Monday, January 28, 2013

A Wonderful Day in Warsaw!

A Wonderful Day in Warsaw!
Elder Saltmarsh, J, C, and Elder Vernon. J was baptized by C on January 26, 2013.
Yes, J was baptized! He's the man. He hasn't smoked for almost two weeks now and absolutely loves the church. Something super cool was that we had a recent convert of about a month and a half baptize him. His name is C and he was super scared, but he did a great job. Now, something cool about J. We didn't know this until after the baptism, but his last name actually means Sparrow in Polish. Now, combine that with the fact that his first name is Jack in English, and we done did baptism Capt. Jack Sparrow! Pretty cool huh? 
In any case, the baptism was incredible. The spirit was super strong. So strong that J even made a comment about it. He said he's never felt that good or happy ever in his life! How's that for a testimony builder? Sunday, when he was confirmed, he was given some really cool blessings. He was told that he will desire temple blessings and be an example for those around him and in his family. This is some serious significance because J's roommate is very anti-mormon, and he is divorced as well. He has three kids and they all live in different parts of Poland. Anyway, he is rock solid and we are very proud of him.
We also set another baptismal date this week with a man named K. We are unsure how far it will go however. Background story. He met the church five years ago and randomly showed up a couple weeks ago again for Sacrament meeting. Anyway, we have been meeting with him and he wants to be baptized. He has some of his own theories on doctrine though and sometimes struggles to accept what we have, but he believes the Book of Mormon to be true and still wants to be baptized. Anyway, we've got to meet with him again and get this whole thing straightened out about why he exactly wants to be baptized. I don't think he really understands all that it would entail, but we have hope we can straighten it all out and get things in order.
Also, this week, we met with a guy named M. He's a physics professor and had some crazy questions about doctrine and about why God has a body of flesh and bone, because he claims that according to the law of physics it doesn't make sense. Let's just say it was hard for us to even get a word in edgewise. It was brought to my attention (by the Spirit, I'm sure), that answering these questions is not what I'm here to do as a missionary. We're here to give these people a foundation so they can answer their own questions. That's never been more clear to me as it was that night. It was a cool little revelation moment as I was teaching that's helping me to become a better missionary and teacher.
I'm so glad you are all keeping up on the Book of Mormon reading. It's been a huge blessing to me as I've continued to read. I believe Jacob 4 is now one of my favorite chapters of Scripture. I just read it this morning. Especially verses 4-6. The Nephites really understood the Law of Moses. Salvation didn't come through it, rather it was a Type of Christ for them to learn from and to help them remember Christ in all they did. Also interesting is in verse 7, right after Jacob has said that their faith is unshakeable, he speaks of their weaknesses as things to help them rely on Christ. It's a great chapter. I'm learning an incredible amount this time through the Book of Mormon.
Well, I am running short on time, but I love you all. Emms, you're a boss at skiing. Keep it up and work hard. Love ya lots.
Doobs, we'll try to do the Good Morning Poland show again for you soon! Have fun at your party. Love you.
Heath, You're awesome. Keep up the good work and tell all these missionaries I send my best! If possible, I would like to get some of their addresses. Jake Garlick and Silas Olsen for sure, and Jason Jerman as well. If that's not too much trouble, I'd appreciate it. Laura's too. Good luck with school and have fun with Logan at MORP. Loves you lots sisser.
Mom, I'm old, I cannot believe I will be 20. I'm sorry, my computer is gonna boot me off but I love you lots and look forward to your packages!
Dad, polish is going well. I'll try to send a voice recording about it next week. Thanks for the updates! Love you and Mom lots and lots.
The Church is true!
Elder Vernon
Someone else besides Elder Vernon likes peanut butter! I think Elder Vernon caught  Elder Saltmarsh sneaking a little! I love the guilty face and the fuzzy socks. Elder Vernon and Elder Saltmarsh appear to have a lot of fun together while working hard.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Best Week of My Mission (so far)

