Monday, February 24, 2014

My Birthday was Good!!

So, my birthday was good. We didn't have a chance to throw much of a party or anything, but we made it enjoyable. We've got a threesome going on right now, of me, Elder Wilson, and Elder Lanham, and it's been lots of fun. Elder Lanham's a super cool kid. It's been great to get to know him better. As it turns out, he's super close with none other than B P (one of my lacrosse coaches). In thinking about it, I had some of the best coaches ever. The Lord's been so good to me. Anyway, in returning to my birthday, I basically just pigged out on Reeses. Thank you for my birthday package! The shoes fit perfectly. I also received grandma's package. Tell her thanks from me. We had a meeting with President last night, and ended up eating dinner over there, but we're going to have another "birthday dinner" for me later this week. It'll be fun. I'm excited. Plus, Sister Edgren is going to make Banana Cream Pie for it. I'm so excited! Dad, I felt like you'd appreciate that.
This has been a good week. It's been busy what with all the transfers and figuring out things with the threesome, but it's been enjoyable.
I was a little bit nervous about switching companions, but I've come to peace with it. As soon as Elder Lanham got into Warsaw, things just seemed to flow. I don't know how to describe it all that well, but the longer I've been around Elder Lanham, the more confident I am that he's the companion the Lord knows that I need at this time. I can't pick out one big spiritual experience with this week that affected me, but it's been great to see the small confirming assurances that the Lord is placing in my path to help me know that He's pleased with my work.
I had a comforting experience last night as we met with President and discussed different things dealing with the mission. Elder Wilson, Elder Lanham, and I all discussed it afterward. It definitely felt like a revelatory experience--more so than any of the other meetings we've had in the past. I think part of it has to do with Elder Lanham. I'm impressed by his maturity and his understanding already of what he needs to do. As soon as he came in, he was asking questions about the mission, wondering what we can do to best help everyone. I'm excited to see what sort of good work we can do together.
I was very appreciative to have an interview this week. I'm grateful for the chance to be an assistant and serve around President frequently. I'm learning how to deal with stress in a better, more healthy way, and learning the lessons the Lord wants me to learn. It's a growing experience, but it's getting better day by day. I'm nowhere near perfect, and I'm learning to be ok with that. Yet, I can see the Lord's hand in my life and I'm getting better and learning how to effectively deal with my weaknesses and move forward, even when other things might stand as obstacles in my way.
The longer I'm on my mission, the more I'm beginning to appreciate the basics of the gospel. I feel like I've talked about this before, but all these basic things are becoming so precious to me the longer and more diligently I do them. Prayer and scripture study are some of my favorite things now because of the strength they give me. My approach on the street has also begun to change a bit. I find myself talking to people about their personal relationship with God all the time. I love talking about prayer. I do it all the time. It's so great.
So, Elder Wilson is staying in Warsaw, which means I get to see him all the time! I'm excited for that. He's also living on a street called Wilson's flat. How's that for coincidence? He's super excited. It'll be good. He's also serving with President Spencer W. Kimball's great grandson. They'll do well together.
We're beginning to prepare for zone conference. It will be the week of March 5th, so it's coming up soon. I'm excited to go around the mission and see all the missionaries. I feel like that will be a big blessing.
I'm super excited about Starszy! Dad, you were dead on. You pronounce it just like starship but without the p. But, you can say it however you all want. I'll probably pronounce it the polish way. I'm just a polish junkie, that's all.
Note from Mom: This is Starszy (our new Australian shepherd).  
The word "Starszy" means "Elder" in Polish.

For Elder Vernon's birthday we told him about our new puppy.

Well, I love you all. Sorry for the short letter. I appreciate hearing about all of your week's though. Emms, good luck with track and lacrosse. I hope you make varsity! Heath, good luck with Sterling Scholar. Hannah bear, way to go on making the cake. Dad, you're the best member missionary I know. Mom, thanks for being patient and being my personal secretary! Remember, the gospel's true!
Elder Vernon

Monday, February 17, 2014

We had a "mini-MTC" this Weekend.

