Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Email - October 29th

Well, I guess I have a lot to cover. My new companion is Elder J from Provo Utah. He is a pretty swell guy and has a lot on his plate being senior companion, District Leader to a very young district, and only being one transfer ahead of me in the mission. But things are going great.

I have gotten I think two packages from Grandma Masza (maybe 3 I don't remember, don't freak out, I think I am getting everything). I also got your package. I ran out of MSF money this past month because things got crazy with district dinners due to Elders T and J finishing their missions. I am also still shopping out some winter stuff (gloves, muffler, maybe boots, socks, etc...). This week was crazy!!!! Saturday was the first snow, and it snowed all day. I don't know the official measurement, but they predicted 2 cm according to J and it looks like we got a lot more than that. I have never been in this type of winter before so it was really cool. I usually do fine on MSF money, just a crazy month, also thanks for the PB and Nutella and stuff, but I really can get that here... Not that I don't enjoy gifts, but buying it local would still be cheaper... 

Me and Sister F are the only surviving members of the old Łódź district because Elder N went to Kielce and Sister S went to open up Wrocław. The first few days were just spent getting our bearings because I was used to just being led around, and suddenly I was doing the leading. We are all good now though.

The Poles live in interesting conditions. For the most part they are fairly poor by our standards, they make enough to get by. But they all eat well, they have a decent place to stay. Most average households have smartphones and dress just like Americans would.The cost of food is super cheap. They have modest, but decent sized apartments with heating and good plumbing. No A/C, just radiators, but they work well, we can get our place cooking pretty good if we blast our 3 radiators and we have a heating pipe in our floor that heats the tile pretty well. Other than that, they are pretty humble, they don't do many extravagant things, some can travel to England every once in a while, others just live in Poland their whole lives and go with what they've got.

I have been trying to respond to letters, but I am backed up a bit and there just isn't very much time. We walk the streets all day just straight contacting, so we are pretty beat by the end of the day, plus I am companion to the DL so he does nightly calls during our planning session which really eats our afternoon times.

Everything else is going great, our district is getting along great and we are still doing our best on the boat. I have to go if I want to get any pictures to you and write the president. I wish you all the best of luck, I love you all, have a great week. Remember who you are and what you stand for!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Email - October 22nd

Things are really wrapping up in my first transfer in Poland. I got my call from the President last night, I will be staying in Łódź and my new companion will be Elder J who is currently serving in Kielce. He is only one transfer ahead of me and he will be DL and senior comp so he will have a lot on his plate. Elder N is moving to Kielce so that companionship will be "whitewashed", I don't know who will take their place yet. Sister S is opening up Wrocław for the sisters (there used to be sisters there so technically she is re-opening it). Sister F is training a new sister that is coming in this transfer. I am no longer the new kid on the block and hopefully my Polish will pick up faster because I will be forced to speak more with a companion that is not as strong in the language. I am excited to see what he is like, it should be pretty fun.
Segwaying was awesome, and I did survive (I did fall off once, I got too confident going through some bushes). Our tour guide was awesome, he split us into two groups because the sisters weren't as fast or adventurous as us so he went and made sure they weren't going to get hit by cars or anything, and we went off and flew through a huge beautiful park at 12 mph. They are pretty thrilling, but they also get old after a while. I actually think I prefer go-karting.

Today we are just going to chill as a district and hang out at Manufactura mall. It is crazy, I am already 1/6 of my way into the mission (not that I am counting)... It is already beginning to go by so fast, and I am still struggling (as everyone does) to get the language. We do have a pretty cool branch. There are a lot of older members that have been baptized for around 20 years, and then there are J and R. They are in their late 20's and pretty chill.

There are a few YSA people that show up, R, D, S, M. I haven't really gotten to know the rest of the branch yet. Except sister D, she is the choir director. She is one of those "tough but fair people". If you are singing off a little bit, she will make you sing alone, and she wants perfection, but it is good. she also speaks wicked fast Polish. And I forgot, last but not least is the T's. Brother T is a British he is married to a Polish woman who has a doctorate degree or something in Polish language and translates a lot for the church. They have one son who is about 3 years old. He is a little genius.

I get 9 more weeks to try to get to know the rest of the branch, so hopefully my Polish improves and I get to talking to a lot of people.

We have another investigator, E, he is 6'7'' he is studying to go into IT, like networking and such. He has talked with us before, he is a member of another Christian church here, but is open to other ideas and likes having someone to talk English with too. He said he really wants to read the Book of Mormon, so he was planning out how many pages he wanted to read a day. Cool guy.

