Sunday, December 30, 2012

Re-post from Sister Nielson's blog

Warsaw Christmas Zone Conference Dec 25, 2012
CHRISTMAS MORNING: We started off early...heading to the Wolska Chapel to start Christmas Zone Conferences throughout Poland.
THE WARSAW ZONE: Seated- Elders and Sisters Jensen, Lloyd and Peck. Middle row- Sisters Allen, Sheahan, Packard and Young. Elders Vernon, Saltmarsh, Rittmanic, Peacock, Van Bakel, Dopp, Jensen and Mikolyski. Back row- Elders Kotter, Wilson, Jespersen, Smith, Baranowski, Manwill, Pofelski, Rogers, Walter, Register, Smith and Skolmoski.
The Warsaw I District: Elder and Sister Jensen, Sisters Sheahan and Allen. Elders Vernon, Saltmarsh, Van Bakel and Dopp (both Zone Leaders). Back row- Elders Baranowski, Manwill (District Leader), Pofelski and Rogers (both serving in Bialystok).

Christmas dinner in Poland was especially exciting as this was the largest gathering we have had at any dinner while in Poland. What great people to spend Christmas with... our missionaries!
After instruction in the morning and a blessing on the food it was time to eat. Our Senior Missionaries had prepared an extra special Christmas dinner of baked ham, potatoes, homemade rolls and all the trimmings. THANK YOU!!!! (Elders Smith, Mikolyski, Smith, Peacock, Rittmanic,Vernon, Jensen, Kotter and Van Bakel.)

The first round of questions were quotes straight from Preach My Gospel. Elders Saltmarsh, Vernon, Smith and Skolmoski, Jespersen and Smith, Van Bakel and Dopp. Elder and Sister Lloyd doing the scoring on this side.

Elder Vernon wanted the toaster that Elder Manwill had opened.
Elder Saltmarsh paid Elder Van Bakel back and took the Teddy Bear.

And the Warsaw Missionaries (with Bialystok- Elders Pofelski and Rogers) loaded up their goodies (including the coveted Teddy Bear and toaster!) and are ready to go. It was a fun day and soon they will be receiving calls from their families. That will be the best part of the day. Merry Christmas from the Warsaw Zone. Tomorrow, we are up early on our way to the Katowice Christmas Zone Conference.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Poland Warsaw Mission Christmas Card

MERRY CHRISTMAS from all of us here in the Poland Warsaw Mission. We are grateful to be serving the Lord during this wonderful time of celebrating His birth.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Moving to Warsaw

Hey Family!
Well, another week has come and gone, and we now know all about transfers! Well, as expected, I'm being transferred. To where? To good old Warsaw! I'm going to be a senior companion to Elder S. He arrived in Poland about 2 months ago, so I'm going to be finishing the training program with him. He's about 6'5" (yay, I am no longer kinda tall in Poland, haha), and graduated in 2012 from Bingham High School. He also played football there (D-end I think). Apart from that, I don't know much else. As for Elder Bokinsky, he is staying in Sosnowiec (I'm jealous too, I love this place) and is training a brand new missionary. It's a big job, but he's definitely up to the task. We are enjoying the 12 days of Christmas together and have been had a great transfer together. I'm sad to leave him down here in Sosnowiec, but I'm excited to see what Warsaw has in store for me. There's a store called Adam's ties up there where they sell super cool ties to missionaries for 28 zlots, or 9 dollars. I think I might be buying a few ties :). I don't know what my address will be there, but you can just send things to the office and I will get them super quick. That's the address you have in Warsaw. Ul. Wiertnicza and stuff.
Also, a few logistical things. I will not be able to email next Monday, seeing as it is Christmas Eve. I will be back to emailing on the 31st though. Also, I've been assigned a time for all of you to call me! Christmas Day, You guys can call me at 11:00 AM Utah time, 7:00 PM Poland time. My companion will be getting his call an hour before, at 10:00 AM Utah time. Our phones don't call out of country, so you are to call me. I don't know the best way to do that, but I'm sure you'll figure all that out. Here is the number that I'll have for you to call me at:
I'm excited to talk to all of you and can't wait to hear about everything going on in all of your lives. It will definitely be a great Christmas present. Speaking of Christmas, I also sent a Christmas package home this past Wednesday with Christmas gifts for everybody! Don't open it until Christmas day though because nothing is wrapped. Also, be careful when you open it. It's pretty packed and you don't want to cut some of the things which are in there right under the tape. All I'm saying is don't be going and jabbing knives in recklessly haha.
Also, a few questions. First off, I don't have a picture of D from the baptism. Sister Nielson puts them on the blog and you guys can download them to your computer. Is it possible that you could do so and send me some of them (in email or copies, either works) so I can have a copy of them? That would be awesome. Also, in terms of cards and spending money, which is better for me to use? Credit Card or Debit Card? With all these doctor's visits I've had to pull out some money and pay for things with my own money, and I'm just wondering what the best way to do things is? Don't worry, I'm not just spending money willy-nilly. I'm being conservative and only spending money on things I actually need. Just let me know what you want me to do and everything. I know you said you'd keep an eye on everything, I'm just curious if there's anything else I need to know.
Ooh, also, my retainer cracked last night. It's still usable, but I may want my other one. Or would it be better to get another plastic one made up and sent to me? I don't know, but Mom, I know you'll be able to figure it out. Don't stress, It's not urgent, just giving you a heads up.
Whoo, I think we're through all the logistics. Now on to some of the happenings this week. It's been a bit of a slow week, with cleaning checks and a few things that we had to get done, so we haven't had a lot of success with contacting and finding new investigators, so I don't have very many cool stories, but I do have a few updates. Elder Mikolyski, my trainer, caught a train to Warsaw this week and is actually the new AP in our mission. It was sad to say goodbye to him, but I'm just following him right up to Warsaw, so that'll be fun! I'm going to include a picture of myself and him in this email (or at least try to... we'll see what this ancient computer can do).
Also, a cool happening yesterday in Church. Sister Hutchinson, one of the new senior missionaries here in Katowice, pulled out a song and was having it played on the piano in the chapel. I thought it sounded familiar for a while, but I thought I was going crazy, because it sounded like a song I'd only ever heard at Grandpa Leo's. Well, it was. She had a copy of "Star Bright" by Lorin Wheelwright. Small world huh? I thought it was super cool and a little tender mercy from the Lord, helping me to feel comforted in the Christmas season when it's hard to be away from all of you.
Hannah Bear, it sounds like you're having a fun time! Thanks for building a snowman for me! I'm glad you're having fun with Tao. Hey, guess what? D's family has a cat too. It's name is Puszek (poo-shek [like shrek without the r]). It's super cute and purrs all the time too. Keep having fun in school. I love you lots!
Emms, I'm pumped for you to go skiing and have a fun time playing lacrosse. Sounds like you're loving life. Love you lots and can't wait to talk to you. Ski hard for me!
Heath, I'm glad you're having a fun time and enjoying life. Tell everybody I love em and that I want a Copper Club Christmas Card. Love you lots too and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas. P.S. Keep the Siqqy safe for me. I miss that big old guy. He's fun to drive around in the snow.
Dad, I love hearing all about the stuff going on in Church and about history of hymns. Tell Bro. Heaps I say hello and wish him the best. Tell the same the Bro. Cuillard too if you see him sometime. I love you and I know this gospel is true. I'm excited for what the Lord has in store for me and remember your example for me everyday. Thanks for being an incredible Dad and showing me how to trust the Lord.
Mom, I love you lots. Don't worry, I'm healthy and doing great. I'm not too nervous about the change and excited to see what will happen. By the way, I love Ether 12. It's one of my favorite chapters of scripture. I'm sad I'm missing out on all your lessons, but know you're doing a great job. Grandma Honey tells me all about it all the time. Tell her I'm sorry I can't email her back, I just don't have time, but I enjoy getting her emails and love her and Grandpa Ted. I can't wait to talk to you on Christmas. Also, Heather doesn't need a smart phone. Don't expose her to all that junk already. I lasted all the way through my freshman year of college without even sending picture messages. She can last a little longer.
I love you all. This is the lord's work. My testimony grows daily. I can't wait to talk to you on Christmas. Merry Christmas and keep the faith!
Elder Vernon

