Monday, July 29, 2013

I Love You Little, I Love You Lots, Remember to Wash....

Note from Mom: The first paragraph of Elder Vernon's letter will not make sense until you read the poem that Hannah wrote him last week:
I love you little, I love you lots, Always remember to wash your pits and your pots.

Hey hey hey family!
So, first off, Hannah. Yes, I have washed my pits. As for my pots... yes and no. We do have some dirty dishes, but we're working on that. Now, did you wash your pits and your pots? I'm glad you're enjoying swimming lessons. The garden sounds like it's great! Do some chicken airplane soldiers for me in swimming lessons this week, alright? I love you.
Dad, sounds like you had a busy day! I'm sure you did great speaking all 3 times. Your story about the 3-wheeler is powerful. I know that, at least from my view, you've been a strong missionary the rest of your life after that experience. I too have a testimony that the Lord is with us as we strive to do His will. I love you and am grateful for the many acts of service you have done, whether it be for me or for others. And yes, I did receive Corey's letter.
Heath! Make sure to keep that knee healthy! We don't want you having any more issues with it. I'm sure you're being safe though. I'm glad you're sending cookies to the missionaries. Nothing is better than homemade cookies in the MTC! Keep up going to the temple. It will bless you more than you know. I love you!
Emms! How's my favorite sister who's 14 years old? Good luck in choosing what to do! There will always be more activities than we will be able to do, so it is important to pick what we really want to do. I love you!
Mom! You're the best Mom in the whole wide world. Did you know that? I hope so. Thanks for being such an awesome mom and sending me packages! Anyway, love you lots too!
Ok, now should we get on to some stories?
My plans for achieving goals this week are focused on two things. First, Elder Rittmanic and I are trying to improve our attitudes about the work--specifically contacting. On long days, it can be hard to be upbeat and happy the whole day. We are trying to change that by making sure we keep the daily schedule exactly so we can have the Spirit with us and avoiding contacting sessions that are over two hours, with exception of the 6-9 prime time. As for me personally, I'm striving to really improve my effort on a daily basis. There will always be things I can do better, and always be things on which I can improve. My goal now is not to focus on those, but focus on what I do know how to do, focus on what I'm implementing into my work during that day, and exert all my effort into doing that. I give no excuse for poor performance or weak effort, I'm simply striving to accentuate the positive side. I believe Elder Quentin L. Cook said it best when he said, "We emphasize our faith, not our fears." That's what I'm striving to implement and what I'm striving to do. Dad, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is what you were getting at when you told me to serve with abandon. I see more wisdom in that statement every day. There is no better way to be a missionary or to live life.
A spiritual experience that I saw this week was last night. We were on our way home after a flaked lesson. As we were walking out the door of the chapel, I had a thought to try our investigator G one more time. His phone was not working, so I tried his roommate, whose number we also have. He said he didn't have any idea about why G's phone was not working, but that he would try to find out. As we were on our way home, we ran into G's roommate, who then invited us over to his apartment to see if G was there and if he would like to meet with us. As it turns out, G  was there. We had a good meeting centered on one of G's concerns regarding the church. We were very glad and lucky to have such a spur of the moment meeting with G and to help him resolve his concern.
Some other cool things that happened this week was I had an exchange with Elder Dodge. That was a fun time. We enjoyed ourselves, and didn't have anything too spectacular happen. We did, however, set some great goals and I'm excited to implement them in my work. At the end of our exchange, we arrived about an hour early to the train station, so we set out to go contacting. As we did, we ran into B, who was willing to talk with us, wanted to meet the next day, and exchanged numbers with us. Extra effort always pays off in this work. B, unfortunately, didn't show up to the meeting, but we do have his number and hope to be in touch with him. 
Dad, to answer some of your questions. I have not yet seen The Work of Salvation, and I would love for you to send me a copy. We are encouraged to watch it, but we don't have any means to do so here in Bydgoszcz. We have personal DVD players for each companionship in our apartment though, and I believe we can watch it there. Also, about President and Sister Edgren. They are quite different from President and Sister Nielson, but still powerful leaders. Rumor has it that Sister Edgren is a spectacular cook. President Edgren is prepared in everything he does. He's a great leader, a very loving man, and a very kind and gentle man as well. He makes sure to give you his attention when he sees you, and he's very in tune with the Spirit. In our mission, the goal with Zone Leaders is for us to have the best areas in the mission. The assistants take care of most of the administrative work, along with President, and they try to give us as much time as possible to work in our area, become effective missionaries, and do the best we can. We go on 2-3 exchanges a transfer, so not many, and have a monthly meeting in Warsaw with the other zone leaders, sister training leaders, assistants, and President Edgren and Sister Edgren. It's a fun calling, but also very busy. I enjoy it though, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Another cool story. On Monday, I went and dropped Elder Rittmanic off at the train station to go to Gdańsk. As I did so, we noticed two german men in line trying to buy tickets. They were speaking broken english, as was the lady at the register, so I hesitantly went up and asked if I could translate. They readily agreed. It wasn't anything big, but we had to figure out a few trains to Berlin, how to transport bikes, and when they wanted to go--a process that could have taken an hour in broken english. Even in small, simple ways in the middle of a p-day, the Lord places us in situations where we can help others and serve Him.
I've been thinking a lot about what President Nielson and Sister Nielson told us as they left. There is a quote, and I firmly believe it, that the character and attitude we have at the end of our missions toward the gospel will be very hard to change. That being said, I want to go home with the best one I can.
There's so much more I'd love to say, and more stories I could tell, but I'm running out of time. I want all of you to know that I have a testimony of this gospel, and of Jesus Christ. He lives! There is no greater news than that. Because He lives, we will also. God loves us all so much. He knows us, and wants us to succeed. He did not send us here to fail, but to succeed, and to do so gloriously. We will do so as we follow the gospel. The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and was a prophet of God. Thomas Monson is our prophet today. The church was restored, and its doctrine is pure.
I love you all. Make it the best week ever! Thank you for all of your prayers and your love. Know also that it is reciprocated.
A very hot, sweaty, but happy missionary who is doing his best to get used to humidity,

