Monday, August 31, 2015

Arrival in Prague - First Area Ostrava - Month #3

We made it! 

I am serving in Ostrava which is about as far east and north as you can get. We are pretty close to Poland. 

My companion is Starší Prohaska and he is from Switzerland and he speaks really good English. There have been no missionaries in our apartment for two months so traveling to our area was about a three hour train ride from Prague with both of our bags. Sister Boza from Guatemala is also serving in a city about thirty minutes away so they traveled with us as well. There is one other set of elders here in Ostrava but they live across the city. Our apartment has two rooms, a kitchen, and a nice bathroom, but man was it dirty and covered in spiders  and cobwebs. We had no food or pillow and blankets either but it is all good now. My companion served here his first transfer and now he is in his second to last transfer. He knows the language really well and it is lots of fun. He wants to work hard and we really have. We have no teaching pool right now or any investigators but we are working on fixing that. We contact lots and are busy. We have almost no time for studies so far.

When we landed in Prague we met our mission president and barely fit into their van and two other cars with all 11 of us. Next transfer with 17 of us I don't know how they will do it. We had our Prague walk with President McConkie at first and he described the velvet revolution as we looked over Prague and then got to walk through the City with the AP's and have our first dinner in the country. It was so rich and full but was really good. We got to go to bed at about 8 our first night and then we got picked up at about 6:30 and had breakfast with President and his wife, filed our visa paperwork and then had a meeting, met our trainers and we were off

On the way to the train we were on an escalator and with two big bags one has to go in front and one behind. About halfway the one above me proceeded to fall back and hit me like dominoes. So i got to ride up laying down. Sister Boza and her trainer and my trainer had quite a good laugh. And it was a great story. When we arrived the first night it was about an hour by trams or buses across the city to our apartment and then we had sports night with some members of the branch and played squash and racquetball. We got to do some weekly shopping our first morning and my companion is diabetic. So we eat really well and he knows how to cook well so i am learning. 

We have done a singing display and chalk display with the six missionaries in our district to contact and every bus and train ride we are contacting. The language is hard. I have learned a lot of good phrases now but most people don't want anything to do with God. It is very hard to talk to people and the language is a barrier but it is fun to see the shock on their face when you say you've been here for a day or three or however many. It is exciting and i think i am getting better. It is a lot of Czech though but my companion really tries to help me understand when we are together but most of the time on trams or during displays we talk to different people at the same time. It is hard to be on my own in conversations but it is getting better.

On Saturday we traveled fora bout an hour to a members family and picked potatoes all morning. It was hard work but a good time and we are going back this Saturday to teach 5 members of their family. It is hard work and we do a lot of teaching on the street. It is getting better but still really hard. Tomorrow we have training in Brno with all of my MTC group and their companions which is about 2 and half hours away by train. We ride lots of buses and lots of trams. We occasionally have to run to get to them and I've done lots of running in the morning so far with my companion as we run to Tesco, the grocery store we have. It has been really hard but really good. 

Sunday was quite the adventure with almost 12 hours of Czech. There were about 20 people in the branch. I almost had to play the piano but finally one of the sister missionaries played so I just had to lead. 4 of the 6 new missionaries in our district was their first week in this area so we all bore testimonies. And then I may or may not have fallen asleep in each of the meetings after that. I am exhausted. But it is good. The days are long and most people don't want to talk to us but we keep trying looking for the elect that are ready for us. It always feels so good when people are interested in what we have to say. It is hard work. The language is difficult and I don't understand much but I can communicate and people can understand me. My companion and I continue to speak more and more Czech and it is good.

I hope all is well.

Elder Hanis

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Week 8 -- Travel Plans and Last letter from the MTC

We are going to the Czech Republic!!!!

We felt like this day never would come but last Friday we got the plans for us.

We must be to the travel office at the MTC at 2:30 Monday morning. Our flight leaves at 6:55 AM to Chicago. We land at 11:12 and then leave at6:10 for London. We land in London at 8:05 AM and leave at 9:50 AM. WE land in Prague at 12:50 PM. All of our flights are on British airways IT will be a long day or two but we are ready to be there. I will be able to call home in the airport so if that track phone comes through I will call family. IF you could dear elder me your numbers today or tomorrow that would be good or i will just call dad and write them down. WE are very excited to leave. I don't know about calling from London because it might be super expensive but I guess we can see or you can tell me what you would suggest. 

We do you have start packing soon but I think if we start doing that time will go much slower. IT has been kind of a sad week in someways as we have done our last service day. We Had to say goodbye to our two sister teachers yesterday who have really helped us in so many ways and we really have loved. But we are excited to go! Yesterday as i got my food in the cafeteria i ran right into Elder Gallegos. That was pretty fun since he got here early I saw him then and got to talk a little bit. Hopefully i see him before sunday and can catch up a little more. Tomorrow we have infield orientation all day which is about a lot of the logistical things we will be dealing with in the field. Then its just saturday and sunday until we are gone. Sonny George got his visa and left this week too. Monday night i got to talk to him for a while which was really nice. Tomorrow is the last day dear elders get delivered for us and then saturdayregular mail comes but no dear elders. IT is crazy that we are winding up. I got Dad's package on wednesday with the pictures and snacks. That was a lot of fun and later today we are all probably going to bring our food together as we begin to clean up. I also got Shad's queso and the cinnamon rolls from dad. And carries package as well. It was a pretty great last week and Thanks for everyone for sending things. They are always fun. 

