I am so glad everyone had a good Easter and that the spirit of the season was with all of you. I will get to our Easter later.
We had a really good week here in Osijek. We even went out a few times without tights. We have not needed coats for a while... I still wear mine because I am a wimp... but we don't need them! Sister R. hasn't used hers in a few weeks haha. It has been SUCH beautiful weather!
On Saturday morning, we got up nice and early for our long ride to Zagreb for zone conference. When we got up, it was a little cold (as it should be at 5 am) so we brought our coats along with us. I told Sister R. she would thank me later for making her take it.
Zone conference was awesome! I am in love with this zone! Seriously such a joy! The highlight of my mission is being in this zone. I love every missionary! I adore the senior couples! I love the social aspect of our zone. Our zone leaderships presentation had us all in tears laughing but we all really felt the Spirit. I was very impressed with their creativity. We learned much and felt the Spirit the whole time. At the end, the 3 sisters in my zone that are headed home soon stood to bear their testimonies. They all shook the ground... I don’t know how else to say that. They were just so powerful! I was blown away with the strength of their testimonies! I was humbled a little as I realized the next sister missionary to leave is me. ugh. But it was really cool. They are all going to do so much in life!
We got a ride to the train station after the conference so we would make our train (if we missed the train we would be on a 9 hour bus ride home.... no.) We got on and found ourselves a little compartment. I have been really struggling with sleep lately so I was SO excited to get an entire 5-hour train ride in a huge compartment to sleep. Some people ALMOST joined us.... one man opened the door and introduced himself in Croatian and told us where he was going and then looked at my badge and said ... oh... vi ste Mormon! (oh... you are Mormons.) and then walked out and shut the door haha. At first I was like oh rude but then I thought it was a tender mercy because I would get to sleep. Right as we were leaving, the CUTEST mom and son joined us. No complaints. He was about 3. He taught us Croatian. we taught him English. I spoke to the mom the whole ride in Croatian which I personally was really proud of. I would not have been able to do that 2 months into Slovene haha. We were a little disappointed by mission rules for a bit because we just wanted to hold her ADORABLE child. We had a layover in a city and I asked a few people where it was... well, it was printed on my ticket so I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing (mind you... Sister R. has never traveled by train on her mission so I was the experienced one... but this time it is in a much larger country and I have no idea how to get to Osijek from anywhere.... let alone the little towns on the way.) So we got off at the stop our ticket said and we had been told and it just looked wrong haha. It was a VERY small stop and I thought ok this is weird.... good thing we will only be here for 20 minutes and then we can get on another train and maybe this time I can sleep.
After the train left... I had no clue what to do so I asked the conductor guy. He asked me where my destination was and I said Osijek! He looked at me and pointed at the train now out of sight and said "That was your train!" Ugh. My heart hit my toes. Here I am in the middle of seriously nowhere in Croatia with my cute Sister R. SO tired, and now we have no idea when we are ever going to arrive home. We went into the office with him and he looked for the next train to Osijek... 5 pm on Sunday. We were so distraught. He showed us the map and showed us where we were in Croatia... aka nowhere near anything. We called the senior couple who were driving the elders home from Zagreb (we take turns.... we go in the car with the senior couple in the morning and the elders take the bus or train and then they get the car home and we take bus or train) and asked them to come get us. I explained I made a mistake and needed rescue haha. They said they would finish taking the elders home and then get back on the road to come get us. In other words, we were going to be there a while. But I was so thankful for their willingness to just lose sleep and come get us. We called our zone leaders and president grant to let everyone know we were safe but off track for home. At this point we remember we are starving so we decided to try to find a grocery store or something.... we soon discovered we were literally in a village with one street. haha. What are we going to do now? We said a prayer for safety and warmth and happiness and walked down the street a second and found a tiny store just closing. we were able to get some water and crackers. SUCH a tender mercy we got there in time. We would have been quite miserable without that haha. Then we went and sat in the waiting room and made each other laugh.
I will not lie. It was a stressful situation! I was blessed to have a little money in my wallet for some food. I am SO blessed with the world’s most chill companion who instead of getting stressed just laughed and thanked me for making her bring her coat. I seriously love her. We were blessed with a kind train station worker and a safe spot to sit and wait for our ride. God is very aware of His missionaries even when they make mistakes. Eventually the senior couple came to our rescue. It was such a nice thing to see their faces. I was so happy haha. They got us safely home to our nice warm beds for a nice nap before church haha. It was also the time change on that night so we were going to lose sleep anyways. It was quite the adventure that I hope to never repeat. Lesson learned!
Easter was SO great!!!!!!!! This is the first Holiday I have celebrated twice on my mission and the only one I will be able to. Weird... I was just as tired this time haha. But I loved this Easter SOOOO much more than last one. My understanding of the Savior has changed so much in that year and being in Osijek with Sister R. is evidence of God’s mercy and love for his children.
My understanding of grace, mercy and love has changed so much. My love and appreciation for His suffering has taken on a whole new meaning. One of my favorite people to read about is Peter and his conversion process. When he denied Christ 3 times and then went out and "wept bitterly"... that part gets me every time. I am sure his pain for doing that is more than we can ever imagine. But at that point... his life began to change immediately. He became that rock-solid apostle who went on to play a key role in the gospel. There is a song from the Lamb of God of how Peter felt after that... I cry sometimes when I listen to it because it expresses how I feel about the Savior so well and my love and appreciation for His unspeakable gift. It goes like this.
I Cannot Watch Them
by Rob Gardner
What have I done? Denied Him?
What have I done?
So now am I no different from the men
Who take Thy bread then turn again?
Oh... What have I done? What have I done?
I hear their filthy tongues, their vicious scorn.
The lies they spin with Satan's yarn.
I watch them spit and strike Thy face,
They mock Thy name in foul disgrace.
And when Thou lookest for a friend,
Thou findest none, for I have fled!
Oh God! What have I done?
As Thou hast taken stripes for me,
Could I not take but one for Thee?
I cannot watch them take my Lord.
I can't endure their cruel hand upon Him.
While His own hands are tied with cord.
Those hands with pow'r to raise the dead,
Command the storm, now bound instead, and
I cannot hear them mock His name.
I cannot bear their foul breath upon Him.
I dare not look upon His face
And see the very Son of God,
His brow so bruised and stained with blood
His eyes that shed my sorrow's tears,
And watch as all hope disappears,
I will not watch them crucify my Lord!
For I know this Man!
I love Him! I know this Man!
I cannot watch what He must bear.
For surely He must carry all my burden.
Forgive me, Lord, that I'm not there...
But, when my eyes have closed in death,
These words will hang on my last breath:
I know Him.
I love this song! I have it on a little card and I will read it before the Sacrament sometimes to remind me of His suffering and how it must have felt to watch Him.
After the resurrection, when Christ came back... he asked peter 3 times a striking question. "ljubiš li me?" or “Do you love me?” What a powerful question. As we see later in the scriptures, Peter, for the rest of his life, showed his love and devotion to Christ. I hope that if Christ was sitting by me and asked if I love Him... I could answer as did Peter "You know all things! You KNOW that I love you!" I also hope that my life is good enough to reflect my love and devotion to Him. I do love Him. He has become my greatest friend.... and I know Him
For Easter, after a great church, we went to center a little.. there were many people at mass and it was nice to see them celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were invited to dinner (What? Am I in America? We never get dinner meals! haha.) It was so nice of them and so much fun! We also had dinner at the senior couple’s home. It was a really fun day to celebrate.
Have a great week! I hope it is nice and sunny over there in America for y’all!
I LOVE YOU!