Monday, December 31, 2012

Weekly Email - December 31st

We received Elder Godwin's weekly email early this morning. If you have followed along with the blog you know that he sends us voice recordings and then I transcribe those and post them up. This last one was long because it was 2 weeks worth. So I will just share some of the things that he wrote.
Elder Godwin was transferred from Lodz to Krakow. He was very excited about his transfer. He loved his time in Lodz, he met some wonderful people while there. He loved the missionary couple that also served in Lodz. They are such a kind couple and he said he will miss them. He also very much enjoyed the other Elders that were serving there with him. However, he wants to take as much of Poland in as possible, so he was excited for his next adventure.

He had an interesting trip from Lodz to Krakow. 2 of the Elders were being transferred, but had different departure times. There was some rescheduling that had to happen with one of the elders to be rerouted through Warsaw and so it all ended with that Elder Godwin missed his direct train to Krakow. He was put on a different train that took over 5 hours to get there instead of his original 3+ hours. Elder Godwin was quite loaded down with his luggage too, which he wasn't thrilled about. He is ready to send some stuff back home. He did have a nice man that helped him on to the train and then sat by him. They sat quietly for quiet a while and then they started chatting. They had a real good conversation which I was excited about. With Polish being such a difficult language I am happy when Elder Godwin can progress in his conversation skills. They talked about what the Elders are doing in Poland and our message. They also talked about Catholicism in Poland and what this man believed in. The man got off the train several hours before Elder Godwin. At which point he got bored and pulled out his recorder and recorded a message to us.

Here is a map showing Elder Godwin's travels.

Once he arrived at Krakow he was greeted by his new companion Elder S. He very much likes his new companion and says he is one of the kindest people he has met. It is kind of a small world, his companion is from the same ward as Alan's cousin up in Utah.

They were invited to a nice member family on Christmas and enjoyed a nice dinner and calls from home. It was wonderful to talk to him and be able to have a 2 way conversation with him. He sounds really good and happy. We were able to talk to him for 40 minutes and we didn't have any problem filling every minute of that time. It was wonderful to have our family all together conversing with each other for 40 minutes.

This past week has been a busy week in many ways for Elder Godwin, it was a very interrupted week with all the holidays and conferences as far as work goes. He is excited because they have 2 baptisms coming up next week end.

Elder Godwin shared the following scripture and thought with us.

I had really good personal study today. I read from Enos to Mormon. A lot of it is the records being passed down and also genealogy. There are some hidden gems in there though. 
In Omni 26 it says:  And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should acome unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and boffer your whole souls as an coffering unto him, and continue in dfasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. 
A while back we had this conversation with someone. They were telling us that we don't need good works we just need to believe. For me, because I believe in the Book of Mormon it says right in this scripture that "if we give our whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved," this scripture is a call to action. 
Also in verse 25 it says: And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king aBenjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall bdeliver up cthese plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are dgood; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.
That's a strong exhortion from Amaleki to believe in the gift of tongue and languages and prophesying and revelation. Well, this is your spiritual thought for the week. 
I know the church is true, the book is blue, Moroni is always on the ball. Read your scriptures, pray, and fast.

Below is a short email he sent with his voice recordings.

Hey all, it was nice to get your very informative emails this week. It was nice talking to you all on Christmas as well.
Things are going great here. Elder S is a really nice guy, just the kindest person.
I was very glad to hear that my package made it safe and sound. I was extremely worried. Tell Erik that his name is really spelled "Irek in Polish". I have seen an Erik sticker somewhere but it wasn't a Polish exclusive. I am glad you liked all the hand-made crafts here. Kraków has even more stuff.
Today we are going to Auschwitz if we can find the right train, wish us luck (even though we will be home before you wake up). We have to return home by 6 p.m. today to be off the streets. Being here on New Years eve should be fun. The Rynek has been packed with tourists from all over Europe for the past week looking to celebrate the New Year.
The temperature keeps messing with us, going up and down at random. Some days start off freezing and by the time the sun goes down, it is much warmer than when the day started. The days are now getting longer which is  a nice thought even if it is not yet noticeable. The last couple of days have seen clear skies too so that is a plus to be able to see the sun. It might have to do with the fact that Kraków is down in the mountains. I need to go, Love you all I wish you all the best and I just want to say, keep working hard you are all looking great. Love you all. Happy new year!!!

Elder Godwin with the ward mission leader in Lodz.

 I sent Elder Godwin a couple of Christmas stockings and fabric paint so that he and his companion could join us in our tradition to decorate new Christmas stockings each year. They did a beautiful job. We however, ran out of time and didn't get to decorate ours.

 A statue of Pope John Paul II. His hometown was Krakow.

 Here is Elder Godwin's Zone. He has been reunited with 3 of the Elders he came in with from the MTC.

 Elder Godwin eating a very large piece of Pizza at his apartment.

A beautiful nighttime view of Krakow.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Repost from President & Sister Nielson's Blog

