Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Being Thrown In At the Deep End!

Hello one and all, welcome to this week’s edition of Elder Ashworth's Blog run by his mum. 

Let's start with Tuesday.

Tuesday - We would usually have had district meeting but not this week as we had Zone conference the following day. So after studies we went and did some contacting down at the spot known as 'Fredra'. It was another good experience contacting and I managed to get a few numbers and give someone a Księga Mormona. Later on that evening we had FHE, we played Pictionary, a standard FHE game which is needed in this branch as for some reason understanding how to play games is something they struggle with ha-ha. After FHE we went English contacting and I got hugged by a random Irish girl that heard me speaking. The favourite bit of the day happened as Elder Jeffs and I were planning for Wednesday, the phone started ringing, it was the AP's calling from outside at the gate asking which number we lived at, about 2 mins later they turn up at our flat and decide they're staying for the night. The perks of being AP I guess. We had a top night with them though. 

Wednesday - The day of Zone Conference, we continued the theme of miracles from Zone Training. President showed a video about butterflies and the change that occurs with the caterpillar. He likened it to missionary work and the change that happens in both us as missionaries and in the people we teach. The caterpillar has the potential to become a butterfly, we have the potential to become like Jesus Christ. We had a pretty bomb testimony meeting too, in which we all had the chance to bear a short testimony. Missionary Testimony meetings I think are how every Bishop wants his ward’s fast and testimony meeting to go. Also as part of the Conference, all 18 of the missionaries present did a huge 1 hour long English blitz, in which we handed out and spoke to an incredible amount of people about our free English class. 

Poznan Zone Training - photo courtesy of Sister Edgren
photo courtesy of Siostra DeMordaunt

Photo courtesy of Siostra DeMordaunt 

Thursday - Good standard day all around. The other Elders had a baptismal date accepted by one of their investigators. We did more contacting out in the sun. The weather was really nice. The weather changes contacting so much, people actually stop to you and talk. 

Friday - The weather kind of dropped off a bit which was pants but the day was still good and interesting. We had a meeting in the morning but the guy didn’t show, it’s becoming the norm. So we took a trip to Tesco and bought 12 huge sticks of chalk as we had an idea of how to advertise for the open day on Saturday. That evening we went tracting down in Świerczewo, we were having no luck and then floods of people started leaving their homes for mass, so we decided to follow them and attend an Easter Mass at the local Catholic Church. I was on edge as I didn’t want to get locked in. There were hundreds of people there and then it all kicked off and people started doing things and priests came so we quickly left ha-ha. That's the interesting part to the day. 

Saturday - What a beautiful day! It's always a good start to the day when the sun is shining through the window! After studies, we put the huge chalk that we bought to use and decorated the city of poznań advertising for the 'Dzień Otwarty'. We drew arrows from tram stops and busy roads leading them to the chapel, it was a fun hour or so and it turned out to be really effective. The Open day went well...we did it straight after English class so we would have more people there. People showed up through the day and enjoyed it. We had a free table where people could take pamphlets and Books, we had Meet The Mormons showing in one of the rooms and had a question and answer session in the chapel. 

Sunday - We had a really nice Sunday service at church. We had 13 people there which was surprising as it's Easter and nobody does anything during Easter weekend, the streets were so quiet, I’ve never seen a big city be so empty. So at Easter, they just spend time with family and eat food and drink. A lot of flowers are sold. People carry baskets of food round through the day as they get the food blessed by the priest so they can eat it for breakfast the next day. It's tradition to eat this kind of plant too, it's a fluffy looking seed, we had them at Bożena's.  The water fight thing is something they do, but I didn't see any of it going on.  It was a beautiful day and after church one of the younger members of the branch, Marta, made a little Easter treat hunt for us down by one of the little parks which was incredibly sweet and kind of her. Bożena then had us round for her special Easter Sunday meal. I've never had a food coma hit so hard than the one I had after that meal. I think I fell asleep on her couch afterwards. 

Last pictures with the man himself - Elder Jeffs

So some news for you, I'm no longer serving with Elder Jeffs. We got a surprise call from president on Sunday in which we were told that he's mixing things up in Poznań. In my call with him he told me he's throwing me in the deep end. I'm now serving with Elder Liechty and we are now the youngest companionship in the mission I believe! (Elder Liechty came out just one transfer before me). We were saying this morning how it's going to be fun with making calls as we both don't speak that well.  Bring on the next 4 weeks! 

