Friday, September 6, 2013

Moving to Szczecin

Hey hey hey family!
I am moving to Szczecin. Elder Manwill will be staying here as District Leader in Bydgoszcz. Elder Allen is headed to Poznań to serve with Elder Peacock, the missionary whom Elder Rittmanic trained. Elder White is coming here to be with Elder Manwill. And, Bydgoszcz is getting sisters! Sister Lenhart and Sister Ellis are opening up an area here in Bydgoszcz. I have no idea where, but it will be exciting to see it happen. As always, the next big concern is health. Don't worry, I'm getting over my illnesses. The doctor made me stay in for a couple days this week, just to make sure I got better. He's a smart man. Knowing me, I would have still been working and probably made myself sicker than I needed to be. I don't like being inside. You're all very aware of that. So, apart from stir craziness, I think I'm going to be alright. Sadly, I have to leave Bydgoszcz. I've really come to love this branch and I've been super lucky to have the Kagele's here to help. Szczecin will be quite different. The branch has about 7-8 members on a weekly basis, there are only two hours of church, and Elder Mikołyski is the branch president. Yay for humble circumstances! I had to eat a little bit of humble pie as well. I know missionary leadership is no form of worldly glory and that in no way shape or form am I more or less honorable because of the position I hold, but it was kind of hard to not be zone leader anymore. I really enjoyed it. 
As for the work in our area, things have really come to a standstill. With me being sick and the business of Zone Conference a few weeks ago, we haven't had much time to do work. I'm going to try to be all packed this afternoon so we can work un-interrupted the rest of the week before I leave to Szczecin.
I'm excited to serve with Elder Hardy. I don't know much about him, but I have seen in him a desire to work hard and to be the best he can be. That makes me pleased. I'm sure we'll have a great transfer together. I want to set some high goals with him and strive for some big things. Since he has already led 3 people to baptism here in Poland (he and Elder Kotter had a very successful transfer this past transfer), I know his faith will be high. I want to utilize that as best as possible while I can. Though I don't know much about Szczecin, I expect great things to happen.
I'm learning a lot about prayer recently. I stumbled across an article in an old Liahona from 2003 about opening the heavens. It was written by Elder Yoshiko Kikuchi. He talked about setting time aside every morning for a "daily devotional" and promised great blessings from doing so. I had been struggling with my morning prayers, so I took his advice to find a quiet place after having prepared for the day, saying a personal prayer, asking for help with matters, and giving myself time to ponder. Immediately after doing so, I moved on to my personal study. The results were marvelous. That was possibly the most effective and focused study I've had my whole mission. The specific question I had--how to more effectively provide counsel--was answered in Helaman 2, a chapter which I thought merely describes the murdering of the chief judge. It was a powerful moment for me to have a question directly answered from The Book of Mormon. It adds to my testimony that it is a true book from God.
I'm grateful to have served with Elder Rittmanic. He's taught me lessons I know the Lord specifically wanted me to learn. It hasn't been the easiest transfer of my mission, but it's been one of the most rewarding. I've come to a much greater knowledge of who God is, what He expects from me, and how to fulfill my role as a missionary. I'm excited to see what I can take from this transfer to apply in the future.
I've been learning another lesson on my mission, and specifically lately. The Lord really wants us to be ourselves while we're on our missions. For a long time, I was so focused on being consecrated, on doing everything perfectly right, and trying to be the perfect missionary, that I wasn't very happy at all. I have been praying hard looking for an answer. Finally, the answer to my prayers came in the form of a question: "Hey, when's the last time you actually were yourself?" "Well," I thought, "I'm not sure. I really don't know." Then the next question came: "When's the last time you actually had a good laugh, or just had fun?" My answer was the same. I couldn't remember. That's when it hit me. It wasn't about throwing everything away and being a cookie cutter missionary. The Lord wants me (and all of His missionaries) to be themselves and use the gifts and talents they have within the bounds He has set. It's not about focusing on what we're doing wrong, but rather on what we're doing right, and trying to make improvements. That's not an excuse to be disobedient. I'm just learning not to put so much pressure on myself and be myself, just within missionary boundaries. I'm who I am for a reason. We all are. I made the mistake of trying to be a robot missionary for too long, but I think I've finally learned my lesson about how to have fun, share a good laugh, and be myself, but still be focused on the work and not stress about every little thing.
Dad, dang. BYU seems to be the master of just coming up short in past years. Someday they'll get over that hump and lead Bronco to a BCS bowl. Texas will be a good game. BYU is always tough to beat at home.
I'm glad AF is looking good. I knew that offense would do well as soon as the kids had been running it for a few years. Tell Trev to keep plugging away. I hope he's enjoying it.
I'm glad you're enjoying PMG. I agree, it truly allows missionaries to be led by the Spirit. It allows puts a lot more trust into the missionary's hands. It's been interesting. Missionaries that understand that trust and do their best really succeed, whereas others who seem to throw it away, don't. From what I seem to have learned, missionaries who really want to be disobedient are going to be, no matter what system they are in or where they are. Preach My Gospel simply allows those missionaries who really want to do the Lord's work the freedom they need to do it the best way possible--the Lord's way. It's a great thing. Keep up the great study. Love ya!
Mom, you're the best. Thanks for caring about me. I hope you're having fun at work! You won't be able to get Sister Kagele updates anymore, but I'll try to give you the scoop the best I can out in Szczecin. Remember, there's a missionary in Poland who has the best Mom in the world and loves her lots and lots! 
Heath, congrats on getting asked to Homecoming! That'll be a fun dance. Have fun with all the activities you've got going on. Remember, senior year only happens once! Love you!
Emms, good luck with bug catching! The church is truly the same no matter where we are. It'll still be the same in a tiny branch in the boonies of Poland! Hey, did you decide on a sport to play yet? Track with Coach Bryson isn't a bad option. You'd be super good at it too. Love you lots!
Hannah bear, have fun playing with Carson! Sorry about the stink bug. Bugs, bugs, all over the place. Bugs, bugs, flying in your face! Have a great week. Love you lots!
Well family, I've got to run. There's always many things to do. I will talk to you next Monday though. Until then, remember, the church is true! And go Cougars! (and Cavemen!) But mostly the church is true. That's most important anyway.
With Love,

Elder Vernon

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