Prepare to Serve

Monday, June 30, 2014

I guess I look polish.... Spoko!

Hi all! I don't have a ton of time for emailing today, so this letter might be a bit shorter than usual.

The reason I am short on time is because we decided to spend the P-day hanging with some of the youth members of our ward. Cindy and Aj Call and Ola... I don't know her last name. I might have mentioned the Calls before, they speak perfect English, so I was able to talk to them just fine, they talk to each other in Polish though, which is fun. Cindy and I talked for a while about "Once Upon a Time" she and her sister recently discovered it and have been having a marathon watching session. Ola is actually the inspiration behind Olek, who Brat Tribe pretended to be and Siostra Holden and I taught in the MTC. Brat Tribe and his companion found her and she was baptised, and now she's known as Olek at the MTC. She also speaks perfect English, with only the tiniest hint of an accent. Anyway, we went bowling, and then got Pizza. Polish pizza doesn't have sauce on it, just bread, cheese and toppings. The sauce comes in containers and you spread it on top of the pizza or dip the pizza in it. SO it's different, but still good.

Lately I've been noticing when we are traveling around that often someone will come up to me and start speaking Polish to me, asking for directions or something. If Siostra Whitely is not with me, for example, if we are getting off a tram and she's already off and I'm not yet, I have to just quickly say "przepraszam, nie mowię po Polsku" (sorry, I don't speak Polish) and run away. I have determined that the reason this keeps happening is because I look Polish. People try to ask be directions because I look like I actually live in the city and know my way around. Ha ha! I've fooled them! It's pretty cool though, right? Once I can't actually speak the language properly I can really fool them.

This week was an Elder week, so called because it was all Elder days (except Saturday, but... później). An Elder day is what Siostra Whitely calls it when we don't have any lessons, so all we can do is contact. We have one investigator, and she's already almost a member. Her name is Renata, and she is dating Bobby Dudiski. I think I mentioned him before, He is "A freaking kingdom builder" As Siostra Whitely put it. He has been a member for a while now, he was inactive up until a transfer ago when Elder Tingy got him to come back. All he said to him was "Robert, we love you and want you to come back to church." And He came back. So Renata comes to church with him, and is super awesome and sweet, and the only thing holding her back from baptism is that she and Bobby are going to get married first, I think.

Anyway, so we have just been contacting, and doing work at the chapel, and advertising for English. So that's been kind of exhausting, contacting is kind of draining. I still haven't gotten used to the awkwardness of it and the frustration that comes from someone straight up refusing to even let us try and talk to them. And as I get better in the language I'm able to better understand what they are saying to us, and sometimes they are straight up rude. Also, there's JWs. Ugh! Jehovah's Witnesses can be so mean to us! We were contacting in the park the other day and this lady heard us try to talk to someone, so she calls us over, we get all excited because we think she's interested. Then I hear her say something about the name of God and I'm like, "oh no, we fell into a JW trap" So she was being awful to us and basically like started trying to teach is, which is super annoying. Siostra Whitely was trying to break off the conversation kindly, but the lady wouldn't let her. Then I guess she started trying to use a scripture that said something about Preaching to the world about Christ or something (again, this was in Polish, and I can't remember what Siostra Whitely told me she had said, so I didn't follow all of it) Well, Siostra Whitely got annoyed and basically said (in Polish) "Yeah, that's why we're here, to preach about Christ, now I don't want to talk to you about this anymore, we're hear to teach, not to be taught, dowidzenia", and then we just walked away from her, it was pretty cool. JWs are actually like everywhere in Poland though, I wasn't expecting that. Anyway, so contacting is frustrating, and I still kinda hate it most of the time, but I'm trying hard to find something to like about it.

We did have one lesson this week, a referral from Siostra Zań. The Zań family are awesome, they have four boys, one who just turned 8, two who are little hellions, and little baby who is just about the cutest baby in the whole freaking world! His name is Piotr, he has downs syndrome, and he spends all his time being cooed at by his mom, his dad, his brothers, the missionaries, and all the ward members. While we were planning for our lesson at the Zańs Samuel, the oldest, came over to Siostra Whitely with Piotr in his arms. Next thing we knew he was handing Piotr to Siostra Whitely. She was so shocked, she was suddenly holding a baby and had no idea what to do. Just minutes before she was telling me how badly she wanted to be able to hold him though. It was funny though. She only got to hold him for about 60 seconds, but she remarked later that those 60 seconds had been "glorious!"

