Monday, May 25, 2015

Over the River and Through the Woods...

Hello Everyone!
Wow it's been a crazy week! Guess what??? I have been in Liberec for exactly 1 Month today!! Isn't that weird?
Well let's get down to business (to defeat the huns). On Monday we had our P day, and we went on this awesome vylet to Sychrov. For the vast majority of you that don't know what that is (don't be offended, I didn't either) it is this really old fortress castle thing! And it's super cool! It was originally built in 951AD!! I'm not good at math, but that means it's like really old!
We had to take a train, and then hike for a bit, but it was totally worth it. I really hope I can send pictures soon because I won't be able to do it justice with just words. We walked around the outside of it, and the grounds, and some other really old buildings we found, and then we got to take a tour of the inside. The tour was in Czech, and since it didn't contain any gospel related terms I had no idea what was going on, but it was BEAUTIFUL. It was kind of a bummer though because you had to buy a photographers license to take pictures inside, so I only have pictures of the outside. Anyway it was an awesome trip!
This week, Sestra Hamblin and I started Max30. Which is like the 30 minute version of Insanity, and man are we sore! It's good though, nothing like starting off your day by destroying your body at 6:30am. I'm just kidding, we're fine, just very sore. We've done it everyday so far (except Sunday, the day of rest) and I think we're getting stronger haha. Hope so!
On Tuesday we had a meeting with a 16 year old girl named Tereza. She is so cool! She's met with the missionaries for quite a while now, and she totally knows all the answers. She's read over half of the Book of Mormon and she's pretty sure that everything we say is true. (I hope you are all waiting for the catch because it's definitely coming.) THE CATCH: She doesn't want to give up drinking and partying with her friends on the weekends. She told us "I'm a teenager and I need to make stupid decisions." Well that's at least what I heard her say, and given my language skills I could be a bit off. But that was the jist of it. We were really sad, but her cousins are members (and really awesome) so hopefully someday she'll want to stop being a silly teenager.
This week on Thursday and Friday we had exchanges. The sister training leaders came and one stayed here in Liberec with me, and the other took Sestra Hamblin back to Prague. Sestra White was my companion for a day and it was pretty fun. It was especially cool for me because I got to be senior companion for a day ;). One interesting event that happened during our exchange was when we went hiking through a forest in the middle of the city.
So we had just missed our bus back from a meeting with one sister, and we had to meet with another sister in 20 minutes. The next bus wasn't going to come for over 30 minutes and we decided that we were going to try to walk back to the church building. So we start walking, and I get the idea to cut through the resevoir (I don't know how to spell that), because it would save us time IF it led to where I thought it would. So we start walking towards the resevoir, and I see some stairs. They seemed to be going in the right direction and I felt like we should try them. So we go up the stairs and they literally lead into a forest. A forest in the middle of Liberec. But we kept walking. We stopped a man and asked him if the path we were on led to the center, and he said yes, so we kept going. Little did we know that there were going to be all sorts of twists and turns and forks in the road, but we just keep doing what we thought was a good idea. If we felt like we should go right, we when right, if left, then left. And so it went on for about 20 minutes. Eventually we can see the end of the forest and low and behold we find another bus stop, and the next bus came about 5 minutes later. And we were only about 7 minutes late to our next appointment instead of 27. (Another small miracle, I was able to communicate to the sister we were meeting with and tell her over the phone that we were going to be late.) God loves His missionaries, and the people they are trying to teach!
On Friday I got to partake of the world famous Sestra Jedličková's Jahody Knedliký (strawberry dumpling things)!! Strawberries are my favorite of the berries and these things were soooo good! I ate so much! And the best part was that it was during our exchange, so Sestra Hamblin didn't get any, so we have to have them AGAIN sometime! Life is really hard here haha.
Then on Saturday we had a branch activity. We went to a giant park and had a picnic and played on the disc golf course. Pretty much no one in the branch even knew what disc golf was, so it was a pretty interesting, but super fun game. We also played regular frisbee and some volleyball, a man in our branch rented some roller blades, everyone had a good time. It was also pretty funny at church yesterday. You could tell exactly who went to the activity because we were all sunburned! We had a blast though.
Yesterday was a really good day too. The BYU nursing students came to our branch again, and we also had some other visitors, so the chapel was almost completely full! That's a special thing for our branch. The talks were all really good, and I think having so many people there brought a new energy to the members. I hope it will last and help them get a little more involved in our missionary efforts.
Later on Sunday we had a dinner appointment with the Brandový. They are the cutest little family! They are all members (well technically speaking just the parents, they have three little boys). They have the cutest little home, and an awesome, huge yard, and they are just so CUTE! We had Mexican food (which is a first for me since being in the Czech Republic) and shared a spiritual thought about the Atonement. Other than that we just got to know each other, since we're still relatively new and don't know everyone quite yet. It was a really fun experience.
Well I think that's everything I've got for y'all. I hope you are all healthy, happy, and safe, and that you enjoy my weekly novel haha. I love you all and want you to know that this gospel is true and Christ is our Savior, and the Holy Ghost works miracles. Seriously nothing we say to people would make any sense to them without the Holy Ghost testifying that it's true.
Have a good week everyone! Talk to you later!
S Laskou,
Sestra Schaerrer
 Pictures from our vylet to Sychrov! 

