Monday, December 12, 2011

Regarding the future of this blog....


To Sister Madeleine Ary’s friends and readers:

A new mission rule was announced which deals with posting letters from current missionaries on the internet. I will no longer publish Madeleine’s weekly letters on this blog, BUT Madeleine said it is fine for me to distribute her letters via e-mail. She has asked me to collect e-mail addresses from those who would like to continue reading her weekly missive.

If you would like to me to send you her “Letters from Slovenia” each week, please e-mail me [] with your name and e-mail address and I will forward her letter each week. I look forward to completing this small task for her and will send you today’s letter, 12/12/11, as soon as I receive your response.


Sister Madeleine Ary’s MOM!

Monday, December 5, 2011

My first week in Slovenia

My friends,

Wow, this has been an amazing week. Sometimes I still can't really believe that I am here.

I live in a small city (the second largest in Slovenia) named Maribor up near the boarder of Austria. It is a beautiful place with red tiled houses and onion-domed church towers and a large lazy river [Drava River] flowing through the center. Bridges span the river to keep the city together, and swans and coots swim placidly along its shoreline. We live on the fourth floor of a Communist-era apartment building right near the center of the old town. From the windows we can see one of the mountains and much of the city.

I can understand the language all right and can communicate what I need to say most of the time. When someone is talking to me, I understand the gist of his or her meaning and can generally respond correctly, though my grammar is atrocious. We teach English classes as a way of finding investigators and as a service to the people of Maribor. It has worked pretty well so far because we have about 9 investigators and four of them are progressing. This is about what is the norm in a place like Virginia where the work is generally much easier.

But it is easy to know why we are successful-- I have the world's most wonderful companion, Sister Oakley. She is a really kind, genuine, and caring person who is strong in her testimony, intelligent in the way she conducts the work, and good with the language. She loves the investigators and they can feel that, and she is able to keep the focus on the Gospel. She is a convert of just over three years now and will be going home in only about a month. I am really sad about that because I feel there is much I can and want to learn from her.

There are only 12 missionaries in Slovenia, 6 Sisters and 6 Elders. 5 of us are brand new, and in a couple of weeks, there will be 3 more new missionaries and 3 who are here will go home. So, in just a few weeks 8 out of the 12 Slovene missionaries will be almost entirely new. With the way the schedule with the Slovene Sister missionaries has evolved, there is a possibility that I will be training a new sister when Sister Oakley leaves (although that is unlikely) so I really want to make certain I understand it all now. So I feel some pressure to really learn the language though I know that God has been helping me out a ton because I understand far more than is expected of a new missionary of only five days. I've never really been that great at languages before so this is an incredible blessing. If I will be the senior or co-senior missionary in only 5 weeks, I had better be able to understand what is going on around me or we will be completely lost.

Our investigators are truly incredible. However, in Slovenia one of the biggest problems is retention as very few people who have been baptized still come to church. After 20 years of missionary work in Maribor, only 8 of the 55 members attend church regularly. But this is something that we are going to work on and I know that the Lord has a plan for this beautiful country. Elder Nelson just recently [Sept 6, 2010] [ ] rededicated Slovenia as a place for the work and in that prayer he said that it would begin to blossom. I truly believe that. The people we are working with are ready. We just recently found a new investigator who is completely accepting of literally everything we teach. She is incredible. And some of the investigators we have, two in particular, are just so ready to be baptized but for a couple of unusual reasons can't be baptized just yet.

I am so excited to be here. I feel like I am really consumed in the work and that I am facing a great challenge that it excites me to try and, with the Lord's help, overcome. It’s like a giant puzzle: why are things this way or that way? What is the root of this problem? How can it be solved? I have always loved being faced with a nearly impossible task and trying to surmount it. But this time is different because I cannot succeed if I do not rely wholly on God. It would simply be impossible. There are too many pieces, to many variables, and too many things I simply do not understand. I am in a different land with a different people of a different culture and the only way someone like me can know what to do is through inspiration from the Lord. So I must rely on Him. And, any prayers which you, my friends, can offer for the people of Maribor, would be wonderful.

Well, I love you all. I love speaking Slovene-- it is really quite fun. God is awesome. I already know I will be sad when I have to leave some day.

Thank you all for your love and support. God be with you!

Z ljubeznijo,

Sestra Ary

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I arrived in Zagreb, Croatia -- BRRRR!


I made it safely on the flight and landed in a foggy Zagreb, Croatia this afternoon. The air was so cold that we form little clouds around our faces as we breathe. The Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Rowe, are wonderful and very welcoming.