Elder Vernon

Note from Mom: I send Elder Vernon a weather report each week and this week looks like
 it will be a little cooler than last week. Hopefully that will help a little with the humidity.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Another Full Week of Missionary Work!

Elders Rittmanic, Raines, Zelezniak, and Vernon
Getting ready for the day!
Hey hey family!
Wow, where does the time go? It literally flies by out here. It doesn't seem like it should be Monday already, but it is. It's been another full week of missionary work with ups, downs, and all arounds, but we're loving it. Anyway, I'll see if I can get some logistics out of the way, like usual, and then we'll start into the stories.
Mom, I'm not necessarily in dire need of garments, but if you could be so kind, I would greatly appreciate two new pairs.  Apart from that, I'm doing well with everything else that I have. I bought a pair of european shoes today for $17! They're not the greatest quality, but I figured it might be fun to have a pair for zone conferences and stuff while I'm on my mission, and $17 was a steal.
I think that's about it from my side on things that I need and what not, so let's get into some stories!
My plans to achieve goals this week are to strive to eliminate wasted time. Elder Rittmanic and I sat down and had a spiritual moment in determining what we are doing, where we want to go, and how we need to get there. I felt like this was a big step forward in our leadership in this zone. In studying leadership this week, I came across a talk by James E. Faust that talked about leadership. He specifically stated in it that a good leader needs this type of vision and must act according to it. We looked back at what we taught during zone training, and realized that a lot of the advice we gave and hints we suggested we had yet to put into our work. We then set plans on how to fix it. We've determined that we're going to count up our wasted time throughout the day, then add it up and subtract that on how many hours we could have spent working. We're not trying to focus on negatives with this, so we want to take the hours that we spent engaged in the Lord's service for that day, and then see if we can't improve it by a few minutes the next day. We've passed such a plan to the rest of the Elders in our zone as well, and it should be talked about this week in District Meeting. We hope this will improve our effectiveness as missionaries. We're not just striving to avoid wasting time either, but we know that by doing so, we can be more effective tools in the Lord's hands and achieve our mission goal of 72 baptisms.
A spiritual experience I had this week was with a man named J. Jego spotkaliśmy przed kaplicą i porozmawialiśmy z nim na temat ewangelii. Na początku, on był taki agresywny i zły, ale gdy on się dowiedział że nie jesteśmy świadkami Jehowy, on uspokoił się w miarę i zaczął nas słuchać. Podczas gdy porozmawialiśmy, on został coraz bardziej zainteresowany i miły. W końcu, my jemu daliśmy Księgę Mormona i umówiliśmy z nim na spotkanie. Niestety, kiedy byliśmy w kaplicy w sobotę na to spotkanie, nie było go. Jednak dzięki temu doświadczeniu przypomniało mi że Duch Święty jest mocny i On zmiękcza swoim wpływem serca tych, którzy są chętni go słuchać. Będziemy udani w tej pracy tylko wówczas, gdy nauczamy mocą Ducha Świętego.
(We met him in front of the chapel and we talked with him about the gospel. In the beginning, he was a bit aggressive and mean, but when he found out that we weren't Jehovah's Witnesses, he settled down a bit and started to listen to us. While we talked, he became more and more interested and relaxed. In the end, we gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon and we set up a meeting with him. Unfortunately, he didn't come to the meeting. Thanks to this experience, however, I was reminded that the Holy Ghost is powerful on that his influence softens the hearts of those willing to listen to him. We will be successful in this work only when we teach by the power of the Holy Ghost.)
