Restoration and Church History
A New Life in the Gospel

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Stories of Faith

A New Life in the Gospel

In 1911, after attempts to preach the gospel in his native Croatia ended in banishment, John Stosich (Janko Stošić), a missionary in the Swiss-German Mission, spent six weeks in Ljubljana awaiting a new assignment. In addition to daily walks to Ljubljana Castle, where he would sit for his language and scripture study, he tried to make acquaintances and share the gospel at every opportunity. Stosich left Ljubljana without baptizing anyone, however, and more than 50 years passed before the restored gospel returned to Slovenia.

In 1968, 72-year-old Ljubljana resident Maria Gruden went to be baptized in Austria, where her son had joined the Church. Gruden was rarely able to travel to Austria, however, and mostly worshipped isolated from other Saints. One day in 1972, Jerald Bradshaw, an American Latter-day Saint living in Ljubljana temporarily, came to her door and introduced himself in a mix of broken German and Slovene. When Gruden understood that a priesthood holder had come to her home for the first time, she sat down and cried. Gruden attended Sunday services with the Bradshaw family in their home during their time in Ljubljana. In later years, Gruden received regular visits from Krešimir Ćosić, a Croatian convert set apart as a special missionary in Yugoslavia. Thanks largely to Ćosić’s efforts, the Church started sending missionaries to Yugoslavia in 1978. In 1981 Vaughn and Ester Stosich, John Stosich’s son and daughter-in-law, became the first missionary couple to serve in that country.

In 1989 Albin Lotrič was introduced to the Church while working in Norway. Lotrič did not speak Norwegian, so missionaries brought him a Book of Mormon in English, and members of the Stavanger Branch welcomed him warmly when he attended. “They accepted me as a part of their family,” Lotrič recalled. After studying the Book of Mormon and gaining a testimony, Lotrič was baptized. “I was starting a new life,” he reflected.

That new life included a lot of responsibility—Lotrič returned home to Slovenia, where the Church was not yet established. He prayed for strength to explain his new beliefs to his girlfriend, Boža Gartner, and his family and friends. “I knew it would be difficult,” said Lotrič. “But I also knew God would help me.” For the next year, Lotrič traveled every week to Klagenfurt, Austria, to attend the nearest branch, often bringing Boža along. She was baptized in March 1990. When the first branch in Slovenia was organized in December 1991, Lotrič was called to be its president. In July 1992 Albin and Boža were married and then traveled to the Frankfurt Germany Temple to be sealed.

Early Church members in Ljubljana, Slovenia, circa 1990: Andrej Stupovsky, Boža Gartner, and Albin Lotrič