Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Letter #8 from the MTC - July 30

I cannot believe that Bryson got his call to Warsaw, Poland.... Like it litterally took me reading that like 6 times for it to sink in. I didn't get Bryson's letter, but Hannah sent me one and didn't warn me not to read it. I am just unbelievably excited for him, I know that he really wanted to go there and the chances were so unlikely. I think that it takes a dedicated missionary just to learn Polish... much less teach the Poles. I am just excited that someone so close will speak my language.
Thanks for the hot sauce instructions, I think we will be making some today. I will tell you what our district thinks of it. I will also send some stuff home with Hannah, I talked to the mail room and I guess they said that there is a free service where they send it to a third party storage place and then they will call Hannah to pick it up. I will try to get that in ASAP.
Things are going good here. That cold that I had came back and now it is just a lingering cough, but it is only really bad in the mornings, it gets better throughout the day.
I am sorry to hear about Brett, what does this mean for him going forward? Are there any really bad long term effects, like I guess I just don't know what pancreatitis really does. I am praying for him though and all of you.
I am glad that you were able to splurge on a new mattress and a microwave, we were in need of that. 
This week was pretty good, we have 3 weeks from today before we fly out, so now we just call ourselves the "English Elders". It is like finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 
We watched a really good talk given by Elder Holland at the MTC in 2006, he starts by saying how much he loves us, then he outlines how we aren't reaching our fullest potential, and then he outlines how we can improve and reach our fullest potential, I think it really helped to put things into a new perspective.
Tell Bryson not to worry about the language until he hits the MTC. Guess what, Brat Hughes (one of our teachers) told me that the largest Jewish history museum in Europe is being built in Warsaw right now, I am so excited that I may be able to see that. I was also wondering if you had the addresses of any places I should see like the trucking company building or any other things that have to do with our family. Assuming any of those are still around.
We went to the temple today for the first time since that first week here, that was nice. I get 2 more visits and then it is sionara for 2 years. In some ways I can't believe how fast the MTC has gone, and in other ways, it is taking forever. Also, I feel like I know so little of the language, but I also don't feel like I can really progress until I get to Poland.
Our teachers said that clothing costs about the same there as here, but everything else is way cheaper. I guess a pretty good meal in Poland will be like 5 or 6 bucks, that sounds nice to me.
I am running out of time, I love all of you, did you google translate all of that Polish because I am not sure if it is right? Can't wait to here from you again.

Letter #7 from MTC - July 28

Hey, I have to make this really quick.

I got like 4 packages with all of the hot sauce stuff and chips and pictures and the hard drive and card reader and cinnamon rolls from Grandma Masza and from the Erskines.

First, what is the formula for the hot sauce? I have 5 bags of stuff and 3 cans of tomato sauce, how much tomato sauce per bag of mix and do I add any water? Also, the hard drive was really cool and everyone wants to know how much they cost so they can ask for them. I am trying to get a couple of things to get to Hannah before the fourth. As for my camera, I think the problem only occurs in auto mode when it tries to track objects, it is constantly refocusing on the tracked object which can be a pain but it seams to work in P mode... I hope that is what is wrong anyway.

I am doing well, the first Friday in the MTC my branch president came up to our residency thinking I didn't even know about grandma so he was relieved that I was doing OK and taking it well. They have kept us so busy here that I haven't even had time to think. I am at peace though, sometimes I get little flashbacks of her going down the hall in the hotel on the stretcher, but that is getting better.

I am sad that I will be missing the olympics, tell me any good news from the Polish, American, or Swedish teams.

I am excited to hear that Bryson is getting his call, I didn't even know he sent in his papers in. Tell me where he is going as soon as you hear. I am going to throw out a random guess and say either Chile or Czech Republic although I am probably not even close. So yeah, tell me if you want me to send the camera and/or the drive home, and how exactly to mix the sauce. other than that, things are about the same here I am starting to worry about how to get my stuff to Poland, I came in with too much and got a bunch of books and pictures and all sorts of stuff too. I am sure I will find a way. Also, the other day the Rices wrote me, both Brother and Sister Rice and Nathan. Nathan sent some cool stickers and cards from Korea and the Rices sent a really beautiful tie that Nathan intended to give me before I left. The tie is now the envy of the MTC, I have gotten so many complements on it.

