Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving or Dan Zahvalnosti!

Sestra Black my new companion:)
Hi everyone!

What a wonderful week it's been for all of us, I'm sure! I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life to give me the support and the push that I need to keep being better. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I really hope you know I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU! Yes, YOU!

I'm grateful for Pizza:)
Last week on Tuesday I got to spend my day with the senior couple in our area: The Smartts. They are great people and it was fun to get a little peek into what being on a mission in Bosnia means for them! We dropped Sister Trumbo off at the airport at 5:45am to catch her flight to Beograd and then we went back to the Smartt's. By the time we got there it was only about 6:20, when I was supposed to be just waking up! haha Sister Smartt was great and didn't go back to bed and we had a really great conversation about missionary work. She is such a great example to me of how we each should view our lot in life and how we need to act as members of the church, wherever we are! I got time to do my regular studies and then we ran a bunch of errands. We washed all the dishes we had bought for the church, went to the bank and got some papers signed for me to be legal in the country. After that we came back to their house, Skyped their daughter for her birthday and talked more about missionary work! After all of this we were pretty starving so we went out to dinner. As we sat down at our table and we were introduced to our waiter President Smartt said, "Sister Giles, now I want you to set up an appointment with this man to teach him and his family, okay?" Needless to say I was a little caught off-guard, but I did it IN BOSNIAN, BY MYSELF! It was the scariest, but best experience for me. I was completely relying on the spirit to help me know what to say, because I have relied on my companion so much up unitl now! I learned he had a wife and a 3-year-old daughter and got his phone number before we left and he said that he would be looking forward to learning more about the gospel. It was a great, great way to finish our dinner! After dinner we went back to their house and talked more about missionary work until we had to go to the airport to pick up Sister Black at 9:30pm. It was a full day of the Smartts, which I couldn't have been more grateful for!

Sister Black is AWESOME! She is coming home December 29th, so she is definitely on the home stretch! She is from Missouri and is a GREAT cook. She knows this language back and forth and is very humble. We get along great and both have the fire to work hard here. We set goals that we both feel very strongly about and have been working hard to achieve them. I feel so blessed that I get to work with her for these next few weeks!

Our bedroom, living room & dining room
Thanksgiving here was great! My heart was so full of gratitude from right when I woke up. President Rowe called to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving and it really reminded me of home. I feel so lucky to be in a place where I may be one of many that are serving, but Heavenly Father knows each of us and guides the president of our mission, wherever we are! Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of everything we would have had at home (minus the personalized name-place cards. :) ) including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, marshmallow salad, cooked vegetables, pecan tarts and pumpkin pie! It was a great dinner! We also did an activity that Mom shared with me in her last email about writing down 100 things that we are Thankful for. While I was at the Smartts I printed up a paper with all the categories and we gave them to everyone to fill out, it was a great activity and really helped me think about how much I have to be grateful for! 

One last miracle that happened this week was that we had our first Relief Society meeting in Bosnia. Last week President Lamoreaux announced that we would be having Relief Society and Priesthood meetings along with our regular sacrament meeting and sunday school meetings. Sister Black and I were asked to teach the lesson about the Relief Society Declaration. As fate would have it, all of the english-speaking members of our Relief Society were out of town so it just a room with us and the three Bosnian-born members here. The spirit was so strong as we started discussing the declaration, and all in Bosnian! These women are so strong and are the foundation of the work here in this branch. I am so honored to be in a place where I get to interact with these ever-faithful women. 

The fact that we were starting THE FIRST Relief Society in Bosnia has made me think a lot about the different organizations of the church back at home. I know that back in the states the organizations are much bigger, but it doesn't dim the fact that we are each an important part in making it work properly. In Mosiah 18:21 we read:

 21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

No matter if we have 3 people or 30 people in our class, we are each important and are each needed to keep the church strong! I know that when we have our hearts knit together in unity that there is nothing we cannot do!

I love you all and I hope you have a WONDERFUL first week of December. :)
Volimo vas,
Sestra Giles
Mom sent "12 days of Christmas" and it made it!!! We are all ready:)

Big Leaves. I love FALL!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Muslim New Year & Thanksgiving

After church with Edina there was a "Children Against Violence" rally. They gave us these cards.
We love Edina.  On our way to church!
Cao, Cao, Cao!