Hey family!
It's been a good week here in Poland.
We had a pretty stellar miracle this week. We had come home from a meeting on Thursday and had an hour before we were to end our day. Neither Elder Wilson nor I were very excited to go contacting for the last hour. We didn't feel like it was going to be all that effective nor that anything would come of it, but we got out and did it anyway. We're glad we did. While contacting, there a was a kid standing a little ways off by a metro stop. It would have been easy to simply pass him and not make the effort to go over and contact him. I thought, however, that it was worth a shot. I'm glad we went over and talked to him. We ended up talking for about 20 minutes. He was super excited to hear our message and received it openly. When it came time to give him a copy of the Book of Mormon, he was so thrilled to take it. He held it like it were a gold nugget or priceless treasure. Then, when we called him a few days later, he had already read half of it. It was pretty remarkable. He had committed to come to church yesterday, but didn't show up. We're not totally sure what's going on, but we were glad to be a tool in the Lord's hands to help him at least be introduced to the gospel message.
Another great thing we saw happen this week was on Monday. Family Home Evening now starts at 6:30, and L was teaching the lesson, so we didn't want to miss it. Yet, we didn't want to waste time, seeing as there is now a half hour from the end of P-day to the start of the meeting. So, we decided to just go contacting around the chapel. Yes, it's not our area, and we could easily just leave our apartment at 6:00 and take up the half hour with travel time, but we felt it would be better to spend those 30 minutes talking to people. I'm sure glad we did. We handed out two copies of the Book of Mormon and got another number for a potential. It was some of the most effective contacting I've had on my mission. I know that when we make our time on P-day effective, we are blessed greatly.
I'm learning to be patient with myself on my mission. Realizing that I am a perfectionist and that I want to do everything perfectly has helped. The fact of the matter is that I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. Things don't always go perfectly, and at some point I have to be okay with that. I'm learning how to do it. My mission has definitely been and still is a growing process for me. The Lord has taught me a lot about who I am, what I am to do, and how He wants me to do it. I'm happy to be serving Him and doing the things He wants me to do.
Elder Wilson and I are doing well. He's a great companion and one of my best friends. I'm so lucky to serve with him. I'm super grateful for all that he does for me.
So, transfers are going on on the 26th of February. We're meeting with President in about a half hour to discuss them all. I'm excited to see what will happen.
In other news, we had something called a "mini-MTC" this weekend at the mission office. They brought in all of the Polish Young Single Adults and older Youth who would be eligible for a mission. There were 13 of them. Elder Wilson and I were invited for the opening dinner with them at the mission home. I was able to see D and B from Szczecin. It was super fun and such a good time. I love them so much. After the dinner, we ended up getting roped into doing a "role-play" in front of everyone who was there to demonstrate teaching for them. Yikes. Two Americans teachings polish people how to teach, in polish, and as missionaries. It was a bit stressful, but we enjoyed it. We did a pretty good job as well. It's super fun to associate with all the polish members, especially the youth. I was able to meet a lot of them and get to know them better. They're awesome and are going to be such strength to the church in the coming years.
Well, unfortunately, my time is short and we've got to get to President's house to discuss transfers. I love you all. Heath, congrats on Sterling Scholar. Doobs, you've got great polish ;). Emms, I bet you tore up the slopes. Mom, I love you and thanks for being the greatest mom ever. Dad, thanks for all the great comments. Have a great week and I'll let you know who my new companion is next time!
Elder Vernon
Hey, the gospel's true!

We Went to Adam's Ties this Week. (Feb. 10th Letter)