Katowice Christmas Zone Conference Dec 26, 2012

After a wonderful conference in Warsaw and phones call from our family yesterday, we were up early this morning and drove to Katowice.  Today we are blessed to meet with the Katowice Zone.
 The Katowice Zone.  Seated: Elders and Sisters Sheley and Hutchinson.  Middle Row: Sisters Smithee and Howells, Elders Weir and Garfield, Sisters Holmgren and Ence.  Back Row: Elders Szymanski, Godwin, Neuner, Lanham, Brown, Bokinsky, Harris and Hayes.
The Katowice District.  Elder and Sister Hutchinson.  Elders Brown and Bokinsky (District Leader), Sisters Ence and Holmgren, Elders Harris and Hayes (Zone Leader)
 The Wroclaw District.  Sister and Elder Sheley.  Elders Weir and Garfield with Sisters Smithee and Howells.
The Krakow District.  Elders Godwin, Szymanski (District Leader), Neuner and Lanham.
 We arrived and were loaded down with gifts from home.  We could not fit in one more box. Both myself and the Assistants were holding things on our laps. (President was exempt!) Gratefully, we were able to get everything in the car that we had received from the Poczta.  Elders Brown and Bokinsky were nice enough to help carry everything into the Chapel.
Sister Hutchinson had planned a 'Cafe Rio' lunch for the Missionaries. It was fabulous....and tasted like the real thing! Sister Sheley brought yummy desserts.  Thanks so much to our great Senior Missionaries for making everything special for our Christmas Zone Conference!
                                          We had some very happy (and hungry!) Missionaries! It was now time to test our Missionaries knowledge of Preach My Gospel.
 Elders Hayes and Harris were the fastest in finding quotes and statements in Round One.
In Round Two, Elders Neuner and Lanham along with Elders Weir and Garfield search for statements made by President Monson regarding "Preformance measured".  (Hint: page 150).
 Elder Brown and Bokinsky found the next question easy soon to be followed by Sisters Smithee and Howells.
Elders Szymanski and Godwin write down all 9 Key Indicators in order...followed by their "Purpose".
Elder Sheley and Elder Hutchinson not only acted as judges, but tallied up the scores to find a 'winner'.
...Elders Garfield and Weir earned the most points and took home the Grand Prize...(American) CHEETOS....(There IS a difference!)
The entire Zone did marvelous in the Preach My Gospel Chase and everyone collected a prize as well.  Now it was time to enjoy our White Elephant Gift Exchange.  Eveyone brought one gift and you could not spend more than 20 zl on any item.
 Sister Smithee choose number 1 and she was up first.  She unwrapped a framed picture of Elder Lanham (!?)  We are not sure if he ran out of money, had an extra frame and picture of himself or just wanted to inspire others with his great smile.
Elder Brown was next.  He opened some Polish games.
 Elder Garfield's choice was "Princess" dinnerware!
Sister Ence received a small game of Monopoly.
                                                      Elder Bokinsky got a brand new tie!
Elder Hayes (from Wales and new at this Christmas tradition) opened a toy of some sort.
                         Elder Szymanski opened a packet of Pokemon cards, but he did not keep them long...
Sister Howells received a small game.
Elder Lanham got a nice piggy bank.
Elder Neuner received some Hot Chocolate mix and knew exactly who brought them.
 Sister Holgren opened a bag of Cotton Candy.  Apparently it looked a lot better two days and one long train ride ago.
Elder Weir was one of the last to choose and a very small gift was left under the tree. To his surprise, it was an amber pendant....great things come in small packages!
Losing the Pokemon cards, Elder Szymanski was sent back to the tree to pick another gift. When he opened the 'Jedi' sword, he was ALL smiles!  (My grandsons would have loved it!)
In the end, there was trading and taking as everyone got something they needed or at least laughed about. 
Another successful Zone Conference full of fun, instruction and of course, the Christmas spirit. Tonight we drove to Poznan for our final Christmas Zone Conference.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekly Email - December 17th

Hello everybody,

I’m going to tell you about my week, but first there is some important business that I need to take care of. We got transfer calls, and I've got to tell you where I’m going. Are you ready….. I’m going to Krakow. Apparently it’s the coolest place in the whole world not just Poland. So I’m super excited. My new companion is Elder S, who is 6’7”. So that’s where I’m going and I’m so stoked. I leave on Wednesday for Krakow.

The next important peace of business is Christmas calls. So this is how it works. On Christmas day. Well first off next week I don’t get to email home because P-day is on Christmas Eve and everything is closed so we won’t get to email. So on Christmas day YOU need to call me at 18:00 Poland time. I don’t know what time that is in Phoenix, so that’s exactly the time you need to call me. We have exactly 40 minutes. Here is the phone number, xxx. So you call me on Christmas Day at that number at 18:00. And now I can get on to the rest of my message.

So here is how the week went. On Monday Elder Z and I decided that we needed to buy boots really badly, because it’s getting cold here and there is snow and slush and all sorts of stuff so boots are in need. The other Elders just wanted to write letters so we decided that we would meet up and do a split for the day. So we went to the other Elders apartment after emails and waited for the other Elders to get there. We went down to the Bazar the Chinese place. Elder Z bought boots there, but I didn’t see any I liked so I said I would hold off a little. So I asked Elder Z if we could go to the mall and see if we could find anything there that would be reasonable. So we went to the mall and I found this store that had boots for like 120 Zloty and I found some there so I bought them. So now I’m booted and it feels good. They didn’t have my size but that’s OK because the size smaller fit. Then R came over and shaved Elder J’s hair. That was that. We didn’t get much done other than buying boots and shaving someone’s hair.

Ok, so Tuesday was really sad, it had so much potential and we had all these plans. We were going to contact around P street and get someone’s information so we could teach a lesson. Then we were going to do lunch and make phone calls. Then we were going to contact to a less active’s house and give him a lesson that we had already set up. Then we were going to teach a couple of people who are members of the branch and then we were going to have dinner with them. And then we were going to pop in to the people that we gave a BOM to the other day on T. We went contacting with no results. Our prearranged lesson didn’t answer the door. And our other appointment cancelled and the couple on T didn’t open the door or answer their domophone. So that was our Tuesday getting cancelled on.

Wednesday was 12/12/12. Last one we’ll see for 100 years or so. And in the morning Elder D our zone leader came in to Lodz to train us. So we had to pick him up at Widze at 9:50 in the morning. He gave a good lesson about following priesthood keys and about working on your portion of the wall, the figurative wall. He used an example from the scriptures when the Jews rebuilt the Jerusalem wall in the Old Testament. Then we saw Elder D off at the train station so that he could go back to Warsaw. Me and Elder Lloyd drove him to the train station because Elder Lloyd didn’t know how to get there. Then we had lunch and our English class. And English class was awesome. We talked about holidays the whole time. They told us what they do for Wigilia, Polish Christmas Eve. They do like a 12 course meal and it’s very specific what they eat. They have a pirogue course, they eat sledge (pickled herring that the Europeans like), Carp and mushroom soup and a ton of stuff. Mushrooms are really big here. I got to describe Lucia to them and they were all wondering why Lucia wears lights on her head. So I was like “I don’t know” so I was going to ask you what is behind the Lucia traditions??? Because my English class wanted to know but now they are not my English class because  I’ll be in Krakow. Then we had a lesson with a former investigator named Gilt.

