Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Some More Peanut Butter Would Be NIce

Hey family!
Yes, I definitely look forward to P-day! I love being able to hear from you guys and read your emails! It's so great to have such an awesome family. Thanks for always having an email in my inbox ready for me every Monday! It's such a great feeling to have a family that loves me so much!
Ok, so to get some logistical things out of the way first and foremost. Mom, about transfers, they happen in two weeks from this Thursday. In other words, we find out not this Sunday, but the one after that, on September 1st.
As for things I need, I know there was something I wanted, but I can't remember what it was. I don't think it was food related either. Oh well. I'm sure I can live without it. Some more peanut butter would be nice though! I'm running low. 
Ok, now onto the week.
It's been a great week here in Bydgoszcz. Elder R and I had a great time traveling and teaching Zone Training. I feel that the missionaries for the most part were very receptive and ready to take what they had learned and apply it. I know that Elder R and I are trying our best to live what we teach. When at first the idea came across of changing our perspective and shooting for higher goals, I knew it was going to require more work from me than I had been putting forth. But, I figured that with a higher vision, it would be easy. I'm learning quickly that it's not. I'm striving to put forth more effort and become a better missionary. The natural man is assuredly not left at home when we come on a mission, but I'm trying to overcome him more each day.
Elder R and I have a main focus for the next little while. We're striving to really nail the daily schedule to the wall and be exactly obedient with it. We feel that as we do so, we will be able to improve our work and qualify for the blessings the Lord is willing to give us regarding this work. It's not going to be an easy task, but we're excited to get to work on it and do our best. In reading a talk by Elder Uctdorf this week, I learned that it's not always smart to speed up one's schedule and simply have more to do. Real strength does not come from pure busyness. Strength comes from a sure foundation. I've noticed that my contacting has become weaker than it was. I know I need to build up such a fundamental part in missionary work, and by doing so, everything else will improve. So, it's back to basics with a focus on the schedule and on effective contacting.
I've been learning a lot recently about the power of a single act of faith and of diligence. Elder R and I, in preparing for Zone Training, expounded on the pattern that Elder R talked about regarding President Hinckley's mission story. We discovered that it was an act of faith that always lead someone out of discouragement and despair. The bigger the act of faith, the more hope they received, and the higher vision. That's not to say that every act of faith will have such staggering results. We see with Nephi that it took 3 times before he obtained the plates of brass. Yet, that's how we break the cycle. We shared this with our zone, and we think it helped greatly. As to diligence, I've been realizing just how much I can really give in this work. I may not be a perfect missionary, and I know I can't be a perfect missionary all the time, but I'm focusing on improvement, on giving more, and doing all I can in a certain time period. I'm confident that by doing so, the Lord will help me improve and get better.
A great experience Elder R and I had this week happened last night during contacting. We had been struggling with our contacting, as I mentioned above. We hadn't given out a copy of The Book of Mormon during contacting in a long time until last night. The man we did give one to, was actually someone who had met the church a long time ago, but had somehow lost contact and his Book of Mormon. We gave him another one, quickly set up for a meeting this Tuesday, and got his address. Elder R and I were where we had planned to be, heading toward a destination, and contacting along the way, and we saw the blessings from being obedient.
Elder R and I continue to get along well. He's a great companion who knows how to love those around him. I'm learning lots from him, and I'm grateful we're able to work together.
K, our recent convert, gave a talk in church yesterday! We had no idea that she was giving it, so we didn't have a chance to help her prepare for it. She did a great job. She's continuing to do well.
Another cool thing that happened was that a random guy walked into church this week. We asked him some questions and found out that he was baptized by the original missionary couple here, the Fusseks! He had moved to Bydgoszcz some time back, and just showed up in church yesterday. We were very glad to have him with us. We got his phone number and we'll see what happens in the future with him. Hopefully we'll be able to re-activate him fully and see some good things from it.
Last night, we were out contacting, and we almost got trapped by a huge storm. It looked super menacing. We were scared, because we didn't have umbrellas, and neither of us wanted to get wet. Anyway, we ended up getting home about 9:02 and evading the storm by about 45 seconds. It was some seriously good timing. We were grateful the Lord kept us dry and warm.
It sounds like AFHS is doing well and that Heather is going to own the place this year! Tell Trev and Brendan Thacker to work hard and play well this year. I'm excited for them.
Oh, I just remembered what I wanted. Mom, it would be cool to see some blog updates from my friends again. I don't want you to stress about it, but if you remember, it would be nice.
In telling you a bit more about our schedule this week, Zone Conference is this Friday here in Bydgoszcz. We're excited. It sounds like there's going to be some great things taught and some important lessons to learn.
Go Momma Vernon! You're gonna be the best receptionist ever! I'm excited for you. Tell Grant that I miss him and hope he's doing well. You'll be working with Parker's dad too! I love the Farnsworth family. Keep up the great work as a gospel doctrine teacher and being the best mom in the world!
Dad. Good luck with work this week. Sounds like they're really keeping you busy. That's good though.
Hannah! Keep being the doober and have the best school year ever! It sounds like it will be lots of fun. It's ok that Tao is addicted to fancy feast. She's old and deserves some good food. I have a poem for you! I'm in poland and I'm fat. My little sister has a cat! I wear lots and lots of ties, and I send my family hi's!
Heath, go rock the world this year! You're gonna be great. Tell Griggs hello for me, as well as Ben. I miss those guys. They're the best. Tell Coach Atwood hi for me. You'll love his AP Euro class. It was one of my favorites. Have fun while you can! High school passes fast.
Emms! That Farnsworth family is awesome! Of course they have a girl your age. Hopefully you and her can become good friends. You'll be fine with the adjustment. Just be yourself and have a good time.
I love you all! The gospel is true! Time is short, cuz I need a haircut, but I'll talk to you all next week!
With lots of love,
Elder Vernon

