Wise Advice from Sister Waite

Hello there :)

I know it's been a while since I posted, but I have a novel and a half for you, so here it is :)

At the sister missionary mall I discovered the e-mail address for Sister Waite, a sister who served in the Czech Republic, and I e-mailed her asking for some information about my mission. She had some GREAT insights and I am so grateful that she took the time to send me soooo much information. She's a life saver :)

here are her e-mails to me. Some of you may find the information quite useful.
(I have bolded/italicized parts that were particularly interesting to me or useful)

E-mail #1 

Hi Kari!

Wow, congratulations!! I'm so excited for you to serve a mission in the Czech/Slovak mission! It is wonderful. I served from Nov 2007 - June 2009. It was wonderful.  You will love it!

I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you. I've had a cold and things have come up. I'll have my husband write you too - he served in Slovakia. 

That is so cool that you are assigned Slovak speaking! When I served, the language you were assigned to was the country you were in the whole time. So Slovakia!! That's awesome! I'm not sure how long sisters have been in Slovakia now - there were none when I served - but if you are some of the first please do yourself a favor and give yourself a break. there is an undercurrent "sister missionaries are better than elders" and it's just not true. We are different. We touch different people. Just do your best and you will see miracles no matter what. Please don't give yourself pressure because you're a sister so you have to baptize all of Slovakia or your mission will have been a waste.... Be yourself. You are exactly what's needed. Don't study vocab during meals at the MTC - get to know people and make friends. Your mission is a time to make new friends and learn new things and you have to have a break. Follow all the rules, of course and you'll be just fine! (that in itself is pretty daunting at first! but you can do it!) 

Also, remember that this will end. Although 18 months feels like a long time, you've already had so many sets of 18 months in your life- it will fly by. And you'll be busy so that will fly too. But if you get a companion that you don't see eye-to-eye with, or a branch that isn't welcoming to outsiders because they've seen so many come and go, or you feel down about something else... remember it will end. Keep going! Just like this life we have, we only get one and do your best. You'll make mistakes. Try and laugh when you're learning the language and say you're damned instead of lost. It just happens! And it's wonderfully hilarious. 

I had one companion at a ward party point at some fried chicken and say "Who was that?" One member is still laughing about it! I'm not sure what she was trying to say... but it was so funny!

As far as the language goes- it's a tricky one! Lots of grammar rules and vocabulary. I'm not a good memorizer, so my vocabulary was incredible. But keep it up. I think it took a good 5 months in the field before I was comfortable and confident with church talk and most small talk. But even at the end I wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in a college class on Geology. Or many other topics, even. But that's OK - I made wonderful friends and memories. You will be amazing. Just keep going! You will love it!

Take a variety of clothing with your favorite colors. The thing that's hard is getting something pretty that wears like iron. I empathize with missionary clothes shopping. I hated it! My advice is buy machine-washable stuff that you could see yourself wearing to church. (Not necessarily high-fashion, because you do need to keep the mid-calf skirt length rule.)
Beware of anything too tight - you will gain at least 10 pounds. Here's how it works: no time like you're used to for relaxing, stressed + out a lot = eating to relieve stress. And the hard part is the food over there is wonderfully rich and delicious. Bread, chocolate, the yogurt is like 30% fat (It was so amazing! Every brand and flavor! And I'm not a yogurt person). They deep fry or cook with heavy cream lots of things. Get clothes that will look OK if you gain some weight.
You'll have a washer in all your apartments. Dryer is just not likely. Everything is line dried.
Highly recommend Danskos brand shoes- those would be the one thing i would get at the sister missionary mall (maybe they've changed their inventory).   (Kari - I bought Danskos) 
Take a cute rain jacket. You'll wear it for all of June and all fall and most spring days.
Take a good coat- I went over in January so I wore mine on the plane. And then I left it there at the end of my mission. It was the best feeling to leave it after every day for 2 years! It will probably be too hot when you leave to wear it (they just take up so much room in luggage). I would find a warm coat and have your mom mail it to you in September/October. I had a really long black dress coat/button up coat that I liked which was important because I wore it every day all winter.
If you can find a skirt with a pocket (two=gold) buy it!
The nylons there are not good quality.
Slips you can't find over there.
There are stores there to buy clothes. There are second hand stores (because let's face it, we really don't want to spend tons of money on missionary clothes) and Vietnamese pits and giant 5-star malls in Prague. They technically have everything but on P-day you will have like 30 minutes for shopping if you and your companion make it a priority. It will be a priority if you don't have any sweaters and it's November, but I don't like shopping under pressure like that. 