Thursday was pretty cool. We did our studies and then we went out contacting for a little bit. Then after lunch… Oh wait that might have been the day we met Pavel. We were contacting and we get to a little intersection that we were going to cross and there was a guy standing at the same intersection and he was like “hey, are you JW’s and I was like no “we are mormon’s, have you ever heard of us before”, he said kind off. Then I asked him if he has ever heard of the BOM, which he hadn’t. He was a homeless. He does visit his daughter once in a while and she can read him the Book of Mormon, he doesn’t have glasses right now so he can’t read. That was interesting. Then we did a free board. We had wrapped up a bunch of Book of Mormons in wrapping paper, so they looked like presents it was pretty cool. Then we went out and set up a table on P street and put out pamphlets and stuff. Then a man walked up to us and started to speak to us in perfect English, which is very rare. He said that he was from another church and that he was there first and last time he had moved for us which he know we hadn’t seen. This time he was thinking we could move for him. Then he explained that he was from Texas and that he is here to preach his gospel, then he starts this religious discussion. He asked if we were saved. He apparently detected a tone of uncertainty in our voices. So he starts telling us that Jesus says that if we just have faith in Jesus Christ we are saved and so on. And when the Apostle Paul was in prison and the prison was wrent by the earthquake and Paul stayed put. When the guard saw that he asked the Apostle Paul, what do I need to do to be saved and the Apostle Paul answered, all you have to do is have faith in Christ. He discussed that we didn’t need to do any ordinances, works or anything how it’s all just faith in Christ alone. We don’t have enough faith and that’s why we have to do ordinances. So we moved spots so that we wouldn’t be in this man’s way. Then we went out and gave away 10 BOMs that were all wrapped up. People were like, presents what is it. So we told them it was the Book of Mormon and some people weren’t interested and others were. One man took 3 books, one for himself and one each for his son and daughter. Then we had YSA dinner and then another dinner cause the first dinner wasn’t enough. Then we went back and tracted more on T, but did not see any luck there.

Friday, we had weekly planning. Then we went out to find to see if we could find these less active members, we had an address for them. We show up to this street and they are in building number 2, except for that building doesn’t exist. There is a building in the corner that is part of the intersecting road, then there is building number 4, but there is no building 2. So we tracted building number 4. Then we gave up on building number 2 since it wasn’t there. We then went to coordination meeting and so we asked R where that building was. And he told us that it’s in another city. There are a lot of cities orbiting Lodz. So it’s another place a long way away. We are not going to be able to visit them unless the Ls take us. Coordination meeting went well.

Friday was also interview day. President came in to town. We had interviews at 8:15pm. Sister Nielson was there when we showed up. We helped her carry things in. That’s when I got your 2 packages. “Thanks Mom!” Merry Christmas. We carried in all the Book of Mormons and stuff. Then we got interviewed which was really cool. It’s nice to have one on one with the President sometimes. Then we went straight home because it was passed 9pm.

I’ve got to tell you about transfer call. After we got back we sat there anxiously waiting for our call. The phone line has to be open starting at 8 o’clock, so we can’t be calling each other. So we are waiting, and the call comes. Elder J answers and the President says “Hi this is President, transfers are coming up and you will stay in Lodz, and you will have a trainee.” Then Elder J gives me the phone and the President says: “This is President, transfers are coming up and you will be going to Krakow and your companion will be Elder S”. I was all excited. It’s like the most beautiful place on earth. Elder Z just came from there and he like talks it up like nothing else. So I’m super excited to go to Krakow. Plus Krakow has access to Auschwitz and I wasn’t going to leave Poland without going there. It’s also the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. They still have his picture up in the window of his house. I will get to serve there at least 2 months unless something crazy happens. Well, that was transfer calls, which brings us to today.

Saturday we had plans on going to TK Max to get a jacket for Elder J. We walked out there, it’s not too far. They didn’t have much of anything going on, and it was too crowded. Then we had lunch. Saturday was kind of a slow day. We tried to get a bus back. We had to wait 30 minutes for the bus and then the bus sat for another 10 minutes. Then we tracted until the end of the day.

Yesterday, Sunday, we had to be at church early because the choir was practicing our song: Oh, Come All Ye Faithful. We show up and our choir director was there. So we go in to the back to practice. She taught us the proper stance when you are singing. The proper stance if you want to sing with power. She invited us to her house for Wigilia (Christmas Eve). Then we had Church as normal, we sang our song. We usually practice after church but because we were singing we practiced before church.

M was at church. He was in our gospel essentials class and he asked some good questions. So we will see how it goes. We spent the whole day in anticipation of transfer calls. The branch didn’t find out that it was transfer week until after church. The choir director was sad. That’s how it goes, one missionary leaves and another comes in. 
So today we are going to do last minute things in Lodz, so we are going to Poznanski’s Palace. I have to buy Ocarinas for Elder S. I have to pack up too and I have a ton of stuff. It is so heavy. So next time I talk to you will be Christmas and it will be from Krakow. You will call me. I won’t call you. You will call me at 18:00 at that number I gave you earlier that I’m typing up in an email too. I will be in Krakow. I love you all, you are the best. I wish you a Merry Christmas Eve. Keep on doing what you are doing. This is awesome, I will get to talk to you from Krakow in a little over a week.

I sent my package home last Monday. I’m nervous it’s not going to make it. Be looking for a package from Lodz though. You can open it when you get it. There is a mixture of your stuff and my stuff, but it should be pretty clear. Just keep that stuff safe until after my mission. That would be really cool. I might have to send another package home or I might just have to get rid of stuff.

