Monday, December 30, 2013

Weekly Email - December 30th

Here are some pictures of Elder Godwin during our Christmas phone conversation. 
It was better than amazing to speak to him.


So, not much is new since we last spoke. We have all gotten over our various illnesses. I feel a lot better and only have a little bit of excess mucus right now. The stomach bug finally passed over and we are all back to the old grind. This week will be a normal week again except for New Years Eve we go inside at 6:00 for safety.
I have been setting some goals for the New Year, and my 6 month left goals as well. I am trying not to go overkill, because when I set too many goals (even if they are all good and achievable), I end up doing none of them. I already need to readjust from my original 6 month goal ideas. It is a good process though. President Edgren also challenged us to take one Christ-like attribute from PMG chapter 6 to focus on and to "make it our own". I thought it was a great goal, I will probably do one every month, since I feel like one a week is too fast to really develop a trait like that. I guess I am just trying to really refrain from trying to take on the world and hitting a brick wall.
My comp and I are doing great. We are trying to figure out what is going to happen at transfers, but we can't decide. The general consensus seems to be either we both stay, or Elder K leaves and I stay. I don't know if that is really how it is going to go down, but we shall see. President Edgren has done a very good job at being completely unpredictable since he came in. I kinda like it, it keeps us on our toes.
I don't really have a lot more to say, I feel like I have been rambling, I will try to gather some more pictures to send. Love you all, I will talk to you again in a week. Bye

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Weekly Email - December 25th

Elder Godwin and his companion are in a town with 2 sister missionaries. As it turned out the four of them were sick for Christmas. So they spent the day at the chapel e-mailing and calling their families. Here are some of the pictures from the days leading up to Christmas.

One of the sisters emailing her family while prepared since she is not feeling good. That's no way to spend Christmas. :(

4 Sad Sicklings, that just want their families pitty for a second.

Not really they assured me they really were making the best out of the day.

We have a tradition in our family that each year we paint new stockings. It is really a fun Family Home Evening thing to do. Elder Godwin has got to do it both these last Christmases with his companions. I think they turned out pretty good.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekly Email - December 9th

Well, you already all know what happened all the way to Wednesday. From that point, most of the week was busy preparing a baptism for T. She is an investigator that the sisters have been teaching. I was fortunate enough to get to interview her for baptism which is in and of itself a neat experience. She was just super prepared and had a solid testimony so she passed with flying colors. She was baptized on Saturday and Confirmed a member of the church on Sunday by President C. That was certainly the highlight of the week without a doubt. The rest of the week has actually been a bit slower than usual, we are going to really pick up the pace this week and find some new people to teach. Finding for me is always such a daunting task, I feel confident in everything else besides finding, but as Preach My Gospel says "Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach". So I have to get working on that.
Elder K and I are doing great, I think we have plans today to go shopping around some used clothing stores in Wrocław to see what kind of treasures we can find. We are working well together though and he is still amazing at what he does.

Starszy Godwin

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weekly Email - December 4th

Hey, so this week was pretty good. Sorry, I am a little crunched for time since we are doing this on lunch break, but I wanted to just say I am doing great and my comp is as well. Elder Caskey says hi to everyone and he is doing well.
We had a great time touring Auschwitz with the whole zone. Unfortunately President didn't make it, but he came to Katowice to watch and join our carroling and finding activity. It was a blast, we just sung our Christmas songs and when someone would stop nearby, a missionary could split off and go talk to them. We got a lot of people's contact and a lot of people stopped. I got to spend some quality time with Elder Caskey and even contact with him for a few minutes. I think we would make great companions personally. His companion, Elder A, is great. His dad is in the military and has been stationed in Arizona for some time, he says it is his favorite place in the world. He loves his guns, so we got some quality time too.
We had zone training and that was a wonderfully spiritual meeting about how to feel the spirit and how to help investigators recognize the spirit. Then we had a testimony meeting, I love missionary testimony meetings. I think one of the greatest blessings of my mission is I have pretty much gotten over my fear of public speaking. I still have a lot of public speaking skills to develope, but the imediate fear is gone. I feel like it is such an amazing oportunity and a great teaching and learning experience to get together as missionaries and share testimonies. We had a safe trip back and are now home in Wroclaw. I am going to have to cut this short. I hope everyone is doing great and that you have a great week.