OK, well I have to go... Love you all, take care. Wiem że kośćioł jest prawdziwy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Letter #6 from the MTC - July 23

Yes, hello. 
I have been really busy the past week. I was sad not to hear from you this last week at all, but thanks for the donuts. I got no mail at all, Baranowski got a couple of letters but we get the least. 
The language is still tough, but I have been challenged to take the lead on some lessons and I still don't have much vocabhulary, but I get my point across. I will probably be sending some clothing home before Poland, I think I will probably be buying soccer jerseys in Poland so I may send home some P-Day shirts and maybe some other stuff. I don't know exactly what I need, if I think of anything as I type, I will tell you. 
Yesterday for Sunday devotional, the floors in the main building were being redone so they split us into different rooms. We were broadcast a message into the cafeteria by a Brother Allen. He was a former mission president of the Tempe, AZ mission and he gave a really great talk about the hymn Come, Come Ye Saints and how it relates to us as missionaries. 
The one elder who was held back from going to the Czeck Republic for medical reasons (idk if I told you about him), Elder Prymak finally gets to go which is exciting. 
Brother Stice, our branch First Counselor is awesome, he works at BYU with the business program. Our teachers keep trying to reassure us that the language will come, it just will take a few months in Poland. Siostra Stay who is amazing at the language said that she didn't feel comfortable speaking at all until about 4 months in.
People aren't doing to well with the food here, but I am getting along fine, I just tell them that Jews have good digestion. I still don't like the food, but I get by. Starszy Vernon was sad when the MTC confiscated the Cafe Rio burrito that his mom tried to send him. Starszy Weir gets enough snacks to share with us from his kobieta (girl).
I could use some origami instructions if you want to just find some cool stuff in my books or online and print it out. Anything cool will do, I just forgot how to fold most of the stuff and I have a ton of post-it notes.
I am trying to get more pictures of what we do at the MTC, did you receive the SD card I sent last week in the padded envelope? I hope it made it.
I heard about the Colorado movie massacre, that was really sad to hear about. Is there any other big news?
I hope you all are doing well, I have to go now. Thanks for everything and I will talk to you later, Ja Kocham wy (I love you).

Mom's Notes:  We were very sad to find out from this letter that Dear Elder did not deliver our letters to Elder Godwin last week. And to top in all off Dear Elder didn't deliver a letter from my mom the week before. If you have sent Elder Godwin a Dear Elder and didn't get a response he may not have received it. You many also be able to send him letters through a different website http://www.mtcdelivery.com I have sent a care package through them but I haven't tried the letters yet.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Letter #5 from the MTC with Pictures - July 17


So, hopefully you can read the nametags in most of the pictures, I have some pictures with people in other districts. Elder wall is a Bulgarian (going to Bulgaria). The super tall Elder Boysen is a 6'7" Englishman who is leaving for the Czech Republic today. Sister Roper (in one of the pictures with Elder Boysen and I) was the coordinating sister of the zone while we were Zone Leaders, so we went to a lot of meetings together, and she is a Bulgarian. The light saber pictures are something that Starszy DeShazer taught us how to do.

Last night Jenny Oaks Baker, daughter of Elder Oaks, and famous concert violinist came and talked to us and played a few pieces. That was awesome. We saw the stadium of fire from within the MTC gates. We only leave to go to the soccer/volleyball field or the temple. The temple re-opens next Wednesday so we get to go back in 2 weeks from today. That is nice because we only got to go 1 time before it closed.

I was released from the position of Zone Leader on Sunday because we are on a 3 week rotation here. Friday marks the half-way point (roughly). In some ways the MTC time has been flying by and at the same time it is taking forever. I am glad Elder Vernon is a good writer, he seems like the a person who would be.

I'll try to get some more pictures. Love you all, I will talk to you later, bye! Czesc! Do widzenia!

 Elder Godwin in the classroom with Elders Cieslak and Weir.

Elder Baranowski

Elders Weir, Cieslak, Godwin & Tingey

 Brother Hughes, one of the teachers.

Elders Garfield, Neuner & Wilson

Elders Tingey & Godwin

 Elder Wilson.

 Elder Harris

Elder Tingey doing language training at the computer.
 Elders Boysen & Godwin with Sister Roper.