Hey Family!
So, this week has been a fantastic week! Possibly the best week of my mission so far! I'm not kidding. We have seen so many miracles this week. It was unbelievable. I don't have nearly all the time I would like to share all these stories with you, but I will do my best.
First things first though, please give Sarah and Ari my warmest and best regards. I am so happy for the both of them. They are going to be incredible missionaries, without a doubt.Tell them I say congratulations please! 
Ok, so now on to my week. It was incredible. It started off with a great lesson Tuesday night. We taught a young couple named ________ and ___________. They are incredible.________ is super spiritual and has read the Bible completely through twice. __________ was raised Catholic but now that he is older is searching for something more. They requested a Book of Mormon off of our website and we set up and met with them. It was possibly the most powerful and spiritual lesson I have had my whole mission. They were so ready for this message and ready to hear what we have to say. I couldn't believe it. The most powerful part came when we were talking about Jospeh Smith. I was able to recite the first vision to them, something I had yet to do up to this point on my mission. When I did so, the Spirit engulfed the room. Literally, I think it was palpable. I couldn't believe it. There's no way this message can not be true. Not after something like that. I know they felt it and were touched by it. We set up with them again actually and should be meeting with them in just over a week. __________actually planned to read the whole Book of Mormon before that meeting. ____________prayed for us as well at the end of that lesson. It was apparent he didn't really pray before, but he gave a beautiful prayer and really poured his heart out. It was so cool to see him take that step of faith and do what God wants him to do.
Another super cool story. So, I can't remember if I told you about the kid I contacted on the bus from Ukraine or not. Anyway, we set up with him this week. His name is ____________. He came to the meeting and we gave him a Ukranian Book of Mormon. He also brought his girlfriend along, who's name is _________. We gave her a Book of Mormon as well and taught them a first lesson. They're super smart and super knowledgeable in religion, seeing as both of them are Pentecostal. They were asking questions about what our canon consists of, whether Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ is more glorified, and what not. It was crazy, and my Polish actually could keep up! I couldn't believe it. It was an incredible lesson. __________ even prayed for us at the end, in Ukranian. Strange thing is, I actually understood parts of it. It was cool. It made me think of Matt Pockrus and Ryan Welch over in that crazy Ukraine country. Shout out to them for being awesome.
We also met with __________ a few times this week. Good news, he is on the road to baptism! Everything is looking great for his baptism on Saturday. He's stopped smoking, he passed his interview yesterday, and he is very ready for this covenant with God. I'm super excited to see him enter those waters this week and to progress along his road to God. It's going to be awesome. He's super funny too. As he went into his interview, he asked, jokingly, "So, after this whole ordeal, I can smoke again right?" He looked at us with this big grin and just laughed and said, "Now hold on, I'm not gonna wanna do that, am I?" He's so cool. I wish you all could meet him.

 This is a picture of all the missionaries in Warsaw 1. This was taken the day after his "very short" haircut.(LtoR):  Elders Dopp (Zone Leader), Baranowski, Van Bakel (Zone Leader), Manwill (District Leader), Saltmarsh, Vernon. Sisters Allen and Sheahan. Elder and Sister Jensen (YSA-Warsaw). 

