Saturday, January 24, 2009

This and That in January 2009

Along with the Alsops we visited Prague's Loreta. It was built in 1626 and is a replica of Mary's home in Palestine. Unlike the simple original the shrine became a complete complex with several chapels, buildings and ornate cloisters. The story says that many years ago during an outbreak of the plague in Prague there lived a woman whose children one by one fell sick and died. With her last coins she paid to have the church bells rung whenever a child died. She also succumbed to the plague, but of course there was no one to pay to have the bells rung for her. All of a sudden the bells of the Loreta rang out playing a hymn to Mary. The same tune has been played up to the present day. (We heard it too!) Over the years this has become not only a place of artistic importance but a place of Christian pilgrimage. Inside there is a treasure room containing the gifts of thanksgiving from many Christian pilgrims which include magnificent crowns and monstrances made of gold, diamonds, pearls and other precious stones. They don't allow photos inside so you'll just have to come and see them for yourself. But... don't come in January!!! This is the coldest I think I have ever been. Even with thermals and 4 layers!!!

We were invited by this good brother, Jiri Suk, for dinner. His home is in a thirteen-floored green with yellow polka dotted building. (It was dark or I would have taken a photo) Before dinner with a smile he said, "I like to show people my home." He then pointed to the kitchen on one wall of the room, the study on the adjoining wall and the bedroom/living room on the opposite wall. It was very small, but most gracious. When you enter a Czech home you remove your shoes and are offered "house shoes" which are slippers. After a delightful dinner, he told us about his conversion to the church 14 years ago. He overheard 2 missionaries on a tram telling a fellow about free English classes. He asked them if he could come. I can only imagine how happy the Elders were to have him ask to come! He said he only went because he wanted to learn English, but they soon started teaching him the gospel and he was baptized about four months later. He showed us his photo album and most of it was of missionaries, church activities, the temple in Frieberg, even some photos of a visit from Elder and Sister Jeffery Holland. He has become a great strength to the branch here.

In the living/bedroom!!
I've been thinking about a conversation I had with a young woman who came to Family Home Evening. I asked her what made her listen to the Sisters who first contacted her. She said it was the light in their eyes that caught her attention and she wanted to know why they appeared so happy. Unfortuately she has decided not to join the church. She knows it requires her to give up much of her lifestyle. I have gained a greater appreciation of what so many give up to join the church - traditions, lifestyle, friends and sometimes even family. I so admire their courage and faith.
As I said before since Christmas is has been biting cold in this country, but I think the hardest part has been the overcast sunless days. However, this week we had a perfect sunny "spring-teaser" day. This city is full of ("kvetiny's") flower shops and the one right in front of the grocery store was flaunting it's blooms on this gloriously sunny day and I LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

"On the street where we live."

The "land once cold" is cold again today - 9 degrees
Our apartment on Luzicka in the Vinohrady district of Prague
No grafitti on the outside of our apartment building, which is significant over here.
Elder Waldo (not so hard to find) in the front room, enjoying a treat!

Sestra Robbinsova home from a grocery excursion. Four blocks to the tram, then two more to Tesco. All to be repeated with all the groceries I could carry. Starsi Robbins usually comes to be the bag boy, but this was a lighter shopping day.

Every morning when we look out the living room window we expect to see Burt
aka. Dick Van Dyke and the chimney sweeps dancing across these rooftops.
We are 5 stories up and it made a great vantage point for viewing the fireworks on New Years eve. Not just in one or two locations but all over the entire city. Individuals light even the big, high exploding kind, we normally see on the 4th of July. It was a firework war, that went on for 45 minutes!!!! I thought I had it all on video, but apparently my video skills are not as proficient as I thought! (I'm sure my children are shocked!!. Where are they when I need them?)