Wednesday, 31 August 2016

29th August 2016

Hey how's it going? We've had a pretty ok week here in Lublin. Not too much going on, still finding my feet, trying to figure out what goes on around the city.  Every day this week was a day closer to zone training, all my thoughts and efforts were on that, so my focus was a bit off centre but that's not a problem. We spoke about the topics at MLC, how hard could it have been to plan a 3 hour zone training that was to be done in Polish - it took a look of thought and effort, and calls between me and Sister Demordaunt, but we got it. It didn't stress me out.  I don't get stressed out. I just wanted it to be good and spiritual and for the zone to actually take something away from it. The Polish made it a bit more awkward to deliver, but at the end of the day we're all friends and nobody is judging. With everything, I saw the funny side and tried to have a laugh with it. So the meeting took place in Warsaw at the Chapel.  We had an early get up.   The train was uncomfortable and hot and sweaty. It was good to see everyone there, new missionaries too who I got to meet for the first time. Everything went well and smoothly. 

Another night this week we had a meeting with a member out at his działka, a little plot of land he owns which has a  shed with a patio and table. We sat out in the sun amongst the bugs and crops he was growing, it was a nice evening. 

I gave another talk in sacrament meeting this past Sunday, didn't have too much time to prepare as I found out the night before, all was well though I just preached some simple doctrine, you know, the good kind, the fundamentals of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had a good Sunday evening too.  We were invited round to a members house for tacos.  They're solid members and fed us well. We sat out in the garden, had some visitors there too, some good conversation, a good Sunday night. 

I'm off to Warsaw for an exchange with the APs.  I'm looking forward to spending some time with them - maybe teach them a thing or two haha.

All in all, I'm doing well.  Every day brings new tasks and challenges but we know that Heavenly Father doesn't give us challenges that we can't work through - obviously we can't do it alone but our love for Him and our willingness to submit to Him is ultimately what helps us succeed. 

Życzę miłego tygodnia

Lublin Castle

the courtyard inside the castle

22nd August 2016

Hello,  so a week has been and gone already out here in Lublin! It's crazy how fast the time goes by.  We've been up to some good stuff here. I think I've settled in pretty well and am just about getting my bearings with the place. That's the thing I least look forward to with moving cities, having to figure out how to get around. Being Zone Leader means that I'll have the opportunity to have exchanges with each of the district leaders and his comp in the that's Łódź, Warszawa 1, Warszawa 2 and Lublin. Looking forward to having them come here and work with some different Elders. I'm lucky to have a Polish companion. We try to speak Polish at least half the time. He has me doing all the calling too which is good practice. 

Tuesday night we had a finding activity on the deptak here in town. It has a different feel to the deptak in Poznań, although there are more students and young people out.  I had a good experience  with a lad from Belarus. He spoke really good Polish, I almost didn't believe him when he told me he was from Belarus. We had a chat for a while, I got his number and told him we'd be in contact. 

Every day at the start of comp study we have a call session, just so we can confirm meetings and also try and set other meeting up. It's early so most of the phone calls are interesting, sometimes the words just don't come out. Wednesday we had English class, like probably most of the cities here, we don't have a huge turnout but that's something I want to change here. We're going to hit English contacting hard, that's how you meet people and make friends. I also had my own stamp made, with my name and number, it's a pretty cool thing to carry around with you.

