Monday, 26 September 2016

I can feel Winter coming!

So just a few things that happened this week - 

On Tuesday we had a bomb district meeting as always, and then we hit the town for some contacting. It was going well until the rain started to fall. We had to pack the table and books away but we carried on going and talking with people. After a countless number of rejections I turned and shouted something, can't remember what exactly.  Elder Huffman said, 'chill..the next person you speak to will take a book, I promise you.'  Him saying that kind of got me hyped, the next person came by. It was a young guy wearing all camo, pretty hard to notice him at first, but we chatted and he was a chill guy interested in religion, especially other faiths different to his own. He willingly took a Book of Mormon and said he can't wait to read it.  The miracle of the day I guess. 
Tuesday was also the arrival of Elders Schwanke and Baldwin.  We picked them up from the dworzec that evening. Elder Schwanke served in Lublin for 8 months so he was buzzing to be back! We had a good day planned with them.
I had Elders Schwanke and Baldwin round for exchanges, had to get a pic before they got on the train back to Warsaw

Wednesday we had service at Beata's house again. Just carrying more trees from the woods to her back garden, building things and knocking things down, nice just to have a bit of physical labour other than walking and talking you know. We get fed some good grub too.  Good classical Polish food. Home-grown and cooked cauliflower soup for starters and then some Pyzy z mięsem for main. We all stayed over at the other Elders place Wednesday night. Which meant a night on the floor for me, I made sure I brought my huge pillow with me this time. 

We've been doing district tracting on nights recently.  Thursday night we tracted, also Sunday night. Sometimes you need that extra push to get out and work.  It always helps when you have the district members out with you to give you that extra energy. 

English class was on Saturday.  We didn't have as many there this time, but still a good 10 or so came.  We still managed to have fun. We went and played sport afterwards.  Elder Huffman and I played head tennis over a volleyball net for about 30 mins before heading out,  as nobody was there. It was good fun though, it took us a while to find our touch, but once it came there was no stopping us. 
Sunday was a solid day. It was fast Sunday as General Conference is next week.  For General Conference we'll watch it at our chapel through broadcast like you do back home.  It'll be translated into Polish though which will be fun as I'll be able to understand what's going on this time, back in April I had no idea. 
The darkness comes earlier now, it's much much colder and I can feel winter coming. It's bringing back memories of Kielce. I don't mind though, it just means I can wrap up and wear the new coat I bought. 

Took me 5 weeks to notice this hanging up in the wardrobe, it may come in handy during Winter!

sunset view from the chapel

We went tracting last night to finish off the week. We missed the bus we wanted to take, so we took another bus and went to the end of the line. We found this really nice neighbourhood with huge houses and wasn't street lit though and was kind of out there, it was so dark! 

there are houses and a road behind me somewhere! 

John 16:33 is what I'll leave you with.
Do widzenia! Życzę miłego tygodnia! 

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Focus on Faith

Some cool things that happened this week:-

1)  Tuesday we had the Warsaw Zone, Zone Conference in Warsaw, which meant another day of travelling there and back. I've travelled way over 1000km this transfer, just to Warsaw and back. It was good though,  a good day spent with the missionaries in this zone. A good occasion to teach and learn from each other. I really like the way President Turek leads his conferences and meetings - very simple principles are taught, in a very simple way, most of it through reading passages from the scriptures - one of the best tools we have been given to increase our knowledge.

There's been a theme of the last two conferences, that being a focus on Faith. How we can have more faith, why faith is important, how faith draws us closer to our purpose, having power through faith. Something we also spoke about was how before we can teach, before we can bear testimony, before we can have power, before we can have the companionship of the Holy Ghost; we must have a solid testimony in three fundamentals of this church:

  1)Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost
  2)The Atonement of Jesus Christ
  3)The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ

When we build our faith upon these three things, we will have the power to teach and bear testimony to our friends and those around us. Power comes through belief.

After Zone Conference, Elders McPherson and White came back to Lublin with us as it was their turn for exchanges with me. We had to rush for the train though, we just made it in time.  I ran ahead so that I could hold the train up, they call that the missionary style of catching a train. That evening we sat out by the Rynek in Old Town and had Kebabs, it was a perfect evening. We took a language study outside too and walked around the city talking with people and each other in Polish, it meant we had the opportunity so show McPherson and White the beauty of Lublin at night. 

2) We had a district meeting on Wednesday morning after studies, lead by Elder Huffman in Polish, it was cool to see him just go for it, we spoke a lot about things we learned from Zone Conference.

3) I think I broke my own record on laughing, I broke down so many times during the day and then especially at night, we played games and were just chatting - Elder White is a character haha!

4) We've been working our butts off this week trying to get people to come to our English Club that started on Saturday. On Wednesday night we met a group of students from Morocco, they're all studying at the Politechnika here in Lublin. There were about 15 of them, and they all said they would come to English on Saturday, we kept seeing them throughout the week and each time they were happy to see us and assured us they would all be there. So the time came, 6pm on Saturday, time for English, they all came in waves, but they were true to their word - all and more came. We had about 18 students from Morocco there, it was mint, such a miracle!  They're the nicest people too.

