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,
“It’s not about you – it’s about those searching for truth and light”