First of all, Happy Muslim New Year! Apparently the Islam calendar started over this week. There wasn't a big celebration or anything, but someone told us that was happening. haha

This week has been a week full of teaching! It's so bittersweet that Sestra Trumbo is leaving because we just started to get into our groove, but I know she will be such a light and a joy that is needed in Belgrade! We found 5 new investigators this week and have been lucky to be having success! 

Two of the people we are teaching are a married couple who are about 60 years old and both grew up in Sarajevo. They are so so darling! We tracted into them and they let us right in. Since they both grew up here, they are both Muslim. They are very interested in everything we have taught them so far, but mostly our idea of prayer. In Islam they recite prayers that are written in the Koran in Arabic. The wife was expressing how that is hard for her because she doesn't understand a dang thing they are saying! We told her that we use our own words and it is our way to talk to God and she was very, very interested in learning more about it. We told her that the best way that she could learn more is if she tried it herself, so she did! It was so cute because she didn't know what else to say in the middle of her prayer so her husband was helping her with some things and she told him to shut up in the middle of the prayer! haha. Sestra Trumbo and I almost lost it. haha. People here are just like I am: stubborn and independent. haha I think that is probably why we get along so well :)

Happy Birthday Elder Shillabeer!
This week we had a goodbye dinner for Elder Shillabeer, who goes back home to England tomorrow, and Sestra Trumbo at our Branch President's house. Sister Lamoreaux made us mexican food (which they don't have in Bosnia. CRAZY!) and we had apple crisp and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I don't think I could have been more satisfied. haha The best part of the night was when all 5 of us missionaries taught Lesson 3: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It worked perfectly because there are 5 principles in the lesson and 5 missionaries! We each took a different principle and taught for a few minutes. The spirit was so strong.  I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such good people, and to be able to testify of the truthfulness of this gospel alongside them. I really felt empowered by hearing all of their testimonies. It reminded me of how important it is for us to share our testimonies! We may never know the impact it can have on others.

Isaac, the branch President's son and our next broadway star:)
After our lesson we had a little impromptu talent show which was kicked off with (in true Giles' family style) a RAP by Sestra Trumbo and I. Needless to say, I think we caught everyone that was there off-guard! I'm not sure how many Sister missionaries in the world rap...hahaha We wrote the rap as a little goodbye-wish for Elder Shillabeer, so it was fun to especially see his reaction! haha After that we got to hear Elder Shillabeer on the piano, President Lamoreaux on the guitar, Eli (his 17-year-old son) did a puppet show for us and Isaac (his 11-year-old son) sang us some songs from "Into the Woods". It was a great goodbye for Sestra Trumbo and Elder Shillabeer. We are really going to miss them!

One thing that I read this week that really helped me was in Jacob 7:5. Sometimes it's really hard to have people tell you that "you're lost" and "God isn't our father. He is just our creator" and that "Jesus Christ isn't the Savior". Never have I met so much opposition in my whole life! But this week in my personal studies I was reading about Jacob having a very similar situation. A man named Sherem begins to preach against the things that Jacob has said about Christ and now Sherem wants to talk to Jacob personally.  Jacob knows what Sherem really wants and in verse 5 he simply says:

 And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
It was a gentle reminder that I can stand strong in my work because I have felt things that these people don't understand right now. We each need to remember the sacred things that we have experienced in our lives and not let others ideas of what we are doing shake us from our firm foundations! I know that as we continue to be faithful and to do those things that we know bring us joy that we will have a more firm foundation, and who doesn't want that? :)

I love you all! Thanks for all your support. 
Sestra Giles

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Our tri-panionship with Sestra McKinnon
Coming back from the grocery story:) Our apartment is on the top of the building on the left.

Zdravo, zdravo, zdravo!

First of all, I LOVE BOSNIA, BOSNIANS and BOSNIAN! The longer I am in this country and am really starting to understand these people better my heart is just getting more and more attached. I wish I could bring each of you out with me for a day so you could experience the wonderful people here. 

