Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grateful for two years to spend in His service

Hey hey hey family! Well, life is good here in the crazy Poland land. It's been a really good week. I'm loving my mission more and more every week. I feel like I now have experiences weekly that are continuing to change and shape the course of my mission. I feel so blessed. The Lord is so bountiful with His blessings, and I feel like such an unprofitable servant. I'm just grateful I have two years to spend in His service, to try and prove to Him that I can be trusted and that I will do all that is asked of me. It's such a cool experience to be here in Poland, speaking a totally different language, trying to talk to people about God and Jesus Christ, how much they love us, and then invite that person to make commitments to strengthen that relationship with their Heavenly Father. This work is truly led by the Holy Ghost, and our Father in Heaven. There's no other way it could be done!
A few big miracles have happened this week. First, when Elder Wilson and I were on the way to the train station so that he could go to Poznań on the exchange, we started to talk to our taxi driver. In the course of our conversation, we asked him if he had ever driven missionaries before, and he said he had, and that he has a copy of The Book of Mormon already. Well, we found out that he is the same taxi driver who President and Sister Nielson met three weeks ago at Zone Training. President and Sister Nielson gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon, and encouraged him to read it. There truly are no coincidences in this work. I know the Lord wanted us to talk to that taxi driver again. We were able to talk to him, exhort him to reading The Book of Mormon again, and testify of its truth and divinity. Unfortunately, we weren't able to set up a meeting or exchange numbers. He wasn't willing to do so. He does, however, have our number, knows where the church is, and knows how to get in contact with us. I hope we will be able to run into him soon.
While on the exchange with Elder C, we had another great experience. We were contacting on the island in the center of Bydgoszcz, when we came across a student named P. We were talking to him, and he told us he already has a copy of The Book of Mormon, and that he's still in contact with the sister missionary who gave it to him 4 or 5 years ago. She now currently lives in Alaska and has her own family. I was a bit surprised that he was still in contact with her, and continued the conversation on the subject of The Book of Mormon. He never read much of it, and wasn't very interested in talking about it, but something told me to keep talking to him, even if it be on a different subject. I recognize now that it was the Spirit. We talked for a minute about what he was studying, and in the course of the conversation, he told that he had come to the island that day to get away from everything and think about life for a while. A girl from his high school class that he knew well had just died a few days earlier and P was struggling with the whole situation. I felt prompted to give him Alma 40 and 41 to read, specifically highlighting Alma 40:11. Elder C and I were able to bear testimony to him about how The Book of Mormon can provide him comfort in this situation. P wasn't willing to exchange numbers, or meet with us, but I do feel I will see him again. I hope what we shared with him affected him for good, and that he has a better understanding of his relationship with God now because of it.
Elder C and I had a great exchange. Something I've been learning on my mission is that setting an example is much more powerful than words. That's something I've been striving to implement in my work lately. I can't ask the missionaries in this zone to move forward, progress, and follow counsel from me and other leaders if I'm not doing so myself. I continually see the wisdom in the statement President Nielson has shared with us missionaries that a leader is most effective when he is a good follower.
Elder Wilson and I are getting along spectacularly. I love him. He is an incredible companion, and a powerful missionary. I learn from him daily, and we are setting goals and making plans to make the best of our time together. We had a bit of an "aha" moment last night after we taught a lesson, and we realized that we have so much more work to do in regards to teaching people and not lessons. The Lord is continually giving us increased vision so that we can perform His work more effectively. When we view these investigators with the perspective of the Plan of Salvation, we began to understand where they are, what commitments they need, and what doctrine we can teach to help them accept that commitment. We made sure to take notes, set goals, and make plans right then and there to change our work to be more in accordance with how the Lord wants it done. As we evaluate lessons and how these investigators are doing, these miracles are prevalent. I'm so grateful the Lord is giving me the privilege to serve with Elder Wilson right now. He's helping me to become the missionary I know I need to be. I hope I am helping him do the same.
As for some other stories, Elder Wilson had a crazy cool miracle this week. He was on the way back from Poznań when he ran into a lady named M. Well, we contacted her 3 weeks ago on the street right after zone training, gave her a Book of Mormon, set up with her for a week or so later--which she unfortunately did not show up to--and we expected that to be the end of it. Nope! Elder Wilson saw her in the train station in Poznań, talked to her, and ended up being in the same compartment as her on the train home! He taught her a lesson, was able to get her phone number (which we did not have before), and set up with her again! Wow, there are truly no coincidences in this work. Unfortunately, she did not show up to the next meeting either, but we have her contact info. The Lord must really want her to receive the Gospel. We'll keep you updated on her.
As for K and S, we haven't meet with either of them this week. K is super busy until the end of June, and we're struggling to get a hold of S. Thus, neither has a baptismal date for the time being. We hope to see things start happening with them soon. I will keep you all upated.
We've kind of been teaching a kid named G as well. He's a karate expert. He comes to English class, and actually talked to us about the gospel for a while afterward. We shared Ether 12:4 to start the lesson (we always start with a spiritual thought. We're missionaries, can you blame us? Plus, it says to in our English manual) and it really struck him. He thinks a lot of people in this world are lacking in faith. We were able to talk to him for a while, invite him to seminary next week to study the scriptures with us, and we are meeting with him tomorrow to talk about the Book of Mormon. Even in the little testimonies we share, like at the beginning of an English lesson, someone can be affected. That's the power of the Holy Ghost!
Well, that's about all I can think of for stories. Mom, I'm super glad you got the pottery all safe and sound! I was worrying about that, so I'm glad nothing happened to it. It looks like you guys are loving it too! Have fun eating with it next week. Sister Kagele had told me you got it, so I was glad to hear it.  I'm so lucky to have a great mom like you. Keep an eye on that blog, because I'm going to be on it this week! We've got mission leadership council on Thursday in Warsaw, which will be a blast. I'm excited for it.
Dad, I'm jealous you guys are all out at the cabin. I can't wait to get out there again after the mission (still not being trunky!). Good luck with the cold showers at the cabin. Our apartment has a funny thing about it. It doesn't get hot water until around 6:30 or 6:45 in the morning, so Thursday, when we head into Warsaw, we'll be taking a cold shower too. It's a very cold shower as well. We have to catch a train at 7, so it's "up and at it" early for Elder Wilson and I. You're the best dad. Keep up the great work.
Hannah bear, I had a great week. We placed 11 copies of the Book of Mormon this week. Have fun finishing school.
Emms, get healthy! You'll do great at AFJH, don't stress it. Keep on being awesome.
Heath, Have fun with school and everything. How was cavestock? I'm glad you approve of the penny pass down. Who are the other pennies going to?
Well, the church is true. I am running out of time, but I love you all. Keep the faith, and I'll talk to you in a week!
Elder Vernon

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