Monday, August 27, 2012

First Letter From Poland-August 27th

(To protect the identity of  people Elder Vernon writes about I have abbreviated the names with one letter.) 

Dzien Dobry Family!
It's so good to hear from all of you! Wow, what an adventure Poland is. It truly is incredible. I don't even know where to begin. So much has happened since I last wrote. We got to Poland. All of us were so tired. I felt alright, but as soon as I hit the pillow, I crashed. Believe it or not, all 11 of us slept in the mission home the first night. Crazy huh? The next day we went out on the town, got to see some of the sights of Warsaw, and even did a little bit of contacting. I won't lie, I was so scared to talk to people. The Polish people are really hard to understand. They slur all their words together and talk really fast. It's crazy. I tried to do my best though and I spoke to a couple of people. I didn't place any copies of the Book of Mormon, but we handed out a lot of pass-along cards. We got to eat some pierogi (polish dumplings) and then went back to the mission home and met our trainers. As you know, I'm serving with Elder M in Katowice. I never guessed I'd serve in Katowice, or Kato, for short. None of my teachers guessed that that was where I'd serve. Anyway, we actually live in a little town off of Kato called Sosnowiec. We're right next to a train station that is a great place for contacting. Anyway, that night at the mission home, we had a testimony meeting, then went to bed. Since all our trainers were at the mission home, there were 18 of us sleeping there! 2 companionships are serving in Warsaw so they went straight to their apartments. It was a little crammed, but we managed to get a good night's sleep. We took the train to Sosnowiec the next morning and got to the apartment. We unloaded a little bit, then went out and contacted for a while. I still wasn't understanding any native Poles at this point. I can understand the missionaries just fine, usually, but Poles just speak so fast. Anyway, we had a lesson that day too with a kid named K. Elder M does most of the teaching since he knows all the lessons really well and has a good grasp on Polish. I do a little bit here and there though. We taught K the 1st lesson, which is all about the Restoration, then asked him if he would want to be baptized. He said he would! We didn't set a date though, because he just seemed a little awkward and it just didn't quite feel right to. It turned out to be a good thing we didn't because we invited him to church and then Sunday morning we got a text from him saying that his family won't let him come and that he's Catholic and all this stuff. It was a big bummer, but we will continue to persevere. As always, we did more and more contacting. I was still super scared. The next day, Friday, we ran into a guy named J. He was sweet. He'd been to Salt Lake and seen the temple, has a Book of Mormon, and even talked to some sister missionaries. We set up to meet with him the next day and had a solid lesson with him. We even had a member with us. It was great. We taught him all about the restoration and answered all the questions he had (he had a lot). At the end, I promised him that if he prayed about this and then came to church, he would receive an answer about its truthfulness. I felt the Spirit so strong at that point. It was so cool. I was so excited, and I even knew how to say it all in Polish. I was really hoping that he would come to church, but he didn't. A big bummer. We will try to call him later though and try to meet with him again. We also met a guy named P who we set up to meet with yesterday. He was super busy though and couldn't meet. It's hard seeing all these people just kinda shrug the gospel off. It can change their lives so much and they just don't realize it. Anyway, church was good. I got to play the piano on my first week! They don't really have anyone to play in the branch I don't think, so I'll probably be playing quite often, which is fine by me. I didn't really understand much of what was going on. Like I said, Polish is hard to understand, but I'm getting better and better at it every day. We had a meeting right after church with a man named S. He's older and his main concern was all about faith, but we had a solid lesson with him. The member from the branch was with us on that lesson too. Sunday night we did a bunch of contacting. Sunday was a hard day for me. I just felt really homesick and was so overwhelmed by everything, but I said a long hard prayer and went out and was determined to talk to everyone. I found that the more people I talked to, the better I felt. I decided it didn't matter if I couldn't understand what they said, I would just talk anyway. Elder M is great about helping me out when I need help, so that's been awesome. I came home really happy and just felt good. Such a testament that this work is what I need to be doing and Sosnowiec is where I need to be.
Anyway, to answer some of your questions. There are 7 missionaries in my district. 4 elders and 3 sisters. The sisters are in a tripanionship, or a tripod as we call it.
Elder M is the district leader. He's only been out about 9 months. He went into the MTC last December, so in reality, he's only been in Poland for 7 months. He's great though.
I love you all so much. I hope everything is great at home. I'm working hard. This gospel is true.
Elder Vernon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 2 in Poland (copied from Sister Nielson's blog)