Anyway, so our lesson went pretty well, we met with Siostra Zańs friend Patrycja (not sure on the spelling). She had tons of questions and was super knowledgeable on religion. I couldn't follow most of what was said and even Siostra Whitely got lost a little, but luckily SIostra Zań is a returned missionary, so she was able to answer most of the questions, and she answered them all really well, from what I understand. In the end Patrycja said she's not really looking for religion, and that she isn't a believing person, but we all think she is, but just doesn't realise it yet. Why else would she be so interested in religions and be going to all these churches all the time. She took a Księga Mormona though, and she might be up for meeting with us again later, so we will see. After that SIostra Zań gave up some food, that stuff mommy makes that is served over rice, it has sausage in it and zucini and it's maybe Indian, not sure what it's called. SIostra Zań made it with hotdogs though. At one point while we were eating, she turned her back and SIostra Whitely quickly dumped all her hotdog bits onto my plate. Right there is the benefit of having a vegetarian companion :) While we were at the Zańs house there was a moment when Siostra Zań and Siostra Whitely were talking, I wasn't really focusing on their conversation, but I realised after a while that I had understood everything they said to one another... of course, as soon as I realised that I then lost track of the conversation again.

Oh, in Church Yesterday, President Czylański came up to me and told me I remind him of Maleficent, from the new movie with Angelina Jolie, I thought that was pretty funny. That's the second time since the start of my mission that I've been compared to a Disney villain the last one was the evil queen from snow white, I think I told you all about that. Pres Czylański likes movies and is always willing to discuss them, which is awesome for me, because most of the time that's what I want to talk about!

I think that's basically the bulk of what happened this week. Not a whole lot happened because it was an Elder Week. We just went contacting, spent some time doing work at the chapel, hung out with/did contacting with the Elders, and got to know some of the members. If I think of anything else that I wanted to include I will if I have time before I'm done emailing, but I might not have time. Siostra Whitely and I have FHE at the Kowalski's at 18:30 (in an hour and a half) and we're not sure where their house is. We get to have a less active member lesson though, so yay!

Kocham cię

Monday, June 23, 2014

Poszukiwanie na gnomes!

Cześć! I am finally in Wrocław now! Ugh! last night was trudny with a capital T! (that means hard) we basically lived in the urząd (law office) all last week. I think I mentioned in my last letter that we were trying to get our legal paperwork done and had an appointment for Wednesday. We had sat in line with our numbers, for 12 hours last Monday and they still didn't get to us, and I was only number 57! Well, we went back on Wednesday, we had appointments for 11:30 so we were pretty sure we'd get in. Come to find out that the fingerprinting machines were broken... all of them. So all we could do was paperwork, and my paperwork was already done. We didn't discover all this until we had sat in line for a couple of hours though.

Afterwards Siostra Whitely and I didn't really know what to do with ourselves after that. We could do some contacting, but it's a little bit weird because we weren't in our area and we didn't really know where anything was... so we went to the chapel to help out the Warsaw 2 sisters prepare for their English class and get materials stamped. While we were there though, we got know know some of the members and got to know the Elders and Sisters there. They are really cool. One of the members we met is a girl named Katia from Ukraine. She is going to the temple soon to get her endowments. She gave me half a milka bar (which is just a really big chocolate bar).

We played soccer/futbol with the Warsaw Elders and Sisters and one member who's name i can't remember, on Thursday morning. It was super fun, and it reminded me of the stories Ailsa told about playing soccer on her mission. However, only a couple of us actually knew how to play soccer, so mostly it was ridiculous, super fun, and totally worth it, but kind of a mess.

Our legal work was still not done, so we were going to have to come back to the urząd on Friday. "Friday?" You might ask "why not Thursday?" Well, I'll tell you why, Thursday is apparently a Holiday... I'm not sure what it's celebrating, what it's called, or what people do on this holiday, but almost everywhere is closed... Poland has a lot of holidays, like several per month, and it sounds like most of them are kinda silly. There's one holiday where people dump water on each other, I think they said its like the day after Easter or something.

So we had to wait until Friday, but the good news was that the fingerprinting line goes faster than the paperwork line, so we were probably going to be able to finish in time to catch trains to our areas. I think you can see where this is going though... we missed both available trains to Wrocław... Starszy Jourdan and Starszy Johnson both made their trains to Gdańsk and Katowice, but Starszy Owens, our trainers and I were all stuck in Warsaw for another day. On the bright side, if I never get called to Warsaw, I can still say I served there for over a week!

Another lucky thing was that the lady who did my fingerprinting at the urząd was super nice. Starszy Meherg and her were just chatting up a storm and laughing. When everything was done and we were on our way out I decided I wanted to wish her a good work day because she had made the whole experience brighter, so I tried to work out the casing as best as I could and said "Miłego praca!" She just lit up and thanked me, it was super cute... I found out later from my trainer that I had cased it wrong, I should have said "Miłej praca"... but it's still basically the same thing and the lady understood my meaning, so I guess it's all good.

