Sretan Uskrs (Happy Easter)!

Happy Easter! I’m so glad everyone is doing well back home and has their hearts centered on this wonderful holiday. I feel lucky to be here during this time of the year as we will have a special Easter devotional tomorrow highlighting an Apostle (Don’t know who yet) of the Lord! I’ll do my best to recap the devotional for everyone next week + I’m stoked for General Conference as well next Saturday and Sunday! It’s going to be one spiritual week here in the mtc – Can’t wait!

We had a great week as a district! All sorts of highs and lows. Everybody is healthy, working hard and quietly counting down the days til we board that plane to eastern Europe haha!
As far as some of the lows go, I’m going to try to stay as positive as I can… This week instead of teaching return missionaries on Friday we had the chance to Skype local “members” from our mission. As a district we were all pretty psyched/anxious for this day to see where we were at with the language and most of all, to meet members from our mission! Every companionship was assigned a computer and all we had to do was hit the video chat button when we were ready. As we pressed the call button, immediately this 48 year old man from Zagreb named Zvonimir popped up on the screen drinking the biggest bottle of coca cola in his pajamas (I, of course, laughed). This guy was a character. haha. We taught him the importance of being obedient while centering our message around our Savior, Jesus Christ. He thought it was vital we talk about Zagreb though, and the other countries, which was fine. He had great pride in the country of Croatia and where he was from, while also hinting at some hard feelings for members of other faiths and countries, which frustrated me quite a bit. He also seemed to think that he needed to get on a plane and come teach our Mtc district the Croatian language because our grammar just wasn’t cutting it haha. Our teachers really took that well. Ha I don’t think he understood we have only been studying this crazy language for 6-7 weeks, but oh well, it motivated us. A sister companionship in our district taught a less-active old lady from Serbia that doesn’t believe in the Book of Mormon at all and was very frustrated with the sisters’ ability to communicate with her. Haha I felt horrible for them. Anyways, our teachers were pretty disappointed as we were supposed to be teaching and getting to know nice members from our mission and we got the polar opposite. Our teachers, being the best, each bore their testimony of how the people of this mission are so wonderful and how much the mission has blessed their life. They promised to set us up with their favorite members from the mission next week haha!
As I reflected on this Skype session all of yesterday, I couldn’t help but just laugh. I have always heard eastern Europeans were very stern, blunt people but apparently, I had no idea. Zvonimir didn’t laugh at any of my jokes, which was devastating. He barely smiled. haha oh man. It was an experience and a half. Aside from a little shock, I learned and took away something really important  – These people have a story. There is a rich history in this area of the world that I need to be aware of and soften my heart to. Although I may think I understand, I dont. Aside from that, I really am excited to meet so many wonderful people, hear their stories, learn from them, be their friend, and most of all, invite them to feel of the eternal joy that lies within the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Please know It was a positive experience. I’m so grateful for my mission call and I know that as I keep my heart focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ, that I will be able to see these people as they really are – Children of our Heavenly Parents. Go Eastern Europe!
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Easter Package arrived! Thank you DearElder.com
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P-day Waffles at the MTC!!!
I wish you all a happy Easter! This week I have been able to read the book of 3rd Nephi when Christ appears to the Americas. What an enriching and powerful record. I bear my humble, yet powerful witness that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Son of God and the Savior of the World. I know that in some way beyond my own comprehension, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He ransomed us from the pains and miseries of sin, and made mercy available to each and everyone of us, so far as we will come unto Him and repent. I know that shortly after, Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross in Calvary, and after He had fulfilled the will of the Father, uttered the words “It is finished”(John 19:30) and voluntarily gave up the ghost. Most of all, I know that after appx. 3 days, in some unfathomable way, He rose, crowning the miraculous Atonement. Because of this, death has no grip. Death is not the end. We can live with our families eternally! What a pure and hope-filled message this is. I know that the power of the Atonement is real. I know that because of His incredible suffering, He can help us along in our mortal journey, so far as we allow Him to. I testify that his Hands are still out-stretched to you and I – all we have to do is reach. I love my Savior. He is my best Friend, and my eldest brother. I love my Heavenly Father, that has provided such a wonderful plan for you and I. May we all partake of this wonderful gift, come unto Him, and partake of the eternal blessings that are promised as we do so.
I love you all and pray for you daily! Have a great Easter/General Conference Week! What a great time to be alive!
With all my love,
Elder Perry
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” – John 15:13
“You can’t interview Judas to understand Jesus”
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Bok (Hi)

Bok!