A principle I have been learning this week is about spiritual power. I was thinking about it after our experience with J and Dad's definition of it, which I think was spot on. I came to the realization that I wasn't quite sure how powerful I was in my teaching or in my missionary work in general. After a long thought about it, I determined that I wasn't doing as well as I could or should. Studying this morning, however, showed me otherwise. I found that I had been looking beyond the mark for spiritual power in this work. In chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel, we are told different ways that spiritual power will be manifest in our work. These are in some of the simplest ways, and yet some of the most powerful. Little things, like being led where to go, participating in ordinances of salvation, and even having a testimony confirmed by the power of the Spirit are all indicators that we have power in our work as missionaries. These are things that my companion and I can see around us if we take a step back and see the bigger picture. I hope to take this reminder farther as I start to study listening to the Spirit more in depth. I think the Spirit's influence is more present in my life than I have ever taken time to notice. I feel I miss some of His more subtle promptings because I am looking beyond the mark and expecting the fantastic, rather than a constant stream of small and simple things.
 I feel like all the time in my studying, I begin to learn a lot about a subject, feel like I've got it down well, turn away from it for a while, and then the Lord shows me that I've nowhere near mastered all I can about it. I figure that's probably the way it will be for the rest of my life though with the gospel. As Poles often say, "The farther into the woods, the more trees." 
Dad, To answer your question, I was referring to the 80/20 rule that you often apply in conversations with people. The goal is to have them talk 80% about themself, and only talk 20% about yourself. Elder Rittmanic is ridiculously good at it. I'll try to talk to him about something in his life, and then find that he's turned it back on me and I'm talking about something from my life, all without me noticing it.
In other news, the new baby that was born into the branch on July 9th was blessed yesterday in church. While Prezydent Zalewski was heading down to do the blessing, he invited me into the circle. Don't worry, I didn't misread a head nod. I was at the piano, the only one in that direction, and he invited me. I was totally taken aback. I'd never participated in a baby blessing before, so that was a new experience! It was great though, and a special privilege. I feel that I've really started to build a great relationship with President Zalewski. He is a great man.
Lastly, if you would, Elder Rittmanic and I have been talking about ways to improve our contacting lately. We had a thought about it, and we were wondering, what would stop all of you if you ran into missionaries on the street? What could they say that would catch your attention? What part of the gospel would appeal to you? Especially if that missionary was from a foreign country. How could he catch your attention? Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
Time runs short. We've got an exchange today that we need to get ready for. Elder Rittmanic is going up to Gdansk, and I am staying here. I'll be with Elder Dodge from good old Highland Utah, and Elder Rittmanic will be with Elder Skolimowski. It should be fun. Elder Dodge was in Bydgoszcz his first two transfers, so he knows the city well. It should be fun! I'll let you know how it goes next week!
Hannah Bear, we placed 7 copies of The Book of Mormon this week! I'll be sure to watch the moon. I love full moons. Love you.
Dad, You'll do great in your talk next Sunday. I can't wait to hear about it. I love your insights to the gospel. Truly, without opening our mouths, nothing can happen. Keep me updated about your study with Preach My Gospel too! I'd love to hear about what you're learning that can help me. Love you.
Grandma, you're the best! I love you and pray for you too.
Emms! Rock bear lake, alright? I'm glad you had a great time at Girl's Camp. Keep on being awesome, and I definitely think you ride your road bike with mom and dad in the ULCER. Love you.
Heath, you are old! Haha, but really. Soon you'll be thinking about college. Yuck. Tell Parks good luck for me and wish him the best. He'll do great. I think about you guys all the time too! Love you.
Mom! You're the best mom in the whole world! When you taught your lesson on missionary work you didn't cry? No way. I don't believe it. Thanks for sharing some of the missionary stories with me. I can't imagine being so alone on a mission. It would be a real trial of faith. Aren't we so lucky to be assisting in the work at this time and in this way? It's the best! Hey, if you would be so kind, could you get me Parker Farnsworth's email? I'd love to find out how he's doing at home. I love you! You're the best.
Well family, the gospel is true! God lives and loves us all! I love you guys too!
Elder Vernon

Monday, July 15, 2013

I am Freaking Out that Parker is Home!

