Monday, December 23, 2013

A BUSY Christmas week of border crossings and amazing people

Vesel Božič!!!!!!!

This week has been an absolutely insane week. Truly insane. Truly.  As I logged out last week from writing my letter, it began to snow. The first true snow of the year. But the snow was not long lived. It stayed on the ground for a few days, and then on Thursday (when we had an... adventurous border crossing and our Christmas Party in Zagreb) The sun came out and it has been really nice weather ever since. Almost 9 degrees Celsius I heard yesterday on Sunday!! So nice and warm!

As I just mentioned, on Monday last week, I still wasn't sure if I was going to get to go to the Christmas party for the whole mission in Zagreb yet as my renewed visa still hadn't come in yet. And so Tuesday morning I called the visa person we work with as missionaries to hear that my visa was still in process, and thus had absolutely no chance of making it to me before Thursday. No Chance. Done. And so, that was sad. I resigned myself into sinking mindset that I would simply have to find someone (I have no clue who also cause everyone was busy) to spend the day in Slovenija while everyone else went on to Zagreb. 

Then, the day before, on Wednesday, I talked with the zone leaders who said they talked with the visa person who said that if I had the paper confirming that I was in the process or reapplying for my visa I could still cross the border even though I didn't have the visa!! I had hope!!!!... until I looked at the paper itself, and there in the last sentence it said, ˝This confirms for the foreigner the ability to reside in the Republik of Slovenija, but is not valid for border crossing.˝ None the less, we all decided we were going to go for it, so I quickly found a white elephant gift, was up at 5am Thursday morning, and on a train by 6:30. Keep in mind now that Elder Burdette meanwhile had the same issue as I did. And so, we quickly arrive at the border, the border guards come on the train, and start checking all the other missionaries visas. All is well, then they get to Elder Burdette first. He had the great plan of just giving them his passport without the old visa card like everyone else, which immediately got him caught. However, he presented the guard with the old visa card and the confirmation and they said it was fine and moved on to me. I had quickly wised up and slipped my old visa card into the passport, and didn't get a second glance from the border guard! Before too long we had arrived in Zagreb!!

Then the next question was getting back in. But the process was the exact same. I simply gave them my visa with my old visa card, and all was well, them simply stamping my passport and moving on. And so that was incredibly stressful, but we ultimately had no problems.

As for the spiritual work this week, I am probably the busiest now that I have ever been in...... for sure since I've been in Celje, if not for my whole mission. We doubled how many visits we had last week from this week, and even yesterday we were running from appointment to appointment, ending late in the end because of all the work. 

Furthermore, I had a bike accident yesterday as we rushed to our first appointment. As we were going through a right angle corner around a building (on a side street) I was leading. I've always hated that corner because it is impossible to see around it before you start to go through it. So I was leading, and start to go through it, to find a car coming towards me only about 2-3 meters away. I quickly brake, which ultimately was a bad decision, as the hard brake mixed with the damp streets caused my bike to skid off balance and me come crashing to the ground. But hey! It's better than getting hit by a car, right? My right hip is now really sore along with my right elbow, and I tore some of the skin on my hand, but in a few days it will all be well.

But this week, one of our English class students who we started meeting with a week or two ago personally about the gospel has suddenly showed a lot of interest. He said he is willing to meet with us almost every day, and came to both our Christmas Concert here in Celje (which was a WONDERFUL success, we had nearly 50 people here for it) and then church services the next Sunday. He is reading the Book of Mormon nearly every day and is finding new personal spiritual insights with nearly every single sentence he reads. I can see him progressing very quickly.

Also, we met with a referral we received from the mission office this week who lives in Velenje, about a good 20 minute drive away from Celje. She had lived in America for a good amount of time and there had investigated a few faiths, but when she moved back she was disappointed as she found she had no one with whom she could have these spiritual conversations with her. Until she somehow (we're still not sure how she came in contact with us) found us. She has a lot of questions, but seems sincerely interested in finding and coming to know the truth of God herself.

The work here in Celje is insanely busy, even despite the Christmas time. Elder Lyman is wonderful and a master of language now practically. He is a wonderful missionary. Otherwise all is well. Looks like we'll have another green Christmas this year. Who would have guessed the two years I live someplace where it can snow that both years would be green Christmases. Oh well. No complaints as long as this year isn't as insanely snowy as last year was.

Sending warm greetings and love and care from across the ocean! Merry Christmas!!!
-Starešina Benson

Zone Conference Dec 3,

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