Monday, October 28, 2013

The Lord's Hand has been at Work in My Life

Hey howdy hey family!
So, another week is come and gone, and it's crazy to think how fast time goes. Elder Hardy and I have been enjoying ourselves and working hard, and although we haven't seen any major successes, we're doing what we can. Elder Hardy has been a great companion and I've enjoyed serving with him. We have transfer calls coming up next Sunday, and we're not sure what's going to happen. It's a pretty big toss up. Things look like I'll be staying in Szczecin, but we have no idea if Elder Hardy and I will stay together or what. I haven't been with a companion two transfers in a row my whole mission. I don't know it if will happen or not. Anyway, it's kind of exciting. There's always a bit of stress and anxiety that happens the week before transfers. It's all part of the fun of a mission.
It sounds like you've all had a great week. I'm glad AF got a good win against Wasatch. I would have loved to have played them my senior year, but alas, it wasn't to be. Sleeping on the field sounds like a lot of fun too! I'm glad Trev stuck with football and has enjoyed it. He's a good kid. BYU looked really good, huh? Sounds like it. Beating Boise State is never easy, but it sounds like we put a bit of a whooping on them. Our schedule continues to get better and better as well. Wisconsin and Notre Dame? Plus Texas, Georgia Tech, and Boise State? Add Utah into the mix, and that's a whole lot of solid games. You know, I wasn't totally sure about the independence move when it happened, but as far as the schedule is looking, it looks pretty good now. What's BYU's record anyway? I'm getting carried away. Anyway, I just love BYU Football.
Anyway, let's get on to the week, huh?
Our plans for the week are to continue our member relations. I'm just beginning to realize the importance of these relations in everything we do. I think we can do a lot in heping our members do missionary work. It's something I've just kind of neglected during my mission, preferring to just hit the street and contact. As I've thought about it though, I know it's something that is important and will help these members not only now, but in the future as well as the church continues to grow.
For District Council I want to do something a little bit different. I was reading in the scriptures today, and felt that I should do a District Council for the end of the transfer focused on seeing how the Lord has blessed us this transfer and how His hand has been at work in this work. I don't have the whole idea completely figured out yet, but I feel confident that it is what the Lord wants me to teach and cover tomorrow.
A lesson I've learned this week is how much the Lord's hand has been at work in my life. Elder Hardy and I were talking a little bit after planning this week, and we began talking about how the Lord's hand has been in our lives and how it helped us get on our missions. I came to a deeper appreciation of the things the Lord has done for me and just how much He still does. It was a very instructive experience. I feel that I'm continually learning of the Lord's love for me. I don't quite know how to describe it, but I think it's deeper and stronger than I could ever realize. I think it's going to take me a lifetime, and maybe more, to realize how much the Lord does for me and for all of His children.
A spiritual experience I had this week was when Elder Hardy and I were contacting. The thing I love most about contacting is how quickly and how easily spiritual experiences can be seen almost every day. I looked across the way and saw a rough looking man. I thought to myself that he wasn't ready for the gospel and tried to make an excuse to just keep walking, but the Spirit nudged me to go talk to him. I debated for a second, but in the end, I made my way over there. Well, his name was D, and although he had already had a few beers that night, he gave us his number and told us sincerely that he wants to meet and stop drinking. He was a very honest man and I'm hoping that good things can and will come from our encounter.
Elder Hardy and I are doing well. Elder Hardy is a great, dedicated and diligent missionary. I'm enjoying serving with him. I know the Lord wants us to be together right now as well, for we are learning from one another and helping each other grow. It's a blessing to be his companion.
There have been some other cool and exciting things that have happened as well. First, we went to see a less active member with the Gays this week on Friday. It was a great meeting. I've been serving as translator a lot now since they speak little to no polish. It's been a bit of an adventure, and my vocabulary has been tested a bit, but we've done alright. It's all part of the fun.
