Elder Poore and I. We are working hard and we have some phenomonal investigators whom are progressing and moving forward. The future is bright & the next couple weeks should bring forth great things.
Highlight of the week was church on Sunday! We had 20 people at church! We had a group of 5 Americans on vacation come and join us. It was so much fun! A sweet family from Russia, who lives in Dubrovnik right now and tries to come as much as they can, joined us as well. As testimony meeting proceeded my heart was full as investigators and new members were able to see the power in numbers. I was able to teach Sunday school after in English (because # of Americans). My lesson was translated into Serbian as well as Russian. Every sentence I said would take 10-15 seconds for everyone to understand! ha it was a Sunday everyone in attendence will remember!
However different our languages, cultural backgrounds and gospel knowledge may be, I have such a strong testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost has the power to lift, enlighten, and touch hearts. The spirit was so strong in our humble Church building. An experience I will never forget!
Podgorica is feeling more like home day after day. I love the beauty, the culture, people, and even the language (at times)!
Here’s an early Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful Mothers who read my lame emails every week – You are amazing! I sure can’t wait to see my Mom through Skype on Sunday!!
With love,
Elder Perry
“You’re braver than you believe + stronger than you seem + smarter than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh
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The Tender Mercies of the Lord

Joy! That word has been on my mind a lot this week. Last Sunday, in my personal study, I decided I needed to start the Book of Mormon over again – always a great call. At this moment, perhaps a little struck with first-week fear, I was feeling a little down, thinking about myself and my circumstances far too much. I quickly came across verse 20 in the first chapter, so close to the cover even the casual reader could find it, which says “… But behold, I, Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen..”. That was my goal this week – to see the tender mercies of the Lord more clearly in my life… & oh man, was I #blessed. Let me tell ya!
This week Elder Poore and I were so busy! It’s been hard for me to get my feet planted here in Podgorica with the language because we are always on the move – ha not a bad problem to have I guess. We arise at 5:30 and get to our studies quickly, trying to buy ourselves more time to prepare for investigators, but it never seems to be enough. Our bodies are accustomed to the 10 pm dinners (I don’t think the mission president’s wife would approve haha) and the miles of walking, so we just keep working!
So on with the good stuff, the Tender Mercies. Let me set the stage, last Sunday, around 5:45, we were finishing a contacting session, heading to a lesson we had scheduled at 6 pm. We were in a part of the city we had never been before,  no intentions of taking to anybody, with sights on the church building where our lesson was to be had. We were on a small bridge, amidst many people, when a 30+ year old man came walking towards us with his head down, with no desire to talk to anybody. As he walked past us, without any prior conversation, the best companion Elder Poore and I hit the simultaneous “Izvinite” (Excuse me) in unison. He ended up walking with us to the end of the bridge, then exchanged numbers, issued a challenge, testified and parted ways. We didn’t think much of it but we got a phone call on Wednesday, as we were processing our Visa apps, from that man. We set up a meeting on Friday at the church.
Friday – A day of Miracles. In our planning session the night before we set a goal of finding 4 new investigators (10 min conversations) in our slim 1.5 hrs allotted to contacting. As we left the apartment that morning with a prayer, within 30 yards of our door, we were ordered by an old lady to come teach her and her husband at 5 that evening – “sweet, sure will”, we said with big smiles. Then we crossed the street, & struck conversation with 2 ladies who were intrigued with us as we had left school, family, and even girls i guess to serve a mission. All huddled together on a 2 person park bench, we learned about these women and their stories. One of the ladies lost a son recently and had questions about the nature of God, better yet if there is one. In those short 30 min. we were able to testify that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for her and her family. Their face glowed, as two young missionaries, one of which could only smile and formulate simple sentences (me), testified and made their day. As we left and crossed the street once again we came across a middle aged man who was immedietly interested in our message. Well educated & confused by many churches surrounding him, we were able to teach him the powerful message of the Restoration. After that lesson we went back in for our weekly planning session that consisted of a big pastery at our local bakery (it’s a weekly ordeal now). After some solid goal setting, around 3:45, we went to the church to meet our friend we met on the bridge earlier in the week. After getting to know him a little bit, we taught him the restoration. The spirit was so strong and it was evident the message rang true in his heart. After a great discussion, as a companionship, we issued the baptismal invitation and joyfully, he accepted! Is this not the best day? After we set a date to shoot for we asked him to say the closing prayer. Most prayers in this language I can barely pick up a word, better yet a sentence, but this one I really tried to pay attention. As we knelt on the church floor together, he said something I will never forget, “Heavenly Father, thank you so much for sending these two missionaries at my worst moment.” What a tender moment! Right after, we rushed to the old lady’s home. Like any Balkan home, we were greeted with a friendly treat and a glass of juice – treats are the best for those who struggle to speak 🙂 We ended up teaching them the restoration as well and before we could even leave we had 2 referrals in our hand. Joy! To end the night we went to an american embassy family’s home to teach them some basic language skills, and then we were back home for our casual 10 pm dinner.
By sharing this day filled of miracles I don’t mean to boast in my own strength but more importantly give you a reassurance that the Lord is at the head of this work. He has placed those whom are dying to hear the hope-filled message of the gospel in our path. I think of the man we met on the bridge. In a part of the town we have never been, and in his worst moment, we were able to cross paths and strike up conversation. It is my testimony that the Lord is at the helm & that the tender mercies of the Lord are all around us, we just have look.
Love you all, and pray for you everyday – Have a great week!
Elder Perry
“All I’ve done is give you a book. You  have to have the courage to learn what’s inside”
“During all the years that have passed since then, I have never been shocked or annoyed by grammatical errors or mispronounced words on the part of those preaching the gospel. I have realized that it was like judging a man by the clothes he wore, to judge the spirit of a man by the clothing of his language. From that day to this the one thing above all others that has impressed me has been the Spirit, the inspiration of the living God that an individual (has) when proclaiming the gospel, and not the language. … I have learned absolutely, that it is the Spirit that giveth life and understanding, and not the letter.” – Heber J. Grant 
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The Millennium Bridge in background that spans the Moraca River. The river flows through the capital city of Podgorica
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Service activity with the Montenegrin elders