Adam's ties.
The sign says "That's absolutely senseless, but it looks fun."
Hey family!
Well, it's been another good week here in Poland. Elder Wilson and I had a good time presenting a little bit about member lessons and member relationships during Mission Leadership Council on Thursday. We realized a little bit late that we hadn't prepared all that much, so Wednesday became a very interesting day. Anyway, it was all in good fun.
I'm super glad that you all got a call from the Sheley's! They're so awesome. We had a fun time last Monday. They wanted to get ties from Adam's, but didn't have time to go there. So, they gave us money, and told us to pick out 20 ties for them. We had a good time doing that :).
It's been a good week this week. I enjoyed the opportunity to take part in Mission Leadership Conference and spend time with some great missionaries. Elder Wilson and I haven't seen great results from our labors this week, but we feel that the successes we have had have been meaningful ones. After almost finishing a whole building, we were let in by a young dad who was curious about our message. The message wasn't overly long, nor were we able to explain a whole lot of our message, but this is one of the few times I've been let in while tracting on my mission. When I think that the week before we were also let in and found new people to teach, I'm grateful for the Lord's hand in this work. As we exert our efforts, He helps us to see miracles.
A few of the thoughts I shared in my testimony have been on my mind as of late. I'm learning that the ups and downs of missionary work and leadership is why my mission has come to mean so much to me. If things had been easy or had gone well, my experience here would not be meaningful nor unique for me. I've come to love my mission because it's my mission, and no one else's. Sometimes, I fear that if I don't do everything perfectly, I won't learn the things I need to from my mission nor be able to use my mission as an effective springboard for life. These are the moments, I think, when I am learning to trust the Lord. He knows me, knows my weaknesses, and is incredibly good at predicting what I'm going to do. So, I'm trying to just relax, move forward, do the work I can, and trust in the Lord.
Elder Wilson and I are doing well. He's a great missionary, loves the work, and wants to do his best. Plus, he's a goofball, so we have some good laughs.
I feel like I don't have much to say this week. I don't know why.
This week, the mission is doing a "mini-MTC" for all the polish members who are in the age group where they could serve a mission. That means that B and D (from Szczecin) are going to be coming to the mission home and participating in it. I'm hoping that I'll be able to see them. One of Elder Wilson's recent converts from Katowice is also going to be coming in. His name is D. It's going to be a big old party here in Warsaw. Add into everything that President wants to meet with us to discuss transfers this week, and we have Zone Training. It's going to be a busy one! That's always the best though. I'd rather be busy than have way too much time on my hands.
Hannah bear, Elder Wilson just agreed to be your Valentine. Plus, I'll be it as well. You lucky girl. You have two Valentines! We only placed one copy of the Book of Mormon this week, but we placed it with that young dad, S. It was a well placed book, for sure.
Heath, when do you find out about BYU? Bummer about the AF/LP game. One of the office elders right now went to Lone Peak, so hopefully he doesn't find out and rub it in my face. Speaking of LP, I was talking to one of the american families here in Warsaw yesterday and found out that the wife, went to LP and graduated in 2004. Connections! Anyway, good luck with Sterling Scholar. You'll do great, I'm sure. I don't hear much about the olympics here, so updates would be great. Thanks for maintaining the Vernon legacy at AFHS.
Emms, you lucky dog. I'm jealous you're skiing so much. Tell Coach Ray I say hi. He's the man. Does that mean you decided not to do track? Good luck with lacrosse. Go Poland with gold medals!
Mom, thanks for being awesome. I appreciate everything you do for me, including figuring out schooling and housing and classes and everything. I'd be lost without you. Don't worry, I always try to help with Sister Edgren and do the dishes whenever we're over there. I think she secretly loves cooking for all the missionaries.
I'm not certain whether President Uchtdorf is visiting other missions. I haven't heard much about it. I only know when he'll be in Poland. Pass my love on to Grandma Fernie. I hope she's doing well and I'm glad she enjoyed the chocolate and bell.
Dad, thanks for all the suggestions. I tell you, being a leader is hard work. I don't feel like I know what I'm doing half of the time, but I trust that the Lord is with me. I hope you're enjoying some time in Atlanta and know that I'll be jealous that all of you will be in Iron Blosam this week. I miss that place. Travel safely.
Well everyone, the gospel is true! That's some pretty valuable knowledge right there. I'm grateful for it and for the opportunity to serve here in Poland and help these people come unto Christ. I'm doing my best to strive to help them in any way I can. I love you all. Keep up the great work and enjoy the journey!
Elder Vernon

Monday, February 3, 2014

Guess who is coming to Poland?

