Sunday, October 9, 2016


Hi friends,

So upon arrival home life got a little busy. But I made it home in one piece, physically. I definitely felt like I left a piece of my heart over in Slovakia. LIKE ONE GIANT PIECE.

I have determined that the word "adjusting" is not my favorite word, nor is my favorite question "so, how are you adjusting?" I have changed the word from "adjusting" to "adapting"
this is why.
if you are adjusting, the word refers coming back to something. Yes, I came back to America, but NO, I cannot go back to the life I was living previously. its impossible. I am not that person anymore,
but with adapting, I can take who I was on my mission combined with the life I had before and create a NEW ADAPTED life that I want to lead out. and so far its working.

of course it is hard to come home, because I have never felt so lost in my own hometown or in my own skin. I remember the first days home feeling completely lost with no purpose. I have never cried so hard, trying to figure out your purpose, when your purpose for the last year and a half was, "invite others to come unto Christ" was/is difficult. how could I know what my purpose was when I wasn't wearing a name tag?
Yes, my purpose is still to invite others to come unto Christ, but not the way I have done it for the past year and a half. I had to adapt (theres that word again) my techniques. change up what I was doing and discover how I could invite people to come unto Christ while trying to figure out a new job, get prepared for school and adapt to this strange world I have come back to..
its still a work in process, I am trying to figure out my study schedule and my work schedule and my free time and my workout schedule and my meal schedule and life seems to be this giant mess and to add to all that stress I am still not unpacked, so my room is a LITERAL MESS.

did I mention that this whole adapting home thing is messy?

But I have learned that I need patience. and a lot of it!

We had a mission reunion that has blessed my life a ton since, but my mission president spoke to us about a few verses in Mark Chapter 5

it says,
" And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
(now imagine this immediately after getting off the boat a man comes running after Jesus. My mission president related this to us getting off of the plane and the world hitting us like a brick to the face)
 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
(could you imagine how you would react if you saw something like this? Most return missionaries probably feel similarly upon arriving home and seeing the influence of the world chasing after them. I wanted to get back on a plane with my name tag and hit the road, but look at how Jesus reacts)
 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
(Jesus didn't jump back on the boats and say "alright guys he's a lunatic we got to go." He stayed, faced it head on and pressed forward)
 10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
(he cleansed the man, meaning that one day the world too will be cleansed. WE HAVE HOPE!)
 14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
 15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
(isn't it interesting that the people who saw this healed man were afraid? They wanted Jesus to leave because to them facing this man seemed impossible, but for Jesus it wasn't. and for us it won't be either. We can face the world head on with or without a physical name tag, because we will always have Christ written on our hearts) 
I am so grateful for my mission, for the experiences I had and will continue to have because of those wonderful people. 
I am in debt to them. I don't know how I could ever pay them back, but the memories I have of them, make this adapting a whole lot easier.

my life is forever changed because of Slovakia.

and I am so grateful for that.

So this is what I have been doing since I have been home.
Hung out with friends at the capital after they both smashed me in bowling. 

Went to the zoo. it was a blast
Went to San Diego

Visited the Mormon Battalion. SO GOOD

Went indoor skydiving. (recommend. SO FUN)
        Got some dental work done. the gas made me super loopy
Went to Joes Crab Shack, Was informed by my mother that I should never go on a date to Joes Crab Shack... I wonder why.. 

Met Jamesthemormon

S Laskou, 
Sestra Madison Ratcliffe

Friday, September 2, 2016

The end is nigh...

Well I don't know if I am going to have a legit time to email next week, because we are heading to Prague on Monday so this will be my last group email of my mission. 

So lets start with this WILD WEEK. 