We also went and helped the Gays with their legal work this week. That was a bit of an adventure. We had to go back and forth between two different buildings a couple times, ended up walking into an office into which we definitely were not supposed to go (don't worry though, they were nice and redirected us to where we needed to be), and I again had to serve as translator for the whole ordeal, which was much more in depth than I ever expected (not in terms of personal information, but just in terms of making sure everything was filled out correctly). But, the Gays made lunch for us (they're way too nice, but it's hard to say no. Sister Gay is a really good cook. She comes from a small town and had like 12 or 13 kids. She's made a lot of meals in her life) and it's hard for two 20 year old boys to say no to free food. So, it was worth it.
Mom, in terms of musical stuff, I'm currently also teaching one of the members here how to conduct. We haven't had anyone to do that in a long time, so it will be good to have someone doing it. Sister Gay is also helping. She's a good pianist and knows her stuff, so it's been helpful. Thanks for making sure I knew how to lead. It definitely paid off, as have the piano lessons. I love playing the piano now, and it's been a huge blessing here in Poland. I have a strong testimony of the hymns and the Spirit they bring. It's a wonderful thing. I'm still teaching piano lessons as well. They haven't been quite as frequent or intense lately, but hopefully they'll continue to make progress. Those books are very helpful, so thank you for sending them!
I'm learning more and more about what the early church must have been like. I was asked on Thursday by President Edgren to release Elder Mikolyski and call Elder Gay to be the new branch president yesterday. Elder Gay doesn't speak polish, so he's asked me to be his translator for any sort of branch business he's going to have to do.
Dad, have a super great birthday! I can't believe you're going to be 50 in a year. At least that won't be until after I'm home though. Anyway, are you going to go watch Tapestry for your birthday, like usual? I hope so. Thanks for being the greatest Dad in the world and always helping me here in the work, and at home. I couldn't have asked for a better example or a better Dad in my life. I'm the luckiest kid in the world.
Hey, I got all your letters from family home evening this week! Thanks for sending them! It was great to get them all. I have the best family in the whole world.
Anyway, about those letters... Heather, Keep on being awesome and enjoying high school! It's the best time in the world. Good luck with your ACT stuff. As for your other question in the letter, the best thing that helped me with my scripture studying was something that Bro. Perry, one of my seminary teachers did. He told us a quote from his mission, which is as follows: "If you fail to read from the standard works every day, you will lose your spirituality." He then asked us to make a commitment not to miss another day of scripture reading our whole lives. He didn't force us to do it, but encouraged us to do so. I did, and I still have the sticky note in the front of my scriptures. It was Jan. 9, 2011 I think. Somewhere around there. Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, I have not missed a day of scripture reading since then. It hasn't always been the best reading, but I've at least read something every day since that day. As for Hannah Ashby, I knew her older sister Whitney a little bit, but never met Hannah. I'm glad you became good friends with her. From everything that I saw from that family, they were great people.
Emms, do you have Mr. Dibb as your science teacher? He would do the same thing with my class. He's awesome, and super funny. I rememer that class well. Be sure that when March Madness rolls around, the games will be broadcast in his classroom. Yeah, he's that awesome. I'm glad you're enjoying junior high. Yes, I did walk those halls once upon a time. I've got a lot of memories from that.
Hannah bear, good job on dancing! You keep on being awesome, ok? Ok, sounds good.
Dad, thanks for the insights and updates. I enjoy hearing what Pres. Scoresby talks about and what not. He's an incredible man, that's for sure. Have a great birthday and keep being the best Dad in the world!
Mom, you're the best. Thanks for everything. Don't worry, your motherly advice is definitely needed. I'd be lost without it :). You know me, I have no common sense. Anyway, you're the best Mom ever, that's all.
I love you all greatly! Keep up the great work and remember, the gospel is true!
With love,
Elder Vernon

