Monday, September 24, 2012

Guess Where I am? Not Croatia or Serbia. I'm in Sarajevo Bosnia:)

Seko is the slang word for "Sister"! How fitting right? There is lot's of graffiti here in Bosnia. At least I know what this says:)
Thank you for all the emails! I have reallz been looking forward to reading them. I love all the pictures too!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally get to get in contact with you! First of all, you should know that they have different keyboards here so if I spell something wrong, Im really sorry! Also, I cant find the apostrophe so....thats awesome. hahaha

Oh my heavens I have so much to tell you all!!!!!!!! Where to start............

Moj nova suradnica (my new companion) Sestra Trumbo!!!
Okay, since I know Mom is DYING...I am currently in SARAJEVO, BOSNIA! I was originally assigned, before I was interviewed, to be in Zadar, but after we were interviewed president really felt like I needed to be sent to Sarajevo with Sestra Trumbo. I LOVE HER! She was born in Spain, but went to high school in Provo and has been going to UVU for the past 3 years and guess what else? We found out last night that we both dated Parker Hansen!!!! hahahahahahahahahahah (Hes the really tall guy from UVU that I met at the MR. UVU pageant.) How funny is that? She is beautiful (as you will see) and is great with the people. Everyone loves talking to her about Spain. We get along really really well. We are SUPER similar!

So, our travel here was actually really nice! I was nervous about the weight of my carry-on, but they never weighed it! I only sat by Sestra Compare on our flight to Chicago then I didnt sit by any missionaries all the way to Zagreb. I had some really nice conversations and people to talk to too! We talked a lot about the gospel and I got to discuss what I believe and they were very receptive! It was a really good crash course.

We got off the plane and I didnt really feel tired. We got our passports checked and we were in! We picked up our luggage, which ALL got here, YAY! and were off to meet President and Sister Rowe. They are just as everyone described them. SUPER sweet and they have a spirit and power about them that is unmistakable. We piled into their cars and they drove us to the mission home in the heart of Zagreb. Zagreb is beautiful. There are old buildings and cathedrals and it really looks similar to Italy a bit. The mission office is right in the center in the top floor of a super old building where church was held up until they built the chapel outside of center Zagreb. We got right up there, ate sandwiches and chatted with the other missionaries. Then we had our interviews with President. The spirit was definitely there and I could feel that I was in the right place at the right time. (This is when I sent you that 2 line email!)

After we were done we got right out on the street and did some contacting! I was paired up with Sestra Jolley. We went right out to the park by the office and started talking to people. I was QUITE overwhelmed and would have rather been anywhere but there at that time. I tried to keep praying for comfort, but it was hard to really catch the vision when I was running on 2 hours of sleep. It was an interesting experience and I wasnt sure if I really wanted what I had gotten myself into! haha There were hundreds of people around, none of them wanting to talk to us, especially someone like me who can hardly speak, but this is what I signed up for! haha 

We contacted for about an hour and then we headed up to the Rowes home for dinner. We had some delicious chicken made by Sister Rowe and they kept us up until about 8:30 to get our sleeping patterns on track, then we went to bed! I slept really well that night. We woke up, made pancackes, then drove to the Mission office for training! At this point we still didnt know where we were going so President pulled me aside and told me that he had been praying all evening and this morning and has really felt impressed that I should serve in Bosnia with Sestra Trumbo. I was SO excited and nervous! No Croatia for me for a while AND most things are in Cyrillic here so I am working on that. :)

We had training, then they put us right on our 9-hour bus ride to Bosnia! It was an experience to get all my big purple suitcases all over Croatia. haha I loved seeing the Elders pulling them behind them. haha The bus ride to Bosnia was beautiful! Its reallz mountainous here and driving down was kind of like driving through park city but more poor. It made me miss home a lot! Sestra Trumbo and I got to talk a lot and got to know each other better. We got in at about 9:00 and took a taxi to our apartment. We live on the 5th floor with NO ELEVATOR. We were quite the spectacle getting those same suitcases up the stairs. haha