My new comp. Elder Liechty - probably not the best view of him.

Monday, 21 March 2016

'I'm a Missionary!'

Squad pic after English class

Dzień dobry was! We've had a pretty solid week in Poznań..więc zacznijmy od Wtorku.

Wtorek - As you know Pday was on Tuesday last week. The Escape room we did with Sławek was tough but we managed to get out within the hour. It was different to the last one we did, in that we didn't start blindfolded and chained to a wall haha. This one was more about solving puzzles and working things out as opposed to just trying to open locks and things. We had FHE that night which went really well. We had 4 members there which is better than usual. We had a short spiritual thought and taught them about all the prophets from this dispensation, from Joseph Smith all the way through to Thomas S Monson. It was fun because it's not common knowledge here in Poland. The members had never even heard of Gordon B Hinckley. Then we played bean bag toss. we played 4 vs 4, and had these targets made out of a board of wood with a whole in it. I was on form, I think I hit 8 in a row at one point. After that we taught Joanna the plan of salvation. Probably the most in-depth plan of salvation lesson Elder Jeffs and I will ever teach. 

Środa - We had another good District meeting. This time we went through the most important part of any contact, which is bearing testimony and inviting the spirit. We practiced a few times and spoke about key points which need to be included when in 'step 3'. After we put it to work on the street and had a couple hours contacting. The weather was really nice, I had the classical missionary look with just a white shirt and tie...No coat was needed!! We managed to get a few numbers but not set up with them yet. We contact on a corner known as 'Fredra', a busy tram stop, it's close to town and the uni is close so it's a quality contacting area. We taught the Advanced English class this time.  It seems to work well with the advanced class. Afterwards we invited everyone back in to the chapel and the four of us sang a song that Elder Jeffs and I wrote to Sławek as it was his last English class. It was so funny. We ended the night with some classic English contacting. 

Czwartek -  The day with Elder Garrison. His comp had to go into Warsaw for legal work and so joined us in Poznań for the day and night. They're serving in Szczecin which is miles away from Warsaw. We contacted in the morning before having lunch at Bożena's. We then picked Elder Garrison up from the station and went out for more food before going out contacting again. The weather was even better than the previous day. Also I contacted on my own for the very first time, I seemed to understand a little better than I usually would do, maybe I was blessed for acting. I was myself and had fun with it and it worked out alright. Also we managed to hook ourselves up with a list of 3 good service opportunities around Poznań. Elder Vance managed to get in contact with the council and this guy sorted us out big time. The night ended with us English contacting, the highlight being an awkward 5 minutes with drunk people.  

Piątek -  We spent the morning inside with studies and weekly planning before taking Elder Garrison to the train station. We went to a pretty nice Milk bar for lunch, can't complain with a 14Zł lunch. Not much happened through the day, we had someone not show up for a meeting which always ruins plans, so we decided to go and tract in the area a member lives as he had invited us over and he lives way out. No look with the tracting but you speak to an array of people which is always fun. The lesson with Maciej (member) was good, we taught him about teaching in the church and shared our experiences with teaching. 

Sobota - We met with a referral early morning but it turned out he only wanted a book and then he left, so we were like...huh...what shall we do, we did nothing exciting we just went over our plans for the day haha. We had KraszKebab for lunch, this place has changed my opinion on kebabs, and the missionaries are friends with the workers there. We had 4 new English students come to English class, we taught beginner class and sang a song with them which is always a good time. Nobody stayed for religious class so we took dinner at the chapel before heading out to tract Świerczewo for the evening. Again we split and Elder Liechty came with me. 

Niedziela - The day of District Conference in Bydgoszcs..us missionaries got a ride there with Marcus. Which led to the first miracle of the day. We had 9 members from Poznań get there on the bus. We were well represented at conference, even President Edgren commented on it. The day went really well, we had Elder Limer (Area 70) there at the conference. We had a priesthood session in the morning before having the general session at 12. There was around 60-70 people and it was nice to see that Poland has a solid base of members here. Sister Kamp and Dekker were there too which was nice. Marcus got us invited to the Tufts (senior couple) after conference for a fun evening of games and food. There were 10 of us there including a family from Gdańsk and an investigator from Bydgoszcs. As we were sat around the table playing 'Wackey 6' I had a moment where I realised 'flip I’m a Missionary'. I remembered the times we would have the elders round for tea, their white shirts and Spirit they would bring, then I looked down and saw I had a white shirt and name tag on, I felt calm and smiled and continued on with the game but it was a nice moment. The journey home was crazy as we left a bit late and had a two-hour drive. Marcus and his driving, it's something else, but with him being Austrian I put total trust in him. We made it home on time though haha!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

One of the best, funniest yet most exhausting English contacting sessions yet!