Yes, mom, my haircut is a bit shorter than I expected. I got the classic Polish cut, which is a bit strange. If I have time, I will send some pictures from right after I got it cut. It looks kinda goofy, but it's all good. It's a good thing I got it cut. We had interviews with President the next day. He laughed when he saw it and said, "Elder Vernon, you got your money's worth yesterday, didn't you?" I told him, "Yes, I did." He laughed and said, "Well, the difference between a good hair cut and a bad hair cut is just a couple of weeks." I think President definitely understands the language barrier and that because of it, things don't always turn out how we plan with such things. There is, however, a cool story to go along with that haircut. The lady who was cutting our hair was very interested in what we were doing in Poland. She was asking us all these questions about why we're here and what sort of things we believe. Well, as it turns out, we ended up teaching her a 1st lesson and giving her a Book of Mormon. Kinda cool! We can share the gospel wherever we go out here.
I also got Grandma Fern's package this week. That was super great. She's the best. It was awesome to get some good candy and classic nuts. Tell her I love her and that I hope things are going well.
It's also been snowing a lot here. Unfortunately, Polish snow is not Utah snow. I'm realizing how spoiled I was now back home in Utah. I'm enjoying it, of course, but I don't know that I'll miss this Polish snow when I leave.
My Book of Mormon reading this week has been super awesome. I'm beginning to love Isaiah. It's hard to understand, but with the help of some texts from President, my notes from Bro. Merrill's BofM class, and the Spirit, I'm beginning to pick things out bit by bit. It's been so cool to see the scriptures really open up right before my eyes. It's a huge blessing from the Lord. That book is for sure true.
I'm also beginning to really love my mission. It is an incredible journey and every day holds something new. I'm experiencing so much more happiness and joy than in any thing else. In fact, Elder Saltmarsh asked me the other day what the first thing is that I will do when I get home. I thought about it and went, well, I don't know. I don't want to go home. Don't get me wrong, I love you guys, but this mission is unbelievable. It's unlike anything else. It's a huge blessing, for sure, and I'm so grateful to have these two years to devote to the Lord. I'm doing my best to make all I can out of it.
Mom, great job on the Joseph Smith lesson. The first vision is quickly becoming one of my favorite study topics. I'm sure you nailed it right on the head. Scary that you hit a deer, but I'm glad everything is ok and everybody is alright. Love you lots and lots.
Dad, I'm glad things went well in D.C. The weather is cold, so we usually go tracting, where we are outside, but we stay warm, don't worry. We had a lot of lessons this week as well, plus a lot set up for this next week, so that takes away from outside time, which is nice. Love you, keep being awesome.
Emms, great job on the crease roll! That's a very useful skill when you get it figured out. I'm happy to hear everything is going well and that you are enjoying school. Keep being awesome and working hard! Big loves from P-land.
Hannah bear, you're the best! Keep Tao out of trouble and be nice to her, k? I'm glad you're having fun with her. I miss you and love you lots too. (Tao is our cat {insert from mom})
Heath, I'm sorry I can't tutor you in chemistry and pre calc since I'm across the world, but keep working hard in school and being awesome. I'm running out of time, but tell Sarah congrats, and say hi to her, Connor Grigs, Kira, PJ, the whole crew for me, will ya? I love you lots.
the church is true!
Elder Vernon

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another Busy Wonderful Week

I am wearing the scarf that Grandma Honey sent me

My new ties I bought at Adam's Tie Store
. Elder Saltmarsh in a self-imposed time-out for being angry about our lesson with the crazy investigator. Don't worry, He was fine :).

The blacked-out Jeep we found. Yeah, Elder Maddix better be jealous

Hey hey hey family and friends!
So, we've had another busy wonderful week.  I'm going to try to tell you about as much as I can, but I've only got about 30 minutes of email time left, so here goes!
First off, we've got some great snow going on here in Poland right now. It's been a lot of fun, but I'm quickly realizing how awesome Utah snow is. This stuff just doesn't even compare. It's a bit sad really, because I miss my Utah snow, but I'll deal with it. It helps the loss of skiing not hurt as bad ;).

In other news, the Leadership Training meeting was super awesome. We had a super good time and learned a ton. It was fun to see many of my MTC buddies. Plus, I got to see Elder Bokinsky. I missed that guy. He told me _______ and _______ are doing well, and it was super good to talk to him for a while. Yes, that is my new scarf from Grandma Honey. I had to make sure she saw it, so I'm glad it was visible! As for what went on during Leadership Training, that's top secret information. I'd have to kill you all if I told you, so you're just going to have to deal with being left out in the dark...