Hey hey hey family!
So, Mom, thanks for getting all the important stuff out of the way first. I'll see if I can't do the same. Don't worry about sending the coat back. Most all missionaries over here prefer european stuff over anything american. I guess american style stuff is just too fat. I'll be fine without the coat. I've got plenty as is. Also, I'm going to be ok without boots. My feet did just fine this week. I just doubled up with socks and didn't have any problems. My ecco's, however, are starting to get holes in the sides of them. They still look nice, but if I step in any sort of water with them, say bye bye to dry feet. So, if it's alright, I'll probably look into getting a new pair of shoes.
As for other things. I've thought of some things that would be nice for my birthday. First, Cheez-its. I had a strange craving for them the other day. Second, I would love to get the CD's of the band that Sister Edgren put on the slideshow she gave everyone for Christmas. The band is called "The Lower Lights." Elder Neuner had two of their CD's that we listened to all the time when we were in a tripanionship for a week. Don't stress out if you can't find them, but if you can and could send them along, it'd be great. Whether it's a physical or electronic copy, it doesn't matter too much. Anyway, I think that's all that I have. Just let me know about registration dates and what not.
In other news, and this is a side note, Steve's home teacher is none other than William Vernon!
Lastly, and this is exciting news, there is a general authority coming to Poland. Not just any general authority, but the one and only President Uchtdorf. Now, there is a chance that they will bump up our release date a week and send us home before he gets here, but President is fairly certain and is trying his best to move our release date back a few days and let us stay until President Uchtdorf leaves. Wouldn't that be some way to end a mission! So, I'm praying I'll still be here when he comes.
Elder Wilson and I have had a solid week. We're excited to see some great things coming up this week with MLC and we're striving to do our best to prepare for our segment. We haven't had the most successful week in terms of key indicators, but I feel we've seen good things happen nonetheless.
I had a great exchange this week with Elder S.. We were able to talk, discuss some things, and I felt like I was able to get to know him a lot better than I did before. I'm impressed with what he does as a Zone Leader. It's obvious that he cares about all the missionaries in his zone and does his best to get to know them all. That encouraged me to do the same thing. There's a lot of missionaries in the mission I've never met. Yet, if I am to be an effective leader, I feel that I should do my best to have at least some sort of a friendship with each missionary. Thus, I'm trying to do so. One of his biggest questions from the exchange was how to be an effective leader. I talked to him about lessons I had learned and what had worked for me. The thing I tried to emphasize was giving positive reinforcement and feedback. It's easy to pick out things that people are doing wrong. Yet, the Savior doesn't need any more judges. What He needs are ministers. While behavior does need to be corrected, I encouraged him to love, serve, and give encouragement. I've seen that be much more effective than anything else I've done as a leader.
A miracle I saw this week was on our exchange. Elder S and I were planning to visit a former investigator and then go tracting in the area where he lives. Well, our visit to the former investigator was unsuccessful. We were told we had a wrong address, but we started tracting. We ran into a college-aged guy who said he wasn't too interested, but his girlfriend, who would be returning in about 30 minutes, would be interested. So, we kept on tracting, then returned in a half hour. As it turns out, while she was the one that was supposedly interested, both stayed and listened to the listen and seemed sincere and open to what we had to say. It was a spiritual lesson and a tender mercy from the Lord. On a very cold day in the middle of the winter, with no lessons planned and a lot of time spent on cold streets, the Lord led us to a young couple who would listen to what we had to say. We scheduled another lesson with them, but they postponed it, asking for more time to read. I don't know what will happen with them in the future, but I have faith that things will go well.
Something I've been realizing this week is how important member relations can be. I think I often forget how much these polish saints are pioneers in this land. We often dismiss doing work with them, thinking that they are members and that everything is fine in their life. Yet, I think they need strengthening more than I realize. It's hard to be a member here, and they need comfort, strength, and faith which we can provide.
Elder Wilson and I are doing well. We're enjoying serving together and trying to make the most of the time we have. I love serving with Elder Wilson. He's a solid missionary and a stalwart leader.
Szczecin is producing huge numbers. The Elders there have 2 baptismal dates, one of which I found with Elder Fotu. Plus, they already had J get baptized a few weeks ago. It's amazing to see the Lord's work go forward. I get excited every week when I take numbers just to see what's going on in Szczecin.
Well, I guess I'll have to break the bad news eventually. Mom, yes, I'm sick again. Nothing major, don't stress out. I just caught a bit of a cold, but I'm under Sister Edgren's protective wing. So, don't stress. I am fine.
In other news, we were able to go pick up a senior couple that was headed home last night. We got them off their train here in Warsaw and took them to the mission home. It was a bit of a stressful situation because President was in Germany for the day, and our car that we drive is too small to fit much luggage, so President had us drive his station wagon. Well, it turned out to be my driving day, so I had the exciting but anxiety filled opportunity to drive President's car for the day. I was super careful. It was fun because President has a nice car. The senior couple is super awesome. I've actually served around them my whole mission. Never in the same city, but they were in Wrocław when I was in Kato, and in Poznań my whole time in Bydogszcz and Szczecin, so I saw them frequently. Thus, it was nice to say goodbye. They're going to be living in Orem, so it'll just be a nice little trip to go say hi as well. They're some of the best people I've met. Elder Sheley is full of puns as well. Grandpa Leo would have liked him. The other bonus about picking them up is that Sister Edgren insisted that we stay for dinner once we had dropped them off. So, we also had a home-cooked meal last night. Sister Edgren's cooking is basically gourmet chef status as well, so we love when she insists that we stay for dinner. Let's just say it was a good night.
L, our recent convert, is really thriving as the choir director. He loves it. He does a fantastic job as well. He's always super energized, is super funny, and is invested in making us all good singers. He's just doing superb with everything going on here in the church. He's one of the coolest new members I've ever met. He was baptized about a week or two before I came to Warsaw, and he's still doing well with all of the transitioning. He's from Slovakia, but speaks hungarian. We have another hungarian in the branch too, named K, so they are great friends. Funny story. K's last name is Szabó. Well, I was pretty good friends with a girl in high school by the name of Jamie Szabo. She told me her name was hungarian, and now I believe it! Her brothers, Andrew and Sam, both played lacrosse as well. One was a coach for AF, and the other played/plays. Anyway, K tells me that Szabo actually means "tailor" and is a super common last name, so he has no idea if they're related. Yet, a cool connection.
I'm kind of running out of time, and I don't feel like I have much else to say. So, I guess I'll just let you all know that I love you. Pass my best on to Grandma Fernie. Hey, is Will dating a violin player? That's what it looks like from the case on her back. I wanna hear details about this one. Tell the Frazier's I say hi. I got a letter from Enoch the other day. Could you tell them thanks for me? I'm still having a hard time believing that Joel is 8. Heath, watch out for them boys. Tell Bro. Anderson I said hi. I love that man. He's a fantastic seminary teacher. Emms, I'm glad you told Mr. Bryson you're thinking about track. He'll lead you in the right direction for sure. He's a great coach. As for math competitions, yeah it's kind of nerdy, but do it anyway. It looks great on applications, and it's a great experience. It gives you a good chance to make more friendships in groups that aren't always super social and you probably wouldn't meet otherwise. I'm very glad I did the competitions I did. Hannah bear, of course I'll memorize the Living Christ with all of you. It is translated into Polish, so maybe I'll try to do it in both English and Polish. That'd be cool. Of course I remember your birthday. It's June 25th! My release date is scheduled to be June 17th, but we'll see what happens.
Mom, Dad, thanks for being awesome. Thanks for all your prayers, temple attendance, fasts, everything. It all makes a difference.
The gospel's true!
Elder Vernon