Monday, December 10, 2012

White Christmas in Poland

The Missionaries of the Katowice District.
Elder Vernon and Elder Bokinsky

Well, hello again family!
I've got a lot to say this week and probably not enough time to do it, so I'm going to hustle through it as fast as I can.
First off, let's talk about my health. Good news, I'm finally healthy! The anitibiotic didn't quite get everything out of my system, so we had to head back to the doctor again. Then, after three more visits to the doctor and two days of rest (as in confined to the apartment) we are finally feeling healthy. This whole ordeal has been nuts. I haven't been exactly impressed with the doctors here, but they finally got it all figured out with what I have. Turns out, I had tonsilitis. Craziness. That's probably on top of laryngitis too. I don't really know. All I know is I've had enough doctor's visits to last me a lifetime, or at least while I'm in Poland. They even drew blood (eurgh, I still don't like needles, and it was three vials worth, but I survived!) at one of the visits to try to figure out what I had and the results came back with nothing wrong. So that's a good sign! We finally got a reputable doctor on my last visit, and he was the one who finally diagnosed me correctly. Problem is, he wanted to heal me with natural cures. After a call to Sister Nielson, we went back in and demanded an antibiotic. It was a fun experience learning to be assertive. Mike Maddix would have been proud of me. I talk about it a little bit more in the recording I sent home this week. Anywho, I'm healthy now and that's what matters! Don't worry Mom, I'm eating well and things are good. I'm excited to get back to full days of work and really doing missionary work. We're hoping to have a great week this week.
We also met the new couple this week! The Hutchinsons. Turns out, they are actually Cade Mooney's grandparents. I went to high school with Cade and he was a buddy of mine. Small world huh? Sister Hutchinson knows Matt Maddix as well and asked about him. Whaddaya know. He's known all over the world. Literally, he knows everybody. In any case, they're great and will be a great strength to the branch. To answer your question Mom, the McGrath's are from Logan. I know Elder McGrath's first name is Mike, but that's about all I know. They're an awesome couple and very energetic. If you can somehow get in touch with them, it would be worthwhile. They'd love to hear from you I'm sure.
So, I also wanted to share with all of you D's conversion story this week and a little bit more about her. She has studied with Jehovah's witnesses in the past, but never really felt like she found everything she wanted. She's been searching truth her whole life. Anyway, as it turns out, the street where Elder Bokinsky and Elder Mikolyski contacted her is a place where she rarely ever goes. As in has probably been there twice in the last five years. Take that into account, and then the fact that if they had been 30 seconds earlier or later and they would have missed her, there's no doubt in my mind that God is at the helm and directing this work. Elder Bokinsky had set up to meet with her that weekend, but she called us that night after reading some of the Book of Mormon, and wanted to meet the next day. Anyway, so we met with her the next day and told her about the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, and asked her to pray and seek for an answer. She did just that. That night, she received a bit of an interesting answer. She had the thought come to her that the road to God and the true path back to Him should be narrow, and that it should be a path that a lot of people find hard to follow. She kept emphasizing the fact that it should be a narrow path. So, we assigned her to read 1 Ne. 8 and 11, or the vision of the Tree of Life. Well, it was an answer to her answer (does that make sense?). Ever since then, she did everything we asked her to. She kept every commitment, read everything we assigned her, and even gave up smoking. That was a battle. She's smoked since she was 16, and has never been able to kick the habit until now. We were worried, because she had a relapse about a week before the baptism, but she, as always, is rock solid and hasn't smoked since. It's been amazing to see her journey and to watch her progress, along with her son P. Something P said in his testimony after his baptism has stuck with me for a while now. He said, "I'm thankful that I was born." Well, he said it in Polish of course, but that's the translation. Think about that though. What a wonderful gift we have to have bodies and learn and grow. It truly is a huge blessing that we were born and that we can be here on Earth. It's also a central part of the Plan of Salvation. I tell you what, ever since being on my mission, the simple truths of the Gospel have just opened up to me. They are so intricate and mean so much. It's incredible. I could go on forever, but I'll spare you my ranting.
I've also learned a lot this week about being grateful. I've been thinking about it, and I'm so blessed to have the friends that I do, to grow up in the situation that I did, and to have the family I do. I love all you guys so much. I'm so blessed and I don't deserve it at all, but I'm very grateful for it.
Emms, this internet cafe is sweet. It's now played Hold the Line (Toto), Easy (Commodores), Boys of Summer (Don Henley), and more. I know I'm not supposed to listen to worldly music while on my mission, but sometimes, it just can't be helped. I just can't help but think of you guys whenever these oldies come on. It's pretty cool. Also, tell Kira I would love to hear from her and that I say hi!
Heath, I'm glad your knee is getting better and better. I'm excited that Jake is headed to Russia. He'll be a great missionary there. Give him my congratulations, along with all the other missionaries who have received calls. Have any other girls received calls lately? I'd be interested to know. Good luck dealing with everything during sub for santa! That's a great cause and I know you're doing good things with it. Lemme know how the Showcase recital is. Also, we've been pounded with snow here this past week, so Poland is definitely getting a white Christmas!
Hannah bear, I love you lots and hope you're doing well. Build a snowman for me ok?
Dad, I'm glad you got a chance to get out to the Cabin. Tell James what up for me. Thank you for all your doctrinal insights and your prayers in my behalf, especially for a baptism in my first area. And I do remember that Mission Prep lesson.
Mom, don't worry. I'm healthy, I'm doing great, and I'm loving it out here in Poland. If I do end up getting transferred, I will make sure to de-junk and do everything I need to. I got your 12 days of Christmas package, so thank you very much for that! I'm sending a package home probably tomorrow with Christmas stuff in it. I hope you all enjoy it. Just don't open it til Christmas because nothing is wrapped. Also, there's some fragile stuff in there so be careful.
Next week I will know about transfers and what to do about Christmas. I think you guys actually call me and I give you the number I'll have and everything, so start thinking about when you want to call! I love you all, this gospel is true, and this is the Lord's work!
Starszy Vernon
P.S. Tell Grandma Fernie hi and that I love her, and also tell Grandma Honey and Grandpa Ted I love them and was very excited to get their email today!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Re-post from Sister Nielson's blog

Baptisms- December 1, 2012
This last weekend we had the pleasure of welcoming 4 new members into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
KATOWICE: In Katowice, Daria and Patryk were baptized by Arek and Patryk. These two wonderful new members were taught by Elder Bokinsky and Elder Vernon.
BYDGOSZCZ: Elder Raines and Elder Tingey taught Piotr who was baptized by his good friend, Elder Gladun; and...
Slawik was taught by Elder Gudnason and Elder Weir. He was baptized by President Zelewski, Bydgoszcz Branch President.
WE WELCOME ALL THESE GREAT NEW MEMBERS TO THE CHURCH! We stand alongside you as we strive to bring others to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized into His Church

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"How great shall be your joy"