-Tuesday: I don't know what happened. must have just been a normal day. but what is a normal day for a missionary? I DON'T KNOW!
-Wednesday: this day was just all over the place. We went to our friend to do service for him and we sanded and painted some stairs in preparation for the winter, then we went home and got ready and headed to our members house. She is just great, she is 84 and during communism and everything she was a czech living in Slovakia and at the time czechs and jews were really persecuted. and she told us stories all about those experiences. Then as we are heading to go paint for our branch president we realize we have no clothing to paint in, and our house is pretty far away from where we are, so I said "lets go to the Cinsky obchod and buy the cheapest shirt and bottoms( that are modest) in the store." so we set off on a journey to find these things and we were pretty happy with the outcome. Then we went and painted, and on the way there Elder Harp realized that his name tag was not on his shirt and he about had a panic attack, but I reached into my bag and said "Elder If you would like a name tag you can wear my spare" Thinking he would deny the offer, because, HELLO ITS A SISTERS NAME TAG, i started to laugh,

and he takes the name tag and puts it on.

 I learned a special lesson that day. wearing Jesus Christ on your heart is more important than who you are right now. its about the journey of becoming. in no way am i trying to say elder Harp is going to become me, but it is so much more important to stand ALWAYS as representatives of Jesus Christ at all times and in all things and in all places. 
-Thursday: In the morning we got on a bus and headed to a village to meet with Sister K and learn how to make GULKY. Oh boy I just love her. we started with heading out to her garden to shake her plum tree and collect the plums for the gulky. and then we made them and ate them while Sister K explained to us that if you eat too many poppyseeds and took a drug test you would fail for 72 hours after consumption. Glad my gulky were cover in poppyseeds as she tells us this. So basically we were under the influence of not real drugs.
THEN, With the elders we have been discussing changing up the way we find people. So we came to the conclusion that today was the day. We took elder Kuhlmanns ukulele and 2 cups and had a pretty hipster singing display where Elder Harp and I were doing the cup song and Elder Kuhlmann played the Uke and we just sang for people as they walked by, and in the middle our friend with the eyes called to meet up, so we headed over to meet with him.
-Friday: Okay we met this guy from California, who was born in slovakia and was on vacation and we talked to him for a little bit. and he was telling us how Jesus was not a jew and all these fun things, but hey he was cool. and he wasn't too far from home. 
Then we went to Dubnica a have our culture night and we go sit down and there were two performances a czech group and a chinese group. Our member went and bought us some Non-alcoholic beer so we could experience the real slovak culture, and by the time we had to leave a slovak group came out so we got to hear one song and it started like this "AMERIKA.." hahah 
I just love this place. Jan told us on the way home that most slovak folklore music is about sex, drugs and rock and roll. so thats nice. 
-Saturday: We travelled to Blava for District conference with the branch president and Sister K and prez's wife. and we were there and President Kearon of the seventy was there and we talked for a second which was a really cool experience and during the conference we were singing an intermediate hymn, when I saw pres Kearon stand up and start to walk into the congregation, but I wasn't paying too much attention because I was singing to one of my friends who refused to stand during the intermediate hymn. out of my peripheral vision I see Elder Kearon is walking in my direction and coming closer and closer to me. so i think "oh no, what did i do?" "am i being too abnoxious singing to my friend?" "oh man.." he finally gets up to me, shakes my hand, asks for my name, and say "would you like to bear your testimony before I speak?" before I could even think about what he just said my mouth was like "YES" after the hymn was over I sat down and started to pray real hard for words. I got up to bear my testimony, I have no idea what I said, but I was happy and I know that is a fruit of the spirit. 
-Sunday: Hopped on a train with our "eyes" friend and headed to conference in bratislava, Yes we travelled to and from bratislava three days in a row. Conference was wonderful, minus the fact that our train came in 40 minutes later than it was supposed to so we missed the first 15 minutes of conference. but all is well and after the conference we walked around old town with some friends and took some pictures. 
-Monday: we had training, that is why you didn't hear from me yesterday. It was really strange to, at the end of training stand in front of the missionaries and share my testimony for the last time. it was a bitter sweet moment, because as i looked out I knew that these missionaries are those that the czech and slovak people need, but it was hard to say that I am leaving. 