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM  if they tell you 2 days before you fly out that you are not allowed a carry-on suitcase. 

I bought winter boots there and they were so cold because the soles were really thin. I ended up wearing my danskos with socks underneath really really thick black tights I inherited from one of my companions that went home. It was warmer than the boots I had because Danskos have really thick soles/heels. They were great missionary shoes. I took 2 pairs. I have really sensitive feet and they treated me so well. Worth the money. If you take boots, take comfortable ones. But you knowSister Parry found really cute boots that she loved at a store in Brno.
Czechs have fashionable stores that are right up to date with all the European fashions. I just love Czechs. You will just love Slovaks!
I'm trying to think.... Luckily, you aren't going to a third world country. They have everything we have over there. If they don't, you can live without it too for the most part. But some things I could never find were: stationary/thank you cards/journals, laundry stain sticks, Reese's peanut butter cups.
They didn't have lots of brands of tampons, but they had the kind that I love! They had the Compax To Go kind in all the sizes or whatever- colors. :) They have pads and pantyliners and deodorant and toothpaste (not crest) and batteries (seriously, someone asked...) I even bought some SD cards for my camera at a Prague metro stop that were fairly cheap.
Take a good digital camera. These are your memories.

Take along a pair of basketball shorts - you won't be able to find them there. You can work out in them in the summer and they can be summer pajamas. And any Shade/Downeast undershirts you like- they're good for layering and making "different" outfits. Take a good pair of jeans with stretch. I took a hoodie too and that was my winter PDay outfit. Some comfortable flipflops worked as house shoes for me the whole time. Don't forget pictures of your family - all the members will want to see them! And you'll miss them.

My mom sent me a tiny umbrella that I packed around everywhere. I bought one of those side bags that can be clipped around your waist and hated it. The first thing I bought over there was a new backpack - personal preference. There's this brand that lots of the missionaries buy called Deuter - it's a biking/hiking one that lasts really well and is comfortable. They're about $80. The MTC one falls apart.

Oh, and advise as far as souvenirs for you you go - save up if you can to get a few things you love that represent Slovakia. I got things like cookbooks, artwork, hand-painted plates, a huge English/Czech dictionary, enjoyed lots of foods, etc. They will mean so much to you when you aren't there any more. I mailed some home in chunks as I got them and others I brought home at the end.

Haha- I left ALL my missionary clothes except what I needed to get home- I took them to church my last Sunday and the sisters/YW took what they wanted. My suitcases were full of souvenirs and missionary study stuff and I'm not sure what else... but they were heavy! Ha.

You are so lucky!!! You are going to the best mission ever!

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I'll get back to you much sooner!

I hope this helps! Sorry it's so long! But I'm happy to share anything else you'd like to know!

S láskou,


My Reply:

Hey Jessica :) 

O my gosh thank you so so so so so so much for this e-mail! You have provided such great insights and I absolutely loved every tid bit of info you had to share.
May I have your permission to post this e-mail from you on my blog? (http://sisterkarikane.blogspot.com) I have a couple friends going to my same mission and I would like them to be able to read what you shared with me as well. 

As far as I understand, I am either the 3rd or 4th sister to get called Slovak speaking ever! There are 2 in the MTC right now, they are the first and second, and then I am the next one that comes in along with whoever my companion will be. 

