Monday, June 24, 2013

I am Staying in Bydgoszcz!

Hey hey hey family!
So, I'm super excited to talk to you guys this week. That's so cool that you met a missionary going to Poland! I'll keep an eye out for him. Elder Saltmarsh is actually training this transfer, so Starszy Fotu might be his new companion. We'll find out!
Note from mom: this is a picture of a missionary going to Poland this week. We ran into him at the Marriott center after the training meeting on Sunday afternoon.
I love this work and am so grateful to be a full time representative of the Savior. One thing President stresses frequently is that the character we will have stepping off the plane to end our missions is the character that will remain through the rest of our lives. It will be very hard to change our attitude toward the Lord, His work, and the church at the end of our missions. That being said, I want to come home with the best attitude of humility, hard work, diligence, and obedience I can. So, I've now got to go set specific goals to do so. 
Mom, Dad, I need to give you a big thank you for teaching me how to work hard and to set a plan and go to work--especially with regard to cleaning a house. We have cleaning checks today and Elder Wilson and I more than prepared, thanks to making a list, doing deep cleaning, and getting to work. I know I may have grumbled and complained then, but I appreciate the value of hard work I have now.
Well, I'm sure you all want to find out about transfers. Elder Wilson and I were almost sure we would be staying together, but alas, it was not to be. Elder Wilson is heading to Katowice (I'm just a little bit jealous. I love that city and miss it badly.) to be a zone leader there with Elder N, another missionary from our group. I'm staying here in Bydgoszcz as a senior zone leader and my new companion will be Elder R. He's from Provo, UT and is a group ahead of me. In other words, he's in Elder Bokinsky's group in the mission. He also served in Kato my first transfer there, so I know him decently well. He's super fun, and I'm excited to serve with him and work hard! I'm super sad to say goodbye to Elder Wilson though. It's ok, we'll be doing lots of hanging out at BYU when we get home. As for now, there's work to be done. In other news, another Elder I've become really good friends with, Elder R, has been called to be an assistant. I'm super excited because he speaks polish really really well, and now I can talk to him about polish questions all the time. I'm doing my best to be a real student of the language. Every day I realize just how much I don't know about this language. It's crazy.
Sister Nielson and President Nielson taking something to remember Elder Wilson and Elder Vernon
Mom, now to answer some of your questions. Yes, it was hard to say goodbye to the Nielson's. Sister Nielson was funny. She was trying to get away with just shaking the Elders hands. Well, Elder Wilson and I went first to say goodbye, and by the time she was halfway through the handshake with me, she said, "Alright, that's it, I can't do this!" and gave first Elder Wilson a big hug, then me, then all the Elders down the line. We all had a good laugh about that. She's a mom, through and through. Mom, you cursed with me with my emotional genes. I shed a few tears in saying goodbye to the Nielsons. It's ok though, I'm lucky to have a mom like you, and I can deal with a few tears. The play, My Fair Lady, was awesome! It was super fun to watch and just enjoy. A nice break from things as well. I forgot how much I love My Fair Lady as well. It's a great play. Hopefully I can find some good plays to watch too in polish in the near future!
Our final Zone Conference with the Nielsons was so good! It was a blessing to hear from them one last time. Of course, we had the tie-cutting. I'm glad you guys like the tie, and the suit. I thought I'd be gutsy and get a blue one. Hopefully I chose well. I don't know if the Nielson's talked about this too, but one of the coolest parts of Zone Conference was the ties we received from the Nielson's. When every missionary goes home, Pres. and Sis. Nielson give them a white temple tie (from Adam's of course--Pres. Nielson designed the tie) with the years of the mission on the back. We weren't sure if we were all going to get one as well, but we did. Pres. talked about how when we go to the temple, to flip our tie over, look at the insignia, and think about our missions. It's a cool tradition they have. As their final bit in zone conference, President talked to us about 3 things he knows will be most helpful to us in life. First, obedience, second, faith, and third, sacrifice. Sister Nielson talked about choices and consequences. I love the Nielsons. They're like second parents to me now. I know the Lord wanted me to learn specific things from them. They're incredible people. I'm so grateful to have served with them for this year.
As for other news this week, let's move on to some stories.

