Sunday, December 11, 2011

My God is a God of miracles. I'm grateful for that. November 24th, 2011

Dear good people of the United States,

What a great day it is! We have so much to be grateful for! Some days I feel as though I have more to be grateful for than anyone else because I am obviously God's favorite daughter.

Joke not blasphemy.

I want to tell you a story about a girl. A wonderful, wonderful Czech girl with orange hair and colorful clothes. We'll call her K. (ma, your note definitely reminded me of this--I'm SO SO happy for them!!)

When K was a young teenager and recovering from anorexia, she first met the sister missionaries. She loved the light they brought into her life and felt a big change in herself and was, after a few month baptized.

When I first arrived in Prague, at least 5 years later, all I heard of her was that she was considering leaving the Church and wasn't feeling comfortable there. We were able to meet with her once, when she said she'd let my companion teach her to help with her Czech. We met with her more often the next transfer and it seemed to be a little bit of a roller coaster--for a while I was afraid our meetings made things worse. And then last transfer, all on her own, she just started coming to church on Sundays. At first she came with some friends in the branch. Then she came even when none of her friends were there. Then she began staying for all three hours. Last night, another girl in the branch, her best friend, received a mission call to the London South mission (she'll be in the Provo MTC Feb 4th!). I walked in on her family and K, and K's longtime boyfriend and some other friends, all talking about it while she was talking to President Irwin and K looked like she'd been pretty emotional, but happy. Last night K sent us a text asking us to teach her boyfriend about the gospel next week. She wrote that she knew she needed to change something in their relationship but she didn't know how.

How's that for a miracle??

I really love that girl. I love how life seems to be a progression of tiny miracles that we hardly even notice. I'm sure one day we'll look back on our lives and the people we've become and say, Man, I'm some kind of miracle!

Another miracle: met a man from New York. I really have forgotten what American people are like. Teaching him was unlike any other lesson I've taught on my mission. He was so open, said he really respected the life styles we lead and felt as though he was in the presence of three angels, we were that wholesome (we invited another American member to join us). He prayed at the end of the lesson (in the upper level of KFC) and we all felt so good after the meeting that he was disappointed when we told him we had to go and wanted to meet with us again the very next day.

Furthermore: we held a FHE for single adults last night. Yesterday morning I sent out a mass text about it to all the people in our branch that might be interested. One member had 2 different numbers in the phone, so I just sent it to both. Maybe 30minutes later one of his numbers called me back, except it was a woman. A woman who didn't know anything about the Church. But she asked me more about the activity and told me she couldn't come that night, but would like to come another time--she said she was looking for a place to go to church (and when she said 'go to church' she used the verb for go that means 'to go often and or regularly') and asked if we sing.

I know, right?

This was all yesterday. It's so incredible: after nearly 3 weeks of very little to show for our work, amongst other difficulties, I found myself on Tuesday night crying a little as I fell asleep and asking Heavenly Father what more I needed to do. I hardly slept. And yesterday I fell asleep crying out of sheer gratitude and amazement--I hardly slept because I was so overjoyed.

The car sounds great. Thank you SO MUCH for doing that.
And I'm SO SO glad that Chris and Corey will be in Boise.

Life is pretty neat, isn't it?

S laskou,
Sestra Dean

The Lord commanded us to be of good cheer and it's probably the commandment we break the most."--J.R. Holland (November 19th, 2011)


1. Our display at the concert--all about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. We had a huge picture of Christ visiting the Nephites and the Book of Mormon in 12 or so different languages. Also had copies of The Living Christ for people to take.

2. Sister Bean and I and our new daughters, Sister Smith and Sister Dolinar.

Hello my dears!

I am so grateful for all your emails this week. You guys are just the best. :)

We've seen a lot of little miracles this week. And we've seen a lot of little Satancles.

I won't lie, this area has never been super happening since I've been in Prague. The missionaries here always work really hard, but it's seemed to be an area of learning and growth for the missionaries here. So we've begun our time here with a LOT of phone calls and a LOT of contacting--a little bit of a throwback for me to the days of blinding in to Ostrava. I've grown so used to just contacting when a meeting falls through and when I'm in the metro. We've been really fortunate to set up a lot of meetings with people that we've called or met, however it seems that 90% of those have fallen through. And many of the people we've had meetings with haven't been completely willing to hear our message--more trying to disprove it or debate it. HOWEVER.