Just kidding. It was super awesome. President talked a lot about being examples as leaders and doing all we need to do as missionaries as well. We received some great logistical information, as well as some truly inspired counsel. We also watched Elder Holland's talk from the most recent conference (sent chills down my spine when he said "This is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world." again), and then President extended a challenge to us. We are to find one simple object a day. One simple object, that's it, and then relate it to Christ. All things are made in the likeness of Christ, so we are to find that likeness from one simple thing, in essence. It's been a super cool experience. Christ has a likeness in literally everything! We've had a fun time finding his likeness in some of the most random objects. I'd encourage you all to do the same. Tell me about some of the crazy objects you can find and what likenesses you pull from them. I think my favorite so far has been M&M's. Christ is our Master who performed his Ministry. Anyway, that's just the beginning. I'll keep all of you updated on what I can find in the coming week!
Another super cool experience happened this week while we were teaching a less active, named _______. We went into the lesson planning to review the Plan of Salvation with him. As we arrived and began to talk about his baptism, when it happened, and his feelings about this covenant he has with God, I could see in my mind exactly the lesson he needed to be taught. We took the Plan of Salvation, included keeping covenants--specifically that of baptism--and how we can honor that covenant by coming to church. It was a spiritual experience where I felt the Spirit come in and guide us in a lesson in such a way that I have never before experienced. It was a strong testimony builder to me that the Lord's hand is in this work and that He will help us missionaries teach His gospel with power when we are striving to do our best.
We also had a crazy lesson with a somewhat drunk Catholic named _______, but I talked about that in my recording, so I'll let you listen to that.
__________is the man. He's continuing to progress, make great leaps, and be awesome. He's now learned everything, and just has to give up smoking, which he is planning on doing on Tuesday with the help of the Church's stop smoking program. Everything is looking great for his baptism on the 26th! We had a good chat with him this week where he told us all about his musical interests. Turns out, he's a big Pink Floyd fan, as well as of The Beatles. But, his favorite band was Queen. We had a good laugh about that and were able to joke around with him for a while.
So, I'm loving the Book of Mormon. I'm pulling more out of it than ever before in this reading. I'm glad you are all staying up to date and keeping up with the mission. It has been super cool to be able to discuss everything I'm learning with Elder Saltmarsh, and in turn to learn from him. Anyway, this morning we read 2 Ne. 3 and 4. Something that I thought was interesting is that Nephi includes all the blessing from everyone is his family, except for his. Another cool little piece as well. Read 2 Ne 3:21, then cross reference that and go read Ether 12:24-25. Let me know what you think. Indeed, 2 Ne. 2 is a great chapter. I know there is so much more in there than I could ever pull out. It is going to take some in-depth study of that later on. 
Mom, I love the packages you send. I'm glad you're feeling spoiled because you get to see pictures of me on Sister NIelson's blog frequently. I am glad you're continuing to teach. Good luck with the Doctrine and Covenants. I know you will do great with it. Don't worry, I'm healthy in all aspects. It may have just been a Sosnowiec funk or something. I do not know why I was so sick while I was there but I'm doing great now. I didn't want to talk about being sick when you called for Christmas simply because I was sick of being sick. It was a hassle, that's all, and I"m glad to be healthy now.
In other news, I absolutely love my Adam's ties. They are super sweet. I'll have to send Dad's home to him soon. We are going back next week actually, because Elder Saltmarsh and I want more. I'll try not to go too crazy, I promise.

Hannah bear, I love the whipped cream look. You're a girl after my own heart :). To answer your question, we placed two copies of the Book of Mormon this week. Kind of low, but we're looking to bump it up this week. Keep having fun and being the Doober!
Heath, who did you go with? Uncool, not giving me a name. Anywho, I'm glad you're keeping up with school, being awesome, and enjoying life. Live up high school, it only comes around once. I love you and hope you don't slip and hurt your knee! Keep on keeping on and say hi to Connor and Ben for me. Love ya
Emms, you're the bomb. Keep working hard and you'll see results. Super cool lesson about the Marathon. Keep skiing hard for me, play some killer lax, and just be awesome. Wherever you decide to go to school next year, I know you'll do well. Congrats on making it through health! Miss you and love ya.
Well family, that's all for now. The gospel is true, the book is blue, this is the Lord's work, and I'll talk to you all soon!
Elder Vernon

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Leadership Training Meeting--Repost from Sister Nielson's blog


