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