Monday, December 30, 2013

Stinky … and maybe not the most well-groomed for Zone Conference

Hey hey hey family!
Well, it has been a pretty good week, if I do say so myself. Busy, of course, but that's where all the fun comes in.
Well, with the start of the new year, I'm excited to make some new year's resolutions, but I'm trying to be wise as I do so. As I've been told now by a few people, I set expectations which are much too high for myself. Thus, I'm going to try to be reasonable but specific in the new year's resolutions which I set. Hopefully that will help me be an obedient missionary, do my best, and strive to magnify my calling even more.
For District Council this week, I'm planning on teaching the role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion. As I've been studying and learning, I've felt it's important to focus on the witness of Christ which is contained in the Book of Mormon. Along with that, our testimony of the Book of Mormon helps us to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which is the true church on the earth. Yet, the Book of Mormon was not solely written just to testify of Joseph Smith and the church. It was written to testify of Christ. That's something I don't think I've emphasized enough lately in my teaching, and that is the focus I'd like to take in District Council tomorrow.
Mini miracles happen every day, and I find it hard to pick just one. The one that I think gave me the most confidence, however, this week was when we were talking to an older man named K. He told us he already had a copy of the Book of Mormon and seemed pretty content with just walking away. We didn't let him go so fast. He skirted around a lot of our questions, didn't seem to have much interest in anything, and his dog was a little impatient. I felt inspired to ask him about his family. As I did, his whole demeanor changed. All I did was ask him if he had one, and he does. He told us about how his daughter died some years ago. We were able to testify of eternal families and the plan of salvation, and our testimonies softened his heart enough that he gave us his number. Now, in the grand scheme of things, one phone number may not seem like much, but to a missionary who still feels like he's struggling and is very unsure of himself, it meant the world.
I've started the Book of Mormon over from the beginning this week. As I have, I've been intrigued with the differences in the behavior of Laman and Lemuel as compared to Nephi. All had to go through less than comfortable circumstances. All left home and went into the wilderness. All left their wealth back at home and liveda meager lifestyle for a number of years. Yet, there are substantial differences. Laman and Lemuel seem to just put up their hands and pout, not wanting to do much, and blaming their father for everything that goes wrong. Nephi sees things differently. He seeks for a spiritual confirmation of the decision his father has made, and he receives one. Thanks to that answer, his whole demeanor and attitude toward the situation changes. He willingly is obedient, does what he is asked, and does so without contention. That is why he was blessed. That is why he was able to see miracles in his lifetime. That is why he progressed.
Elder Fotu and I continue to do well together. I'm grateful to be serving with him. We've had a great time so far, and I'm interested to see what will happen with both of us next transfer. As far as I'm concerned, he's a great missionary.
If I remember right, I kind of gave you a run down of what we did on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so you're already current with all that. So, maybe I'll start with the day after Christmas. We all had a train at 6:55 AM to go to Poznań for Zone Conference. We rode a tramwaj down with the Gays and we got there with about 25 minutes to spare. Well, the Sisters showed up about 6:40, giving us about 15 minutes before the train left. Well, we were all supposed to bring white elephant gifts again this year for a gift exchange (I brought a teddy bear again. It was too classic not to repeat) and the Sisters had bought theirs and wrapped them all nicely and what not. They had forgotten them, however, in their hustle and bustle to get out of the house and make it to the train station. So, this is where Elder Fotu and I enter the story. The Sisters' apartment is probably about a good 10-15 minute walk to the train station. Well, we didn't want to miss the train, knowing that President wanted to do interviews with us before the Zone Conference, and due to the fact that it was the day after Christmas and not too many trains were running. So, we ran. That marks the second time this year that I've been really sweaty after a sprint in a suit. But, we made it back in record time. Elder Fotu was pretty convinced his pants were going to rip, and I thought we were definitely going to miss the train, but we both made it to the apartment and back in a solid 15 minutes, with about 30 seconds to a minute to spare before the train took off from the station. Now, we were both possibly a little bit stinky, and maybe not the most well-groomed for the zone conference, but we didn't have much of a choice. Poland takes the 26th off too, so there would have been no stores open and the Sisters would not have been able to buy any gifts to replace the ones they forgot. Anyway, chock it up on the list of things that have been exciting adventures for my mission!