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm Glad I Made an Appearance at Bear Lake

Note from Mom: This is a cut out of Spencer that Emma made so that he would be with us in spirit at Bear Lake. We asked a random man to take a picture of us with the cut out and he asked us where our mission was serving. His eyes lit up when we told him Poland because he had served a mission to Poland in 1996, What are the chances of that?? Small world.       


So good to hear from all of you! I'm glad I made an appearance at Bear Lake. It's not every day that happens while I'm in Poland! What I want to know is where you guys got the picture? I don't remember that one at all. So cool that you met somebody who served in Poland too! Wow. Miracles are everywhere!
It's been a hectic week, so I don't have much to report on in terms of missionary work. I've also had some sort of weird body ache/flu that's made me sleep quite a bit, but I'm feeling much better now and it's all over with, I think. I'll give you a brief update about my week. Monday was P-day, which was fun and pretty relaxing. Tuesday, we had district meeting, then we had to prepare for Missionary Leadership Council by preparing a report on our zone--what's happened, what we're doing, etc. Wednesday we went into Warsaw super early in the morning for Mission Leadership Council, and didn't get back until late, so that was shot for missionary work. Thursday we spent some time reviewing our notes, preparing for Zone Training, and letting me try to sleep off whatever it was I had. Friday, we had to go out to Szczecin for a baptismal interview. We spent almost 10 hours on trains that day. It was a long ride. The interview went well. The investigator will get baptized next Saturday. Saturday we had a couple of meetings and I still felt a bit funky, so I slept some more. Then, Sunday, we had a great day of church and spent some more time preparing for Zone Training, which will be this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday will be here in Bydgoszcz, Wednesday will be in Poznań. I don't have any cool missionary stories this week, but next week will be better. We had a lot of stuff we had to take care of in terms of leadership.
A miracle that happened this week was actually last P-day. As I was dropping Elder D off at the train station, we ran into a guy who actually stopped us. He asked us if we were in a hurry, then told us that he had ordered a copy of The Book of Mormon 6 months ago, but never received it. He asked us for a copy, which I gladly gave him. We somehow forgot to get his number or address (possibly due to the fact that it was around 7:15 in the morning and neither of us were fully awake yet), but I have faith that that copy of The Book of Mormon is in good hands and will be put to use. He seemed honest, and willing to read.
I will spend some time talking about Mission Leadership Council. It was super good. An underlying theme was fathers and all they do for us. It's funny. Every time Elder R and I start talking about what we need to do in our zone, or begin to prepare something for a council or training, somehow it always turns back to what our dad would do or how our dad would treat a certain situation. We talked about that during the council, and it started a pattern for the whole day. Dads came up left and right, and the question was eventually asked, "What would you do for your dad?" Then, the follow-up question, "What would you do for a Heavenly Father, who's given you everything?" It was a powerful comparison. We also talked a lot about Christlike Attributes from PMG. We each had to teach about a segment and then role play helping a missionary in setting a goal for that specific attribute. It set the whole tone for the meeting in focusing on Christ and how to turn outside ourselves. The story about Gordon B. Hinckley on his mission was shared as well. The real focus was on us as leaders stepping up right now and turning outside ourselves. We're not on this mission for ourselves. It is completely for others. As leaders, we need to really take a step up and do our best for those around us, especially with the work speeding up right now. A big focus of the council in the second half was setting higher goals. We listed off some things that we feel were somewhat impossible to accomplish as missionaries, such as teaching 15 lessons a week, getting four baptisms in a transfer, achieving the standard of excellence, and then the mission goal of 72 baptisms for the year. We called it the "impossible list". We all turned around, the letters "IM" were erased, and we changed it to the possible list. We're trying to shift our mindset and expect greatness. As we do so, greatness will come.
I made an interesting connection during all of this. I thought about Joseph Smith. In his days, there were possibly some of the darkest and trying days for religion. He didn't know where to turn or what to do. That was when the first vision happened. Today, in our mission, we feel that there is a serious lack of hope. More so than there has been for a long time. Right now, then, is the opportune time for Christ to help us step up, change our expectations, and achieve greatness. The gospel is a message of hope. It's the greatest message there is out there.
Sorry this week's email is so short. I'm already running out of time. Elder R is already finished, and I don't want to keep him waiting too long. 
The new hymns in polish are exciting. We try to make it through without too much of a train wreck. We sang one yesterday that none of the missionaries even knew called "The Light Divine." That was interesting. 
I'm jealous that you guys spent some good time at Bear Lake, but don't worry, I'm not jealous enough that I'm not focusing on the work. Mom, thanks for the package! You're the best. We love the food and the shoes are the perfect size. Elder R says thanks (I have been sharing some of the treats with him). love you!
Hannah, Congrats on getting up on two skis! You're the best little doober in the world! I'm proud of you. Keep on being awesome. Love you!
Hannah getting up on skis for the first time!