Love you all,

Starszy Godwin

Elders Caskey and Godwin at Auschwitz.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekly Email - November 25th

This week was great, and we saw a lot of cool things. For one, Jarmarki opened up, this is like a little Christmas village in the town square, and I suppose that Wrocław probably has the best in the world, so I am lucky to be here at this time. We have been a couple of times, there is even a little roller coaster in the middle, we are gonna have to give that a ride. We have been working with some cool investigators, and we have been meeting cool people.
On Monday we went out to explore some of the many malls in our city, it appears that Wrocław is a city of malls, there are about 9 that I have counted out on the map, and that doesn't include some very large indoor "bazars" that are basically malls with no named stores. So we wanted to go mall hopping a bit, but we only got to two of them We are going to see one more today and then go to the Christmas village again, I have a feeling we will be spending a lot of time there.

There have been quite a few investigators coming from english, unfortunately, we are having a hard time getting them to really want to do anything. They are fine with hearing about our church and learning about Mormons. We are teaching a really cool guy "J" who is just awesome. About 50 years old, he has a wife and three teenage/adult kids. J has been ready for baptism for quite some time. He knows the church is true, he has a testimony, he just needs a little more family support. His wife is actually quite supportive and really likes the church, she just doesn't feel like she needs to join it right now, she said J could get baptized though. I think it is just hard for him, he feels like it would split up the family. Talking with Sister B in our district, I asked what she would do with J if she were teaching him, she said "Well, we have a sort of 'motto' right? It goes 'Find, Teach, Baptize, Keep', sometimes I think that we need to 'find, teach, and keep for a little while' before they are ready". So we are at that cross roads. I really respect J for how far he has come, and how strong his faith is, and I really like the guy. He also feeds us and loves having gospel discussions at his place, so I feel like we are really good friends. The other day, on a tram on the way home from his house, he was riding with us, and he told me some of the difficulties his son was going through, and then asked what he can do to help his son. Imagine that, a 50 year old father of 3 asking for parenting advice from a 20 year old missionary... I felt honored, but he is a great guy. He came to church and said he invited his wife, but she is tired from some post-cancer treatment she is on and she couldn't make it. I hope and pray that something changes for him. 

We are also hoping that some of our other investigators from English start making some real progress and at least giving the church a shot. We had one girl in our english class a couple of weeks ago who quietly came up after class and asked if she could take a Book of Mormon to read and keep. I told her of course and she didn't show up after that. 

Everything is going great here though, my companion is awesome. You would never know he was a trainee, he speaks magnificent Polish, no joke. He is a great guy too, we have really compatible senses of humor, so we are liking serving together. Our members here are doing great, we have been trying to get investigators so that we can have members sit in on lessons and help us teach, because it is always good for them to get an opportunity like that. 

We had the opportunity of teaching the Priesthood lesson this week in church, luckily we got to just do it off of a talk by President Uchtdorf, titled 'Come, Join with Us'. We read and discussed many of his points. I love the beginning little story where he describes all of the responsibilities and unpaid obligations of being a member of the church and then someone asks "Why would anyone want to join such a church" he replies with "I thought you would never ask", then he goes on to say all of the great things he has learned. I feel like that same thing could be said when looking at my mission "Why would anyone want to serve such a mission?". But it is probably the most rewarding experience of my life so far. I love the people here, I love the gospel, and I am learning so much about my relationship with God while helping others to develope theirs.

I hope everything is going well for everyone back at home, I love you all, hope you have a great week, and I will email you again in a week.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Email - November 18th

The week has been great. We have had some wonderful teaching opportunities with a couple of really cool investigators. One kid, M, who is 18 is doing great and I think will shortly be preparing for baptism.