Other than that, not much is new, I am just waiting to see what my new comp will be like, and how our new district will be. I need to write president now, I am hoping that all is going well at home and can't wait to tell you how this next week goes. Love you all, bye!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly E-mail - October 15th

Hello family,

It is nice to be emailing you again.

I bought a winter coat, but I haven't gotten a picture of my coat yet, I will for next week, it is just a nice, slim, black, conservative overcoat that just looks very professional... It have been told by a couple of Poles that I will not survive without a ski jacket, but usually Poles just wear a ski jacket and a t-shirt underneath, so I am not worried if I layer well. It is 80% wool and fairly thick so with layers I should be fine.

As you know Sister Nielson had cardiac arrest last week. She is at the hospital. She is having surgery tomorrow to have a pacemaker put in and the surgery will be performed here in Warsaw.

I find out next Sunday if I am transferring that week or not. I was promised by Elder J that if I am transferring, we will go back to Radgoszcz and see the inside that last P-day. Chances are that I will stay for the next transfer though.
This week was really cool for us here in Łódź. We made the goal at District meeting that we wanted each of the 3 Łódź companionships to get 12 or more lessons. We had lined up a good number of appointments and very few of them fell through (which is actually quite unusual). We were able to teach almost everyone that we wanted to teach and we were also able to pick up lessons on the street. There was one point when Elder N and I went on "temporary splits" while Elders J and T were working an open house we were having at the chapel. Elder N and I were trying to invite people into the open house. One man stopped and talked to me in Polish and English. I was able to teach him a lesson about the Book of Mormon, where it came from, why it is important, and promise him blessings from reading it. He claimed he was not interested in religion after seeing the evil that Catholic priests were capable of, but he would read the book and tell me what he thought. So who knows, maybe I will hear from him again. 

Today we will be segwaying for P-Day, you can rent them on Ulica Piotrkowska by the hour, so that will be fun. I am also getting my first haircut in Poland, it is much needed, but wish me luck. 

I am glad to hear Paul is getting married. I send my congratulations. Tell him Matzeltov from me!

We went last week to see Fiddler on the Roof on stage in Polish (translated to Skrzypek na Dachu). It was a great production. I understood about 40% of the Polish I would say, and about 95% of what was going on from having seen it before and knowing the story. They did an amazing job, and it was neat watching it in a language so close to the original Russian that it would have been in. We get to have 1 culture night a transfer that goes from 6:00p.m. to 10:00p.m. and we have to do something culturally significant. Next transfer we will probably stay out late for day of the dead. It is a Holiday of respect here where everyone makes an exodus to the graveyards, and the week before they clean their deceased's grave sights, and on the night of November 1st they light candles and decorate the graves. They have already been selling candles for weeks. 

I am going to have to go to write President and maybe get some pictures home. I love you all. Keep up the good work at home. We are keeping up the work and morale here. The church is true. Jesus is the Christ, he died so that we can live again. Dzięki Zadośćuczynieniu Jezusa Chrystusa, Możemy idź do Boga z naszych rodzinach znowu. Mam Świadectwo że przez wiara i posłuszeństwa do prorok i Boga, możemy wytrwać do końca.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekly Email - October 8th

Hello all. It was nice to get your email and to get to talk to you live last week.

My exchange with Elder Bokińsky was awesome. I learned a lot. Being only one transfer ahead of me, Elder B... is awesome and very hard working. We taught a lesson to a man named Z.... Neither of us had very good Polish so we worked together really well. Z... had a member friend sit in on the lesson too. Then half-way through the lesson when we were running out of things to say, the doorbell rang. Another member showed up, he does a lot of translating for the church, he is a voice actor and musician. As soon as he came in the room, he took over like a hero. He shared a scripture that he had recently found, and what he learned from it and invited the other members to find a way to apply it. It was amazing. Later that evening we had a discussion with a man on a park bench named E..., we talked with him for over an hour about the gospel. He kept telling us that he thought all churches were the same, he is believing, but hates churches. But he wanted to keep discussing religion, he was amazed by the concept of a restored gospel because it was his belief that the true gospel of Christ was destroyed with the apostle Paul and that it was no longer on earth. 

Back in Łódź we got to have a really good experience too. We got a referral from a member the referral's name was M... and he is a student at the university here. He wanted to do a report for school on the history of our church in Łódź. We talked with him for nearly an hour and he loved it. He said that he was amazed with our teachings. At that point we invited him to attend General Conference with us for the live translated morning sessions. He showed up to each session in a suit and white shirt and tie. He was amazed, he said he had never seen anything like that in the Catholic church, so many people in such a spiritual meeting. We plan on extending a baptismal date tomorrow to him.

