Saturday, February 27, 2016

Oct. 1st 2015

The time has come. I could not be more excited to finally get out of here and serve the people of Croatia. In saying that however i'm also really thankful for all the MTC has taught me and the spiritual growth that came because of my stay here.

Lets see. Tuesdays devotional was amazing. Elder Costa, the president of the quorum of the 70 addressed us and I wouldn't be surprised if he got called as a new apostle. His message about missionary work was so powerful and personal and just made me even more excited to serve. One thing he spoke of was from when he was a mission president in brazil. There was a elder in the mission that was having a lot of success and was very obedient. One day elder costa gets a letter from a man out in a small village in the middle of no where saying that he has somehow learned of the church and desires to be baptized. After much prayer and receiving permission he calls this missionary into his office on the last week of his mission, and calls him to go out and baptize this one man. The missionary was dissapointed because it was his goal to baptize as many as he could and for his last week he had a group of 20 people he was going to baptize. Nevertheless he obeyed and took the 3 day trip into the jungle with his companion and made it to the village. After 2 weeks (one week longer than he was supposed to be there) the mission president hears nothing from the companionship and begins to get worried. That same day he finally gets a call from the missionary apologizing for staying longer than he was supposed to and with no communication. The mission president asks why one week longer and what happened to the one man they were supposed to baptize. He responds saying, The man has spread the gospel to the whole village. We have just baptized the entire village of 140 people and it took 2 weeks because some had to get their marriages finalized. Today this village has grown to a stake of 3 wards with 100% activity. I love this story because it just goes to show that if the Lord asks you to sacrifice, He has much more in store for you.

Wednesday was pretty rough. We got caught off guard and had to skype earlier than we had thought previously. So me and my comp just threw a lesson together in like 5 minutes, prayed for the gift of tongues and just went for it. We skyped an actual investigator in germany but is originally form zagreb. We begin talking to him and started the lesson and about half way through he stops me mid sentence and says, "You talk to much, your friend (my companion) needs to talk more." Okay, so I backed off and let my comp take the lead a little more. Just as a quick side note, I usually talk the most. In lessons; talking between me and my comp is usually 80/20 because, for some reason in lessons, he just goes blank. We have tried to work it out but for some reason he just has no idea what to say in lessons. So this lesson was no different, I was talking the most and he just kinda sat there. Until i backed off and let him talk a little more. Well, he asked a couple of questions which didn't get much of a response and then we sat there for a couple seconds and before i could break the silence the man we we skyping looks at me and says, "You are very good at speaking and teaching in Croatian." and of course I was pumped.. until he looked to my companion and says, "you are not." Straight up. my comp got really sad after that and we just kinda wrapped it up and said goodbye and for the rest of the day he was pretty down on himself and we all tried to help him out but man, that was rough.

But onto happier stuff and to wrap this email up, flight plans. We wake up and leave from the MTC at around 4 AM. Our flight leaves from SLC to Chicago at 8:30, land in Chicago at 12:15 Chicago time. Then leave from Chicago at 3:30 PM and land in Frankfurt at 7 AM Germany time. Then from Germany to Zagreb. We should arrive at Zagreb close to noon. Then the fun begins.

Talk to you again from Croatia. Love you all!
Elder Taylor

Elder Taylors Name Tag and the book of Mormans in his languages



Yesterday I became an English speaker. not literally, that would suck after being in here 7 weeks, but in terms of time. I have become an English speaker because all the new engos that came in on Wednesday this week will be leaving with us on the 5th. So there's that.

Anyways this week i have no idea what to even talk about. This week has gone by so fast I was surprised to wake up and find today was P-day. It was actually quite the boring week.

Elder Matthews had surgery last Friday on his knee to remove the piece of chipped bone from his leg. And instead of staying an extra 3 weeks he will, at the worst, only have to stay 1 extra week. Most likely, however, he will still leave with us and stay in zagrab the first transfer. This whole situation with him was honestly a miracle because his first visit to the doctor they were almost positive he was going home.

We get our flight plans tomorrow! I'm super pumped about it. Even though i basically already know how im getting there just holding the itinerary will be so nice.