We did meet the most prepared person I've maybe ever met in the past year and a half. Her name is Jana. She was raised as a __________ but has been disappointed by the 'fruits'of the _________ church. She's asked herself what Christ's church would really look like. We taught her the whole Restoration on the spot. When we began speaking of a living prophet today she told us that he must be a really inspired and wonderful person. And she asked us where she could go to buy the Book of Mormon--she's just looking for people who don't try to change the doctrines in the scriptures to fit the things that appeal to them. Great right? We were really stoked to meet with her. We called her the day before our meeting and asked her if she had any questions about the pamphlet she read and she thanked me at least three times for calling. But the next day something happened--we waited for a half hour (way longer than we normally wait) but she never came. And her phone has been off for the past 3 days. We really hope she is okay.

However. God turns moments like this into opportunities. The member that was with us suggested that we say a prayer. So we did. Just after that, a CHINESE man approached us and asked for change for a 100-crown bill in great English. As the member searched her purse, we began telling him that we talk to people about Jesus Christ. He told us he works at the embassy here, but that more and more people are interested in him in China and that he'd like to talk with us. This all happened in maybe 3 minutes. So we're hoping that Li Hang will have a friend soon. :)

I went to a leadership training this week. I've been thinking a lot about what great leaders do that make people listen to them. I've been so impressed by King Benjamin's great impact on his people lately--how he taught them the consequences of their actions and led them to do great things by working alongside them and expecting great things of them. Man, the scriptures are so cool.

Ma, the concert was wonderful. I suppose the greatest miracle was that Sister Bean, who typically suffers from severe performance anxiety and has never successfully performed since she was 12 or so, overcame it. That was half of the reason we wanted to do it--to help her. During the first two songs it was a little shaky, but it was arranged in a way that she couldn't just give up--she had to continue playing. And she played through it and played beautifully. I'm not sure how many referrals we got total from it, but we got two phone numbers as well as made contacts with several friends of members. And it seems that lately members have been more excited to trust us with their friends and family.

Also: just met a less-active member here named Linda yesterday. It almost immediately felt like we were old friends. She's obsessed with geneology however, and agreed to let us help her prepare to go to the temple. And said we could meet her husband and talk with him about the gospel as well. Cool? I think so.

Everyone, I love you so much. Thank you for your prayers, we feel them.

S laskou,

Sestra Dean


Smelly--the ARMY? What?! Do I need to start doing more pushups in the mornings?...

Binkyhead/Sis Wheeler/Jocelyn Heinzen??--Your picture is absolutely beautiful! I'm so happy for you! I think of you all the time now--it's almost like I'm in the position you were in when we served together and it's really interesting and weird--you handled it really well. I try to make myself be like you when it gets too weird. (I don't know if I ever told you this, but I found that other angel mug in the dejvicka apartment and remembered the story you told me and used it almost every day.) You are just so wonderful. I do know Hilary--not only did we go to Jerusalem together, but we also worked together! She's really great. Of COURSE I binkyhead everyone. I have yet to hear President Irwin say it though...

Ma and Daddio--you two are just wonderful. I don't even deserve you. I thank Heavenly Father for you every night. :) I'll be praying for your talk, Dad.

So I lied. It's Saturday and I'm emailing - November 12th, 2011

What did the Buddhist Monk say to the hot dog vendor?

Make me one with everything.

This is a joke that my new, awesome greenie told me. Her name is Sis Clare Smith and she's from Arizona, where they farm alfalfa, make goat cheese and breed people (7 kids). We had a class together at BYU--venturing outdoors leadership. She studied art history. She also taught art to elementary school kids. She's really really funny and really really brave--she just kind of throws herself into contacts and lessons and it's really impressive.

Sister Bean, Sister Anderson and I are ALL training. We are still in Prague, however we've been blinded into a formerly Ëlder-owned area. Usually thriving areas aren't blinded in. So there's quite a bit of contacting and finding to do. Sister Bean and her new companion are taking over the Dejvicka area and, for the two weeks when I'm not here they will try to manage two areas with Sister Smith's help. They just began this new training program this transfer which is pretty intense--TWO hours of comp study. You probably read when Beks mentioned this in her email. It's really new and slightly intimidating and important and I feel really blessed that the Lord is entrusting me with it.

I don't have a lot of time but yesterday Sis Smith wanted to contact the only family on the tram. And we did. And they ate it all up. And we are meeting with them on Monday. I can already tell that we are going to see lots of miracles this transfer.