Thursday I had an early trip to Warsaw. My train left Lublin at 6:50.  I got up at 5am which gave me plenty of time.  The train was terrible, just so hot and there were 6 people in the carriage I was in. I finally got to Warsaw and was met by Elders Cowley and Quackenbush, we got KFC for breakfast. Also there's a shop in the mall there that sells foreign foods..THEY HAD IRN BRU! 5zł well spent, I also had Elder Quackenbush buy a can, that first sip was heaven. MLC was good, all the leaders from the mission in a room discussing what the mission needs. It was cool as through discussion we determined ourselves what we would be teaching at zone training. President and Sister Turek are wonderful teachers and examples.  They were there with their children too which shows they're just a normal family who live and love the gospel. We realised after MLC that we were all late for our trains as the clock in the room was an hour behind.  I had a while for my train but those going back to Szczecin and to Katowice had 20 mins. Sister Barney and Gheen admitted defeat and so had to get new tickets.  Elders Garrison and Fetzer were determined not to miss their train so we hopped in presidents car and he drove us to the dworzec where we had a final sprint to the platform before it set off - classic missionary style. I had to go with them as I had nobody to stay with at the chapel. So when they got on the train I had an hour by myself at the station before my train left. It felt weird not to have someone by me but I didn't mind it.  It's so strange for any normal person to think..'how can it be strange being alone', honestly for a missionary you feel lost haha!  Eventually, Sister Barney and Gheen arrived at the station so i just chilled with them for a bit until my train left. I had a good laugh with Barney as usual.

Nothing much went down on Friday.  We had a few lessons and went to the mother of a members house, she's a sweet little old lady that loves the missionaries. We had a chat with her and she showed us all her photo albums from years ago and family trips and things. 

Saturday we had a pretty slow day.  Most of it was spent in the chapel as Elder Kapela had to do his branch stuff. I studied and played the piano whilst he did that. It's nice just to have some time outside of studies to sit and read the scriptures, even better in Polish. We had a lesson planned with someone who turned up late, which was unfortunate as that meant we couldn't teach, we had English which he stayed for and then had sports afterwards. For English we had some story making fun, we each had to add 4 words on to keep the story going, some strange things came out. I have a picture of the story that I'll send. Sports was alright.  It went from 6.30 to the end of the night. There were a few young lads playing football there and we had those from English come with us. We don't have a real football here which is a nightmare.  I'll have to buy one soon. We threw the American football around for a bit which is actually pretty fun.  I got the hang of it too, maybe I'll change sports. 

Sunday was solid, we had a good turnout. I had the chance to introduce myself and share testimony. I also was in charge of the music which was a flop. The piano has hymns loaded into it but it's a pain trying to get them to play. Also, I had to conduct to which I don't know how to do, so i just did 4/4 and made it fit the hymn haha. The branch here is bigger which is nice, we have members to work with and members to do things on sunday which always helps. 

Today we're going to Majdanek, a concentration camp from the war.  It's one of the biggest in Poland and is mostly still in tact. Should be a good cultural day.  I'm looking forward to it as we did nothing but the mall and chill in Poznań.

Introducing Elder Huffman

Everybody say hello to Starszy Kapela

Huge pomnik at the entrance to Majdanek concentration camp

Long straight barbed wire fences at Majdanek

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Lublin home for the next few months.

It was early on Saturday that I got my call from President, maybe 8am, which was weird as president Edgren would do them much later. Kind of unexpected. When he told me I would be leaving I was already anticipating that.   I wasn't expecting to come to Lublin though and then he told me that he feels he needs me to be zone leader of Warsaw, another shock, and then that I would be doing it alone - mental! 

Monday I was travelling from 9am,  I had a stop in Warsaw for an hour.  Elder Taylor was there, sisters Kamp, Demordaunt and Dekker. A bunch of others too.   Elder Huffman and myself left for Lublin and had another 2.5 hour long train ride. We just chatted the whole time and had a laugh.  Got into Lublin at 3pm yesterday. Had a good rest last night.   Elder Huffman is the DL here.  His companion is Elder Lange, a German elder in his 2nd transfer.  I am serving with Elder Kapela who is a Polish service missionary.  I'm in a district with 4 different nationalities.  

I'm the oldest proper missionary in the district, which is weird as I have to step up now!  I can't give the phone to someone older as I'm the one they give the phone to when they don't understand. I can't hide anymore.

I'm slowly learning my responsibilities as zone leader. Although I'll receive proper instruction in a few days from the AP's. Now I just have to get to know my Zone and make sure everyone texts in when they get home. MLC is on Thursday so I have to go back out to Warsaw. I'll be there through the day and will go through with president what he wants us to teach during zone training. Which is in 10 days. 

