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

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