Cole, Parker and Miles Farnsworth. Parker just returned home form his mission
Hey hey hey family!
Well, what a week. I can't believe it's already gone. It's been a great one! Elder Rittmanic and I enjoyed being able to travel to Poznań, teach Zone Training, and having an interview with President. Before we get any farther though, I'm freaking out that Parker is already home. Where did time go? I felt like I said goodbye to him yesterday, and now he's home. That's scary. As in really scary. He looks awesome though. I think I told you, but Elder Rittmanic was actually good buddies with Parker when they were in elementary school. Then, Parker moved to American Fork when junior high started, and that's where we met. Small world! Anyway, I'm glad that he got a chance to see Miles before he heads out on his mission. That's a good group of guys right there. Somebody better tell Parker that he's not allowed to get married until I get home. That wouldn't be cool if I didn't get any guy time--and what I mean by that is some Donkey Kong gaming time--with him before he caught himself a wife. But I digress. Time to answer some of your questions.
The missionaries in my zone are as follows:
Szczecin--Elder Mikolyski and Elder Waskiewicz; Elder Kotter and his trainee Elder Hardy
Poznań--Elder Jesperson and Elder White; Sister Bown and her trainee Sister Whiteley
Gdańsk--Elder Skolimowski and Elder Dodge; Sister Swenson and Sister Barth
Bydgoszcz--Elder Rittmanic and I; Elder Stockford and Elder Allen
I think most of the people that I know things about, you already know. I will tell you a few interesting things though. Elder Dodge is from Highland Utah and went to Lone Peak High School. He's a super funny kid and actually served in Bydgoszcz for 4 months. He was here when I got here. I don't know much about Elder Kotter's trainee, Elder Hardy, except that he's from California. He and Elder Kotter are also right now tearing things up in Szczecin with 4 baptismal dates. Sister Barth actually knows Will Vernon fairly well and was in the music major program with him at BYU. Sister Whiteley graduated from Timpview High (same place as Elder Rittmanic), so that's kind of an interesting connection. They didn't know each other though. I think that is all. I'm not sure what you already know about Elder Stockford and Elder Allen. I think I've talked about Elder Rittmanic a fair amount though. He's from Provo, went to BYU for a semester, and a big time football fan. Elder Allen is from California, has a pretty serious girlfriend, he also sings crazy well, and went to BYU for a year. Elder Stockford is from Oregon, is about the boldest missionary I've ever met (no joke, he'll talk to anyone), and went to BYU Hawaii for a year. We have a fun district and it's a blast to be here in Bydgoszcz. It's a fantastic little city and I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it.
Now on to some stories from the week:
A spiritual experience I had this week was with a slightly drunk man named K. Elder Rittmanic and I ran into K on the street on Tuesday, after we returned from Poznań. He stopped us and kept asking, "Mogę się nawrocić? Chcę nawrocić się." (Can I still convert?--In essence, be saved--I want to convert). He was quite upset, and it was hard to keep him settled and relaxed. As Elder Rittmanic and I spoke with him, shared some scriptures with him, and bore testimony about the power of the gospel, he calmed down more and more. After a while, he told us "Widzę Boga w waszych oczach." (I see God in your eyes). I know that what he was feeling was the calming presence of the Spirit, and that he saw the light of Christ in our eyes. It was a testimony builder to me of the power of the Spirit. First, it helped K calm down and relax. Second, it helped Elder Rittmanic and me not only bear testimony, but view K as a child of God. Before my mission, if I ran into a frightened drunk man I'm not sure I would have stopped and talked to him. In this instance, however, I know the Lord wanted us to help K. I'm not certain how we helped him exactly. We had a meeting with him on Friday, and when we went to his house, we found out he had been picked up by the police and taken to the hospital. I am certain, however, that K was in a better state after our conversation than before.
I was very grateful for the opportunity to have an interview with President Edgren this week. It was a great experience for me, and an insightful look into President Edgren's leadership style and the way he wants to lead the mission. It's quite obvious that President Edgren's focus at this point is planning. A quote that was said during Zone Training was "When we take planning seriously, the Lord will take us seriously." I believe it. When we do all we can to prepare for the next day, the Lord will put people in our path who are ready to hear the gospel. I also talked to President a bit about my upcoming exchange and how to not only be a good leader, but how to give effective council. He advised me to take a deep look at Doctrine and Covenants 121. I'd done so a few times before, but this time I went back ready to learn and apply. His counsel has helped me not only prepare for my exchange coming up, but also in my relationship with Elder Rittmanic. For a while now, I felt like we had been doing well as a companionship, but there was still some sort of tension or something that I could feel. Elder Rittmanic and I are different people, that is for sure, and we're learning a lot from each other.Elder Rittmanic is a great people person, and I'm glad to be working with him as a companion.