Sunday night the Nashville tribute band came to the MTC with guitars and drums and gave a concert. It was pretty different but really cool. All of them but one were returned missionaries and the other was a convert. There songs were all about the gospel and really really good. We sang sang two songs with them in the choir which was also really cool. It was a different night but a lot of fun. The movie that night was from Elder Bednar about recognizing the Holy Ghost. His main message was who cares if it is or isn't, quit worrying and go to work. Press forward and then when you look back you may be able to recognize it. He told a couple of really neat stories in his life. But the best quote he shared was how as a missionary President packer and his wife were in Germany. HE picked them up and took them to the train station to go to west Berlin and write before they got on the train he gave them 20 dollars. Later the train was stopped and searched and they wouldn't let President Packer's wife through. He put the 20 in her passport, the officer left and came back the money was gone but let her through. It wasn't until they got to west Berlin and talked to the stake president that he realized most people that happens to are taken to Prison. Later President Packer said "Its not a bribe, its called righteous exchange." WE all got a good laugh out of that. Tuesday Elder Echo Hawk of the 70 came. He was the secretary of Indian affairs in the cabinet before taking this church position and he had some cool stories. But i may have to confess to missing a little of his talk. IT was still really good.

I learned a couple of lessons about teaching this week. One was to listen. In PMG it says to not think about what you will say next as someone else is talking, or to think about similar experiences that might help. As we are teaching in Czech this is extremely hard not to do because we need all the time to figure out what we will say. However as i tried this and focused on listening the words came and we taught more effectively. Teaching in a threesome is very hard but it has gotten a little better. There are a lot of things that i have learned at the MTC but i know there's much more that awaits. I had my departure interview with a member of the branch presidency on Monday and he had lots of nice things to say. This week in class we talked a little about the vision in our mission and we will have a more detailed talk tomorrow. But we are about 2 or three Melchizedek priesthood holders away from a stake and there are people who could be advanced soon. The work is moving and we could have them advanced at this years fall district conference or at the spring one with a really good chance of having a stake formed at the same time. IT is very exciting. President Uctdorf is from the Czech Republic so we are hoping that when we organize a stake he will come. I am excited for the people and the culture. I love the language even though there is lots more to learn. We only have 4 more days in the United states for two years, but I am ready
Hope all is well,
Elder Hanis

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Week 7 - Nejkulikaťolinkatěší

My new favorite word this week! means to be the most round or the most marble like. It is quite the mouth full but the nice thing about Czech is that you can just sound it out and you can pronounce it. This has been a pretty good week but definitely different as I am in a trio companionship now. It has been a learning experience but it has been good. 

Sonny George came into the MTC last week because he didn't get his visa to Brazil so it was really fun to get to see him but he got it, so he leaves next week. I am excited for Josh to come and get to see him before I leave.

We only have a week left! It is crazy how slow and fast it has gone. We should get travel plans soon which is even more exciting. We will get to call home most likely at the airport so that will be fun. If there's anything i think of that i need this week--  I will probably have permission to write home during the week to tell you so be on the look out for that. It is an exciting time here and we are all getting anxious to leave. We had a better Skye visit yesterday which was a lot of fun and we have covered all the grammar principles in our book, not that we understand them yet. But we will have lots of practice this week and I am looking forward to it. 

We took our second Language assessment last night which went alright but never as good as we speak the rest of the day. We are trying to mentally prepare for the Czech Republic but we are just ready to be there. The packages and mail have been fun this week. The donuts and other box from shad have been fun but we are saving the bottle of martinellis for a special occasion. Not sure what that will be yet though. We are anxiously awaiting our travel plans. 

Other than that the week has been relatively the same. The gym has been closed so devotionals and gym have been a little different. The Nashville tribute band is coming to the MTC to perform and we are singing with them. It will be quite the adventure. But hopefully fun. IT is like christian rock which is way different than what has been at the MTC before. We had one of the same speakers this week again who talked about the importance of church attendance. it was a good meeting about rededicating our sabbath days.

On tuesday we had a member of the seventy who gave a great talk about consecrating our service. He talked about giving our heart, might, mind and strength to the Lord. He shared his experiences with calling stake presidents which was very cool to see how revelation came to him. He also talked about three principles of life that if we build on all aspects of our life will succeed. That is a foundation of Power, Love, and conviction. We are trying to apply that to our studies and it is a very cool principle. We were told we we're no longer allowed to get up early and do laundry so that is still ahead today along with writing some real letters and gym time. It is fun to hear from everyone especially with one more week of dear elders. Zach has requested a real letter for a future missionary so that will be coming too. The temple was very nice today and last week i did initiatory for Andreas Hanis, This week i did his endowment which was very cool. It was crazy to think that amber was right outside the MTC this week. We only go outside in the afternoon for gym usually so we were a few hours apart. But the bag from the BYU bookstore and  the shirt were lots of fun.