You mentioned gaining weight being a problem on the mission, how did you make up for that? I know missionaries have an allotted time for exercise, and I am a runner, so I'm curious about what you did to stay fit. Can you go running in the mornings? or do you have to stay in your apartments? (obviously, I know very little about the mission, yet) 

Concerning clothes, what garments did you find to be the best for your mission? I've heard it's humid over there, so i'm not sure about summer wear, but i'm planning on taking some thermals for the cold cold cold winter. I will have to look for a rain jacket so thanks for the heads up :) and I already have my danskos! 
I'm planning on buying most of my winter gear there since I will be arriving probably in may sometime and won't need any winter stuff right away. 
You said you had your mom ship you a coat, wasn't that expensive? You also said you sent souvenirs home. Is there a cheap way of shipping I haven't been clued in on? I asked at the post office the other day and they told me it'd be $60 for a 5-8lb package to Slovakia! ouch...

I won't have to worry about the reese's because I am an avid disliker of peanut butter ;) but thanks for the other info :) 

In my mission call it says not to have a backpack because they're unprofessional, but everyone I have talked to says they convert to a backpack in the mission field just as you obviously did. What's up with this? Just the nature of the mission field I guess? 

just a few questions: 

  • How are the living spaces there? You said probably no dryers, but what else about the apartments? Warm shower water? freezing cold ;)? 
  • What did you find to be the best p-day outfit for summer? You mentioned the hoodie for winter, but just jeans and a t-shirt for summer? also, how did you spend your p-days most of the time in Czech? 
  • how often were you able to receive mail? 
  • one last minute question, what was the biggest shocker for you?/most difficult adjustment going from America to Czech? (besides the language obviously) 

Thank you so much for all of your insights and help :) I think this is some of the best advice I have gotten so far and it's really great to be able to hear from a Sister who has already been through my same mission :) 

- Kari 

E-mail #2 

Hi Kari!

Sure, you can post my email on your blog. 

Congratulations!! That is so exciting that you are a pioneer Sister to Slovakia! I think that's wonderful. They never let the Czech missionaries even visit Slovakia but I will someday. You are so lucky! (indeed, I am) Slovak really is beautiful, it's softer than Czech. Because of that I tease my husband that he sounds like a baby or little kid. And he teases right back that mine's so harsh. You will be amazing! Good luck and enjoy the adventure!

Yes, you are alotted 30 minutes for exercise. And if your companion tolerates it, you can go running every morning. But I think that's the tricky part - if you were stuck with me you'd be disappointed that you could only run about half a mile before I fell over! But I would go because it's so easy and doesn't require equipment and no one wants to gain weight. Let me tell you though, every single sister I served with gained weight including myself. And every single one of us lost it when we got back. Looking back, I really think it's the stressful responsibilites/lifestyle of the mission. I mean, you can't just take an hour to yourself and go for a walk... so you grab a divine European chocolate bar and then go back to tracting.

What will help you is that you walk or take public transportation everywhere. And that means you will run after more buses, trains, trains, trams and metros (if you're ever in Prague, I don't think Bratislava has a subway system) than you ever thought possible! It always made me laugh- the two of you running in skirts with backpacks like your life depended on it... so funny some how! 

Either way, try not to stress about the weight. I'm not a weight gainer. I have never had problems with weight - good metabolism? But my weight fluxuated on my mission. I definitely gained weight. I know because my skirt waists got higher and higher! But it all came off it seemed like within a week of coming home. And I worried about it while I was serving and before, but it worked out fine. Enjoy the fresh bread, milk products, fried foods and things... because many of the ingredients we just don't have here. Consider it part of your souvenirs and experiencing the country. But don't forget to eat your fruits and vegetables! Haha. It will come off when you come home - especially where you're already a runner.

The country is very safe. People aren't allowed to even have guns. I only felt unsafe a couple times walking home to the apartment when there was an obviously drunk man around. But it seemed like the people as a whole would get loud and silly when drunk, not violent. where there's always two of you just stick together and you'll be fine. 

The people speak quietly. It comes from living in tiny apartments with neighbors behind six walls, sharing transportation, and anyone middle aged will remember the fear of Communism. They are tolerant of Americans, but always think they're very loud tourists. Which we are. 

