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