I am trying to simply be myself (January 27th letter)

Hey howdy hey family!
It's been a great week. It's so strange. I feel like my memory has been shot as an Assistant. I don't seem to remember much of what goes on during the week, and then when I get to emailing, I just don't feel like I have anything to say. So, hopefully my email this week won't be too bland. Plus, we don't have a whole ton of time anyway for emailing usually, so it makes things kind of hectic. I can't think of too many logistical things that I need to get figured out. Honestly, for my birthday, I can't think of anything that I really want. You don't need to feel obligated to send me anything. There'll probably be a fair amount of things I want to buy here and different things I'll want to take home with me. Hopefully I won't be blowing too much money or anything. I don't know if I have anything else to figure out. Sounds like things are ok with BYU and all, just let me know when registration needs to happen.
We had a successful exchange in Bydogszcz this week with Elders K and W.
A miracle I saw this week was actually on the exchange. Elder W and I were contacting when we talked to a man who wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon but didn't have time to talk to us at all. He simply wanted to grab it and go. I'm always a little bit hesitant to give a copy of the Book of Mormon away so freely, so we gave him a restoration pamphlet and told him to contact us for a free copy of the Book of Mormon. We then went on our way. As we were searching for a certain street in Bydgoszcz, we recognized that we didn't exactly know where it was. We asked a lady for directions, and she turned us down a side street which would eventually lead us to where we needed to go. Well, they were actually false directions, but we ended up meeting our friend to whom we gave a restoration pamphlet about 5 minutes earlier. This time, he had a few minutes to talk, and we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and set up to meet with him the next day. Even though we were led down a wrong street, we still found success. Sometimes, the hand of God isn't so apparent and instant in our lives, but I'm glad it was in this case.
I'm trying to simply be myself this transfer as an assistant. In the past, when I was in leadership positions, I always felt like I had to be a perfect missionary. I am not a perfect missionary but I'm an obedient missionary and I do my best to follow the rules. I guess, I just want missionaries to see that I'm no different than them. I have struggles as well, I feel vulnerable at times, and just because I'm called as an Assistant, that doesn't place me on a pedestal or make me any different than them.
I'm loving working with Elder Wilson. He's a fantastic missionary. We have a lot of fun together. We're excited to have another exchange this week and hope to see some great things happen because of it.
The weather here has definitely taken a turn for the colder. I'm honestly debating about trying to go find a pair of dress boots. I seem to do fine everywhere else, but my feet haven't been all that warm as of late. I don't want to go blow a ton of money on them since I won't be using them a ton, but we'll see what I can find. Elder Wilson and I also plan to go do some clothes shopping today. Dad, I'm looking into getting some new shirts, possibly a new suit, etc. Heather, you're going to have to help me when I get home. I know basically nothing about style anymore. It's weird not having so many women at home, because nobody will stop me and tell me if my clothes match or not. I've missed it.
I don't know what else to say now. I've actually got to run. President just came in with an issue he wants to discuss. I love you all. The gospel is true! Poland loves you all too. Have a great week and good luck with everything. Heath, great job on Sterling Scholar stuff! Dad, thanks for the advice. Mom, keep on being the best mom in the world! Emms, good luck with ballet! Hannah bear, love you lots. Humorous. Beat ya.
Elder Vernon