Which I am still in denial if any of you are wondering. I have been telling sister Easton I can joke about going home all day long, because I still do not think that its actually going to happen. I think when I get to prague I will feel like I am just transferring to a new area, then when I get on the plane I will be like "this isn't a funny joke president" and when I see you all I will realize that its actually happening. so thats how that is going to work. 
I have been writing in this journal about the 80 things I have learned from my mission. I have learned way more than 80 things, but yesterday i talked about 5 really important ones that i would also like to share with you all. 
I learned 
1. First and foremost your mission is not about you. It never was. My trainer taught me this early on. This is the lords mission. you are on the lords errand. Everything you do is for the Lord. end of story. 
Sister Easton has taught me a powerful lesson about a king teaching his son why he is a bad king. he told this son a story about a time when the father was younger and save a turtle from being eaten by a bird.  after rescuing the trutle her thought "oh, no. maybe I just starved the bird and now he will die" to which the son responds " so you are telling me I am a bad king because I choose the weak" and the King says to his son "no you are a bad king because you questioned your first choice." 
Many missionaries know why they came on a mission, but as time goes on, we tend to forget why we came out in the first place, what our purpose is, and what we are even doing here. Maybe in life we will have similar thoughts. but please NEVER question why. don't question why you were baptized a member of the church or why you decided to come on a mission or why you keep commandments (even if you are not a member of a church). Friends for whatever reason you did it, you made that right decision and you can know that it was right from our father in heaven. 
3.This land is a choice land. THE WORLD IS CHOICE. 
the lord has said "For behold the field is white already to harvest" 
it is not brown ready to plant or yellow ready to water it is WHITE READY TO HARVEST. there are people all over the world who are prepared to hear this message and as children of our heavenly father it is our responsibility to share this message of peace with the world. 
4. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can save the world. It is a reality that we live in a world filled with bad music and activities and influences. but the beautiful reality is, with the gospel we can live in this calamity filled world in peace. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring that peace. 
5. At the end of the day, Your mission is all about you. 
I also learned this from my trainer when she gave her departing testimony. and I have a testimony of it. yes, I will leave this country, eventually, but how grateful I am that I could share this year and a half with the most wonderful people. I saw fruits on my mission, I have seen lives change, but most of all I have seen my life change. FOR THE BETTER. I am still a 20 year old girl who has no idea what she is doing. I am not going to come home and be a perfect being, that would be cool but I am not quite there yet, I will make mistakes, but thanks to my mission, the people I have interacted with and the support of all of you, I COULD be changed.  
and that is the most beautiful gift. 
Change hurts but it shapes us into something beautiful. 

I would also like to personally thank all of my companions for the lessons that they have taught me. Sister Parsons for teaching me a. how to be a missionary and b. how to truly love the people. Sister Russell for teaching me what a successful missionary really is. Sister Eggers for teaching me how to teach by the spirit. because powerhouse. Sister Abbott for teaching me to never give up on people, they all deserve the message. Sister Van Langeveld for teaching me that greenies really do have magic. No im kidding she taught me that power come from action and you have to do work to see results. and finally Sister Easton taught me a. to love and treat people the way you would if they were standing in front of you. I have never heard her say a mean thing about a person ever, and b. diligently chase the things that you want. because in order to truly acheive something you have to chase after it. 

This gospel is so true. God and Jesus Christ are in the Heavens. They are looking over us and they love us. ALL OF US. The atonement of Christ is as individual as it is infinite.(from a conference talk) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is God's church on the Earth T O D A Y. JOSEPH SMITH restored it and it is lead by a living Prophet who holds all of the keys of this dispensation, THOMAS S MONSON is a prophet. I know these things to be true. 

See you all very very soon. 