Heath, enjoy your senior year. It passes way too fast. I hope your knee starts feeling better soon as well! I love you!
Emms, good luck with sports decisions! You'll be awesome no matter what you do. Love you! P.S. Never give up! Never surrender!
Dad, thanks for the talks. You're the best. I'm so grateful for all you do. Thanks for the update on the book too. I don't think I'll be able to read it out here, but I'm grateful for any hints you can give me. I love you.
Well family, remember, the gospel is true! It's the best message in the world. I'm happy to share it with all the people in Poland, even if they don't recognize its importance. Christ lives and loves us!
With Love,
Elder Vernon

Thursday, August 8, 2013

6 Day Exchange


Hey guys! How's it going? It's been a good week here in Bydgoszcz, but a bit of a crazy one as well. We had a 6-day exchange this week. Yeah, I know that sounds a little nuts, but I'll explain. So, Monday night President Edgren called us. We had talked with him a little bit about doing an extended exchange with Gdańsk, but nothing too in depth. We got a call from him Monday right before P-day ended, and he told us it might be a good idea to go forth with it. He wanted us to take some time, plan out what we would do, and see what we thought about the whole ordeal. We did that night, and we got back to him right before planning. We decided the whole thing was a go. We called Gdańsk, got people on trains Tuesday afternoon, and just barely switched back companions this morning early. It all happened super fast, but we had some great plans and made it effective. It went reallly well. I stayed here in Bydgoszcz and Elder D came down and spent the week with me. He was the same missionary I had an exchange with the week before for a few days too. The reason why this all went down so fast is because we have mission leadership conference this week on Wednesday, which means we'll be in Warsaw, and we wanted to have this exchange done before that. We felt waiting any longer wouldn't be all that effective for what we wanted to do.
I've been focusing lately on a quote from President Faust's talk in the binder that Dad gave me entitled "These I Will Make My Leaders." It says that in order to be effective leaders--or as I think, in order to be effective in goal-setting--we need to know where we are, where we want to go, and how we're going to get there. That's what Elder D and I did, and it worked very well. When we sat down on Friday to weekly plan, we talked about everything. Elder D had already learned everything that I had planned for him to learn, so we were able to set some new plans, make some new goals, and make our time effective. I'll pull from my President's letter now. I think I covered most of everything else that happened with us in that.
A principle I learned this week is that of delegation. Helping missionaries and companions get involved makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger and have an important role to play. Leaving them with too little to do makes them feel unwanted and unnecessary, and nobody wants that. Another principle learned this week is a bit harder to describe in one word. As I lead this exchange with Elder D, I wanted him to learn by making mistakes, seeing where he could improve, and then helping him to change. I stopped preventing him from making mistakes, and rather chose to sit back, watch him work, and then after, discuss what had happened with him and see what we could do to fix it and improve upon it. I found this to be a much more effective way of teaching. I could point out what he was doing well, compliment him on it, and then help lift him to the next level. I believe that this is a much more effective style of leadership and teaching. It allows for other elders to use their agency, learn from experience, and forge their own path in becoming great missionaries. A quote that I heard fits this perfectly, "We learn a lot by stumbling a little here and there."
A spiritual experience that we saw this week was when we were searching out a referral. Jedynie mieliśmy adres tego pana, i spróbowaliśmy go odwiedzić już raz. Podczas gdy planowaliśmy na następny dzień, ja i Starszy Dodge czuliśmy że powinniśmy tego pana odwiedzić, ale już prawie skończyliśmy planowanie i mieliśmy inne plany. Pomodliliśmy się, i podjęliśmy decyzję tego pana odwiedzić w następnym dniu. Zmieniliśmy nasze plany. Gdy odwiedziliśmy go, on nie odebrał swojego domofonu. Pomodliliśmy się o pomoc od Pana Boga, i spróbowaliśmy jeszcze raz. On odebrał. Chociaż on miał gości, on dał nam swój numer telefonu, i mamy do niego zadzwonić dzisiaj.
(We only had this man's address, and we had already tried to visit him once. While we were planning, Elder D and I felt that we should visit him, but we had already almost finished planning and had other plans. We prayed, and we decided to visit this referral the next day. We changed our plans. When we visited him, he didn't answer the domofon. We prayed for help from the Lord, and we tried again. He answered. Although he had guests, he still gave us his phone number and we are going to call him today.)
The Lord answers prayers. We had another experience one night as we returned home. We were a few minutes early, and we decided to visit a potential investigator who lives just around the corner from us. As we did, he let us in and we talked for a minute. We didn't have time for a lesson, but we were able to set up for a lesson today and talk to him a little bit. When we strive to make the most of our time, the Lord blesses us immensely.
I feel my exchange with Elder D was effective. As we started the exchange, I was very honest and straight forward with him about the purpose of the exchange and what we wanted to accomplish while we were on it. We talked, set some goals, and laid a plan of how we were going to accomplish it, all based upon the leadership method I mentioned above--knowing where we are, where we want to go, and how we are going to get there. Elder D set his own goals for himself, was able to hold himself accountable, and learned everything I wanted him to learn. He is a fantastic missionary. I'm proud of the work he accomplished on our exchange. He learned a lot about being a leader, about how to be an example, and about how he can take that example and those lessons back with him to Gdańsk.