Love you all, thanks for everything you do. I will talk to you on Christmas! Bye

Last Minute Email:

I told you in the recording most of what happened this past week. One thing that really helped me was my interview with President. I asked him, because I have been worried that what we are doing here wasn't helping anyone, sometimes they even seem quite annoyed, so I asked him how I could feel satisfied if I hadn't felt like I had helped anyone here in Poland. Isn't it our job to help people? Then he just told me that I can't possibly see the effects of all the work we are doing. He said that me being here could have a great effect 50 years down the road, and it will affect my family, and it will affect the branch, and those that take a Book of Mormon now but won't act on it for years to come. 
He said he had served in Holland when he was a young man. He tracted doors for 8 hours a day and had 1 baptism his whole mission, then many years later he heard the Holland temple being announced. He said he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. 

Also, I now get to go to Kraków and have a new start in a beautiful city. I am really excited to see what the next week brings, what there is to see and do in Kraków, and how different the people are there. I just wanted to say, that this is an amazing work. People can choose whether or not to accept the gospel, they can choose whether or not to read the Book of Mormon, to get baptized, to change. But regardless of what they choose, I know that this is the true church, that the Book of Mormon is the most powerful witness of Christ and his restored gospel that there is, and that we can take full advantage of Christ Atonement and gain Eternal Life with our families through our temples and the work that is done there. I am so greatful that I can be serving here in Poland and working with such great people, and I pray for them every day, I know that amazing things are going to happen here, maybe not while I am serving here, maybe so, but people here need the chance to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all, keep up the good work. I will talk to you soon!  OK, Love you again, bye!

A cat that was waiting outside their apartment when they got home.

Elder Godwin with his buddy Chuck!

The 4 Elders with a branch member.

Isn't this a beautiful looking bank. Not quite like Arizona!


To answer Elder Godwin's question regarding Santa Lucia, here is an explanation. (Maybe he should have listened to his mother in years past). :)

Santa Lucia

The festival of Santa Lucia begins before dawn, on the thirteenth of December, which under the old Julian calendar (used in Sweden before 1753) was Christmas Day and the longest night of the year. Throughout Sweden, the eldest daughter in each household comes to her sleeping parents, dressed in a long white gown tied with a red sash, and wearing a crown of lingonberry leaves in which are set seven lighted candies. In her hands she carries a tray of steaming hot coffee and "Lussekattor" (Lucia Runs). The procession includes her sisters and brothers also dressed in white, holding lighted candles, and singing of the light and joy of Christmas.

The sisters of the Lucia Bride wear a wreath of tinsel in their hair and a piece tied around their waist, while the boys have tall pointed caps sprinkled with stars. Awakened by the lights and the singing, the parents arise and eat the breakfast served, thus ushering in the Christmas season.

Scandinavian tradition holds that in Värmland, Sweden, a white-clad maiden, wearing a crown of burning candies, brought food to the starving villagers on the shores of Lake Vänern. No one knows how long ago the tradition began, but it was so far back that the festival of Santa Lucia was marked by a notch on the primitive "primstav" (calendar stick), the precursor of the calendar. It later became customary in western Sweden to finish the threshing by Lucia Day so as to begin the cooking and baking for the long Christmas festivities. From its beginnings in Värmland, the customs in honor of Santa Lucia have spread throughout Sweden, and more recently to the rest of Scandinavia. Today, the festival is celebrated in schools, hospitals, businesses, and towns; each of which has its own Lucia Bride and festivities to mark the beginning of Christmas. Santa Lucia Day is also an international holiday, celebrated not only in Scandinavia, but also in Italy and France in the rites of the church.

However, the origins of this tradition are not in Scandinavia, but in Syracuse on the island of Sicily around 304 A.D. According to the Sicilian legend, Lucia's mother, a wealthy lady, had been miraculously cured of an illness at the sepulcher of Saint Agatha in Catania. Lucia, a Christian, persuaded her mother in thankfulness to distribute her wealth to the poor. So, by candlelight, the mother and daughter went about the city secretly ministering to the poor of Syracuse.

Unfortunately, this was during the last great persecution of Christians in the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. The pagan young man, to whom Lucia was engaged, took a dim view of this distributing of her dowry, and denounced her to the prefect, Pascasius, who ordered that she be seized and tortured. Miraculously, when neither boiling oil nor burning pitch had the power to hurt her, she was blinded and slain with a sword. Her martyrdom is recorded in ancient sources and in an inscription found in Syracuse.

How or when this legend and tradition came to Värmland, Sweden, no one knows. With the coming of Christianity to Sweden shortly after 1000 A.D., missionaries and priests may have told the story to inspire new converts. Another possibility is that sailors from Sweden may have been captivated by the popular candlelight festival of Santa Lucia in Italy and brought the tradition back with them. A newer theory, requiring more research is that St. Birgitta (1303-1373), during her stay in Rome (1349-1373) in her effort to get papal approval of the Bridgittine Order for women, probably wrote home to Sweden telling of the Lucia legend which was widely known in Italy. As Lucia Day comes at the darkest time of year, the candies of the ministering Santa Lucia portend and witness to the True Light-the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the morning of the thirteenth of December, the strains of "Santa Lucia" are heard everywhere in Sweden as the white-robed maiden comes out of the night with her burning crown of candies dispelling the darkness.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weekly Email - December 10th


I’m going to try to record this while making Swedish pancakes. We’ll see how that goes.

So this last week, on Monday, Elders J and Z wanted to sleep for P-day so me and Smith went out and had a fun day walking around. Mostly on P street where everyone does their shopping. Because its got fun stuff to look at.

Tuesday, me and Elder S had an exchange together and we got to hang out together. We had district meeting that day and I got to practice roll playing as if I was contacting a large group of people. Which is always fun to do. And then me and S went out and walked all over the place and we got to see all sort of stuff. We also taught a lesson to B. It was cool, neither of us really speak Polish, but we handled it. I cut my hair on Tuesday and I think it looks alright. I did it myself.

