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.