Strike a pose

5 for me

The street of Poland Warsaw Missionary Legends 

Many Mars Bars and drinks were bought here. This Żabka is my 3rd home 

Good ol' Księga Mormona

On the monument is written, 'Of God, for freedom, right, and bread'

Inside Zamek

Last Sports saturday

Bozena insisted we had some photos taken together.

Lublin, my home for the next few months.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Miracle in Kiekrz.

So the week.
I'll talk about the main points from the week as we had a long one.

There was a day this week when we sat down one evening to plan, we had no idea what to do with our time, so we prayed about whether we should go tracting in a place called Kiekrz.  After the prayer we both felt good and so the following day we tracted up in Kiekrz. The miracle that happened is that the first house we knocked on, we met a guy called Dominik who let us in and we've built a good relationship with him. He was in church on Sunday, we've had a few meetings with him.  He came to English class, and he came to sports on Saturday too.  My testimony of prayer certainly was made stronger after this experience. 

Wednesday we had President and Sister Turek in Poznań as they were visiting all the branches and holding a small fireside, also they wanted to meet members and investigators. We had it as soon as English class finished so a few of the students stayed, also we had a few members there and Dominik was there too. It was a good night, President had me conduct the meeting which was fun, just the introduction and prayers and things, so nothing much. 

Thursday was the day of zone conference, we left early at 9 so that we could be there for the 11am start. We touched down in Bydgoszcz but then realised that we didn't know the way to the chapel - we set off anyway on a hunt for the chapel.  I eventually called someone to help direct us.  It turns out that we didn't end up too far just by wandering around. The zone conference was good. Very different to the way President Edgren would go about it - not saying that either one is better. There was more on our part to search and find and learn for ourselves. President Turek is a very good teacher. Most of it was in Polish.  When the conference finished we realised that we only had 10 mins to get to the train station for our train, so we all grabbed our things and then had Sister Turek drive us to the dworzec, we made it in time. We also had Elder Garrison and Fetzer with us as they had an exchange with Bebel and Somerfeldt. 10 mins into the ride home the train stopped, and we were informed that there had been an accident involving a person and the train and that we would be delayed 3 hours - so that put an end to the nights activities. Most of the time we were delayed we hopped off the train and chilled on tracks chatting and things. We got home just before 9pm, just enough time to order pizza and settle down for the evening. We bought 4 pizzas. 

Friday we didn't really get up to much. There were still 6 of us in Poznań and we attempted to do some finding but it rained all day. It was dry when we left the house and started contacting but after a few minutes it threw it down.  Things leaked through my bag onto my shirt so now I have a multi-coloured shirt. At first, it was fun being out in the rain, I enjoyed it as it had been so hot, after a while we got really cold, short sleeved shirts too. 
Saturday we had a cool sports day activity.  We had a few people come down and we played some American Football, a sport I'm not too familiar with but I still managed to be better than the Americans. The end result came down to my incredible pace and speed - it was fun though. Saturday evening came and I was shattered.  I fell asleep after planning on the couch still in my sports gear!  I woke up at 4am and then got into bed, the shower I had that morning was one of the best I've had. 

The long awaited fast sunday came - we had a more meaningful fast as we fasted together with one of our investigators which was nice. The testimony meeting was another good one. Having to prepare the schedule and make sure the day runs well is probably the biggest pain for me, so when it all goes well I can relax.

We hit Kiekrz another few times this week, nothing more as of yet but we're not giving up, we know seeds have been planted up there. 

Hope you all have a good week.

Bydgoszcz to Poznań, the Squad!

The day when it lobbed it down with rain! Elder Fetzer and I were brave, the others hid under shelter. Probably the smarter idea

Monday, 1 August 2016

I feel GREAT! seriously it's good to be here.