Hello hello Family!
Wow, what a week it's been. First off, down to business. I'm sure everybody wants to hear about whether I'm still sick or not. Well, here's the nitty gritty. Mom, first off, the sleeping thing is not from anxiety or anything. I don't have any of that, trust me. I'm just tired all the time for some reason. I am starting to sleep better at night now though. I keep finding myself with different symptoms and seem to have caught several sorts of things, but I think we're finally on the up and up *fingers are crossed*. Mom, when I went to the Doctor the first time, she didn't even tell me what I had. All she said was, "It's not that bad," and gave me some medicine for a sore throat and a few other things. Anyway, my sore throat got better, but I progressed into a bit of a cold. When I woke up on Thursday, I somehow misplaced my voice. After a thorough search of the house, we decided it was time to call Sister Nielson, because I was obviously not getting any better. She sent us to the doctor (again), and after a visit with a normal doctor, then a throat specialist, we discovered the cause of all this commotion. As it turns out, I had laryngitis, which was a bit of a shock to me. She told me that I had somehow contracted a bacteria and it hadn't been cleaned out of my system. I guess I just didn't slow down enough to totally kill it early on in the process (go figure huh? Sounds just like me, right?). It wasn't down to my lungs yet, so I don't have pneumonia, but it did give me laryngitis. So, what all this means is that I couldn't speak for two days. As in, I was commanded by the doctor not to. So, Elder Bokinsky and I had a grand 'ol time with a on-going game of charades for two days. This is all during preparations for the baptism, and while I'm on a three-day anti-biotic that is supposed to wipe me out pretty hard core (I was maybe commanded to rest by the doctor during such a time period, but with a baptism coming up, we just couldn't do it [but we did rest as much as we could, worry not mother! {I'm going overboard on parentheses today, and trying to make this as humorous as possible, so you know that I'm still in a good mood, even with everything that has happened... is it working?}]). Not to mention that President and Sister Nielson were coming down for the baptism on Saturday and President was doing interviews with all the missionaries on Sunday. Well, anyway, I woke up on Saturday with a voice, which was a big step in my recovery. We weren't told by the doctor exactly how long I couldn't speak, so I tried to speak as little as possible because my voice wasn't that strong yet, but it was back and strong enough to do my interview with President Nielson and speak Polish to all the members during the baptism and at church (can you imagine if Elder Bokinsky had to play charades during that episode? Yikes. Nightmare.) I gotta tell you about my interview with President, because it was awesome. I told him about how being sick was driving me nuts because I haven't been able to get out and do much. I told him I was never injured badly enough to miss a game in any sport in high school, and now that this sickness has just had me beat up and tired all the time, it was making me go a little insane. Well, he shared a story with me about how we have to trust in the Lord's timing. He was a big athlete back in his day (at the college level even), and he ended up suffering a fractured ankle that got him out on his mission. I gotta believe there's a reason I've been sick for so long and that the Lord has a plan for me through all this. He also encouraged me to share my testimony with you guys when I write home, because this is in all likelihood the only time I will have power and authority from the Lord to specifically be a representative of Him and be able to bear that testimony with such power. Cool, huh? I hadn't ever thought of it that way and what kind of an impact that could have on you guys. Needless to say, it was a great chance to talk to President and be comforted about all the humbo-jumbo I've been dealing with the past couple of weeks.
In any case, we had a busy end of the week, but we did succeed in having a baptism! Make that two actually! D and P were baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. It was an incredible service. I tell you what, the Spirit there was almost like the Temple. We had two brothers, A and P, do the baptizing. A baptized D, and P baptized P. It was incredible. P is 22 and is getting married at the end of this month, and A is 20 and is actually putting in his mission papers in a month or two. They're both super strong in the gospel. The confirmations were super awesome too. I don't even know how to describe it. Basically, I'm at a loss for words. Spiritual things do that sometimes though. They just can't be described in words. I apologize, I don't have any pictures to send of the baptism, but there are pictures of it on Sister Nielson's blog. They wouldn't let us take out our cameras or anything, but she took pictures for us. I feel so blessed to have helped P and D along their journey to this gospel. I know the Lord placed them in our path for a reason. They are incredible and have such strong faith. They are rock solid already. Ah, I could go on forever, but I'm actually running out of time.
I apologize, with the whole voice issue I didn't make a voice recording either, but I will send some next week for sure.
I'm also not sure about Christmas phone calls, but I should have information soon.
I love you all. I know this is the Lord's work. He is at the helm. His timing is what's best. That is a lesson I'm learning immensely here on my mission. The Book of Mormon is true and there is real power in reading from it. It was the biggest tool in D's conversion and the reason why we met with her so often. Joseph Smith really did see God, the Father, and his son, Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. That's why I'm here, because a 14 year old boy unlocked the road for us to take advantage of all the blessings of the atonement on a spring morning in 1820.
Once again, I love you all and pray for you. Keep the faith.
Elder Vernon

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving pictures

Thanksgiving in Poland!

Poland Letter #14

Hey Family!
So, another great week has come and gone. A lot of fun things have happened this week. It's great to hear from you! Mom, thanks for being a mom and making sure I'm healthy and what not. I actually came down with another cold this week and I just haven't been sleeping all that well, but Sister Nielson had me go to the doctor and I've got medicine and everything is good. I'm not at 100%, but I'm getting back to it, slowly but surely. I'll tell you what, going to a Polish doctor was a bit interesting. We got one who spoke English, but still, it was an experience.
So, to update you on D and P, they had their baptismal interviews yesterday and both passed, so we are planning on having two baptisms this Saturday! I'm excited for them. Hopefully, everything will work out and all will be well. The only obstacle that we can foresee right now is D's smoking. She is still struggling, but we are starting a quit-smoking program with her tonight. It's from the Church and it usually works in a week. If everything works out as it should, we should be all set for a baptism. We've got a lot of work to do, and are planning on visiting with them almost every day this week. Pray for us! Elder Bokinsky and I are young in the mission, and neither of us has done this sort of thing before, but we know the Lord will help us and that all will work out for the best.
D and P have been the big focus of all of our work lately. We meet with them very frequently and we have seen great progress with them. They are loving the church and are really doing well with those things that we have taught them. Hannah-bear, P is actually right around your age. He's learning english too. He reminds me a lot of you at times. D's family actually includes two more children. L is 6 and N is 3. N is the queen of the house as well. Definitely a diva. She's super funny though and loves when we come over to visit.
Well, we had Thanksgiving this week! We were given about a two-and a half hour break on Thursday to have dinner and celebrate, which was great. We celebrated with all the missionaries here in Katowice (Elder and Sister McGrath [the senior couple], Elder Harris, Elder Mikolyski, Sister Holmgren, Sister Ence, and then Elder Bokinsky and me [yes Heath, it's me, not I in this situation. Ask Dad, but I'm 95% sure I'm right.]). It was a great time. We didn't get a turkey, but Elder McGrath is from Texas, so we did pulled pork instead. It was great. Everybody brought something to eat and we had a good 'ole Polish style Thanksgiving. I even took a solid nap, as is usual on Thanksgiving. We were definitely missing pie, but it was still great anyway. Elder Bokinsky and I even got out and threw the football that morning for work-out. We both agreed we could beat anybody here in Poland in two on two. I'm sure our high-school days make us feel like we're much better than we are, but we had a good time.
We also decorated for Christmas this week! Elder Bokinsky was in charge of all the decorating at his house and absolutely loves Christmas. That being the case, his mom sent him a bunch of Christmas decorations and we took some time to decorate. She sent tons of stuff. We even had a tree made out of construction paper that was cut up into a puzzle. It was a bit of a task deciphering how to put it together, but we did it on Friday, right after Thanksgiving, so I thought of you guys cutting down a tree while we were putting ours together! Sounds like you got a good one too! I want to see pictures!
Hannah-bear, what is this you're saying about a dog? Are we getting one for Christmas or something? I'm excited that you had fun skiing! I'm still looking for your fart-bar. Love ya.
Heath, give the Hall family a big hello from Poland and ask them if I can possibly get Jared's address. He's the only buddy of mine for whom I don't have an address. Also, tell Bruce "Hello Bruce" for me (Finding Nemo--you know what I mean). Good luck with all your sbo stuffs. Make sure you come up with a good dare! I'm excited to hear your knee is doing better. Keep me updated on that. Loves ya lots sisser.
Emms, great job on finding the Christmas tree! I was wondering who was going to find it since I'm across the world this year. I'm glad you like your new skis and boots. Keep skiing hard! I'm sending some pictures of Polish architecture this week. I hope you like them!
Mom, Dad, I love you lots. Thank you for your gospel insights and all the updates about mission calls. I didn't know Linsey Brown or Michelle Perry were going on missions, but they will do great. Also, congrats to Tyler Belliston. He'll be serving in the same mission as Kyle Anderson. I'm excited for him! Lots of people to speed up the work! I'm excited to get your packages Mom! I got the conference ensign and rick's life sketch. Thank you very much for those. I also had a good laugh at Elder Pockrus' story about blowing up the air-mattress.
I love you all. Keep working hard and playing hard.
This gospel is true, and this is the Lord's work. I know it.
Elder Vernon
P.S. A couple requests for the Christmas package: Oatmeal Creme Pies and Pecan Spinners.
P.P.S. Elder Bokinsky says Hi!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pray for our investigators!