This picture was taken on the train right after the run to get the Sister's white elephant gifts.
Zone Conference was awesome. It's always a blast to be around other missionaries and enjoy time spent together. One little hiccup in the whole thing was that we had a whole christmas program, and President was expecting me to play the piano for the whole thing. Well, nobody had told me, and President simply asked me about 20 minutes before the whole thing started. Good thing I had been goofing around with all the Christmas hymns all season and knew a lot of them fairly well, or else it could have been bad. Then, in the middle of the program, there was a quick change and they decided to have Sisters Barth and Ott play a violin duet instead of sing "O, Come All Ye Faithful" for a seconed time. Luckily, I had accompanied Sister Barth for the same song in Szczecin for the Christmas program, but it was still a little bit of a stresser. We made it through alright though, with no one the wiser. Like Sister Edgren said, Thanks Mom for making me practice all the time!
Hmm, I'm trying to think what else I can update you all on. I told you all about Midnight Mass. Well, I remembered a pretty awkward/humorous moment that we had as we were leaving. At the hour mark, we all decided that it was about time to go, so we all tried to sneak out the back. As we did, the whole congregation knelt to pray together. Well, we didn't know what to do, so we ended up standing in the corner, eventually kneeling and just waiting out the awkwardness until the prayer was over and we could all sneak out without too much trouble. Yay for awkwardness. All in all though, it was really cool to hear polish singing, enjoy the cultural part, and see what a catholic mass was like. I was just happy I understood basically everything that was going on too. That always makes me feel good.
The Gays have been super nice to us all Christmas long. They let us hang out at their house half of Christmas Eve and basically all Christmas Day. We all had a great time enjoying the season together, playing card games, eating good food, and just being happy. It was a great Christmas. I definitely enjoyed spending it with a small district so we could all do stuff together and enjoy being around good friends.
Mom, I got your Christmas package, so don't worry! I also got the flat-rate envelope with the shirts and ties, so we're all good there as well. Elder Fotu was funny. He made me choose which shirt I liked the best and keeps trying to give me his tie back. He's way too nice of a kid and way too Christlike. He says thanks for the gifts by the way. He feels bad that you went to all the trouble to get him one. But, I told him just to accept it and be happy, so hopefully he will.
We had a few contacting miracles last night. Elder Fotu and I met a guy named A who was born in Sweden and speaks fluent english and polish. Well, he is polish, so of course he speaks polish, but his english was very impressive. Anyway, he is back for the holidays, and we were able to talk to him and give him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We testified to him that it has changed our lives for the better. He said he hopes it can do the same for him. He's been pretty depressed lately and is searching for a way to be happy. Well, if that's not a golden contact, I don't know what is!
Another thing that was kind of cool that happened last night is that we were out and about in a part of town that we don't hardly ever go to. We got a little lost, and found a back way that got us home right in time. But, that's not the miraculous part. We ran into a lady named I. She had been contacted by the Sisters quite a while ago. She never gave the Sisters her number, but she is reading from the Book of Mormon and promises that she will call when she finishes. It's always so cool to meet someone who, while yet a little hesitant, is making progress and learning about what we have to teach.
We've also been back in contact with J as of yesterday and the day before. He was in the hospital again, super sick. He seems to be doing better now and is coming to our Branch Christmas Party tonight, so we're excited about that. Hopefully we can get him into the waters of baptism this Saturday. That'd be a miracle if I've ever seen one. We're praying for him.
Well family, my love and best wishes go to you all. Hannah, keep Tao safe. Emms, good luck with the cheeks! Heath, let me know how the knee goes. Dad, thanks again for the doctrinal papers. I enjoy it. Mom, you're the best Mom in the whole wide world! I couldn't ask for anyone better.