I am grateful for the help that Elder Rittmanic is giving me as I learn and grow. I'm so blessed to be able to serve with him. He's a very talented missionary. He's also helping me learn how to apply the 80/20 rule. We're having a lot of fun together as well.
In other news, Our zone trainings this week were a lot of fun. We went to Poznań on Tuesday and had one in Bydgoszcz on Wednesday. President and the Assistants were at both of them, and although it was a bit nerve wracking, we handled things well. The missionaries also accepted things well. It's always fun to get out and about and visit other missionaries. I really love my calling as a Zone Leader right now. It's a bunch of fun.
Well, we also had a missionary version of a sleep-over on Tuesday, which are few and far-between. Elder Żeleźniak and Elder Raines (the assistants) slept over on Tuesday. We didn't get too crazy, but it was a lot of fun to go running in the morning with 4 Elders. Something new for sure. Elder Żeleźniak also showed us the proper way to eat Vegemite with toast, so that was fun and tasty.
In other exciting news, the Branch President's daughter, O, had a baby this past week on Tuesday! She has named her B. It was humorous, because President Zalewski is now a grandpa, so we all teased him about that on Sunday. O already had B at church yesteday too, which was a big deal. Everyone crowded around to see and meet the newest "member" of the Bydgoszcz Branch. O headed home right after sacrament meeting of course, but still a brave outing for the new mom and the baby! 
Last story for the day. Elder Rittmanic and I ran into a lady who appeared to be in her 40's or so at one point this week. She was a psychologist, had some interesting views, but we had a good discussion with her. In the end, she had me in some sort of quasi-situation where I had to act like she was a distraught mom whose 8 year old son had barely died and was left with almost nothing in the world, just heartache and sadness. She wouldn't let me use The Book of Mormon or any scriptures either, I had to just help this lady with counsel from my own mouth. Well, it was an interesting discussion, and I'm not sure what exactly came out of it, but I hope we helped her somehow. She ended up taking a copy of The Book of Mormon. This lady lives in Warsaw, so we couldn't really set up with her or anything, but I know that if she reads The Book of Mormon, she'll find exactly what she's looking for!
Grandma Fernie, I'm hoping that you will recover quickly! 40 people sounds like it was a very big party. That would be exciting to see Mike move to Japan. Who knows what it might hold in store for him.
Dad, yes I am reading the talks from the binder you sent me. I made sure to read the Stephen R. Covey one as well. It truly has great advice in it, and I'm trying to develop power behind my testimony. It sounds like Stephen R. Covey was truly one of a kind, as is Sean from what I know. Thanks for the great talks. It's a gift I truly treasure. Also, thanks for the insights about Priesthood Power. I appreciate it. It's something truly great. I can't believe how many people are already home. Time flies. You're the best Dad ever! Love you.
Hannah bear! The cat "mansion" looks awesome! I bet Tao loves it. We placed 5 copies of The Book of Mormon this week. My companion is doing awesome! We're having a lot of fun serving together. Keep being the Doober! Good job on playing piano in Primary. Love you.
Heath, sounds like you're loving life and keeping busy! Keep it up. A dull life is never any fun. I'm glad you're able to help Kelsie. That's one of the marks of a true disciple of Christ. Helping and empathizing with those who need it. Good luck getting back into dance. Enjoy the farewells! Before you know it they'll be home-comings. Love you. 
Emms, I'm running out of time, so I'll give you some quick suggestions on switching coaches. First, Dad's the master, so listen to what he says. Second, don't be surprised when changes come. They will come, and it doesn't mean that the old coach did something wrong. Be flexible, and buy into the new system as quickly as possible. That may be something completely new, or something with very minor changes. Whatever it is, be ready and willing to work hard, and just do your best. Miss you too. Love you.
Hannah enjoying her free slurpee on 7-11