 Elder Boysen 6' 7" tall, Elder Godwin 6' tall. That's what 7" looks like.
Elder Boysen is from England and has been called to serve in the Czech Republic.

 Elder Wall & Elder Godwin. Elder Wall has been called to serve in Bulgaria.

 MTC Companions, Elder Tingey & Elder Godwin.

Elders Tingey, Godwin & Cieslak.

 Elders Cieslak & Weir and Sister Packard. The only sister in the district.

Wow, that's all I can say!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Letter #4 from the MTC - July 16

Hey family, I am writing again on P-day. Things are going good here. I caught a bit of a cold on Friday that has been going around. It was pretty bad Saturday and yesterday, but I am feeling much better today. I have gotten 2 letters from Zach, a letter from A-Lard, a letter from Taylor Rich, and a letter from Misha Barton. I got the head massager and the flag, thank you for those, I now have the coolest Polish flag in the district, but I am having a hard time letting everyone sign it.
I got a good workout in today, I rowed on a rowing machine for a half hour and started lifting for a few minutes with some instruction from Elder Harris. For some reason, I don't think that the language on our nametags looks too crazy, but people ask us like 20 times a day what it is because they think it is crazy looking. They even use our alphabet for the most part.
Last night we had Jenny Oaks Baker, daughter of Elder Oaks, famous violinist. Look her up if you don't know who she is. She played a bit and shared a few spiritual experiences. The only time we had a GA was that one Devotional with L. Tom Perry when we first got here. I hope that we get to see another one or two before we are out.
There is not much else going on here, we have a very strict schedule to follow and we do our best to study and learn the language. It is still really hard and not much of it makes sense, but I am trying to put together a framework to put words into, I am hoping that that method works. I am trying to review all of the grammar principles, every person that speaks Polish has a different opinion on the best way to learn the language, but I am just trying my best. Flashcards don't work for me, but I think that being able to make my own sentences will help.
We just had a change in leadership, every three weeks our branch changes Zone Leaders and DLs, so the new Zone Leaders are Starszi Neuner and Wilson, and the new DL is Starszy Cieslak. I am kinda glad, but at the same time, I enjoyed getting to work so close with the Presidency, and I think we have a great branch with relatively few problems.
Hello, this is Elder Baranowski - please write me :)  Also, I thought I would just let you know that Brian is an awesome guy...excuse me Elder Goad-veen (how we pronounce it here).  Please read Alma 10-16 those chapters are really awesome, (those are probably slightly off (the references)) and read about Zeezrom, and Alma/Amulek's ministry that they did - we will be doing that kind of missionary work in Poland.  Do zobaczenia!
Me again, Thank you for all of the support and love. I love you all and can't wait to hear from home. I don't really know what other pictures I want specifically, just more from home I guess. I don't know if it is possible, but a bag of chips, a can of tomato sauce, and some dry mix would be amazing. That was half-joking..... unless it is possible.... I will talk to you all later. Cześć!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Letter #3 from the MTC - July 9th

So I only have 25 minutes to write so I will make it snappy. I have had another good week, the language is frustrating and I seem to be getting it a bit slower than most of the Elders.
It is nice to hear that Erik enjoys my old living quarters. Speaking of rooms, we are emailing from the English Elder's building, and everything here is unimaginably nice. This building has been completely revamped.
We went to the gym today and I ran the eliptical for about 40 minutes and finished off with some stretches, I am kinda trying to stay in some sort of shape, but the food here is not the healthiest.
There are a lot of Russian Elders leaving this week so there are a lot of Russian hymns being sung around campus, like "God Be With You Till We Meet Again". They sound pretty cool.
The Czechs are leaving us soon. They room in our hallway and have really grown on us so we will miss them, I think they go this Wednesday.
I want to send a list of music that I may want when I get to Poland. Some specific hymns that I don't have, like "Abide with me, Tis eventide", "Come thou fount of every blessing", and anything else that sounds good.
Who is Hailey gonna have play at her concert?
I may also want another photo album with more pictures if you could get some.
I think that this is our last week as Zone Leaders, they want to give someone else the chance to lead for 3 weeks, so Sunday Starszy Tingey i Ja will be training some new leaders.
I am getting pretty good at sand volleyball which was always my least favorite sport until now.
I have yet to miss a day in my journal even though I don't write much and I am not a very good writer, I get the important stuff. Elder Bednar says it is better to make a record of small plates for yourself than wasting time creating big plates.
My companion and I, we are getting along pretty. Starszi Neuner and Wilson are awesome, they are hard workers and great guys. So are our roommates Weir and Cieslak. We are doing a great job here and working hard.
We went to our first Choir practice yesterday due to scheduling conflicts and cancellations, it was cool. I still can't sing but I try my best.
Love you all, thanks for your support.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Letter #2 from the MTC - July 2nd