October 21st Letter

Hello hello hello! Well, it sounds like everyone had a super great week. Please give Marty, Sally, Carrie, Logan, and Grandma Fernie my warmest regards! I had a good laugh at the joke as well!
I'm excited to get this next flat rate envelope. Knowing all you, it's going to be a good one! I've got the greatest family in the world, that's for sure!
As for us this week, we unfortunately didn't have a baptism. J is back in the hospital and has turned off his phone.
As for the referral, L and his wife, U, had us over for lunch yesterday. It was super awesome! They're some super nice people. It was great to have a real home cooked polish lunch as well. It was some really good food. They said we're the third pair of missionaries they've had over for a visit, so the Lord is definitely not forgetting about them.
For District Council this week I want to focus on the Book of Mormon and the role it plays in conversion. I want to focus role plays on commonly asked questions on the street and how to deal with them. Sometimes, we encounter objections or questions that make us step back and realize we don't know how to answer. Finding answers now will help us answer them in the future when we encounter them again.
I could talk about many experiences this week. I've seen the hand of the Lord abundantly in the work and in everything I do. I think the one I want to talk about, however, is last week's District Council. I prepared everything in my studies and had my layout ready to go, but ended up forgetting it at home. I discovered that frightening fact about 5 minutes before District Council was about to start. Suprisingly enough to myself, I didn't get too worried. I had prepared well, and I simply taught without notes. In my opinion, it was the best District Council I've taught to this point on my mission. I could feel the Spirit with me and working through me. I feel like I incidentally made a great step in learning how to teach by the Spirit. Now, in the future, I'm not so sure I want to take my notes with me to teach. Of course, I will still plan and make a layout, but I may just end up leaving it at home once again!
Another lesson I learned was in 3 Nephi 11. I wanted to study about how to better recognize and feel the Spirit in my life, and what I could do in order to do so. Well, in reading about the Nephites hearing the voice from heaven 3 times, I discovered a pattern that allowed them to hear it the third time it spoke. Something changed. They opened their ears to hear it, and were looking steadfastly towards heaven. I thought about that. I think that is comparable to our lives. In my mind, we have to open our hears to the Spirit, which means creating an environment for ourselves which is conducive to his presence. I've heard it said that the Spirit is a perfect gentleman. If he is not welcome, he will quietly leave. I believe it. The second point, looking steadfastly towards heaven, I felt was representative of us aligning our will with God's. If we simply want something to be our way, we're not looking towards heaven. Yet, we when are humble and want to understand what God wants us to do, and not what we want, that is when we look up towards heaven and begin to allow the Spirit to speak to us. Of course, these are lessons I already new, but it was a great experience to see them displayed in such a way and to make new connections about them.
Elder Hardy and I are getting along great. We're becoming great friends. It's a pleasure to serve with him and I'm glad I'm learning lessons from him that I know the Lord wants me to learn.
Elder and Sister Gay have arrived in Szczecin! They're a huge blessing in this branch. I'll be honest, we needed a woman's touch here for a long time. We 20 year old boys sadly just can't quite figure out how to run things sometimes.
I made a really cool connection with my studies of the Atonement this week. I was trying to study teaching in unity, and came to the conclusion that without companionship unity, there is no way that teaching in unity will ever work. I think that's the big secret to teaching in unity, honestly, is having good companionship unity. Well, I thought about how God and Christ want us to be unified with them, and with those around us in our families, wards, areas, etc. As Christ has said, "If ye are not one, ye are not mine." Well, I looked up the Atonement in the BD and realized that the atonement is what brings us back into unity with God. As humans, when we sin, we estrange, or pull ourselves away, from God. The atonement is what reconciles us and brings us back into that unity--it sets us "at one" with God. Of course, we know this already, but seeing it in this new light was a cool experience. It began to make much more sense. The fall, then, also becomes a much better symbolistic teacher when viewed in this light with the atonement. What a beautiful plan the plan of Salvation is. I love it. The gospel is the best.
Keep up the great work Emms! You're a busy girl, but I know it's worth it!
Hannah Doober! We placed 6 copies of the Book of Mormon this week. I can't wait to see your ladybug costume. It will be great. Thanks for the poem!
Heath, it makes me feel old when I don't know who your dates are. Anyway, I'll keep thinking about your dare idea. Keep up being awesome and enjoy high school! Tell Coach Atwood I say hello.
Dad, I ended up being able to download all of conference from the branch computer thanks to Elder Mikolyski's branch president capabilities, so I'm actually good. Thanks a bunch though. I would love a hard copy of Elder Nielson and Elder Dube's talks, however, if that's not too much trouble. You can just email them and I can print them off. Thanks for the spiritual thoughts and advice. I love them and they always help. You're the best dad ever! Oh, hey, any news on the new scriptures?
Mom, I'm feeling a lot better. Don't worry. I'm exercising. Sorry, I'm out of time, but I love you and miss you all. I'm doing well, and am happy and proud to be engaged in the great work of salvation. It's the Lord's work for sure!
With lots of love and hugs,
Elder Vernon

October 14th Letter

Hey hey hey family! I hope you've all had a great week. I know it's been a good one here in Poland. I'm enjoying life and enjoying the chance to be a missionary.