Wednesday, we switched back in the morning to our regular companions. We switched at Manufactura. And while we were there I bought myself a really cool fountain pen. Then we went and did a free board. Where we give away a bunch of brochures and Book of Mormons. And give them away for FREE. We gave out 7 BOM’s that day during the free board. I lie on Wednesday we did a white board not a free board. We did the free board on Thursday. The whiteboard on Wednesday wasn’t that cool. We did have English class on Wednesday, we hadn’t had a chance to get our papers copied for the class, so we decided to take the class on a field trip to get the papers copied at the mall. Then we went back for the class. After that we went tracting.

Thursday, we did the free board. Then it snowed at the end of the free board. It was freezing cold. It is not so bad if you're walking around. But if you stand around it is freezing cold. As we walked down P Street to go back to our building there were some volunteers from a food bank that were trying to get us to go in and we actually did. They took pictures of us because they wanted to commemorate the event. It was actually a holiday on December 6th. It’s called “little Christmas”. After that we went back to have a lesson with B, but he didn’t make it. But we stayed for a YSA dinner. Then we went back to the same building to tract that we went to the day before. Then we contacted a nice couple on the street. They were like “you guys are the ones that have 10 wives” we told them we don’t and they were like “no, that’s not a bad thing”. That happens quite a bit because of movies they have seen.

On Friday, we had our planning session. We don’t leave the apartment until 1pm. Which is way to late. Then we had lunch with the other Elders and the Bazar where they have Chinese stuff. One of the shop owners was kind of cool. I was looking at hats and he was like, “hey, I want to talk to you about your religion. I was the only one that was right there. He asked me a few questions and then he asked “do you think Christ is better than Jehovah? Those conversations aren’t usually the best. Then Z who speaks better Polish took over. So we gave him a Book of Mormon. He was pretty cool!

Then we had to get to R’s place for coordination meeting. The tram lines were down so we had to walk a ways. Then we tracted near where we live to finish our day. There are really nice buidings there. Here is our miracle story.  We go to the domophone and start calling people and no one lets us in. Then a man answers and doesn’t say anything but then we hear click and the door opened. It was an accident though. We got to his door and he wasn’t really happy we were there. But we keep on going. We got to another apartment and it was my turn. When the guy opened the door I forgot what I was going to say. So I just said, "we are missionaries", then he just stood there, then he said “I don’t have time for this”. Then all I could think of saying was “it’s free”, so he opens the door again and says “you say it’s free” and I’m like yeah, so he calls his wife over and says “honey, they say it’s free. We had a really good talk with them. So we are supposed to go back to them.

Saturday not much really happened, we had planned on meeting with some less active, but that didn’t work out. That was pretty much Saturday.

Today, Sunday, we went to church and R2 got the Aaronic Priesthood. That was cool! B didn’t make it to church. We did go out to contact. We had a goal of giving out 10 BOM’s and had only given out 7. So we went out by the university to see if we could give out the last 3. We usually have good luck there. The students are more willing to listen. We stopped one student, and he had heard of us. So we talked to him and gave him a BOM. I actually remembered to ask for his name. I usually forget. His name was P, and he said that he would read the book and call us. So unfortunately we didn’t reach our goal. We just got to give out 8 BOMs.

It has been snowing a lot lately and it’s very cold. I’m looking for some boots, because shoes aren’t going to be enough. I’m looking for some cheaps ones that I can throw away after the winter so I don’t have to carry them around. It’s hard to find shoes my size, most stores top out at size 45 and I’m size 47.

I found out just now that Swedish pancakes made from strawberry flavored buttermilk are a strange creation. They don’t have any strawberries in them they just have a strong strawberry flavor.

I finally sent my package. It cost an arm and a leg unfortunately. Other than that outrageousness, I hope it reaches you well. I also sent a letter, which should reach you even sooner I would think. There is also a paper towards the top of the package that explains the contents (I really hope they are all safe. I do apologize for the packaging job and lack of protection in there. Most things are not breakable, the things that are, are not of great value, but they are some cool gifts that I wanted to make it in one piece.

I take pictures of my emails and read them later. I could print them but I am too lazy to talk to the guy at the printer and count change. I have no idea how Skype is going to work on Christmas day. IF I am still in the Warsaw zone on Christmas day (I may be transferred out of it) then I will have a Zone Conference in Warsaw that day. I don't know how that will affect the Skyping, or if it will. I explained this in my letter home.

Love you all, have an amazing week. 
Wszyskiego Dobrego, z miłością, 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Weekly Email - December 2nd

You will never believe what I see when I look outside. When I look outside the window and into the street light across the way, it’s almost like.... it’s snowing outside. That’s because it is snowing outside. I just thought I’d let you know that. That’s not really a part of the message of the week. And it gets dark at around 2 pm so I’m always tired.

How is everyone doing? I’m trying to find my journal entry from the start of the week so that I can tell you how the week went. I just found it. On Monday, Elder J went to Warsaw at 7:26 am. So we went to meet the other Elders at McDonalds at 6:30am. So we go there and find out that it doesn’t even open until 7am. So we waited and got our food. So we were late to the train station, of course, so the next train wasn’t until 8:55am. So we waited at the train station. Then I went with the other to The American Corner, it’s a place where they have books about America and they also have computers that are in English. That’s where the other Elders do their emails. It was fun! The guy that runs the place asked the Elders to make a presentation on Thanksgiving. He was off by a week for when Thanksgiving was so the Elders had to go this past Thursday to give the hour-long presentation. He just didn’t want any church/missionary stuff just Thanksgiving information. Then we went and shopped for food, we went to a cheap grocery store called "Lady Bug". Right after we got food we got a call from Elder J who let us know that he was coming back into Lodz. It was about 1:30pm. Then we went shopping at Manufactura, for Christmas stuff for people. It was kind of fun. Then R1 invited us over for dinner, and he cooked for us and made bigos, which is like cabbage and meat mix. It was really good! That was the 2nd or 3rd time that R1 has invited us over for dinner. That was Monday!

On Tuesday, Elder J was sick so we stayed inside the whole morning. Then we went and sent emails since he missed his email time on Monday.  That was pretty much it for the day.