The members will love you. They will want to get to know you and wish you could marry one of their children and stay there forever. They love missionaries. In Slovakia the biggest branch is Bratislava and has about 20 people in it. One branch has 2 people so an Elder is the Branch president.    (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

The people in general are slow to make friends. They're suspicious and not very trusting. But once you make friends with them, they will be your friend for life. I still have several people I write to that will always write me back and wish I can come visit. I love the people I served so much and miss them. I think about my mission every day and you will too. You are so lucky to go to the best mission in the world!

The country is gorgeous. Never having been to Slovakia, I'm sure it's beautiful. It is more mountainous I believe than the Czech Republic. I love taking a train because it often goes through the countryside. Czechs love their nature and enjoy taking their 3 month vacations in tiny family cottages on huge acreages of wilderness. 

(I found all of this information especially helpful - even if I don't highlight much) 
Maternity leave is paid 3 years from the government. I'm jealous! They are a socialist government, and so they tax about 40% I think of their wages and every Czech citizen gets free college tuition and health care. So they'll go to the hospital for anything. But please don't end up in one- they are about 60 years behind America. They aren't very clean and I always felt like I would get sick when I visited someone. Shared rooms, old equipment, it's sad.

Yes, I took a set of thermal garments. And they were great. I haven't worn them at all since coming back. But I haven't been walking around outside in the snow for 6 hours talking to people in a skirt either. That just was always unbelievable to me! Anyway, a really good couple of pairs of thermal layering would work too and then you don't have to take two sets of underwear. The thermal underwear took up so much room in my luggage, and I would have love more variety in shirts. It's hard to pack for this mission because you have to get all 4 seasons to fit in your suitcases! Good luck. I had some Jody dresses and hated every inch of them, but they were easy to care for and fit neatly.

Sorry to confuse, but I wore my coat over because I arrived in January. If you find a dress coat here that's warm and you love it, you could have your mom mail it to you later. But you're right- it's very expensive. I was able to mail some stuff home by ship and that was less expensive, but foreign shipping either to or from USA is very expensive. I didn't send many packages, that's for sure. And was always grateful when my mom sent something. She sent things in flat rate envelopes because whatever you can stuff in there goes for one price.  Buying a coat over there you should be fine. They have a good variety and selection. It's the time for shopping and money to buy it that's hard as a missionary. But you and your companion will make it a priority on PDay if you don't have a coat! You have to have one.

You'll get a credit card when you get there and they'll tell you how much will be deposited into it every month. It's for food and transportation. I think I only ran out once with just a couple days to go till the end of the month. We were in Prague and transportation in costly. But I never ran out again. I think by the end I left the equivalent of a month on the card to go back to mission funds. So your family doesn't have to worry - you will eat and you'll get to pick what you eat too. It's so fun!

They must have changed the rules about backpacks since I went. But I can't imagine serving without a backpack! You stuff your lunch, a couple of books of mormon (only hardcover availalbe), lesson plans, some pamphlets, umbrella, waterbottle, a snack or two, and not to mention purse stuff like chapstick, tampons, lotion, hand santizer and some kleenex.... plus whatever else you want or think you'll need in anything other than a backpack and you're back will hurt. I had a little side bag and it ached because you can put it on one shoulder or the other. Plus if you have to travel for a Zone conference and it's far enough you have to stay the night, you'll need to pack your change of clothes somewhere. Or we packed jeans for service projects and things. Even strapped across my front-- I just didn't like it. but if they don't allow backpacks, do as your trainer does, and you'll be fine. Good luck! :)

Yep, same jeans paired with a T-shirt for summer. You get sick of proselyting clothes and my mission president was OK with us wearing jeans on P-Day as long as we were back to work in proselyting clothes by 6pm. P-Day really is very short. But we would have so much fun! We would go to castles or museums. Or if you don't feel like that, you can wander you cute town you'll be in and go shopping. Or sometimes members want to take you or go with you to a cool place and they'll show you around. Or sometimes if you two don't feel like even leaving, you can do your grocery shopping and go back to your apartment and rest up. I got spoiled, my trainer let me pick what we did on P Days and so I got used to coming up with ideas - hey, let's go to the Zoo in Olomouc and invite the Elders in the district! Or, want to see this museum? I've been here 6 months and walk by it every day and have never been in there. Or, hey, that sign says there's a restaurant in the basement of the cathedral! Let's check it out. I really loved all the cultural things you could do over there. It's just plain gorgeous.