Life in Poland...Day 2! All our new arrivals had a good nights rest and a big breakfast. They are looking fresh and ready to start the day!

First on the agenda...a brisk walk to the Mission Office to get started on legal work and other essential matters.

Seven minutes later, they arrive at the Mission Office. While our new Missionaries are getting all this done, the Mission Home is full of activity!

Our new trainers have arrived anxious to meet their new trainees. While the trainers meet with President Nielson....

...their trainees have made their way to the Warsaw Rynek to have lunch and start doing missionary work in Poland.

First stop...a pierogi restaurant. You can tell by the looks on their faces that they are a little lost!

But when the pierogi arrives, the smiles come out!

After lunch, our Warsaw I and II Missionaries arrive at the Rynek to help our New Missionaries contact people passing through. After introductions are made, they set out to work.

Elders Vernon and Harris follow Elder Raines' lead. These determined missionaries are going to find someone to teach!

We appreciate the good Missionaries from the Warsaw Zone who helped our new Missionaries learn to approach and contact people. They are learning from the best! (LtoR): Elders Harris, Wilson, Fletcher, Pofelski, Godwin, Bokinski, Szmanski, Vernon, Tingey, Neuner, Cieslak, Baranowski, Garfield, Weir and Sisters Holmgren, Forsey, Packard and Peterson.

Soon it is time to head back to the Mission Home and MEET THEIR TRAINERS!

Elder Vernon will serve in Katowice where Elder Mikolyski will be his trainer.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Elder Vernon Arriving in Poland! (pictures copied from Sister Nielson's blog)

Thanks to Sister Nielson for capturing his arrival in Poland.
(Lto R): Elders Weir, Harris, Godwin, Wilson, Tingey, President Nielson, Sister Nielson, Sister Packard, Elders Garfield, Baranowski, Neuner, Cieslak and Vernon. 11 missionaries plus President and Sister Nielson .
First meal in Poland (notice the polish pottery).

