Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 18, 2014.   It has been almost nine months since I have posted to this blog.  We returned home from our mission in the Czech Republic four months early due to some health problems that I (Sister Mills) was having.  A lot has happened, but we wanted to finish what we started.  Here are pictures of the last month of our mission.  We have such great memories of Ostrava and the Czech Republic.  We love these people and miss them dearly.  They will always be our most cherished and dear friends.

 Priesthood summer outing with the Ostrava Branch.

 Daniel Kolek, Kuba,  Lučas Kubola, and  Elder Wayment

 Adam Hud

 Rostia Nosek

 Daniel Kolek, Vladimír Kryška, Michal Bradá

Oh how Vladimír loved burgers and steak!!!

Brothers in the Gospel.  Elder Mills and I love these men.

Another birthday celebrated in the Mission.  Jana Ciprová.  A very special lady. 
 Happy Birthday Jana!!

Dance Festival held in Ostrava

Folklor Bez Hranic (Folklore without Borders)
Different groups from many countries were in attendance, 
and they would dance their traditional country dances in their traditional costumes.

 One of the last little side trips Elder Mills and I took on a P-Day.  We went back to one of our favorite places Hradec nad Moravici

 Looking out over the beautiful countryside from Hradec nad Moravici

Starši Mills

Sestra Mills

Illona and Zdeněk
Two of our dearest friends we had lunch with just before leaving Ostrava.  We miss them they were so kind to us.  We learned a lot from Illona and Zdenik.

The last district we served with
Top row:  Elders Boysen, Bailey, Payne and Wayment
Bottom Row: Sister Robiček, Sister Mills, Elder Mills and Sister Donaldson

Sister Renata Blombergova, from the Ostrava would always have missionaries over for svičkova once a transfer.  Here we  are our district last transfer.

Saying goodbye to Sister Renata almost broke our hearts.  She is truly a dear friend.

Sisters Robiček, Mills and Donaldson

Saying goodbye to the Ostrava Branch Members the Sunday before we left. 
They were so kind and loving to us.  After Sacrament Meeting they dismissed Sunday School, Priesthood etc. and they brought in food, gifts and took many pictures.
This was our family while we were away from home.

Sisters Robicek, Mills, Donaldson, and Benčikova

Lucaš Kubala, Jakub Řeha, Elder Mills, Daniel Kolek

President Řeha's Family:  Jakub, President R
Řeha, Sister Řeha and Veronica

Kubolovi Family:  Honza , Sister Kubolova, Michelle, Lucaš
 and Brother Kubola

Kolkovi Family:  Danielle, Sister Kolkova, Bro. Kolek and (Zuzu who is missing)

Elders Boysen and Bailey with the Mills

Elders Wayment and Payne with the Mills

Bro. Galiček with the Mills

Michelle Kubolova and Veronica Řeha

Elder Mills with Sunday School Class

The entire Ostrava Branch and missionaries walked us to the train station and waited there with us until our train came.  They sang hymns to us while we waited.  It was very hard when they started singing "God Be With You Til We Meet Again"

It was so hard to say good-bye to these dear Czech people.  We will never forget their kindness and the love they showed to us.        
 Na shledanou drahy rodina.

One last look at the street we lived on while in the Czech Republic

Josefá Šavla 7, Ostrava 70900

Monday, August 12, 2013

(More pictures can be found on Facebook - YSA Conference 2013 - Slovakia)
YSAC 2013 - Slovakia
Alma 37:6....Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
This post is dedicated to the Young Single Adults from Eastern Europe who came to a YSA conference in Slovakia this year.  Countries who attended the conference were:Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia, Austria, and Netherlands.  The YSA of these European countries may be small in number, but they make up for it in dedication and spirit.  These young members of the church have testimonies of Jesus Christ and are trying to pattern their lives after him.  Some facing unbelievable trials to do so.  We could defininitely see future leaders of the church in this group of young people.
It was our privilege to serve on the committee to plan this year's conference in Slovakia. We felt the conference was a total success, and it is totally do to the hard work, organizational skills, dedication, and an enormous amount of faith, that with the help of our Heavenly Father, all things are possible.
The conference was held July 31 - August 3, 2013 at the Hotel Junior Jasná in the Tatry mountains near Liptovsky Mikuláš, Slovakia.   It was a beautiful setting.  All 186 YSA's were able to stay at the same hotel and enjoy the peace and beauty of God's creations.
In the winter time it is, of course, a ski resort where many people come to ski the beautiful mountains.
Entire YSA group.
Just arrived and excited to get to work
(Jana, Sister Mills, Monica  and Miška)
Arrival was very exciting as people greeted old friends from past conferences, and quickly made new friends.
Check-in went pretty smooth, even though some countries arrived at 4:00 am.
Preparation day.
(Miška, Monica and Lenka)
Sisters Mendenhall, Martin, and Mills trying to be helpful.
Preparing vests for the service project.
 Welcome to everyone. 

Interrupters were set up in the back for those who did not speak English.  Each country provided their own interrupters.  The main language of the conference was English.  A huge percentage of the YSA speaks English quite well.

Country Presentation night.  This is Slovakia passing out bread and salt to everyone. A Slovakian custom.

Slovakian folk dances.

Slovakian dancers proudly standing by their flag.