More from Sychrov! The tree we're sitting on is older than America! (not a fact, but let's face it I'm probably right.)

The rest of Sychrov, we found Rupunzel's (spelling is obviously not my forte) tower! And a picture from our branch activity! Me and Zuzka and Zuzka!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oh little town of Liberec...

Ahoj Everyone!
This week was pretty crazy! I feel like we did so much!!
On Monday after we got done emailing, we went on a vylet to Ještěd, which is pretty much the top of a "mountain", not a mountain by Utah standards, but for the Liberec I guess you could call it a mountain. Anyway so we rode the tram to the bottom of the mountain, then we had to hike up for about 20 minutes, and then we rode a gondola thing up to the top. Once we got to the top you could see all of Liberec and beyond, for miles and miles in every direction. I took pictures, but it's really inconvenient for me to send pictures home, which is why I haven't in a long time. So sorry. Haha. Anyway it was cool to go to the top and look at everything, then we came back down and that was pretty much it.
On Tuesday we visited a less active that lives out in Jablonec. We visited her last week too. She's pretty cool, she lives alone so she really likes having us over. We try to only go once a week though because it takes an hour to get there and back, so if we're not careful it can turn into a 3 or 4 hour trip to go see her. She also always makes us food, a lot of food, and we always have to eat all of it. This particular time, Ses. Hamblin and I ate a whole 9x13 cake by ourselves. We wanted to cry afterwards, but we just smiled and kept eating.
On Wednesday we had our district meeting. We went to a pizza place for lunch, and let me tell you, pizza here is really lame. I mean it tastes good, but it's pretty wimpy in comparison to American pizza. Then in the meeting we had this awesome cake stuff. It's called Marlenka (no idea how to spell it) but it's made out of mostly honey. At first I thought it was weird, but the more I ate the better it tasted and now I think it's one of my favorite foods haha.
On Thursday we did a singing display as a district. It was pretty cool, it was my first one. What we do is half of the group sings, while the other half goes and contacts people. The hard part was that there are only 4 missionaries in our district, and we had one member show up to help us. So the singing wasn't very loud or good, but we did some good contacting. I had to go contacting by myself and it actually went better than I thought it would. I hate talking to people by myself, but I'm a good missionary and do what I'm told so I did it anyway. The gift of tongues is real!!
Later on Thursday we went to visit a member that is technically active, but she doens't come to church very much because of doctors orders. The doctors here are really strict. If you're sick, they'll tell you to stay inside all day, but they'll give you a few hours either in the morning or the afternoon that you are allowed to go outside. The crazy thing though, is that they send people around to your house to make sure you are home when you are supposed to be home. And if you're not, you'll lose all your money and the doctor won't help you any more. So we have a few members that are homebound because of things like that, because they have to be inside during the mornings during church.
On Friday we went to visit the Georgový. They are this really cool family that's from Mongolia and their last name is super crazy, so we just call them the Georgový because the dad goes by George. They live about an hour and a half away from the church building so they are pretty inactive, but they're really great. I think the only reason they are inactive is because of the distance to church. The dad really wants his kids to serve missions and everything, but we're trying really hard to get them to come to church. The kids won't serve missions if their family never comes to church! We love them though, they're really awesome.
Saturday we spent all day at a women's conference in Prague. We went with the sisters from the branch and it was really good. I didn't understand a ton, but what I did understand really helped me a lot. We talked about serving God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, and it was a really good reminder for me to put everything I've got into the work.
On Sunday, a group of nursing students from BYU came to our branch for sacrament meeting. It was kind of funny because they more than doubled the attendance. It was cool to talk to them, and kind of weird to hear and speak that much English. Two of them even spoke in sacrament meeting, their leader person is from Jablonec (a city just outside of Liberec) so he translated the talks into Czech for everyone. The group is supposed to come next week to so that will be cool.
As far as teaching investigators and everything goes, we've had it rough the past couple of weeks. We only have one and a half progressing investigators. One is a 13 year old girl, she's really awesome and totally ready for baptism, but her mom doens't think she needs to get baptized "again" (she was baptized in the catholic church when she was little). And then our other investigator is this man in his 50s. He's the half progressing investigator because he meets with us pretty regularly, but we're not really sure if he is actually keeping the commitments. He always tells us he really wants to read and pray, but then he says he never has time to do it. So we're still figuring that part out.
Contacting has been rough. We're trying to find more people to teach, and we'll have really great conversations with people on the street, and then they won't want to meet with us again, it's really frustrating.
We have been doing well at getting less actives back to church, we had two of the women we've been working with come on Sunday, so at least we're doing well in that area.
Thank you everyone for your love and your prayers, I know they make a huge difference in the work. I want you to know that the church is true, we have a living prophet on the earth today, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. We're doing our best to share that message with the people of Liberec, and whether or not they listen, the message is still true. Christ is our Savior, and this is His work, and it will be done in His way, and His timing.
I love you all and hope you are all doing well. I'll send pictures when I can, but I apologize if that isn't for a while.
Mejte se hezký!
Sestra Schaerrer

 Our trip to Ještěd and also me and a GIANT MUSHROOM encyclopedia, because my friends and family didn't believe how big of a deal mushrooms are to the Czech people. Mushroom hunting is a NATIONAL SPORT!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Den Matek!