The really cool experience we had was with a former investigator named J. This man is a family guy, with a wife, two sons, and a daughter. All of his kids are around our age, but he acknowledges that we are teachers of the Lord's gospel. He is a really nice guy, he treated us to some food and tea and we sat down and all he wanted to do was talk about his family and the gospel. Unfortunately, his family is not interested as he is, but he is not down about that. He has been prepared for baptism before and had multiple baptismal dates and has backed out each time or postponed until he backed out. This time, we went in with a planned lesson on reading, praying, and going to church. He hadn't been taught in a little while, so we thought it would be good to do the basic three. When we got to talking to him, I felt like that was completely uneccessary. He shared with me a scripture he had read lately in the Book of Mormon, and how much it had meant to him, I asked if he prays and he said everyday. I asked if he has been out to church in a while, he said it had been a couple of weeks, but he was going the next day. I then felt like we needed a new lesson. For a second I had gotten nervous about what to teach him. Then a scripture came to mind in 3 Nephi 18. I went with that thought and turned there and shared a scripture on baptism and church, and made a connection in that scripture with the Holy Ghost. Then it hit me, he always backed out of baptism... Why? Well certainly there was some underlying fear or some sort of misunderstanding. I thought, if he could just understand what a blessing it was, and how great it would be to have that Holy Ghost all the time, what fear could he possibly have. I think sometimes missionaries make baptism out to be a bigger thing than it should be, while being essential, your circumstances in life do not immediately change as a result of baptism. The floor doesn't fall out from under you, birds won't come down and attack you, nor will you happen upon a million dollars and a chocolate bar down the street from your baptism... But.... You will have the gift of the Holy Ghost. I turned us in the scriptures to The Acts chapter 2. I love the story of the day of Pentacost. In the MTC, Brother Stice told us to have BOM heros to rely on when you have nothing else. I took that advice and added some bible heros and stories. Peter on the Day of Pentacost is my "go-to guy". We read how he was given the gift of the Holy Ghost with all the Apostles, they received the gift of tongues, and then Peter describes yet other gifts of the spirit "Your young mens will have visions, and your old men will dream dreams". So on and So forth. Then I testified of the power of that gift, I told him I would not be here in a state to testify to you in Polish without the help that the Lord provides. I then mentioned the ability he had to feel the Spirit right then, I told him that I knew he could feel the Spirit, but he could have that as a constant companion after baptism. I told him of the story of Peter's testimony of the divinity of Christ. That Christ asked his disciples "Who say ye that I am?" and Simon Peter responded "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God". Christ praised him for that response because he knew this from the Holy Ghost even before that gift had been bestowed upon him. It was a powerful lesson, and then J agreed that in our next appointment, we could set a baptismal date. We are excited for that, we were very straightforward and open with him and he was very open in return, I strongly feel that he is ready for batism, he just needs to make the decision to do it.
The rest of the week was also great, our members are awesome, they bring such a great spirit to the meetings and they are such good fellowshippers. We have some really good relationships here already and it will only get better. The city is beautiful, and it is getting decorated for Christmas especially in town square. They are bringing out the little market houses where they sell all sorts of fun trinkets, and we are excited for when they open up. So we are having a great time. Elder K is the man, we are getting along great and his Polish is amazing for 3 weeks in Poland. He came with some great communicaion skills.
Wish I had time to tell you more, but we have been rushed today, I love you all and hope everyone has a great week.
Z Miłością,
Starszy Godwin

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekly Email - November 11th

This week was great. Well, I had to say goodbye to all of my friends in Katowice, and I will really miss them, but we will be in contact. But the rest was great. We had some good lessons before I left Katowice with some American girls that are baptists and are here to teach pre-school. They had some really interesting views on life. It was nice to see the different prospective and to have my testimony grow on how important and amazing the Restoration was. So much information had been lost and changed, and now we have it again, I am grateful for that.

Then, on Wednesday, I got on a train to go to Warsaw and pick up my trainee before hitting the streets in the scenic city of Wroclaw. I got in to Warsaw to be greeted by the famous Elder H who was also training. Shortly after, Elder R, Elder K, and Elder S joined the training elders. Then the sisters, W, B, and H. We got to spend an hour or two around town getting food and such before we got to the mission home (a place I haven't been in since I was a new Elder in the mission over a year ago). Then we got a pep-talk/trainer meeting with president. I love President Edgren, he had us start and end all of our meetings with music and luckily we had some musically talented sisters who played the violin and piano for us. Then, the trainees came in. I went with a bit of advice that Elder L gave me. He said not to look around and think about which trainee I want, or which I don't want... Just don't judge them. So I didn't, but the meeting got started right away with our trainees and I was the first Elder to get my trainee. President had me stand up and point out my city on the map, and he called up Elder K to be my companion. Elder K is great. He is an American, but grew up most of his life in Switzerland and Belgium. His dad is a commodities trader there. We got a lot of time to talk and get to know each other on our 8 hour train ride from Warsaw to Wroclaw the next day. He has two older sisters, one younger. His family has now been moved to Utah. He is fresh out of high school like all new Elders. He is the great-grandson of Spencer W. Kimball. He did track in high school and is crazy good at Polish for being a greenie. I mean, he just gets the language structure. The flow will come with time of course, but his grammar and vocab are superb.

We got into Wroclaw and our sisters picked us up from the station and told us we had an appointment in 45 minutes. So there was no time to settle in, we got going straight to the appointment after dropping off our bags. We had a private English lesson with three guys and we had nothing planned so I went with emergency plan X where we sit them down and have them create a personalized language study plan. They seemed to really enjoy it overall.