January 20th Letter

Hey hey hey family!
Well, another week has come and gone here in good old Poland. There haven't been too many exciting things that have happened, but it's been fun nonetheless.

Life as an Assistant is interesting. We don't have too many things we have to do in the office. President is really trying to let us work in our area as much as possible. Yet, because of transfers and a few other things, our area is pretty low right now on investigators and such. It makes for a fair amount of time spent on the street. It's good though. There's no better way to refine missionary skills than to get on the street and start contacting. Nobody better to do it with than with Elder Wilson.

I started driving this week. It's not too bad. Everything came right back. Polish roads are a little bit different and there's a lot of roundabouts, but it's all good. Nothing too crazy.

Let's get on to some stories, huh?

A miracle Elder Wilson and I experienced this week came during contacting. We went out Wednesday morning ready to go and excited to go find people. Well, it was cold and snowing, no one seemed to be outside, and we had in our back up plans to work in the area book if the weather was too bad. We debated what to do and decided to go down to an intersection, loop back around, and make a decision from there. I should mention that we had planned to go to this intersection the night before and turn around. Well, as we made our way along, we contacted a mother with a baby in a stroller. I won't lie, I've been shrugged off by so many mothers with strollers that my faith was a little low that anything special would come from this one. Yet, something special did come. As we began to talk to this mother about eternal families and the blessings of the gospel which could be hers, it was apparent that the message touched her soul. I don't exactly know what sort of things she's been through or what she's dealt with, but she wanted to have the certainty that she could see beloved members of her family again on the other side of the veil. As our conversation came to a close, we attempted to give her a copy of the Book of Mormon and set up for a meeting with her. She declined to set up and would not take the Book of Mormon. It was the strangest thing. Elder Wilson and I were shocked. She wanted the gospel so badly just a few moments before, but wouldn't agree to learn more or even take a copy of the Book of Mormon. So, why do I list this as a miracle? Because on a day when we felt we wouldn't be effective in contacting, the Lord led us to a mother who desperately needed to hear our message. I don't know how this will fit in to her life or how it will affect this mom, but I have great faith that we did what we were supposed to do and that this mother, K, along with her daughter, O, are under the watchful eye of the Lord. Perhaps the next time the missionaries come around, she'll be ready and willing to meet.

In other news, we have a recent convert we're working with here in Poland. He's actually from Slovakia, but speaks hungarian, since he lives right on the border between the two. Anyway, his name is L and he's the man. Super cool. He's crazy talented musically and was just called as choir director. Anyway, we had his first choir practice yesterday. He's teaching us all how to sing. So, looks like I might be getting singing training out here for a while!

Sorry this email seems short. With an exchange coming up today we're a bit busy and emailing time is getting cut out a bit. I'm excited to go back to Bydgoszcz for a few days though. It's going to be a blast. I love that place. Plus, they have one of the best bakeries on the planet. Yay for baked goods!