Humbling first week

Fam and Friends!

On April 11th, my MTC district and I gathered our belongings and left for Zagreb! The plane ride was long but we enjoyed the final precious moments teaching the gospel in our native tongue – English. After a full day in airports, we arrived in beautiful Zagreb and were greeted by our awesome Mission President, President Grant and his wife, Sister Grant. After we arrived at the mission home & had lunch, we were sent to the streets to teach the gospel – yikes (No nap time, get to know you games haha?)! I had a blast speaking as much Croatian as I know and getting all sorts of laughs and language advice.
After some training from our Mission leaders, we were assigned our location, companion and sent to go forth – No sleep for the weak! I was assigned to the Podgorica, Montenegro area with my companion, Elder Poore! We then took a car to Beograd, Serbia, dropped off other elders at their apartment, and boarded a plane down to Podgorica. Montenegro is so beautiful! It is around 85 everyday – we are expecting a nice bronze by the end of this transfer ha! I’ll attach some pics for you to view the city yourself.
Elder Poore is from Perham, Minnesota! We have only been able to make a couple connections from our Minnesota roots but together we each celebrate our connection to the Montenegran legend, Nikoli Pekovic – the mighty Minnesota Timberwolf. Elder Poore is so awesome! This is his 3rd time training a new missionary – a very humble leader who is always looking out for me. We’re having a blast so far and I look forward to walking the streets together these next 8 (+) weeks.
Montenegro has 4 elder missionaries and a senior couple. Missionaries have only been allowed in Montenegro for a little bit of time now, so there’s a lot of work to be done. We have a little branch of 3 native members. There names are Sasa, Nenad, and Drago.
Nenad is 19 years old, studying anatomy at a local university. Really funny dude, well-educated but a goof nonetheless haha. He showed up to church in flashy pants, button-down shirt with only a couple buttons sealed haha, and to top it off he had mirror shades on. Love the guy but we are going to get him in a shirt n tie in no time.
Drago is a 50 year old man. I only talked with him for a little bit but he’s so awesome and a very humble guy. Every week he walks over an hour, & shows up 20 min early to prepare the sacrament – Sacrifices? 🙂
Saša is in his 40s. He is probably one of the funniest, sweetest guys I have ever met. He is a piano teacher and he has a very musical inclined mind-set. It’s hard for him to understand everything that is going on but he’s getting there haha. He walks 40 min every sunday to come play 20 min of prelude music and prepare himself for the sacrament. Today was his first sunday playing the piano for the branch and he did an awesome job. Our concluding hymn was “We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet” … As he finished the song he took his finger and rolled it from the low notes to high and then waited 3 seconds and hit the lowest note on the keyboard. hahah I about lost it but poor guy didn’t know. I give him an A+!
I want you all to know that I’m doing great! These first couple days have been far from easy.. It’s not fun walking the streets, not being able to communicate with anybody. It’s lonely, humbling and everything inbetween. But nonetheless, I keep smiling ear to ear, despite the criticism, always keeping my heart and mind focused on the message we carry!
Language mistake of the week:
Girl in the bakery called me cute and I thought she said ice cream. (How do you make that mistake??)
I reply “Ja Volim Sladoled” “I love Ice Cream”! Haha everybody in the bakery thought it was funny – oh man.
Our first day on the streets, we talked with a lady that looked at our nametag then looked at us and said, “I’m 100% positive your church doesn’t exist here”. That’s about how I feel right now. While trying to build a foundation on our 3 members, it’s sometimes hard to see where the Podgorica branch will be in 2/5/10 years while walking the streets amongst persecution everyday, better yet, visualize a day when I can actually express myself!
The Apostle Paul taught “For now we see through a glass darkly.”
This verse has been on my mind the past couple days. Perhaps I don’t know exactly where this branch is going, or when my language skills will improve. In Mark 4 we learn of the parable of the seed growing secretly. I’ve been looking at this short parable for some time and there are a couple interpretations but in this case, I want to focus on the farmer who sleeps and rises night and day. It is implied that he does the things he needs to do – gets to work on time, plants the seeds where they need to be planted, plucks the weeds out to allow the seeds to grow, and when it’s time to harvest, he harvests.
I know that right now I see through the glass darkly. This is hard friends, hardest thing I have ever done. But perhaps I cannot see the harvest, the work of the Lord that is and will surely come forth for the people of Montenegro. The 10s, 20s, even 100s of people that will get to witness a Saša wicked piano solo and feel of the eternal joy that comes only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Until then, I walk forth with faith knowing that the Lord is right by my side!
I’m so grateful to be here! Please know I pray for you all everyday!
With all my love,
Elder Perry
 