You get mail at Zone Conferences. Those are usually once a month. All mail is directed to the mission home, and they store it for you in a locker and sort it out by companionships and give it to you at Zone Conference. Zone Conferences are always so fun - the President and his wife give talks, advice and love. and it's always always uplifting to be around other missionaries. So fun! They are usually all day affairs by the time you travel in and back. A word of comfort to those who will send you things- I never had anything lost. Sometimes stuff would show up out of order. My mom mailed me Christmas in Nov and I got it in Jan, but nothing lost or ever opened or gone through. Not like South America. I have a sister in Brazil right now and it's crazy trying to send her stuff! You never know if she'll get it.
My favorite shocker when I went to the Czech Republic was that the dogs spoke Czech better than I did.. I mean, they understood and obeyed! :) But the signs are all Czech, and the grocery stores and sometimes big Walmart-like things but often little tiny ones that they somehow cram everything you could need into!

There are a lot of dogs. Don't touch anything below the doorknobs anywhere public. And unless it's a restaurant, you have to pay to use public bathrooms. It's like 5 kc. so not even $.20 but still! Sheesh! And drinking fountains are pretty much non-existant if I remember correctly. So pack a water bottle!

I remember being shocked too by how beautiful everything is. Not just the castles, but any old building is gorgeous. And when they do construction on those cobblestone streets they tear up the cobblestones, do their work, and put them back in their pretty patterns! Ha!

It's shocking to not be encouraged to do public service. If you pick up trash in the park someone will tell you not to - you are taking away someone's job. My greenie wanted to volunteer at the hospital so we asked at the office and they said No no no no no no no. And she understood all of it, so I didn't have to translate. Ha! It's a different mindset over there.

Yes, running water and hot. Tell your landlord if it's not and they'll fix it. No dishwasher. Sometimes no oven. One apartment I was in had a gas oven that the knob's only dials were high and low... no degrees at all! It was so strange. But the worst apartment I had had a washer, hot water, indoor toilet (strange fixtures. That was how I knew I was in Europe- the toilets are weird! But work, so whatever.), small fridge, two burner tiny little gas cooktop, and a mini microwave - ish oven that's not a microwave. I'm not sure. We still managed to make yummy things- spagetti, soups, pasta, rice, fajitas, lots of things.

They don't have Mexican food there. Well, there's one restaurant in Prague where they do things mostly correct, but still not really Mexican. But there are some spices you can get that the missionaries will tell you about. Then you can have fajitas if you crave something spicier than mashed potatoes. That's about the spicyness of the food over there.  (this will work out fine for me because I have the world's wimpiest tongue when it comes to hot spices!) 

They do have weird food too. It's not all wonderful. But I'll let you enjoy that yourself!

Ok, I keep thinking of things! But I have to run, so I'll talk to you later!

Let me know if you have any other questions or have time to read another novel. Ha!


PS in case you have even more time on your hands, here is most of an email I sent home to my family:

Mon, Oct 13, 2008
Happy Fall!!!