The gospel's true! I was so happy to talk with all of you on Christmas. I couldn't ask for a better gift than that.
Well, keep on keeping on. There's a missionary in Poland who's doing his best, day by day.
And a happy new year!
Elder Vernon

Monday, December 23, 2013

This Elder is Super Excited to Talk to you all on Wednesday!

Well, this Elder is super excited to talk to you all on Wednesday! It will be super! I'm freaking out a little bit that after this I'll only have one phone call left though. It'll be alright though. I'll figure out how to manage my feelings somehow. Maybe I'll just have a mid life crisis. Or not.
Anyway, Hannah bear, to answer your question, we handed out 10 copies of the Book of Mormon! It was a great week.
Another week has come and gone in good old Szczecin. It was highlighted by a great Christmas Program created by the Gays which we had yesterday for Sacrament Meeting. It brought the Spirit in a powerful way, and all of the members loved it. We even had 4 investigators in the meeting, and all of them said they were impressed.
I had a stroke of inspiration and changed District Council the morning of. I actually focused on overcoming discouragement by having an eternal perspective and measuring success using ourselves as a guideline, and not the apparent effects of our efforts. I talked about pg. 10 in Preach My Gospel and chapters 3 and 4 of 1st Nephi. It was a great council, and I feel that the message was received well by the members of the district.
A miracle we saw this week was with our investigator, G. He had told us that he was going to be out of town until the new year, so we had put him on the back burner and we were just waiting until the new year rolled around. Well, he showed up unannounced to English on Wednesday and stayed for Institute. It was the perfect lesson for him as well--2 Nephi 31, the Doctrine of Christ. He participated well, seemed to learn a lot, and we have great hopes that he will progress toward baptism.
A lesson that I'm learning this week is that conversion is a process of spiritual healing. Wherever we come from, we all have our different spiritual injuries. That is true regardless of person, situation, or background. I think that some injuries and sins can be healed immediately, but there are some deep-seated things which take time to heal. That's why we need conversion. As we are continually true to what we know, Christ can heal us. The Doctrine of Christ is what we can use to be converted as well, and that is why it stands as such a fundamental and powerful part of our church and its doctrine. This gave me a new light on why conversion is so important. I enjoyed studying from conference about it, as well as from different sources in the scriptures.
Elder Fotu and I are getting along well. He's a great kid and I'm lucky to serve with him. We're happy to be seeing so much success in getting people to church and hope to see them meet with us more and progress to baptism. Miracles are happening everywhere!
We also had our shoe shining activity this Saturday. It went fairly well. People were a bit hesitant to come and have their shoes polished, but it was still fun. We had a few still show up and we handed out a few copies of the Book of Mormon. It was kind of funny though. The night before, we had to teach the sisters to polish shoes since they'd never done it before. Well, they wanted to practice exactly like it would be the next day, so we ended having our shoes shined while still on our feet. It felt a little backward..... We got a picture though, so I'll send it along. I've heard rumor that pictures with only an elder and a sister are not kosher, so I don't know if the picture passes, but it's being sent anyway.

We got in touch with J again this week. He seems to be doing ok. He has had some health problems and that's why he hasn't been in touch with us. We gave him a priesthood blessing as we met, and he promised to be in church, but then didn't show up. Bummer. But, he still wants to be baptized. We're just praying that his health will hold up enough that he'll be able to make it to baptism.
The Christmas Program was a definite hit. I was pretty stressed out, what with so many songs I had to play and everything that was going on, but we made it through ok. It's a bit of a relief to have it over, for sure. People loved it though, which is all that matters. Thus, we would have to say it was a success.
Mental health is doing ok. I won't say it's perfect, because it's not, but it's getting better. I'm glad I've got people on my side and helping me with everything. Without that, I think I'd be in trouble. I've seen the Lord's hand in my life so much since I've realized all of this. It's a miracle, for sure. Both of the past two weeks, I've received letters or emails from random missionaries here in Poland simply telling me how much they appreciate me for what I've done and the friendship we've formed while we've been here. It makes a difference, for sure. Even just small things like that definitely help.