Wednesday we did some contacting and then we had English class, which was pretty full. That was cool! Then we made Swedish Meatballs, and all the Elders partook.
Thursday, we had promised R2 that we would help him out. We met up with him at 2-ish. We walked him over to where he was performing at the Philharmonic. He plays the flute and sings and had a performance there that night. So we stayed with him while he rehearsed. We then got a call from a Canadian man who was hitchhiking through Europe. He needed to get to Gdansk from Lodz because he was catching a plane the next day to Finland. So, R1 and I went on splits to go and help the Canadian man. He didn’t speak any Polish. We got him a train ticket and sent him on his way. Then we rushed back to the concert to watch R2 and his friends perform. We had to leave the concert early because we were getting close to our curfew time.

On Friday we went to B's and taught him a lesson. That went really well, I guess. I also got a scarf from the other soccer team I still needed a scarf from. Then we had district coordination with R1 at 4 o’clock, after our weekly planning meeting. We then went to do a whiteboard but there was a bike protest/rally. They do that all the time, it’s like an anti-car rally. So we gave up the whiteboard and contacted instead. Then we had dinner at Positivka. It’s a polish restaurant that does crepes and stuff.

What did we do yesterday? Yesterday, Saturday, oh, I didn’t write my journal so I can’t remember anything. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away Now it looks as though they're here to stay... Oh, we met with B and R1 came. It went really well, because R1 is polish and he spoke in polish like polish people do. Then we went and had lunch with R1 and had Chinese food in a whole in the wall that was really good and cheap.

Then we did another whiteboard and we asked questions like, “Who is Better Spiderman or Moses?” And apparently Polish people think Spiderman is better. Even though I haven’t seen Spiderman part any seas lately, I haven’t seen the newest Spiderman movie so maybe he does stuff like that there. It was really cold and it snowed.  It sprinkle snowed Friday night, Saturday and Sunday but none of it stuck.

We went to Manufactura to have dinner and ice cream. They have really good ice cream there. I got hair trimmers today, because I’m going to cut my own hair. I haven’t done it yet so don’t worry, but I will!

Today was fast Sunday. B went to church with us. We picked him up. Church went like church goes. There were some good testimonies that were shared. After testimony meeting, R1 taught gospel essentials and taught about fasting. Then we went to priesthood and then we had choir, but we are still looking for piano player. Then we will have a men’s choir. There are no sisters in the choir.

Tonight we went tracting. A man let us in, but then he asked us to leave.

Note from mom: Elder J suggested that Brian share what he learned so here it is:

Today, while tracting I learned that there are some really sketchy buildings in Poland. You walk up these sketchy stairs that are metal plated stairs. You come to a T intersection at the top of the stairs. You don’t know what is going to pop up at you from either end. There is graffiti everywhere, I can’t repeat what any of the graffiti says, except that grandma supports the soccer team. Other than that is swear words. It looks like a nuke bomb shelter. There are cob webs everywhere. And there is this freaky insect thing that was hanging on the wall, it was dead. I have never seen a living one, cause if I had I would have wet myself. It was like some spider with wings. The top story of the building is like being up in the rafters, there are wooden beams that separate storage areas from where people live. These wooden beam areas look like zombie cages. I can just imagine zombies reaching out and trying to grab you. We contacted all the doors in this place. People answer and usually say they are not interested. One guy listened to me for a couple of minutes and then said he was not interested. Usually we just say we are missionaries and slam they are not interested.

I learned that when someone is sick missionary work is really hard cause you have to stay inside. I also learned that when the sun goes down at 2pm you are really tired. I also learned that you need to get the members to help you. We need more R1's in the world.

Saturday I got paint on my jacket. They painted the handrails but didn’t put up a sign. R1 saved me then too. He had some thinner and rubbed the paint out. Then the cold froze the scent cause I can’t smell it any more.

I forgot to mention that when we went to R2’s concert, we went to this big orchestra hall. It was awesome, because it was a full stage and beautiful. Something you wouldn’t expect seeing in Lodz. There were a lot of people that showed up, which was unexpected. All the performers were handicapped. The President of the City of Lodz was there, A female president. The concert went really well and R2 did really well on the flute. I was impressed with their talent. It was really cool to go to a concert in Poland. I bet you’ve never been to a concert in Poland.

Let me just add something about the Canadian guy. He was traveling from Russia. He was supposed to have a job in Russia, but he never did get the job. So now he is hitchhiking through Europe. So he ends up in Lodz and is hitchhiking with a man named A. A spoke a little Spanish and so does the Canadian guy so that’s how they communicate. We don’t know A but somehow he had our number so that’s how the Canadian found us and asked us for help.

Grandma Masza, I use your grey scarf every day now. It is that cold. The scarf is very warm and comfortable and it is now my most beloved scarf. It has been too warm until now to use it, but it is going to get colder cause that’s what he poles say. They say it’s going to be 20 below here. So I await the day that the black scarf is going to make it’s debut.

Love you all, You are the best!!! Trzymajcie sie cieplo, wszystkiego dobrego, kolorowych snow, na razie, pa pa

I am writing because I have some extra time after my president's letter. All is well, and the voice recordings explain the happenings of last week. It is -1 celcius today which is colder than it sounds when it is also humid, the air just cuts right through clothing. Grandma Masza's scarf has been saving my bacon for the past week. I haven't sent the package yet, it keeps getting delayed, but I hope to be able to pull everything together today that I need. I hope that will go well. Polish is still a hard language, but I think I am catching hold of some aspects.

Just so you know, Christmas trees are sooo cheap here, a 5 foot tree is probably only 120 zlots. A nice 3 or 3 and a half foot tree is like 60 to 80 zlots I think, We have seen some little trees go for 35 zlots (all fake trees of course).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekly Email - November 26th

Note from Mom: Brian got a recorder so that he could record his weekly messages to us. He has very little computer time and this would allow him to send us longer messages as well as free up some time for letter writing to others. So this is his first weekly recording that I transcribed for the blog. Enjoy!

Hello people,

So, it’s weird to talk in to a microphone. I’m going to try record this best I can and I hope it works.