Hello family,
Things are still going good at the MTC. We had another very long week, but I guess it was long in a good way. After a while, all the days just started blending together so this might seem like a very unorganized letter. Last Tuesday we saw L. Tom Perry, he was speaking to us because of the huge mission president training thing that happened last week here. There were 10 apostles in the room, everyone except Boyd K. Packer and Robert D. Hales (for health reasons). The talk was a lot of statistics about the church and then a testimony.
Sister Stay (our Polish teacher, and our new "investigator", Ola) has been doing a great job at teaching us. I feel like the progression is slow, at least for me, and for some reason whenever I can't think of a word in Polish I tend to use Spanish. She did say something reassuring though, she says that in Poland they pride themselves in how difficult their language is and they have a lot of respect for someone who is honestly trying to learn it so they really try to listen and help you out when you speak broken Polish to them. She said they are not afraid of correcting you, but they are generally very patient and just want to help you speak it correctly. That's good because I don't know how much Polish I will honestly know when we leave the MTC.
Our time as zone leaders has been interesting. We got a new district on Wednesday and are getting a new one this Thursday, so we have to miss a lot of class time and study time for orientations and leadership training meetings. Luckily we were only assigned as zone leaders for three weeks, so we have just 2 to go.
Our branch presidency is awesome. President Jones is the most loving man in the whole world. Then Brother Stice (look him up, he is a high up at the BYU business school), he is really intense but loving in his own special way. It took our district a while to warm up to Stice, but I liked him from the start.
Yesterday was amazing. We had a great fast and testimony meeting in the morning, the spirit was so strong there. Then for our evening devotional we had a man named Ted Gibons come and tell us the Joseph Smith story through the eyes of Dr. Willard Richards. He is an author and storyteller and gave an amazing, descriptive, and heartfelt version of the story from the time that they were chased out of Kirtland to the martyrdom in Carthage. When he finished, our closing hymn was Praise to the Man. Everyone spontaneously rose out of their seats to sing without any direction (which I have been told by some 12 weekers that they have never seen that before), it was so powerful, it felt like angels were singing with us. Seriously, that moment was indescribable.
The food is still mediocre... The chocolate milk is still good. I have not lost or gained much weight from what I can tell. Today we tried the "tower challenge" where your district is supposed to eat an entire tower of cereal, until we were told that the cereal was too expensive to be doing that.
Something that is funny is that the solo sister in our district is like an exact replica of Hannah. Same height, same build, totally athletic, and addicted to chocolate milk and ice cream... It's weird.
My companion's name is Benjamin Clark Tingey (Ben Tingey). Our room mates are Alex Cieslak, and John Weir (he gets dear Johned almost every day).
I still need to send you my memory card, I will probably do that today or tomorrow since I have extras with me. Some of the people in our district thought it would be a good idea if you shared our pictures on the missionary mom site. We can't listen to music here at the MTC, but I was wondering if the Sister Hazel christmas album and other Christmas music would be mission appropriate, maybe I can send the micro SD card home and you could put some of that on.
I am anxiously looking forward to Poland, and hope that I get this language down better.
I am out of time, sorry. I love you all, I pray for you everyday, and I am doing great here. How are things at home? Are the animals ok? Erik still doing ok? Did the Welles ever come back? Can't wait to hear from you.

