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!