Loved having Sestra McKinnon work with us this week!
This week we had a great opportunity to become a tri-panionship. President Rowes niece, Audrey (Who, as it turns out, I already knew from Liberty Square. We were in the same ward! haha), came and stayed with us this week. IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE WEEK, to say the least. It was definitely a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to have a new perspective with the people that we are teaching. We had a hard time letting her leave yesterday!

Our week started out with a great lesson with M... We testified very strongly of the reality of Jesus Christ and His gospel and how it can change our lives. We specifically focused on repentance and baptism. The best part about teaching M... is that she asks SUCH good questions! You can tell by the spirit of her questions that she really does want to know the answers that we have to give. In the end, we invited her to be baptized and guess what? She has a baptismal date for December 8th! :) We told her that being baptized means that she needs to stop drinking coffee and smoking and keep other commandments that Heavenly Father has given us. She simply replied --When I put my mind to something I definitely can do it and I want to do this!-- She is an incredible person.

We started our new round of English classes this week. We have been so excited to start teaching a new round of people since we have more experience than when we started our last round, but nothing could have prepared us for what happened....we had 57 people show up. 57!! The room we usually use for English class fits about 40 people comfortably, so we were getting creative! We got out every chair we had in the whole building and by some miracle we fit! It was incredible to stand at the front of the class and see all different kinds of people: giggly teenage girls, widows, successful businessmen and even a woman who spoke only french and have them all in a room with 5 representatives of Jesus Christ, eager and ready to learn. The spirit really testified to me that this would be where we would find the prepared people in Sarajevo, and it has already started! In our usual end-of-class spiritual thought Elder Mecham shared about the Book of Mormon and how it brings us more happiness. After class we handed out every last copy of the Book of Mormon that we had in the church! I am so excited to get to know these people better and introduce them to this comfort-giving gospel!

Yesterday we had Zone Conference, and just like last time the spirit was definitely there! President Rowe talked alot about --Hastening the Gathering-- and how with all of the new revelations (the new mission-age, the new youth curriculum, etc.) we can definitely see that we are being prepared and called to share the gospel with even greater force! As we are serving more people and in a more-effective way we need to remember that it is through LOVE & SERVICE that this work is shared. How beautiful and simple the gospel is! Seriously, the more I learn about the gospel the simpler it becomes to me. It almost feels backwards! haha I feel so blessed every day to be able to uncover a new truth and have it always tie back to the fundamentals.

 Along with Zone Conference we had our interviews with President Rowe. Meeting with him strengthened my testimony that this man is called of God! I'm so grateful to be here in this mission! As part of our interview he let me know that in a mission we get to experience a lot of change (yeah, NOT my favorite. haha) and that that would be happening to me this transfer. Sestra Trumbo is going to be going to Serbia and I am going to be getting a new companion, Sestra Black! Sestra Black has been serving in Serbia for the last two transfers and only has one more transfer left on her mission, so she is coming to work with me in Sarajevo! The catch is that Sestra Black starts school at the beginning of January and the transfer doesn't finish up until the end of January. What does that mean for me? I am going to have ANOTHER companion for the last 3 weeks of the transfer and guess what else? SHE IS A NATIVE FROM BOSNIA! President is going to call a 20-year-old member from Bosnia named Viki to be my companion! I am really nervous and so excited for all these changes, but as he was explaining it all to me I felt Heavenly Fathers love for me and I know that this is what he would want to happen. :)

Autumn in beautiful Sarajevo:)
I have been thinking a lot about what sets us apart as Latter-day saints this week. Every day I testify of the fact that we have a living prophet today, that we have the true priesthood of Jesus Christ on the earth and that we believe in another book of scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ, named the Book of Mormon. All of those things set us apart. But the more people I meet, the more families I teach, the more people I see start to change their lives to live in accordance with the teachings of this gospel, I really see what it is that sets us apart: THE LIGHT! In D&C 93:37 it says, 37 Light and truth forsake that evil one. I know that wherever we are: around many members of the church or not, that that light sets us apart. Having this light doesn't mean that we will be without trial or difficulty (even though sometimes I wish I could promise people that) but that we know who we are, where we came from and what our purpose is on this earth. How could we not shine if we really understood these things?!  I know that as we each keep stoking our spiritual fire that we can each be that --Light on a hill that cannot be hid-- and in turn help our own testimonies grow.

