Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekly Email - June 24th

First off, I got my new area assignment. On Thursday I will be taking about an 8 1/2 hour train ride to Katowice. I will be serving in a town just outside of Katowice called Sosnowiec. I will be a District Leader there, so I will be in charge of 3 other Elders, 2 Sisters, and a Senior missionary couple. I am nervous and excited at the same time. My current companion, Elder K is staying in Szczecin, and I will be serving with Elder B. I hope all goes well in the move and that I am able to get right to work in Katowice. I am definitely going to miss Szczecin and all of the amazing people here, as well as the district here Elders M, W, and K are the best.
This week I officially hit my year-mark on the 20th. I am still trying to figure out how I feel about that. It hit hard that day, I realized that I am half-way done, and that I only have that much time left here on my mission. It is weird.
This past week we ran into a woman on the street who said she had met Mormons a couple of times years ago and that she had wondered where we went... We told her that we were still here in Szczecin and would love to see her at church on Sunday, she said she would be there for sure. Then, on Sunday, we got to church and soon, not only this woman, but her husband also came. They dressed up nice, mingled with members and missionaries, and they sat through sacrament (Elder K and I spoke). They complemented us on our talks, and then they stayed for Sunday school. They answered questions, asked questions, and participated well in class the whole time. After church, they even wanted to invite us over next week for dinner and for us to teach them more about the gospel. We said we would be happy to. They were just such a neat, prepared couple. I will not be able to take them up on their dinner offer unfortunately, because I will be in Katowice, but it was just a miracle that we found them. 
We also had the chance to run in to an American family that was traveling through. They had come to visit someone that the husband had baptized 40 years earlier while he served a mission in Denmark. They traveled through Denmark, Germany and Poland. We first ran in to them on our way to an appointment. We visited briefly but had to leave to make it to our appointment on time. After we left the appointment and were heading back to our apartment we ran in to them again. This time we were able to visit for a while. We really enjoyed talking to the family and had a great visit.
We also had a chance to go to Zone Conference in Bydgoszcz. It was a long train ride and things were hectic and crazy but it worked out really well. We had a good experience and it was good to be able to see President and Sister Nielson one more time before they head home. They are going to be missed! They the official cutting off a tie of all the missionaries to take with them home for their mission quilt that they are making.
Other than that I am excited to get to see my next city and see how all of that works out. I hope all is well for everyone at home!

Love you all,
Starszy Godwin

Elder Godwin and Elder K. this is the picture the American couple took of them to send to us. That was so nice of the couple. They have a missionary out themselves and know what a blessing it is for us parents to get updates.

This is the first hedgehog Elder Godwin has ran into. He was even able to touch it. He was very excited about this.

Here is Elder K and Godwin with their newly baptized sister. They have really enjoyed teaching S. She is an amazing young lady, so ready to learn and to live the gospel. She has been a true blessing in these young men's mission life.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Repost from Sister Nielson's blog!

June Zone Conferences Begin! Bydgoszcz is first...

Bydgoszcz Zone:  It was so good to meet with our missionaries in Bydgoszcz one last time for Zone Conference.  We had lots planned for this Conference, but first let me introduce the Districts:
The Poznan District: Sisters Lidtka and Bown; Elders Jespersen (District Leader) and Caskey. Sitting: Elder and Sister Sheley. What a great group of Missionaries we have serving in Poznan. They are finding and teaching some amazing people right now.
The Bydgoszcz District: Elders Vernon and Wilson (Zone Leaders) with Elders Allen and Harris (District Leader).
The Szczecin District: Elders Waskiewiecz and Mikolyski (District Leader and Branch President) with Elders Kotter and Godwin.
The Gdansk District: Sisters Young and Swenson with Elders Skolimoski and White. Sitting:  Elder and Sister Tufts.
Making sure our Missionaries are reading 3 pages a day in their Missionary White Handbooks, we decided to have a 'White Handbook Chase'.
Companionships worked together to find answers to questions like: "Find the quote regarding chewing gum while proselyting in the White handbook." (Actually, that is a hard is 'hidden' on p. 42)
All companionships did well. We could tell that they had been studying the Handbook as they should. There was one companionship who did a little better than the rest....
...the Zone Leaders! We would expect nothing less from them. But since the White Handbook also states that Missionaries should not engage in competitive activities (p.22), everyone received a prize but Elders Vernon and Wilson got to pick their 'prize' first!
It was time for lunch. When we are in Bydgoszcz, there is ONLY one place we go....Marcin's! They are delicious and worth the drive to Bydgoszcz! He delivered our lunch and we said 'good-bye'. A very nice man.
Next item of business....Birthdays! The traditional 'Sto Lat' was sung as the cookies were passed out. Happy birthday to Elders Kotter, Godwin, Sister Lidtka, Elders Tufts, Sheley and Harris.
And now for the event the missionaries have been waiting for....
Since we want to include every missionary on the Poland Warsaw Mission 'Tie Quilt', we had to cut their ties early. We started with our Zone Leaders....Elder Wilson and Elder Vernon. (President Nielson was my helper! He did a great job!)
Elder Kotter and Elder Godwin were next.
They were followed by Elder Allen and Elder Harris. (By the look on Elder Harris' face, I think President Nielson must have slipped with those scissors!)
Elder Waskiewicz and Elder Mikolyski's turn......Again, President Nielson hasn't had any practice at this and I think the missionaries are nervous!
Elder White and Elder Skolimoski were our next 'victims'...
...and they were followed by Elder Caskey and Elder Jespersen.
Now for the Sisters. Sister Swenson was ready to give up a piece of her sweater, but Sister Young is going to wait until next week when she leaves to go home to give up her 'memento'.
Sister Lidtka and Sister Bown both gave up scarves....
And now for our great senior couples.  Elder and Sister Tufts each donated to the cause...
...As did Elder and Sister Sheley.
The Bydgoszcz Zone holding up their 'donations'. What a great group of missionaries. We love each and every one of them. We will continue to pray for their success when we return home.
So why the photo of President Nielson driving the car? As we were returning home, we realized that this was our LAST road trip! No more eating in the car. No more getting mislead by a GPS that wants to take us down a muddy dirt road. No more beautiful Polish countryside. (Sniff!) Does that deserve a photo? YES! We have spent countless hours of our mission in the car. But every minute was worth it because it meant we were going to visit wonderful missionaries, faithful members and investigators full of hope.
Arriving at Kosiarzy 22 (6 days later), we find the brickwork in the front of the house complete. Yeah! And we also found an extra surprise.....
We have a water drain! No more 'Lake Kosiarzy' in front of the Mission Home. There are blessings around every corner! I love this life!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekly Email - June 17th