Elder Hardy and I have decided this week to make a concentrated effort on learning and teaching the message of the Restoration, the 1st lesson in Preach My Gospel. We liked what was taught at Zone Training about focusing on the first discussion and striving to master it as we teach and work here in Poland. We know that as we focus on it and strive to teach it to the fullest, our efforts will be seen by the Lord and He will help us in His own work.

For District Council this week, I am focusing on commitments. I know that as we strive to do the best we can with commitments, the Lord will help us to move investigators along the path to baptism. If there has been one weakness that I have seen in many missionaries, including myself, during my mission, it has been that of commitments. I feel that we as missionaries just don't do a very good job of extending them, nor of following up. If we can improve on that, the work will move forward at a faster rate.

A miracle that I saw this week actually started last Monday. My family was able to provide Elder Hardy and me with a good number of referrals. My mom was talking to a lady at her work when the conversation turned to my mission and that I was in Szczecin currently. This lady's husband has family here in Szczecin. Long story short, they provided us with around 5-7 names here in Szczecin of people we can go visit. Elder Hardy and I tried to visit them on Tuesday, but with little to no avail. Well, on Thursday, one of the referrals we were given actually showed up at the chapel looking for us. We hadn't had contact with this man, L, before this, but he had heard me on the radio thanks to the interview I did. He actually got in contact with his family in my hometown, and came searching for us. We were able to talk to him a little bit, and have actually set up a meeting with him this Wednesday. L is a sailor, and leaves next Sunday to go to sea for 4-6 months, so we were blessed to make contact with him before he leaves.

Elder Saltmarsh and I had a good exchange this week, and I was pleased to see J pass his baptismal interview. If all things go well, he should be baptized on Saturday. Elder Saltmarsh seemed a bit down on himself but I tried to help him as best I could pick himself back up and get a jumpstart to go back home with a new companion and get the fire back in the work. He reminded me of a lot of things as well. He helped me realize that from time to time, I get too focused on purely contacting. If there's nothing else to do, I just have a habit of hitting the streets, when there is more to missionary work than just contacting. I realized I've neglected area book work a little bit, as well as making phone calls. I'm grateful for the reminder of how I can work more effectively and serve the Lord well with the time I have.

In other news, President expressed some fantastic compliments to me on the phone yesterday. He told me that the reason he moved me out to Szczecin was not because I was demoted or for some reason like that, but because he knows that I would do exactly what he asked me to do and be a huge strength to not only the members, but to Elder Mikolyski and the other missionaries out here. That was a very humbling, but very comforting thing to hear. He also told me he wanted someone out here he could call on to be a branch president after Elder Mikolyski left. Well, as it turns out, I'm not going to be branch president, because we're getting a senior couple here in Szczecin this Tuesday! That will be a great blessing to everyone out here. They will do great things for the branch and the work. I'm excited. Their last name is Gay. That will be an interesting thing to try to explain to the poles out here, but we'll do our best. From the looks of it, I'll probably be called on to do a lot of translating as soon as Elder Mikolyski leaves for the branch president. Or maybe they'll get some poles to do it. A few of them here speak pretty good english. We'll see what happens. I'm excited though. It will be a big blessing, especially because this might mean more homecooked food from a 2nd mom!

Heath, you lucky dog! I-phone? I'm jealous. Good job on the ACT! I'm excited to see what you decide to do for college. Of course, I'm rooting for BYU, but I'll be happy with whatever you choose. Also, Sarah was complaining because she hasn't heard from you in forever. Sorry, don't kill the messenger. I'm sure you're busy, so I don't blame you for falling behind.