And yes the concert was fabulous.
And yes, coming home after Christmas was my decision. Don't be mad, we shall have an eternity of Christmases together. :)
My goal is to be spending Christmas with a new convert. Pray for us. :)

I love you!

Sestra Dean

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Package and Letter Mailing Procedures

If any readers are planning to send Christmas greetings/packages to Ashley, please note the following NEW guidelines:

LETTERS should be sent to:

Církev Ježíše Krista Svatých Posledních Dnů
Sister Ashley Dean
Badeniho 1
160 00 Praha 6
Czech Republic

(Her name should NOT be on the first line, or it will not be delivered).


PACKAGES should be sent to the following address, WITHOUT ASHLEY'S NAME ON THEM:

Církev Ježíše Krista Svatých Posledních Dnů
Badeniho 1
160 00 Praha 6
Czech Republic

ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THE PACKAGE, WRITE THE NUMBER 1158 IN LARGE PRINT (this will indicate to the mission office that the package goes to Ashley).

Please see the info below sent by the Czech Mission, for other details regarding packages sent to the mission office:

You might have noticed that when sending packages to your missionary that there seems to be a line missing, the one that includes their name. DO NOT WRITE THE MISSIONARY'S NAME ON THE PACKAGE. Rather, when your missionary comes into the Prague Mission, they will be assigned a 4-digit number. When you would like to send a package to your missionary, you will write the address as shown above and then write the assigned 4-digit number, that we give your missionary, on the bottom right hand corner of the package. When a package comes to the Mission Home, we will simply look on the package and at our list that corresponds each 4-digit number to each missionary’s name.

~ Regulations regarding the value of packages mailed from outside of the European Union:

(1)The total value of the items within the package must be LESS THAN 28 DOLLARS. If you need to send more than that amount, split it into separate packages.
(2)The number you write on the box that declares the value of the items contained, must be LESS THAN 28 DOLLARS
(3) Make sure that you DO NOT write the value of anything in the box as 0 dollars. Everything has value.

It is difficult to claim packages that are sent as follows:
• Not abiding by the above rules about package value
• Fed-Ex or UPS
• Insured

If we receive a package as listed above, it may be delayed for a month or more! There will probably be a duty charged for at least the amount of the value of the contents, or it may never be delivered.

It is best to send packages regular air mail or in a Priority Flat rate International box or envelope that you purchase at the post office. Packages may be sent DHL, but just be warned, it’s very expensive. Keep it simple. We receive most packages within a couple of weeks and in good shape if they are labeled and sent properly. --Czech Mission Office

Thank you,

The Dean Family

The Penultimate Week - November 5th, 2011

The concert is today. I just know it will be so, so good. I'm so excited. We have displays set up about the Book of Mormon, and families, and prophets, and service that the Church does, and about our English classes. And all these wonderful people are inviting everyone they know--pray for us to find people who are interested in learning more! Life will be a little different without this thing to prepare for, but it may be somewhat of a relief. Earlier this week it started to seem like things were falling apart, however...

Sister Bean got sick. Yes, the star of our show caught bronchitis. We had an interesting trip to the doctor's office. Let me tell you a thing or two I've learned about socialized health care since I've been here--it's no good. Vubec(that means not at all). When I talked to the nurse on the phone she told us to come in at 9:30, but that the doctor we had requested wouldn't be in the office at all. When we arrive, there's this life of people waiting. After a few minutes we catch on, and Sis Bean joins the end of it and eventually gives the nurse at the desk her information. Then she comes to sit with us while she waits. A few people go in and out, and then the doctor comes and says, 'Miss Bean'. So Sis Bean starts to stand up, but a random woman sitting on the other side of me jumps to her feet first and jets into the doctor's room and he doesn't even bat an eye. We all looked around at each other in amazement for a bit and kind of laughed because we didn't know what else to do. A short while later she came out and left without paying or anything. I don't know, perhaps they will bill her or something. Then the doctor came out again and Sister Bean stood again, but another woman from who-knows-where ran into the room before she could get there. This time we just burst into laughter because there wasn't anything else to do. After this, Sis Bean got into a pretty impressive ready position and carefully watched the door, ready to sacrifice her poor little lungs in order to be next. When the doctor came out, she jumped to her feet--but the doctor told us that it was now time for patients with an appointment, and that he'd try to squeeze her in some other time. And all this time we saw the very doctor that wasn't supposed to be in the office at all, walking in and out of rooms. Ha.