Happy Den Matek Everyone!! (Mother's Day)
Well this week has been a good one. I got to skype my family yesterday and that was great! 45 minutes goes by so fast!! It was so good to see everyone, even though I was able to call them from the airport, it's just a different experience getting to see them. It's going to be a much longer break this time, 7 months until I can talk to them again, hopefully it goes fast, I have a feeling that it will!
Life here in the Czech Republic is great! I've actually been having a really hard time the past week or so. Just homesickness - which I never really experienced at the MTC since I was only 20 minutes away from my house and I could see my dad's office window from the MTC - and frustration with the language. I'm doing a lot better now, but for a while I was just always frustrated and I felt bad because I didn't have a good attitude about missionary work. It was hard. Especially the language. If you don't know what Czech sounds like, look it up. People talk with such a thick accent in the area I'm in right now, so it can be really hard to understand. Anyway enough of my ranting, I'm doing much better now. I'm beginning to understand more, and speak more, and I'm overall just doing much better. Now I can really get into the work and just love it!
Let's see what happened last week...
On Monday we had our P day, and we went on this really awesome vylet (trip) to the Three Corners!! We went to the place were the borders of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic all meet. It was really cool and really fun. A member named Zdeněk took us, he's awesome! We took a train to the nearest town to the borders, but then we had to walk FOREVER!! But it was totally worth it. Each country has a flag on their side, and then there is a European Union flag right in the middle of the three corners. And each border is marked by a river (or very small stream in Poland's case). You could literally just walk into Germany or Poland and no one would look twice at you, but as missionaries we aren't allowed to leave the Czech Republic, even though Zdeněk really wanted us too haha. But I did throw a rock into Germany, and another rock into Poland, just for fun. It was really great, if we have time to send pictures today I will. :)
On Tuesday we went to Progressional Training in Brno! It was really awesome, I love trainings. The only problem was that Brno is 5 hours away from Liberec, so we had to wake up at 4am, and we didn't get back until around 7:30pm. So it took up pretty much the whole day. But totally worth it! President and Sister McConkie and the APs taught us and just gave us tons of advice. It was a progressional training so it was only for the missionaries that have arrived within the last two transfers and their companions. It was also really cool to see my whole MTC group again (minus Elder Oviatt, he's still in Georgia).
On Wednesday we got incredibly and completely lost in Jablonec (a smaller city outside of Liberec). We were going to visit a less active lady's home, and we didn't know where it was so the elders gave us directions. They told us to get off the bus at a certain stop, go towards Kaufland (a grocery store), and then cross a bridge. So we do all that and when we get to Kaufland there isn't a bridge anywhere in sight. The elders didn't answer their phone so we just call the lady we're supposed to visit. She has us describe where we are and it turns out we are on the complete opposite side of the city! And we had been walking the wrong way for over an hour! So we had to get on a bus and do all these other things to find her house. We finally got there like 2 hours later than we were supposed to, but she was really nice about it and still had time to meet and everything. When we told the elders what had happened, and how there are actually TWO Kauflands, they just said, "Yeah... we were hoping there was only one..."
