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.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week #6 in Poland

Hello hello family!
Sounds like everyone has had a solid week! I'm glad to hear it. Let me tell you about mine, and then I will respond to all your comments.
So, first off, we went bowling with some of the members last Monday. It was a blast. I almost won, but not quite. A, a member here, beat me by 1 point. Mega szkoda (aka bummer in polish), but it's all good. It was lots of fun. I also had my first exchange this week. Elder Mikolyski went and worked with Elder Rittmanic in Katowice, and I worked with Elder Vreeken out in Sosnowiec. Elder Mikolyski is the District Leader out here in Kato and Elder Vreeken is the zone leader, so it's great to be surrounded by so much leadership. It gives me a lot of opportunities to learn. Anyway, I've got some cool stories from my exchange with Elder Vreeken. (By the way mom, he's the one with me in the picture. We sometimes all work together with a whiteboard that had a question on it and just contact people. It's fun.) So, the first night, we were getting home, and I just expected Elder Vreeken to want to go drop off his stuff and crash since it was pretty late, but he suggested that we just contact 3 more people. I was game for that, so we did it. As it turns out, the third person we contacted was a young 20 something kid who was super interested in what we had to say. We were able to teach him all about the Plan of Salvation and we gave him a Book of Mormon. It was a great lesson to me in making sure to give even a little more effort when I think it's ok to just call it good for the day. The next day, we had to take a couple of boxes of copies of the Book of Mormon to the chapel, so we were lugging those around in the morning. Elder Vreeken decided to write on one of them "darmowe niespodzianki dla wszystkich!" (free surprises for everyone!) and to use that as a contacting tool. Well, as it turns out, we gave away 3 copies of the Book of Mormon on the way to the chapel, so we continued to use the box all day. It was great and a lot of fun. We got some interesting looks and such, but it was an awesome contacting tool for us to use. I learned a ton from Elder Vreeken on this exchange. He's going home in about 3 weeks at the end of the transfer, and he is an incredible missionary. He's an awesome teacher and just knows how to do missionary work. It was a great chance for me to really learn from an incredible missionary (other than Elder Mikolyski of course, because he's a champ too).
So I've been really striving to understand the Spirit lately in my studies and just overall as a missionary, because I know it is the key to all that we do as missionaries. It's been so cool to start to gain a little bit of an understanding, but any input you have Dad/Mom/Family would be great! Anyway, there's one super cool thing I've started to notice with the Spirit when I teach. As I teach these simple concepts of the Gospel and continue to learn all about them, the Spirit quietly guides me in remembrance of experiences in my own life and how these things have applied in them, or just simply how God has had a hand in my life. I think there's a scripture in D&C about this, how all are edified of all when the Spirit is present and all learn. Anyway, I had one super cool connection I made this week. Elder Vreeken and I were teaching about prayer, and I was thinking about the LP v. AF lacrosse game my senior year, right after Randy Stout (the LP coach) died. I don't know if any of you remember, but they asked me to say a prayer with both teams together right before the game started. I was kind of a bridge between the two teams I think, since I had played for both and knew a lot of the kids on LP. Anyway, I was just thinking about how lucky I was to be able to say that prayer and be a comfort to some of the kids on the LP team when Randy died when this thought struck me, "What if I had actually got into a fight with Zak Stout two years before in that game?" Honestly, when that whole incident happened, I know the Lord was there helping me to stay calm and not to flip out, because if I had, how bad would that game have been between us two teams right after Randy died? So cool to look back and see such cool tender mercies from the Lord.
Another really cool experience I had this week was we had a grill in a Park in Katowice with the branch. K, first off, Poland is crazy beautiful. I tried to take a few pictures, but it doesn't do it justice at all. Second, these members are so awesome. I was able to go contacting with A U, the member who I'm pretty sure I've talked about a bit, and we placed two copies of the Book of Mormon. Then, we had the grill and everything and overall had a great time. Elder Vreeken even walked on some stilts that some girls had there. It was a party. It is so awesome to see the faith of these members here in Poland to go out and go contacting with missionaries to spread the Gospel that they know to be true. It's such a blessing to be here in Poland.
So, in other news, Happy Birthday Emms! Well, I'm a few days early, but still, Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great one. I'm jealous you get to go out to the cabin and spend time out in beautiful nature. That's so sweet. I'm excited to get your letter soon.
Mom, your lesson sounds great. The pride cycle is a real danger. I know that for sure. I've felt it out here on the mission and in my own life. Just when I feel like I'm getting the hang of things and that I know how to do missionary work, the Lord humbles me and helps me to remember He's in charge. Don't worry, our water filter is hooked up and everything is good :). I'm getting better with food as well. Peanut butter is not a necessity yet, but if you could throw it in the next package you send, that would be appreciated ;). I'm doing alright with food though. I'll look for frozen vegetables, and in the meantime, I'm loving canned peas and canned corn. Thanks for the updates about Jason, Julia, and Rick. I'm praying for everybody. How does Adam feel about having a girl?
Heather, I'm glad you got my letter and that you're dealing well with post-ACL tearage life. I'm glad it's just mainly the ACL and not anything else. Concert going already? Ha, I don't know that I've ever actually been to a real concert, so that's sweet. Did you know I know the lead singer's little brother of Imagine Dragons? Yeah, he was a buddy of mine at BYU. Anyway, I'm praying that your surgery will go well. Don't be afraid to ask dad for a blessing too for it.
Hannah, you sound like you're quite the soccer player! I also got your package and your drawing this week, which is awesome! I'm going to hang it in my room tonight! Thank you for everything.
Dad, sounds like a busy Sunday. I'm learning just how busy Sundays can be. I'm not sure what the deal is with conference yet. We'll see what happens, but I for sure want a conference Ensign. I'm sure I'll be able to get one here. So, is Taysom Hill the new starter then? I was curious what would happen with Riley and him. Sounds like our defense is stellar too. We could have a really good year this year. Zack is a stud. Tell him congrats for me and to keep working hard. I'm sure Bishop Gurney is happy to have Zack in our ward. He's a champ.
Anyway, I need to go, but a few last minute things.
Dad, I have only received your letter with Holland and McConkie talks so far. I haven't gotten Fiszki yet or mom's letter with blog letters and talk from Grandma Helen's funeral. I will let you know as soon as I get everything.
Apart from that, Poland is great, and I'm doing well! Love you all and the Gospel is true!
Starszy Vernon