PREFACE: We heard that there was a candy bar in Poland called a fart bar. Hannah thought that was pretty funny and asked Spencer to send her one :) (8 year old humor).

Great to hear from you, once again! We are trying out a new library from which we can email, and they don't have anywhere where I can hook up my camera or my voice recorder. We'll have to find somewhere else to email next week so I can send them to you. Emma, I got a few pictures of Polish architecture for you as well. Anyway, I apologize that you won't get a voice recording this week, but I will send one as often as I can. I haven't received the Conference Ensign or the blog letters yet, but I am hoping they will come today, or soon. We left home before the mail came. Hannah-bear, I will look to see if I can find a fart bar here in Poland. Directly translated, fart means luck in Polish. So that candy bar is a luck bar, or lucky bar. I will definitely send home some candy bars regardless though. My favorite is called a lion bar. It's kind of like 100 Grand bars, but with a wafer in the middle. They use a lot of wafers in candy here in Poland. It's super good, as long as you like wafers, which I do. Also, if you have any requests on what you want for Christmas, let me know and I will try to buy it and send it home. I'm planning on putting together a Christmas package to send home to all of you. Also, I was talking to Sister McGrath this week, and she said the earlier you can send a Christmas package the better. I guess the mail gets super busy here, just like anywhere else, around Christmas time. You should probably send it to the mission office (the address you have to Warsaw), rather than to our apartment in Sosnowiec. Transfers are on December 22nd, so I could be somewhere else completely different in the country, so I wouldn't want my package out in Sosnowiec. Someone will be able to give it to me coming from Warsaw on that transfer day, plus we have zone conference right before Christmas, so I will still get it one way or another.
Crazy to hear about all the mission calls! I'm excited for everyone. You'll have to tell Mikelle to say hi to the Karlssons! Speaking of which, is there any way you can get me their address? I wrote them a letter back to the Dear Elder they sent me in the MTC, but I'm not sure how Norwegian addresses work, so I can't really send it.... I would greatly appreciate it if I could get their address.
I'm feeling great and I'm healthy, but Elder Bokinsky has been getting over a cold he has had, so this week has been a little bit low on missionary work. We've been trying to get him healthy, but we've had a lot going on still.
We had a baptism this past Saturday, which was great! It wasn't D's hers is scheduled for December 1st, along with her son P. This was one of the Sisters' investigators named A. She used to be a Jehovah's Witness, but is now a fully-fledged member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was actually able to stand in the circle while she was confirmed. It was really cool to hear a blessing like that in Polish and to understand a lot of what was going on.
Speaking of blessings in Polish, we gave D a blessing this week, in Polish. I actually gave her the blessing. It was an incredible experience. I was really nervous that I wouldn't be able to say everything I wanted to in Polish and that the message she needed to hear from the Lord wouldn't be able to come out clearly in the Polish I know, but I shouldn't have feared. I was able to say everything I felt like I needed to, albeit not in perfect polish. Still, I am comforted to know that she knows exactly what the Lord felt like she needs to know. After the blessing, she told us she felt the love of God come from our hands through her whole body and give her strength and energy to do exactly what she needs to do. She struggled to describe her feelings on the subject. Elder Bokinsky and I both smiled, looked at each other, and knew exactly what she felt. It's strange how hard it is to describe feelings of the Spirit, but how certain we are that we know exactly what someone else is feeling like. It brought me such pleasure as well to be able to give her that blessing. What an incredible tool the Priesthood is. I feel like I'm learning so much more out here about the gospel. So many things that I have taken for granted that I now have a much greater knowledge of.
D is progressing wonderfully. We still have the barrier of smoking to tackle, but she and we have great faith that with the Lord's help, we will be able to overcome. Her son, P, came with her to A's baptism on Saturday, and was at church with her yesterday. He wants to be baptized as well! We now have him scheduled for baptism, along with D, for the 1st of December. We have a lot to teach them, but D is helping us teach P the basics. It is so incredible to see the love she has for the gospel. She just gets it. Already. I don't know how else to describe it. She was so prepared for this. She already knows this is the true church and that what we have is from God. Unfortunately, her husband, D, isn't interested in what we have to say. He's a nice guy and is very willing to let her do what she wants to do with religion, but he just doesn't want much to do with God. Dad, Mom, thank you for being so rock solid in this gospel, and for helping me to learn and grow up within it. I'm just beginning to realize how blessed I am to have you as parents supporting me on my mission and doing so much for me here. I love you so much. I know this work is what the Lord needs to me to be doing. I apologize, I'm running out of time. I feel like I didn't say that much today, but know that I'm doing well, I'm growing in the gospel, and that I love you all. Emms, I'm excited to hear more about this science fair project. It sounds very interesting. Hannah-bear, tell me if you want something specific for Christmas! Heather, love ya.
With love,
Elder Vernon