I am currently sitting in the mission home in the center of downtown Zagreb amongst all of their famous buildings and statues. I've already seen one Elder I knew from the MTC and am looking forward to the drive up to Slovenia tonight. My first area will be in a city named Maribor, which is the second largest city in Slovenia and right up [next to] the Alps just below Austria and Hungary. I've been told they have a heavy Austrian accent there. My first companion will be Sister Oakley about whom others rave so I am terribly excited to meet her.

I am exhausted, naturally, but that comes with the territory and all the excitement of being here is keeping me awake. I already had my first interview with the mission president and am leaving just about . . . now! I love you all! I will write again soon.

z moj ljubezen,

Sestra Ary

Sestra Ary's mailing address & postal rates

[yes, her address is 7 lines long...!]

Sestra Madeleine Ary
Adriatic Mission
Crkva Isusa Krista Svetaca Posljednjih
Svacicev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

Post cards
$ .98
First class letters
1 oz $ .98
2-3 oz $ 1.82


Before missionaries leave the U.S. for foreign countries, they are often permitted to phone home and so yesterday, (11/29) Sister Ary called collect from the airport in Washington, D.C. just a few minutes before she boarded the plane which would fly her to Zagreb, Croatia (the Slovenia/Croatia Mission Home is located in Zagreb). She was thrilled to finally be Slovenia bound and grateful her visa (and the visas of the other Elders and Sisters in her group) was issued. She told me they learned the Slovenian Embassy in D.C. is set to shut down for the month of December and had they not been issued their visas in now, everyone would have had to wait until January to finally get permission to relocate to Slovenia. Blessings are abundant for those who cry unto the Lord!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I leave for Slovenia TOMORROW!


Well, the day is finally here. I don't really know what to do with myself because I thought that I would remain in Washington, D.C. for another four weeks at least.

Today is my P-Day and I was having a meal after a day of sports with other missionaries when I got the news my visa had come through and will therefore depart for Zagreb, Croatia tomorrow!!! Zagreb, Croatia is where the Mission Home is located.

I have mixed emotions about leaving here. We currently have 14 investigators and I love them all and will miss them. I don't think they will take the Sister missionaries out of the Annandale Ward, which is good, since I don't believe some of our investigators would want to meet with Elders (they are single women and such). We have experienced so many miracles with the people whom we have been blessed to meet. Every time we go tracting we find at least one person who wants to learn about the gospel and seems ready to hear about it. Of our investigators, four are progressing, which is an unusually high number (people have a hard time deciding to do the things asked of them. It takes a while for them to catch the vision of what we are trying to teach.) I am really going to miss them as well as Brother and Sister Evans who have been so kind as to house Sister Holt and I, and the general atmosphere of Northern Virginia.

What a blessing it has been to be here when the leaves were red and yellow and orange and were falling like rain! Now the trees are bare, but the days have been warm like California, and the sky full of the strangest looking clouds I have ever seen. I am so glad that I was able to go to tour some of the monuments in D.C., and I wish I had a way to send the photos that I’ve taken of my time here to you all before I leave for Slovenia but I can’t for lack of time. I will be sending photos home as soon as I can by email, so it shouldn't be too long.

This week for Thanksgiving we had THREE Thanksgiving dinners. It was awesome. The first was with a member family and their member and part-member friends. They had spent a lot of time preparing for their Thanksgiving dinner so the food and the decor and the general atmosphere was incredible. I ate way too much even though I knew I would soon go to another dinner. The second feast was at the house of our Pakistani investigator (who came to church this week! It was wonderful. She really felt the Spirit and even cried during Sacrament meeting). I didn't eat very much there because I was so full, but I did have some of the pie. Of course… She really wanted us to meet her son with whom she is trying to set an appointment. We were careful to explain about the rules for missionaries and how we don't flirt or anything. She is so sweet.

The third Thanksgiving dinner was somewhat unexpected. We were going over to a former investigator's house to show her a movie about Christ just as was done for her last year but with the elders. But when we got to her place, she had not yet had her Thanksgiving meal and had only really cooked the turkey. Her husband's car broke down, so she had no one to share her Thanksgiving with. So we stayed and taught her the first lesson while she cooked the rest of the dinner and then stayed to eat dinner with her. She is really a sweet woman and we were glad to be with her in her apartment. We have another appointment with her soon.

Since Thanksgiving was last week, I am going to list some things that I am grateful for:

~My beautiful, wonderful family who is so supportive of me in all the things that I do, and all the crazy places I go. I could not have asked for a more wonderful Mother and Father and siblings. The Lord has truly blessed me in this life with them as my foundation.