Emms, you're a speedster. You better do track this year. You'll dominate. Yes, Dad has amazing old man strength. I would love to race him in a 400 sometime. Maybe when I get back from the mission. We'll see. In any case, enjoy the winter fever and make sure you do some good skiing. Good luck with school and everything.

Hannah bear, you're the doober! Keep up being doobery! I'll write you a poem soon and send it to you, ok?

Mom, way to go being super Mom. Keep on keeping on and tell everybody at the junior high hello for me. Does Mr. Dean still work there? He was my german teacher and is a pretty funny guy.

Dad, thanks for the football updates. Lehi? No. That's sad. We're going to have to take state just to make up for that. Keep on doing work in the stake.

Sorry for the abrupt end, but I'm running out of time and want to send some pictures. Love you all! The gospel is true!
Elder Vernon

Monday, October 7, 2013

Thanks a ton for the referrals!

Hey hey hey family!
So, guess who is the most spiritually content, happy missionary in the world today? That's right, it's me! Haha, maybe not, but I am feeling so awesome. Conference was so good! I can't even describe how awesome it was. I loved every minute of it. We actually got to watch all of it too, so I feel super lucky. That's the first time on my mission I've been able to do that. Since Elder Mikolyski has branch president privileges, we got to have a conference party and watch it with all the Elders in the district by ourselves. I'll try to send a picture if I have time. Don't worry, we also watched it with the members in polish. Conference has been notoriously bad here in the past. All they did was watch it on the Branch President's computer in a little cramped room with a baby speaker on the computer. Well, we gave them a treat. We put up trash bags on the window in the chapel so it was all dark, got a projector, a great set of speakers, and had it transmitted live for all watching purposes. Everybody enjoyed it. Plus, we had food, including ice cream sundaes, which is always a plus to any sort of ward/branch activity.
Some of my favorite moments from conference were definitely Elder Dube's talk, as well as Elder Ochoa's. And who can forget Elder S. Gifford Nielson's? Shout out to an old BYU quarterback and to LaVell Edwards in conference! (Exclamation Point). I talked about this one on my voice recording a bit, but I can just see how excited Dad got about the enthusiasm and fire shown by Elder Nielson, and about how the girls just went, oh come on Dad, not again. At least, that's how it played out in my mind. If you could, would you send me some of the audio files from conference? I can just upload them onto my flashdrive and then we can listen to them at night. I do appreciate it greatly. Some favorites and requests include Elder Holland's, Elder Dube's, Elder Gifford Nielson's, Elder Hales', Elder Scott's, Pres. Uchtdorf's from both sessions, as well as Pres. Eyring's from both sessions, and of course Pres. Monson's from both sessions. Many more as well, but we'll just start with that I guess.
Thanks a ton for the referrals! Way to go family for being missionaries! I'm so proud of all of you and for everything you do. When we do all we can, the Lord steps in and helps us. I know it! (Exclamation point). Miracles happen even today in missionary work, and in all we do. It's just another testament that the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Heath, HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'm excited for you. You're going to be old. Welcome to the ranks of adulthood!
Emms, I'm glad you enjoyed your birthday. It sounded like a good one for sure.
District council was a success this week. We had a very spiritual experience. Together, we did a "feeling the Spirit" activity I had been taught by previous young men leaders before my mission. It's a simple exercise of saying a prayer, singing a hymn, sharing testimony and scriptures, and love for others that greatly invites the Spirit. I feel that each member of the district was moved by what happened, and it was a perfect segue into Elder Mikolyski's portion on asking questions. It was a fantastic district council and I'm pleased with what happened and the progress of the district so far.
Side note here: Dad, can you pass on my thanks to Bro. Cuilliard for this activity? I still remember doing it for the first time. He took the time to do it with my group up at Helaman's camp. I still draw back on that experience to this day. It's a foundation stone in my testimony. Also, can you pass some on to Bro. Thacker as well? I still carry the little card he made for us priests on how to do this acitivity in my scriptures. It's beacuse of these two great men I was able to do this activity here and able to help others have a meaningful experience that will help them in their future lives. If you can, I think I already have Bro. Cuillard's email, but could you get me Bro. Thacker's? I would like to send them both a personal thanks as well. I've had some of the best leaders. I'm such a lucky and blessed kid. Like the 105 year old man to whom President Monson gave a blessing, the Lord has been so good to me.
