This week was much more positive in the "Terrified of Croatia" department. :)
(Also, I just like to add that I'm sitting at a computer with a large TV blasting very loud croatian, music. pretty proud of myself, because I can understand a lot. but also pretty mad, because its really distracting. hahaha)
Wow I have to recap from last pday first. Okay. haha. So YEP. There were some complications over here with our apartment and paperwork and stuff, so we had to make a bit of a detour to Slovenia for a bit. All we did was drive across the border, go to a really cool little town, eat at a bakery, visit a church (a beautiful church), and then drive back. THEN we visited Opatija for a quick second :) Oh man. So beautiful. We went to this amazing Catholic cathedral, and walked around. But yes. I DROVE. Um. The roads here are so different from American roads... what the heck. First of all, there are no yellow lines. They're all white. So trying to decipher which side of the road was which, proved difficult. I ended up on the wrong side of the road a couple of times. But hey, we survived. Also, the stoplights are so funny... When theyre going from red to green, they remain red, and then they go yellow, and then they go green. Its like a countdown for a racetrack. And everyone treats it like that. Haha they all PUNCH the gas as soon as it ends yellow and turns green. But Im a missionary... so I drove safely. I couldn't help think I was in real life" Mario Kart" though.
Couple more temporal things: First thing is strictly about food. I've discovered that Croatia has some of the best restaurants of my whole life. Oh. My Goodness. They have this place called Spahgo... and it is the new light of my life. Its this pasta-y italian kind of a restaurant... and its to die for. The vegetables WERE AMAZING. And there are bakeries on EVERY street. And they have these croissants filled with chocolate... and WHY HAS CHOCOLATE NEVER TASTED LIKE THIS BEFORE??? I can tell that I'm not going to lose any weight out here. Such delicious food. Also, everyone loves to make palečinka... ( I think thats how you spell it) but they are really just crepes. But they eat it with everything. A member from our church made us dinner last night, a delicious soup thing, and there on the table, next to the soup, was the palečinka, without fail. Pancakes and soup. All right!
So! We had a crazy busy week, mostly because we went to the MUP (police station) ALMOST EVERY DAY. Ugh, its like the dmv... just takes 300 years, and every time we went to go get our paperwork finished, they told us we forgot a paper... and I was like, why couldnt you have told us all these things the first time!!! So, that put a dent in our missionary work. BUT we still had an awesome week.
The people here are so amazing. Ive met a bunch of members/investigators now (I think almost all of them) and every time I speak to them, (which I don't really say much, I mostly just try and focus on whatever it is they're trying to say.) they just bring this absolutely wonderful spirit... I have never felt so much love for people before. They all have incredible life stories, and such awesome conversion stories. There is one girl, who is inactive, and we went to go visit her last night. Her name is Marina, and were not totally sure what her entire life story is, but she was baptized about 10 or 12 years ago, and shes had a bit of a rough life, and now lives with her grandpa and her uncle, who are the sweetest old men ive ever met. One of them had a cancer growth, and the missionaries went over to his house and gave him a blessing, and the cancer was gone. So cool... Anyway, we were talking to her last night, and we were talking about eternal families, and how God has a plan for us, and how sometimes it might be hard, but that there is always a way to endure. She just started crying and, Im not totally sure what she said, but it was obvious that she was in distress. Her grandmother recently passed away, and she was obviously very close to her. As she was crying, I felt this intense prompting to tell her something (which is big, because i dont think ive said any more than 10 words to her), and I just said, "God loves you. And he wants you to be happy." And perhaps it didn't strengthen her as much as it strengthened me... but I was watching this woman, a daughter of God, crying out in distress, and I think I felt just a hint of what our Father in Heaven feels for us. He wants us to be happy. More than anything else, he wants our happiness. Thats why he has given us this Gospel, and the Plan of Happiness. He hates to see us suffer. He hates to see us sad, depressed, or discouraged. He is our Father. He wants joy for us all. And he can't always take us out of the situation were in, but he can always help us get through it. Thats why we have the scriptures, the prophets, our families... Its why we have laughter, and music, and friends. Its why we have our Savior. We can have happiness in this life, and joy in this life. And we are so blessed as a church, because we know exactly how. By the end of the night, she realized it. She committed to reading her scriptures every day, and I think its really going to rekindle the testimony she once had. Oh my goodness, I love her. I hope she does.
So! We have 4 people who have a baptismal date, and then a couple who is getting married before that baptismal date :) They are seriously the cutest family. Antonija, and her husband Dragan. They have been so prepared... They tell you there are people out here who have been prepared, but you don't actually know what that means until you get here. Everyone here is a convert - they are all first generation members of the church. So they all have these incredible back stories that lead them RIGHT here. Antonija is the perfect golden investigator. Every time we meet for a lesson, shes like Oh! I read about that in the pamphlet, and I highlighted it in the Book of Mormon, and then I read the Sunday School manual about it. Sestra Peterson and I just look at each other like... why are we even here? She doesn't even need us. Haha. But she has a really sick little baby who had a twin baby sister who died, so this little boy has to be in the hospital a lot. Were trying to get them married and baptized by the 26th of April, but well see.
We also had a district meeting with President Rowe on Friday. He was concerned about me, and even called me the other night just to make sure I was doing okay. He is the best... he cares so much about us. And we can all feel it. He had an interview with me and and gave me a Priesthood blessing, and it helped so much. Essentially, the most important think Ive been learning this past week is that this mission is not about me... and Ive been really concerned about my family, and my friends, and my homesickness, and my jet lag, and my efforts... And President Rowe said, "Perhaps you need to relax, refrain from thinking about yourself, and think of all the ways you can serve others." And Ive been really trying to do that lately, and its helped so much... Ive felt much more at peace with everything, even if I can't understand anything. Im going to be pretty sad when President Rowe gets released... He is great. (He is leaving the end of June, and the new mission President arrives on July 1st)
Also, I came up with this little language plan? (okay I didn't come up with it, but i finally decided to implement it) and during church yesterday, I had my little notebook out and was just writing down all of the words that I DIDNT know, so that I could look them up later. And the more I concentrated to the talks, the more I realized I actually understood! And then I got this crazy headache, because I was concentrating so hard, and actually understanding what they were saying, but only after I heard the word, recognized it, translated it, and then put it in place with the other words in the sentence. And then I missed the next 3 sentences trying to write down that ONE word I didnt know. BUT! its great :) I felt so much better about that.
Anyway! Today were going to the beach! This Carlsbad girl needs her beach :)
Love Sestra Catherine Chauncey