Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas: Lights, Markets, Turtlniks, and Drunks

Another beautiful week in Slovakia. I am literally living in a National Geographic Magazine. I am eternally sorry for not sending more pictures. But I am hore dole hore dole and crazy busy. The work
is hastening! These people here are amazing. They are pioneers and I feel like there are so many people searching for the truth who recognize it when they hear it.

First off, I am with Sister Parsons (From Montreal, MTC companion, best friend for life, etc etc). Second of all, it is Christmas. Which is my most favorite time of the entire year. There is the most wonderful spirit that we feel when we testify of Jesus Christ. We got the He is the Gift video translated into Czech, (still not Slovak, but still UZASNE) and I love it so much. This week, we had our Annual Branch Christmas party. It was such a party. Hahaha we did a Christmas program, watched a lot of mormon messages (So funny because we just have someone translate while it is playing), and played and sang a lot of Slovak and English Christmas songs. The best is that the missionaries have to sing the english songs, but there aren't very many of us, so I still play the piano and sing at the same time, which is sometimes a bit pathetic. President Van Dalen told me on sunday to either sing or play the piano. He wants to be able to hear my voice, so he likes it better without the piano. A Capella for days.

So at the party we had this program, you know, we read scriptures and things, and then we had the best food ever. We had the traditional cabbage soup that Slovaks eat on Christmas Eve (I have really taken a liking to these things: Cabbage/Sauerkraut, Homemade sausages, potatoes, sour cream. Still tolerating pickles.) Then they have potato salad..a little different than american potato salad but you know. Potatoes, potatoes. Then, usually, slovaks would eat Carp for christmas. Our branch was not going to buy fish for everyone. And turns out, most Slovaks do not have Carp. Whenever I am talking to someone on the bus or something about it, they all tell me that there are too many bones and it is too 1) hard to cook and 2) dangerous to eat, so everyone just eats whatever other fish they like. Then we had delicious pastries. I had no idea what was in them.

Anyway, so this week has really been jam-packed. We have so many people to teach that we do not have enough time to teach everyone! We are trying to call a million people to do Christmas visits, and it is really quite an excursion. It feels like I have been running a marathon for a whole week--but the best part is that I can do it! Such a good feeling. And yes, maybe sometimes we only have five minutes to stuff something down our throats for lunch, but it is so worth it.

A goal that I made was to talk to every family with kids that we see, no matter where we are. And what wonderful results we have seen from our sacrifice. We have been immensely blessed. We have gotten so many numbers--I could not believe when we totaled the 9 or 10 numbers we had received in our first 2 days. The best part about Sister Parsons and I being together again is yes, we are both very new. Yes, we have really been thrown into missionary work. But no, we are not drowning, and nothing can stop us! Somehow the language is here. We might not sound super educated and we are not always completely crystal clear, but the language is not a barrier! Which is wonderful! In fact, we travelled to Brno and back! Woohoo! (But really, that was a little intense)

Anyway, speaking of the language, I had to give a 15 minute talk on sunday in Slovak, which was a little intimidating. President Van Dalen said that he "wanted to hear about the Spirit of Christmas from someone who actually had it". So I really tried my best. It was kind of an awkward sacrament meeting since I also played the piano and sang a musical number. It was kind of like "Woo look at sister Abbott" A little awkward. 'specially since I probably said the same phrase in my talk 1000 times. Hahaha

Something that little poor sheltered Utah me did not know came with the holidays is this thing called alcohol. Haha so weird. They just sell so much hot wine and beer at the markets. But the markets are still so beautiful! I will spare you all the drunk/fireworks(really loud fireworks here) stories for now, but haha just something funny that happened this week was that we met this guy to teach him and of course he was in the marketplace, totally drunk and playing his accordian, and wanted to have a lesson right in the middle of the market, so I just thought, okay we will just teach him something really quick. Obviously that was a bad option because he was not listening at all, and I felt like we needed to leave, so (in slovak obviously), I just said quite firmly, We will Not teach you if you are drunk, and this is Not a spiritual place. We left and I was a little frazzled and Sister Parsons was just laughing so hard. It was pretty funny. All I know is that we are so protected by the promptings of the Holy Ghost! haha

Haha I am just laughing about this right now.

Done laughing. So we went to Brno this weekend (in the Czech Republic) for our Christmas training, and it was so wonderful! Although Kosice is so far away--haha, we are closer to the mission homes in Ukraine and in Hungary than we are to Prague--The train ride was fun because there was SNOW!!!!!!!!! We do not have snow in the city yet but going through the mountains was a winter wonderland. It finally felt like Christmas! Ah! And our training was so wonderful--we did a lot of Czech/Slovak traditions, like splitting an apple for good luck, eating wafers with honey and garlic on them, and floating candles in walnut shells. And of course, eating a huge meal. President talked about Christ (samozreme haha) and His life, and about the story of the people lifting their friend through the roof of His house to be healed. It was so inspiring. He talked about how we all need to "lift our corner" and that each and every one of us is a good missionary and we contribute, no matter where we are. He gave us all a kind of mutual blessing--well, it was literally a blessing, and it was really the coolest thing that has ever happened. I felt like I was getting a patriarchal blessing or something. It was really incredible.