Hmm, I guess I could tell you a bit about the branch here. It's possibly the most multi-cultural branch I've ever seen. We have a few people from Hungary, a few from Brazil, a few from Mexico, a solid amount of Americans, a guy from Africa (the Congo I think?) who's happier and even mroe outgoing than Matt Maddix, and of course, the Polish saints. It makes things a little hectic. I never know what language to speak to people in. It's all in good fun though.

Ah, yes, the packages. Well, the overcoat went in purely because I needed something to pack the pottery with so it wouldn't get damaged. Sounds like it worked. Hopefully none of it broke. The pocket planner is actually Elder Mikolyski's last planner from the mission field. I've kept all of my planners to date and I assumed that he had as well. I threw it in just in case he wanted it. As for the flannel shirt, that was also an Elder Mikolyski purchase that he ended up giving to me that I just threw in because I didn't want to be carrying it around. Hopefully you all enjoyed the candy. Mom, feel free to spread out pottery pieces as you feel to do so. I threw in a couple extra ornaments (bells maybe? can't remember) for grandma Fernie and Honey just in case they wanted some.

As for school stuff, I don't think I can even register for classes until early March, so that's not a big stresser yet, but I have no idea what I want to take. We'll worry about it when it gets here though.

Well, I love you all. Keep on being awesome. Remember, we're the Vernon's and we know who we are!
Hannah, we placed 2 copies of the Book of Mormon this week. Emms, good luck with track and congrats on Mia Maid President! Tell Heath she's awesome and good luck with Sterling Scholar. Dad, thanks for the hints. Mom, you're the best Mom ever!
Lots of Love and Faith,
Elder Vernon

We Have Officially Survived Transfer Week! (January 13th letter)