We're keeping an eye out for this flat rate envelope. We haven't received anything yet, but maybe we'll go make a stop at the post office tomorrow morning just to see if they have it or something. We'll find out. Anyway, supposedly post officves are complete zoos right now because of the holidays, so we'll be sure to get there early and get done what we need to before the crowd gets there.
We had a bit of an exciting time this week with exchanges. The sisters had an exchange with the Sister training leader in the zone. Anyway, Sister Barth went to Bydgoszcz and Sister Owen stayed here. Sister Owen worked with a Sister Wood who was in her group at the MTC, so they were two trainees roaming the streets of Szczecin trying to do the work. They did pretty well. It was a big test for the both of them, but they rocked it. As the exchange was over, Sister Barth hopped on a train to Poznań, and from Poznań she had to catch a train to Szczecin. Well, her train to Poznań was late getting in, and so she missed her connection. Thus, we got a phone call from an unknown number that had a little bit of a stressed out sister on the other line. Anyway, that added some excitement to everything because we had to call the office, get a new train time, try to get a hold of the missionaries in Poznań so they could meet her at the station, somehow get back in touch with Sister Barth (she has no phone, remember) and get her the new time and everything. Anyway, it was a bit of an adventure, but she got home safe in the end. Yay for missionary craziness!
Last week we decorated the Christmas Tree in the chapel for family night. It was a good time, and I'm including a picture. Hope you enjoy it.
Well, that's about all. I'm super excited to talk to you all. It'll be a great time. If I don't call by 6:15 Poland time, it might be a good idea to call me and see what's up. Anyway, just a suggestion, but I don't think we'll have any problems.
Mom, everyone loves those ding dongs down the street!
Emms, it's ok. The short world is the best way to go. Wisdom teeth? And Heath has surgery? That'll be a fun house.
Hannah bear, watch those turtles.
Heath, no, the jedi braid can't be gone! Ah well. Who got to keep it? Good luck with those goldfish coming out the other end!
Well family, I'm glad to hear that you helped some sub for santa families. It's always good to help those in need. I know the Lord appreciates it as well. I send you all my love. Remember, the gospel is true! It's one of the best presents we could have here on the earth. Send everyone my love.
From the Missionary in Poland Whom Everyone Associates with Harry Potter Because of a Certain Mean Uncle,
AKA Elder Vernon

Merry Merry Christmas!
P.S. Hey Buddy, you wanna go pick some snow berries?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Elders Vernon, Mikolyski, Fotu and Hardy

Elders Vernon and Fotu. Merry Christmas!
Hey hey hey Family!
So, I'm freaking out that Steve is already back. That's super weird. He seems super happy though, and looks like he loved it, so I'm glad.
So, I got your envelope of ornaments! They were super funny. I had a good laugh about them all. Thanks for the pick me up and all the jokes. I laughed and laughed. Elder Fotu probably thinks we're all nuts, but it's all good.
Second, Elder Saltmarsh sends his warmest regards and wishes you all a Merry Christmas.
So, in other terms, don't worry, my mental health seems to be on the up and up. I'm doing a lot better.
Let's move on to some stories from the week, sound good?
This has been a solid week. We continue to see big numbers in sacrament meeting here in Szczecin. We had 15 people yesterday, including 3 investigators. It's a real blessing to see so many people coming so often. The Gays have played a large role in all of that.
Elder Fotu and I had a very busy week, even though our numbers don't reflect it. We have been translating the Christmas Program which the Gays have made for the branch, helped in preparing music for the same program, and even made a trip to Poznań for Zone Training. As we discussed it last night, we admitted that our numbers aren't that great, but we didn't feel at all like the week was wasted. I felt that it was a better week than I've had in a long time.