Well, I don't have a ton of time to write, but I just want to wish everyone Merry Christmas! I love you all and am grateful for the influence each one of you has had on my life! This year I have thought a lot about the Shepherds, and about how they were really one of the only ones who had to exercise their faith in the Nativity scene. Mary, the wise men, Joseph--all were commanded by someone to fulfill their callings. But the shepherds had a clear choice. To go, to leave their sheep, and exercise their faith, to see a baby and believe that he was their Savior--or  to stay contentedly at their work. And they did. They chose to go and see their Savior, and to be the first to behold their Salvation. And when they did this, they immediately began to spread the word abroad, that a Messiah had been born, and that they had found their Salvation. How incredible they are!
(Sorry, blurry, but totally necessary)

Anyway, before I get too excited,

Merry Christmas,
Vesele Vianoce,

I will talk to some of you soon :)

s laskou,
Sestra Abbott

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Here we are at another end...transfer week.

Transfer week! 

This week was completely crazy and remarkable at the same time. We did so much!

We taught so many people! We had so many miracles! I do not have very much time to write, but I just want to say that CAROLING IS AMAZING. That man we caroled up to last week? Yeah. He is amazing. He met with us and is the best human.

Then, we went caroling again this last sunday, and had such miracles. The cutest young mom put her two little girls up in the window to listen to us, and then they all came out and gave us Christmas ornaments, and set up a return appointment. Shortly afterwards we got two more return appointments, one with a family! And we handed out many pass along cards while people tried to give us money.

I finally made halusky by myself and it was a complete success.

We went to the 12 apostles, an amazing restaurant that Elder Bednar supposedly ate at. PS Do you know he has ancestors from Slovakia?

Discovered the cutest little place to tract at and have a return appointment there also.

The Christmas trh is still as cute as it ever has been, and is the most wonderful market. We got trtlniks, most delicious things, and sister seninger bought a hat that looks like a Koala. However, the namestie gets SO crowded and everyone is drinking hot wine at night so we kind of have to stay clear.

Lastly, we had transfer calls. I just put it out of my mind until it finally came. I was so terrified. Really. I had no idea about what was going to happen. But president called, and told Sister Seninger she was going back to Bratislava, where she started her mission exactly a year ago. Then he told me I was going to stay here in Kosice HOORAY and my companion was going to be..

wait, short side note, there is a girl in the library now that is on familysearch.org. We are freaking out and so confused.

Oh, so my companion is Sister Parsons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can anyone believe this? Surely I still cannot. We are follow-up training each other. Hahahahaha
All I can do is laugh.

Today we went with the senior service couple here in Kosice to Presov to visit this really cool home for handicap people that we have been helping. It is really nice and the people there are wonderful. We sang for them and they all gave us little gifts.

Anyway, I am still as grateful as ever to be here in Kosice surrounded by wonderful people, and especially grateful to be serving the Lord! I know he will help us in this work and will support us after all that we can do. He is my feet, legs, and mind, and I hope I can do His will wherever I am!
I love you and will talk to you, well family, soon!!

happy holidays.

Sestra Abbott

Mikuláš Memories (Hehehe was this the cheesiest title or what)

First off--I'm sorry because last week, I think that I wrote Michalovce instead of Mikuláš, because I was talking about Michalovce when I was writing my email. Michalovce is a city. Mikuláš is a holiday. So sorry...

Second off, this week was jam packed of wonderful things. On Monday, we went to the most INCREDIBLE MUSEUM and I am not even really sure where it is but it is in a little city outside of Košice, and has all these human bones in an old church and really insane cool stuff. The weirdest thing is that it is only 1 euro to get in and they do not even have security, and there are just literally human bones in paper bags that they dug up, and all out in the open, and it is all very confusing but the government will not give them funding so basically that is how it is and it is all really weird. And you have to set up a little private tour for yourselves because it is not always open. And there is like not much light and no air conditioning or heating systems. BUT IT WAS SO COOL.

Second of all, (Hahahah I just realized I already said second off, but oh well) it was birthday for
Andrej on monday, which was a lot of fun because we had FHE and were making clay nativities and all that jazz. The big 20! he is literally so funny. 

Also, I totally wrote this whole list of what I wanted to write about this week, and I forgot it. Again. So I am really sorry. I guess there is something on the list that I was not supposed to write about or something. 