This is Sławek. He's coming to Manchester on the 17th to live and work. He comes to the English class but has never investigated the church, but wants to be in contact with the church and the missionaries in England. I've given him info about where to go and things, hopefully he goes to Oldham, I told him to anyway.

Monday 7th - After Pday ended we had a meeting with a young college lad.   We met him at his place, He's been investigating for a while but hadn't had a meeting with the missionaries for about a month. We just spoke with him about the importance of reading and praying daily, also church attendance and why we go to church, Moroni 6 explains that pretty well. We committed him to continue to read and pray and invited him to church but he didn't show up to church. 

Tuesday 8th - We had a really good district meeting in the morning after studies, led by our DL Elder Vance. We've been focusing on contacting and how we can make every contact a good one. Last week we focused on the initial first impressions. This time we focused on getting them interested whether it be through a question or being funny. After that I gave a Christ like attribute section, I prepared something about diligence and the importance of being physically and more importantly spiritually diligent in our missionary efforts. Later on that day we had a meeting with a lad called Marcin. He's the brother of Carolina, a girl that was baptised in Canada. We taught him in the mall in the food court, and it went as well as you could imagine haha. Tuesday evening is Branch FHE. Iza, our investigator Marcin and Carolina showed up. We don't get the best turn out but we're working on improving it. We gave a short spiritual thought on the sacrament, and then had a paper plane contest for the activity, although the 'contest' part didn't happen and it turned into kind of dodgeball but with paper planes. 

Wednesday 9th - We had a bomb contacting session, Elder Liechty and I teamed up. We had 3 good contacts, using the points that we'd learnt from District Meeting the previous day to get people hooked. English class was fun as always. We sang with them, there were some mixed reactions when they found out we were singing haha. Most of them got involved though and asked if they could do it next time. Maybe we will. 

Thursday 10th - Thursdays are the Wednesdays in the week for missionaries I think. Bożena had us round for lunch as usual, we went contacting for an hour before leaving for institute. We had a pretty stressful evening as we had to organise how we were going to get the branch to district conference in Bydgoszcz. We spent the night calling members and trying to buy bus tickets and then we managed to get it all sorted. Get in! We saw that we had tracting planned but it was late and we couldn't be bothered trekking to our area, so we decided to English contact between the two busiest tram stops in Poznań. It turned out to be one of the best, funniest yet most exhausting English contacting sessions yet, but a great way to relieve stress. 

Friday 11th - Planned for the week. All the usual stuff. Went tracting in the evening again and swapped comps, so Elder Liechty came with me. We had a mint night. Some strange situations though. We had an old woman come out of her house having just woken up, she was so confused as to what was going on. She went back in and then came out again, this must have happened 2 or 3 times. Her neighbour then came out and she started waffling on to him saying how she's called the police and that. I was thinking 'what is happening', it was a funny yet weird 15 mins. Then from half 7 till the bus home at 8:15 we spoke with an old guy out walking his dog. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Saturday 12th - English class. We taught them fruit and vegetables and just went through every single item you could imagine. With the fruits it was funny because they would be like 'oh raspberry, we have whiskey that flavour', I swear they said that with every fruit haha. 

Sunday 13th - The day of my talk. It went okay apart from me saying 'Dobry Wieczór' (good evening) instead of 'Dzień Dobry'. We had Marcin in church, it's always good to have an investigator in church. After church Bozena had the Elders and Karol (Elder Jeffs 1st councillor) round for one of her famous Bożena feasts.

Some of my favourites of the past week:-

Favourite word of the week -  Czołem, it's an older word that can be used to mean cheers, or thanks. We heard an old man say it that we contacted and Elder Jeffs got excited so we use it now.

Favourite scripture of the week -  John 14:15. Simple scripture, you show God you love him by doing what he says and keeping his commandments. 

Favourite journey of the week -  We took a trip up to a college campus just north of the city. We contacted up there for a couple hours. It was freezing but we want to teach young people. 