Leaving Szczecin
Hey family!
Well, we have officially survived the transfer week. It was a bit nuts, but we did it.
The trainees had been stuck in Denver due to weather. They would not be able to make it to Poland until Saturday afternoon. Well, this threw off everything. We had to stop everyone in their steps so that none of them would travel unnecessarily and make a ton of changes. We spent basically all of Tuesday working on it. We were going to just pair trainers up in different cities and let them work for a couple of days until we could get them their companions, but we realized that that would leave Sister companionships alone in a few cities for a few days, and we didn't like the idea of that. So, we had to put a couple of tripanionships together and figure lots of travel stuff out. Wednesday was the main transfer day, so Elder Wilson, Elder Neuner, and I all went to the train station and had to direct most of the main traffic there for the first part of the day. We then had to come back and finalize all sorts of stuff for the Mission Leadership Council going on the next day and make sure we had train times all figured out for trainers and such so things would be going ok. Add on to all of this that we're having to contact everyone in the mission and make sure people are aware of everything that's going on. It was a bit nuts. Usually, we just send everything out via email but because P-day had already passed, we were left to making phone calls. Well, we at least got everyone in right places and things figured out for the rest of the week by Wednesday night. We still hadn't figured out what sort of schedule the trainees would have and what to do with trainers yet, but we were way too focused on getting through Thursday to even think about that yet.
Thursday came and went without any hiccups. Elder Neuner actually left us by then to go to Łódź, so Elder Wilson and I were all by our lonesomes trying to figure out what we were supposed to do. It was fun. Throughout the course of Friday we got everything figured out and phone calls made to everyone so schedules were all fixed. Then, Saturday came along. We picked up the big transporter van and got on our way. We were able to pick up the trainees without any problem. Luckily, they all even had their luggage! Well, except for one Elder, but he ended up staying here in Warsaw, and the airport actually delivered his bags this morning, so he already has them in his posession. Anyway, it was quite an adventure. They got in on Saturday afternoon. We took them to the mission office where they got all their legal stuff figured out and started, took them to the mission home for a wonderful meal from Sister Edgren (who's an amazing gourmet cook!) and put them to bed after they all had interviews with President. They were all so tired.  After all this, our jobs weren't quite done. We had to get to the train station where we picked up Elder Raines and Elder Żeleźniak (both former assisants who are both training this transfer). We dropped off Elder Żeleźniak with Elder Saltmarsh and Elder Waszkiewicz for the night, then took Elder Raines back to our apartment. We woke up early and got to the mission home wth Elder Raines in tow to help Sister Edgren with breakfast. We got the trainees all out the door and to the Wolska Chapel. In talking to President, he decided it was best that they experience church here in Warsaw at the historic Wolska Chapel (the only church built building here in Poland). We got them all there, got things settled, put them with their new companions, and then got them all on trains back out to their respective cities. We were so certain we were done looking up train times and everything, but we were just a little bit wrong. We had to stop at the office one last time to update some emailing things for the mission and what not, and realized that nobody had train times for the zone training that is happening this week. Thus, that necessitated our looking up times from city to city for different days and preparing emails to send out to missionaries all last night. So, we officially had no time for normal contacting all week. It was definitely something new. I'm not complaining. I'm plenty busy and love helping missionaries. It just feels weird to not have talked to anyone on the street in the past week. Well, we've talked to people along the way and such, but we haven't had a contacting session since I've been here. In fact, we've only had studies in full once, and personal study twice since I've been here, and probably had to wake up early more days than not. It makes life fun!
Here are some excerpts from my letter to President-
Elder Wilson and I have enjoyed all the excitement with which we've dealt this week. Not that we're dying to have such a busy schedule all the time, but we've enjoyed it. I'm grateful the Lord didn't give me much spare time, because it made the transition easier. The Lord knows exactly what we need and when we need it. I'm sure of that.
Miracles have been ever present this week with all the travel and excitement, but I think one really hit home. As we were driving to church with Elder Taylor, he spoke of the first missionary from Poland to ever serve. He mentioned that his Dad had trained this missionary and that this missionary had predicted that one day, one of his trainer's sons would serve in Poland. Well, Elder Taylor is now here, serving in Poland. After a few quick questions, we determined that this polish member who was trained by Elder Taylor's father was none other than A.B., the branch mission leader in the Warsaw 1st branch. Elder Taylor is now serving in Kraków. It was no mere coincidence that all the missionaries were held up in Denver for four days. Because of all the changes, all these new missionaries attended the Warsaw 1 branch, which has never happened to a group of trainees that I've seen come in. I don't know if Elder Taylor will serve in Warsaw, or even if he'll get a chance to see Bro. B. again the rest of his mission, but I know the Lord had a hand in making sure they were able to meet on Elder Taylor's first Sunday in Poland.
Elder Wilson and I are doing great. I love serving with him so much. He's become one of my best friends, both here on the mission, and will be after as well. He's such a great kid. He knows how to work, he's obedient, and I'm so grateful for the example he gives me. I'm incredibly blessed.
Hannah bear, you make those donuts! They look like they're awesome. And, nice work on the hashtags. I'm impressed.
Heath, good luck with the knee. I know Sterling Scholar can be busy, but I'm sure you're up to the task. Obviously I'd love it if you went to BYU. Come on. We haven't even gone to the same school since forever ago. You haven't had to put up with me and my nerdiness for ages. You think you can handle all of that? I like your comments about music. There are few other mediums that can bring the Spirit so powerfully. It's important to recognize that music shapes a big part of who we are.
Dad, I'm liking these comparisons from Alma's mission. It is quite remarkable. The Lord definitely knows what He's doing. Nice work with the Book of Mormon placing. So, are you going to write this pamphlet now? I'd love to read it if you do.
Emms, I think you'll be good to go with whatever you choose. I don't know much about the girls' lacrosse program over there, and I know that the high school track program for sprinting isn't organized super well. For distance it definitely is though. It's your choice. Don't worry, the Spirit's with you. The Lord is in your life. Look for His hand. You'll find it.
Mom, thanks for being a mom and making sure that I'm doing ok. I appreciate all the work you do at home for me still.  I'm trying to do my best here and realizing that numbers aren't always everything. Visible results, while they are the most pleasing in the here and now, are often replaced by the results the Lord wants to see. I haven't been the most successful missionary in terms of numbers or in terms of people whom I've taught, yet I know the Lord has taught me specific lessons that I need to have. The Lord and I are continuing to develop a more personal relationship. Sometimes, it's hard for me to trust in what He's giving me or trying to teach me, but I'm learning. I told the trainees yesterday in a testimony meeting, I haven't received everything I wanted on my mission, but the Lord has given me everything I've needed.
Now, my mission is still a long way from being over, and I'm not thinking about that too much. Yet, it's comforting to look back and see where the Lord has influenced me and what I've done.
Well family, the gospel is true! I love it and am glad to be preaching it here in Poland.
Elder Vernon

Oh, I almost forget. J was baptized this week! I guess all it took was me leaving Szczecin haha. I'm super excited for him. He'll be a great member. He's the one I'm with here in this picture.