Emma enjoying her free slurpee on 7-11 after a long day of ballet

Mom, you're the best! I had no idea about the change in missionary clothing standards. That's something very interesting. I'll be interested to see how it's accepted by all the missionaries. In other news, thanks for celebrating free slurpee day! I'm glad you guys did. We'll be going to get a slurpee when I get home, for sure. Thanks for Shauna and Brett's email. It sounds like they're having a fun time. I still haven't heard about a ban on backpacks, so we'll see. President hasn't said anything about it. Lastly, as for what to send with the shoes. I'm honestly doing great on everything. I'm lucky to have such a great family that sends me awesome stuff! I would love some fruit by the foot, fruit roll-ups, and some nutter butters, but other than that, I'm good! Thanks for being such an awesome mom! You're the best! Love you lots!
Well everyone, the gospel is true! This is the Lord's work, and I'm a missionary! Can you believe it? I still can't. It's the greatest calling in the world though. I'm trying to make every day the best day ever (Elder Maddix would be proud) and serve the Lord in the best way possible.
Remember, God loves us. I've got the best family ever!
Love you all,
Elder Vernon

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meeting President and Sister Edgren

Elder Vernon on the Rynek
 Naked Nathan. He's actually some famous balancing statue above a river, but he's quite naked. So, we called him Naked Nathan (direct quote from Elder Vernon)
Sunset by Elder Vernon's apartment
Hey hey hey family! How's it going? It sounds like everybody had a great, fun week, except for Emma's bee sting. There was a huge bee in the library just a second ago, but I don't see it know. I'm talking around the thickness of my thumb. This guy was a monster. Nobody would ever want to mess with him on the playground when he was in elementary school. Anyway, I digress. Emms, I'm glad you're okay and there was no lasting, serious damage. This week has been a super awesome week. Especially with going to Mission Leadership Council and getting to meet President and Sister Edgren. They are awesome! I'm excited to work under them. Sorry that you are missing Sister Nielson's blog, but I will try to update you on as much as I can now that you have to do without.
Tuesday: We head to Poznań for Zone Training--Elder R and I are teaching. President and Sister Edgren will be there to do interviews, as well as the Assistants--Elders Ż (an Aussie, he loved to hear that my Dad served in Australia) and Raines. Missionaries from Poznań and from Szczecin will be there (that includes Elder J, Elder M, and Elder K). We return that night from Poznań and we will have a mini-exchange with the Assistants for a few hours, after which they'll be sleeping at our apartment.
Wednesday: We will teach Zone Training in Bydgoszcz, again with President and Sister Edgren present, as well as the Assistants. Gdańsk will be coming down for that as well. Apart from that, our week looks pretty mellow.
My plans to achieve goals this week are some plans that Elder R and I set during weekly planning after Mission Leadership Council. We've set the goal to find and baptize a family this transfer, and in doing so, these next two weeks are going to be heavily focused on finding. We're planning to study finding, contacting, and planning in these next two weeks to be effective and skilled in our daily contacting. Using all the tactics and strategies we've put forward and making sure we are contacting to a destination is going to help us place ourselves in the path the Lord needs us to be in. Above all, we're trying to be aware and focused on our purpose.
A spiritual experience I experienced this week was contacting on preparation day. Elder R and I were out and about and a little bit behind schedule as preparation day was coming to an end. I looked at my clock, saw that it was 5:59 PM, so I pulled out a copy of The Book of Mormon and got to work. The very first person I contacted, right before 6 PM, stopped, listened to our message, and took a copy of The Book of Mormon. We were also able to exchange numbers with D and we hope to be in contact with him. Wiem że Pan cieszy się naszą ciężką pracą i jest gotów nam blogoslawić pod warunkiem naszego posłuszentwa. (I know the Lord is pleased with our hard work and is ready to bless us when we are obedient.)
Another spiritual experience I had came with a similar situation. Elder R and I were planning for Zone Training coming up on Tuesday last night. Unfortunately, planning took a bit longer than we realized it would and we weren't able to get out on the street as quickly as we wanted to. We were faced with 20 minutes until planning and decided that our best use of time would be to get out on the street and talk to people. As we set out with a destination in mind, one of the first girls with whom we talked was very ready and prepared to hear our message. She took a copy of The Book of Mormon. It may not seem like a big thing, but once again, I do know the Lord will bless our obedient efforts and strive to help us, even when all we can put forth is a short 20 minute block of contacting.
The principle I learned this week was focused on planning. I feel that everything we learned in Leadership Council was directed specifically at me. I understand much better now that to plan effectively, vision is absolutely necessary, as are specifics. I think it's similar to building a wall. Vision is the mortar, and specifics are the bricks. Without both, a sturdy wall cannot be made. Obedience also plays a role in this analogy. If we are not obedient--in other words, if we do not place all the bricks in the right places and build the wall according to directions--we will not be effective and the wall will still not be built correctly. Understanding the role we play in gathering Israel, being specific, and being obedient and three main keys that I know will help my companion and me be more effective tools in the Lord's hands and accomplish what He expects of us.
This is from my President's letter. If you're wondering why part of it is in Polish, it's because President Edgren is really trying to learn Polish, and is doing a great job. He's asked us to write portions now in Polish with a translation to help him learn. I thought you guys might get a kick out of it as well. Google translate it maybe, and see how I did.