~The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of this faith I know who I am and why I am here. I have the answers to the major questions of life, and not simply because it is what I have been taught, but because the Father of the Universe has testified it to me through the Holy Spirit so that I could know within my own heart that it is true.

~My incredible friends that I have made throughout my life. These people have been here for me throughout the times that I have been slightly (or really) crazy, and have been people who have built me up and pushed me to be a better person. They are examples to me of how I can live, and how I can be closer to God. My friends are hardworking and noble souls, and I am honored to know them.

~The opportunity that I had to go to Brigham Young University, Cambridge University, the Jerusalem Center in Israel, and now to go on a mission. These things are by no means cheap, and my family has always been willing to support me in them. I know how richly these opportunities have blessed my life, and I know that the Lord has allowed me them so that I might learn the things that will lead me to be a better person who can help more people come unto Him.

~The direction God gives to me, even when I don't realize it. I have noticed throughout my life that things just tend to happen for me and they always happen for the best. I know it is not because I am particularly anything, but because the Father of us all is watching out for me. I am so thankful for that. I never have to wonder if I am doing what God wants me to do because He directs me in everything.

~The beauty and wonder of this earth. I will never get over how fabulous it is to be alive. Everything around me is beautiful, interesting--- a testament to God who made it. I am so grateful that though the Lord wanted to test us and to help us find our way back to Him, He still created beautiful things that we can see and feel edified by.

~The atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that the Savior of the world died for me and because of Him and what He did, I can become perfectly spotless again. I know that it is only through His mercy and grace that I am saved, and I will be eternally grateful and eternally indebted to Him for it. He is the reason for life, the light that infuses all things and which fills my soul with life. Because of Him, I not only am but can continue and can find perfect joy. I can never express my thanks enough for what He did for me, and I will serve Him eternally because of it.

I love you all, and I will write next from the great country of Slovenia. I pray for you every day and every night, and know that God knows you and loves you and will care for you all in my absence.

With all my love,

Sestra Ary

Monday, November 21, 2011

Knocking on doors, teaching about Christ and actually READING the scriptures


I had just written most of this email when mysteriously it disappeared. I don't know what happened to it. I can't seem to retrieve it anywhere and the trash folder doesn't have it at all. Unfortunately, because of that little glitch, now I don't have as much time to write, but I will endeavor to do my best.

We were able to find five new investigators this week. Four of them are a family which we met by knocking on doors my first day here and we were finally able to have a meeting with them. The 13-year-old daughter knows several of the girls in the Young Women's group at church because they are on her soccer team. It is really exciting to be teaching them and things seemed to go very well. We taught them about the nature of God, and told them that they should pray every night as a family. We also invited them to church but they weren't able to come.

In fact, no one was able to come to church this week, even though one of the families we teach had been assuring us for 2 weeks that they were going to come this Sunday. It was really disappointing to have no investigators show up again. I don't know exactly why it is so hard for people to come to church, but to help remedy this we are taking two of our investigator sets (one is a man and his wife, and the other is a family of five) on tours of the church building over the next couple of days. We want them to feel the spirit that is there, to know how to get there, and to understand how everything works so it is not so intimidating to come. We had the opportunity to have a really good meeting with the family who was going to come to church but then didn't. We stopped by their apartment to see what had happened, and it turned out that they had gone to a race for their 10-year-old daughter and it had been such a big ordeal that it took a lot longer than they had anticipated for it to finish. But we were then able to watch The Testaments with them and it went beautifully.

I really think they felt the spirit. Toward the end the mother was crying and she said she felt sad but she felt happy at the same time--she couldn't really explain it. Even the younger children became quiet when Christ descended. It was so cool. The Mother is going to watch it with her husband in Spanish soon so he can share in the spirit. We are hoping this will be a good set-up for tomorrow when we have our next appointment with them. We will take them on a church tour and will show them that this is what the restored gospel of Jesus Christ looks like.

We also have a new investigator who has investigated the church in the past. She is from Pakistan and is the only Christian in her Muslim family. She fell and damaged her hip, shoulder, and knee yesterday when we were going over to help her with her 95-year-old mother. We are praying she will get better soon and that she will have the willing heart necessary to read the Book of Mormon. We also pray she will make it a priority to know if the things in the book are true.

There is nothing at all we can say or do which will convince people that the things we are telling them are the truth until they undertake the necessary action of reading and praying. But when someone does do this with real intent, willing to act on the things they have heard and been taught, they will receive a confirmation and everything changes. SO it sort of just comes down to getting people to read. That is probably the most difficult thing we do. I am not quite certain why that is.

We went to into the Washington, D.C. for our P-day today. It was awesome. I got a lot of pictures but now I just have to figure out how the send them.

I love you all!
Sister Ary