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Last Letter from the MTC

Hi family!
Since we don't have time to email on monday, today's become a little bit of a p-day for all of us. That being the case, I have a few minutes to email home!
First off, thanks a bunch for the package! Mom, I love the shirt. Emms, stellar job with the Ipod. Where did you find the Truman G. Madsen stuff? I'm excited to listen to his lectures on the life of Joseph Smith. What a cool thing to have with me in Poland. The little speaker is sweet too. Thanks muchly for that. We're not supposed to listen to Ipods in the MTC so I'm waiting until I get to Poland for that, but I'm excited. It looks like some great stuff. The pictures are awesome too! Heath, the sweaters look great. I'm glad everyone on student council is happy and looking good. Just tell Connor it's time for the hair to go. Don't worry, I haven't opened up any of the letters. I'm waiting until I get to London for the first one and Poland for the second one.
So, I sent a few letters home yesterday along with my polish Bible and a copy of the Book of Mormon in polish. We've been told by quite a few teachers and returned missionaries here in the MTC that we won't want a bible that big and that we can get a smaller one in Poland, so that's my gameplan. Keep that one safe for me, alright? The Book of Mormon is a gift for the family. I had my name engraved on it. I thought that might be kinda cool to have at home to show people what Polish looks like. My packing is going quite well. I'm basically packed already, except for a few things I'm wearing today and tomorrow. Just a review of my flight schedule so we know when we can talk. First, I leave here at 8 monday morning. My flight leaves at 12:20. Hopefully I'll have some time to talk from around 10 to 11. Keep a watchful ear and I'll call you when I can. I'm supposed to land in Dallas at 3:55. I'm assuming that's Texas time, but I'm not sure. My flight leaves from Dallas at 5:50, so hopefully I'll have another little bit to talk to you all. Keep an open ear next to the phone! I'm excited to hear from you all.
I guess a little update on what else has been going on here at the MTC. I'm still learning a lot daily. We had in-field training yesterday which was all about working effectively in finding people and with members of the ward. It was really cool and a great change of pace for the day. On Tuesday I sang with the choir for the devotional. We sang "Redeemer of Israel" and it was awesome. The Spirit is so strong with music. I was really glad to be a part of it. Then we had Elder David F. Evans and his wife speak to us. They were awesome. Elder Evans spoke a lot of rescue and of the 3 parables in Luke 15. In reality, those parables aren't about anything being lost. They're about 3 things being found. Think about that a little bit. It changes your perspective on the whole story. One of the insights I received while we were going through the parables was in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It says the father saw his son when he was "yet a great way off." How could the father have seen him if he was not looking for him constantly? How often do we go about not looking to find someone in need? It was a great reminder for me to always be on the lookout for those in need of a helping hand, even when they are closer than we think.
Elder Evans also talked about a picture that Pres. Monson has been talking about recently. I think it may be called "The Rescue" by John Turner (maybe Trudner?) or something like that. Anway, it was a really cool picture. If somehow you can find out more about it, I would appreciate it.
I've got to go, but I'm excited to talk to you all. Dad, thanks for the letter. That means a lot to me. Oh, I almost forgot. Did I tell you I got a Dear Elder from the Karlssons? All the way from Norway! How sweet is that?! They send their best. They have a new baby daughter as well. Only 2 weeks old! I forget her name, but I have the letter. I will tell you on Monday.
With love,
Elder Vernon