Mission Leadership Council this week with the Edgren's was awesome! They're going to be fantastic. President really understands the principle of planning, having a vision, and being prepared. Something he said that really struck me was this, "Puny preparation, puny revelation." I believe that this is true. We can't ask the Lord for His help worthily until we've done all we can. The better our preparation is, the better our revelation will be, as long as we are worthy. He also focused a lot on not only being obedient and working hard, but doing so efficiently. He's incredibly focused on the missionary purpose. He talked to us about the Abrahamic Covenant and how we fit into the equation. It was very instructive. He takes great pride in his work, as is obvious, and makes sure that it is suitable for the Lord. He's going to be a fantastic leader here in Poland and will do great things.
Mission Leadership Council was mainly focused on planning. It was awesome. The Assistants lead a lot of it. They're playing a huge role right now in all the mission does, mainly because President Edgren is so new. I'm realizing now just how much they have to do. I've got a lot more respect for Elder M now and all the hard work he's put in as a missionary. It's a tough job.
We also extended a baptismal date to a man named G this week! It's for August 3rd. He's been very busy, and it was our first meeting with him, so we haven't met again, but we should be setting something up today. I'll keep you updated on him, but for now, he's reading The Book of Mormon and will hopefully progress to baptism!
In other news, we had a meeting with K, our other recent convert, this week. She's doing great. We talked about prayer, and she brought up an analogy we shared with her a while back. We were thrilled she remembered it. She's learning and remembering what she learns! We told her it would be very strange if we went through a whole day at home and never talked to our mom or dad. Such it is with Heavenly Father. If we don't talk to Him all day, we begin to stumble, and His influence in our lives is put on the back-burner. It's interesting. I'd never understood what Alma meant when he talked to his son Helaman and told him to pray at all times, in everything we do. I'm now beginning to understand. Prayer is so vital. It's playing a much bigger role in my life now than it ever has before. When I remember that it's the act of bringing my will in line with Heavenly Father's, it becomes even more powerful. The gospel is so perfect and so true!
Dad, as always, thanks for the great advice and counsel. I so appreciate it. As for PMG, my advice would be as follows:
1) Though it may be centered on missionary work, this is really the Lord's way to teach. As I've learned lessons and seen principles in PMG, many times I have had the thought that such a principle or pattern is how the Lord wants all teaching situations done.
2) Regarding teaching situations, commitments are powerful. Everything centers around them. Without commitments, people will never grow.
3) For me, a lot of times things seemed like they didn't make sense and that such a way would never work. Now, I know they will, and will work the most effectively, for it is the Lord's way. Preach My Gospel is directed toward the perfect, sanctified, consecrated missionary. If we follow the things it says in there, such a missionary (or person) we will become.
4) Lastly, these are not new things or revolutionary processes. These have been used in all missionary work that missionaries have done in ages past. Watch for patterns found in the work of Alma, Ammon, and Aaron especially. You'll find the things they do match up with Preach My Gospel perfectly.
I'm glad you're still willing to take kids out to the cabin and go boating. I realize how much time you sacrifice to do so, and how rarely you get to ski or wakeboard. Thank you for all you do. You're the best Dad ever! Love you.
Hannah bear! Have so much fun at ballet. Hey, I've been seeing advertisements everywhere for a new Monster's Inc. movie. Did you get to see it? Is it super good? I bet so. I'm glad you get to play with Haley. We're working for a baptism! Love you lots and lots too!
Heath, I'm jealous you guys all went up to the cabin and had fun out there. I miss the cabin tons, but I wouldn't trade a mission for anything. The cabin, hopefully, can wait. We'll definitely be getting out there as soon as I get home though and be doing some serious boating. Enjoy time with your buddies before they all leave. I can't believe they're all leaving so soon. Life moves fast. I'm laughing about your scarf story. What color was it? Was it mission appropriate? Anyway, love you! Have fun at Dixie Camp!
Emma, don't worry, I plan on doing some serious boating as soon as I get home. Not so serious that we have to go straight to the lake from the airport, but still pretty serious. Dad definitely is experienced out on the water. I've never seen anyone else slalom like he can. I don't think he ever has shown us how well he can ski at full speed either. Maybe one day we'll get him to do so. I'm glad you didn't die of bee-sting! I'm proud of you for inviting your friend to sit by you. Such is what the Lord would do. Most importantly, I know He's proud of you too. Keep an eye out for such opportunities. They're around us more than we think. Love you!
Mom, thanks for the talk from Elder Holland and everything! You're the best. I don't know what I did to be so blessed to have you as my Mom, but it must have been something good. I'm glad you all were able to celebrate the fourth of July and go to Stadium ON Fire (pun intended--and I might be singing in my head). Weird to think I'll probably be home for the next fourth of July. I'm glad you put up with Dad and Emma's escapades. I feel like they get bigger and better every year. Thanks for always taking time to tell me about your lesson. I appreciate your insights and doctrinal thoughts. 
I realized I haven't talked much about President and Sister Edgren. They are from California, President actually mentioned Uncle Rick to me before I could bring it up. President Edgren loves baseball--we talked about that for a minute. It had been a long time since I had a good baseball talk. They feel very overwhelmed, of course, but are going to do great things. I'm excited to serve under them.