This week has been a lot better. Something that especially helped was during my scripture study this morning. I was reading in the end of Ether about the giant battle between Coriantumr and Shiz. In those chapters, it talks about how the hearts of those men and women had been hardened and their minds were blind. I thought about myself, and realized that in a sense, I had been acting the same way too. These people couldn't let the Lord work in their lives, and wouldn't listen to Him. I don't think I was doing the same thing in such a great measure, but I had always felt that because I was struggling and feeling that something was off, that meant that I was doing something wrong. It hit me then that nothing was wrong. The Lord was simply trying to have a hand in my life, and I was too blind to let Him do so. Things have been a lot better this week with the anxiety and things, and I hope that it will continue to be so. I'm trying not to beat myself up and think that something's wrong, but rely on the Lord, do the things He would have me do, and let Him guide my life, whether that be through clear skies or stormy seas.
Elder Fotu and I have seen miracle after miracle lately. We feel that the Lord is really blessing us. This week, Elder Fotu had the idea to go through our whole phone and send a text to everyone inviting them to church. We did, and because of it, a man named E showed up. He had been in church 2 months ago, back when Elder Mikolyski was here, but after he came, he just slowly slipped off the map and was traveling for some time. Well, we had both forgotten about him, but as he came back, he was very willing to participate, asked for another copy of the Book of Mormon (he had lost his first one), and even said he will be back next week and invite a friend to come. We can't say yet what will come of this, but we have high hopes that there will be great things in the future with E,
Brother S continues to loosen up. The Gays invited him over for dinner on Friday, and we were there to translate. He was very hospitable, polite, and told some great stories about past missionaries and his conversion. Along with that, he even came to branch family night this past week. He seemed to enjoy himself as well.
I'm so grateful the Gays have had the mind and energy to put together a Christmas program for the branch. As I was translating, I was grumbling a bit, thinking about how much time it would take away from contacting and other missionary work. Then, a quote came to mind which I had heard from an area seventy: "Building the church doesn't always mean expanding." As I thought about it, I realized that this program can do wonders in helping these Poles feel the Christmas spirit and learn how to run a branch (and hopefully eventual ward) in the future. Thus, making sure it is done well can be a huge blessing for this branch and is just as worthy of work as contacting or teaching investigators.
Elder Fotu and I are doing well. We love Szczecin and enjoy serving together. Things are going well, and I hope they will continue to do so. We're excited for Christmas (we even went with the Gays and got a tree for the branch today) and hope this Christmas spirit will help us be successful in our work.

So, Grandma sent me a pretty funny story about how Andrew may have driven her van across the street or something.... which gave me a pretty good laugh. Never a dull moment back there at home I guess. Hopefully Grandma's knee is doing ok as well. Sounds like she may have done something to it.
Oh, before I forget, I apologize for not sending any recordings again this week.
In other news, I bought you all some Christmas gifts! Well, kind of. I bought some more polish pottery, but christmas style! Just a mug and plate (for Santa Claus' cookies!) and some ornaments. Plus, I have a bunch of chocolate and stuff for you all to enjoy. Just one problem... I don't really have a box to send it all in. So, I promise, it will be sent. I'm just not sure when. You might be having Christmas in July for all I know, but it will get there, worry not!
