Monday, February 24, 2014

Well we only have 18 weeks left on our mission...time is really flying now.  We have had a wonderful February and we feel that attitudes are changing here in Sremska Mitrovica.  Our Mission President said that he feels that a wave of baptisms are about to sweep over our mission and we feel that we are just starting to feel the ripples of that wave.  Much of the credit goes to our hard working Sister missionaries; they are so obedient and dedicated.  Our of the three cities with missionaries in Serbia, we are the only city that had recently had baptisms and we have two more scheduled in the upcoming month.  We feel it helps that Sremska is a smaller town because the other two cities are large and busy and people won't take the time to listen to the missionaries.  But it isn't always easy here either...we have been having over 20 people to church weekly and yesterday we only had 14.  I taught the Relief Society Lesson and there was 4 of us and three of us were missionaries.  Our little man who walked 9 miles to church (we have helped him move into town now) spoke and gave a beautiful talk (so we are told) that was simple and heart felt and he quoted scriptures and never used a note.  It is so great to see how some of the new members have grown.

As I shared with our ward newsletter, other good news from the month of February is that Radoslav left for Birmingham England on Feb. 20th.  Because members here are not always familiar with how the church functions, it can make things complicated.  Just as example; he wondered why he had to fly out so early and then with a lay-over.  Couldn't the church just get a later flight direct to England for him.  But he's there and his family is so proud of him.
Our newest missionary, Radoslav.

Also, Serbia had a visit from a member of the European area presidency, Elder Charles and his wife.  They had to interview our "lost sheep" young man, Aleksander, to see if he would be allowed to go on a mission.  We are so happy to report that he, as of March 15th, will start a mini mission in the Adriatic North Mission in preparation for a full time mission.  We are Thrilled!  Theses two young men will come back and help the church grow in Serbia forever.

One other thing we were able to accomplish this month was to visit some of the monasteries.  We have been wanting to do this for a long time.  There are 16 monasteries just along the Fruska Gora National Forest, which is only about 20 miles long.  We able to go to one of the oldest, Novo Hopovo, that dates back to 1555.  The old Church and monestary has had living quarters built around the structure to protect it.  Much of it was destroyed during WWII and has since been rebuilt and restored.
Outside the Monastery...the church is tucked inside the U-shaped area.

The Church

Inside the Church

This was one of the few chairs inside the church..but beautiful!

The Priest let me take his picture...he said that only 7 people live at the Monastery and take care of it.  He said they are
more modern that we would think and told us they have TV and he showed us his cell phone.

Our one day we get to wear casual clothes...

Another view of the church
 The other monastery that we went to was in Vurdnik..and more ornate inside
A lot of idol and Saint worship--They all kiss the cross where the little boy is standing.

Vrdnik Monastery 

The missionary, Elder OBrien, who lived with us for a few months last summer wrote us and talked about being in the Ukraine during the recent conflict.  He said the missionaries were confined to their apartments and were only allowed to go out in plain clothes on one day to buy food.  They had to buy food for the Sisters because they were not allowed to go out at all.  He said for a while the police where shooting at anyone who approached the government buildings.  He said that at church all anyone wanted to talk about was the "war" and so many were sad because of family and friends who had been hurt.  He will come to America soon to have knee surgery and will stay with a family in California.

Our "Only in Serbia" moment this time reflects how the culture here is truly a patriarchal society: Alan was mopping up some water in the entry court to the church and our young member Nemanja came out and said, "Elder Seelos, you shouldn't be doing that, I'll go get my mother and she can do it".  There are still a few things beside doctrine that need to be taught here. :o) 

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