“It’s not about you – it’s about those searching for truth and light”

“Validity draws the fire of the adversary”

Podgorica
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Podgorica, Montenegro
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Elder Perry and branch member, Sasa. Podgorica, Montenegro
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Elder Perry at the branch in Podgorica, Montenegro
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The river that divides the two sets of Elders in Podgorica, Montenegro
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Montenegrin Streets
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Elder Perry on the Montenegrin streets

Chandler has arrived…

Chandler has safely arrived to the mission home in Zagreb, Croatia.  He has been assigned to serve with Elder Benjamin Scott Poore in the capital city of Podgorica, Montenegro which is in the southern part of the mission just above Albania.  The mission home in Zagreb is more in the northern part of mission. Note: see tab at top “mission info” where you will find a map of his mission.

President & Sister Grant
Chandler with President & Sister Grant in the mission home…. Zagreb, Croatia

Last Elder Perry sighting for awhile…

Every Sunday afternoon, the missionaries get out of the MTC for some fresh air and walk up around the Provo temple.  Stewart & Brennan knew the approx. time so they went up to the temple to see their ‘Bro’ before he flies out tomorrow to Croatia!

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Brenan Cullimore, Elder Perry, & Stewart
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Last brotherly hug until Feb 2018
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Chandler and good friend, Brenan Cullimore (called to Lima, Peru leaving June)

Last letter from the MTC…

2 DAYS! Despite my lack of writing ability, I hope I can convey how excited I am to board that plane on Monday. The past 9 weeks have been a learning/refining experience for me. Getting thrown into the rigors of missionary study and the depths of the Croatian language was far from smooth… but it was worth it! 9 weeks in and I’m so happy – so thrilled with where I’m at, where I’m going and what I’m doing.

This week I’ll highlight one experience.. Last night, as a mission, we met with a sister named Ann Madsen. Her and Her husband were great friends with Hugh Nibley and Kresmir Cosic. A brief recap of Cosic’s story: He is a basketball player from Croatia who grew up in the depths of communism. 6-11, at the age of 18, he found himself wanting to come to America and play ball, with offers from Ucla and Byu. Somehow he arrived on the Provo campus with no english in his blood and no concept for religion.. but agreed to sign the dotted line signifying that he would live campus rules (Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, Curfew). Over the course of his college basketball career, he was introduced to the knowledge of who he was, where he came from and where he was going after this life – simply put, he was taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the time came to sign an NBA contract, he declined and knew that his greatest duty was to take the gospel back to Yugoslavia. Kresmir went on to translate the Book of Mormon into Croatian, pioneering the church in this area of the world. It’s very apparent that without this great sacrifice from a young man from Yugoslavia, the mission to which I’m going would not exist. With great sacrifices come Eternal blessings. 
 
