Friday, April 5, 2013

Smingus Dyngus

Hey hey hey! What a great day!
So, I apologize that I didn't get to email yesterday. I promise, I wasn't playing an April Fools' joke on all of you and that I just didn't email. Allow me to explain. So, Easter here in Poland is a big deal. Like, a really big deal. As in bigger than Christmas for some people. The day after Easter is also really big and has quite a peculiar name. It is called Smingus Dyngus. Yeah, read just like it sounds. Usually, it's like a nation-wide water fight, and everyone just celebrates the beginning of spring by going crazy and spraying everyone with water. Yesterday, that didn't happen so much, due to the fact that Poland is experiencing some crazy weather and we still have like 4 inches of snow, which all fell on Easter Sunday. It's been an interesting spring, to say the least.  Anyway, this day is also a huge national holiday and nothing is open. Thus, we couldn't email or shop, so we are doing that today ;). I hope you didn't all worry too much. Mom, I was stressed knowing that you would probably be stressed out about the whole ordeal. Anyway, I'm emailing now, and we had a great week, so hopefully you'll allow me to tell you about it.
First off, let's talk about P-day yesterday. So we showed up at the chapel yesterday, since nothing was open, and found it full of all the other missionaries in Warsaw, as well as President and Sister Nielson. Everyone had got together for a big ol' Smingus Dyngus party. As luck would have it, there was 4 inches (or more) of newly fallen snow perfect for packing, so we built a 10 ft (roughly) tall snowman! It was like we were all little kids again. Anyway, see Sis. Nielson's blog for more details. Suffice it to say that it was a great time, and nobody got too wet. Mom, I hope you're taking pictures off of Sister Nielson's blog and downloading them to our computer, because I don't have access to them, and often she takes better pictures and much more pictures than I do. She always tells us to have our parents download them and put them in our scrapbooks, so I hope you're doing so!

(Sisters Young and Lenhart; Elders Van Bakel, Manwill, Mikolyski, Boyce, Raines, Wilson, Gibby, Vernon and Tiner.) 
One other note. I'm super super excited for conference this weekend! Sadly, however, I don't think I'll be able to watch all the sessions. Now, I don't know how quickly they will have them up or what the deal will be, but if you could, could you guys email me the audio recordings of the sessions? From the looks of it, we'll be watching priesthood and Saturday Afternoon sessions. I'm grateful for the chance to watch conference all the way over here in Poland, and hope that I will learn lots from the messages the general authorities have to share.
In other news, we just received word that we are now allowed to email friends, missionaries, etc., as well as family, so that's a bit of a shocker, but a welcome surprise!
My Easter Sunday was absolutely fantastic. Church was really great. There was a special spirit there, and I love being able to worship on such a wonderful Sunday as Easter. The Jensen's, the senior couple here in Warsaw, also invited us over for Easter dinner, so we were able to have a home-cooked meal on Easter Sunday. It was a lot of fun and they are a great couple. Elder Jensen brings some incredible insights into every meeting when he is present, and it's been a real treat learning from him. They took some pictures of us while we were there as well, so you may want to take a look on their blog for those.
Elder G and I have been striving to be effective in our work lately, and the Lord has blessed us as we put in the extra effort. We set out some time this week to work in the Area Book and search for those who have been affected by this Gospel in the past, as Elder Schutze suggested that we do.  As we did this past Tuesday, we made a list of those we couldn't get a hold of by phone, and decided to try and visit them. Well, as we looked at where these people live, we discovered that there were 3 or 4 of them in the surrounding vicinity--and in a few instances in the same building--of less active members that we were planning to go visit the next day. What a blessing that was, to be able to make the time we were going to spend the next day even more effective as we sought out the Lord's sheep who are lost and need a little urge to come back into the fold. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make contact with any of the less actives, or former investigators, but we know where they are, and will be searching for them and striving to find them in the coming weeks and months.
Elder G and I were also reminded of the principle of persistence this week. We had what seemed to be a fruitless night. This was Wednesday, when we were searching for less-actives and former investigators. Well, on the tramwaj ride home, I said a little prayer in my heart for the Lord to bless my efforts that I might be able to find someone who was prepared for the Gospel. As I did so, I began contacting on the tramwaj, and soon found R, who was willing to talk, learn, and eventually take a Book of Mormon. I'm also learning that in all I do, Elder G follows, because as I was contacting, he also began to contact, and placed a Book of Mormon on his own. After getting off the tramwaj, we contacted into a lady named A, and were able to also give her a Book of Mormon, and teach her a whole street lesson. I'm learning daily just how important persistence and prayer are in this work, and what a vital role they play in all we do in life.
We had a lesson with an investigator this past week, and we invited our recent convert, J, to be on the lesson with us. J surprises me all the time with how well he understands this gospel and his growth in learning its principles. A, our investigator, was struggling and wanted to find concrete reasons that the Book of Mormon is true, but J, before either Elder G or I were able to pipe up, said to A, "But that's not faith now, is it?" J proceeded to bear testimony of the principle of faith and help A learn more about how God works and how we have to move forward in faith. We hope that A will progress thanks to these things he is learning and the testimony of J. The real miracle to me is J's progression. I'm so grateful for an Atonement that helps us to progress and move forward, as it is evident that J has done. I'm also grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost which moves our knowledge forward and helps us to testify with power. This gospel is true, the Lord lives, and it is truly His message that we share. I'm so grateful to do so, and grateful to have pondered such things in my heart during the Easter season. I'm forever indebted to Christ for His sacrifice for me, and trying daily to be a faithful and worthy servant of His, and to earn His trust.
We also ran into a man late one night who was mocking us quite rudely.  Well, needless to say, I was a little frustrated and wasn't having any of that. I told him (probably a little more bluntly than I should have), that we are here to teach those who want to learn from our message, not to argue about past events. Well, he yelled all sorts of things as we walked away, and I was a bit fired up. It took me a little while to cool off, but this is where I learned a big lesson from Elder G. He told me, "Just feel sorry for that guy. He doesn't realize what he's doing or what he's missing. It's not worth it getting worked up over." I was humbled by his response. He's definitely right. I tell you what, it seems at times as if he's training me, not the other way around. I'm learning a ton from him and he is an incredible missionary. I'm learning day by day to really enjoy my time with him, because before I know it, it could be over.
Love you all!
Elder Vernon

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