The gospel is true! I'm running out of time, but I love you all. Keep up the great work, and remember, We are the Vernon's and we know who we are! Namely, a forever family!
Elder Vernon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A New Week with a New President and Companion

Vernon Family with President and Sister Nielson (missing Heather) 
Angie, Sister Nielson, McGraths, and Eric


Wow, what a week! I'm so happy you were able to hear the Nielson's speak in church. It looks like you were also able to see the McGrath's! I hope you told them hello from me. I'm so glad you got to meet the Nielson's. They are some of the most incredible people ever. I'm glad I have a family who is so spur of the moment crazy! It definitely makes life fun. Ah, I'm jealous you got to spend time with the Nielson's too. I hope you sent them my love. I'm excited to work underneath President Edgren. In talking to the Assistants, they have told us that President Edgren already speaks Polish incredibly well. As in better than a lot of missionaries here in Poland well. I'm so impressed. He sounds like he's ready to get to work and a very diligent man. I'm excited to get to know him better and to start as a hard working zone leader who takes his counsel and follows it exactly. Indeed, flipping the switch will be a vital key in making this transition as smooth as possible. Coach Knight knew what he was talking about.
Thanks for typing up the talks Dad. President Nielson talked to us about the three part road to conversion before as well. It's a very interesting analogy. It changed a lot of the way I look at doctrine when he presented it.
Hannah Bear! I'm so sorry I forgot to wish you happy birthday last week. It totallly spaced my mind. With everything going on with transfers and what not, I spaced it. I'm glad you had a great birthday though! I can't believe you are 9. When did you get to be such a big girl?
I will probably be sending a couple boxes of stuff home soon that I don't need out here. My rockports (shoes) have also seen better days. I love them for the winter because they're so waterproof and durable. My ecco's are still holding up great. I've kept them nicer and wear them now mainly for nicer occasions, such as district meetings, zone conferences, etc.
A principle I have been learning this week is of focused effort. There are good things, better things, and best things on which I can focus during the day as a missionary. When I finish my day and I am accountable to the Lord in prayer, I want to be able to tell Him that I not only worked diligently throughout the day, but that my efforts were focused on those things that matter most. In a conference talk I re-listened to recently by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, he mentioned something he did on a daily basis. Every night, he would list the things he needed to accomplish the next day in order from most important to least important. Then, the next day, he would put all of his effort into the first task until it was accomplished. Then, he would move to the second, and third, and so on. I've started doing so as well, and it has helped me maintain a focused effort on those things that I need to accomplish. When I focus my efforts, I am much more effective. I've noticed a difference because of it. It helps me not fear accountability to the Lord. Rather, I am more willing to be accountable in my nightly prayer because I have done all that I can.
A spiritual experience I had this week happened on Tuesday. Elder Wilson and I were on our way to a meeting when we were stopped by a man who had clearly been drinking alcohol. He told us so himself as well. We were in a hurry and I wanted to be at the meeting on time, but he said he wanted to meet when he was sober. He asked us to come with him to his house, which he claimed was just around the corner, so that we could obtain his business card and visit him in the future. In all honesty, I grumbled a bit and wasn't so happy to follow him, but we did so anyway. We got his business card, found out where he lives, and then set off for our meeting. I was frustrated and stressed that we were going to be late because of a setback, but as always, the Lord knows best. Our meeting did not go through and the investigators did not show up. I was immediately humbled. In my hurry to be obedient and on time, I almost missed an opportunity to share the gospel with someone else. The Lord, however, knew better, and helped us to be tools in His hands even when in a hurry.
Another spiritual experience happened on Saturday night. Elder R and I had a scheduled meeting at 7 with a mom and her family. As we were about to leave our apartment after dinner, I had the thought to take a couple copies of "The Family: A Proclamation" with us. I did, and we set off to the meeting. She was not home when we showed up and the neighbors told us they weren't sure when she would be back. At this point, I had forgotten about the copies of the proclamation that I grabbed. We went back out onto the street, and as we were contacting, I had a longer conversation with a man named R. As we talked, he expressed to me he did not want to read The Book of Mormon. We did, however, talk about authority, and he explained to me that in his church, women hold the priesthood because all humans are created equal. I was able to bear testimony to him about the divine and different roles of men and women. As I did so, I thought about the proclamation to the family, and offered to give him one so he could learn more about our beliefs on the subject. He accepted one and I hope that he will read it and learn from it. I'm grateful that I was aware enough of promptings from the spirit to take a few copies of something I don't normally have with me. It definitely paid off.

Another story from this week happened a couple of days ago. I talked to a mom and her daughter for a long time. They were complaining about polygamy in our church (nothing new, we hear that all the time) and how unfair it was. They told me a lot about polish culture and it gave me a whole new view into these Polish people and how to help them. It was a very interesting conversation. Especially because I feel like just lately I'm learning how to be a real missionary. My whole mission, when people would talk for a long time, it just made me frustrated because I felt like they weren't letting me teach them what I wanted to teach. Now, I realize that I was totally in the wrong. I'm so grateful that I'm beginning to really understand polish and I can communicate with these people. When I understand what they are saying to me, what their concerns are, it allows the Spirit to work through me to bear testimony about a certain principle of the gospel which will be applicable to them. My missionary work is starting to take a whole different light, and it's because I'm learning to listen. I'm not perfect yet, and true listening takes hard work, but I'm getting better and the Lord is helping me.
Hannah getting 2 teeth pulled
Mom, good luck with your lesson! You'll do great I'm sure. You're the best mom in the world! Love you lots.
Hannah, loves you lots too! Way to go on being brave and having teeth pulled!
Hannah (minus 2 teeth)
Heather's first time back on skis after her knee (ACL) surgery
Daring Emma and Hannah

Heather and her friends that will be leaving on missions soon
Emms, have fun boating! You'll do great and enjoy it I'm sure. I'm glad you enjoyed EFY! Take something from it and go change something in your life. It totally pays off. Love you!
Heath, I'm glad your knee is getting better! Keep improving. Enjoy every day. Soon all your guy friends are going to be gone. Enjoy it while they're still here. Have fun at the cabin! Love you!
Well, my time is short, but I love you all! The church is true! I'm grateful that our family can be together forever!


Elder Vernon