Monday, March 11, 2013

I learned the Polish word for skate board

Hey family! Wow, part of me feels like this week has been ages long, the other part feels like I was emailing yesterday. It's been a crazy week, and I can definitely say that so much has changed about how I do missionary work this week. In all honesty, my whole perspective on missionary work changed. It all started on Tuesday during district meeting. Elder J (he and his wife serve as a senior couple here in Warsaw and he's a spiritual powerhouse. Literally. He was a stake president before he came out here and when he speaks, the spirit floods the room) was given a few minutes to share some thoughts and he went over the dedicatory prayer by Pres. Kimball and the prayer of supplication by Pres. Monson (prayers given to open up Poland for missionary work). He talked all about hope and the things we need to make the promises in these prayers come to light. I don't remember an incredible amount of what he said, but I do remember that my perspective was lifted up to a higher level and I now see missionary work in a new light. It's as if my comprehension of the fact that God is at the helm of this work and that this really is His work has been lifted to a new plane. I wish I could describe it better, but it was a humbling experience and a change of heart that has changed everything I do in this work. Planning has new meaning, teaching has a new view of true conversion and not just comprehension of subject, and contacting is led more and more by the Spirit. I'm so grateful that the Lord has given me a greater view into His work, and is helping me to take a step back and view all the parts of missionary work in an eternal perspective, rather than in a "let's get through this hour of contacting" way. It's making all the difference.
I've really taken a focus this week to listen for the Spirit while finding. There are plentiful examples on where we have followed a little thought, taken a second to think about where to go, and trusted in promptings this week, and because of it, have found people. One I would like to share happened last Monday night. Elder G and I were tracting, and we were just finishing knocking all of the doors in a klatka (literally translated, means cage [ugly, right? but very fitting. that's polish for you], but it's what they call the sections of a building with apartments), when I had a feeling we needed to go back up to the top floor. We were all the way at the bottom, and I couldn't make heads or tails of why we needed to go back to the top, but we did. While we were up there, we discovered a hallway that led to another half of the building, where we were able to knock all of those doors and have a greater chance of finding someone who was prepared. As it turns out, on the very first door we knocked on this second half of the building, we met a man named M. M has a family and his children were sleeping and he didn't have time for us that night, but we set up to come back on Wednesday. When we came back, he wasn't there, but we now know about him, he knows about us, and we have his address for a future chance to share the gospel. Without going back up to the top of that klatka, such an experience may never have happened.
Something else I've learned this week is that the Lord is so willing to help us in everything we do. He puts little "helpers" in our way all the time. Such an experience happened one night on a tramwaj. A man had a California shirt on. As it turns out, Elder G is from California, and started up a conversation with this man, asking about his shirt. Well, he was nice and willing to hear our message. We were able to share with him our testimonies about the Book of Mormon, get his number, and give him a Book of Mormon. Some people might call such an experience a t-shirt coincidence, but I believe that God knows us well enough and wants this work to go forward, and as such, gives us little ways to start conversations with people that can lead to sharing the gospel. The thing is, these can happen all the time. I'm beginning to take notice of them more and more, and I'm wondering how many I've missed. For example, last Monday, I was on a tramwaj and an older teenager kid got on and had a skateboard. Well, I wanted to know how to say skate board in Polish (which I did learn how!) and started up a conversation with him. Turns out, he's a really religious person and we were able to exchange contact info and we're hopefully going to get in touch with him soon. Sometimes, these connections don't happen until we're actually talking to someone, so we have to take a step of faith and jump out onto the water (think Peter, new testament) and find that there is something (someone) there to help us, even when we fall. For example, I started a conversation with a college age guy this week on a tramwaj by asking him for help with a word I didn't understand in Polish (I might sometimes use a word over again with a different person later, but it helps to get multiple explanations, understand what it's verb governance is [oh yikes, I don't know how to explain that. Basically it's a polish thing that has to do with casing. Let's just say polish is a rough language at times, sound good? cool.] and so forth. Plus, it's a nice easy way to get a conversation started) and ended up teaching him a whole lesson on that ride, giving him a Book of Mormon, then talking to him about photography for a minute, which is what he is studying. Luckily, I've got friends who are quite skilled and love photography, so it was super cool to relate and have a full conversation in Polish.
I don't know when daylight savings time is here in Poland. The days are, however, getting longer, and the weather was warmer for a while, but it got cold again real fast. We've still got snow, so we'll see how long that lasts.
I  was able to play Gpa leo's music for a baptism on Saturday, which was super awesome. A sister in the district actually sang to it as well, which was cool! 
I wanted to ask, the church has come out with mini PMG's... is there any way you guys could send me one? It would be greatly appreciated ;).
I'm sorry, I would write little personal notes to all of you as usual, but I'm hurting on time. I love you all, I love your letters. Keep writing long ones, please! It's so great to know what's going on at home. Keep it up with the Book of Mormon reading. You can do it! I know I'm loving it and learning tons daily. This is the Lord's work. He is at the helm. He loves us all very much and because of that love, has given us a sure plan to overcome the natural man (I'm a poet!). The invitation to repent is an expression of love, and through Christ all our sins can be washed away. God is merciful and just, and only through Christ can that mercy be used, as well as justice fully met. The gospel is so great, isn't it? I love it. It's totally true too, which is the best part.
Keep the faith!
Until next time, I love you all so very much!
Elder Vernon

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