General Conference was a blast this past weekend – The spirit in the MTC was so strong for each and everyone of those sessions. I challenge each of us to go back and study the words proclaimed. There’s always more to learn and personal applications to be had.
A word that’s on my mind from last weekend is Rescuing. Whether it’s our own families, the refugees, or children of God who may not be aware of their eternal potential, there is always rescuing to be down, and progression to be had. One talk that stuck out to me was by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf titled “He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry you Home.” I loved his thoughts on the all-famous Parable of the Lost Sheep.
“Over the centuries, this parable has traditionally been interpreted as a call to action for us to bring back the lost sheep and to reach out to those who are lost. While this is certainly appropriate and good, I wonder if there is more to it. Is it possible that Jesus’s purpose, first and foremost, was to teach about the work of the Good Shepherd? … The sheep is worthy of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the Good Shepherd… Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you. He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears.
He will rescue you.
He will lift you up and place you on His shoulders.
He will carry you home.”
Friends and Fam, this is the hope-filled message I hope to bring to Eastern Europe. As I have reflected on those missionaries who have gone before me, I can’t help but be filled with peace, love and a knowledge that the Spirit of the Lord will be with me as I witness everyday that Jesus is the Christ. I do not know what’s before me. As a matter of a fact, I do not one single person who lives in these 5 countries. But I know that they have a Savior, A Shepherd, whom loves them completely.
May the journey continue – Stay tuned.
With all my love,
– Elder Perry
“There’s nothing gained by playing small. Don’t let the little you get in the way.” – Branch President
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Mission president assignment to read up on Krismir while on our long flight! Amazing story!
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Our teacher Brat Jacobsen’s final goodbye – Loved this teacher. Very focused but I have learned so much from effective planning to the most in-depth Croatian grammar principles from him.
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My friend Elder Jones and I. He is going to the Bulgaria mission. Elder Jones is an eternal friend – love him and have had some great discussions with him these past 9 weeks.. News he doesn’t want the world to know that I’m going to share: He was just accepted to Harvard!

“Never forget to bear witness”

Hey All –

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend and a fun week! A couple quick shout-outs before I recap the week… A big thanks to the Livingston Fam for the much appreciated package. I love them so much & always am grateful for their support! A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to lil Grant man. Big 16, crazy – They grow up so fast , soon he’s going to be out in the big world fending for himself. And most of all, an early HAPPY 39th BIRTHDAY to the best Mother a missionary could ask for. I love her so much… I’m so grateful for her and her example!
This week was a great week for our district as we were able to continue to grow in the gospel, the language and just have a blast together. Last night, we were stoked when we received our travel plans… We will be taking off on April 11th for the Adriatic – Exciting. The MTC has been a refining/great experience for all of us but I think we are all ready to hop on the next plane out haha – 9 weeks here is a long time!
Last Sunday, for Easter, we had the pleasure of hearing from Elder M. Russell Ballard! His message had a special focus on reading, studying and trusting the witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. I loved his thoughts and I can testify that he is an Apostle of the Lord. Some of my favorite quotes:
“Use the infinite atonement in your finite mortal life”
“Make the testimonies of the witnesses part of your testimony”
“He can turn low valleys into beautiful peaks.”
He also ended his message pleading with us, as missionaries, to be bold. He said the following quote that I thought was profound and directed at me.. “Sometimes we try so hard to build bridges that we forget to bear our witness.” For one of our investigators this week, Valentino, we were stopped in our tracks when he told us three days before the baptismal date, that his parents are very against him getting baptized because of their Muslim roots. It was a great experience as we were able to meet with his parents! One of the best experiences of the Mtc in my mind. During the lesson, we were able to form a platform of understanding while being sensitive to each other, but never taking our focus off of our personal witness of Jesus Christ and how this gospel can bless Valentino and their family.
As a companionship we had some other successful lessons this week. We were able to get Valentino to baptism this week which was way exciting for all of us. On Friday, we were able to Skype a member from our mission again – It was a much better experience haha. We talked with Daniel, who is a young member from Zagreb, Croatia. I learned a lot from Daniel and had a such a great experience getting to know him. He said he would meet us at the mission home when we arrive in Zagreb!
I hope you all have a wonderful time this weekend watching General Conference. It is a chance for all of us to receive counsel and warning from a living Prophet and apostles of the Lord. You can view it at Lds.org! May we all prepare to learn by pondering questions that we want answered. I know this church is true. I’m so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which will surely guide us back home to our Heavenly Father. I love you all and hope you have a stellar week!
Elder Perry
“To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” – 2 Nephi 9:29
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Brother sighting outside the Provo temple!
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Flight Itinerary to Croatia
Chandler Flight Plan to Croatia
Chandler receives his flight itinerary. He is ready to depart from the MTC and enter the mission field.