Leadership Training Meeting....January 8, 2013

Leadership Training Meeting was held in Warsaw with Assistants, Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and a few Senior and Junior companions.  This is a semi-annual meeting where President and the Assistants train in responsibilities and "the righteous traditions of the fathers".
Top row: (LtoR): Elders Tingey (DL-Poznan), Neuner (Kielce), Gudnason (ZL- Bydgoszcz), Tiner (ZL- Bydgoszcz), Manwill (DL- Warsaw I), Skolmoski (Lodz), Van Bakel (ZL- Warsaw) and Dopp (ZL- Warsaw).  Middle row: (LtoR): Elders Baranowski (Warsaw I), Bokinsky (DL- Katowice), Vernon (Warsaw I), Wilson (DL- Warsaw II), Hayes (ZL- Katowice), Rittmanic (Lublin), Zelezniak (DL- Gdansk), Cieslak (DL- Szczecin), Jespersen (DL- Lodz) and Szymanski (DL- Krakow). Seated: (LtoR)  Elders Garfield (DL-Wroclaw), Jensen (Assistant), Mikloyski (Assistant) and Weir (Wroclaw).
President Nielson always makes sure he arrives in plenty of time to get everything set up for the meeting. It takes a lot of time and effort to get these leaders in one spot in such a large country, so every minute President has with them is important.
All Elders are here and accounted for....and on time! The trains and tramwajs were working with us today! After some great instruction from President Nielson and the Assistants, everyone was ready for a break.
Lunchtime! I have found that it doesn't matter how much you make....they can always eat more.

Zone Training--Repost from Sister Nielson's blog


Throughout the mission today, we are holding Zone Training.  This happens the week following Zone Leader Council.  What was discussed and plans made in that meeting are then taken out to the mission in District Meeting...only it is taught by the Zone Leaders.
The Warsaw I and Warsaw II Districts were together on this cold day in the Wolska Chapel.
Elders Rogers and Pofelski (serving in Bialystok), Sisters Sheahan and Allen (Warsaw I), Elders Manwill (District Leader) and Baranowski (Warsaw I), Elders Walter and Register (Office Elders) and our Assistants.
Elders Rittmanic and Peacock(serving in Lublin), Elders Kotter and Wilson (District Leader Warsaw II), Sisters Packard and Young (Warsaw II), and Elders Vernon and Saltmarsh (Warsaw I).

Part of the great Warsaw I Elders: Elders Manwill, Baranowski, Saltmarsh and Vernon. Following a great meeting they are anxious to get back to work and talk with everyone.