Monday, August 13, 2012

MTC Letter #8

Cześć Wam (hey guys)!
Ah man. Bear Lake looks like it was so sweet! I'm glad you had a great time. Looks like Matt had fun too. Heath, just how many of my clothes are you wearing? Yeah, I recognized that tank top. Emma tells me you're wearing all my v-necks too. It's ok, just don't wear em out too much, alright?
First things first, this week has been awesome! I got to host on Wednesday, and I hosted Tyler Bahoravitch, Kaiana Miller, and another Elder named Joe Jolissaint. Get this, he was converted by Robbie Lusk, an AF High graduate. I played with his younger brother Jordan. All in all, it was super sweet. So much fun to see all the new elders. A real tender mercy from the Lord. I get to host again next week too. Mom, can you send me all the times that people we know are coming in? That way, hopefully I can host Elder Gummow and Elder Ryan Kitchen.
I've really been focusing on the tender mercies of the Lord this week. I've been finding them everywhere. It's crazy. The more I notice them, the more I find. It's been incredible. Just like one yesterday. We're singing Redeemer of Israel for choir this week, one of my favorite hymns. How sweet is that? For my last week in choir we sing one of my favorite hymns. Not a coincidence, but a definite tender mercy from the Lord. I'm excited to continue finding them in my life and on my mission.
We went to the temple for the last time for a long time today. It was awesome. I love the temple. It's such a blessing to have one so close to our house. I'm excited for when I get back and I can go frequently again. I've got a goal to go once a week once I get back. I think that's just gonna help me in all that I do in life.
So. We got travel plans this week. Yeah, I'm freaking out a little bit. I'm leaving for Poland next Monday at 8 AM. I'm so stoked. We fly out from Salt Lake at 12:20 PM and get to Dallas at 3:55 PM. I'm assuming that's Dallas time that we arrive at. We have a two hour lay-over, and then we leave at 5:50 for London, where we should arrive around 8:45 AM London time on the 21st. Then, we fly out of London at 1:55 PM and get to Warsaw at 5:15 PM Poland time. Super exciting! I'm so stoked. I don't know that I'll have time to email next week, but I will be able to call you I think!
As for anything else I need I would like a copy of last conference's ensign if that's possible at all, and then my manual razor. Other than that I should have everything I need. I'll send home a package with everything I won't be taking to Poland later this week. I'm still not sure what to do about my backpack though. It would be nice to have it with me on the plane to carry my stuff with me, but from what I hear, nobody really uses backpacks in Poland. Everybody likes to rock the side bag. I guess that's just easier. Fanny packs are a big deal in Poland too, so some missionaries even rock those. I'm thinking I'll just send my backpack home and then buy a side bag when I get there.
I'm excited to hear from you all. I think you'll think Polish sounds kinda crazy. Sometimes it sounds a bit Chinese to some people I guess. I dunno. We'll see. I feel like my language skills have really picked up in this last week. It's making a huge difference. Yesterday, I tried to go the whole day only speaking Polish. As it turns out, I did pretty well! I could pretty much communicate whatever I needed to, at least gospel related. Get this, my companion, Elder Garfield, and I, actually explained the House of Israel to one of our investigators. In Polish. I dunno how we did that, but we figured it out one way or another. It was really cool to see our language skills improve that much.
So on tuesday we heard from Robert K. Dellenback, another emeritus 70. He was awesome. He talked all about the many facets of the book of mormon. He talked about how quickly Joseph translated it. I had never thought about that before, but he really did move so fast with it. It's crazy. He did close to 7 pages a day. That's incredible. Especially because now days, they can do maybe 1 page a day if they're translating it from English to a different language. Just another testament that this Gospel is true.
Last night, we heard from the administrative director here at the MTC. This was the second time he's spoken to us while we've been here. His name is Richard I. Heaton. He did an awesome job. He talked all about how our investigators have to act to come unto Christ. Their actions is what builds their faith. It was an awesome talk. I feel like I learn so much here every day. I don't know how I can contain all this information. It's incredible.
Mom and Dad, thanks for all the updates about Rick. His surgery is today right? I'm praying for him. I hope everything goes well. I'm sure he's in good hands. Mom and Dad, I also want to say thank you for everything you've done for me. I was watching old conference talks yesterday. Elder Holland gave one in October of 2010 called "Because of Your Faith." It's a great talk. It talks all about being thankful. I just want to say thank you for everything you do for me. I don't think I ever realized how much you gave me. I think I'm starting to realize now though. That's a debt I don't think I'll every be able to pay back. I'm so grateful for what you have given me and hope someday I can give at least some of it back.
We also learned yesterday about how to relate family history work to missionary work. I was able to get on our family tree and I could trace one of them all the way back to Adam. Yeah, like the first man Adam. It was pretty sweet. It was the line that goes through the Plantagenets, the Kings of England. Anyway, it got me pretty excited about family history work. I think there are some names on there that haven't been done yet either. That'd be really cool to be able to go do them. Mom, might be something to look in to.
This gospel is true and always will be!
I love you all!
Starszy Vernon

