Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to Emma!

Hey howdy hey family!
Please understand my enthusiam through my capitalization of all letters in that phrase. Somebody across the world just yelled that while emailing in an email cafe somewhere in Szczecin. Or not. But you'll never know! At least not for a while. Ha, I think I'm starting to turn into Dad. I have no qualms about doing random embarassing acts in front of everybody anymore. I guess that's what having a black name tag that everyone stares at does for you. And sticking out like a sore thumb. Add into that the fact that we don't fit in here because we're american and have nice accents, and you've got a great combo for success for someone who wants to get used to being stared at and no longer getting embarassed by anything! Missions are the best! I'm going to be so weird when I get home. It's ok though, we don't talk about that strange far away land called America here in Poland. That's only just a dream, and won't ever happen.
So, on to some stories, alright?
This week was a great week! I'm excited to be in Szczecin and serving with such a great district. We unfortunately have yet to find a family to teach, but we have seen some good success with teaching on the street. We're still searching for an investigator to help progress to baptism and activity in the church, and we have faith that we will find one. A few tactics we're striving to improve on are our questions we ask, how to begin teaching, and setting out a 2 hour block every day where we strive to speak only Polish. As we strove to reach our goals of being out at 11, and only spending an hour for lunch, we saw an improvement, but we lost a focus on them later in the week. We've got to get back into reaching for them this week.

For District Council, I'm planning on focusing on the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion. I want to especially emphasize letting the Holy Ghost testify as we teach and asking good questions that will invite Him into our teaching. Elder M has especially mastered this skill and I am inviting him to share some thoughts, insights, and some of his knowledge with us on the subject. I know that as we ask inspired questions given us by the Holy Ghost, our teaching will improve and investigators will progress even more.

The exchange I had with Elder F went very well this week. I was pleased to serve with him and do some great work. He's a great Elder and has a great mission in front of him. I felt a little strange going into the exchange not having anything specific to teach him during companion study and trying to do it by example instead, but I think he caught it in the end. I'm not a perfect missionary and I've got a lot to improve on, but I feel that the Lord was pleased with my efforts for this exchange. We set some good goals as well.

I'm learning recently about how much the tone and pace of the missionary work of Elder H and me is set by me. Throughout my mission, I've found it easy to blame different issues on my companion, or just saying, "That's just the way it is." I don't want to do that anymore. I'm determined that the pace, expectations, and tone of my missionary work will be set by me and what I feel the Lord expects of me. I'm not perfect, and I know I have flaws, but I don't want those flaws to hold me back from the work that I could be doing.

A great spiritual experience Elder F and I had on our exchange came on Wednesday right before lunch. It was about 12:58 and we had lunch planned at 13:00. We were standing in front of the apartment, and we were about to go inside. We decided to continue on and try to find one more person to talk to. We did, and we found D, a 20 something year old guy who wanted to learn about The Book of Mormon. We were able to teach him a street lesson and give him a copy of The Book of Mormon. I know that as we are diligent and strive to be obedient the Lord blesses us.

Elder H and I are doing well and getting along great. I'm so grateful to have him as a companion. He's got a great work ethic, speak polish well, and is a great missionary. I'm a lucky senior companion.

In other cool news, we Dan Jones'ed a bit this week. Let me explain a bit. That means we got up on a ledge on the side of the street and while people walked by we just tried to preach and talk to them and have our companions talk to those walking by and try to teach them. It was a bit scary (strangely, not as much as I thought it would be. I think it helps doing it in polish because it just seems different) and it didn't seem super successful right off the bat, but I think we could definitely get some self-referrals (people who ask for a missionary visit online) from it soon. We'll see. It was at least fun to feel like a missionary of old preaching to the crowds. All of us did it for a bit too. Even Elder F and Elder H, who were both super scared because their polish is still a little fresh and improving. It was awesome.
I also got interviewed by the radio this week here in Szczecin. It wasn't anything big. I just met a reporter on the street, and he instantly pulled out a microphone and asked a few questions. He wanted to watch us contact and record some of it, but we didn't feel that was too appropriate. We called President Edgren about it and he agreed. Anyway, I still made it on to polish radio, speaking all in polish! That's not an everyday feat. President Edgren gave us a big compliment too. While I was on the phone with him, he said he trusts out judgment out here. That's the reason why he placed Elder M and I out here, because we're both veteran missionaries and he trusts our judgment with whatever we do. That's humbling. Mission Presidents have so much trust for their missionaries. It's incredible.