Week 6 is officially complete at the MTC for the Adriatic North district. We have 3 quick weeks left that will be filled with exciting events such as the Provo Temple dedication, Easter!!!, and General Conference. I’m so grateful to be here, in the MTC, on a mission, feeling the spirit every day – What a time.
The district is continually improving in all aspects – spirituality, language proficiency, and teaching skills. We are all working hard! I have come to love each missionary and have learned so much from their humble testimonies, and their righteous examples. Great missionaries – Seriously!
The language is progressing for me. This week I was pushed by a great teacher to go out of my comfort zone and really stretch myself with the language. He challenged me to “Speak my language” as much as I could this week. After all, I was called on a foreign language mission, not an English speaking mission. I have seen the blessings come forth. You don’t learn a language or achieve anything relatively difficult out of a book.. You learn by practice, diligence, and more practice.
I’m so grateful to be here. I’m eternally grateful for this Easter Season and all that it brings into our lives. As sad as I am that I’m missing the epitome of the sports season this march (tears), I know that I am centered on the most important message ever – the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. I challenge each of you to study the words of 3 Nephi this week in preparation for Easter and General Conference. I know this work is true and that Jesus is the Christ!
With love,
Elder Perry
 
Reverently and Meekly Now:
“Think of me, Thou Ransomed one:Think of what I for thee have done, with my blood that dripped like Rain, sweat in agony of pain, with my body on the tree, I have ransomed even thee.
Oh remember what was done, that the sinner might be won. On the Cross of Calvary, I have suffered death for thee.”
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Provo LDS Temple

Sharing Gold & Medicine

Friends and Fam –

Exciting news this week: My district and I have hit our half-way mark at the MTC and are officially on the downhill stretch! Time has flown by, as I’m sure it will throughout the course of my mission, and I’m having a great time.
This week was full of the usual highs and inevitable lows! On Friday morning, I woke up with a nasty bug that really took me out of my rhythm. I tried to rough it out, but after targeting nearly every garbage can, I decided to call it and hit the bed for the rest of the day haha. This morning, I feel much better – I’m hoping it’s out of my system. Getting sick on the mission is not something I wish for anyone – Yikes!
Funny language mess-up this week: My companions and I were teaching the proper way to be baptized to our investigator Davor. We were expressing that we must be immersed by water, which we noticed he wasn’t understanding too well. We then drew a picture on the chalkboard to visualize what we were saying. All of a sudden he started laughing.. We were so confused haha. Later we found out from Davor that we were telling him he needs to be baptized by death and that our picture looked like we were holding somebody under water – uhhh! Scary but funny moment for us missionaries aha.
Other than those rough experiences, I had a phenomenal week! I have learned so much in my short stay here about myself, the Gospel, and my role as a missionary. Missionary work is the best work! President Burgess (Pres. of MTC) said in a mission conference this past week, “Make sure your mission purpose isn’t just in your mind but in your heart.” I’ve learned quickly that in order to be an effective missionary one must have a deep abiding love for this gospel! With us, we must know that we carry ‘Gold and Medicine’. The message cannot and will not carry into the investigator’s hearts unless the message is deeply rooted in the missionary.
Our Devotional this week was highlighted by Elder Pino of the Seventy. He had two points in his address that I thought were what I needed to hear.
1) D&C 15 and 16: Missionary letters to John Whitmer and Peter Whitmer. The sections have the exact same wording, purpose and challenge, but we learn in the intro to section 15 that the message is “Intimately and impressively personal” to each Whitmer. So it is with each missionary today. I know that missionary calls are divinely personal. I know that I am exactly where I need to be, and that the Adriatic North region is where I’m called to serve.
2) Jesus Christ was the master teacher. He always went where the person was and raised their level of understanding. Ex: John 4:7-14, John 3:1-5.
Brother Pino stressed the importance of internalizing the doctrine so that we can do the same.
“The doctrine is not something abstract – Study it!”
“I know His word” – Bruce R. Mckonkie
“How powerful is the missionary who internalizes the doctrine”
 
I’m so grateful for this gospel. Missions are hard (ha very original I know) – I’ve done many hard things in my life but no doubt this will top the list. What’s refreshing is knowing that along the way, I carry and will carry the most important message anyone will ever hear. As I study the scriptures everyday, I can’t help but realize how great this word is. Read it, Study it, Internalize it! It is my testimony that as we do so, others will see it in us. I can’t wait to embark to the Baltic streets and proclaim this great word (in my limited vocabulary)!
I love and pray for each of you everyday – Keep the Faith! The work is true!
With all my love,
Starjesina Perry
“One day, Everybody who you once knew, will know that you had this joyous gospel, and will want to know why you didn’t share it.”

