12 years ago yesterday I saw the world upside down. The lights from Phoenix were so bright that they drown out all the stars in the sky. As my plane flew into Sky Harbor Airport it literally looked like the world had been turned upside down. It seemed like a nice metaphor for me coming home from my mission and everything that I had known for the last year and a half had changed.
In 1995, I was called to served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and a place that I had never heard of before then. The mission was the Austria Vienna mission, but I was to serve in Slovenia and speak the Slovene language. This mission has since been changed to the Austria Vienna South Mission and then to the Slovenia Ljubljana mission and it encompasses all of the former Yugoslavia. I only served in Slovenia and only in two cities there, Ljubljana first for 10 months (in the same apartment) and then in Maribor for the last 5 months. Yes, I know that only adds up to 15 months, but I did spend 3 months in the MTC because they called us a month early.
The people of Slovenia are amazing. They are so proud of their tiny country for it’s beauty, culture, and for keeping these things strong while being occupied by several different countries at different times. I am awed by them.
The members of the church in Slovenia have such strong, pure testimonies. I admire them so much for being able to keep their faith when there is not a huge support system around them. Some of them drive for hours to get to church every week. Some left everything they knew to join the church because they could feel the spirit and they knew it was where God wanted them to be.
The branch in Ljubljana
I am so grateful for that tiny space of time in my life that has influenced everything thing I do with the rest of it. Here are a few things l learned while I was a missionary in Slovenia:
-Sometimes you are loved ,or hated just for being American.
-Have patience. It doesn’t hurt to wait 10 minutes for someone. You never know what is holding them up.
-Always pray about specifics. Don’t jump to conclusions that if one thing is a no answer that the other option is right. There may be another option that you have not even thought of.
-Listen to the Spirit. I know, this is an obvious one. Sometimes we just get too pig headed to remember at the right times.
-The gospel brings light into people’s eyes. I actually saw it happen to a few of my friends here, but even more so to one particular friend on my mission. I saw her whole countenance change and a brightness completely surround her when there was just sadness before.
-People want to believe in God. They can feel his existence even when they have been taught their whole life that he doesn’t.
-There are people just waiting to hear the gospel. They may just be too scared to look for it, but they are hoping it will find them.
-People are scared of change. It doesn’t matter how old they are, or what kind of experiences they’ve had in life. Change is scary and love and reassurance need to accompany it.
-Change is a very real, natural, and necessary part of life. You either grow and progress, or you digress. That is a fact. You will never stay the same forever.
-There are many paths in life, but only one leads to where I want to be.
Emptying the baptismal font in Ljubljana
Anka and Me at the train station
Service at the orphanage
District meeting in Maribor
work day at the Toskaj’s with Jasna (don’t you love my hair?)
homemaking in Maribor
These are just a few pics from Slovenia that I don’t think everyone has seen over and over again. There are so many more, but now I am just driving my kids crazy by not getting off the blog.