Monday, November 12, 2012

Poland Letter #12

Isaac Thomas Adamson (Spencer's new cousin)
Family! Hello again from Poland!
It's great to hear from you all and to hear about Isaac! I hope his heart murmur is ok and that everything will be great. I love hearing about your week and everything that you all have had going on. Do you want to hear about my week? Haha, who am I kidding? 'Course you do.
So, the most exciting news this week is regarding D. She has accepted the baptismal date of December 1st and absolutely loves the Gospel! I cannot tell you how prepared she is for this Gospel. She has so much faith. We met with her 3, maybe 4 times this week and she makes so much progress every time we go to see her. We had a lesson with her on Tuesday last week, after we emailed home, and we had planned on extending a baptismal date to her. As we were discussing baptism before we were going to extend her the date, she just flat out asked us, "So when can I be baptized?" Needless to say, both my jaw and Elder Bokinsky's hit the ground. We were flummoxed, but so excited. She has so much faith and is working so hard to be ready for baptism. She has smoked for a long time, and we thought teaching her the Word of Wisdom was going to be a big problem, but D beat us to it. She found out we don't smoke the first lesson we had with her, and so as soon as she accepted a baptismal date, she gave up smoking. She hasn't smoked for almost a week now! We haven't even taught her the Word of Wisdom yet. She just understands she needs to give up smoking and so she did. I am flabbergasted time and time again by this woman's faith. She has more than me. It is amazing. That has been our big news this week. We've really been focusing on her and helping her get ready for baptism. December 1st really is not that far away, so we have a lot of work on our hands, but I know we can do it with the Lord's help. P, a member here, has been with us on a lot of lessons we have had with D. He is a flat out champion. He understands this gospel so well. He consistently helps us explain everything we want to and need to much more clearly than we can in our sup-bar Polish. He also gave D a ride to church yesterday and has just been vital in fellowshipping her. We owe him big time.
D also has a son named P, who has been listening in on some lessons with us. He's awesome, and he actually wants to be baptized too, but if he is going to get baptized, his date will have to be later than D's, because investigators have to come to church 3 times to be baptized.
D has been our big focus lately. That's basically it for big stories this week. I'm so excited about her progression and everything though (as you can probably tell). I did get sick again this week. I was in bed with bad body aches and a nasty headache Saturday and Sunday. I think it was some sort of weird Polish flu. I'm feeling much better now though. I hope this pattern of getting sick at the beginning of every transfer doesn't continue though. I think I only got sick because every one of Elder Bokinsky's companions he has had in Poland has gotten sick so far. I just had to keep the pattern going :) Don't worry though, I'm healthy again and all is well.
I also completed the training program this week! I'm no longer a trainee! Except I definitely still feel like one. I've got so much work to do and so much growth that needs to happen before I can be the missionary I know the Lord wants me to be and needs me to be. I look back at how much progress I've already made though, and I'm comforted that the Lord will guide me along His path and help me to be the missionary He needs me to be.
Mom, I got your package this week, so that was great! Hannah-Bear, I loved the little spider ;) I always love getting your mail from home. Mom, could you possibly send me some more blog updates too? I never got the last one you sent, which is a bummer. I love hearing about how all my buddies are doing all around the globe.
I love you all, I apologize I don't have more time to write, but I did have time to record some things and reply to what you wrote already this week, so look for that. Dad, thanks for the scriptural insights, and updates on BYU football and basketball. BYU's bowl eligible now, right?
In any case, the gospel is true, this is the Lord's work, and He is hastening the work. Stay strong, keep the faith. I think about you all daily and I love you very much.
Elder Spencer Vernon

Friday, November 9, 2012

Re-post from Sister Nielson's blog

Zone Conferences Begin....We start in Katowice. November 2012.
The Katowice Zone: It's Zone Conference week....a great time in the mission where we will be able to visit and instruct each of our wonderful missionaries.
Katowice District: Standing: Elders Harris, Mikolyski (Zone Leader), Bokinsky (District Leader) and Vernon. Sitting: Elder and Sister McGrath, Sisters Ence and Holmgren.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Poland Letter #11

I'm very sad to hear about Rick, but glad that everyone is doing well with everything. It was a bit of a shocker that he went so fast, but I have a great testimony of the Plan of Salvation. I know it is real and that we will see him again. In reality, he was just needed more on the other side. He was a great man and Uncle and I know I had a lot that I learned from him. I especially remember going to the BYU-SDSU basketball game with him a few years back. What a fun time we had. He's a smart man about basketball, and even more so about the Gospel. I'm excited to see his funeral program and thank you for the pictures.
I apologize we didn't get a chance to email yesterday, but I am glad you figured it out. Yes, we did have zone conference, and it was crazy good! I learned tons and tons. President Nielson had two main points. First, he talked about old bottles and old garments in Luke 5 and how we as missionaries cannot take these new things we learn and put them into old bottles. They will get lost and just break. We have to be willing to change and move forward with these things that we learn. He also talked about the two questions God asked Adam in the Garden of Eden. "Where art thou?" and "Where goest thou?" These are not questions that God needs to know the answer to. He already knows. Instead, it was President's idea (and I agree) that we should take these as spiritual questions. Where do we stand spiritually, and where are we going? I think those are great questions we can ask ourselves daily. When we can gain a great perspective of where we are and what we need to do in order to stay in line with the Lord's wishes, we can eliminate a lot of problems we might have otherwise. Sis. Nielson also was up and about and actually came to zone conference! It was great to see her. She is doing great and was quite excited about being able to "take a piece of Poland home with her" (in other words, her defibrilator). She also told us the whole story of what happened to her from her own perspective and in her own words. I don't even know how to describe what it felt like to hear that. All I know is I am very glad the Nielsons are still in Poland and I feel very blessed to have them as my Mission President and his wife.

We also have a new investigator this week named D. She is a champion. She is super ready for the gospel and is reading the Book of Mormon. We've already met with her three times too. We're hoping to see her continue to progress. We'll see what happens in the future.
Day of the Dead was also this week. I'm sending home a few pictures from that. It was really cool to see all of the graves lit up and decorated. I'd be interested to know some more of the history behind it, but I haven't found any out yet. All I know is all the candles looked super sweet.
I also had an exchange with Elder Harris this week. It was a lot of fun and we got some good work done. He is a champion missionary, and quite a character. He has some great one-liners and adds a lot of liveliness to the district for sure.
So, another cool experience with contacting this week. We were talking to a man, explaining about the Book of Mormon, and he was curious why we were in Poland. He figured there were plenty of better places for us to be. I looked him in the eye and testified to him that we are called of God and Poland is exactly where I need to be. As I did, I felt the Spirit testify to me again that this is exactly where I need to be, that there are people here I need to talk to, and that the Lord is placing those people in my path. It was a big boost for me to be reminded of all that and to know the Lord is pleased with what I am doing. I know He is helping me every step of the way.
I have now received both of Grandma Honey's packages! I got them both this week, the second today in fact. The peanut butter is great. I'm a big fan. I'll keep an eye out for yours mom.

Mom, I got a good coat, don't worry. I'm also sending home a picture of me in it so you know that it looks good and it's warm. I've also got good gloves and still working on that hat, but I'm using an old one of Elder Mikolyski's right now. I love you Mom and thank you for everything!

Hannah Bear, that sounds so exciting that you went trick-or-treating! You're so brave. I bet you loved Halloween, huh? Did you get lots of candy? Love you lots.
Emms, I'm sorry you had a tough week. It's crazy how fast life can change like that. I hope this week is better though. Plus, something Pres. Nielson said yesterday might help. He said, "Difficult days are the days that determine who we are." I hope you love the new skis. I'm going to be dying not being able to ski this year. I'll miss it bad, but I'm doing something more important. Love you.
Heath, I'm glad you're moving around more and that you're enjoying school. Elder Bokinsky is a knee expert and was telling me all about the surgery they probably did and everything on your knee, especially with your meniscus. It was interesting to hear. Anyway, I love you, keep working hard, and enjoy the journey with your knee. It will all be better soon, I know it. And I'm glad Connor cut his hair.
Dad, thank you for the insights. They are very helpful. I love you greatly too and look forward to everything you send. I'm glad to hear those helps from Pres. Scoresby. They are very comforting. I love you greatly as well.
Well family, I'm working hard, doing my best, and I know this is the Lord's work. I feel so blessed to be able to testify of that daily. I love you all and I know this church is true. Joseph was a prophet, and the Lord restored His church through him.
With lots of love.
Elder Vernon