Letter #1 from the MTC - June 25th (mom's birthday)

Hello family, 
I am excited to finally write from the MTC. This place is amazing so far, I don't really know where to begin. My companion's name is Elder (Starszy) Tingey from a little town just outside of Boise, Idaho. He is a neat guy and really focused on learning and working hard. We were made Zone leaders the second day here and will be for the next three weeks, which adds a lot of pressure to an already busy schedule. I am confident that we will do a great job though, we have a really good companionship. We are in a room with 4 elders; me, Tingey, Weir, and Cieslak. Weir is hilarious, everything he says makes us laugh. Cieslak is also a really neat guy, he has a lot of great insights and we are a pretty tight knit group. Our district is made up of 10 elders and 1 solo sister. The companionships are; Neuner & Wilson, Weir & Cieslak, Baranowski & Harris, Vernon & Garfield, Tingey & I, and our solo sister, Siostr Packard. I've been told that this is a very large district and we are all going to the Poland Warsaw mission. In my opinion we have one of the tightest and most dedicated districts in the MTC, and we have only been here less than a week. 
Gym time has become one of my favorite activities (shockingly), we have done a lot of soccer (we lost to the Czechs once or twice, but we are getting better), and some sand volleyball which has actually become my favorite sport. We got to watch The Other Side of Heaven on Saturday with the whole MTC which was really cool. The Sunday services were some of the most spiritually uplifting meetings I have ever been in. We watched an old BYU talk given by Elder Bednar titled Character of Christ. If you can find that one online, I highly suggest that you watch it. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we have 2 other elders in our district that were left over from the last group because one of them had pneumonia, but they are expected to leave us this week. Their names are Russeller and Deshazer (the one with pneumonia), and they were each called to go to Leeds, England Polish speaking. They are great guys and have been helping us with the language and learning the ropes around here. 
The food is not terrible, but it is pretty average cafeteria stuff. Meal times have been crazy and will be for the rest of this week because they have closed off half of the cafeteria for the new mission president training that is happening at the MTC now. They said 1/3 of the mission presidents in the world are being replaced by this group (that is like 110 men and their wives). Plus there are general authorities in there with them. There is supposed to be an apostle speaking to us tomorrow, so I hope that we can get seats int he main room and watch it in person. 
Our Polish teachers name is Siostr Stay, she is an RM from Poland, and we are teaching an investigator named Maciej in very broken Polish. The language is super difficult, and we haven't had our teacher since Thursday because she went on a weekend vacation, she should be back today, hopefully. We teach Maciej again tomorrow and haven't learned any new Polish so I hope that she teaches really well. I've been told that the spirit speaks broken Polish so I just have to do my best and let him teach. 
I have gotten a few pictures but don't think I can upload them. I will mail a card home when I get a few more pictures. This place is crazy, we are learning at such a rapid pace and there is practically no down time, which is good I guess.
How is everyone doing good at home? How are the funeral arangements going? How's Erik doing? Tell everyone I love them, and that this place is awesome and I am having a great time.
I don't think I need anything at home, I have bought a couple of things (notebooks and Polish books) here and they have everything I would need. Sorry, I am out of time. Love you all again.

MTC Drop Off

Elder Godwin reported to the MTC at 12:55pm on June 20th. Here are some pictures we took the afternoon before he was to report.

 Brothers - Erik will be so grown up when Elder Godwin comes back.

 Our family, need I say more!

 Here he is all grown up and ready to take on the world.

 A true Brian pose. They all joined in!

 Here we are again from youngest to oldest.

 Yeah, they don't always walk around like that!

 Erik couldn't stop hugging Brian, so Brian took charge.

 One of my favorite pictures. We have always done everything together, it will be different now.

 At Subway before we drop him off. Don't want him to go in hungry.

 Paul met us before we dropped Brian off at the MTC.

 Funny, we dropped Brian off at #13, he was born on the 13th and it's our favorite number.

 Father and son, best friends! I love this picture!

Last picture as he walks away to start his mission.

We are so proud of you Elder Godwin. You are our hero! Love you, see you in 2 years.

Traveling up to Provo, UT

On Sunday, June 17th (father's day) we went to the stake center for Brian to be set apart as a missionary. We had a wonderful meeting with our Stake President, President Martin. He is such a sweet man. He shared some thoughts with us and gave us some direction. He then proceeded to set Elder Godwin apart. President Martin gave Elder Godwin a beautiful blessing and the spirit was so strong. We all cried, but it was good. What a blessing to have our son serving as a missionary.

After we left the stake center we headed north to Utah. When we got to the reservation we decided to go through Jacob Lake. Why not, it might be a little longer, but the way we were feeling it was well worth the drive. We stopped at a brand new LDS church building at the reservation. We looked a little out of place, but were welcomed in. We used the facilities and got a quick tour of their brand new building that they are so proud of. The missionaries and members were so nice.