This last week was pretty cool. On Monday, I went on an exchange in Warsaw. We first went to do our emails, then we went shopping and then we went to IKEA. We didn’t have much time there because we got a call when we got there saying that I needed to get on a train at 6:15pm at Widzew station. So, we pretty much went right back to get me on the train. I went to Warsaw and spent a day with Elder C, my MTC roommate, which was pretty cool. I was with him all day Tuesday and we just contacted all day. We didn’t have much luck there. It was cool though! On Wednesday I took a train back from Warsaw to Lodz. I had the wrong kind of ticket. I had a PR ticket and I needed a PKP ticket. I had to buy a different ticket on the train and pay a little extra. It was OK though! I got back to Lodz and tried to get a refund on my ticket, but couldn’t do it because I was at Widzew Station and I needed to do the refund at Kaliska Station.

Then we taught our English class which was fun. I haven’t told you much about the English classes. We have people that show up regularly, their names are R..., K... and J.... They are a bunch of jokesters, they are like 20 something years old. J... just lost his job and is looking for a new one. K... is like 30 something almost 40, I think. We had a few other people that showed up and it was a fun class.

Then Thursday was Thanksgiving. Nothing really happened all day as far as Thanksgiving. We did have a lesson with B..., our baptismal date. I don’t know if I’ve told you anything about him. The sisters tracted into him one day and he let them in for a quick lesson and they extended a baptismal date right there and he accepted. So we inherited that baptismal date from the sisters. He has come to several lessons and he has been to YSA multiple times.

We had a YSA Feast for Thanksgiving. The new senior couple the Lloyds said they wanted everyone to come to YSA hungry cause they were going to cook a lot of food. So we showed up to YSA and we had our institute class that we usually have which is taught by Sister T, the wife of the man from England. Then after the class we had a Turkey dinner with stuffing and cranberries and all the stuff that we normally have so that was pretty neat. That was pretty much all of Thursday, we hung out and had a really nice evening. R... the new convert sang for us. He likes to sing so we had a little concert. So that was Thursday.

On Friday Elder J... didn’t feel good cause he had a cold. We didn’t leave our apartment until 1:30pm. We had planning until 1:00pm. Then we went and did a whiteboard with the other Elders where we go out and stand on the main shopping street, Pietrokowska. We go out and stand with a whiteboard with a question on it. We tried to get people to stop and talk to us. The question was: “Does Life Exist After This life?” This question makes more sense in Polish. We didn’t have much luck. On Saturday, which was yesterday, we went and contacted by the university here, Politekniki. There is a park out by that area, it’s really big and nice. Everyone there was really nice. We stopped an older couple and they were really interested in what we had to say. We gave them a Book of Mormon and they were excited to go and read it. But we couldn’t set up and appointment with them. Then we stopped another women who was super nice. But she was really catholic and so she told us that she didn’t really think we could convert her. We talked to her close to an hour about religion and everything and she was really nice. Then we stopped another lady who was sure we were Amish and that we were still polygamists. She was nice about it but it was interesting. There was a film here a while ago that mistranslated Amish as Mormon so a lot of people think we are Amish. Which is one of the many fun things about Poland. After that we went to have lunch at a place called Miami Hot Dog. We ordered their burgers there, which was probably a bad idea. There were some pretty sketchy burgers there, but everything turned out OK, I haven’t died yet.

After that we went to Manufactura and bought me a recorder so that I could record my messages to you. So Merry Christmas to me! It was cool opening a piece of technology. After we bought the recorder we went to visit a dude that Elder J... had met while Elder D... was here on exchanges on Tuesday. The guy had said that he wanted us to come by his house. He gave an address that doesn’t even exist. That was interesting but that happens quite a bit. Then we went home and did some calls and contacted for a while. Then the other Elders called and said they wanted to do another whiteboard even though we had just done one the day before. So we were like “why not” so went to P Street to do this whiteboard. There are some really cool people out on Saturday night. There was this guy from Toronto who didn’t speak any Polish. He was there with a polish girl who I assume was his girlfriend. He was amazed by our Polish! And he was really interested in our church. He had never heard of Mormons before. I don’t know how you can live in Canada your whole life and not hear of Mormons, but he did it. We gave him a BOM and hopefully we will hear back from them because they seemed really cool. We gave out another BOM. Then we went home and had Sloppy Joes.

Today, Sunday, we went to church. We had a new presidency because Elder T went home and he used to be the Branch President. So they had to get a new president and so it’s actually a member. I was really tired all day because there is no sunlight here, I’m taking vitamin D but my internal clock is all off. After church we had a correlation meeting with Rysek. Then we got back here and now I’m recording this. Tonight we have to place one more BOM to reach our goal of 8 for the week. I hope that we can give out this last BOM. I might record more tomorrow, because today is Sunday, just before I email. If not then I should say good bye! I love you, you are all awesome. Thanks for this cool Christmas Gift.


I just wanted to add, that tonight, Sunday November 25th, at roughly 20:20 I gave out the 8th BOM of the week. I took us to our goal. I put the team on our back! There was just some cool dude sitting in a wheel chair and he was being pushed by somebody. And I stopped them both and I said: “We’ve got this free book that we are giving out that have more words of Christ.” The dude that was pushing him, got his phone out and started talking to someone. The guy in the wheelchair was genuinely interested and took the book and I told him “more words of Christ”. So that’s the newsflash of the day. Over and Out!


I feel like I need to write some. I don't have much time left, I got a bunch of emails this week that I had to go through. You should have my recordings though, I hope it all works well. It is really convenient for me because I don't type well and I don't have much time to type. 

I love you all. I tried to answer Bryson as best I could. Things are going well here. I can't think of anything I am in desperate need of at the moment. Erik rocks and I bet he is rocking the sax too. Another thing is, it is possible if you record yourselves in mp3 format I think I can put it on the memory card of the recorder and play it later too. If Erik wants to rock out or something that would be cool. I am not sure if it will work, but I don't see why not. I will try to write more next week and record more. Stay classy and be excellent to each other.