I love you all and pray for you every day! Keep shining!
Sestra Giles

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Our district! Happy Halloween!
Halloween treats for the Elders:)
We love our aprons!

Missionary work here in Sarajevo is in full-force, as well as the fun weather that October brings: Snow one day, blazing heat the next! I definitely look like a foreigner with my snow boots on when its 75 degrees and my sandals on when its 30, but hopefully we will have a consistent temperature soon! :)

This week we met a 24-year-old girl named M... and her 20-year-old sister, A... who have become really really close to my heart! The Elders tracted into her about a week ago and gave her as a referral to us. All last weekend I kept thinking that we need to call M..., we need to call M..., we need to call her! We finally got around to calling her and she was so excited to meet with us. We went over and taught her, her sister and her roommate. Lets just say that M...,is PREPARED! She asked a lot of questions in the lesson, but actually accepted the answers we gave her to those questions (which doesnt usually happen here). We got on the subject of baptism and she was really intrigued. She told us that she was raised Catholic and was baptized as a child, but she doesn't think that is right because she wants to choose to be baptized! We then explained how we each choose to be baptized and in our church the youngest age that you can be baptized is age 8 and we have an interview with the Bishop about why we want to get baptized. She loved it! The next words that came out of her mouth were made of pure gold, "Well I think I might need you to baptize me again because I want to listen to you and I want to choose to be baptized!" Yes. Sestra Trumbo and I nearly fell out of our chairs.
 The most touching part of our meeting was when we were closing with prayer and M..., told us that just the night before she had decided that she wanted to start a new life. She had gotten rid of a lot of bad things in her life and when she woke up that Monday morning she told herself that --It was the start of her new life!-- Then we called. She told us that she knew it wasn't a coincidence and I knew it wasn't either. The spirit had been prompting me to call her because Heavenly Father knew she was ready for this message. I am so grateful I followed that simple prompting. She is reading the Book of Mormon and praying! We have another lesson with her tonight, and I cannot wait! 

Sestra Trumbo dressed up as me:)
This week was also Sestra Trumbo's Birthday and Halloween! We had a DELICIOUS dinner at the Smartt's complete with pumpkin cheesecake to honor Sestra Trumbo. :) Needless to say, I am really really glad that she was born. I am so lucky to have her as my companion!

I dressed up like Sestra Trumbo:)
For Halloween we decided to dress up as each other! We switched clothes and nametags, bags and even jewelry! It was so fun to walk into English class and have everyone be so confused. I made pumpkin cookies for our english class (which actually turned out!) and Sestra Trumbo and I sang Thriller on our walk home to celebrate the day!

Minute-to-win-it cookie game!
This week we also had our Branch Fall Party. We had quite the feast including homemade chili, cinnamon rolls and so much more! We had about 40 people attend and only about 10 of them were members. We decorated sugar cookies, socialized and then ended everthing with a Giles classic, Minute-to-win-it! It was a really great opportunity to meet people and show them that Mormons truly are normal! 

We love our Saturday english class students
We finished up our first round of our 6-week English course this week too! It has been so fun to get to know these people, have fun together and share the gospel with them! We couldnt help ourselves and ended the class with playing the Cookie on the Face game with them. It was awesome!

Needless to say, its been a VERY busy week! I have really relished the time that I have had to read the scriptures. This week I decided to start over in the Book of Mormon. I love that everytime we read this book we can get something different out of it! This time around in 1 Nephi I have noticed a trend in the way that Nephi views faith and obedience! In 1 Nephi 3:7 we know that Nephi says that ...--I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the things which he commandeth them.-- But as I kept reading I realized that he says that same thing in 

9:6 --But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words.-- 

Then he says it AGAIN in 1 Nephi 17:3...And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and astrengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them;

I love getting packages:)
What great faith Nephi has! This week I am committing to have more faith like Nephi to do all that the Lord commands because I KNOW that he will give me the strength I need to accomplish the things He had commanded me. I know that as we are doing everything in our power to obey the commandments that He will bless us.

I love you all, thanks for all the letters, emails and prayers!
Sestra Giles