I have another cool story which happened on Thursday when we went over to Poznań for zone training (which was super good by the way. Plus, I got to see some of my missionary buddies, which is always a treat). I paid for all of the train tickets for the ride over (it's just easier to do that way because they get refunded and there's less hassle). Well, the bill turned out to be 160 PLN. I had two 100 PLN bills and a 10 PLN bill. I passed the 200 over, and thought to myself, you should pass the 10 as well, then you'll have a 50, which will be a lot easier than 2 20's. So, I did. Then, later in the day, we were coming back, and we almost didn't make the train. We only did by about 30 seconds, and the 50 PLN bill played a huge part in that. Let me tell you why. So, Sister Barth (who knows Will [they're both in the music program at BYU] and is crazy good at the violin) had to stay after for zone training and figure out some music they want to play at Christmas. Elder Fotu and I went to the train station with the intent to get tickets. Well, our train left at 2:28, and the next one wasn't until 3:50 or something, and the sisters had a meeting that night, so if we didn't make the 2:28 train, they would have to move it, and it was with some really awesome potential investigators, plus a member was going to be on it, so it was important to make it on time (run on sentence anyone?). So, we went to buy the tickets. The line was super long for all of them, so we tried using an automated machine. Elder Fotu also had two 100 bills, just as a side note. Well, we didn't know if the Sisters were going to make it in time for the train, so we were calling them because we didn't want to buy the tickets if we weren't going to make the train. We're also trying not to hold up these machines, but luckily nobody was behind us. The sisters weren't answering their phone, and we had about 6 minutes until our train was scheduled to leave. Side note: the place we were buying the tickets was all the way across the train station from our platform and we both had heavy boxes of stuff that we were taking back to Szczecin (like my new scriptures!), so getting over there in 6 minutes was really chancing it. Plus, our train was early, and so there was a good chance it was going to leave early, seeing as it came all the way from Kraków, and didn't want to wait too long. So, we're calling the sisters like crazy, they're not answering, and we're debating what to do. Finally, they answer and say they made it, so we go to buy the tickets. Remember, the sum is 159.60PLN. So, the machine took the first 100 of Elder Fotu, but it wouldn't take the second. I guess the machines only take certain bills for certain sums. The machines don't give bills back, and the smallest bill here is a 10, so it wouldn't let us pay for 60 pln with a 100. We could only pay with 50 or lower. Well, Elder Fotu only had a 10 and maybe a 20 with him, so we were out of luck. Then, I remembered my 50. I popped it in real fast, he put in the 10, and we were out of there. Then, after a hearty run across the train station with heavy packages and backpacks, we made it to the train and jumped on about 30 seconds before we pulled out of the station. So, the Holy Ghost was definitely there and told me to get a 50, because it was probably only because of that that we made the train in time. If not, we would have had to fiddle with bills and try to figure out how to get everything in there. But, we didn't, we made it back on time, the sisters had an awesome meeting, and everything was good. Such is the missionary life!
Well everyone, I love you all. Heath, good luck with your dare. Emms, good luck with the test! Hannah bear, have fun at Nutcracker! You'll be awesome. Dad, I'm still playing in Sacrament meeting. lessons have died down a bit, but I'm playing a ton in the program this week. I'll be spending a lot of time practicing during lunches for sure! Mom, good work with the interfaith program. I'm sure it was great!
Well, time is running out. I love you all! The gospel is true! Don't worry too much about me, I'm doing fine out here. The Lord is with you all!
Remember, the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.
Elder Vernon

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Another great week in Poland!

Hey, well it's been another great week here in Poland! I'll do my best to get some logistics out of the way first. Mom, I haven't got my scriptures yet. Theyr'e actually waiting in Bydgoszcz. We have Zone Training this week and the zone leaders are bringing them out then, but they are in Poland, and I should get them this week. I also haven't received my twelve days of Christmas package yet, but we're hoping it will come soon. Probably first part of this week. Also, I can't remember if I said this last week or not, but I just found out that Cardigans are now allowed for missionaries, so Elder Vernon might have to go find himself a cardigan to wear! Heather, I need style tips though. What's going to be the best color? I'll probably just end up getting a gray one.
As for a miracle this week, we got a miraculous phone call yesterday. A man named J called us who lives out in Gorzów Wielkopolski. He was an investigator back in 2001 when there was a branch out in that town. He was completely prepared for baptism, everything looked to be in order, but his neighbor died a day before his baptism and he wasn't able to make it. His missionary ended up going home, contact was lost, and things never worked out. Well, he got back in touch with the office yesterday, and I was able to talk to him. He wants to be baptized now, and also wants to get back in touch with his missionary that taught him, who lives in Clinton, Utah. Well, in talking to the Gays about it this morning, we found out that Elder Gay has family in Clinton, as well as a daughter who lives there now. Thus, things look like we will be able to help him get back in contact! We're hoping to be able to go out and visit him this Tuesday. It would be incredible if he were to be baptized and make an addition to the Szczecin Branch.