Ok that is all, love you all have a great week!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekly E-mail - November 19th

Hello all,

It was nice to hear that the house is finally up on the market, and it is looking great. I hope that all goes well there.
I need to get right down to business. FIRST, I have a proposition, but I wanted to see if you even liked the idea. Elder Ż does this and I thought it sounded interesting. He has a voice recorder that uses just normal SD cards, and he records a weekly message for his family so that he doesn't have to try to jam everything into an email. Then he just plugs the card into an SD card reader at the library and emails the recording. Not sure if that is something you would even like. You wouldn't have a written transcript to read at your leisure, just something to think about.

Second, I can now tell you about my week. This week was pretty awesome, the sisters got us a baptismal date named B... who is pretty awesome. We met with him twice already, but then he skipped our third appointment and sacrament meeting. On the bright side, he called us last night and apologized and set up again for Tuesday. I made my first Polish phone call to B..., and all was well, both parties were understood and I felt really accomplished! 

We had exchanges with an AP and an Office Elder. The whole situation was kind of confusing but I will explain as fast as possible. Basically Elder B and J (his comp) were supposed to come to Łódź to go on splits with my comp and I. Then J got sick, so B took H, an office elder, instead. H was my companion for a day. It went really well. H was cool, he is from Whales and a really funny chap. Basically it went just like any other day... contacting, picking up B to accompany him to the chapel for the first time, contacting, etc... 

Later in the week Elder S got sick (everyone is getting sick, I haven't caught anything yet *knock on wood*). Elders S and Ż had a lesson, so we had to do emergency splits. I stayed with Elder S while Elder Ż and my comp took the lesson. They were out too late to make it back to get me back home with my comp before curfew, so I stayed the night at the other elder's place and Ż took my place. We switched back in the morning. My second Polish phone call was made to Elder Ż's investigator.

The sisters got transferred out of Łódź into Gdańsk. They are missed greatly, and we are still figuring out how we are going to divide up their area book and such.

I think you just emailed me so I will send this off and see..... Hold on.

Note from Mom: Brian and I went on chatting for a while, here are some snippets from our chat.

Just yesterday, we went out to contact a referral from the office who wanted a Book of Mormon. She was not home, but we decided to finish tracting the street that she lived on. In one of the buildings on her street, we tracted into a nice mother who did not take a Book of Mormon, but she was very nice and said she would love to research more. She was going to check out and see what it had for her. It was not some “huge miracle”, but it was a tender mercy. That night, not much else was really going for us. We were just tracting and being turned down, we had no lessons planned, etc. Also, while tracting, we got calls from 3 people who set up lessons with us. Another tender mercy.

Also, you can post somewhere public that anyone who wants to can email me or dear elder me, I just may take a long long time to respond... [] [Dear Elders can take weeks to get to him]

The new senior couple is cool. I think they are still getting used to Poland. They served in Hong Kong before. I think Poland is even harder than that mission though. They are making a YSA Thanksgiving dinner that we are invited to. The comp and I are doing great though.

I got the recipes you sent, can you send me some more. I don't really have much in mind, just cheap and quick. Maybe some stews/soups/other hot and good stuff. We can get meat, potatoes, carrots, all sorts of veggies really... maybe some Beat recipes, they have a lot of beats here. Split pea soup for days where we combine dinner and planning time and have a couple of hours to cook. I have a blender and we have every appliance except a microwave.

Well, I am going to let you catch some zzzz's. Love you all, keep fighting the good fight. I won't freeze, I am a man of any climate. Today is actually surprisingly warm, but I don't know the exact temperature.

Love you all!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekly Email - November 12th

Hellos from Poland

Hey all.

It is nice to write to you again. This week has been nice, but first I will address your letters.

For Christmas, I really don't know what I want/need.... I have access to anything I need, and as far as wants, I don't really have time to do much in that category... I do have a request though, just based on an experience from another Elder. You should send any packages to the mission home address (the original Warsaw address). One of the other Elders got transferred out before his package made it in and they don't deliver to apartments here, you have to pick it up at the post office, so his package just got sent back to the states. I think the mission home is the best way...

This past week, we have just been working hard. We have started tracting a lot because it gets dark starting around 4:00 now. We have not been let in yet, but one guy did listen to us for a minute at the door and took a Book of Mormon and said to come back Thursday when he has more time. We ran into another guy on the street who stopped us and said that he had just heard about the Mormons on the radio and he wanted to learn more. He said he had investigated many other religions and he has a firm belief that one of them has to be correct but he hasn't found it yet.
Sounds like the perfect investigator, well....since then we just keep playing phone tag... We are still trying though, he seemed really sincere.

R (the other elder's investigator) got baptized on Saturday. He is really cool, we helped set that up and then set up for church all day on Saturday.

Other than that, it is just a lot of tracting and contacting, we don't have all of the ward activities, referrals, or other finding tools like basketball that other missions have, so far most of our work here is just showing people that Mormons are normal.

I am in need of recipes, preferably some simple/quick ones with cheap ingredients. We are looking to also cook a Lucia and/or Thanksgiving dinner this transfer so maybe some stuff that fits in that category. Rice pourage, meatballs, stuff to make with rice and kielbasa, potatoes, etc. etc... We have our normal stores and on occasion we make it out to IKEA. That would be cool.

It might be nice to get some souvenirs here for Christmas, I might get some instructional books like origami, cooking, etc in Polish or something cool like that. That will give me something fun to do for language study. 

I should go though, I need to write the pres and send some pictures your way. I love you all and wish you the best. Keep up the good work. I know the church is true, this is an important job we are doing and it is for a great cause. Don't get discouraged... bye!
 Here are some pictures from our Segwaying P-Day. Which was a blast!

 Me and Elder J, before he went home.

Here are a couple of pictures of me with ''Agnieszka'' she is just a girl that does stock photos that are used on everything in Poland. She is on our juice and milk and flyers and language learning adds, etc... So it becomes fun to spot her and try to get a picture with here.

 Here we are after R's baptism.

 Zone Conference Group Pictures.

Lodz District.