Skype this week was super awesome as well! We talked to 2 guys named Alan and martin. They're members in Zagreb and they are the funniest guys i have ever talked to. Brat Alan translates Disney books into croatian and was showing us all the books he translates. And brat matin really likes speaking english so he would try to speak in english with us and brat Alan would hit him and start yelling that he's not allowed to speak english. They both really liked to talk which is apparently true about everyone over there so i'm pumped haha. They were great guys and since last week i have made a lot of progress with the language so communicating this time was a lot easier. I was actually jealous of elder Geertsen and Jex though because they got to talk to an actually investigator and apparently it was a way cool experience. I haven't even been there and i love the people already. I'm so excited to finally get out there and get to work.

I think that's all i have for this week. Sorry it was just a really boring week this week. Volim Vas!
-Старешина Тејлор


Elder Taylor working Hard


Добар дан!

Where do i even begin this week. Lets see, I'm no longer zone leader anymore! I'm really glad I got the experience and opportunity to serve in that capacity but man it feels good to 'relax' now. Elder Deleeuw and Matthews from our district got called this Sunday and I think they'll do a really good job. if Elder Matthews doesn't go home that is. For the past couple of weeks his knees been hurting him and he finally went to the doctor last Friday and it turns out his kneecap got moved out of place and he chipped of a piece of his Femur and now he goes into surgery tomorrow and they'll see if he can recover here or if they have to send him home. we've been praying and fasting for him and even though his position is pretty bad he's only gotten the best news possible for right now so he's trying to keep his head up.

The bulgarians left on Monday night at like 3;30 so we were up saying our goodbyes and helping them get everything squared away. It was sad to see them go but we were excited for them at the same time. The Macedonians in our group were supposed to leave with the bulgarians but cant get their visas because apparently Macedonia shut its boarders down and isnt letting anyone in because of the Syrian refugees. Interesting how the Lord works though who knows maybe they, or we, will convert some Syrians and they'll take the church back over there. That would be pretty cool. Apparently the refugees are pretty much going everywhere but theres been a little unrest I've heard in our area because of it so if you guys could just maybe keep track of the news over there that would be sweet.

Now skype. Yesterday we skyped a man named Tomislav Ivan Flis. he lives in Zagreb and is 34 years old. Has a wife and 4 year old son and one of the strongest testimonies I've ever heard. turns out he is the branch president of the Zagrab branch so it made sense haha. But boy was it a slap to the face actually trying to communicate with him. At one point he stops and says, "So is it the words you dont understand or how fast I'm talking and in broken croatian said its just the speed. To which he responds, "Oh well im actually talking really slow compared to what you will hear here. But dont worry you guys are the best i've skyped i have no doubts you'll be fine after a week here." So that was.. yeah good i guess haha. He was a way cool guy.

The language. Apparently we're the fastest progressing group our teachers have ever had and they've been teaching for almost 3 years so thats really comforting to hear. Still super hard though because its nothing like english in the way you have to think. First, go ahead and take out articles, croatian and serbian dont need them. Add clitics. I still dont really know what those things are but they are the only thing in the sentence that have an order. They are always the second word you put in the sentence. After that its a free for all. Put words wherever you want. The way croatians tell what tense it is by the way the verb is conjugated. So thats past present and future and 1st 2nd 3rd person singular and plural. all with different endings. But thats not bad spanish is the same way. Whats hard is casing. This is what makes you think super differently. Theres 5 cases, or endngs, put on the end of adjectives and nouns that make the context of the sentence. Thats why you can pretty much put words wherever you want. with each case theres the masculine, feminine, nueter and feminine 4th gender. All of them make the adj or noun end completely different in every single case. For example, Mormonova Knjiga(book of mormon) nominative case is feminine singular. but if its plural nominative its mormonove knjige. then if its being acted upon by a verb it would be in the accusative case and would change to mormonovu knjigu. then plural accusative mormonove knjige. then if its indirectly referring to the book of mormon in the genitive case is mormonovoj knjizi. then plural genative is mormonovih knjiga. theres still 2 more but you get the idea. I didnt realize how hard it was until i talked to some japanese elders about croatian and japanese and realized how much easier japanese is. none-the-less this language is still awesome. And if you look at the language in a negative light it will be harder to learn and more of an obstacle than a tool in doing the Lords work. I just cant wait to be immersed in it.