S Laskou, 

Sestra Madison Jane Ratcliffe

If any of you are wondering about my arrival home, 
I will be arriving 8 Sept. 2016 at 2:50 in the delta terminal 
My homecoming talk will be the 18th of September at 9.  

also we totally left our clothes at home and hit the činsky obchod and bought the cheapest clothes we could find. the result was pretty awesome

Elder Harp forgot his name tag to go painting, but luckily I always carry a spare. So we became a trio and left elder Kuhlmann to be a solo. LOL


plum balls( it sounds better in slovak. ) 
"Slivkový gulky"

pumpkin soup with lentils


Friends and goodbyes. 
but only goodbyes until Sunday because we are all going to Brno for the temple dedication on Sunday

Slovak sestry and the czech sestry. 


 and walking around the city with our friends! 

the travel to Bratislava

Culture night in Dubnica

We went to Dubnica for culture night and the only super slovak thing was the non-alcoholic beer, which our member bought for us so we could experience slovak culture. :)

but hey we got to see some czech culture and chinese culture so I think its a win-win. hahaha 

Monday, August 22, 2016


OKAY I don't know if time just flies because we are having fun or what, but its definitely not fun to have "last" things. gross. 

This week was filled with the saddest things and the happiest things. 

to start the week out, we met up with natal-pal and ján and headed over to this factory to play some laser tag! it was so fun. we played two games, the first one was individual and Elder Kuhlmann won, BUT the second game we played teams and Sister Easton, ján and I were on a team and then the other team was natalia and the Elders

and I SMASHED. jk
I mean our team won, but I took first place. 

I am slightly proud about it. 
but working on humility. hahah 

Then we had to say goodbye to natalia because she is headed off to bigger and better things. 


So after the sad goodbye we met with the guy that wanted to go "convince people of their wrong ways" 

remember him?  

So we met with him and he is sooo cool. 
We met him and he walks into the building and immediately heads over to the Elders to introduce himself, without hesitation. We show him the building and he says "where can we sit?" okay we are just going to hop straight into this huh? so we sit down and he sat in the BIGGEST POWER POSE I HAVE SEEN since an interview with Prez. McConkie. it was like he was laying down in a chair. hahaha so then this lesson happens and it was such a powerful experience. He told us that a couple days before we had met that he had prayed to ask God to show him the path and then we met him. WOW. I can't get over this guy. also he is really good at listening and kind of stares at you with his golden eyes very intensely while we talk. When we were leaving sister Easton said "I am pretty sure he is a vampire." 

But seriously is this guy REAL? 

then the next day we went to a village to meet with our friend who just happens to live in the same village as our golden eyes friend and while we were there our golden eyes friend calls and says that he has time to meet and we met with him and taught him the plan of salvation. which means we basically taught him the first two lessons in less that 24 hours. 

Then it was thursday somehow, and it was my  ( i mean sister easton's) year and a half mark.
I AM NEVER LEAVING! I still have time! hahaha 
just kidding. I am absorbing the time sister Easton has left! 
but we were there and we heard some noise outside, and I just knew what it had to be. so I open the door to see sister Eggers with her parents 
and we jumped and laughed and it was like a movie moment.

and later that night we were able to spend some more time with them and to talk! 
it was a very strange mix of both worlds, and also this strange idea, where she was like "hey see ya in three weeks." and I was like "yeah three weeks!" and then I was like THREE WEEKS?? small crisis. all is well.  

Then Friday we celebrated Sister Easton Birthday with some good west fest corn, in memory of west valley. and the elders thought we were crazy, but I think at least one of the elders liked it! 

Then we had another meeting with Golden eyes and celebrated his birthday with marlenka and volleyball. but the volley ball was literally so hard that we all have bruises from playing. 

Oh I think that over this transfer I have really looked like an old lady or something, because this guy on the street asked me how old he look and I guess 65 and he said "you are good. you should gamble with that" then I asked him how old I looked and he said 34

are you kidding me? 
I cannot pass for a 34 year old. 

oh my word. I told sister easton it has to be spiritual maturity or something, because I cannot looked that old. OH BOY. hahahah 

but to a spiritual note, 

"We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I love this thought. We so easily can get caught in the things that are not significant, but if life up our eyes we can truly see the beauty of the small moments of our lives. 

Have a wonderful, blessed, miracle filled week. 

S Laskou, 

sestra ratcliffe
Happy Birthday Sestra Easton!
West Fest Corn