Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Velvet Revolution and Giving Thanks

November 17th was the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Americans were cautioned to not go down to the actual celebration for fear of terrorist presence. We went down last week-end to see the displays, candles and flowers. After the massive changes in other Eastern Block countries in the late 1980's, the Czechoslovak Communist regime could not hope to save itself. The citizens of Prague demonstrated in Wencelas Square in the thousands and despite the obstinate stance of the authorities and contingents of police and security forces, their voices could not longer be silenced. One of the last Communist governments in the world came toppling down. After the peaceful revolution in East Germany a "Velvet Revolution" took place in Prague in November of 1989. It's hard to really understand what this freedom meant to a people who had been under Nazi and then Communist rule for 50 years. How thankful we are for our freedom. Most of the demonstrations which resulted in these revolutionary changes occured on the very spot where Elder Waldo is standing. This is one of the most historic places in the Czech Republic. It is where the Nazi's came when they took over the country in 1939. It is the same place that the Russian's came in 1945, soon to be joined by General Patton and his American forces who went as far as Plzen, to free the Czech's from Nazi rule. Again, in 1968, the Russian's rolled their tanks down Wencelas square to crack down on dissidents and famous martyrs lost their lives. It truly is representive of freedom and sacrifice known only to the Czech people.

On Wencelas Square

This brings us to another season of thanksgiving. . . ."stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even:" 1Chr.23:30 Hopefully we haven't waited for Thanksgiving to thank the Lord for his bounteous blessings of this last year. However we want to remember those blessings. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." 1Cor 9:15 We have witnessed many prepare to make covenants with the Lord and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. ". . and in as much as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, . . . the fulness of the earth is yours. D&C 59:15-16. We have seen the difference the gospel makes in ours and others ability to feel God's love. We have been through many personally challenging experiences that have helped us learn more patience and faith. Those things have given us the opportunity to learn in a way we never have before. We have tried to receive this learning with a cheerful heart. ". . . doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, " D&C 46:7 We have asked the Lord to help us make our weekly Family Home Evenings and Outreach a place where the young people can feel the spirit and His love for them.

On Friday we walked through beautiful Letna Park which is right next to the church building. The sun was shining and the leaves were gently falling. It was a perfect autumn day, perhaps one of the last of the season. We walked to the eastside of the park that overlooks the Vltava River. It is a favorite spot of artists depicting the bridges and spires of Prague. ". . .let thy heart be full of thanks unto God. . . " Alma 37:37 We give thanks to Him for the privilege of being in this beautiful land and to serve in this mission. We give thanks to Him for watching over our family and friends. May we always be willing to ". . . receive it from the hand of the Lord with a thankful heart in all things." D&C 62:7

". . . live in thanksgiving daily for the many mercies
and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."
Alma 34:37

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halloween, Birthday and Reliving the past in Slovakia

Before we leave rijen (October) in Prague we have to show the very traditional "Halloween Party "put on by the young adults....... Halloween is not a Czech holiday but the Czechs certainly got into the spirit of it. That is Sestra Kocky on the end. The party was a success with....

eating donuts on a string,

pumpking carving,

and lots of great costumes!!!!!

The Andersons had us for birthday dinner with Sisters Magidson and Austin, Elders Grimshaw and Erickson. Three investigators, Tanya who is sitting next to me was baptized last week and her daughter Jane is still taking the missionary lessons.
(me in my birthday sweater)

At family home evening, Klara, the young woman in the middle made the most elegant birthday cake for me.
It is decorated in pure chocolate!!!!

Viktor gave me a yellow rose. All this attention and celebrating almost makes is worth is to move on to a new decade.

November 5-7th we attended a "seniors conference" for all the senior missionaries in our mission. It was held in Trencin Slovakia. We stayed in the Brezina Hotel which is located right close to the site where Slovakia was dedicated by Elder Uchtdorf on May 12, 2006 for the proclaming of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We visited the Bojnice Castle which is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the Slovak castles: the castle's fairytale silhouette of steep roofed towers and palaces is the crown of the upper Nitra valley.

The present romantic castle stands on the site of a 12th century medieval castle. In 1889-1910 its last aristocratic owner, Count John Palffy had it reconstructed as a splendid romantic residence on the model of a French gothic chateaux. And romantic it is. . .

I dubs not to be one of the serfs to keep the place up!

I found Elder Waldo playing next to the cannon.

Chivalry is not dead, helping me alight into my carriage!

All those "seniors" again!!

The last morning we were there we walked to the beautiful forested spot where Elder Uchtdorf along with 56 members from the Czech Republic and Slovakia met to dedicate this land.

We read together his prayer and then returned to our hotel to share our feelings and testimonies.

Excerpt from his prayer that was especially touching for us

"We are standing on top of this beautiful hill, with a cloud-covered sky above us that is opening up just enough that the sunlight is shining and warming all who are here. We pray that the gospel, with its light and warmth will come to all the people who are living in this beautiful country, even to those who do not know yet what a wonderful pearl of great price is available here. We are in the city of Trencin, which is also known as the Pearl of Provazie. This place has been known to the world beginning from 180 years after the birth of our Savior, our Redeemer. It is located at the beautiful river of Vah., in the shadows of the Carpathian mountains.
Bless all the members of the church to be a light and a blessing for the people of this nation. Bless the youth of this country, and especially the youth of the Church, that they will see the light which is coming from on high, through inspiration and revelation and through learning and studying the restored gospel. Bless them with moral and physical health and strength to make inspired decisions.
Oh God, our Heavenly Father, soften the hearts of the people, especially the youth. Grant that they may be curious concerning this work, that they will be searching for the truth... Grant that the spirit of the adversary may be limited and curtailed... Wilt Thou raise up men which are willing to accept the truth and who will see the light which is coming from Thy gospel and the faithful membership in Thy Church. Please open doors into the homes and into the hearts of the people."