The next day we had an appointment with our investigator M. He is a cool kid, and he is really searching. O (a member) helped us on that lesson. She is the person Sister Stay was pretending to be in the MTC when we taught our "fake investigators".

I think the best part of the week though was just going to church. We have some amazing members here, it is a very bilingual branch. There are some youth and some primary (the primary kids weren't there yesterday though). They were just great.

The city here is gorgeous, built in a sort of delta of the river Odra or something like that. The architecture is wonderful, and there are some really quirky things, like the gnomes that are all over the city. It is hard to describe, but you should look up krasnale we wroclawiu or just wroclaw gnomes. They are pretty neat. I unfortunately have been too busy to take pictures, but next week I will get some for you all.

I think I am going to really enjoy my time here in Wroclaw and I am looking forward to really getting to work with Elder K.

The Rynek "square" in Wroclaw

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekly Email - November 4th

This week has been kinda wacky. Firstly, we found out on Thursday that Elder W was leaving Katowice early to become the next AP with Elder N (third time companions). He found out on Tuesday and they were being fishy, so we inquired and they coulddn't lie. Before that, the week is kind of a fog. We met with some people that had set up an appointment with us. That was our only lesson of the week. But we kept going until it came time to start our 3-some with Elder L in Katowice. I do remember that on Friday, we had a culture night in Katowice and got to watch as Poles celebrated Day of the Dead. They go throughout the week and clean the graves of their loved ones and ancestors and on November 1st (and the days surrounding it depending on how devout they are) they go and place candles and flowers all over the graves and the graveyards. It is really quite spectacular. I was in Lodz one year ago celebrating this same holiday in the snow, this year there has been no snow yet, so we are blessed.
On Saturday we rode on a train early in the morning to see Elder W off and get with Elder L. W was very excited and then our adventures began. We had a lesson that day with the other elders investigator who is preparing to be baptized this month. He is really a special kid and has a lot of potential in the years to come. He is 17 years old, but is really searching and really has a lot of faith. We all have high hopes for him and we had a really spiritual meeting where we watched the Restoration video and then testified about the power of the Restoration and how amazing it is that God and Jesus Christ have spoken to men in our day and that we can all have that personal witness in this life. He was really receptive and has been taught everything he needs to know before he gets baptized on the 23rd of this month.
We also went out to do a service project in a place called Mysłowice. It is a little town covered in graffiti, but on the outskirts, there is a little place covered in plots of land called "działki" I don't know the english equivalent in the states, because we have no such thing. It is a large "garden" with a little (tiny) house on it where Poles go to get away from the cares of life. The Sisters are teaching a woman with a Działka in Mysłowice and she asked if we could help her paint it. When we got there, the paint she had bought was very strange. It was thin and watery and more like elmers glue, but if you got some on your hand and rubbed it between your fingers, it would just disappear like magic. I spilt some on my hoody and I wiped it right off.
Yesterday we had a good church meeting. That night, we got our transfer calls. I am going to be training! I will also be DL in Wrocław which should be beautiful for the winter. I am super excited, so on Wednesday I ride into Warsaw to pick up my trainee and Thursday, I go to Wrocław with him. I am stoked, and the sisters in my district are really cool as well. I have worked with one of them before way back in Łódź. The Senior couple is going to be the Lloyds as well (from my second Lodz transfer) so that should be very exciting, everyone loves the Lloyds. I am excited to see what the new transfer brings and I am looking for ways to grow as a missionary and a person, I am probably going to do something that a few missionaries around the mission have done called a "40 day fast" where you start with a literal 1 day fast and then you make a list of a few specific things you can eliminate from your life (or add) and for the next 40 days you eliminate (or add) those things from your life. It is an idea I had originally heard from Elder W, but Elder L and W both did it this past transfer as well. I am probably going to give it a shot. I am also excited for the oportunity to train. It should be a lot of fun.

Love you all,

Starszy Godwin

Day of the Dead!