On Saturday we went and did service like all day at this non member family's home. It was actually really interesting, the elders have been doing service for them for a few weeks now, and we don't really know how they even found them, but we went with them this last time. We did all sorts of things, we washed windows, trimmed bushes, pulled weeds, swept, stacked wood. It was actually pretty cool because they have a much larger yard than is normal here. They fed us lunch, I don't know what it's actually called but the woman spoke English pretty well and she just kept calling it a "Cezch hamburger". It was pretty good but I was soooo full afterwards. Here's a lesson in Czech missionary manners: You eat whatever they give you. No matter what it is, how much it is, or what it looks like, YOU EAT ALL OF IT. We were stuffed! And then we went back to work. It was a long day of hard work, but it felt nice to get our hands dirty and do some physical labor besides walking around and talking to people. At the end of the day the elders gave the woman a Book of Mormon and asked her to read it, and I think we're going back this Saturday to help again. Hopefully she'll have read a little and we can teach them some more.
Yesterday, Sunday, we had Branch Conference! It was awesome! President McConkie and the other members of the district presidency came and spoke, and President Hanzal, the branch president spoke too. Their talks were sooo good. It was harder for me to understand the native speakers, but I think I got the basics from their talks. I could understand President McConkie a lot better. Don't get me wrong, he speaks phenomenal Czech! But you can still tell a difference, and it's easier for me to understand him than the others. I think I actually understood his whole talk! Which is cool both because it was a great talk, and because I'm getting better at understanding Czech!! It was such a good meeting though, I think the branch really liked it, and I think what they said will help a lot of people.
The rest of the week was just pretty normal studies and contacting or lessons. We met quite a few really cool people this week, so we're hoping to set up with them and start teaching. Overall I'm just really excited to get better at the language, and to get better at teaching people. Lately I've just been feeling like I wasn't progressing, and that my lack of language skills were holding me back from teaching people and helping people. But recently I've been noticing more progress and it's been getting me excited. The more I can understand, the more I can say, and the more I can say, the more I can help the amazing people here in the Czech Republic and in Liberec!
Well everyone, it's time for me to go. Sestra Hamblin has to get a haircut, and then the elders are going to help us clean mold of the ceiling in our bathroom.
This gospel is true, and missionary work is amazing! The gospel has changed so many lives here, and it's going to change so many more. I'm excited for all the work we have to do here, and I know that Christ is behind it all, and that He helps us so much. We couldn't do anything here with out His help and the Holy Ghost. Our message would just sound like crazy talk if we didn't have the Holy Ghost testifying of it's truth while we speak. I love the Lord, I love this gospel, and I love missionary work!
Tschau! (I don't actually know how to spell that it Czech, so the German spelling will have to suffice for this week ;).)
Sestra Schaerrer
PS I will try to send pictures, but no promises since we have to go to a different building and our P days are super busy.