I think thats all for this week! Čao!
-Starješina Tejlor

Cole MTC Aug. 2015

2nd Week MTC

So just to start it all off i just wanna say this week was like 10x better than last week. That whole first week of adjusting was kinda hard for everyone but this week a lot of progress was made.

Sunday was amazing. The topic for that sunday was the atonement so of course every meeting and lesson was extremely powerful. And have i told you how sacrament meeting goes? So everyone just prepares a talk for sunday and then you dont know if youre giving one until the middle of sacrament meeting when its time for talks and the branch president calls you out of the congregation to give one. I haven't given one yet but we'll see how long that lasts. the purpose that everyone prepares a talk is so once youre in country you have 9 talks to translate and give wherever you are.

We've also started to learn the cyrillic alphabet and its actually really easy. i got it in a day and we use the serbian hymnbook now whenever we sing at the beginning of class. We also started teaching our new investigator, valentino,(all of our investigators are our teachers that play the roles of investigators they taught on their missions). Lessons are really starting to become better as we get better at the language and start to teach with the spirit and teach to the needs of the investigator aside form just shoving doctrine downt their throat because thats all we knew how to do, haha.

On monday our district hosted the knew elder missionaries and that was super cool. Aside form just a regular journal that i have been keeping which at the moment isnt very eventfull because every day here kinda seems exactly the same, i have been keeping a personal study journal for the personal study time i have in the morning. Best thing ive ever done. i start every day with a question and throughout my studies and prayer ill write scriptures or revelation concerning the question and mark it according to lessons in PMG. Also i have begun reading Jesus the Christ and that book is amazing. Its so dense with facts and insight I had never even considered. Highly recommend it.

Me and my district also started to english fast, which is super hard because all we know how to talk about is the gospel pretty much haha anyways we have been getting way better because of that.

Heres a cool story for ya, We went to the police station,(mea ns 3 others from my district) to get background checks(and no i didnt have to finger print) and as we we're waiting outside for the van to come pic us up, whitch took like an hour, we saw a woman, divorced, drop her screaming child off to the ex husband and step mom and it was super sad. Once the van showed up we go walking down and the woman is still there. She calls us over and asked if we witnessed any of that, we say we did, and she explains he was abusive and cheated and whatnot and is apparently trying to get full custody of the kid (he looked about 7 or 8) by saying she was an awful parent. So she asked if at all possible we could testify in court, we said yes; she gave us her info and we left. So not only did we get to leave the MTC campus for a solid 2 hours, we may get to leave again to go to court. So thats sick. Its amazing though how things happen like that.

so yeah.. i miss you guys! hope your first day of school was good! wish i could be there!

Volim Vas!

Coles first companion

First Email

Finally get to write to you guys about what has been going on this week. I'll tell you as much as i can but if i forget something let me know so i can just write or email you about in next time. Anyways the MTC has been amazing so far. The first couple of days were pretty rough not gonna lie with the language trying to teach in it starting the third day and your teachers teaching in only hrvatskom and getting adjusted to the schedule but like everyone was saying, just make it to sunday. And here i am a week later and i can already give a basic lesson, pray, bare my testimony and carry a conversation. My testimony and knowledge of the spirit has grown so much in the short time i have been here. It is everywhere, you almost hace to try to not feel the spirit and i love the feeling so much. but im sure you want to hear about my district and zone. There are 13 people in my district! 11 going to the trio(croatia, serbia, i bosnia) then 2 going to slovenia speaking slovene. The whole district itself is filled with a bunch of great really smart guys. Like im the only one that got below a 30 on the ACT in my district. My companion, elder Bowles(pronounced bowls) is a music theorist and a really cool guy. lets see Starjesina eddington graduated school at 16 and goes to BYU. he does cancer research and is our district leader. then theres starjesina geertson, hillock, jex, lerohl, parkinson, winfield(hes from australia hes so funny), matthews and deleew. The temple was amazing today and i finally got to eat some good food. i dont know what it tasted like before but people say it got better so i would hate to taste what it was like then haha. let me run you through the first day, The first day they brought us in and got all our stuff, went to the room got my stuff for class and for the first hour youre learning your language and its intense because they speak no english to you. dinner, then as a group you go to and introductory meeting then split up and talkt to three different investigators. The next day is more random little meetings that were kinda pointless, our branch pres. said they were thinking of getting rid of it, anyways then regular schedule starts. 12 hours a day of language study and lesson planning for your inevestigator with an hour of gym time thrown in. wake up at 6;30 and get breakfast then straight to class, get back to dorms at 9;30 then lights out at 10:30, Hmmm i guess i'll end on areally cool spiritual experience. Tuesday at district devotional we were having a testimony meeting of sorts about the MTC devotional earlier. It got messy. Everyone was crying. so many spiritual promptings and revelations were had and although i feel i cant say exactly what happened, i must say the veil was very thin there that night. ja znam u crkvu ya instinita. Volim Ste!!