Hi All, 
This week was a good week. We had an exchange that started Monday afternoon and ended Wednesday after studies. I was in my area with Elder W. The exchange went really well, Elder W wanted to focus on his language studies and I wanted to focus on my personal studies so we learned a lot from each other. He taught me about how important it was to not just be able to paraphrase scriptures and use them in teaching, but to know where they are found and what they say. He helped me create a plan to study the Book of Mormon scripture mastery scriptures and I am also looking for 25 personal scripture mastery scriptures from the Book of Mormon so that I will have a good set of memorized scriptures. I realized recently as my language skills and teaching are improving that I do not use scriptures as well as I should. Then, I went through a language study with Elder W. I helped him study a concept he was having a hard time with and we talked about study techniques. I think this was a good focus for our exchange. Elder W is doing great, we are good friends now, we even ordered a pizza together (it was actually about the 2nd time either of us had ordered a pizza in Poland). We did really well and he is fearless. We set some good goals, I have the goals: to memorize the 25 Book of Mormon Scripture masteries by the end of the transfer. To find 25 personal scripture masteries as I read the Book of Mormon cover to cover (I am in 2nd Nephi right now). To apply these things in teaching situations of course, and to improve my language study plan. Elder W wanted to be more informed on their daily plans. To always remember his planner and language study supplies. To also remember the 25 Book of Mormon scripture mastery. And to have more productive Language studies.
We taught many people this week. Had a great turnout at church with an investigator after sacrament meeting, and a German member family coming to visit our branch. Elder K was translating for S, and I was translating for the German family, so we each had a full 2 hours to work on our Polish-English translating. I am now going to be preparing to give a talk this next week, and I am going to give it for the first time without reading the whole talk (I really need to work on my public speaking skills and what better way to do that than using a foreign language to a congregation of 6). I am excited for what this next week brings and hope that all is going well at home for all of you.

Love you,
Starszy Godwin

Here they are with the Pizza they order together. Elder W from Queen Creek and Elder Godwin. It is an accomplishment to order Pizza in Polish. :)

 They walked by a stand that sold personalized Coke Cans. Of course, we just had to buy one.

 The 4 Elders went to a park for culture night. It looks like they had fun.

 I guess they feel pretty cool in casual clothes!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekly Email - June 10th

This week was another good one. We have been teaching all sorts of people on the streets and in parks. Last Monday we went to go see the central cemetery here in Szczecin, it was amazing. Definitely the largest and wildest cemetery I have ever seen in my life. We probably walked 4 miles of trails and only saw a fraction of it. We stopped an old man there and had to ask him for directions on getting out of the park, turns out he just wanted to talk our ear off so we had to listen to 30 minutes of his life story before he would give us directions. We have been really working on beefing up our English classes and getting more students. We have 5 regulars, they are older women who like to come and socialize. Now we have a group of younger people that are starting to come out so hopefully good things will come of that. A lot of young Poles really want to speak good English to find better work. It doesn't come easy to them because Polish is so different, it is hard to switch over. We are really hoping that as the class here in Szczecin gets larger we can begin having more fun activities here.
The miracle story of the week happened when we taught our recent convert, S. We were teaching her and trying to answer her questions about what she was reading in the "Isaiah chapters" of the Book of Mormon. She then pulled out her study notebook. She had gotten a notebook for her gospel studies and had drawn out a plan of salvation in the back complete with pictures and the like. We never even asked her to do anything like that, but we have been trying to get Polish members to focus more on their studies and having goals like that for decades. I remember back to last Sunday, Fast and testimony Sunday when I got up to bear my testimony. I bore my testimony in Polish about my new study journal I had made and how much more I was learning from reading the scriptures and writing about it, and Elder K. was translating into English for S. Then I realized just how much people are affected by our testimonies when we share them. People recognize us as servants of God and then, if they feel the spirit when we talk, they want to emulate us. It was amazing to see what an effect it had on our branch, not just may testimony, but all of the missionaries and members.
This week in church we had a good turn out with a few less-active members coming back and an investigator for a grand-total of 6 members, an investigator, and 4 missionaries! Sister K. made it back to church and her broken ankle is healing up quite well and she was able to give a talk yesterday. Everything else is going good. Today we are just gonna take it easy for P-day and just chill probably at Galaxy mall and the chapel.
Hope everyone at home is doing well, I wish you all the best and a great week!

Love you all,
Starszy Godwin

Here are pictures of Elder K and Elder Godwin at the biggest and craziest Cemetery they've ever been too. It looks really interesting!

 They took time to be silly!

Here they are having Pizza. This makes me laugh because Elder K is very health conscious and he has taught Brian to watch what he eats. This is no longer the usual diet, but it must have been good!