Ivan and Rosana Majc relax on the sofa of their living room, surrounded by pictures of their family, familiar LDS art and a view of the verdant hills and Julian Alps in the distance.
It’s the same room where, as they sat visiting with family on a cold, moonless night three days before Christmas 1992, they spotted the frozen faces of two elders through the big window and invited them in.
Ivan had been awaiting a visit ever since being approached by missionaries near Ljubljana’s famed Three Bridges in the newly independent Slovenia. He had excitedly told his wife about that meeting when he got home that night, but it was weeks before the elders located their home in the village of Kranj.
He recalled the palpable feeling in the room when the two elders shared a message that December night. “When they went out the door, the Spirit went with them.”
But they returned, and after being taught for eight months, Ivan and Rosana Majc were baptized, “as Jesus was,” said Ivan, in the nearby Sava River on July 25, 1993. For the next 20 years they attended church meetings a 40-minute drive away in Ljubljana. They now meet with other members of the Kranj Branch in a rented space where, Rosana said, “We’re truly like a family.”
Married 30 years in August, Ivan and Rosana Majc recalled their sealing in the Salt Lake Temple in August 1995, when their two oldest children were sealed to them. “It was a really special day,” Rosana said.
Eventually, the family grew to five children — son Davor, currently district president, living a few miles away with his family in Blejska Dobrava; daughter Barbara Swenson, married and living in Utah; daughter Sarah, currently serving in the England Leeds Mission; son Samuel, 17, who plans on a mission when his four years of high school are complete; and Rebeka, 12, who attended her first Young Women camp this summer — in her own back yard. There are five grandchildren.
The Kranj Branch — part of the Ljubljana Slovenia District of the Adriatic North Mission — has about 30 regular attendees but swells in the summertime, thanks to nearby tourist draws like Lake Bled and Slovenia’s alpine forests. (The country borders Austria on the north, Croatia on the south and Italy on the west.)
Ivan, who creates 360-degree shots of Slovenia’s stunning scenery, has served in various leadership callings, including branch president and counselor in the mission presidency. Rosana, currently Relief Society president, has a genealogy business and has worked with a team to help translate scriptures and other Church materials into Slovene, the national language (although many people here also speak English).
Ivan said both he and his wife were religious before meeting the elders but couldn’t agree on whether to christen their first children. “When the missionaries were here that first time [in December 1992], I felt that would change my life forever,” Ivan said. “I have felt that spirit from every missionary who’s been in our home.”
They agree they can’t imagine what their lives would have been without the gospel and the Church. Rosana said, “I know there is a path that leads back to Heavenly Father, and I know Jesus is also there for me — no matter what happens, no matter how hard it is.”
Their son Davor Majc has spent his Saturdays of late constructing a closet for the entryway of an old home purchased two and a half years ago in the village of Blejska Dobrava, not far from Lake Bled and its fairy tale scenery. During the week, he works at home as a programmer and web developer, with frequent breaks to play with and help care for three children, ages 6, 4, and 15 months. Those three constitute the entire Primary in their branch.
President Majc met his wife, Stanka, when she joined the Church at 18. She continued her studies and served in the branch while he served a mission to Barcelona, Spain, and in 2010, they married according to civil law and were sealed three days later in the Frankfurt Germany Temple.
As the 29-year-old president of the Ljubljana Slovenia District, Davor Majc is over more than 400 members in five units spread across the country. (The chapel in Ljubljana, the capital, is the only meetinghouse in Slovenia.) Stanka is first counselor in the district Relief Society and has been teaching online seminary for years.
Growing up, Stanka said, she’d always felt there was a God and is grateful for meeting the missionaries in an English class they offered. “Now I have a personal relationship with Him, and I wish for my children to have it, too.” She finds “peace of mind and help in everyday things” through the gospel, and a sense of divine worth: “You know you’re somebody.”
President Majc said, “When kids grow up in the Church, it becomes a way of life.” That longevity blesses the growth of the Church as the second generation is serving missions — three full-time missionaries are out at the moment from a single branch in Slovenia and seven are serving from the district.
“The first generation didn’t have a chance to serve a mission,” he explained. “Priesthood leaders who’ve served a mission add a lot of value. They understand because of their experience what’s needed and how the Church works. Now, children [the third generation] understand from the start and are growing up to serve missions.”
Davor and Stanka Majc plan to remain in Slovenia, despite what may appear to be more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. “With the opportunity for free education through university and a growing economy in our country,” President Majc said, “we see that we can live here, we belong here.”