Some of our first pictures

Dec. 28th 2015

Hey guys! not really a lot to write about today honestly.and i dont have a lot of time because its christmas break here and the internet caffe people dont open until 4 now. so thats a bummer but oh well.

So.. im alive. We didnt celebrate christmas on the 25th because orthodox christmas is on the 7th and since basically all of serbia is orthodox we're just following suit. Its weird seeing everyone do christmas shopping after the christmas youre used to. and on all their christmas cards it says happy new years and hristos se rodi. they dont say merry christmas they just say Christ was born. classic serbs always trying to be different. well..

Just a lot of the same ol stuff really. I'll have more to talk about next week though i promise.

love you guys i hope you have a happy new year!

Jan 18th 2016

Hello all!

What a week. Not really actually it was pretty plain. But every week is a good week when you're in the service of God!

So this week we had zone conference. Lately we have been talking a lot about the fall and atonement as related to the plan of salvation; Since most questions people have can be answered through the plan of Salvation. Its good stuff. I've really learned a lot.

One thing the department of missionary work had been stressing is teaching repentance. You want to know what word i hate? repentance. its such a negatively connotated word when in actuality its one of the greatest gifts we have been given. when people hear repentance people usually think things like pain, and sorrow, and grief and just an overall hard negitive associations with this word. Well.. back when the bible was still in greek the word for repentance was metaneo. Which means a change, or an inward change. when the bible was moved into latin they changed the word to poenitire which means to feel regret or anguish. then thus being translated to english as repent, still carrying the latin meaning. This has been deemed to most theologist as an "utter mistranslation". and they would be correct. repentance does not cause pain but the sin. repentance is the gift we have to change or turn away from that sin and follow Christ, For which i am forever grateful.

Sooo thats really all i have for this week. Talk to you next week!

Jan. 11 2016

hey guys! Christmas was this week and let me tell you how that went.

So on the 6th we had a Christmas party at the church and like 9 none members came so it was a pretty solid turn out. the youth put on a play about the birth of Christ. Then we had a little mini banjak (i'll get to that in a bit) then they did this tradition where they throw straw all over the ground and the kids peep like chicks while the adults throw candy at them. they made me peep like a chicken. but the candy was solid. Afterward we headed down to the local orthodox church for the banjak. A banjak is basically just a giant bonfire and a priest blesses the fire and then people throw oak leaf branches into the fire and depending on how many sparks fly up is how much good luck they will have for the year. So that was an interesting experience.

After that we still had 4 hours until midnight mass so we just headed back to the apartment and chilled until we were supposed to meet a member at the church and head over to the orthodox church, but we fell asleep. soooooo i have no stories about mass. but the fireworks that woke us up were pretty sick.

Then we got to sleep in on Christmas day. so nice. And not only that i woke up so a blizzard and it was sick! my first white christmas and it was in a small serbian town. i wouldnt have had it any other way. So yeah that was nice. That night we went to some members house for dinner. We had a very traditional 5 course meal. 5 courses. i'll list them.
1. sausage and cheese
2. soup
3. sarma❤
4.pork and pickles
5.desserts. mostly fudge

then a giant loaf of bread that just sits in the middle of the table and if you want some you tear it off with your hands. all in all it was a good christmas.

other than that normal missionary stuff. talk to you guys next week!

Happy New Year 2016

Hey everyone!

not a super interesting week i would say, but some things did happen because of the new years.