 Here are pictures of our P day trip to the Three Corners!! That's the Czech version of a 7 eleven, and then a cool church we saw on the way.

Monday, May 4, 2015

I survived week one!

Dobrý Den Everyone!!
This past week has been pretty crazy. At first I didn't really think that I was affected by jetlag, I was doing really well, but I think it has taken me pretty much the whole week to get over just the last little bit of it. I take a nap during our lunch hour almost everyday, it's pretty great ;).
Sorry again for all the pictures I sent last week. I'm not very good at planning these things and I just got really excited. This week I don't have nearly as many I promise.
Anyway, this week was great and super busy! The weather here has been pretty crazy, it actually makes me feel right at home. It was a lot like Utah weather. The weekend I got here to Liberec it was hot and sunny, and then on Tuesday it snowed. Yup. Then it was cold for a few days, and today it looks cold outside, but it's actually pretty hot and humid.
On Tuesday this past week we had a training in Prague. Prague is about an hour and a half away from Liberec, so the training took up most of our day, but that's okay because it was really good. The President, his wife, and the APs talked to us about finding, teaching with members, and committing people to baptism. President talked about how most people in the Czech Republic already have an opinion about baptism, so we have to explain it in a way that doesn't bring all the baggage that they already have. He explained that what we're really asking them to do is make a covenant with God, and that baptism is the way we make that covenant. An example he gave was "As you come to know that the things we've talked about are true, will you promise to God that you will live them?" And then you explain "The way we make a promise with God is by doing something, and what we do in the church is be baptized." And then you just explain it more. I think it really works better to say it this way, we've already used it twice and it worked both times!
So there's this tradition in the Czech Republic where in May around the end of the school year, the kids that are graduating high school dress up in costumes and go up and down the streets asking for money so they can have a graduation party. Except instead of just asking for money, they wear their strange costumes and they have all kinds of noise makers and they yell and are just super noisy. But that's not all, if they come up to you and ask you for money, and you don't give them any, they spray you with vinegar. Luckily we haven't been sprayed yet, but a few people we know have. This tradition lasts the whole month of May, so odds are, we are probably at some point going to get sprayed...
Another thing that was a little bit of a culture shock to me is how much Czech people talk. If you're trying to talk to someone on the street, and you can't get them to stop walking, they'll usually just blow you off and keep walking. But if you can get them to stop and talk to you, they'll talk a lot! You can ask them any yes or no question, and they'll give you an answer and a 30 second explanation for why they think that way. I think it's really cool. Another thing that they do, at least here in Liberec, is they talk over each other a lot. Like someone will be talking, and before they end their sentence the next person will start talking, but it's totally okay. The first person just finishes what their saying and the second person starts talking. It's not considered rude or anything (as far as I can tell), the whole conversation just overlaps all the time. It actually makes it kind of hard for me to follow sometimes. One last thing about the way they talk, the hum a lot. Not like hum but they say "Mm hmm" after like every sentence. But one thing that took me a little while to figure out, is that just because they are doing that, it doesn't mean that they agree with you. It more means that they literally understand what you are saying to them. If they don't agree they'll just go "Mm hmm, no I think blah blah blah".
So yesterday was a pretty eventful day. First of all it was fast Sunday but both Ses. Hamblin and I forgot, so I think we're just going to fast next Sunday. We felt really bad. Second, one of our potential investigators, Pavel, came to church! But we were talking to him after sacrament meeting and it turns out he's some kind of buddhist and it felt like he just wanted to fight with us. So I don't really think that's going to go anywhere. But it was cool to have someone at church.
