Monday, December 31, 2012

Stretan Nova Godina!!!

Face time on Christmas Day with McKenzie. Having a migraine but still trying to keep smiling:)
Caroling on Christmas Eve:)
Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Holidays! I can hardly believe that they're almost over! 

Christmas was really wonderful here. The beauty of living in a mostly Islamic city is that everything is still open on Christmas day! haha Sestra Black and I got up, opened our Christmas presents and then went right out to do some SERIOUSLY last-minute Christmas shopping. We then went up to the Smartt's house to help Sister Smartt get ready for our Christmas dinner. With the cooking and Christmas lights flashing it was perfect. We had a DELICIOUS meal and read the Christmas story together and heard some good stories about the General Authorities from Elder Smartt. It was a very good day all around!
Mission Christmas Conference

All the sisters at the Christmas Conference!!!
McKenzie's new companion, Jack:)
Since I haven't been feeling very well President Rowe decided that it would be good for me to come and stay up in Zagreb and see some more doctors, so that's where I am now! Zagreb is a beautiful city and is 100% more Christmas-y than Sarajevo, so it's nice. I'm in a different situation because I don't have an assigned companion. It's really helpful so that I can relax and see different doctors without feeling like my poor companion is continually having to be dragged around. It's kind of funny though, to have to change my entire way of thinking. In the past few months it's been work, work, WORK and now it's relax, relax, RELAX. I can feel myself getting a little better every day, so I hope we're almost out of the woods!
Sarajevo Branch Relief Society:)
I love this time of year for the lights, time with family and the food, but I also love it for the time we have to make goals! Every year we have a chance to start over and to become better. I love you all and hope that you have a GREAT 2013.
Sestra Giles

Jahorina resort in Sarajevo

Part of the resort that was bombed out in the war.
Mom Note: For those of you who don't know, McKenzie has been suffering with severe migraine headaches for the last three weeks. She has been very frustrated and in so much pain. We have seen the Lord's hand in the miracles that are taking place as we search for answers and ways to help her. We want to thank all those who are taking such good care of her.  They have blessed her life and ours as well. We know that this is in the Lord's hands:) Please keep her in your prayers:) She is now in the mission home with the Rowes (mission president's family) trying to recover and get some answers to what is going on with her body. We have faith that everything will work out:)

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Little Christmas Miracle

My daughter and one of my Croatian daughters:)
Hey Everyone!!!
This is McKenzie's mom, Kelley. I just wanted to share with you a little Christmas miracle that happened yesterday.
In the main square in Zagreb, Croatia!

This last summer, when McKenzie was in the MTC, a friend let me know that there were some dancers coming to Utah from Croatia for a dance festival and that they needed families to stay with. I quickly called the lady in charge and luckily we were able to have the two most darling girls come stay with us for a week. Their names are Martina and Kety. We had the best time with them. We got to show them all around Utah and do lots of fun things together. They were able to teach us a lot about Croatia. It was quite amazing that we had these two girls staying with us while McKenzie was in the MTC learning Croatian so she could go to her mission and teach the gospel. :)

I was hoping that somehow they would be able to meet up in Croatia, but then McKenzie went to her first area (Sarajevo, Bosnia) and I wasn't sure they would get to meet. We tried to make arrangements for McKenzie to meet the girls when she first got to the mission home in Zagreb,where the girls live, but it didn't quite work out.

This is all of us!!!
When I started thinking about Christmas this year, I decided to send a little package to my two cute Croatian girls via the sweet McKinnon family who were going to Croatia for Christmas. The McKinnon's are family of President and Sister Rowe (McKenzie's mission president & wife). Yesterday all the missionaries gathered in Zagreb for a Christmas mission conference . I had given McKenzie all the info she needed to be able to get a hold of Martina and Kety. However, the missionaries were very busy with mission activities, so I wasn't sure it would all work out.  My prayers were answered when in the afternoon yesterday I got an email from Martina saying that she would be meeting McKenzie in an hour!!! Kety wasn't able to make it since she was taking some final exams:(

Martina said that they had a great time. She said she loves McKenzie's sparkly blue eyes. haha. They had some time to visit and eat a favorite Croatian dessert called "fritule" and then were able to walk around the main square in Zagreb.

McKenzie & Martina
I think these two look like sisters!!! They are alike in many ways. They are both very outgoing and are leaders wherever they are:)

When Martina and Kety were staying with us in the summer, we talked about how it could not just be a coincidence that we all got to meet each other and that McKenzie would be serving her mission in the Adriatic North:) We know that God had a hand in it:) This was the best Christmas present I could have gotten this year!!!

I love my cute daughters (Croatian & American)!!!


Monday, December 17, 2012

"Jesus Christmas" or "Santa Christmas"


Hello Friends and Family!

The Christmas spirit is definitely alive and well here in Sarajevo! We have had a lot of snow and days reaching 0-degree temperatures. People don't decorate until about a week before Christmas, so now we're really seeing Sarajevo at it's finest! We asked our English students if they celebrate Christmas and they lovingly told us that they don't celebrate "Jesus Christmas" they just celebrate "Santa Christmas", which I thought was very interesting. It's definitely a very commercial holiday here, but it hasn't stopped us from feeling the special spirit we get when we celebrate the season of our Savior's birth. 

This week has definitely been an interesting one for me. Sestra Black and I have been working really really hard to find people in the city who are prepared. We're tracting and talking to everyone we come in contact with about the Gospel. We have gotten a lot of people that give us their phone numbers and we meet up with them, but then they usually let us down fairly gently and tell us that they are Muslim, thanks for the book, they'll read it, but they will live and die a Muslim. It's fairly frustrating, but so is missionary work! We are keeping on and won't stop until we find that person that is searching for us too!

I'm excited to share this season with these people who don't necessarily understand what it's really about. Every day I am here I realize how lucky I am to be a part of this Gospel and to have the opportunity to share it! That's the challenge I want to give to you all this week: Share the spirit you feel! It's a time for us to get together with our families and partake in traditions that have been around for years, but what about starting a new tradition? Have your local missionaries over for dinner and a lesson about this season with one of your less-active neighbors! Go on lessons with the missionaries. Give referrals to the Sister missionaries on temple square! Think of the joy that you feel in this special season, and more importantly, WHY you feel that joy. Believe it or not, there are people around you that don't feel that same peace during this season. It only takes a sincere prayer and a pure heart. Trust in the Lord, the spirit will help you.

Let's make this season special for the RIGHT reasons!
I love you all so much. I've had some time to think on that this week and I really can't thank you enough for your love and prayers. I feel them every day.

Sretan Bozic i Nova Godina!
S Ljubavju,
Sestra Giles