So first, Serbia really knows how to party. And their fireworks are just like bombs. Like we thought the war started again and any minute we were gonna get a text from president telling us to get the heck out of there. But nah, just fireworks. And they threw a party in centar and the music was rocking our apartment then at midnight when all the fireworks were going off we looked out of our balcony toward centar and some of the fireworks they were shooting didnt even make it over the buildings. all we could see were the flash from the explosions. So that was insane. Then our neighbors downstairs were blasting music for there party so not a lot of sleep took place that night. It was kinda cool though not gonna lie.

But the next day was the best. We wake up and go outside and there isnt a person in sight. It was almost creepy quiet. Every single store was closed. The streets were littered with fireworks and other things. We walked through centar where the party was and that place was destroyed. They eventually brought street cleaners in but man, sremska partys way too hard.

Other than that we got a foot of snow the past 2 days and its still coming down so im pumped about that. And we're celebrating Christmas this week so should be a good week. But i believe thats all for this week. Ćao!

Feb. 1st. Almost to 6 months out

Hi everyone!

Well this week wasnt too exciting either. Surprise. But I was pretty busy being in Beograd and whatnot so it was pretty chill.

So lets see where do i begin. I had Mcdonalds for the first time in like 6 months! I never actually thought i would miss McDonalds but i can definitely say i dont miss the way i felt after i ate it. Worth it though. I think.

Other than that just normal missionary work. So contacting pretty much all day. But Beograd is so big that you need to take trams and buses all over your area or you'll never get anywhere. We also taught english and the Beograd beginners english class is hilarious. Theres these two women in there that constantly fight with one another about how to say things (and both of them are usually wrong) so when we would correct them they would look and fight about who was the closest. And when me and the zone leader would talk to each other one of them would freak out and say we talk to fast and that it sounds like chinese. Then i spoke chinese to her and she just dropped her pencil and gave up haha.

And since i was told by someone to put in more stories i will add one more for the amusement of all who may be reading. So on the way to go to the church we had to catch a bus. we were late to the bus. So there we were running to the bus and right before the bus shut the doors the zone leader jumped on then i jumped but my foot didnt land all the way in the bus, but rather on the slippery metal edge, and i fell into the bus to the amusement of a group of about 12 serbian teenagers. awesome.

So yeah. Other than that not much is going on. There was an emergency transfer because someone had to go home early for medical reasons and the sisters got all jumbled around so now we have 2 greenie sisters in the district. fun stuff. transfers are this week also. and i got moved to the designated driver list so looks like i may be leaving! but we'll see on thursday. I think thats all though. hope everyone has a good week!

Elder Taylor

Feb. 8th 2016

hey everyone!

so i dont have a lot of time today because i need to drive my companion to the airport because hes going to Montenegro and my new companion is flying in from Sarajevo. Aannndd im staying here. So theres that. I dont know much about my new companion. He trained my companion from the MTC but thats pretty much all I know. So we'll see i'll let you know more about it next week.

As of things concerning this week. We have a really cool english student that we have been teaching. hes trying to move his family to Canada for a better paying job but he needs to know english first. So we've been teaching him and giving him fake interviews and stuff. He is learning really fast which is cool. One thing we like to do is take stories out of the liahona church magazine and have him read them and pick out words and phrases he doesnt know. well one day we ended early and we were just talking to him and he just kinda looked at us, then looked down at the story, then looked up and said, "what makes your religion different?" Then me and my companion looked at each other then looked back at him and in a since were kinda like "well let us tell you why we're different" haha. It was good. we talked about the restoration and prayer and how it could help him. It was really good and he seemed into it. So we'll see where this takes us.

Other than that since im the branch clerk i had to be there for the audit. That sure was exciting. And tonight we're going over to a members house for sarma😍 i love sarma. But yeah talk to you next week!

Feb. 18 2016

Hey everyone! sorry this is going to be another shorty but its a serbin holiday and the email place is shhut down so what can you do ya know.
This week I got a new companion elder sheesley. He's a good hard worker so we should get some work done this transfer.
This week other than that has been usual stuff. Just trying to find people to teach at the moment but we are already starting to see success so thats good. We start up teaching english again this coming week and i cant wait because we have a really cool english student that we're starting to work with.
But thats really it for this week i promise next weeks email will be better. Serbi and their holidays and work schedules is crazy. anyways talk to you guys next week!
I resent this because apparently there were some problems last week with the email so if youre getting this twice, sorry