Monday, November 24, 2008

November or Listopad in Prague

Winter has finally arrrived in Prague this week with snowstorms and cold wind, but these first two photos were taken before the winter blast! Petrin Hill is one of Prague's favorite parks, high above the city. You can take a funicular( that's a fun word) railway car to the top or walk it. We walked up (after a baptism, hence the suit). That is Prague Castle in the background. We rode the funicular railway back down. We continue to find new places to explore!

We haven't seen alot of beggars in Prague, but the ones we have seen are in this position to petition for help. But we are all beggars of sorts. We depend upon our Eternal Father who created us. We recognize that is one of many reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving.

We had dinner with a young family: the Bywaters and Ed Barner, both from our Branch. The Bywaters are here doing a project for a masters in architecture and we will be living in Ed's apartment for 4 months while he is in the United States. (It is a lovely big apartment, plenty of room for visitors!!!) As you can see the Bywaters have three adorable children and it was so good to get our arms around some littles ones. We realize how much we miss our own.

Today was the missionary Turkey bowl-Thanksgiving feast! The "red" zone beat the "blue" zone. Um, seems to me I've heard that somewhere else lately. The feast afterward was complete with KFC (no turkeys in Prague)? However we did have homemade rolls and pumpkin pie. Quite a treat since the pumpkin is imported. What a grand time the missionaries had together!!!
Whether you live in a country that celebrates thanksgiving or not we can't let November 2008 become a memory without giving thanks to the Lord for His bounteous blessings this past year. We welcomed into our family a worthy son, how grateful we are that JJ and Natalie make each other so happy. We received two little cherubs straight from the presence of God. We watched as fathers, mothers and siblings lovingly adjusted. We cheered as young boys developed their talents at the keyboard, the playing field and in the classroom. We observed little girls learn to sing and dance and create. We witnessed the hand of the Lord in blessing husbands and wives strengthen eternal marriages. We watched him comfort those who lost loved ones and strenghten those with physical and spiritual challenges. We felt the power of the priesthood as worthy sons gave us blessings and as our Stake President placed his hands on our heads to set us apart as the Lord's servants to serve in the Czech Republic. We have felt His watchful care as we continue to adjust to a new calling, language and culture. We have felt your prayers of faith and words of encouragement. Mail in the inbox certainly has taken on a new meaning. We know the Lord loves us and all of you, our dear family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving to you ALL!
" in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you ." Alma 34:38

Monday, November 10, 2008

Variations on a theme of Missionary Work

A preview of things to come, (can you find Elder Waldo?) or I uploaded my photos in the wrong order and it takes too much time to start over!

These are the missionaries in our district: Robbins, Perez, Lee, Robbins
Whiting, Rowberry, Chambers and McLaughlin. We just finished our weekly district meeting and we all have our fingers up in support of Elder McLaughlin who practically cut his finger off with his Leatherman. Ouch!!!!! Everyone has such a happy smile because we were eating Halloween candy during district meeting sent to us by Aunt Susie. We all thank you!!
On the tram to our first contact finding activity with the missionaries. They take this sign and set it up in one of the city parks and sing hymns.

(Insert photos of singing missionaries :)

Three or four missionaries contact the people in the park while the others sing. When it was Elder Anderson's turn he turned to me and said, "Let's go." OK says I, I'll give it a try", knowing my Czech is very limited it will be fun to see him in action. He talked to a young man and then two young women who weren't interested and then he saw an older woman sitting on a bench and turned to me. "This one is yours." "But ..." "No buts about it!" I said the only thing I could think of: "We have a message about the Book of Mormon." The woman threw her hands in the air and exclaimed. "No, no I don't want to hear about it!!" Elder Anderson calmed her down and she did wish us good health. I guess I have some work to do on my contacting skills.

Elder Chambers is more successful

When we have some time we have been hopping on a tram and taking it to the end of the line just to see the city. We have found that near the ends of this lines are huge apartment complexes called panaloks. These were built by the communists to alleviate the housing shortage and to build what they thought would be ideal communities. We have been told that they were all grey in color and you can see since theCzechs have taken over they have brightened things up!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What we have learned in one month...

Eating a trdlnik,(that is not a typo) a piece of dough wrapped around a 4 inch wooden cylinder, baked, rolled in sugar and cinnamon. Eaten warm on a cold day.. Trdlnik je skvele!
(Trdlnik are wonderful)

We have now been residents of the Czech Republic for one month and here are some of the things we have learned:
1. You can hear Czech, English, Russian, French, Spanish, Farsi and Bulgarian spoken in the same block or at church. Unfortunately we don't understand much of any of them except English. Even the dogs understand more than we do.!!
2. We have too many new things to learn: our phone number has 9 digits, the tram to church is number 8; the tram to town is 18, new pin # - - - -, new apt # is 521, we live on the B metro line, the church is on the A , man's surname is Chanek, but his wives' name is Chanecova, your name may be Jan, but we call you Honza and on and on...
3. Everyone rides the trams or metro. Some of the escalators down are 5 stories. It is hard to get people to smile on the trams and metro.
4. Czechs love dyed hair, especially anything from pumpkin orange to eggplant purple. (There are alot of dreadlocks)
5. Czech babies are beautiful and are seen all bundle up and out and about in any weather.
6. You have to shop often, remember everthing you buy you have to carry home. Luckily we only live a block and a half from the grocery store. (Oh that's why they sell milk in 1 litre bottles and the largest bag of sugar is 1 kilo.)
7. Czech chocolate is delicious and I know someone who is becoming addicted. He trys to justify it by pointing out its antioxidant properties.
8. Czech chickens only lay brown eggs.
9. There is just enough humidity to flatten your hair or curl it. (If only I had some curl.)
10. The Lord promised to "be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." and he has. We know the names of some of those angel and they begin with "Elder" or "Sister."

Remember when I wrote about returning to the cathedral that was so crowded. Well we did! It is the St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. It took 600 years to complete it. (where's Waldo?)

It is magnificently huge and the stained glass windows are exquisite.

There is a tower of one side with 287 steps to the top. They say the view is fabulous. The tower was closed and won't open until April, so we will return again, because we live here.

On November 1st we helped with a Super Sabota (Super Saturday) for the young adults. This was our group. We had a yummy lunch, good class and fun games. There are some great faithful young people here.

That same night the branch had a Halloween party and these 3 characters (the ones on the right) showed up along with quite a few others. We left a little early to go to cemetery. Halloween isn't a big holiday here, but Nov. 1st is All Saints Day. The graves are decorated with elaborate floral arrangements and candles are lit on all the graves at night. The 3 Elders wanted to go with us, I think mostly just to get a reaction on the metro and they certainly did. First time I've seen the Czechs smile.

This crucifix was in the cemetery and people had placed lit candles at the base of the statue. I find it interesting that people who claim to be atheists still feel strongly the light of Christ.