Monday, October 29, 2012

Poland Letter #10

It has been a great week. Elder B is a champ. He's teaching me a lot and is a master of the Polish language. (Ok, maybe not a master, but he is super good at it). It's been a lot of fun to work with him this week and get to know him. He loves sports, is a real go-getter, and we are going to have a great transfer together. Let me tell you a little bit more about him. He is the youngest of four kids. Their family is a mirror of ours. They have 1 girl and three boys, with the girl being the oldest. His parents send him a package weekly, which he enjoys, and we are having a great time together. He's about my same height, and he played football and wrestled in high school. I picked him up off the train on Thursday morning and we unpacked and right away set some goals for the transfer. I'm excited to see where this transfer will lead us. I apologize that we don't have a picture together yet, but I will get one and send it as soon as I can.
We had district conference this week, which is basically like stake conference for Poland. it was super great. We even got B, our 84 year old eternal investigator, to church! It wasn't until noon, so I think that helped a lot. It was super awesome to see President Nielson and to have him express his confidence in us that we will be a solid companionship and do great things down here in Katowice (Sosnowiec to be precise). Along with district conference, I was able to watch A N, a missionary leaving from the Kato branch, be set apart. He's leaving for the London Birmingham mission today. It brought back so many memories from when I was set apart. It was a good time for me to step back and take inventory on how I'm doing as a missionary. I took inventory on how I'm doing at becoming a missionary and not just doing missionary things, and if I have fulfilled some of the promises that were made to me in my blessing. I feel confident in saying that I have done my best and have worked hard. In essence, I feel it was the Lord letting me know that He's pleased with the work I've done, but I still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go. I'm excited to keep moving forward and to see what the Lord has in store for me here in Poland. It was awesome to see A prepared to go out and preach this gospel. His English isn't perfect, but he will be a great missionary.
A few other exciting things happened this week. First off, I seem to attract crazy people when I'm contacting. First, I ran into a man who was trying to convince me that all the spiritual experience I have had and all the spiritual confirmations I have had are all a figment of my imagination. Well, I wasn't having any of that. I bore strong testimony to him that I know this church is true and that he could too. He wasn't convinced, but I felt blessed to be able to bear my testimony to him and let him know what I know. I also was contacted by a 7th day adventist that same day. Note, I didn't contact him, he contacted me. He was going crazy and asking me all these questions about Jesus and about the end of the world (all in Polish by the way, so I had no idea what was going on) and was super condescending when I couldn't answer his questions. I didn't even know what he was asking. He told me that I needed to know what it is that I preach. I thought of dad's experience on his plane ride over to Australia with the preacher who told him the exact same thing. How vital it is that we know all that we should in order to preach this gospel. I feel like Heavenly Father was telling me that I'm doing good work and it's great that I have a solid testimony, but I have a lot to learn. It's so interesting to see these ups and downs of the mission field. To go from being on top of the world to being humbled within a matter of minutes.
Something else cool that has happened this week is that my understanding has skyrocketed. I had been discouraged and I felt that my understanding of Polish was far behind what it should be as a missionary and that I wasn't contributing in every area like I should have been. That changed this week. With both Elder Bokinsky and I being so young, we've both had to step up and do more so that our companionship can be productive. I have watched my understanding improve by leaps and bounds. It's still nowhere near perfect and I have so much work to do, but I can see the Lord helping me and giving me little nudges here and there. In essence, He's helping me enough so that I can be a valuable tool in His hands to do His work, but letting me know I still have a lot of work to do, which is exactly what I needed. I know He is in this work and He is not leaving me or Elder Bokinsky all by ourselves.
Mom, thanks for the packge. We love the soup mix packages and ciders and hot chocolate, so thank you very much for that. I still have not received Grandma Honey's first package, but I hope it just got delayed and I will get it soon. 
Dad, I want to wish you a big happy birthday! I hope everything is good and that you don't feel too old. Don't worry, you are still young to me.
I'm sad to hear about Rick. I pray that he can be comforted and not have too much pain or discomfort. I love you all and love hearing from you. Keep working hard and do all you can! This work is the Lord's work, and I am working hard for Him.
With lots of Love,
Elder Vernon

Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Picture of the Katowice District Before Transfers

Poland letter #9 (Transfers)

So, everybody's excited about transfers, huh? Well, I guess I can tell you about them. So, from the looks of things, I'm staying in Sosnowiec, which is great. I'm happy about that. I really like it here. Elder M is staying in Kato as well, but not as my companion. He's getting moved to the other apartment out in a town called Brynow, which means I'm getting a new companion, named Elder B. I don't know him at all, but he's only a transfer ahead of me. As in he's only been in the country for 4 months. So we have a missionary training me who just barely got off the training program 6 weeks ago. Exciting, isn't it?! Elder R (in our district) was in the MTC with him and says he is one of his favorite missionaries in Poland.  Elder M's new companion is Elder H, who is in my group of missionaries. What I mean by that is he was in the MTC with me. So, he'll be finishing up his training program with Elder M. It's all exciting, and we are going to have a super young district. Can you believe it? 3 out of the 4 Elders in our district now have been in the country 4 months or under, and half of us for only 2 months. Craziness. I'm sad to see my companionship with Elder M come to an end. He's been a great trainer and I've learned a ton from him. What an awesome chance though to still serve around him and see him frequently. Also, Elder M has been promoted to Zone Leader in the Kato Zone, which is great for him! My new companion, Elder B, will be the District Leader here in Kato, which will be exciting for him as well!
As for missionary work, it's been a solid week. I feel so lucky to be a part of this work and to be a tool in God's hands. A couple cool stories from the week. So, first off, we had an awesome contact with a guy named D this week. I was the one who contacted him, and I actually did a lot of the talking with him as well. He complimented me big time on my Polish. He didn't believe me at all when I told him I'd only been learning Polish for 4 months, and I'd only been in Poland for 2 months, so that was a huge confidence builder. However, I found myself speaking at a level of Polish I didn't know I had and understanding everything he was saying, which had never happened to me yet while in Polska (Poland). It was a total gift of tongues moment. I know the Lord was leading me to say things I needed to say and helping to bring His message to one of His children. It was an awesome experience, and we're hoping to meet with Damian soon.
We didn't have any investigators in church this past week, which is a bit of a bummer, but we did get to hear from a member named R.H. No, he's not Polish. He's a professional volleyball player here in Poland and a member of the church. He's also on the U.S. national team and was in the Olympics this past summer. He talked to us all about his life as a professional and his life in the church. It's obvious he's a stalwart member and knows the gospel very well. Elder V, who is going home this week, translated for him as he spoke to the congregation. That was awesome. I was so impressed to think that someday, I might be able to speak that well. I hope I can and am working hard to be able to do so.
I wish you all could see the little miracles I see on a daily basis. Just one, we were coming to the chapel last week and a man was outside looking at our sign. He was just curious about who we were and asked us for a Book of Mormon so he could read it. We testified to him and gave it to him. I mean, how often does that happen in our daily lives? It is so obvious that the Lord's hand is in this work. I'm so grateful to be a tool in His hands.
I've also been studying this week about charity and seeing others through God's eyes. A cool aspect or way of thinking I came across this week was this. So, whenever we have degrading thoughts about ourselves or others, we are doing just what Satan wants us to do. We can't do that if we are to have charity for others, and even for ourselves. When we degrade ourselves with thoughts like, "I'm so dumb, why did I do that?" and "I'll never amount to anything. I make way too many mistakes." that's Satan speaking to us. God sees our potential in everything we do. Those mistakes and sins are just stepping stones on the path to producing our consecrated, polished, and eternal selves. So don't look around at other people and pick out bad things. Pick out potential, and all the good things you can find in them. I've been doing it this past week, and it's incredible the difference I've found.
We tracked down a few former investigators and were able to have lessons with them this week! That was awesome. We'll see if anything comes of it in the coming weeks.
Mom, those insights about salt are very interesting. I'm excited to go study about them. Anything from Elder McConkie is bound to be doctrinally loaded.
As for letters, I sent one to Dad last week, and I'll be sending one for Emma shortly, so keep an eye out for those. Mom, I received your package, but still nothing from Grandma Honey. That being said, we don't get our mail until after we email on Monday, so I could very well get it today. We'll see.
Hey, Dad and Emma, I've got a challenge/assignment for you. Emms, I know you asked about if I work out, and I do. We have a half hour every morning to work out, but often I'm not exactly sure how to utilize it best. Can you and Dad write out a workout program for me? I'd be super appreciative. The missionary guidebook recommends 10 minutes of stretching per day, then either 20 minutes of strength building or 20 minutes of cardio, rotated throughout the week (so three days of each in essence), just for some ideas. I'm excited to see what you can come up with.
Hannah bear, I love that you love to read. It's a great thing to do. Tell grandma Fernie hi for me! and Grandma Honey and grandpa Ted.
Heather, good luck with crutches and with school. I know you can do it.
Emms, keep working hard. Good luck with lacrosse. I know you can do it as well.
Dad, I still haven't received a letter about recognizing the Spirit, and I asked you a few more questions in the letter I sent.
I love you all! It's exciting to hear about home and everyone going on missions, especially the girls! Keep the faith. The Church is true!
With love,
Elder Vernon