Well, in other news, Conference is this week! We're so excited out here. It's going to be a huge party. I think missionaries get more excited for conference than they do for Christmas or anything else in the world. It's pretty crazy. I don't think we have a limit either on how many sessions we are allowed to watch, so we'll probably watch as many as we can on Sunday! It'll be exciting. Since Elder M is branch president, he's got computer privileges. Thus, we're good to go for conference watching! It's going to be the best. I hope you all will watch it as well. We're so lucky to have a prophet and 12 apostles who speak to us for God and show us what his will is. It's going to be a great experience. Plus, this marks the 50th anniversary of President Monson being called as an apostle. How's that for a long service? I'm excited to see what will happen.

I apologize that I don't update you very much on our teaching pool. The truth of the matter is, we don't really have one. We do a lot of teaching on the street, but it rarely seems to lead anywhere. It's kind of sad, but I know the Lord has people here being prepared and searching for the gospel. We've just got to find them. Plus, I still like what you said Dad, in an email a while ago, about how when we do all we can, we can stand back and watch the Lord's hand work. Sometimes that does mean spending a lot of hours on the street and teaching lots of first lessons that don't seem to go anywhere, but I am confident that good will come of all of this. It has to. This is the work of God and will not be stopped by any man-made devices or strategies.
One of the members here who was just baptized 3 months ago, had his birthday this week. We had a little party for Branch Family Night last monday. It was fun. The quote from Robert C. Gay's talk in conference a year ago comes to mind, "May our lives of service confirm that God forsakes no one."  I think that is very true. 2 young kids in white shirts and ties reached out to him a couple of months ago, and it's changed his life forever. God cares about all of us. I'm sure of it.

Oh, Emms, I don't know if I ever told you, but I did get your letter you sent a while ago. Thanks! I'll try to respond when I can. Time is hard to come by out here sometimes.
Thanks for all the voice recordings! I love hearing them. They're the best. I just have the best family in the whole wide world. That's all I have to say.
Dang it! No. AF lost? Bummer. It's ok. I think this will fuel their fire for the rest of the season. Hopefully they can make a good run into the playoffs and make some good things happen. Coach Behm and Coach Lehman will make sure that things go well. I'm so lucky that I was able to play under them. They're some of the best coaches I've ever had. Heath, tell them hi for me, will you? Thanks!
Go Cougars! It'll be interesting to see what happens next week with Utah State. 
Hannah bear, way to go on your solo! We placed 13 copies of the Book of Mormon this week! Hey, are you and Dad preparing for Halloween? You're the best littlest sister ever! Love you!
Mom, I get excited for Monday mornings too because it means I get to email my family! And hear from them. It's the best. Poland weather is cooling off as well, but we're doing well. Thanks for the thermals. Ah, snow in the mountains? Dang. I miss my mountains. Poland has none of them. But, there are other benefits here, like the polish language! I don't get to speak that everyday. Tell Grandma Fernie happy birthday for me and that I love here, ok? Thanks. Keep up the great work! Love you.
Heath, there's no way you can be applying for colleges. That's so not cool. I feel super old now. What are your plans? Are you going to try to get into the Y, go somewhere else, what? You know, we could go to the same school for the first time in forever if you go to the Y. That would be cool, and probably a little bit different. Keep enjoying school, dance, and the works. Hey, did you know Elder L's sister? She just emailed Elder M. I guess she's at Juiliard dancing right now. I think you did Ballet with her, right? Anywho, small world. Love you!
Emms! CLEAR THE ROADS!!!!! NOBODY IS SAFE WHEN EMMA IS DRIVING!!!! Just kidding. I have complete confidence in your driving skills with your permit....... I'm glad you met Mr. Bryson. He's one of my favorites coaches ever. There's nobody quite like him. Hey, enjoy life at the AFJH. It's a great place. Love you lots!
Dad, you're the best. Keep up the great stuff with missionary work in the stake. I know they're all the better for it. Acting as an investigator is the best. That's when I learn the most. Role plays are some great stuff! I'm actually planning on doing the feeling the spirit activity this week in District Council. It's a great thing to do. I agree. We don't really know something until we can teach it. It's the truth. Hey, love you lots. You're the best Dad in the world.
Hey, the gospel is true! I can't wait for conference! I'm forwarding the video of me on the radio, but I'm not sure which one it is, so just watch them all until you hear it. I saw hannah's video of water skiing for the first time just barely. Way to go Hannah!
Well, with love and hugs and a heart that's true, here's another email from Poland to you!
Elder Vernon

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