But Sister Bean's better and everything will be okay.

Actually, no one here celebrates Halloween, just the people to know Americans.

Other than that, our week's been a little rough. So many people cancelling on us. One of our 'golden' investigators has taken a 180 and continues to blow us off for his work. Very few people wanted to talk with us, even though we didn't waste a second and approached everyone we could. Satan's working hard. But usually the hardships come just before the breaking of the dawn, and I believe the sun will shine brightly tonight.

We have been using the Book of Mormon Ensigns like crazy for our investigators. They're so wonderful. Gotta love the Church.

Li hang's amazing. So focused, and excited to go on a mission. He wrote all of the missionaries a letter about his conversion, and had someone translate it recently. I've never met a recent convert that understands the gospel so well. He's just so cool, I'm obsessed.

Cool story: this is how much influence one person/family can have (Dad, feel free to share this). This wonderful old couple in our branch is so great about missionary work. He's the former branch president and counselor to the mission president, she's suffering from cancer, and he just had a hernia removed. But they invited us over and this completely inactive young man, who hasn't been to church for maybe 10 years. Really, honestly 10 years. They knew him from when Brother Canek was branch president. He is about my age and his name is Lukas. Well, we missed our bus connection to get out there, so we were pretty late. And Lukas, the young man, was even later. By the time we got there and he got there, we had about 6 minutes to share a spiritual thought. Fastest lesson of my life. But afterwards we invited him to sports day with us and he promised he would come. That was all, probably 2 minutes of direct conversation. He came. Then he came to FHE. Then we had a meeting with him. Then he came to Sports Day again. Tomorrow he's coming to church for the first time in 10 years. That's all it takes, people--2 MINUTES is enough. There are people who are just waiting to be invited to do something, to change something in their lives. Don't miss a single opportunity.

Transfers next week--I'll find out tomorrow. I'd love to stay, I know something exciting will happen if I go, it'll all be wonderful no matter what. Love you all so much!

s laskou,

Sestra Dean

Sister Laws--there is a big scandal about you having a bridal shower going around the mission! What the--??

Rose Bud Thorn: No stress, God Does His Own Work - October 27th, 2011

Last night as we were waiting on the metro to head home, my compy doo Sister Andy Pandy (haha--thank President for that one) looked at me expectantly and said: 'Rose thorn bud.'
This is what it means:

Rose (best part of the week): Meeting with Tonda. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon every day for at least 10 minutes. He told us that 10 minutes wasn't nearly enough time--that he could read for at least 20 minutes each day. :)

Thorn (worst part of the week): [Readers: THE BULK OF THE THORN EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN OMITTED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT!!!] . . . However, this thorn also has a rose. Somehow it all worked out. God does what He wants. Afterwards one told us that he'd bring his friends next week. Another asked when church started on Sunday. Everyone wanted to come back. I love that God is totally in charge--I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bud (something you're looking forward to): THE CONCERT IS NEXT WEEK!!! WOOO! All this transfer's hard work culminates in this, the penultimate week of the transfer. Woop. Pray for us. :)

Also: Li Hang's been having a bit of trouble. His family's thinking of leaving to go back to China. He had a lot of anxiety over whether he should return with them or not--there, he'd be with family, but without the Church, here, he'd be with the Church, but he'd have to find a job, and the only jobs he qualifies for here are really demanding and low-paying. All week he told us he had a 'bad mood'. But yesterday we met with the Skype Elders. He was happy because he finally made up his mind to stay and to prepare for a mission. He received his answer from reading in the Book of Mormon. He said that the Church could be like his new family. On Tuesday he will have a Skype interview with the branch president to get the priesthood.

Yes, Ma. The mission stories in the Book of Mormon mean everything to me as a missionary. Alma 26 is perhaps my favorite chapter in the entire book. We always discuss them and analyse them and try to emulate the great missionaries of the Book of Mormon. As I've been reading this transfer I've been marking the ways we can apply the atonement in our lives. It's always repentance. And the things we must do to prepare ourselves to repent, like humbling ourselves. What a beautiful thing repentance is! What a beautiful message of the gospel--that everyone can change and grow and be better. I love that.