The first morning the CES Faculty taught about temples.  We traveled to six different areas in the forest and were taught by six amazing teachers.  They were with us during the entire conference.  They held institute classes every afternoon.  They each taught two different sessions and YSA's were able to choose which they wanted to attend.  Everyone was spiritually fed at the conference.

I wish I could tell you that Elder Mills was praying and reading his scriptures.....well the scripture part is true, but he was tired of sitting on the hard ground so decided to give his behind a rest by kneeling for a while.

There was a great cafeteria which served everyone a great Slovakian buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It was big enough that everyone could eat at the same time.  Food was good and there was plenty of it.  No one went away hungry.

Dance class held every afternoon

A dance, with a different theme was held every night.  This particular night was the dance marathon.  Dancers had to dance for 2 hours with only one bathroom break.  By the end it got pretty "ugly".  My knees were hurting just sitting and watching!!!

Some very talented dancers
 More dancers

 More dancers

More Dancers

......and the winners are Lenka (Czech Republic) and Elvi (Slovenia).  They both had leg cramps so bad that they couldn't stand up, so their picture was taken with them sitting.

One afternoon the senior couples were sent down the mountain to get more supplies.  We saw this beautiful spot just off the road and had to stop and explore.
(Elder and Sister Martin, Sister Mills, Elder and Sister Mendenhall)
Elder Mills is taking the photo

Elder and Sister Mills

Elder and Sister Martin

Elder and Sister Mills

Tonight's dance theme is "Movie Night".  Everyone who wanted was supposed to dress up as someone from a movie.  They had the walk of the "Stars".  Each star had someone's name on it.  Here is Elder Mills by his star. 
Not sure what star he is portraying.....just a cool dude!!

Sister Mills with her star. 


They had a bar that night where they made specialty fruit drinks.  They were pretty good just needed about another cup of sugar.  They certainly don't like sugar like Americans do.

Sister Martin letting her hair down with "ZORRO"

You can see how much fun they all had at this dance.
Other theme dances were "disco", "movie", "rock n roll", and "ballroom".

Service Project.
YSA's collected trash up and down the mountain side, while some went into town and helped clean an old vacant lot.

Water balloon fight.  Boys against the girls on the basketball court.


Not sure if there was a winner, but here are the proud participants.
 One morning everyone set out on a hike.  The more adventuresome went straight up the mountain you can see in the background.  All others went for easy and beauty.  (I don't know about easy, but it was certainly beautiful.)  The blueberries were in season and everywhere you went there were bushes of blueberries.  Every ones mouths were blue for three days!

This is Rafal with Elder and Sister Mendenhall.  Rafal is from Poland and he is totally blind.  He went on this hike with us, and he was  amazing.

Here is Sister Mills with her dear friend Sister Martin.  We worked closely together for about a year, and I truly cherish her friendship.  She certainly loves life and people. She has taught me many things over this past year.  I will miss her.  May have to take a trip to Arizona when we return home.

 Elder and Sister Durant.  They are Senior couple from Poland.  They will be in charge of the conference next year.  It will be held in Poland.  Good Luck!!!!

Forging the great waters.

Elder Mills
Here again is Rafal from Poland.  He could play the flute beautifully.  The piano would begin playing and he would just pick it up and start playing.  He had so many talents.

Day one at the conference a choir was put together.  This is the first night at the "Fireside".  Each night the choir grew in number, and by the last night they sounded like the Tab Choir!

The next few pictures are just showing some of the beauty we found while at the conference.


President and Sister McConkie, (Czech Slovak Mission) and family.  President McConkie was the Fireside speaker for the last night.  He also played his violin for us.  He is very talented!

All good things eventually must end.  Here is the conference committee with the hotel manager, Michal.  It was the committee's idea to present Michal with a Book of Mormon, and a small gift for his new baby that was to be born any second.  He seemed pleased.
Committee Members: (left to right)
Jaroslav Kraus, Vaskek Šyndelek, Jana Brlošova, Tomaš Vasiček, (Michal, hotel manager), Elder Martin, Sister Martin, Sister Mills, Elder Mills, and Lenka Vrávelová
Were impressed with the leadership abilities of the young people who served on the Conference Committee.  They were dedicated, ambitious, organized and knew what the other YSA's needed at this particular conference.  We watched them as with every decision they counseled with the Lord for his approval, and then moved forward without question or hesitation.  We were truly humbled by their actions.

We were so blessed to be able to participate in this YSA Conference this year.  As we watched these young people we observed that they were hungry for the friendship of young people of their own faith.  We could see this from the moment they walked in the door as they immediately began greeting old friends and meeting new friends.  Everyone at the conference was accepted and included in every activity. No one was left behind!!  There were life long friends made at this conference, and perhaps even a few eternal companions.

We could definitely see a change in the countenance of the young people as they left this conference.  It was very visible that they had a strong conviction to stay strong in the gospel, and a renewed determination to follow the commandments of Jesus Christ.  They had been spiritually uplifted, and left being changed individuals with the feeling that they could move forward, and have the spiritual strength, to endure whatever challenges were in store for them.

We certainly have great admiration and a deep love for these young people.  Our lives will never be the same because of them.  For this we are truly grateful to our Heavenly Father for giving us this opportunity.

S Laskou
Starši and Sestra Millsovi