Monday, October 15, 2012

Elder Vernon with some members from the Katowice branch (I think they were bowling).
Elder V walking on stilts at the branch party.
Katowice branch party.
Elders and Sisters of the Katowice district.
Elder Vernon rockin' the "man purse." He assures us it is "cool" in Poland.

Letter #8

I apologize, I don't know how much time I'll have to write. We're going to Krakow today and we have to catch a bus pretty soon, but I will write all that I can.
First off, we've seen a lot of great success this week! We had an investigator in church! Well, two, kind of. But one for real. The second one is a couple of members younger brother. He's super cool, but not all that interested in the gospel, so we think. He hasn't shown interest yet, but he did show up to church yesterday, in a suit and tie and everything, so maybe! We have hope. The other real investigator is named R. He's awesome. We've been meeting with him for a while and we finally got him to church. It's been a long time coming, but totally worth it. We really hope he'll continue to change his life and continue to grow in this gospel.
In other news, the Sisters in our district challenged someone to baptism today. She's super ready and such, but they want to baptize her on Saturday, before the end of the transfer, so that's super soon. We all hope she accepted and will be baptized, but we haven't heard anything from them yet, so we aren't sure what will happen. We fasted for her as a district this past Sunday, so we all have faith that things will work out in the Lord's timing and in His way.
Speaking of the end of transfers, next week I will know what is going on with transfers. As in if I am moving cities, or getting a new companion or what not. Crazy huh? Can you believe I've already been here for almost a transfer? I can't. It shocks me. We get transfer calls next Sunday night, so we will know by then. It's still so weird to me that all this passes by so fast and things can change in an instant. Our transfers here are 9 weeks, as opposed to 6. Transfers are commonly 6 weeks everywhere else. That being so, it's common for missionaries to move around a lot here. Now, that being said, one of the Assistants right now, Elder J, was in Kato (Sosnowiec to be exact) for the first 10 months of his mission, so nobody knows what will happen. It's weird to think about though.
I got a lot of letters this week, which was great! Mom, I got your second letter that you sent with Grandma's funeral stuff and blog letters, plus another letter with blog letters and Emma's letter. It was great to get all of that. I also got a letter from Corwin and from Carly and Gordon, which was super great! Still no package from Grandma Honey or package of soup and hot chocolate, but hopefully I will get those soon. I also got my Fiszki cards, so all is well there. They're awesome too! I hope I will be getting everything else soon. Dad, I don't know how many letters you've tried to send, but I still have just gotten the one with the Holland and McConkie talks.
Also, I sent some voice recording this week and some pictures last week, both by email. One of them is me with a member, and I'm totally rocking the man purse! It's super cool to do here. It's a black leather nike bag, and it's super awesome for contacting. You put a couple of copies of the Book of Mormon in there, a few pamphlets, and you're good to go.
So, a couple of cool stories from this week. First, we did run into Jalene and Lincoln Taylor. He served her almost 5 years ago and was super cool. He also gave us a few less-actives that he baptized to go contact. They were just traveling through Poland on vacation and we ran into them at the chapel on Wednesday night after English. They took us out to Pizza and a good time was had by all. They're super awesome.
Next story. We went to contact a referral on Tuesday. It took us forever to find him. He lives in an old little house hidden in the back of this street out in the boonies, but we persevered past angry dogs, grumpy old people who didn't want to give us directions, and the like. We found him, and when we did, he was this little old man who didn't have hardly any money for food and was so scared he was going to have to pay for a Book of Mormon. It was a humbling experience. He was in an accident and is supposed to be paralyzed, but isn't. He says that God gave him a second chance and he wants to change for God. How ungrateful am I for everything that I have, and I'm not even willing to change at times? Well, needless to say that "gosh darn natural man" in me was very humbled and I was thinking about this poor little man all day. This is the Poland I was told about, I just hadn't seen it yet. Now that I have, my desire to share this gospel is even more apparent.
Another cool little story about referrals. We went to contact another one last night, but to no avail. We made it to his klatka (building) but we couldn't find him. We were able to, however, run into another man who is super religious and wanted to hear all about our message. He was super cool, and named P. Just goes to show that even when things don't work out, the Lord places people in our way for us to teach!
Heath, I'm glad surgery went well and that everything is on the up and up. Sounds like you've had all kinds of fun with visitors! Good luck navigating the halls this week! I know you can do it. Crutches aren't any fun, but you'll be a pro by the end, I just know it! I'm glad things are good and that you're positive about all of this. I love you.
Hannah bear! You're super cool. I love you lots. Keep rocking the ripstick and I'm excited for you learning cursive!
Emms, the developmental center is great! I'm glad you're having such spiritual experience and you are learning so much. I'm also glad the cabin was so much fun! I hope you gave everybody a big hello for me. I love you too.
Mom, I'm so grateful you put Pres. and Sis. Nielson's names on the Temple list. That's a huge blessing for them. It was a pretty good scare for all of us here, but we are glad everything is going well. There have been a lot of prayers said on their behalf. It's so weird how time is flying by here. I can't even believe it. If things keep going like this, I'll be home before no time. I've got so much to do before then and so much to learn. I love you and am grateful for all you do for me. Oh, and I'm doing much better with cooking, don't worry ;). I'm excited to get this letter from Matt as well. He sounds like he's doing great from the blog letters. Have you heard anything from Aaron? I'm curious about how things are going out in Chuuk. I love you and am so grateful for everything you do for me.
Anyway, I love everyone and I hope everything is going well. I've decided to start sharing my spiritual motto/motivation for the week. This week's came from Mosiah 22:4. It's Gideon speaking and he says "I will be thy servant and deliver this people out of bondage." That's what I'm doing here as I declare religious freedom to this people. I love you all and hope everything is good! The Church is true, Christ lives, and I know what I am doing here is what I should be doing.
With lots of love,
Elder Spencer Vernon