Sunday, August 12, 2012

MTC Letter #7

Hey family!
Mom and Dad, I'm so happy to hear you made it all the way on the ULCER. I'm sure it was hard, but I'm glad you perservered. Awesome picture at the finish.
Mom, Alma 36 is fantastic. Thanks for the update on the Chiasmus. I actually already have it marked thoroughly in my scriptures. Pretty cool, huh?
Dad, I'm glad to hear you're still giving out copies of the BofM when you travel. Missionary work really is the greatest work. It brings the Spirit like nothing else can. It's so powerful. I can't wait to get out there and share it with the people of Poland. Speaking of which, I leave in two weeks. I'm geeking out about it a little bit. It's coming up way too fast. I'm not ready to leave the MTC yet. I'm just going to make the most of the time I have left.
Thanks so much for Grandpa's music. I love it. It's so great to be able to play it in my spare time. What a blessing it is to have that music still. I love it.
Hannah, thanks so much for the tree! It's awesome. Mom, the packages are great. Everyone loves the CTR rings. I even gave some to some of my buddies who are headed to the Phillippines. It was funny to hear them try to say wybieraj sprawiedliwość (choose justice). It also means choose righteousness, but the word is more commonly used as justice. Kinda funny. As for what you send in the packages mom, I"m always happy with whatever. I just love getting mail from the family.
So, is everyone excited for bear lake? I know I would be. I'm sure you'll all have a wonderful time. Heath, I'm glad you still can get up on a wakeboard and that you're finally realizing the beauty of the cabin. It's a wonderful place out there. Emms, watch out for moving boats. We wouldn't want you falling off of one again ;). Heath, I heard that Nick Clark got hit in the eye with a paintball. Any news about that? Is he alright? I hope he's going to be ok and he can still go on his mission. I also heard that Taylor Lindsey has his call to Germany. Now that's exciting. I'm glad he's getting out on his mission. He'll be a fantastic missionary.
We got to go to the temple again today. I love it. The temple is so awesome. We did some initiatories today. What a tender mercy from the Lord to have a temple so close to the MTC.
We get to go on a second field trip today. One of the sides of my glasses are a bit too tight, so we're going to get them adjusted this afternoon. Again, we're off to see the real world!
We had some excitement yesterday. In our building, a couple floor up, a lightbulb exploded. It set off the fire alarms and everything so we had to evacuate for a half hour or so while five fire trucks came to the MTC to check things out. Definitely not something that happens every week, huh? It was really cool.
So, I get to host the new missionaries this wednesday. I'm pretty excited. Especially since one of my best buddies from college, Ethan Forbes, is coming in. I'm hoping I'll be able to host for him. That'd be super cool.
For devotionals this week we heard from Rex D. Pinegar on tuesday. What a fantastic speaker. I learned so much. One of my favorites things he said was this: "There is a spirit in this work that is undefinable." That is true. I haven't even really been doing real missionary work, but I can feel the Spirit so strong in the role plays that we do. It's incredible. Elder Pinegar talked about commitment for a lot of his talk. It was a great reminder for me to really recommit myself to this work and be the best missionary I can be. I'm striving every day to learn and grow in this gospel so I can continue to teach it to the people of Poland. I also got to sing "Faith of our Fathers" with the choir. That was an incredible experience. I absolutely loved it. That's such a powerful song.
Yesterday, we heard from the second counselor of the MTC presidency and his wife. Lon Nally and Kaye Nally. They were awesome. They talked about how to teach with power. The four main points they outlined were to be obedient, diligent, selfless, and courageous. If we do all four things, we will teach with power. It was a wonderful fireside that taught me so much about how to be the best missionary I can be.
My companion and I are really progressing along with our teaching. We're using very few notes if any every time, and we are really learning to teach with unity. He's very knowledgeable about the principles of the gospel. I'm always impressed with what he has to say. We are very different, that much is for sure, but it has been really cool to watch the Lord take both of our skills and put them together so that we can teach with unity and power.
I love you all. I hope you have a great time in Bear Lake. This is the Lord's work. I can testify of that. Mom, I hope your lesson was fantastic in church. I'm sure you did great. Heather, I'm glad you've been spending time with the Judd's. They're a great family. Tell them all I say hello and that I miss them, especially Sarah and PJ. Emms, keep working hard in lacrosse and learn how to drive that boat. I'm expecting a solid pull when I get back. Hannah, I love you and hope you are learning lots about the Holy Ghost. I love getting little pictures and trees from you!
Mom and Dad, I love you. You're the best parents I could ask for. I'm so blessed to have all of you as a family and to have the friends here and at home that I do. I love it. You're all great. Remember, the gospel is true!
With love,
Elder Vernon