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.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative and interesting...on both your parts! Thanks!