I was born on the 12th of January, 1881, the daughter of a miller [Klement Veschj], in a typical rural village [Pavlov] of Southern Bohemia, and was blessed with a religious mother [Frantisha Minarova] who had the disposition of an angel. My father, on the other hand, though very intelligent, was a licentious, carefree, brutal type of man, causing my mother untold sorrow and tribulation. She bore trials and grief that we could not comprehend. Only the older children knew, and later imparted it to us, that she had often been on the verge of ending her life, but her faith in God and the thought of us ten children prevented such an act. We loved and worshipped her. She was surrounded by all of us as she bid farewell, previous to her passing to the great beyond. Mother was laid to rest in the village cemetery. We were the entire joy of her life, and to her do we give credit that we are all living straight-forward and honest lives. Father’s negligence, on the other hand, ruined him, being forced to sell the mill. He died in poverty, alone and broken.
At the age of eighteen, shortly after mother’s death, I went to Vienna to live with my older sister. It was there that I first learned what a heaven home can be. In Vienna, I soon became acquainted with my future husband [Franz Brodil, 1868-1919], and married him in February, 1904.
From early childhood I had been blessed with religious inclinations. As the priest read Bible passages and delivered his sermons, I learned the passages by heart, and could tell, almost verbatim, what the sermons contained. After going to Vienna, I began to read the Bible, and found many interesting things therein, but also some that caused me to wonder.
From the lives of many of the supposed representatives of Jesus Christ with whom I was acquainted, I could perceive that there was a difference between Christ’s teachings and their interpretations. They were using the teachings as a sham to carry out their own evil designs. These things disturbed me, and I began to wonder if God actually existed; and if so, where were His Prophets. The responsibility of my children deepened this feeling; but the Lord willed that I should not be kept in ignorance much longer.
A young man who came to the door one day offered me a little pamphlet, which I was reticent in receiving. Reading it with some misgiving, I soon found its message wholesome. When the missionary returned with a second tract, I began to read with deeper interest. This brought the young man and his companion to my home repeatedly. I soon discovered a large difference between the work of God and that of man. I received the answer to my question: Is there a Prophet of God upon the earth? Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were quenching the thirst for truth of another soul. After visiting the meetings in Vienna, I soon became a member, being baptized by Brother K.H. Bennion on September 29th, 1913.
My heart swelled with a feeling of satisfaction, and at my confirmation I felt myself filled with a new power. The next few months were indeed happy ones; then it seemed as if a wet, dark blanket had been placed over the entire affair. The World War broke out; the missionaries were called home, and all the brethren went to war, a handful of sisters remaining in Vienna, conducting meetings. With Bible classes held regularly, we tried to do our part, but those were trying times. The last two years of the war were so horrible that we almost died from starvation. bread, potatoes, and a few vegetables were doled out to us, but never was there enough for a healthy meal. We managed to live through it; but were mere skeletons compared with what we were upon entering the war. Then followed an upheaval of governments and revolution, resulting in the organization of the Czechoslovak State. All those of Czech nativity in the Austrian governmental positions were thrown out of work, and my husband soon found himself without employment.
The Czech government promised to transport all these people to their confines and give them work, but several months passed before anything happened. My husband, a musician and an official, was of a very temperamental nature, and the worry of finding means wherewith to provide for his family caused him much suffering. At the time of our removal to Prague, Czechoslovakia, he passed away, leaving me alone with my two children. He had not received the Gospel, although he was always friendly toward the Church. I have great hopes that salvation will come to him on the other side.
The next few years were indeed trying. I was alone in Prague, with no friends and two children of school age. My brother in South America sent me the money that enabled me to send my children through school. Several years passed, and though we heard little of the Church, we continued to live according to its teachings. Finally, we were visited by president Serge F. Ballif and Brother Niederhauser of the Vienna Branch; and on June 3rd, 1921, my two daughters, Franziska and Jana, were baptized in the Vltava (Moldau), thus becoming the first two members to be baptized on Czech soil. these brethren brought encouragement, saying that they would soon send us missionaries, but none came for several years.
When President Fred Tadje came to preside over the German-Austrian Mission, with headquarters in Dresden, visits to Prague were more frequent. The missionaries stopped off there to see us on their way from Dresden to Vienna. Then I became seriously ill. Brother Sheets was called from Vienna to administer to me, but my illness continued. later, brother Jean Wunderlich came from Dresden and gave me a blessing, in which I was promised that I would get well, for there was yet a great work for me to accomplish upon this earth. I soon recovered.
With the release of President Tadje in 1926, we thought that something would be done through the Church headquarters; but after many months had passed apostle James E. Talmage and President and Sister Valentine visited us. They held a wonderful meeting with us, during which the subject of missionaries was discussed; but the time was not yet ripe.
In February, 1928, Brother Beisinger, eighty-four years of age, was sent to Prague. He interviewed the officials and learned that no difficulties would be placed in the path of the missionaries if they desired to come. The constitution allows absolute religious freedom. Two and a half months later he was released to return home, but no one was sent to take his place. That was our darkest hour, knowing as we did that missionaries were privileged to come, yet none came.
Then I received the thought to write to the First Presidency. We wrote a letter and enclosed it with one to Brother Jean Wunderlich, asking him to translate it into English. From him I soon received word that he had done so, with the encouragement that work in South America had been opened in somewhat the same manner, a plea for missionaries having been sent by some of the members there.
We soon received word from President Widtsoe, in which he asked for definite information concerning conditions in the country. We wrote to and received frequent letters from President Widtsoe until word came that missionaries would be with us the following summer. We were inclined to doubt; but when Brother Arthur Hasler, President of the Vienna District, returned from the Priesthood Centennial of the German-Austrian Mission, held at Leipzig in May, 1929, he stopped in Prague and brought us the joyful news that Brother Arthur Gaeth had been appointed, by President Widtsoe, to start investigations for the immediate opening of the Czechoslovak Mission.
Brother Gaeth came tow days later, fulfilling this hope, although it was hard to believe our eyes. President Widtsoe was also soon in our midst. Five missionaries came from the Swiss-German and German-Austrian Missions. On July 24th, 1929,t he pioneer work in Czechoslovakia was performed and this country became a mission of the Church.
Few people can realize the joy we experienced, we had been praying years for this day. There are thousands of our countrymen who are waiting for the Gospel. it is our prayer that the Lord will help our brethren to learn the language so that they can impart the message to them. We thank the Lord form the bottom of our hearts for His bounteous blessings.
Sister Brodil passed away on November 26, 1931.