I am amazed with how some people seem so prepared to receive the gospel even if they don't know it. He came in expecting to write a school paper about church history, and in doing so, he is actually finding more and more faith in Christ. We have already extended commitments like reading the introduction to the Book of Mormon, reading a few pamphlets, coming to conference, and meeting with us again, and he is keeping every commitment we give him.

Last P-Day we made it to Radagoszcz at 4:45, the museum section is supposed to close at 5, but they closed up shop early. We got to see the train and the outside signs, but it was a huge bummer...

Today we are scheduled to go laser tagging and buy me a good European overcoat. I am going for something classy and simple, wish me luck, this is what I will use to survive the winter. The last few days have been really cold, Elder J... said it feels like what it did last November in Poland. yikes.

Otherwise I am doing well. I did think as to what you could send me that are either hard to find here or expensive. Really, really warm socks are one (like thik wool socks).

I have to start writing to president. I love you all. I got Grandma's letter, Judy Pulver's letters, and the Rice's letters. I am very appreciative you are all writing me. I love you all and send my thanks. I do not have a lot of time to write letters, so keep sharing the blog in the mean-time. I know this church is true. This general conference was full of amazing revelation and great spiritual talks that had a different message for me, my companion, and our investigators, but for each of us it was just as powerful. I am grateful to be a part of it. I will talk to you all next week.
 Here are some pictures Elder Godwin sent home. Don't know exactly what they all are, but they are interesting anyways.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekly Email - October 1st

This week was good last P-day I wasn't feeling very good so we just walked around Manufactura all day. Today I am doing a Jewish history day at Radagaszcz train station and the Jewish cemetery. What names do I need to know? Anyone from Łodz?

We met up with a couple of cool people on the streets, one was named A, he was sitting on a park bench about 100 yards from a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall, he was very interested in our church and was interested in the Book of Mormon. Most people in Poland have no problem accepting that the Book of Mormon could be divinely inspired. Polish people seem to be fine with it if they are searching for something outside of the catholic religion.

G was the other guy. He came up to us and asked what the book we had was. We gave him one and talked to him about it. He was unfortunately half-Polish and half-mexican born and raised in Mexico, he is here to visit his Grandma.

I am going on exchanges this afternoon, I am taking a train to Warsaw, and staying through until Wednesday morning when I head back to Łódź. I will be working with Elder Bokinsky. I'm looking forward to it.

Still haven't had a good chance to cook anything. I am going to try to make Swedish pancakes soon. We are trying to keep all of our meals around 4 zł a person or less. A lot of packaged food like pierogi are only like 2 zł per person per meal. We do some pasta, some cereal, some breads, some żurek soup, and rice a lot of the time. We save enough to eat out about once or twice a week. We do KFC and Manekin which are surprisingly expensive for being food in Poland. KFC costs us around 12 zł for a big burger, which is cheap for America, but 12 zł will get you a nice sit-down restaurant here. I think they just have standard international prices so it makes it hard for a lot of Poles to afford it. Please don't send me any expensive packages, I can buy anything I need here and most things are cheaper. It would be better if you just stuck money in my account and told me how much I could spend... I actually need to send a package home soon which will cost about 30 bucks or more...

As for the language, I am understood more than I understand in most cases. It is interesting, some people read that you don't speak Polish well, and they make themselves easy to understand, those people I can converse with on a 3 year old level. Others talk like a whirlwind and I get nothing. When 2 people are talking and I am not involved in the conversation I understand a lot more. Poles are pretty good at understanding broken Polish. I still have a hard time with long or explained gospel conversations, but I can order food or go shopping just fine. I was able to talk to a Nike store guy, I was buying a side bag and had seen the one I was going to buy with a darkened logo, so I was able to ask if they had any of those and then I was able to tell him that I will just buy the one he was showing me, etc. He spoke clearly and simply, a lot of people slur when they speak.

The Poles are 98% catholic, 1.5% JW, and the rest are atheist. That's why the members here are so amazing. There is a 12 year old girl in Poznań that was baptized, her parents were OK with it, they were almost baptized as well. She goes around and always carries missionary flyers with her (we call them ulotki in Polish). She is constantly finding people for the missionaries there to teach, and she is 12! A is amazing as well. The members have to be the strongest people in Europe.

I have to run, love you all! The church is true!