Favourite shop of the week -  Żabka...just a little newsagent’s kind of shop. They're everywhere and this past week mars bars were on sale.

Favourite moment of the week -  singing Hallelujah with the English class.

Best testimony builder of the week - my testimony of obedience has increased this week as my sacrament talk was about the commandments. Agency and the choice to be obedient plays a vital role in whether or not we receive the promised blessings of heaven. In every situation in the Book of Mormon, those that are obedient and keep the commandments are blessed. Those that are not are usually punished, or destroyed as it was back then. It's hard to be exactly obedient, but I know that we will see so much added to our lives if we do everything we can and 'strive' to be obedient and keep the commandments.

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Monday, 7 March 2016

Tracting, tracting and more tracting in Strzeszyn and Świerczewo.

No photos this week but this is Poznan Old Market courtesy of  the Art & Art Magazine.

Well my week has been pretty good. 

After P day last Monday we went tracting. We've done a lot of tracting this week and it's really fun, probably the funniest story of the week is from tracting but we'll get there later. The two places we're tracting are Strzeszyn and Świerczewo, both nice little areas. There are some huge houses in Strzeszyn. We haven't been let in yet inside but we both feel good about the areas and so are just being patient till we find that one person or family. We've had a lot of people tell us they don’t have time and for us to return another day. I think that’s them trying to say no nicely thinking we won't return, but we're missionaries so of course we're going to return. 

Every person in Poland owns a dog, or at least 90%of people do. It makes it fun because I love dogs, but when they won’t shut up barking it makes it hard to hear, I found myself many times last week shouting at the top of my voice from the gate of people’s houses haha. I've never seen as many German Shepherds either, and they are flipping Huge things, they look like bears!  You get the odd little dog with little man syndrome who thinks it's tough, reminds me of Oscar haha. Elder Jeffs says his mission is making him a cat person.

So onto the funny story...It was around 8pm one night and we were tracting in Strzeszyn. Now this place is kind of new, so a lot of it is big new modern houses but there aren't any roads.  We spot a new street that we hadn't tracted and head on over. Now because there are no roads it's not lit at all. So it's pitch black, in the middle of nowhere it looks, and there's a lone house with a huge cage like fence around it, but because it's pitch black the fence was invisible and Elder Jeffs tries to step onto the driveway and is stopped by this 'invisible force', he's like 'what the flip is happening?' and tries again and then notices there's a fence around the house.  The end. If you don't find it funny I understand, maybe it's a 'you had to be there' moment. 

We mixed it up this week whilst tracting and had a mini split within the district. All 4 of us were tracting our areas but Elder Liechty came with me and Elder Jeffs went with Elder Vance. It was a good night, Elder Liechty is in the group above me, so we had a 2nd and 3rd transfer companionship taking the streets of Poznań. It was a good laugh, Elder Liechty is a nice lad. 

On Wednesday we had the chance to teach one of our progressing investigators, Joanna. We extended an invitation for baptism, my first one. She said no, but she is so close. She says she doesn't doubt that it's true, she knows it's true so we just have to be patient and continue to help her. 

We had another week set up full of appointments but a lot of them cancelled. It's tough when you plan lessons and turn up to the chapel and wait, for them to not show up. So we filled the time with contacting and altered between English and Gospel. We had a goal this week for me to make all of the initial first contacts, Elder Jeffs could do nothing until I had stopped them and got them engaged. The hardest part is the initial contact, but then once you get talking you realise it's nothing you should worry about. We gained a few numbers from people so hopefully we'll set up with them. We met a guy called 'Said' from Pakistan, probably one of the nicest guys I’ve contacted with. He works and runs his own restaurant here in Poznań, so for dinner that day Elder Jeffs and I had Indian food, yes he reminded us of how good Indian food is!  We got 10Zł knocked off our bill too!

Saturday was a long day with English class, chapel cleaning, religious class after English, meetings and then more tracting in the evening. There's a guy called Sławek that comes to English class and he's a bro. He's probs in his 30's but his life ambition is to move to Australia. He's moving to Manchester of all places to work and save up money to go so he asks me all sorts of questions. I'll get a picture with him and then if you happen to run into him you'll know.  

English class was mint. We split the advanced group up into two smaller groups and Elder Jeffs and I led a conversation in our groups for the full hour. The students loved it. 

Pretty much most of my week...from what I remember, I don’t have my planner with me.

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