Tuesday, January 7, 2014

So, My Head is Definitely Spinning!

Christmas in Szczecin

Szczecin District 
Well hey howdy hey family!
So, my head is definitely spinning. There's so much here to do in the office! We've spent the past few days trying to figure out all the logistics with transfers, and President Edgren just came in and wants to switch up a bit of the traveling, so now we've got more fun stuff to figure out during P-day. Yay for being busy!
I don't even know where to begin with this whole week. I feel like it's been ages since I last emailed. I feel like it's been almost a week or more since I even got to Warsaw, and that was barely on Saturday. So, if my email seems a bit sparse, that's why. Also, as Assistants, our time for emailing drops significantly, so I'll apologize right now if things get short in terms of letters.
So, logistical things first. Mom, thank you for figuring out my driver's license and everything. In any case, I'm a little scared to drive in Poland, but we'll be alright. You don't have to worry about sending it via super speed mail or anything like that. I'll get it when I get it. Thanks for getting all of that taken care of so quickly and being willing to help.
A big miracle that I saw this week happened during a finding activity. With the Sisters we drew with chalk the pattern of apostasy on the sidewalk in the middle of Szczecin. I'm sure you'll want an explanation. I'll try to send a picture as well. Basically, what it is is a pattern showing the different dispensations with the name of the prophet which started each dispensation. Then, it shows each apostasy which happened in turn. It leads up to Christ, shows Him with the 12 apostles, then shows the great apostasy, after which we find the name Joseph Smith along with 12 new apostles. It's a pretty informative picture and helps greatly in dissolving any misconceptions or strange ideas about what we are really teaching. With the drawing we simply talked to people about it and what they thought of it. As we were contacting, I talked to one of the most prepared people I've ever met on my mission. His name was W. As we talked about the picture, he repeated multiple times that the name "Joseph Smith" interested him greatly. As we began to discuss the gospel, he talked about how religions in the world today focus too much on structure and ritual and lose sight of who God actually is. I was able to bring up how we all have two lines to God. One is our personal line, and the other goes through the authority given to man by God. We talked in depth about ordinances and the blessings they bring into our lives, proper authority, focusing on our personal relationship with God, and many more subjects which are rarely covered so quickly in a conversation with anyone about our religion. This came on my last day in Szczecin during my last finding activity, and I felt blessed to talk with such a prepared person right before I left. I don't know if I'll see the effects of that contact, but I have great hope that they will be great.
I'm excited to serve again with Elder Wilson here in Warsaw. I loved serving with Elder Fotu. He's an incredible missionary and will do great things. I'm excited for him. All in all, I'm happy and content to be here and excited for what the future will bring.
Our New Year's was good. Nothing too exciting happened. We all had to be home at 6:00 PM for the night. There was a huge party up the street from our apartment at a public park where they let off fireworks and all sorts of hullaballo. Elder Fotu said it woke him up and kept him up for a while. Same with the Gays (they live right around the corner from us, which makes things really nice). I rolled over and looked at my clock about 12:15 or so, thought to myself, "Hey, it's 2014," and went back to sleep without any problems and without having noticed the music or fireworks that were supposedly going on for about an hour after midnight and for a long time beforehand. So, I guess I still am a very heavy sleeper. It's good to know that some things don't change.
Hmm, I'm trying to think what else exciting happened this week......
Ah, yes, getting my call from President. Well, it was quite interesting. He gave me a call Thursday morning as companionship study started. I saw him calling and didn't think much about it. We had been in contact a few times the day before about various branch issues and such. Anyway, he then told me he had an assignment for me. I told him that I'd be happy to help. He said, "I need you to pack a bag--well, all of your bags actually--and come in to Warsaw to serve with Elder Wilson as my assistant." Well, at that point I almost dropped the phone. I never expected to serve as an assistant this late in my mission. Nor did I expect that my group would have three people who would all be assistants in the mission. Craziness. But, it's been a blast serving for a few days with Elder Neuner and Elder Wilson. I have a much bigger appreciation for all they do now. It's not an easy job being an assistant, that's for sure, but I'm excited for the challenge.
We were trying to get J baptized this past Saturday, but things didn't work out and he ended up in the hospital again on Thursday. If he were to be baptized, I was going to stay in Szczecin until right after church Sunday so I could see everything happen and then travel Sunday afternoon to Warsaw. But, because we lost contact and everything, I ended up leaving on Saturday morning early, which was kind of a bummer because I didn't even get to come to church one last time or anything else. However, I got to say goodbye to most all the members who are active and a few of them even came to the train station to see me catch my train at 8:40 in the morning. That was super nice of them. The Gays gave us a ride down there as well, and the Sisters even stopped in to say goodbye before I headed out, so we had a nice little party on the platform. It was cool and made me feel special. It was hard to leave Szczecin. I really love that city. The members there are incredible, we had a super awesome district, and I was in a position where I was able to help out so many people. I'll be sad that I won't be able to do so much anymore (namely translating, playing the piano, etc.) but I now have plenty of other duties which I'm sure will keep me busy and working hard.
Once I got to Warsaw, we headed straight to a baptism happening in Warsaw 1 where I got to see J again after almost a year! It was so cool to see him. He's still doing great. He gave me a big hug. A lot of the members from Warsaw still remember me as well, which was nice to see. It's fun to be back, for sure.
The branch here is on fire as well. Warsaw 2 is the branch in which I find myself. Anyway, Elder Jensen is the branch president (he's a senior missionary here along with his wife) and he has this place working miracles. Yesterday, we had 96 people in Sacrament Meeting. They had a goal to get to 100 people before the end of the year, and they almost made it. It's pretty incredible to see. Members are giving referrals, the branch functions almost like a normal ward, and things are moving forward at lightning speed. I'm excited to see what good work will be happening here in the future. They've also asked me to play piano in the primary for the near future. It's been a fun job. Yay for little kids!
Well, I'm running out of time. Glad to hear that you all got to visit with Elder Mikolyski. He's the best. I love that kid. Tell him I say hello and that I miss him. Hannah, sorry to hear about your teeth. I hope you're ok. Heath, good luck with the knee. I'm rooting for you. Emms, keep up being awesome. Mom, keep on being the best Mom ever. Dad, thanks for all the doctrinal stuff. It's always great to read.
In terms of where other missionaries are going, Elder Saltmarsh is coming back to Warsaw again. Elder Harris is going back to Katowice (Sosnowiec to be exact, my first apartment!), and Elder Neuner is going to Łódź to be district leader. It'll be an exciting transfer for sure. I just realized that I won't have any excitement for the rest of my mission regarding transfers. I'll know where everyone will be going until I end my mission, including myself. It's ok though, it'll be fun.
Anyway, I love you all. Remember, the gospel is true!
Elder Vernon