5) Another day in Warsaw for District Conference. We had a 3am get up, 1 hour to get ready and then we had to be at the bus station for 5am. It was so strange walking around the streets that early in the morning, people were still out partying. District Conference was good.  Good to see all the members and missionaries again. We had a decent turnout too. We spent the day in Warsaw, with other missionaries during lunch and dinner.  I had a walk around with one of Elder Huffman's old friends from his Warsaw days. It was nice to see, I hope to be able to see some friends I've made in other cities during the rest of my mission.

So there's a few things for you.

If I've learnt something in the 10 or so months I've been out here, it's that the hardships and trials are always outweighed by the good experiences and happy times - so don't give up!

Drugi List do Tymoteusza 4:7 - W dobrych zawodach wystąpiłem, bieg ukończyłem, wiary ustrzegłem.

English Club - will be one of my greatest memories!

Warsaw Old Town - it's huge!

Each Old Town has its own look, feel and atmosphere.  

Monday, 12 September 2016

How can we 'cast our nets on the right side of the boat'?

Hello, welcome one and all to this weeks update. It's been a solid week, much better and more productive than other weeks here. We've been really focused as a district this past week, as to finding how we can 'cast our nets on the right side of the boat'.  We've been praying and acting and showing faith, so hopefully it will be given us soon!

Tuesday we had a solid district meeting lead by Elder Huffman, we spoke about prayer and also figured things out as a district as to how we can better work together. After that we went and printed off some new English fliers, 2500 to be exact!  We then found a new burger place for lunch, pretty decent, not the best, but it was tasty. We went for an hour or so handing out English fliers, it's something I really enjoy doing, you can just chat to people about English, in English.  If they don't understand then you just speak Polish, but the young people love it here. We had to go to tesco to pick up a few things for the apartment to make it more comfortable for those that come here on exchange. 

Being a Zone Leader I have the opportunity of working with each district leader and his comp for a few days, so they can learn from me and also so I can learn from them. Honestly,  it's more of the second I feel. We work our hardest through the week and sometimes see no results, it's hard to stay focused and driven.  Exchanges also allow us as missionaries to see that the work is the same in each city across Poland.  It's not just you that is going through these trials, we can be leaders and show them hard work and fun.

On Wednesday I had another trip to Warsaw, been doing a lot of travelling recently. We had another MLC that was based on helping President and Sister Turek plan for zone conference. It was a good opportunity to be with the leaders of the mission and council together, there was a good solid presence. I had the giggles through the opening hymn though, I don't know why, but I was struggling to keep a straight face, haha. We had Pizza Hut for lunch before shipping out to Lublin. I went with Elders Garrison and Fetzer back to the Dworzec, I introduced Elder Garrison to Irn Bru, he said he wasn't that impressed. 

So yeah back to the exchange stuff, after zone conference and when I got home, we had Elders Reid and Dooley from Łódź come down for a few days. 2nd exchange of 4 to get through. Elder Dooley is a group below me, we met in the MTC as our groups overlapped.  Elder Reid is in his 3rd transfer and is a boss at Polish! 

Wednesday we spent the afternoon at Beata's house - a lady who the missionaries have had contact with for a while.  She lives on a big plot of land and so we go regularly to do yard work or whatever. This week we had to turn mounds of rocks and clay and mud into a nice flat bit of land she could start growing things on.  So we went to work, tools and shovels, 2 hours later we had what she wanted. The Americans loved the yard work, I wasn't a huge fan but I got a sweat on. We also went into the woods to get some wood for her, czyli she had us bring a whole tree from the woods into her garden. just picture 6 Elders carrying a huge tree, it was so heavy.  They fed us, traditional Polish food, potatoes and salad with a big old Kiełbasa. Between Elder Huffman, Reid and Myself we drank like 6 litres of sparkling water too, they just kept bringing it out.

After service we spent the night doing some English contacting.  The Deptak and old town was so packed as there was this 'Taste festival' going on, so just loads of wooden market stalls selling all kinds of foods, it smelt so good, such a good feel to the place. We slept over at the other Elders place, just to have a bit of fun, so 6 elders in one place, with no sleeping arrangements!  I slept on the bare floor with my jacket as a pillow but it was all worth it! We had a good night just chatting together - we were still in bed on time though.

Saturday evening was cool.  We had a lesson with a guy named Marek.  We opened his eyes to a new way of planning. He came to the English class but was the only one there, so we decided to teach him, asking inspired questions and seeing where it lead us.  It was a cool experience and Marek is a nice guy. We taught him how to pray, the way the Saviour taught, he prayed to finish off the meeting and it was a really sincere prayer.

Sunday was the big one, the turning point in the work here. President Belo and his wife are back in town, as school has now started.  They're both young.   President Belo is at medical school here, and they're such cool people. They had us round for dinner last night and we had a good time just getting to know each other and all. Look forward to the next few weeks. 