My rock! I mean bed. haha!!!
Our apartment is very quaint and nice too! We have everything we had in my apartment in the states.....except for a dishwasher, a clothes dryer and beds! haha We sleep on these couch/fouton things that are as hard as the ground so I will REALLY be able to sleep anywhere after this experience. hahaha We hang-dry our clothes in our drying room. haha 

The work is going well here! Something that we do a lot and that I didnt think I would like is tracting. I LOVE TRACTING!!!!! We call it Trick-or-Tracting. haha They have these HUGE apartment buildings here, so we ride these absoutely frightening tiny elevators to the top and knock all the doors to the bottom. I love seeing peoples lives and even just into the doorways of their homes. People are really open to talking to us here. There is a very large population of muslims here, so we hear the Call To Pray multiple times a day. It is a WHOLE new world here. Muslim beliefs are very similar to ours so its good, but also a little trying to have discussions with them because they wont accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Its hard not to get offended by that! But I guess we then tell them that Muhammed wasnt a prophet and they feel the same we are figuring out the best way to make a breakthrough there!

All in all, I am SO good. The time change hasnt really affected me that much surprisingly. We eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and fresh bread from the Pekara under our building. I had my first Čivapi a few days ago--which is this pita-type bread called Somu filled with delicious sausage and onions. Its always made fresh and they give you some sour cream to eat with it. Its delicious!  We also have homemade sacrament bread each week. I have a hard time only eating one piece! haha
One HUGE blagomilosrđe (tender mercy) I have seen from the Lord this week is the opportunity I have had to be able to share my testimony through music. I have REALLY struggled with not being able to understand or talk to people very well. But Sestra Trumbo loves to sing so we have adapted it as a method of bringing the spirit. My first lesson here at the end of the lesson, Sestra Trumbo turned to me and asked me if I could sing one of my favorite hymns to close our lesson. I decided to sing I Know That My Redeemer Lives. I didnt know it in Bosnian, but I was able to sing it in English and I felt the spirit so strong! I was really grateful that Sestra Trumbo felt prompted to ask me that and that I could actually contribute to the lesson in some way.

I love being here. I love this work. I love you all. I think about you many times a day. I know that the Lord is aware of us WHEREVER we are in the world, or in our lives. I know His church is true and that it is THE SAME gospel that Jesus Christ organized when he was here on the earth. Thank you for all your prayers and love. I cant wait to hear from you! 

My new address for letters and packages is:

Sestra McKenzie Giles
Adžemovića 4
Sarajevo, 71000
Bosnia i Hercegovina
Sestra Giles
This is a note from Mom:  McKenzie said that anyone who wants to is allowed to email her. She just has to send them snail mail back. She would love to hear from you:) Here is her email address:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

She Made it!!! She's in Croatia:)

Sestra Giles with President & Sister Rowe in Zagreb, Croatia
We got a quick email this morning from McKenzie saying that she had made it safely to Croatia. Here is her first picture from Croatia with President and Sister Rowe! We don't know for sure where she will be serving yet, but I will let you know as soon as I know:)

Monday, September 17, 2012

We Talked to McKenzie Today! She's Off to Croatia!

Missionaries serving in Croatia & Slovenia (Zone Conference Sept. 2012)
It was a great day!!!! We finally got to talk to McKenzie when she was at the airport getting ready to leave for Croatia. She sounded wonderful. You could hear the excitement in her voice. She still sounds like herself and always keeps us laughing.

The missionaries are traveling in a group of five. Four of them were in the MTC together. They were joined at the airport by another Elder who had been serving in Serbia 18 months ago but had to come home because of an injury. He is now going straight back to Serbia:) That is amazing!!! Good for him.