It sounds like the Beach house was lots of fun. I was pretty jealous but didn't actually think about it too much. I just miss the water most of all. New missionaries arriving is always a fun time of the week and we greet them just like we got greeted with lots of "Welcome to the MTC" It is funny to see them lost and trying to adjust. Time is starting to go slower and faster at the same time. One more PDay here and then we will be gone. Its the last week with mail coming every day so that will be fun . The picture book i am excited about. I will take some things to get dry cleaned today. As for topics to send just about feeling the spirit, teaching with it or anything like that. I hope all is well

for our favorite sister????

Our zone!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Week 6 - Go Get 'em

This week was a little bit longer this week and a little harder than most. It has had some real highlights as well. My companion went home this morning so the next few days will have some adjustments.

We had an apostle this week! Russel M. Nelson came to the devotional on tuesday and spoke. It was an amazing meeting that I'll write more about in a second. On sunday we also Had Sherri Dew come speak to us. Both talks we're excellent. I am now serving as the district leader for the rest of our stay in the MTC. Basically it means i have to go get the mail twice a day. I am always thankful for mail and dear elders because they show up daily. The donuts from shad we're loved by my district and our teachers. Carries packages are always fun as well. Pictures are still one of my favorite things. Other than looking at pictures there isn't much time to think about home. Have you checked my IB scores? You just need to email/call the school to get my information and then you should be able to check them. 

Also another black belt would be good. My belt should match my shoes and i only have black shoes. Right now i have a dockers belt. I will send a picture of the label. Have you gotten me a new credit card yet? Time is beginning to wind down. We will most likely get our travel plans next week and find out about our visa and what not. If anyone feels inclined to send snacks such as dried mangoes or anything else they are always welcome. The days are really blurring together but it has been fun. I really am starting to have a love for the language. Our teachers are excellent and my companion and i would speak Czech a lot throughout the day. Sometimes it is nice that no one else knows what we are saying. This can be kind of fun. WE had our first Skye visit yesterday which was pretty nuts. They have a room full of computers and everyone is talking at once. This is really hard to hear at times and so that was difficult but i could understand a lot. Hopefully next week goes better. I have memorized the first vision in Czech now but when i tried to do it in a lesson i get a little confused hopefully i get some more practice this week and i have started memorizing more scriptures again. I had the opportunity to give my first priesthood blessings this week. Tuesday night i gave one to my companion and then Wednesday night a sister in our district asked for a blessing. IT is cool to have the words come, as thoughts memories and others. I would sometimes know exactly what to say and others just begin and a word would just keep coming out. At one point i was prompted to bless her with the ministering of angels. I slightly ignored it because i thought it was just the natural man in me since i had been studying that earlier in the day. The thought came again and this time i proceeded to follow it and realized the reason i Had been studying that topic is so that it would come to my mind in this. Later talking with this sister she said she was amazed by the blessing because all she had told us was she wanted a blessing of peace and comfort, but that the blessing had touched on every one of her concerns.

The majority of our zone left monday and tuesday. WE have since gotten 13 more elders but it was sad to see a few of them go. Elder Brady going to Turkey was a great friend while being here.

I mentioned earlier about the firesides. Both were phenomenal. Sister Dew talked about if we need answers to engage in a spiritual wrestle like Enos and wrestle for those answers. If we need angels to minister we can ask, if we need to know what the spirit feels like we can ask him to teach us. We can ask all things in humility and faith.

Finally tuesday came with much anticipation with rumors of an apostle coming circulating the campus. Everyone in our district except for Elder Stacy and I went to sing in the choir. WE decided we would get the front row seats next to the door he walks in in hopes of shaking his hand. WE got in line about an hour early and ended up getting those seats. However there was a row of 4 adults right in front of us. With anticipation President Nelsen came in carrying a very unique and experienced spirit with him. He looked right at us and smiled as he came in. And the full impact of his 91 years was evident. This meeting was broadcast to all the MTC's in the world and was quite the production. They began with a video of learning in the MTC and it is still hard to believe that we are here. As he began to speak he taught with power and you could feel that he was being supported. He talked about the age change and how even the apostles weren't sure how it would all work but that they knew the lord would guide them. As we sang the opening song, called to serve, between verses under his breath you could see him mouth bum bada bum bum. It was pretty funny to see but also realize that we are just like him with a similar calling and same resources. At the conclusion of the meeting he came back down the stage and shook everyone of those four adults hands on the row in front of us... HE then looked right at us and said "Go Get Em" 
So we will and we prepare. I am sleeping better and better each night and am more an more tired. The language is fun and the gospel is great too. I have started writing topics on note cards and then putting scriptures associated with them on it. Maybe by the time i come back i will have recreated Dad's notes and quotes book. The work moves on. As always I love hearing from you. Dear elder works excellent especially with these last three weeks. Thank you for all you support

Elder Hanis