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.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekly Email - October 14th

This week was a good growing experience for me. It was spent trying our hardest to find new investigators to teach while seeing very little success. Here in Sosnowiec right now, we don't have a teaching pool which has been rough, but such is life sometimes. I am at the point in my mission where I have come to the understanding that you can put in 110% and the Lord may still try testing you further. I always look back to my favorite story in the Book of Mormon of Nephi and Lehi, the brothers in Helaman and their years of preaching. Not to say that I have seen no success, or do not plan on having success, but they were blessed for their tireless efforts. Nephi was specifically blessed for his determination and endurance in preaching the word to a hardened people. I hope to learn the lessons the Lord sent me here to learn and to receive similar blessings.

This week we had a few good experiences. On night we were walking down a long road which we had planned to be on, and a fog had rolled in, and there were just not many people on the road. From a distance I saw a little figure emerging from the fog. I turned to Elder B and said "If it is an adult, she is going to stop and talk to us.... If it is a child, forget I said that". As she approached, we saw that it was indeed a really short adult. Elder B began talking to her and introduced us and our message. We testified and told her about the Book of Mormon and how much it meant to us. She was really open to the idea and wanted to read it. Later we tried to get her contact information, and unfortunately she only gave us her email address, but regardless, the Spirit was felt and she has our information.

Another story from the week was from a man named M. We stopped and talked to him just yesterday on the street. He had heard the name 'Mormon' before but had no idea what we were all about. I felt impressed to give him a really shortened overview, I don't know why, but I just told him that after a long time of absence, God restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a prophet. The proof of it is in the Book of Mormon. Immediately he said he would love to read and pray about such a book. He led on a conversation from there and asked more about us personally, why we decided to serve such a mission, what we were doing in Poland, the usual questions, but I felt a real spark when we talked about the restoration even though it was very brief, I felt that that was just what he needed to hear. After we had talked a little while longer, we asked if we could exchange numbers and be in contact. He said sure, but that after 2-3 days his number wouldn't work because he would be out of the country in Germany. I asked when he would return. He told me 2-3 years probably. I was a little disappointed, I am not going to lie, but I told him about the church website and that if he is interested he can go and find missionaries and a church in Germany and that I would really invite him to do so. He seemed really intrigued by the idea that we were all around the world doing this kind of work. I probably will never be sure of what happens to him, but it just felt like the right place at the right time.
We also met a really nice girl named D from Belaruse or however you spell it. She spoke Russian, Belarussian, Polish, English, and Spanish and is studying here. She was protestant and really open to different ideas. We talked to her in English because I think it was stronger for her than Polish (although I am not sure about that... Her Polish was definitely stronger than mine). We taught her everything about the restoration of the gospel except about the Book of Mormon because she had to go. Unfortunately we didn't get to set up to meet her and talk to her again, so we will just have to leave it up to her if she wants to learn more.
All in all, I feel satisfied with the week, it wasn't easy, it wasn't exceptionally fruitful, but I feel like I am learning a lot.
I did love the Peanut butter M&M's I had to share them with the district during conference, but I got my fair share. I think original beef jerkey flavor is my favorite.
Have a good Holiday week, I love you all.

Starszy Godwin

 President & Sister Nielson had a missionary reunion the evening before conference. They sent all the missionaries these pictures.

 While serving as Mission President in Poland President & Sister Nielson would cut off a piece of each missionaries tie or for the sisters another piece of clothing. They were collecting these pieces to make a missionary quilt. As they were getting ready to leave their own mission they traveled around and cut off a piece of each of the missionaries ties that were still serving in Poland. They wanted to make sure that their quilt would be represented by all the wonderful people they had got to serve with. This included some of the members in Poland that had worked closely with them.

In addition to the dedication the Nielson's have already shown they actually to a picture of each square in their quilt and sent it to each of the people in a personal e-mail. We love the Nielson's for their dedication and kind service. We feel so blessed that our son has gotten to serve under 2 wonderful mission presidents and their wonderful wives. Each bringing their own strengths and insights to these callings.

 Here are some random pictures from Sosnowiec.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekly Email - October 7th

So, this week was exciting, being General Conference and all. It started on Monday and we went to the town called Pszczyna. There was a palace there that was recommended by Rafał. The city was a good 45 minute train ride away from Katowice, so we left first thing after studies and rode out there. The city was beautiful, clean, well kept. The palace was amazing (no idea whose it is or why he was important, but it was cool none-the-less). Then we of course had our emailing time cut a little short because we were emailing last. We rode into Katowice at 16:00. We had FHE it went well, the other Elders had prepared a lesson about covenants and how we can gain Eternal Life with God.
Tuesday we had District Meeting which went really well. I had assigned Elders L and W to present to us some tips on talking to people because they are both very talented in this departement. They set up some role-plays where we pretended to talk to Polish people on buses, trams, on the street, etc. It all was really good practice, and Elder L is quite a showman in general. Later that day we had some good conversations with a couple of nice people. One man started by telling me that I probably did not speak good enough Polish to carry on a religious discussion with him. I told him I would give it a shot. We had a really good talk, he was super nice and just told me what he believed according to the Bible as he read it. I shared our beliefs, he said he wasn't looking to change, he has strong faith in what he believes and so we said good day to each other.
Wednesday we went to Czeladź looking for less-actives and former investigators. There were none to be found that day. English followed.
Thursday, all I remember right now is Institute, and it was really good. We talked about the role of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures in our lives.
Friday, we went to Tychy, a nice city not far from Pszczyna. The city was larger and equally beautiful and clean and groomed. They were mowing lawns, sweeping, etc. There was a less-active there who we visited. She was an incredibly nice woman. She loved missionary visits and hasn't seen missionaries for 4 years, so it was quite a surprise. She said, however, that she has no need for going to church, she loves the church and all it does, but it will do her no good if she sees no need. That is all we could get out of her. We are going to giver her information to our wonderful Sister missionaries and let them talk with her.
Saturday, we had a lesson with K and talked about faith and obedience and the blessings they bring. We got to see his new little puppy (Laila gave birth to 4 puppies, but 3 didn't make it). They haven't named the new guy yet, but they are gonna  keep him.
Sunday we spent basically the whole day watching conference which was wonderful. We saw every session but Priesthood and Sunday afternoon. Elder Myler was in the family choir. The talks were great, I did not see you guys nor did I know which session you went to. After the session we watched in Polish, the branch council reached out to us and called a meeting and asked how they can help us. We got some good ideas in, and they are excited to expand member missionary work.
Love you all,
Starszy Godwin

 Here is a sample of the graffiti in Poland.

 Here is Elder Godwin feeling pretty regal in his polish clothes and beautiful castle.

 Laila's puppy. If you know Brian you know that he has a love for animals that he inherited from his grandpas (both Lee and Tony). I know that he misses his own dog Roxie a lot so this is a sweet experience for him. If he could send us a pet home from Poland he would.