 The Branch President.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Email - October 28th

Hi Family,
This week we saw some great miracles. I wanted to start by telling you of the biggest one that I saw. Saturday night marks probably one of the greatest (if not the greatest) nights of my mission so far. We were working all week, all day, and now it was after dinner and we were going out again to try to find those who had been prepared. At about 18:15 not far from our house, Elder B stopped a girl and began teaching her the restoration. I could see that he was doing a great job and she was being very patient in listening to him and so I just stood by and listened. She was listening pretty intently and every once in a while, Elder B would ask me for a word or phrase and I would help him out. Once we had pretty much gotten through the points of a first lesson, she looked at me and asked if I spoke really good Polish. I said that I could hold a conversation. She then asked to both of us "What is it that the restoration has given you personally?". I wasn't sure at first how to answer, but I figured I would just go with the spirit. I told her for me it brought a knowledge of what God expects from me. I know where I came from, what I am supposed to do and where I am going. I told her that this is called the Plan of Salvation. She said I was being too general, she asked what that meant specifically because every religion has some theory on what our purpose is. Honestly I did not feel very prepared to give a lesson about the Plan of Salvation at that point, I told her that we could spend hours talking about that and that we would love to set up with her and talk to her at some point on that topic. She then asked if we would have just 30 minutes to talk right then because she is really busy, but had just gotten off work and has the whole afternoon. We said of course and we went and sat on a nearby bench. Elder B explained some things about the Plan of Salvation we explained that the goal in this life is to live worthy and to take upon us the ordinances that are necessary to return to live with God. She found that to be very interesting. We got into a detailed discussion of Who God is and how we can come to know Him. She had always had faith in a higher power but it seemed that she mostly believed He was just that, a power. I asked if God had a body, according to her. She said "well... No, I believe He came down as Christ and that he died and is more of a governing force". She said He had a will and a "mind" like a perfected man, but she didn't imagine that he had a tangible body. I was able to testify that this truth was restored with the rest of the restoration. We talked about the Holy Ghost. She said she has always had a hard time gaining faith in any solid points of doctrine. She believes in God, but cannot easily gain a testimony in things like the restoration or the Book of Mormon, or even the Koran, or other religions that she has looked into. I told her that only the Spirit could bring that testimony to her and only after earnest seeking. I felt like I could very personally relate. My whole life has been a struggle for faith. It is not something that comes easily to me, it is something I had to work very hard for and continue to work very hard for. I have always had desire, but I am naturally a doubter and a skeptic. I testified that if the Holy Ghost brought me this testimony, He would do the same for her. We had a wonderful discussion, and we set up to meet with her again this week. For me it was one of those moments where I could feel the Spirit work through me, I wasn't teaching the lesson, I was just carrying the words of God. It began to flow much more smoothly, less mechanical in presentation. I have only had a few such instances on my mission, but it is those experiences that I value the most about this work.
The rest of the week, we saw a lot of work with little visible fruit, but a lot of spiritual rewards. I had some particularly rough days where people were just more mean than usual. One day we went out and tried to talk to every person we saw and they did not just deny us, they completely ignored us. One person after the other. We would walk up adn just say "Hey, good day..." and they would walk by eyes straight ahead as if we didn't exist. It became almost comical like they had planned it. That was a rough day and A LOT of walking, but I feel like I learned a lot. I learned a lot about dilligence in the face of all opposition and relying on the Spirit to do the talking, not your mouth. It was a good week, we worked hard, we got a couple of really good conversations and we are looking forward to meeting with some of these people again.
Sunday we had District Conference. All of the members, missionaries, and investigators who could gathered in from Kraków, Wrocław, Kielce, and Katowice into our chapel. I got to see a lot of old faces like President K from Kraków, and the O's the nice American/British family who had us over for Christmas and their two children. The meeting went great and President Edgren gave his talk in wonderful Polish which the poles are always very happy about. The chapel was filled and it was wonderful to see little kids running around and people talking and having a great time. Then the Elders from Kraków (S and Z) had a few hours till their bus. We toured them around Katowice and they had the recent convert L with them who I taught when I was in Kraków and I had not even heard that he was getting baptized! It was a good day all in all to finish off a good week.

Love you all,

Starszy Godwin

Here are some goats that are always by our apartment.

The "Spodek" or flying saucer, one of the tourist sites in Katowice.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekly Email - October 21st

This week Elder Godwin did not send us a written note. In his recording he shared that they have had a good week. Work is still slow, but Elder B and Elder Godwin are in good spirits. They are enjoying working together. They are enjoying the people they have met in the branch. He sent us some pictures around Sosnowiec.

 Here is a little stray dog that decided to join them for a Kebab lunch. Of course both Elders were more than happy to share their Kebab meat with this handsome dog.

 Fall is in the air even in Sosnowiec.

 As you may be able to tell Elder Godwin has lost some weight on his mission. This is amazing considering all the food he is eating. Here he is fixing some Swedish Pankcakes.

 Playing soccer with branch members and other missionaries. My son has really white legs. He must be my boy. :)

 Here he is setting appointments while enjoying the Swedish flair of IKEA and probably heading over to the cafeteria for some Swedish Meatballs.