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

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