Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 10: Lack of Sleep, Weird Keys, and a Side of Mustard

October 24, 2016

Hello everybody! So it turns out that I'll be serving the next 2 (or more?) months in Нови Сад, Србија! That is, Novi Sad, Serbia. My companion is Elder Jex, who's been on his mission for just over a year.  I only understand maybe 40% of what natives say, depending how fast they talk, but my companion, Elder Jex, can get it since he's been here a year. I can speak fairly well if I just come up with something to say fast enough. As a cool thing that doesn't fit anywhere else in this email, the keys here are awesome. Some of them are huge, some of them look archaic, and some of them look sponges. I'll have photos next week ;)

So, our last MTC P-day involved a lot of packing. Also, I ran into a few BYU friends on my way to the temple, and one of the temple workers had made some really tasty spaghetti for us, since it was our last day there. That night was also our list time seeing each of our teachers. Tears were shed, pictures were taken, and hands were shook. Good stuff. We also read Alma 17, which starts off talking about the sons of Mosiah and their missionary experiences. We all related to that stuff a lot.

Me with Brad Blackham, who was one of my roommates from BYU
Elder Leach and I with one of our MTC teachers, Sister Watts
Sunday was a little bit crazy. In church, I was one of the people randomly selected to speak. The topic was The Book of Mormon, and I had my general outline with a few quotes written down. I went up and mostly just followed the spirit. "Oddly enough", I ended up talking a lot about Christ, his Atonement, and how The Book of Mormon testifies of him. Christ is the center of our church and everything we teach, so I guess it was only natural that that's where I'd be led to focus my thoughts. At the end of the meeting, our district (the departing missionaries) sang my translation of "A Child's Prayer". It went quite well, I thought. I love how the song emphasized that God, our Heavenly Father, loves and hears each and every one of us. He cares about you.

That night Elder Leach and I watched "Open Your Mouth" by Elder Holland. It was a devotional he gave at the MTC a few years ago that talked about the importance of sharing this wonderful knowledge which we have, and how words are really our only tool to help others come unto Christ. one of my favorite things he said was something like "the truth must be stated to be known". It seems kinda obvious, but it emphasized the fact that we need to just tell people about Christ and his love before they can come to know for themselves of his love.

Monday and Tuesday were a lot of travel. While in Germany I tried legit German food. I got "Frankfurter mit brot" and it was pretty good. 2 long skinny sausages, a hard little split-top roll thing, and a pack of mustard-ish stuff. I don't usually like mustard, but I was in Germany, so I put it on everything and it was awesome.

My travel itinerary: From Salt Lake to Chicago, then to Frankfurt Germany, and on to Zagreb, Croatia
 I wasn't able to sleep during any of the flights. Never enough room to be able to get into a comfortable position. So, I was awake from 3:30am Utah time on Monday, until 9:30pm Croatia time on Tuesday (which is 1:30pm Utah time). If I'm doing math right, that's 34 hours. I was definitely feeling it by the end. But, since we had apparently important things to hear and do, we weren't allowed to go to sleep. All of the not-new missionaries there were really good at nicely bugging everyone to stay awake. Any time I sat down or anything, I just clocked out and started drifting off, but they would snap me back awake. There were a few times when I almost fell asleep while standing (I felt like people wouldn't be able to really judge me on that one; if I could manage it, I felt like I deserved it). At one point I was trying to write my name on the back of some little slips of paper, and at one point my brain switched off and I ended up writing arbitrary words such as "study", "origin", and even "¡practico!" (which is "I practice!" in spanish). I only realized it about 5 minutes after I'd finished and put all the papers into a little bag. So, I got them all back out and put my name on all the ones missing it.

My Mission President, President Grant, and his wife, Judy Grant, posed for a picture with me right after I arrived.
One of the cool things right off the bat when we got to the mission office was that we got a temporary "mentor" (while they picked our companions) and we just walked right out into the streets of Zagreb for an hour to go find people to teach. While I was out, we did find one guy who was willing to listen, and got his number for the Zagreb missionaries to contact later.
On Wednesday we had some more training in the mission home, and found out our companions and where we'd be going. That night we all dispersed to our various cities. On Thursday, Elder Jex and I had a fairly normal day. we had a lesson with a less active member. When we met up, he wanted to play chess first, and promptly destroyed us about 6 times in maybe 8 minutes. We also went out into the streets trying to find more people to teach (that's our primary activity so far). Got off a pamphlet to someone who was willing to listen. While we were out, we got Gyros for lunch, and Elder Jex was like "you're going to want to get that sauce back there. it's called Грчка" and then we stepped up to order. When the lady asked me a question I didn't understand, I just said Грчка, thinking she was starting to ask what I wanted on mine. She laughed. Elder Jex later informed me that the discussion went something like this: "will this be for here or to go?" "Greek."

Friday, we got up at 3:30 to drive back to Zagreb for a mission-wide conference where we heard from President Hallstrom from the 70, and Elder Johnston. Their talks were good, but apparently I was too tired to actually properly pay attention. I wonder why. #jetLagPlusNoSleepAnyway. But now it's ok ;) I've gotten enough sleep since then. In any case, it was super cool to get to see all the missionaries from the whole mission all together. When Elder Jex and I got back to Novi Sad that night, we met up with some local friends and got dinner together. That was some good practice with speaking my Serbian, since they also spoke english and could help me along with it.

Saturday was a whole lot of street contacting. It's hard to get up the guts to just stop someone and start talking to them (in Serbian). But, it works out. People are usually polite, even if they don't want to talk about religion. We did find a few people willing to take some pamphlets or give us their number. This city is pretty cool, btw. I like trying to read all the signs written in Cyrillic. There were a few times the last few days when there were fighter jets flying over the city really fast in some kind of show. Apparently it's not a holiday, but it sure seemed like it.

The sights in Novi Sad
Sunday, was when we had church, of course. Elder Jex and I blessed the sacrament, and so I got to read the blessing for the water from a card written in the Cyrillic alphabet. This is was the Cyrillic alphabet generally looks, like, btw: Ја знам да је Исус Христ наш спаситељ и да нас воли Он. I also had the opportunity to start the meeting by introducing myself and bear my testimony (Surprise! jk. Not a surprise at all). After me, Elder Jex was the other speaker, and he talked about grace, and how we are enough right now, thanks to Christ and his mercy. I only asks that we try to follow him and improve ourselves bit by bit.
We also taught Sunday school, about Helaman 5. We focused largely on how we need to build our foundation on Christ. I ended up mostly just writing stuff up on the board, since it takes me a while to come up with something to say which I can say in Serbian. But, I did contribute now and then.

 And today is P-day! So, we get to do our grocery shopping and laundry. It'll be good.

Your homework this week is to read 3 Nephi 11, where Christ first appears to the Nephites and begins teaching them.

Like always, I love you all! Stay awesome.


Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

No comments:

Post a Comment