Monday, October 8, 2012

Letter #7 from Poland

Ah, I love Mondays and being able to read your emails! It's so good to hear from you all.  Anyway, this week hasn't been too exciting for me, but it's been a great week. Elder Mikolyski has had a nasty cold, so we spent a few days inside getting him healthy, along with conference, and interviews with President and a combined district meeting, so it's been a little low on the missionary work side, but still a great week. First off, President Nielson is the best. Like, for real. He's awesome. He really focuses on the fundamentals. He gives us specific, little things to do as we contact, teach, and work that are going to make all the difference in everything we do. Something he tells us is to contact the first 3 people we see every day. Dad, the first time he did that, I had to double check and make sure it wasn't you speaking, because that's totally something you would tell me to do. It makes me think back to baseball and how you would always tell me to swing at the first pitch, no matter where it was. It's so cool how there are so many analogies between sports and life. I see so many of them every day out here in the mission field. I had an awesome experience this week while teaching as well. So, Elder Mikolyski wasn't feeling well, like I already said, so when we taught one of our investigators, Z, I had to basically teach the lesson by myself. I was freaking out a little bit, because I am still struggling understanding a whole lot of what goes on. (The Polish people speak crazy fast and everything slurs together and it's just crazy to try to understand at times) Anyway, I was super nervous, but the Lord definitely has His hand in this work. I could actually understand what Z was saying and what he needed and wanted. I didn't understand everything, but I was able to get enough of a gist to know what was going on and to share what I felt the Lord wanted me to share. It was awesome. I even told stories from my life about what I've seen and done in better Polish than I thought I could speak. It's incredible to see how I can be a tool in the Lord's hands, but the trick is staying humble, because this definitely is not something I can do on my own.
In other news, conference was incredible. We didn't get to watch all of it, only both Saturday sessions and Priesthood up until halfway through Pres. Eyring's talk, but I'm hoping to find a chance to watch some more of it today. So many great talks though. I learned so much that I needed to know, and I loved Elder Nelson's talk. I thought it was funny how he kept saying "Ask the missionaries!" and then thinking, hey, that's me! Anyway, there's been one statement that I wrote down that I've been continuously thinking about. It was from Elder Robert C. Gay's talk in the Saturday afternoon session. He said "May our lives confirm that God forsakes no one." It's been something that I really want to go forward and apply in my missionary service, because God really forsakes no one. He knows all of His children and loves each and every one of them. I know that because I've felt His love and continue to feel it out here daily.
The announcement about missionaries was a bit unexpected. It's weird to think that I have friends that are girls that could now be going on missions, but it will be a great blessing for the church. That's so weird that Bryce can now go next summer. This whole things is going to change a lot, but I know it's what the Lord wants. It will be a great blessing for the Church. I feel lucky to have had a year of college under my belt though. I felt like that really prepared me for going on a mission and I was much more ready then than I was right out of high school. But, the Lord knows why He does things, and His ways are not our ways, nor do we understand everything He does, we just have to trust Him and walk by faith, rather than by sight (2 Ne. 2:24 and somewhere in Corinthians... I dunno, but I'm sure Dad does).
Since Elder Mikolyski had to take a couple of sick days, I was able to do some in-depth studying of the Book of Mormon, which was awesome. I loved that. It is such an incredible book, and my testimony of it grows every day. I feel so lucky to share it with these people in Poland. Think about it. Every time I give one of them a Book of Mormon, they hold in their hands the tool to not only change their lives, but work out their own personal salvation! Is there a more worthwhile book to study and read in the world? (Along with the Bible and modern scripture of course)
Dad, I heard about that debate from the senior missionaries here in Kato, Elder and Sister McGrath. Elder McGrath's answer was that Romney "blew Obama out of the water." It will be very interesting to see what happens in the future. As for football, I'm glad BYU beat Utah State. Elder McGrath and Sister McGrath lived in Logan, Utah, so now I've got a little bit of bragging rights :) In good humor of course. I got a paper from Grandma Honey this week that had the article about Lone Peak beating Bingham, so that was exciting to read about Zack Mortenson, but it also said that Riley's back was hurt. What is the deal with that? Is that why he hasn't been starting? Anyway, I'm glad to see Taysom having success. I'm also excited to receive this letter about the Spirit. So far, I've only received your letter with the Holland and McConkie talks, and I never received mom's letter with Grandma Helen's program or blog letters. I'm not exactly sure what happened with that. I also never received the Fiszki cards. I'm not sure what exactly happened with that. I did receive that package from London, but I haven't received the second one yet.
Mom, that's super exciting that Jake has his call. You'll have to tell me where he's going. I'm excited for him. Don't worry, I'll make sure I get a good coat and everything. The trick is just finding them. I've also bought a few ties and such while I've been here.  Thank you for keeping my name on the temple prayer roll. I know blessings are coming directly from that.
Hannah bear! That's so awesome that you can ride the rip-stick! I'm super proud of you. I love and miss you too. Keep working hard and being awesome! So cool about Sean and Megan, and tell Grandma Fernie hi for me!
Emms, I'm glad to hear you had a good birthday. I'm jealous that you are hiking all over Sundance. I will definitely be doing that when I get home. It's not too cold yet here, and I'm loving the fall weather. I'm going to have to learn how to tell temperature in Celsius though... that will be an adventure.
Heath, sounds like you had an exciting week! I'm glad you had a great surprise birthday party and that Sarah did a good job planning it all. She is a good friend! Oh, and Happy Birthday on Wednesday! Good luck with the surgery on Tuesday.
Wish everyone at the cabin well for me! I'm sad to be missing, but I'm where I need to be, I do know that.
I love you all. Keep the faith and study conference!
Elder Vernon

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reposted from Sister Nielson's blog

Katowice/Wroclaw Interviews...October 2, 2012

We got up at 5:00am to make sure we caught our train to Katowice. President is traveling more and more by trains so he can get something accomplished instead of driving. Today we have a combined District Meeting in Katowice with the district there and the Wroclaw district joining us. We will be role playing and reviewing Short Bold Statements, asking Inspired Questions and making Promises.
Things were going well on the train ride until about 25 minutes from Katowice when the train stopped. After waiting for 5 minutes, they announced there had been an accident* and we would be there for another 120 minutes.
Not knowing exactly what was really said and not knowing where to go, we started seeing everyone get off the train (and walking to the other side of the tracks). We didn't think that was a smart thing to do because we didn't know where we would go.
Pretty soon we realized we were the only ones on the train. Maybe we better get off...
So we followed everyone else (except going to the other side of the tracks). Notice the Police and fire trucks up ahead. It turned out to be a very serious accident and of course we walked right through all of it...
Finding ourselves in Chruszczobrod waiting for an intercity commuter train to pick us up. Our District Meeting with the Katowice and Wroclaw districts starts when we can get there.
When we did arrive, we found all well. We have great leaders in this mission that can take over... no matter what happens.
From the Wroclaw District: Elders Marsing and Tingey (both just great Elders) and
...Elders Cieslak and Bode (District Leader). Wroclaw is in great hands with these 2 hard working companionships.
The Katowice District: Elders Rittmanic and Vreeken (Zone Leader).
Elders Mikolyski (District Leader) and Vernon. These two companionships are finding and teaching some great people in the Katowice area. Very strong missionaries in this district.
Katowice Sisters: Sister Peterson, Sister Howells and Sister Ence are working hard to tell as many people as they can about the restored gospel.
Elder and Sister McGrath were there on hand to make sure that none of these Missionaries went home hungry. Sister McGrath makes a 'mean' sloppy joe that everyone loves!
After District Meeting, one of the real purposes of the trip begins to take fold....interviews! Each 8-10 weeks, every missionary has an interview with President Nielson. This is a great time for him to visit with each missionary. With all that he does, this is probably his favorite thing to do.
As the trip comes to an end, we head to the Katowice train station....which by the way is making great progress in becoming a first-class stop. You can see the 'Galleria Katowice' sign in the background if you look close. We appreciate the Assistants traveling with us as they are working with the missionaries throughout the mission in regards to better contacting and tracting skills.
It's time to return to Warsaw.
It's been a very long day. Getting up at 5 a.m. to catch the train this morning, traveling several hours longer than usual because of an accident and teaching and training all afternoon has taken its toll on Elder Jensen... well as President Nielson. But don't worry, the mission is in good hands because...
...Elder Basha and I are still going strong! I love my mission! It will be the best 3 years of my life!
*journal entry.