A lesson I've been learning this week is about pride. Subconciously, I had understood for a long time that humility doesn't necessarily mean thinking less of one's self, just thinking less about one's self. Yet, from time to time I find myself beating myself up. Well, I think the lesson finally hit home this week. I found one of President Uchtdorf's talk which said this exact thing. It, along with the Spirit, sunk in deep. I'm trying to do my best to think more of others, help them, and be a priesthood holder who is always on the Lord's errand.
We also had a great meeting with an investigator named G this week. He's actually hara krishna (spell check? it's the religion that does the festival of colors thing out in Spanish Fork) but is searching for his own road, so he claims. He meets with Jehovah's Witnesses and with others. He came to church yesterday as well! He's slowly easing in to everything, and it's apparent he doesn't want to take anything too fast, but things are going well and we have great hope for him to progress to be baptized. He asked great questions, seemed very willing to read the Book of Mormon, and keep all the committments we extended. Keep him in your prayers. He seems to only be about 24 as well, so he would be a great addition to the branch!
In other news, we have a great new finding idea that some missionaries in New York did. They served free hot chocolate and shined shoes for free in Harlem. I think McKenna Miller was actually part of it. We saw the whole article today on Deseret News when we were at the Gays (they showed us on their ipads). Anyway, it said that the majority of the pictures were from Sister McKenna Miller, but it never had a picture of her. Anyway, we're planning on doing some sort of the same thing this week, I hope. We're looking to get all the pieces of the puzzle to fall in place and make it happen.
Hey, speaking of puzzles, have you guys been doing a Christmas puzzle again? If not, you better find one for next year. We gotta keep that tradition going.
We also went and sang carols in tunnels this week for a finding activity. Nothing too much came of it, but it was a lot of fun. We enjoyed spreading the Christmas cheer and helping others come closer to Christ!
Oh, hey, I had a question. Can you send me the Gloria music? I don't want to take our only CD of it for risk of losing it in the mail, but if you can find it on ITunes or something and send me a copy, I'd love to have it. I was thinking about it this week because Elder Fotu read Luke 1 and 2. You know, the Lex de Azevado stuff with John Paul Jones (Darth Vader) narrating at the beginning? Anyway, that's all.
Dad, I found another cool connection with being part of Christ's seed, or his sons and daughters. Elder McConkie talks about it in his last conference talk on the atonement. Look it up. It was a cool connection. I also had a doctrinal question. We're asked all the time what God's name is. Jehovah's Witnesses believe it to be Jehovah, and they always freak out when I tell them that Jehovah is Christ. What is the best way to explain that? What is the doctrinal basis for it? I'd love to hear what you have to say.
Well family, sorry that the email is a little short today. I'll try to do better next week. Time kind of got away from me. Know that there's a missionary in Poland who's doing his best and working hard, but trying not to freak out too much or let anxiety get a hold of him. Anyway, he's alright. Don't worry about him too much. He thanks you for all your prayers and for the love you send his way. Oh, hey, by the way, that guy is me! And I'm the luckiest kid in the world to have the best family which is going to last forever!
So, yeah. Keep the faith, enjoy the snow, and remember, We are the Vernon's and we know who we are!
Humorous! (Beat ya Doober)
Love you all lots,
Elder Vernon

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving was sooooo good!

Hey hey hey family! Looks like everyone had a great time in Disneyland! I'm super jealous that you all got to go.
So, down to business. Mom, don't worry, I'm doing a bit better. This week has been hard, but I'm getting better day by day. I'm not totally sure what to update you on. I'm glad I'm with Elder Fotu. He's a quiet kid and doesn't say much, but as soon as he notices that I'm lost in thought or starting to slip, he simply says, "alright, let's go." We get out the door, go work, and it's a lot better. Anyway, I've had better days and worse days, but as a whole, I'm doing ok.