Those who were converted

Zdravo –

Another quick, but great week at the MTC. I am approaching my month mark which is crazy to me seeing as it feels like I was entering just yesterday. What a time to be a missionary though… I’m so grateful to be here and to have this opportunity to prepare for what’s to come.
Earlier this week, the Czechs and Bulgarians took off for their respected missions, leaving us and the other Bulgarian district as the oldest in the branch – Crazy. New missionaries have arrived, and our branch hasn’t missed a beat. It’s always fun to meet each new missionary and welcome them to the greatest work. I find it so interesting how specific missions, carry the same type of missionaries. Haha personalities never change – I’m positive each missionary is divinely called to their mission.
Big news this week: Your boy was able to hit the record board at the MTC gym – I broke the consecutive free throw record with 44 in a row. It was a pivotal moment in my mission thus far haha. Calling B-Culli out to give it his best shot when he arrives!
This week, my district and I implemented a strategy regarding productivity. Studying in a classroom with 8 other missionaries, and staying on task, is difficult. We found we were wasting too much time with things that didn’t pertain to our purpose as missionaries. As we have changed some things around, I have seen the fruits of our labors come forth – language has improved, lessons have been more productive, and the spirit is much stronger. I’m proud of the district and all that is taking place – Great missionaries!
We were blessed with awesome devotionals this week. Sister and Elder Brent Neilson, from the seventy, came and delivered a profound message. Although title-less, I named the devotional, “Put Everything on your Altar.” Some of my favorite quotes/thoughts:
Sister Neilson:
“The MTC is a crash course of our own weaknesses”
“You don’t need to do anything but move forward”
Elder Neilson:
“Don’t be a me-monster”
Doctrine of Proximity: Revelation comes when you are on the way/acting.
True example is caught not taught
Being here for 4 weeks I have realized quickly why the MTC is such a vital stop in each missionary’s journey. Here at the MTC, one truly is suffocated with their own weaknesses. Sounds extreme but it’s true. As we study the scriptures everyday, and consistently rely on the spirit for help in our lessons, language studies, and relationships, our weaknesses become apparent. That has sure been the case for me. I have realized, rather quickly, what Christ-like attributes I need to work on. It’s been a beautiful, refining process as I have been able to do so. I testify that in ‘Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity’. We simply can’t grow the way our Heavenly Father wants us to grow in mere isolation.
In my scripture study, I recently finished the book of Alma. I was specifically struck with the story of the Lamanites laying down the Weapons of their rebellion. It says in the 23rd chapter that “They did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren. Now, these are they who were converted unto the Lord.”Those who were converted, were those that did lay down the weapons of their rebellion. “
 
Whatever the weapon of war is – Pride, ill-feelings for another, dis-obedience – may we set it on our altar and more cheerfully submit to the will of the Father. The road to Salvation goes right through Gethsemane for each one of us – it is NOT a cheap experience. I testify that through complete conversion, we can more clearly see God’s love for us and all of His children.
I’m so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon has become one of my best friends as I have been able to study it every single day. It is through that book, mixed with prayer, that one will come to know the truth of all things – Moroni 10:3-5.
I sure love you guys and appreciate all the support – Have a great week!
Much love,
Starjesina Perry

Zdravo!

Fam & Friends –

What a great week it was here at the MTC.  I’m starting to notice how quickly days pass and how little time I have to get all the things I want to, done.  It’s already been three weeks – Crazy!

This week was a great one for my district, my companionship and myself.  The growth that has taken place in each missionary is so noticeable to me.  The MTC, although sometimes dry, is a place for refinement – It’s a time that is vital in each missionary’s journey.

I have seen, and made some great friends here at the MTC.  My zone is going to be separated this week as the Czechs and Bulgarians are headed to their respected missions on Monday.  Good guys, who will be phenomenal missionaries in bringing the truth to eastern Europe – Excited to connect at BYU post-mission with some of them.  Outside of my zone, I have been able to make friends with many people from all different backgrounds, some BYU guys, a couple even planning to take the same track as me which is cool.  Overall, awesome people here.  It’s the MTC – everyone loves everyone.. aha!

Last night, our district had the opportunity to do something called TRC.  It is an activity we have once a week where we teach return missionaries from our mission.  It was so cool to chat and learn from them and their experiences.  It had me stoked for the experiences that are to come these next two years!  They were impressed with how well we were conjugating and conversing with them, which is about the best thing you can hear as a struggling missionary.  In three weeks, the TRC program, will turn into a Skype session with branch members!  Super excited!

At the MTC, Sundays and Tuesdays are devotional days!  We are always blessed with the messages that come through.  This past Sunday we were taught by Susan Easton Black and her husband.  She talked about the history of the missionary program, and more specifically, missionaries experiences.

Ezra Taft Benson:  “Exact Obedience”

Gordan B. Hinckley:  “Forget yourself, and get to work”

Her husband stood up after her and bore his testimony.  His testimony really resonated with me.  He talked about how he was a sports guy in high school, quiet and timid.  He expressed how once he got to his mission, nobody knew (or cared) what awards he received way back, all that mattered was what kind of missionary he was.  He shared his testimony on what exactly it means to be bold – Great message, especially for me!