We are so excited for McKenzie. In a recent letter to me she mentioned that she feels like she is becoming the person that she has always wanted to be:) Those are the perfect words for a mother to hear!!!

She said to thank everyone for the letters, packages and cards:) They have meant the world to her. Also a special thanks to the Hendersons who are in our home ward and have been serving in the branch McKenzie was in at the MTC. They have been amazing!

The best way to get letters to McKenzie is to send them to the mission address that is posted here on her blog.  Postage to send a letter to Croatia is $1.05. The mission office is very good about getting the mail right out to the missionaries:) Thanks again for all your love, support and prayers. 


Majka Giles (that's what McKenzie calls me now, haha:)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Last Week in the MTC!!!

Lots of letter writing:)
One of our favorite Elders! (Elder Killpack)
Always studying:)
Bok, Bok, Bok!
Yep, that time that we never thought would come came! We have officially started our last week in the MTC. Now I understand how other missionaries could say that the time flies by. It does! This week we have really been focusing and solidifying our grammar so that we know how to make correct sentences with the words we know, then we will just have to widen our vocabulary so we can actually speak to people about the real world! I have recently learned the word for sandwich, which is sanVich, so I feel that I am on the right track. :)
Oh yeah, one more thing....WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!! We leave at 8:00am next Monday and fly to Chicago, then to Munic Germany and arrive at the airport in Zagreb at 12:04 in the afternoon. 24 hours STRAIGHT travelling, I'm not really sure how I will fend, so keep me in your prayers! haha We are only allowed to have 18 lbs in our carry-ons so Sestra Compare and I are trying to figure out what is really the most important to have. We are allowed to have 50lbs in each of our checked bags, so that is nice. I thought I would be just fine with the weight in my luggage until I realized that I need to bring the 15 lbs of books they gave me when I came into the MTC too! I may just have to carry them in my arms and say that I am going to be studying them the whole time we are on the plane. I'm super studious, right? :)
This week has been a little strange for me because as much as I want to go out into the field, I kind of like my bubble in the MTC! As a creature of habit I've really come to love the schedule here and the life that we have, NOT TO MENTION THAT I AM SO NERVOUS TO SPEAK CROATIAN TO CROATIANS! We did a contacting activity with our teacher, Brother Morris, this past week where each time we had to choose a card out of a stack and do what the card said as the other two people were trying to contact us as missionaries. Brother Morris picked the first card and took off jogging down the hall. We were a little confused, but we followed. Eventually, we realized that we needed to chase him to have us be able to contact him! We finally caught up and started to talk with him. First of all, he was probably speaking 12 times more quickly than he had ever before AND about every other sentence included the mord machka (it's hard to spell without the croatian alphabet! haha). I didn't know what the word machka meant so I was just trying to be a good missionary and bear my testimony! In the middle of it he just kind of walked off and we were left standing in the middle of the hall. When we got back into the classroom I was THOUROUGHLY confused until I looked at the senario he was given. "You are a little off your rocker and you keep talking about your cats." MACHKA means cat people! All I could think after that experience is that if that is what contacting is going to be like I have quite the vocabulary to learn if I want to have acutal conversations with people. I'm doomed!
We have been working a lot on Cyrillic this week. It's really fun! It's hard because you have to translate your english in to Croatian and then your Croatian into the Cyrillic alphabet to make it Serbian. Not to mention you have to change some of the conguations and the words that you used. :) It's so exciting to think that we could go to Croatia, Bosnia or Serbia right off the bat and then have the challenge of learning the different dialect of the country that we are called to serve in. What an adventure!
Throughout this week I have really learned that we are ALWAYS in the process of coming closer to Christ. No matter what we are doing, where we are or who we are, we are never finished. I have felt a little like the Nephites and the Lamanites this week in my own little pride cycle. As I master a grammar principle and can teach well with it, I seem to forget the fact that I was fervently praying quite a few days prior to when I felt like I had mastered that skill. It wasn't because I had studied a lot or practiced alot (although I was doing my part), it was because of the help and strength of my Heavenly Father that I was able to really finally make a break through with that language principle. It's the same in our lives! We will have ups and downs, but it is important to realize where our help and our ability to overcome those trials comes from. Our Heavenly Father knows us and it is through the enabling power of the Atonement of His son that we can be strengthened.
I love you all and miss you very much!