(So we decided to do things a bit differently this week and mum asked some questions)

What was your favourite activity of the week? favourite activity of the week was probably the sports finding activity we did on Plac Wolności in the centre of town. We set up a table in the middle of the square and we had the frisbee, American football and then the good old real football that you kick with your feet. All 4 of us were out trying to draw attention to ourselves and get people to come to our sports Saturday activity which has been low on numbers recently and not as effective as it could be. I don't think we'll be able to top last weeks sports day. This could probably be the favourite story and funny story at the same there were a load of people out but then about 15 mins in it started to throw it really rained hard and the streets cleared, but we continued to play as heavy rain fell, we got soaked and then about 15 mins later it stopped and the people came back out. 

What was something you learned about yourself this week? I learned that no matter how much I try I can't learn from reading text-books, it just doesn't work. I'm still trying to find a way to effectively learn Polish and improve.   Also, bugs are attracted to me, I've got a load more bites that are irritating the flip out of me.  Maybe it's because I smell so good, not too sure though. 

How many people were at church and who gave talks etc? We had a decent number of people at church yesterday, maybe 13 of us. Karol shared a few words on faith, loudly and with much expression as he likes to do which is always a good way to start the meeting off, then Sergiusz gave a good talk on the Holy Ghost and following the promptings to do good and then Elder Sommerfeldt shared a few words which was good of him..not easy being in your first transfer and having to prepare a talk. I remember giving a talk in Kielce in my 3rd week in Poland, it was a scary thought, it still is now even though I'm more comfortable speaking in Polish.

What has the weather been like? The weather has been good for the most part with the odd storm here or there.  It's really humid still though and even without the sun shining on you, it's hot and sticky.  I'm going through so much water.

Best teaching moment of the week? We had exchanges this week and I had a good lesson with someone we're teaching with Elder Bebel. Talking is good and bearing testimony is powerful but silence sometimes works just as effectively, there's a spirit that is invited through silence that really gets you thinking and allows you to be receptive to promptings.

Anything funny happened? We had an exchange with Elder Bebel and Sommerfeldt as Bebel is our zone leader, we both went over to their apartment and stayed there two nights. It was fun.  We didn't get up to anything sketchy but we had a laugh within the limits of being missionaries, which was fun. Sometimes it's good to relax and chat about life with good lads, whilst on exchanges. The Exchange turned out to be really effective too.

How is the Polish language coming along - have you learnt any new words etc this week? The language is coming on well, sometimes I take for granted the progress that occurs. I've just learnt that if you pray for help every day and you act in a way that is in accordance with Heavenly Father then you will be blessed. I've not really learnt any new words off the top of my head, just the fluency and understanding is coming on. Sometimes I still don't have a clue what people say but that's just the way it is.  I'm not striving for perfection anyway because it would drive me crazy.

How does it feel to be 9 months in? I feel GREAT! seriously it's good to be here.

What is it like being the Branch President and what responsibilities do you have? Being Branch president is a funny experience, you're always thinking about the members and other things, nothing that I stress over.  I've been blessed, I just don't really ever get stressed about things.  I'm laid back and casual with everything, I blame that on failing my college exams though haha!  I'm enjoying the experience though, it's not one I thought I would be having this early in my mission.

How are the other elders in Poznań doing? They are doing well.  Elder Bebel and Sommerfeldt are a good match, they work hard and have had a lot of success with having meetings with people.  Elder Alvarez is a bro for life and I love his family.

We've been up to a place called Kiekrz recently knocking on doors, it's a 30 min bus ride outside of Poznań and is a little lakeside town, it's really nice out there. We're praying that we'll find a family out there to teach.  We have a trip to Bydgoszcz for zone conference this Thursday which will be good.  It's a 2-hour train ride.  The missionaries in the north zone will be there:- Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin and Bydgoszcz.  

ft. Elder Campora's tie, he also goes by Dominik now.

ALVAREZ..who does he think he is?  haha

burgers for p-day

Lakeside in Kiekrz.

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