-Being bold means talking softly with Godly confidence-

I’m so grateful for he experiences I’m having here at the MTC.  Great friends, and such a wonderful spirit here.  Love you guys so much and please know I pray for you each and everyday.  Have a great week!

With Love,

Starjesina Perry

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Starting to learn the Cyrillic alphabet for Serbia and Bosnia

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Temple Walk….. yearning for one more ski run!

 

 

“That got me pumped”

Fam –

Well, the first full week here at the MTC has come to an end! Time sure flies when you are running a tight schedule. There were many highlights this week as well as some inevitable challenges, but that’s alright.
Last Sunday, my district and I went and watched Elder Bednar’s 2007 talk titled “Characters of Christ.” I’m fairly positive the talk is reserved only for missionaries, but what an experience for our group. Bednar let it loose on us and gave us tremendous insight. The talk centered around examples of Christ’s Characteristics. One of which was ‘Turn out instead of In’ — In Matthew 4, Jesus fasting for now 40 days, and being tempted by the devil to give up, taught us what this truly means. In verse 11, it says, “Then the devil leaveth him and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” In the footnotes we learn that these angels attended John who was cast into prison, not Jesus. In the midst of all His suffering, Jesus turned out instead of in, and sent angels to minister unto John.
Tuesday was such an awesome day for our district. Elder Hole was able to give his first priesthood blessing and right after he finished, he turned to me and said, “That got me pumped.” Haha such an innocent remark but so funny. Later that day we had a MTC choir practice in prep for the devotional that night. The devotional highlighted Elder and Sister Rasband! It was so cool to have an apostle of the Lord in the midst of us, better yet, to have the opportunity to sing a song to him. We sang “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” During our 90 minute rehearsal, I was able to study the words of this great hymn. I love the line “E’en though it be a cross   That raiseth me. Still all my song shall be    Nearer, my God, to thee.” As they (I hummed) sang this song, I was reassured that trials can always bring us closer to our Heavenly Father.
Elder Rasband centered his remarks on his talk given in April 2010 General Conference, titled “The Divine Call of a Missionary.” He talked a lot about the gift of the Holy Ghost. He reflected back on an experience where had the opportunity to assign missionaries with Elder Eyring. He shared that while they were discussing one particular future missionary, Elder Eyring turned to him and said, “So Brother Rasband, where do you think this missionary should go?” Brother Rasband was confused and basically made the remark, “I didn’t think I could know.” Elder Eyring then said, “Brother Rasband, pay closer attention.”
Here at the MTC, one of my biggest struggles has been planning for investigators. Coming from college to here and having to plan 30 minute lessons with two other companions, desiring to meet the needs of an investigator you barely know is hard. I’m positive that true preparation can only come through the gift of the spirit. It can’t be done by personal wisdom. I’m trying my best to live worthy of this gift, and most of all, I’m trying to ‘pay closer attention.’
Some of Elder Rasband’s thoughts on the Holy Ghost:
“You pray for it, you remain worthy of it, and you depend on it.”
“The answers are sure and precise.”
Despite our planning concerns, our lessons have been going great. Our second lesson here at the Mtc, we were able to commit Valentino to baptism, which was a moral booster from our first lesson haha. Although a mock investigator, it was still exciting for my fellow companions and I.

My district and zone are so awesome. My zone (also branch) is made up of elders and sisters going to Poland, Czech, Bulgaria, and the Adriatic North mission. Earlier this week we sent out the Poland elders (our roommates) which was neat to see. In just 9 days the Czechs and Bulgarians will be heading out which means we will be the oldest in the branch – Crazy! Such great missionaries we are sending out and I’m happy for them all – We are all so close and I love learning from each of them. Most of us elders play ball together during gym time which has been a blast – no ankle injuries quite yet.

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Polish Elders on left, Elders Hole, Elder King, & Elder Perry
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District trip to the temple
Not much else has happened to be honest. We are in the class learning croatian for 10 hours a day, with doctrinal study for about 3 hours. It’s a grind but I’m realizing quickly that I don’t have enough time during the day to complete all I want to do. The language is coming haha. I have turned to the old-fashioned method of notecards and I’m trying to pick up at least 20 words a day on my own time. I have seen the progression within me already. Listening for key-words has allowed me to better understand my investigators but formulating sentences is a beast. Big highlight: My missionary purpose in croatian is memorized and everyone in our district can pray in their language with ease – Exciting!
Spencer Christensen and Chan
Chandler running into Elder Spencer Christensen from Minnesota at the Provo temple
Anyways, I’m doing so well. Enjoying the process and trying to be the best missionary I can be. I’m so grateful for my divine call to be a missionary and for the chance to bear my testimony constantly.

Please know I pray for each of you everyday. Love you guys so much and hope all is well!

With love,
Starjesina Perry