Sestra Giles

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week Full of Love From Croatia:)

Off to get my root canal:)
Sharing some cookies with our teachers and the Elders!!

Our new roommates!!  We love them:)
Hi everyone!

Wow. I probably sound like a broken record, but I really feel like time is flying by! I can't believe there are only 2 weeks left until I fly to Croatia. We get our travel plans this Thursday, so I'll let you all know next week what the plan is.

This week has been another good one. We're finished learning new grammar principles, so we've just been reviewing and polishing our speaking skills. My speaking ability changes from day to day, but I can tell that I am steps. haha

We had some really great experiences with our mission this week.

1) We got to teach a woman from Croatia in the TRC (Training Resource Center) this week. She came over from Croatia with her husband and son two weeks ago and they were baptized about 8 months ago! She was so darling. She helped us a lot with our grammar and after our lesson we got to help her with her English! They are here while her husband is finishing up his degree at BYU. She was super bubbly and talkative. I realized that we are TOTALLY Croatian :)

2) We had a special guest come and talk to us about the 40th anniversary celebration and a lot about Kresmir Cosic. The guest was Sister Ann Madsen the wife of Truman G. Madsen! She came and talked to us for 2 1/2 hours about everything Croatia. She even brought pictures of a lot of the branch presidents, district presidents and women that we would be working with! Elder and Sister Madsen befriended Kresmir when he was out here at BYU and have been to Croatia many times. Sister Madsen and her daughter and granddaughter all went to Croatia for the celebration. She shared some very spiritual experiences that she had while she was there with the 400 people that attended. One of the biggest miracles was the fact that there were 400 people there! They had originally planned on a little more than 100, but there were a lot of investigators, less-active and non-members that were curious and decided to come. They stayed on an island that they all had to be ferried to from the mainland. Sister Madsen said that was the only way that Croatians, Serbians and Bosnians would all be in one place together: if they were on neutral ground. There were many members that were the only ones in their families, but there were also some small families and members that had been a part of the church for the full 40 years it had been working in Yugoslavia. Sister Madsen shared that many of the wives of the leaders aren't members, and that's why they need sisters over there! Not to mention that Kresmir's wife and son aren't members either. We have out work cut out for us!

As you can tell, it's been a week full of Croatia love. :) I'm so excited/nervous to get over there!

Even though this week has been full of Croatia, I still can't speak Croatian sometimes. This week it happened as I was trying to have a heart-felt conversation with our investigator who doesn't really understand that he NEEDS to pray every morning and night. He kept telling us that he was just forgetting. He was busy! I was bearing my testimony to him and I volunteered the closing prayer. I lovingly asked Heavenly Father to "help Srdan to FORGET to pray every day". Whoops. Heavenly Father knows the intent of our hearts, right?

Another thing I've learned first-hand about is the enabling power of the Atonement. Even though Christ suffered for all our sins (the redeeming part of the Atonement), since he knows exactly what we have gone through He can help us to know how to have the strength to overcome other things (the enabling power of the Atonement). The Atonement isn't just needed when we repent. We can use it to in every aspect of our lives! Heavenly Father will help us in whatever we need help with, as long as we know how to ask. We need to be asking for ourselves to be changed to our circumstances, not for our circumstances to be changed. Elder Bednar gave a FABULOUS talk about this (THANKS AUNT STACIE!) which you should all read....I don't remember the name of it though. :)

I love being a missionary! I love you all! Thank you for your letters, thoughts and prayers!

Volim te,
Sestra Giles