On thursday, we got to do our districts once-a-training cultural event, and we went to a ballet! Hahaha it was so fun. It was a Slovak story called Janošik, which is basically a more tragic version of Robin Hood where everyone dies in the end. But it was funny and a great time. A miracle that happened after that is that we were on the bus, and we saw a dad and his daughter who we had talked to on the bus one time before! He said he is trying to make time to meet with us. Tešime sa na to. BUT ACTUALLY BECAUSE HE IS SO SUPER COOL.

I also met the coolest mom this week named Silvia. We had talked to her one time on the bus before, and commented on her red coat, and then again I saw her on the bus, and waved, and then this week we got on the bus and there she was again, just sitting there! So obviously that was a znamenie and I had to sit with her and I sat down and said, in Slovak, You still have a pretty red coat! And then found out she is a mom of three boys, and got her number. I am literally (yes, literally.) so grateful for the Holy Ghost. The gift of tongues is so real. I sometimes look at how much I have progressed in the last four months and just been really confused because I do not understand how I am speaking a different language, or how I understand all these people around me. But it is what I do! I talk to people in a different language all day! And about the gospel! It is incredible, and I definitely have not and do not do any of it on my own. And of course, I am not even near perfect, but when I cannot do it, the Lord makes up the difference.

On friday we did the last session of our sewing blankets activity, and it was such a success. Five people who we texted came! I could not believe it. Even a mom with twins from english came and sat with us the entire time. She reminded me so much of just a regular mom, with her 16 year old twins calling because they were fighting over the TV...it was so wonderful. I love families so much and as we pray to find them, we do! So excited for Christmas and hope we will be able to teach the families that we find. 

Most importantly (okay, maybe not) Mikuláš was this week!!!!!!!! Best thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved it too much. Why we do not have it in America I do not know. The tradition is that Mikuláš (St. Nick) comes on the morning of Dec. 6th because it is his name day (Everyone in Slovakia has a name day pretty much) and puts good yummy treats and things in childrens boots if they have been good, and coal and whips if they have been bad. And on Christmas, Santa does not come, Baby Jesus does. SO. 
It was just so fun because now Košice is all lit up and the shops are all open (went and got a potato pancake thing. WILL RETURN SHORTLY) and the lights are all over and there is a giant tree and all that jazz. And I love it. And music everywhere, most of which is in English, but some in Slovak and Italian and Spanish, and I just loved it. 

he who wants to live long, has only to drink water :)
Of course Mikuláš did not come to us because we are Američanki, and we also forgot to put our polished boots on the windowsill, but Prezident Van Dalen did a good job at giving us lots of Slovak and Dutch treats. And Sestra VanDalenova made us homemade sausages this week, which I am not really sure what was in them, but they were way too yummy with potatoes and sauerkraut. 

THEN on Saturday we had a very busy schedule, sometimes we have to juggle around our studies in order to try and get all of our teaching appointments in, but we had a few miracles when we had only been out contacting for a few minutes.We gave away a Kniha Mormonova, and ran into this mom who we talked to a few weeks ago who was just crying and did not give us her number--but THIS TIME SHE DID BECAUSE SAMOZREME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ZNAMENIE! And then, the weirdest thing, on Sunday morning we ran into that dad on the train again. Just while we are on the topic of miracles. 

And also, we went christmas caroling as a district and it was too fun. Four kids out caroling. There was a guy sitting up on the fourth floor in his windowsill smoking with the window open, and we yelled up to him and were like, hey! Can we sing to you? and he was just like, yeah, sure, go ahead! So we sang up to him, and he asked all these questions and got his number and will go back and meet with him now! SO BOOM CHRISTMAS MIRACLES

So, basically, this week was just really good. As always. Christmas is coming and Košice has a gazillion people in it, and food and music and we gave away like 5 kniha mormonova s this week, and just everything was wonderful. This week, I think I learned a lot about the atonement as well. I am so grateful for the strength I recieve from it. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to utilize its saving power and access the blessings that my Father has for me. I hope I can constantly be tailored by the Lord in order to return to Him again, and I am more grateful than ever for the plan of salvation and the opportunity I have to grow and progress on earth, and prepare for exaltation with my family. And how trusted we are as missionaries to be sharing this with the people here in Slovakia! 

Anyway, I love you, I pray for your success and health, and know the Lord has blessings He is waiting to give to you. 