A lesson I've learned this week came from teaching piano. As I have been teaching, I have been emphasizing playing correct keys with correct fingers. Trying to cross fingers and play with any which one is a bad habit into which many beginning piano players seem to fall. As I've been teaching, a big part of me has wanted to be loving and not have to correct them unless totally necessary, rather emphasizing good effort, but I know I cannot let them play with wrong fingers, for it forms bad habits that will be hard to break later. As I was thinking about this, I thought about God's relationship to us. He is the master teacher, and we often make little mistakes or do things wrong without even knowing about it, simply due to our human nature. Such is the case with beginning piano players. As we strive to play the keys of life, sometimes unintentionally with wrong fingers, God has to gently correct us and show us how to do it correctly. It gave me a new perspective as to why God must chasten those He loves. We cannot allow little wrongdoings now, however innocent, to form into bad habits later. Though some commandments may seem pointless, and breaking them harmless, the bad habits and consequences from them will have great influences later.
Elder Hardy and I had a great spiritual experience in contacting this week. We came across a man named G, who was a business man whom we had encountered about a week and a half ago. In that instance, we merely gave him a pass-along card, talked for a minute, and gave him the address to the chapel in Warsaw. When we met him again, we talked and he began to open up. He's struggling and having a hard time. We were able to testify to him of the peace found in the Book of Mormon, especially in times such as these. Though skeptical, he took the Book of Mormon with a commitment to see what it was about and read it. We were not able to obtain his number, but I have faith that he will read and is serious in his endeavor to find peace. As Elder Hardy and I discussed the contact after, we both felt that we had been guided by the Spirit to say specific things and testify of certain principles. The whole conversation seemed to just flow with an influence that was definitely from the Spirit. We felt confident that the Lord wanted us to meet G, testify to him, and introduce him, at least in part, to the gospel that can provide him solutions to any problem he may face in life.
Elder Hardy and I are getting along well. He's a great missionary. His desire to work hard, be obedient, and be diligent continually inspires me and helps me to be my best.
My testimony has been strengthened this week that God truly loves every single one of His children, regardless of circumstance, troubles, or anything in between. I don't have time to share the whole story, but I will say this, I ended up giving a blessing to a man who has almost nothing in terms of worldly possessions. There was a powerful spirit during the blessing. The feeling of love, care, and compassion was so powerful. Priesthood blessings are always powerful, but this one was especially so. Even though he has fallen on some hard times, he is a beloved son of Father in Heaven. God knows him, personally, and cares deeply for him. I know it.
I'm sorry, but time is running short. I love you all. Listen to the words of the prophets. Conference is the best thing in the world! 
Hannah, we placed two copies of the Book of Mormon. Kind of a slow week, but things are looking up. Thanks for the poem!
Emms, the future is as bright as your faith!
Heath, enjoy the week and lucky you! I'm jealous you went to conference.
Dad, you're the best. I got your letter, and it was just what I needed. Thanks for all you do and your great faith.
Mom, I've got the best missionary for a mom in the whole wide world! Keep up the great work, and I'm glad you found the radio interview recording. 

Well, I love you all. The gospel is true! This is the Lord's work!

Elder Vernon

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Radio Interview

Last week Elder Vernon ran into a reporter while he was contacting on his mission. The reporter interviewed Spencer and the interview was on the radio in Szczecin. Elder Vernon told us about the interview in his email and said he was grateful for the opportunity to talk about the Church on the radio. I really wanted to hear the interview so I did a google search. I figured it was a looong shot but I thought I would try to find the interview. I was shocked when I found the interview!! Don't ask me how I found it because it was pure luck or maybe inspiration. Here is the link to the interview. If you scroll down the page (after going to the link) and click on the sound icon you can hear him speaking Polish. I cried when I heard him. The gift of tongues is real!!,103836,przyjechali-by-nawrocic-szczecinian-to-mormoni-z