We also stopped at Navajo Bridge crossing the Colorado River. We stopped and took some pictures there.

We then proceeded up to Richfield, where we met up with Josh Caskey. We had dinner and spent the night. Josh got to be Elder Godwin's companion overnight. Here we are having dinner at Wingers.

We also stopped in Payson, Utah at the Little Caesars that Elder Adams worked at. We called him from there to let him know we made it. Elder Adams is serving in our ward, but he was actually called to serve in New Zealand. He is right now awaiting his visa and serving our ward very well while he waits. By the time we returned back home he had finally gotten his visa and was already gone. We wish him well in New Zealand and are very happy for him.

We got up in the morning and headed for Provo. We got in early afternoon. Grandma Edris flew in from Phoenix to meet up with us. Aunt Vonnie picked Edris up from the airport and met up with us so we could bring Edris with us. We had dinner that evening with Alan's cousin Bruce and his wife Becca. It was so nice to see them again.

The next morning was a very unexpected, and life changing for our family. We were woken up around 7 am. The girls shared a room with grandma and Alan and I shared a room with the boys. Hannah called, grandma had fallen, we ran in to help her up and within a couple of minutes our lives changed forever. That morning grandma left us and returned to live with grandpa and with her Heavenly Father. It was a turn of events that we could never have anticipated. It was with great sadness that we said good-bye. As hard as it was it left us all with a burning testimony that God lives, Jesus Christ is our Savior and he has prepared a way for us to return to our Heavenly Father. We are thankful for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and how the Lord's plan plays a part in our eternal life. We are thankful for the knowledge of the Gospel, for the peace it gives us. We are thankful for the love and comfort that we felt from the Holy Spirit. For the support and love of friends and family.
Elder Godwin made the decision to continue with his plans to enter the Missionary Training Center the following day. We know that is what his grandparents would have wanted. And more importantly it is where our Heavenly Father wants him and needs him right now.

Farewell Open House

We were so blessed to have many friends and family come and see Elder Godwin off. We had sub-sandwiches, fruit and deserts. Many friends brought goodies to share and it was much appreciated.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Elder Godwin's Farewell Talk from June 10th

 Hello, my name is Brian Godwin. I have just been called to serve in the Poland, Warsaw mission, yes, it is Polish speaking, and I am reporting to the MTC on June 20th, that’s why I’m up here today. I know that I am going to have a lot of new experiences and I wanted to speak about a topic that meant a lot to me, I came up with finding joy in what you do wherever you are. President Monson spoke on this topic as well, in a 2008 general conference talk he said the following:

“I begin by mentioning one of the most inevitable aspects of our lives here upon the earth, and that is change. At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: “Nothing is as constant as change.”
Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, or the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.
This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.”  We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows”.

What I took from this is that we need to learn to live for today and take pleasure in doing what is right and showing love and compassion for those that we are with. For me, I am about to see a lot of change, going to a foreign country and teaching in another language, it will be important not only for me to have fun in the missionary work I am doing, but also to teach others where they can find joy.

I want to read you a story by Michael T. Smith titled The Happiest Day Of My Life

It started innocently.

Many years ago, I worked in an office with large windows that looked out over a busy overpass. I stood by one of those windows one day, when a woman in a passing car looked up and made eye contact with me—naturally, I waved.

A chuckle escaped my lips as she turned and tried to identify me. It was the beginning of a year of window antics. When things were slow, I stood in the window and waved at the passengers who looked up. Their strange looks made me laugh, and the stress of work was washed away.
My co-workers took an interest. They stood back out of view and watched the reactions I received with amusement.

Late afternoon was the best time. Rush-hour traffic filled the overpass with cars and transit buses, and provided a wealth of waving opportunities for my end-of-day routine. It didn't take long to attract a following—a group of commuters who passed by the window every day and looked up at the strange waving man. There was a man with a construction truck who would turn on his flashing yellow lights and return my wave. There was the carpool crowd and the business lady with her children fresh from day care.
My favorite was the transit bus from the docks that passed my window at 4:40 PM. It carried the same group every day. They were my biggest fans.