Elder Ashworth

Elder Dooley

Elder Lange.

Me and my twin!

Elder Huffman and his twin.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Cześć wam.

Cześć wam. Hope all is well. Everything is good here..we've had an eventful week here in the small city of Lublin. 

We'll start with Tuesday.  We had a solid district meeting, full of the spirit and scripture reading. We read stories from the Book of Mormon and discussed what we can learn about obedience from the verses we read. Obviously, we read about the strippling warriors and how they carried out every order with exact obedience, they didn't fear as they knew they would be spared through their faith and obedience. That's how we've got to be!   We had a short finding activity afterwards in which we didn't see any success, we tried though which is what matters. That day Elder Kapela and I had a train to Warsaw as we had an exchange that week with the Assistants, Elders Quakenbush and Cowley. Solid comfy train ride. We got a text to tell us that they couldn't get us from the train station so we had some directions to follow.  We didn't have much time to get there to be in for 9 but that wasn't a problem. We stopped for cheeseburgers which is a must.  Then we saw Elders McMaster, Connelley, Byrd and Blackwell in the dworzec grabbing a snack. Elders Byrd and Blackwell are new in the country.  Elder Blackwell says.."you sound like an Ozzy. where you from?"..not for the first time has someone asked me if I'm Australian..must just be my Americanised English! We managed to get to the apartment though off Elder Cowley's directions - kind of a miracle really. Chatted for a bit and chilled out.  I love being around other missionaries, especially when you're good friends with them. 

We woke up the next morning and worked out to the sounds of a Warsaw member reading the Księga Mormona. In a way it was motivating. I always eat a 100g packet of rice before working out, Cowley and Quakenbush thought it's a bit strange.  I just tell people 'you don't look as good as me without eating rice at 6am'. We had pancakes made by Elder Quakenbush and then we hit the studies. Elder Cowley and I had a lesson straight after with some cool guys from Ukraine,talked about prayer and the sabbath day. We went home for lunch and had some chicken curry and then had a finding activity at what is known to missionaries as the fish bowl. This place is by a park in centrum, and is an entrance to 3 different underground metro lines.  So many people pass through there so it's a good place to hand things out and talk.  It's kind of round shapes which is why it goes by 'fish bowl'. Both Warsaw districts and us were there so there was a decent number of us.I spent most of the finding activity with Elder White, he's a new trainee.  I got to know him and we had a good chat about things, he's a funny guy. The evening was cool, we went for Kebabs in centrum with a less active Member.  It was a beautiful evening, perfect weather, good vibes. 

Thursday we travelled home, we got home safely with no train problems this time. We didn't have long before we started the next exchange with the Elders here in Lublin. We went home, we had lunch.  I worked out and cleaned, and then we packed new clothes and headed over to the other Elders place. I was so buzzing to be having another exchange. That evening we had a finding activity and just chilled and chatted, spoke about the exchange and what we wanted to achieve. I worked with Elder Huffmann on Friday and we had a blast. We got on a bus and went out pretty far to visit a former investigator.  He lived on a nice plot of land in the countryside in the fields. Polish countryside is so beautiful, just rows of fields and farms, cherry trees and cornfields, they grow just about everything here. We had to sprint back to the bus stop which was a while away as the buses weren't too often and we had other plans. We just about made it though. We went to visit a less active member who lives in a bit of a sketchy part of town. Of course, we had a fun experience which involved a really drunk lady. We got off the bus to see here a lady saying 'proszę pana, proszę pana'..I turned around and saw a lady hanging on to the bus stop with all her strength, now I thought she was blind as she was kind of moving her head around and her eyes were all over the place, turns out she was just hammered but,  too late I'd already gone to see what was up. She grabbed on to me and could barely stand so we walked her a few feet, she wanted us to walk her home but we had no idea where she lived. We told her to sit on the grass but she wouldn't, so we kind of let go of her and helped her slowly fall to the ground. We called her husband and he came for her.  We just looked at each other afterwards in unbelief. Strange experience. The less active person wasn't home so we went back to the chapel for a bit. the best bit of the day happened at the end of the day.  We were walking down the street, it had been a long day, heads down and then all of a sudden, I just heard a bang, Elder Huffman had planted his face into a street sign haha!  It was hilarious and cracked me up so much - we were in stitches. He bruised his nose too. I'll remember that story, hopefully forever. 

On Sunday we didn't have church, there were no church services across Poland as the Temple in Germany was being re-dedicated.  Every current missionary and those returned missionaries will know how long Sunday was without a church service. Just think of having to find an extra 4 hours of activities to fill the day. 
We tracted all night and had no success, just people shouting at us from their windows, we had a guy come down from whatever floor he lived on in this block just to tell us we're not welcome and attempt to throw us off the door step.  Just a taste of what Alma and Amulek and the Sons of Mosiah experienced.  We have a long way to go.

Take care, do some good and I'll speak to you all next week! 


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