Please don't send a box. This is all I want: a copy of the conference Ensign. And I want you all to read it before you send it and mark your favorite parts in it and write why you like that part so much. Then it will be like a letter and scripture all in one. That's all. And that will fill me for the holidays. :)

I lurve you!

s laskou,

Sestra Dean

P.S. I DID see a picture of Mike and Brandi's kids--I just got it yesterday! MY, what good cousins I have. Thanks. :)

And I almost cried when I heard about Michelle's pumpkin. Stinky kids.

Molls/Beks: sometimes when it gets around Halloween time I just can't help but think to myself: I wonder what NieNie's mantle piece looks like this year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This Is Who I've Become . . ." October 22nd, 2011

Street Contacting

Our pday thus far: THREE hours (and then some) cleaning out our apartment. Yes, it's been in missionary hands for quite some time now. But my, oh my--it felt SO GOOD. THEN (best part) we watched the first part of this TV documentary made by BYU about the Bible and how it's come to be the Bible we know and love today. Loads of information about William Tyndale and John Wycliff and Martin Luther and the lot. As silly as this sounds, I think it was the most action-packed movie I've seen in the past year and a half. And I loved every minute of it. Ha. My life is so great.

More on Li Hang (the entire mission is becoming obsessed with him, no joke--President can't stop talking about him and neither can we) :
Weird things keep happening to make him late for our meetings. It's really interesting. He was never very late to meetings before, but in the last few weeks Satan has been working to keep him from meetings, I think. Last week a man who promised to drive him home from the doctor's so he could make it in time to our meeting just changed his mind. Yesterday he was stopped by the police and he didn't have his visa on him, so they made him get it and show it to him. From what I know, that doesn't happen very often. I really believe that this guy is intended to do great important things. He is so determined to become a missionary and share the gospel with others. We gave him "Preach My Gospel" in Chinese this week and he's already begun studying it. Apparently he was reading it on a tram and a man (probably drunk) came and yelled at him and tried to close the book so he couldn't read it. And yet he's always so happy.

Speaking of the musical number at his baptism... we practiced it the morning of at the church building, with a last minute idea of throwing and Elder with his guitar in. President sat there, giving us his opinion. He told us that it was too slow and kind of sad sounding when we sang it without the guitar. Of course, he's the supreme authority as far as baptisms go, so we laughed about it and kept the guitar. But really, who would call "I'm a Child of God" a sad song? Reflective, maybe, but never sad.

However. A few days ago we went to visit a member family and promote our whole concert bring-a-friend campaign. We sang with their children beforehand--I Am a Child of God, every Primary child's favorite, right? However, their 2-year-old daughter burst into tears in the middle of the third verse. They told us that they sing with her a lot, but usually more lively songs--ones that aren't quite so sad. Haha. Needless to say, we quickly abandoned the song and shared our message. :)

We've been teaching a young man named Tonda lately. He's 25, but a financial advisor and initially comes across very business-like. The more we meet with him, the more he surprises me with his sincerity and goodness. We began talking about prophets and the plan of salvation this week after taking him to our Young Single Adult Family Home Evening. Afterwards we gave him the talk "The Three Rs of Choice" from President Monson to read. In the next meeting we asked him if he had any questions about it and he told us no--rather, he'd had questions and found answers in it! Answers to his personal life dilemmas. I love seeing other people come to understand the power and importance of prophets! It's so true! I really know that President Monson has been called of God--that he's been working on developing that relationship with God his entire life and that his heart is in the right place in order to receive guidance for the good of all mankind. As are all the apostles. How cool are our lives, that we are able to teach people about this?
Tonda also agreed to be baptized on December 3rd. :)

Everyone, life is just so perfect. We had specialized training on Friday and talked about setting and reaching worthwhile goals and about how AWESOME Preach My Gospel is. I love this stuff. I love that being a disciple of Christ is something that is forever.

And I love you.

Sestra Dean

Hey Ma. You're the greatest. Isn't sister Stratton just absolutely wonderful? I'm not so sure about housing. It's true, it's stuff I'd rather not think about too much...I trust you.

Sestro Laws--oh my--LOVED your email! Isn't is just so refreshing? Haha, good thing we practiced that out. Although my curiousity is very much piqued...who?? I want to hear about Lumir asayfato (as soon as you find anything out).

Molls--get this: my companion (Sister Emily Anderson) was dance partners with Jared Kelson. How weird. Your letter was like a soap opera and I'm kind of hooked. I can hear the gossip girl narrator now...