Hello Family :) Thanks for the letters I've been getting from you! I always enjoy reading what you send me, and I'm so grateful to have you as part of my life. You're really the best.
To start, I of course have to respond to the letters you've sent. In one letter you told me about the Superbowl, but I actually got to watch it on P-day at a member's house who recorded it. It was a pretty lame one, probably the worst I've ever seen. Ah well, what can you do?
I watched Frozen on P-day a couple weeks ago, which I think you all saw, right? It was a pretty good film; I enjoyed it. It had some really good messages, the characters were relatable, the music was well done and the animation was great.
Thank you for sending me the note from Grandma Brown and the pictures. I really appreciate that. I'm glad the funeral all went well enough as far as funerals are concerned, and I'm sad that I couldn't be there to show my love and respect for her. I guess I'm just showing it a different way by being out here and serving the God who is taking care of her.
There are four of us in the flat now. (Elders Williams, DeShazer, Frahm and I) Elder Sindylek moved to a different one. I am doing the planning and scheduling now. I am learning to be a pretty effective planner. We're of course not able to teach as much now because of travel time, but we've also been able to street contact some good people who want us to come and see them. My daily planner is well used and fully organized, which is exactly as things need to be to have a successful day/week/mission.
I think I am finally at the point where I can say that I'm fully fluent in the language now. The transition is hard to notice because I am constantly improving, and I can see that God has helped me. It's not just with gospel terms either, thanks to the fact that I do a lot of translating for many different things. This ranges from government forms to doctor's office visits to conversations with landlords and repairmen to old, very educated men giving rather difficult talks in sacrament meeting (quoting from medical professors and the suchlike).
Roma is the first language of the Slovak people I teach. I've begun to dream in Roma and the other day I spoke with some Hungarians who didn't speak Slovak or English, but were gypsies and had the same base language of Roma. I'm by no means fluent, but I'm getting there. I can sometimes understand as much as 50% of what they say to each other in Roma, which is quite a lot considering that there's not a book written on how to speak Roma. This understanding of their language has many benefits, but one big one happened just recently as we were walking up the hill home for the night. A couple of younger men were walking toward us, and before we said anything to them, one called out "kaj dzas", which is Roma for "where are you going?" He was just making a joke to himself, thinking that surely a couple of white guys wouldn't understand. I, however, did understand, and answered his question as he passed by, saying we were going up. Then I followed it up with asking him if he spoke Roma. This guy was totally caught off guard by my being able to respond, and we stopped to talk for a bit. He gave me his contact information and I'm excited to go and meet with him again.
I also wanted to let you know that I'm having fun out here. There are some really amusing things that happen fairly often (generally involving Elder Williams and DeShazer). For example, at D's baptism when we got there the font was only half filled, so we had to fill it back up. We couldn't figure out why the English speaking Elder's would have done that, seeing as they'd done it mulitple times before. Brother Nettleship and Elders Williams and DeShazer went to look around and see if there was a problem somewhere, and there was. They discovered that somehow the font was leaking and the basement below us was completely flooded with wather. So while the baptismal service took it's course, the two of them wer downstairs bailing out water with plastic buckets in their white shirts and ties. I thought it was pretty funny. Also, recently, our beloved Flatscot, Mike Wazowski (the green punching balloon you sent me for Christmas) passed away. We had quite a moving farewell service for him one night, which Elder Frahm recorded on my camera, but you won't get to see until I get home. It was pretty funny, I must admit. Elder Williams has also taken to writing almost poetry that nearly makes sense, which is always good for laughs at the end of every night.
Mom, you mentioned how the primary kids are learning "I Stand All Amazed" which I found really cool because our branch choir will be singing the Slovak version "Uzansuty Laskou" in stake conference March 23rd. I'll be playing the piano for it just like you play it for the primary kids. Cool, no?
I just wanted to finish by letting you all know how much I love you. I'm out here doing what I'm doing because God has taken care of me through a wonderful family. I tell people this all the time, and they feel it's truth and commend you. Each of you mean so very much to me, and I love to hear from you about whatever you have to say, quite simply because it's from you. You're each doing your very best, and it adds yet another line to the list of reasons why I should do the same. When I'm giving my all, I can then see the blessings flow, and then I can testify to others that it works and they should do the same. Keep sending your love because I feel it and it always brightens my day. Here's my love to you too. :)
All my love,