Next, after church we went with a less active member to the hospital to visit her mom. And it was probably the most uncomfortable experience of my life. We get there, and the hospital looks okay, but it just feels dirty inside. Then we get to the elevator, and there are no doors inside the elevator. You can see each floor passing as you go up, and we probably could have jumped out if we wanted to. Then we get to her mom's room, and it's just a little room with three really old people lying on beds, and the man in the corner is just groaning and gasping and making all sorts of noises. And he was flailing his arms and grasping at things, and he had dried blood on his nose, mouth, and sheets. So then the sister we were with gets some chairs for us, because she wanted us to read scriptures to her (sleeping) mom, and she wedges Ses. Hamblin's chair between the groaning, flailing man, and her sleeping mom's beds. Luckily for me my chair was just at the foot of the bed, but I felt so bad for Ses. Hamblin. She literally had this man that we thought was going to die at any second on her right, the sleeping mom on her left, and the sleeping mom's bag of urine was touching her knees. To make it worse, while the sister we were with said an opening prayer, the dying man grabbed Ses. Hamblin's arm! The whole time I was trying to decide if I should laugh or cry at the situation. And besides all that there are all sorts of unsanitary things around us, and while we're trying to read the scriptures the dying man was just really loud, and the sister was saying really weird things to her mom. It was just a strange, uncomfortable experience that I never want to relive. I hope at least the sister and her mom appreciated our visit.
Then Sunday night we had dinner with the branch president and his wife and their three year old son. It was so good, we had svíčkova (I don't know how to spell it sorry) for the main course and then we had this pudding stuff for desert. It was soooo good but we ate so much food. But when you're at a member's home, you eat everything they give you. Believe me I wanted to eat it all, it tasted amazing, but both Ses. Hamblin and I didn't feel very good afterwards. Also I just have to throw in that I love Kofola. It's a soda here and it's very unique tasting. The first couple of times I had it, it was kind of weird, but now I think it tastes better every time I have it.
Sorry for the long email, there's a lot more that happened this week that I could tell you about, but I think I should probably stop soon. I just have a few more things.
We met standards this week!! Standards are goals that every companionship should strive for and reach every week, but lately our mission has been struggling at it. I think only 12% of the whole mission met standards last week, but we did it in our first week in Liberec! And it's especially impressive because neither of us really know anything about the area here, so we were really happy!
Okay last thing. Last week I said I would send pictures of our bathroom. We can't send pictures from the library (where I'm emailing from right now) but we're going to try to go to the church and use the computer there to send them. Our bathroom is probably the most interesting room in our apartment. The door has this giant piece of glass in it that the previous inhabitants taped randome pictures over so people don't just look in on you while you're doing your business. Then the shower is just a hand held little spout thing. The best part about shower is definitely that our water heating has lots of problems. You only get maybe 5-10 seconds of warm water, and then 10-15 seconds of ice cold water. And it just switches back and forth the whole time you're showering. It's actually incredibly inconvenient, and it takes about 30 minutes to shower, if you're trying to hurry. Someone also taped Czech grammar principles to the inside of the shower, so at least we can study a little bit while we're showering.
Then there's a little white box in the corner. That's our washer. There are no dryers in the Czech Republic, so we just have these big drying racks.
Life here is just one big adventure. It's pretty crazy, and a lot different than life at home, but I love it here. The branch is awesome. It's really small, but they have great testimonies. The gospel is true, even if it's in another language and in another country!
Love you all, talk to you again next week!
Sestra Schaerrer

 Here are the pictures!! (Finally!)

Our lovely bathroom :)