Last Bydgoszcz zone conference with President and Sister Nielson

Elders Vernon, Wilson, Allen, and Harris

The Bydgoszcz zone
My plans to achieve goals this week are focusing on one day at a time and prioritizing. I've decided to make a list of things that are most important that need to be done in the next day every night during planning. Then, I will prioritize those things from most important to least importance. In doing so, I will determine what will involve my full efforts first the next day, and then once completed, I will move on to the next thing. I've planned to do this both with personal items and with items dealing with investigators. Focusing on one day at a time will also be helpful. Lately, I've found myself either looking to the future too much or feeling overwhelmed by all that I need to do in a week's time. By focusing on one day at a time, I will be able to exert all my effort into only that day, and worry about the next day when it comes. As the Lord Himself said, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."
A principle I learned this week was valuing every contact. Elder Wilson and I were talking with a man named P last night around 7:05. I was anxious and wanted to get inside and get planning because we had numbers to take and transfer calls to prepare for. P looked a little bit rough around the edges and I was doubting that anything would come from the conversation. I mentioned to him that we were lacking time and asked if we could set up a meeting or at least exchange information to keep in touch. He responded by saying that it's very hard to get in touch with him. That was when the overwhelming feeling hit me that if we didn't do all we could to help him understand and accept the Gospel, he might not ever get another chance. I don't want that hanging over my head. So many people simply do not recognize the importance of the message we bear. I'm humbled that Heavenly Father trusts me to bear such a message. I know that as I do my part, Heavenly Father will help me and lead us to the people who are prepared. As I was thinking about the fact that people do not understand how important our message is, my mind turned to the Savior. I'm not sure how many people in His time understood the importance of His mission, but surely it was not many. If He, however, could press on through the trials that He faced, I can deal with people not understanding the importance of what we share and being negative toward it. It's an honor to be a defender of the truth. I feel blessed to be a missionary in this day and age.
A miracle that we experienced this week was on our year mark. On June 20th, Elder Wilson and I decided that we were going to work as hard as we could all day. We only spoke Polish, spent 8 and a half hours on the street, and were absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. Yet, I'd never felt more content at the end of a day. We had great success. We were able to help 6 different people come closer to Christ by introducing them to The Book of Mormon and giving them a copy. We also taught 3 different lessons on the street. That wasn't all. We had a meeting planned with a recent convert, but while we were en route to the chapel, she called and canceled on us. That caused us to take an unexpected back road to match up with our back up plans. As we did, we ran across A, an investigator who we had lost contact with, but who we felt needs this gospel badly. We were able to talk to her and set up a meeting for the next day. The more I am on my mission the more I am convinced the Lord is in this work. He knew that our recent convert would cancel on us, where A would be, and how we could get in contact with her. As we are obedient and strive to do our best, He blesses us with these miracles and experiences.
I'm running short on time, as usual, but I'm freaking out that I've already been on my mission a year. I can't believe it. I'm having a mid mission crisis. Dad, how do I deal with such things? It's not like I can buy a car while I'm on my mission. Haha, I'm just kidding, but it is weird that time passes so quickly. As Sister Nielson says frequently, we have two years to serve, and an eternity to think about it. I'm trying to do my best to make the most of every day here so that my mind won't haunt me in eternity.
Emms, have fun at EFY! Your testimony will grow immensely. It's a great place. Love you, and congrats on Lacrosse!
Heath, I'm glad you loved EFY. Studying the scriptures is definitely different from reading them. The scriptures have real power. I've learned that on my mission. Enjoy the time you have with farewells. They pass quickly. Oh, and give Parks--Elder Farnsworth--a big hug from me when you see him. He's the man. Anyway, love you!
Grandma! You're the best. I'm excited to be able to help James mow your lawn and spend Sunday nights at your house in a year! I love you.
Mom, the journals are great, thanks! Any updates on that email address? As for blog updates, you can send them if you like. Maybe once a month or so. You don't have to do it so often. Now, I'm not saying to send a month's worth of updates, just a little update on my buddies once a month. Anyway, you're the best mom. I love you!
Hannah bear, Keep having fun and being awesome! I love you small, I love you tall, I loved you back when you could crawl!
Dad, you're the best. Thanks for being a stalwart example and always following Christ. I'm grateful for your example. Keep working hard and being awesome. I hope I can watch this broadcast soon. President told us about the internet policy now. I'm shocked, but excited to see what it can do for all of us missionaries. We'll find out next week how soon we get to use it here in Poland. It will be interesting. Love you lots too.
I love you all! The gospel is true. I'm glad to be a representative of Christ.
Elder Vernon

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