Dear family,
Happy fall! The weather is absolutely beautiful here. The leaves are changing colors and the countryside is completely gorgeous. The colors are really vibrant and the old houses sprinkled on the rolling hills make you wonder what century you're in. That is,until your cell phone rings anyway. The last few days we've had foggy mist. We got up early yesterday to go to Brno for District Conference and we couldn't see every thing because of the mist. It was cold on my face, and cool to feel the frozen bits of mist on my cheeks. With everything so misty and dark, it really made me think of magical fairy tales. The beautiful 1500s buildings would come into focus out of the mist, and i just couldn't help but feel like I was in a mystical legend with small fairies lurking in corners or under cobble stones. I cannot describe how beautiful it is here. All the time. I have loved every season. Saturday we crunched through some fall leaves while we were looking for a less-active in Uhersky Brod and it was so breathtaking. I love the Czech Republic.
Anyway, We've had an awesome week! Really, really, amazing. Sister Clark and I spoke a LOT of czech together- 65 hours this week! That's so incredible! And she's only been here for 2 months. She is going to speak Czech so well. She already does.
So Tuesday we taught the best English Class I've ever taught in my life. We teach free English classes here once a week and actually there are a lot of members now who met the church because they took the missionary English classes. Usually though, we have one or two students here in Uherske Hradiste and they aren't very participant. But this time we had some new ones. I taught the beginning English class and we practiced intruducing ourselves and then did a worksheet in English about your favorite things and I had them ask each other what their favorite things were. It was really fun, they were really nice. They were tree moms- two were friends, about 35 and the other was older. And then after English we do a spiritual thought but they don't have to stay if they don't want to. They saw me with sister hanson's home-made puzzle and the one asked what it was and I told them it was for the spiritual thought. So out of curiosity they all came to the spiritual thought. The puzzle has pictures of Christ and his ministry on one side and Joseph Smith on the other. We taught about the apostacy and Restoration. And they really listened and really felt something. It was so cool! they even were interesting in coming to church!   (I thought this was pretty cool) 
On Thursday we went to teach someone one of the Elders in our District talked to after district meeting last week. We made it out there and this cowboy we've never taught before stops his friends on the street and askes them if they want to come meet with us! So amazing! He said "Here are some Christians and we're going to talk. Do you want to come over to my house?" It was so cool! One of his friends came over and we taught about the Plan of Salvation.
Tomas is doing so well. He came to district conference (like stake conference because we don't have stakes yet) and loved it. there were all the missionaries from the Brno district and slovakia and it was really cool! He said that he's going to be a missionary in a year after he's baptized! One of the elders had heard that earlier and gave him a copy of the white handbook in czech. Tomas is so excited to be baptized. He tried on baptismal clothes last week and you should have seen his face when he tried on the white jumpsuit!! Hahaha, he'll be baptized in white pants and shirt. We're busy planning his baptism and trying to delegate things to the branch so the members come and support it too. I'm so excited for him. He's someone that is just so prepared and ready to be baptized.
I've realized again lately how much this mission is for other people, but really mostly for me. I have really needed to learn this things. Teaching about the Restoration over and over has really reinforced my testimony. We focus on people coming to church, reading their scriptures, and praying. And those things are what I need to do for the rest of my life. I thought yesterday about the descion I made two years ago. I have needed to be a missionary and I cannot imagine my life without this experience. I was good before, but I am so much better now and will continue to improve. I am so grateful for the Atonement. I'm not a perfect missionary,but that's why I have the Atonement. I love you all.
Sestra Waite

I am still talking with her and will for sure post any more insights she offers :) 


  1. Is there an email address I can contact you at? I can probably also add insight, though I'd rather not post it all publicly. I've spent extensive time in Czech and speak Czech, my best friend married a Czech guy and has lived there now for over a decade (that obviously doesn't help with Slovakia specifically - though they go there often - but much, other than the language, is still largely the same...and even the language is very similar...you'll find that you can largely understand Czech once you learn Slovak...and you'll be able to understand a good deal of Polish, some Croatian, even some Russian, etc., too. Polish is the most apt to probably get you tongue-tied, though! Ha!) and I go over often still. You're going to a fabulous place and I'd love to share some of what I know that might be helpful for you, too.

    1. Of course!! I would love to e-mail you.

  2. Kari -- The Hunter boots are literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. I've had them for almost 5 years and they're still cute. If you're going into cold weather, invest in a pair of fleece liners, too, which only add to the comfort. You'll never get blisters, they're cute with absolutely everything, and they'll last FOREVER.

    1. Thanks so much, Addy. I truly do appreciate it :) I think I might go check some out this week sometime.



Czech me Out

Hi there :)

This is me, Sister Kari Kane, and this is the story of my journey in becoming a Sister Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Love always,
Sister Kane

Write Me at:

Mailing address at the MTC is:

Sister Kari Camille Kane
MTC Mailbox #232
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793
United States

Mission Office:

Sister Kari Camille Kane
Czech/Slovak Mission
Badeniho 1
160 00 Praha 6
Czech Republic

If your family ships a package with a private courier they will need this phone number
420 224-322-215