Waving grew boring, so I devised ways to enhance my act. I made signs: "Hi!","Hello!", "Be Happy!" I posted them in the window and waved. I stood on the window ledge in various poses; created hats from paper and file-folders, made faces, played peek-a-boo by bouncing up from below the window ledge, stuck out my tongue, tossed paper planes in the air, and once went into the walkway over the street and danced while co-workers pointed to let my fans know I was there.

I didn't know it then, but a bond was forming between my fans and I. The next spring, I discovered just how close we had become.

My wife and I were expecting our first child. I wanted the world to know. Less than a month before the birth, I posted a sign in the window, "25 DAYS UNTIL ‘B’ DAY." My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, "24 DAYS UNTIL ‘B’ DAY." Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.

One day a sign appeared in the bus, "What is ‘B’ DAY?" I just waved and smiled.

Ten days before the expected date, the sign in the window read, "10 DAYS UNTIL BA-- DAY." Still the people wondered. The next day it read, "9 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY," then "8 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY." My fans finally knew what was happening.

By then, my following had grown to include twenty or thirty different busses and cars. Every night, they watched to see if my wife had given birth. The number decreased and excitement grew. My fans were disappointed when the count reached "zero" without an announcement. The next day the sign read, "BABY DAY 1 DAY LATE". I pretended to pull out my hair.

Each day the number changed and the interest from passing traffic grew. My wife was fourteen days overdue before she finally went into labor. Our daughter was born the next morning. I left the hospital at 5:30 AM, screamed my joy into the morning air, and drove home to sleep. I got up at noon, and appeared at my window in time for my fans. My co-workers were ready with a banner posted in the window:


I didn’t stand alone that evening. My co-workers joined me in celebration. We stood and waved in the air, as every vehicle that passed acknowledged the birth of my daughter. Finally, the bus from the docks made its turn onto the overpass and began to climb the hill. When it drew close, I climbed onto the window ledge and clasped my hands over my head in a victory pose. The bus was directly in front of me when it stopped in heavy traffic, and every person on board stood with their hands in the air.

I was choked with emotion as I watched them celebrate my new daughter.

Then it happened—a sign popped up. It filled the windows and stretched half the length of the bus. "CONGRATULATIONS!" it read.

Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as the bus slowly resumed its journey. I stood in silence as it pulled away from view. More fans passed. They tooted their horns and flashed their lights to congratulate me. I hardly noticed them, as I pondered what had just happened.

My daughter had been born fourteen days late. Those people must have carried that sign for weeks. Each day they must have unrolled it and then rolled it back up. The thought of them going through so much just to celebrate my new baby made me cry.

I made a fool of myself in that window for eight months. I made those people smile after a long day at work. They must have enjoyed it, because on the happiest day of my life they showed their appreciation.

That day, more than twenty years ago, changed me. I just wanted to make my day better. I didn’t realize how it affected others.

Ever since then, I try to put a smile on someone’s face every day. I compliment strangers on their clothing. I start conversations in elevators. I even make jokes in crowded New York City subways. Some may think I am stupid, but I know there is a chance that I’m making someone’s day—someone who may one day hold up a sign that says “Congratulations!”.

From this story, I took that it is the simple acts of kindness and acts of charity and Christ-like love that bring endless joy into our lives and the lives of those around us.

I want to end with a piece of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk from the October 2007 general conference titled Have We Not Reason To Rejoice? He says  “My dear brothers and sisters, there will be days and nights when you feel overwhelmed, when your hearts are heavy and your heads hang down. Then, please remember, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is the Head of this Church. It is His gospel. He wants you to succeed. He gave His life for just this purpose. He is the Son of the living God. He has promised:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee” (3 Nephi 22:10). “I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (3 Nephi 22:8).
My dear friends, the Savior heals the broken heart and binds up your wounds (see Psalm 147:3). Whatever your challenges may be, wherever you live on this earth, your faithful membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the divine powers of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless you to endure joyfully to the end”.

I have a testimony of the importance of finding joy in what you do, one of my favorite scriptures out of 2 Nephi says “Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy”.  I know it is our job as disciples of Christ to strive to act as he would, and to show love and kindness to the people around us. I know that this is the true church, and I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to go and serve Christ and build up his gospel in Poland. I am very thankful for friends and family.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.