It was kind of weird being with a different companion for so long. When Elder R and I got back together today, it felt kind of like we were starting a new transfer. Yet at the same time, we felt like nothing had ever happened.
We also ran into a guy named S on the street this week. He is a dad and was with his family. They didn't have time to talk, but told us to drop by this Wednesday and talk. We were excited, until we realized later that we have mission leadership conference on Wednesday, and we're going to be in Warsaw, so that's a bit of a problem. We'll try to visit them on Tuesday instead and see what happens. We didn't get his number, so unfortunately we can't call him. Speaking of crazy schedules, there's a baptism out in Szczecin this week, and since he's being taught by the district leader (shout out for my trainer, Elder M), we need to go do the interview. Well, that's a LONG train ride that will take up a whole day just getting there and back. There's another day of work basically shot, and we haven't even figured out when we're going to do that yet. It's going to be a fun week. Nothing better than crazy schedules when doing the work of the Lord!
I'm super jealous that you guys were out at the cabin this weekend and will be at Bear Lake this week. I miss boating. I won't deny that. I'm grateful to be in Poland though. I'm just going to have to do some serious boating when I get home. Dad, don't worry. Next year we'll have man time so you don't lose your man card. I'll make sure of it. Thank you for the scripture. That helps greatly. It's exactly what I needed to hear right now. I love you and am grateful to call you Dad and for all you do for me. I hope to live up to the example you've set for me, and I'm grateful for a gospel that allows me to do so. It's so true. Good luck with all your traveling this week.
Mom, I'm laughing about James' role in Shrek. It's a perfect fit. None better. I'm glad you guys all made it home save and sound, hitting a deer is definitely a scary event. Thanks for the advice. I know I need it. I get a little too intense from time to time and too hard on myself. I just need to learn that life also needs to have a fun side, and not just work. I'm working on it. I love you and am so grateful that you're my mother. I couldn't ask for anyone better.
Hannah bear! You go get them with the skiis! You'll be able to get up, I know it! We gave away 10 copies of The Book of Mormon this week! A really good week. Have a great week. Search for bugs, under the rugs, around the school, but not in the pool! I just made that up off the top of my head. Love you!
Heath, keep it up with going to the temple each week. It makes all the difference. It's a special place. I miss it here in Poland. I wish I could go so bad. Have fun at Bear Lake and make sure that knee gets healthy. Remember, raspberry marshmallow is the best flavor of shake! Love you!
Emms, Have fun at Bear Lake! It will be a great week. I'm sure of that. Keep it up with all you have going on! We'll be sure to do some great boating when I get home. Love you!
Remember, the gospel is true! This is the Lord's work I am doing and i'm so grateful for a chance to be in Poland and spread the best message in the world!

Elder Vernon