13 New Ties--P Day January 7, 2013

Elder Vernon and Elder Saltmarsh took a picture while they were emailing. Love the faces!
Hey hey hey family!
Sorry we're a little late to email today. We went to Adam's ties today. Basically, it's a tie warehouse where we missionaries can get ties for only $9, so needless to say, I bought 8. Plus, they let us take some of the "skazas", which are the ties that have mistakes or aren't fit to be sold, for free. So, I came back with 5 of those as well. A good haul I'd say :). I bought two of the same tie as well, one for me and one for dad, so we can have matching ties. Now that I think back, I should have got one for Gpa Ted too, but we will definitely be going back to Adam's within the transfer, so there's always a next time!
Also, about the Christmas package. First off, I'm very glad you got it! Second off, let me clarify what exactly is for everyone. All the pottery is for Mom. The purple scarf is for Heather. The pink Nike side bag is for Emma. The Nike backpack (blue and pink) is for Hannah. The Star Trek shirt is for Dad. I sent the hat home for Grandpa Ted, or for Dad, whatever you deem is best. The only stuff that was really mine were the two soccer scarfs, but those can even be family gifts. Whatever works best. Now, I know you may have divied up the stuff differently from the sound of things, and that's just fine. I just figured I'd let you know what stuff was meant for who. I'm glad everything made it safe and sound, and I'm glad you got the package! I hope you enjoyed it.
So exciting to hear about baby Kaylee! Send Adam and Michelle my congratulations!
Baby Kaylee Marie Smith (Daughter of Spencer's cousin Michelle and Adam Smith)
Ok, now let's get down to the Nitty Gritty. Who is this... Encarnacion. I mean, what happened this week.
So, J, our baptismal date is progressing wonderfully. He's the man. He turned 60 on January 1st, and is so ready for baptism. It's been so cool to see him progress. He reads from the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes a day. What a champ. We've pushed back his baptismal date to January 26th because he still hasn't quit smoking, but we have faith that all will be well. We had a couple lessons with him this past week, and a funny experience on a tramwaj (basically, trax).
So, what happened was this. We were talking to him in Polish and asking him about different language things. Anyway, he told us how we just need to talk to people, and then said "smialo" which means bold in Polish. As he did so, he was gesturing to two fine young Polish maidens that were giggling quite atrociously. Needless to say, our faces burned with embarassment, but we had a good laugh about the whole experience.
So, on New Year's we got to go to the Nielson's. That was a blast. We watched a super cool movie about Joseph Smith called "Plates of Gold." It's not a church produced movie, but it was super great. We also got to see the transfer board! That was super cool! President let us see it in his office, which was awesome. Anyway, that movie got me thinking about Joseph Smith a lot, and then, in my reading the next day, I came across some great things about Nephi and how he relates to Joseph Smith. In chapter 2 of First Nephi, I was able to compare Nephi's experience to Joseph Smith's. Especially in verse 16, I can see the similarities between the two of them. Such stories give me faith and give me hope that I can also receive answers to my prayers from the Lord. I don't need a miraculous experience, but I do know I can still receive answers. It was also a testimony builder that God knows what He is doing and will allow His servants to know exactly what they need to do. Nephi knew what he was to do, Joseph also knew what he was to do, and although my calling is not as great as theirs was, I can still receive revelation as to what I must do as a missionary. That is a comforting thing to me.
What else is new...
We are having a blast together, Elder Saltmarsh and I. It's been super fun to get to know him and to enjoy spending time with him.
I get to see Elder Bokinsky again tomorrow! He's coming to Warsaw for a leadership meeting. I'm excited for that.
Oh, also tell Kira I'm still waiting on that letter ;)
Mom, I have not got your retainer package yet. Mail is a bit backed up due to the holidays, so I am just barely getting mail from the beginning of December. I did get a package from Prenten and Rachel, so please send them my thanks! I'm planning on writing them soon. Also, for future reference, I do like chunky peanut butter. I have not received Grandma's elf package yet either, but I'm looking forward to it!
Heath, I'm excited that you're running and moving again. I hope the wisdom teeth are doing better. I love the Copper Club pic. Those are my boys! Pass my love on to them. Live up high school while you can! You only get it once. Love ya.
Emms, I'm glad you're enjoying life and going skiing. Tell James he's the man and I love him. I'm glad you're playing lacrosse. Work hard, have a good time, and do your best. I wasn't the perfect example, but I'm glad you were able to learn a couple things from me. I love ya lots. P.S. Nice hobo pants ;)
Doobs! You're the best. I placed 3 copies of the Book of Mormon this past week. All were super cool people and very excited about it. For my birthday, surprise me :). I love you lots.
Mom, Dad, you're the best. I love you lots and hope all is well. Check drafts for pictures and recordings.
Ok, I think I got everything in I wanted to. I never have enough time.
Anway, I love you all, this gospel is true. This is the Lord's work, and I am humbled and feel blessed to be His servant. Keep working hard, read the Book of Mormon, and keep me updated on what you're learning. Until next week! Party hard and work harder!
Elder Vernon

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A few pictures

Elder Bokinky and Elder Vernon in Sosnowiec.
True blue....even in Poland. We sent him the pajama bottoms for Christmas but he must have borrowed the hat and shirt from his companion for the picture :)