Happy holidays,

Vesele Vianoce, 

Sestra Abbott

OH! PS READ HELAMAN 5 I just love it. More than ever. I love Nefi and Lehi and their incredible examples. I was reading, and thinking about the man Aminidab, who once had known the truth in the story and helped everyone repent. And I was just thinking, he is an inactive member, a member of a family who has fallen away, who has people praying for him. He is the prodigal son that the father was praying would come back, the member of a ward that once fell away, and those peoples prayers brought about this amazing event. Prayer works! And maybe an event that earth-shattering took place because of peoples diligent prayers for an inactive member. Just a perspective but still. Love Helaman 5.

s laskou,

Sestra Abbott

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hidden Poklad (treasure)

This week was really wonderful, of course. It started with the most wonderful thanksgiving we could ask for (Do I use the word wonderful a lot? Because I feel like I do...Sorry.) I thought it was a little strange to be away from home, but I did not even really think about it until after the day was over because I was surrounded by so many wonderful people! The Millers, our senior couple here in Košice, were so good at organizing everything so we could have as close to an american thanksgiving as possible.

We had everything! Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes sidenote--Sister Seninger and I were assigned to make the mashed potatoes. The Vandalenovci and the Millerovci and the Elders were all going to be there, so we pĺanned to make quite a lot. But then the Elders stressed us out because they were warning us "You better make enough mashed potatoes" And "If we run out of potatoes it will not be Thanksgiving" So we made even more, and now we still have about 10 kilo extra mashed potatoes. And they ate a lot of them. So there is that.

We also made rolls! And they worked even though we have no way to tell how hot our oven is!

Some of our biggest miracles this week-- 

i did not take this picture 
We were going to contact by Sestra Burdigova house, and we hopped on the tram, even though we knew we would not have very much time by the time the tram got us there. We felt good about it anyway. Well, there was a weird situation with the tram, so we got off after just one stop and decided to just contact there and find the family that we have been searching for. We stopped every person we saw, and no luck. It was freezing outside and nobody wanted to stop. We continued on, and saw this old woman carrying a bag of groceries, hobbling down the sidewalk. We passed her and as we smiled and said, "Dobrý!" she dropped her bag on the ground and started crying. We helped her with her bag and held her arms and walked her to her apartment. She told us her husband had died only a couple weeks earlier and this was the first time she was going to get the groceries on her own. We sat in her apartment with her, and she showed us pictures of him and her family. I have never felt so blessed to be in the right place at the right time. If we have righteous desires, the Lord will put us in situations where we can serve and fulfill our baptismal covenants.

so many miracles, but I will just write this incredible one that happened yesterday because it is going to take a minute to write..

Yesterday, we were going tracting. We have had our eye on these streets up the mountain for the last little while, but there is only one bus that goes up there. oh, the 14 bus. And it comes at really weird times, especially on weekends, when we tract. So we keep trying to catch it and we keep missing it. BUT we were UNDETERRED yesterday, and felt that we must catch this bus. So we did.

Turns out, it went to a totally different part of Košice, and took us to the end of its route, so that was a little weird. The stop took us to a bridge by a river and we could not see much (Because it gets dark at about 4 here), but we could see some houses and streets across the bridge. So we felt like this is where we needed to be. Granted, we had no idea where we were, but this was good.


This little town is the most wonderful place. We found a door that did not have a gate, so we knocked at the door, and immediately, all these little children were there and they were wonderful and wow! A family with five little children (They had to all have been under the age of 8) opened the door. We talked to them for a little bit and the dad had a Kniha Mormonova! So we are going back next week.

Then we met ANOTHER family, out on the street, a mom with four kids, the two who we talked to were probably 12 and 14ish. She said we could come back next week as well.

Almost gave a man a Kniha Mormonova.

And another family at the bus stop with the cutest little boy who kept just grinning at me and waving his little fingers.

A hidden poklad right there. 

Oh haha, and turns out that this little town is way far away, and has actually been this little place by the mountains that I love to stare at every single day!!  Dream town.

How blessed are we?! This is truly the Lords work. We see his hand in everything we do and we love it!

And then we made halušky after so..... That was great.

And, it is so magical here. Michalovce is on the 6th, which is when St. Nikolas comes and puts candy in shoes and all that jazz. Baby Jesus comes on Christmas. So there are Christmas lights and trees being put up everywhere, and best of all, the Christmas markets are opening this week! I hope to send pictures soon, because it is like I live in Christmasland. And there are always street performers, and wonders, and all these things. So great. Still has not snowed, but still wonderful. 

However, it is getting really cold. I love scarves and wool socks. 

Well, I forgot to bring my planner to the library (such a greenie, I know) so I do not really remember everything I was supposed to write. There are just so many miracles that my brain explodes! 

I am so grateful this week for prayer. I love the ability we have to communicate with our Father in Heaven through prayer. I know He truly hears us and will strengthen us, and that we can be strengthened in Christ and His atonement every day. I do not know how it is possible that I am still standing on my cold feet every day, but I do know that it is because of the strength I recieve from Christ! I love and can feel the strength I receive from your prayers as well and am ever grateful for them. 

Love you and talk to you soon! Pokoj!

Sestra Abbott