As regarding Christmas, I'm fine if you just send the Christmas box to Warsaw. Then I won't have the temptation to open it :). It's probably safer being sent there anyway. Nothing really comes to mind in particular. As always, Nutter Butters, Golden Oreos, and Sour Patch Kids are always welcome, but not totally necessary. I'm also going to put together some candy and stuff to send home for Christmas. It will probably be late, but let me know if there's anything you want.
As for Thanksgiving, we had dinner at the Gay's. It was sooooo good. Sister Gay is a really good cook. She raised 13 kids, plus has lived in a small town her whole life, so she's full of old town country cooking. It's the best. Although, Mom, I still miss your yogurt chicken. Anyway, Thanksgiving was a hard night for me, and I'm not totally sure why, but it was good to have a home cooked meal and good people with whom to spend the holiday.
As for missionary work:
My plans for accomplishing goals this week is to worry only about what I can control. I don't have any control over people's reactions or the progress of the work. I just have control over the type of missionary I can be. So, this week, I'm just trying to relax, do what I can, and let the Lord do the rest.
For District Council, I'm teaching about Teaching People, Not Lessons. I'm excited. It's going to be a good meeting. I want to focus on asking questions to discern spiritual needs. I agree with your message. Basics are so important. Remembering to focus on investigators and ask the right questions will greatly influence our teaching. That's why it's a fundamental in the training program. I hope we can make some progress in it thanks to District Council this week.
A miracle we've seen this week has been with the progress of the members here. We've had 17 and 16 people in Sacrament Meeting respectively in the past two weeks. That's a big number for Szczecin. It's great to see.
I'm learning lessons about the fundamentals of daily life. It's so important to have meaningful prayers daily, read the scriptures, and focus on God in our life. I think I understood all these things, and I never stopped doing them, but I was going through motions. I'm relearning again how important they are and making them a bigger part of my life. I'm reminded of the Lord's promise in the Doctrine and Covenants section 88: "Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto you." These basic fundamentals are how we draw closer to the Lord, and when we do them, we will have His help in the things which we wish to undertake. I can't think of anything that would be better than that help.
Elder Fotu is awesome. He's so Christlike. It's a joy to work with him. He's quieter than most companions I've had, but it's a good thing I think. He's diligent and obedient, and he makes me want to be a better missionary.
We've seen other miracles as well. A less active member, A, who hadn't been to church in months, has come the last two weeks. She bore her testimony yesterday, and it was powerful. She seems to be back for good. We also got in touch with a less active member J who was baptized by Elder Hardy and Elder Kotter. He couldn't make it to church yesterday, but he wants to meet with us this week! Hopefully good things will come from all of this!
On Thanksgiving Elder Fotu and I took some time to talk about things for which we were grateful in our lives. I thought about it, and realized the big role which the Spirit has played in my life. My mind was drawn back to the decision between high schools. You know, I don't know all the reasons why I was supposed to go to AFHS. I don't think I'm supposed to know. All I know is that was where the Lord wanted me to be. I can see the incredible influence it's had on my life as well. I mean, I couldn't ask for a better group of buddies than I had there (I say had, I should say have, cuz we're all still close, or at least we will be after our missions). I'm who I am today because of the things I did and experienced in high school. Then, I thought about preparing for my mission. As soon as I got my call, I didn't have any doubts that Poland was where I needed to be. So, I guess you could say that I'm grateful for the Spirit in my life and the influence that He continually has in it. Even when I was little and "calm things" entered into my body. That's a comforting gift to have from a loving Father in Heaven.
Well family, you're the best! I miss you all. The gospel is true! Sorry, I don't have time to make personal comments to all of you, but know that I appreciate your letters, love, and support. The gospel's true! Families are forever!
With love and faith,
Elder Vernon