Happy New Year

Hey howdy hey family!
Elder Saltmarsh and I have had a great week enjoying the Christmas Season and doing the Lord's work in North Praga. It's quite similar to what you described Dad. Definitely a rougher part of town and we only walk in well-lit areas. It's been good to learn how to be street smart. Thinking back now, I've definitely learned a lot about that. I didn't know so much growing up in happy-valley Utah, but Elder Mikolyski gave me a run down real fast within the first couple weeks I was here. The reason why it hasn't really been open lately is because it's all the way across the river (look up Warsaw, you'll see what I mean) and is just kind of out of the way of everybody, but there's actually a ton of less actives out here that we're excited to track down and teach. The logistics of the mission here are interesting. A while ago, this mission was huge. As in over 100 elders. As things were made smaller though, areas were closed, and now we're only at 42 elders. Thus, I believe North Praga has been open before, but we are re-opening it right now. The lay out of Warsaw is such as well that there used to be small branches everywhere, but they've consolidated into two bigger branches because of lack of leadership, and because of it, there are something like 250 less actives in the Warsaw area. Now, this consolidation happened a long time ago, but we're still dealing with the repercussions. It's hard, because nobody wants to take a bus or tramwaj (trax, in essence), for an hour to church. That's how long it takes to get from our apartment to church, usually. Thus, it becomes our job to convince them it is worth the trip. We've been trying to focus on finding as a mission lately. so less active work isn't as big as it could be, but I'm sure we will be doing quite a bit in the future.
So, we had another lesson with our baptismal date, J, this week. He's in the hospital right now, so unfortunately he wasn't able to come to church. He did, however, call us from the hospital, requesting a Book of Mormon so he could read while he was there. Nothing major is wrong with his health, as far as we can tell. He was merely having some tests done and the doctors would not let him leave until they got the results back. His desire to continue to read the Book of Mormon, even in the hospital, was inspiring to me. He is beginning to understand the power the Book of Mormon contains and see how it blesses his life. I haven't been able to teach him from the beginning, but he's got an amazing story from the sounds of it. I don't have a ton of time today to share it with you, but I definitely will in the future.
So, an interesting experience this week. We were calling different apartments in a certain building, when an old lady smoking a cigarette came out. She was grumpy, told us to leave in not so nice terms, and that nobody would want to hear our message. Well, I wasn't quite sure what to do and felt a little bit awkward. Elder Saltmarsh, however, ignored her and kept on working. He reminded me after this experience that when Satan throws adversity at us, whether it be in the form of a grumpy old lady or not, that's when we need to keep working. Usually, it means we are close to success and there is someone that needs to hear our message right around the corner. It was a great learning experience for me and a reminder to keep pressing on even through adversity.
Another cool experience happened last night. Elder Saltmarsh and I contacted a man walking his dog. He was very straightforward with us and told us he was Catholic, but was interested in what distinguishes our church from his. I told him that the major factor that distinguishes our church from any other church is that we have proper authority on the earth today, and a living prophet who guides our church, along with 12 apostles. This man was a bit taken aback. He didn't realize everything that our religion entailed. It started me thinking just how much of a blessing it is to have the priesthood on the earth today. It indeed is what separates our church from any other. We have that proper authority to perform saving ordinances and to help God's children return to Him. What a blessing that is.
So, you want to hear about White Elephant, huh? Well, I actually brought the teddy bear, and Elder Saltmarsh ended up with it. Yes, he sleeps with it nightly :). I ended up with some sweet blue slippers. I was happy with that, for sure.
I love hearing about what everybody got for Christmas! I'm sad I had to miss all the parties, but I'm glad to see the pictures! Thanks for those. I love all your letters and pictures. They're the best. I hope you get my Christmas package soon!
Oh, you wanna know something cool? Look in the most recent Conference Ensign right after the page with all the authorities, and there are some people from Poland. The left two girls are both in the Warsaw branch I'm in! I even got one of their signatures in my Polish Conference Ensign. Nifty, right?
Dad, one doctrinal question. Who wrote the introduction to the book of Mormon? Not the intro intro, but the title page sort of deal, where it talks about the purpose of the Book. Do you know what I'm getting at? I think it was Mormon, but heard differently yesterday, so I want clarification.
I finished the Book of Mormon a couple days ago. I want to write about that too, but don't have time. Ah, there's never time to say enough.
We're going to the Nielson's tonight for New Year's, so that will be fun! Perks of being in Warsaw :).
I'm trying to get my dictionaries today along with a coat.
I love you all, the gospel is true. Sorry if I missed any questions. I'll answer them in my recording for next week.
Check drafts for pictures and recordings!
Love you all again!
Elder Spencer Vernon

Re-post from Sister Nielson's blog:

For New Years Eve, because we wanted to get our missionaries off the streets, we had them over to the Mission Home. We had a great dinner, played some games and watched a new movie about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Since our Mission is starting our reading of the Book of Mormon as a Mission, this was a great lead in.
What this also reminded us of was Lake Powell.
Seems like when we get our family together at Lake Powell there is only so much room in the houseboat around the table to eat. When that happens someone is always left out and has to stand in the kitchen and watch all the fun. (Elders Jensen, Wilson, Dopp, Baranowski, Sisters Young and Packard, Elders Mikolyski, Saltmarsh, Manwill, Van Bakel, Vernon, Walter, Register and Kotter)
We did have a great time and it was so fun to watch, listen to and laugh with our missionaries.