On Saturday morning we finally got to head off to Wrocław. It's a 7 hour train ride, so we had some time to talk/sleep/watch the countryside. Ok, guys, I am 100% serous when I say that Poland countryside looks like Georgia... like, after the zombie Apocalypse Georgia. It's totally gorgeous, but every time we would pass a small town or a train yard all I could think of was the last season of the walking dead. There were some areas that I swear they filmed the show at! We even passed a prison at one point, it was a little better fortified that the one in the walking dead, it had cement outer walls instead of chain link, but other than that, the same. It was so cool!

When we arrived in Wrocław though I was just so happy. It is super pretty. Almost every building in the whole city has graffiti all over it though. It's mostly cool stuff. We live in a pretty ghetto to part of town, there are Larries all around the bus stops and park near our apartment (A Larry is a homeless person) Our apartment, on the other hand is super fancy! Siostra Whitely told me it is fancier that the Sarszi apartments and I believe her.

Yesterday was Sunday, so it was my first day in our branch. Our church is on the second floor of an office building. The building shares a lot with a museum that has a gorgeous garden in back, so we have a great view if we look out the window in the chapel/sacrament room (not sure what you'd call it). We have about 35 to 40 members in our branch, and yesterday we had a lot of visitors, two of the Elders who recently died and their families, touring Poland before they go home, so in all we had over 50. Siostra Whitely told me I was definitely going to have to bear my testimony, so I slaved over it, figuring out perfect casing... then, come sacrament, we went way over time, so I didn't end up having to do it. Możebyć next week though.

The members are all really nice, most of them speak English. The ones who don't still wanted to talk to me though, I really struggled to understand anything they said and to respond, but I know I will get to the point where I can do that, eventually. The branch president is a pretty awesome dude. His name is president Czylański. He and his wife are both native Pols, they both served missions in Poland and they have three adorable rambunctious daughters, all pretty close in age, one is just a baby, but she still somehow manages to be rambunctious. He and his wife both speak English, his wife has a slight accent, he has no accent whatsoever! When he first started speaking to me I thought he was an American, it's crazy! Katia, who we met in Warsaw was there as well, I'm not sure which church she normally goes to or where she lives, but is was cool to see her again. When she saw me she said "hey! chocolate lover! I know you!" it was funny. There is also a family, the Calls, who all speak English, the Mom is a native Pol, her husband is American, but he lives in America... not sure what the situation on that is. Anyway, they have three children who are both fluent in Polish and English and have no accent. They translate as needed during sacrament meeting. Cindy Call is the oldest, she plays the piano in sacrament and she's really cool. I was talking with her after sacrament yesterday and she told me about the Gnomes in Wrocław. I heard a little about these gnomes from my teachers and I even saw one on the way to church. They are brass figures depicting gnomes doing various activities. What they are doing is dependant on what historical sight or building they are near. There are 180 of them I think and they are everywhere, there is even one on top of what of the trams. I'm sure Laney is freaking out now because this has reminded her of Fable, because that's exactly what it reminded me of too! I have given myself a quest! I will find all of these gnomes, even if I have to come back to Wrocław after my mission!

After church we went to the Rynek, where we apparently set up a table of free materials and sing, every week. We had a couple of people come over while we were there, though I found out later most of them were Jehovah's Witnesses looking for an argument, which is total crap! We also had an annoying drunk guy dancing around and making fun of our singing for a while. I very nearly took his knee out when he was in front of me at one point, and really just wanted to smack him and tell him to get lost but I restrained myself. I am trying to develop Christlike attributes and last time I checked whacking a drunk moron over the head with a hymn book isn't a Christlike attribute. Also, I have to remember that I am a representative of the church... plus, I could get sent home for hitting someone, and I don't want that.

The best part about being at the Rynek though was seeing the gorgeous architecture! Siostra Whitely is an Art History major, so she appreciates good architecture as much as I do. As we were approaching the Rynek she made me walk right next to a building blocking it from sight and had me look straight at her until she told me I could look. It is fantastic! there are so many beautiful buildings there, I couldn't get enough of it! We are here now in fact, there is a library inside one of the buildings. There are all kinds of shops and performers outside too. There has been someone out there playing a saxophone since we arrived, they are pretty good, but don't have a wide selection. A little while ago I heard them laying a Christmas song, but it still sounded nice. I mentioned Larries above, homeless people, well I wanted to tell you about one in particular. Most of the Larries, at least the ones who make an impression on the missionaries, have nicknames. We met one yesterday called "Pan Obama Lady". Siostra Whitely told me that a little while ago, on a Sunday, when they were singing at the Rynek, the Pan Obama Lady came up to talk to them. She wanted to guess where they were all from, and her guesses where hilariously racist. She said Elder Hon, who has red hair was from Scottland, she said Elder Whiting who is pale and blonde was from Norway, she said Sister Whitely who has dark redish brown hair, was from Poland (that hair colour is common here) she said Elder Tingey was from Jerusalem, I only met him once so I can't really describe him. Then she looked at Elder Fotu, who is Tongan, and said "Pan Obama!" which means Lord Obama... It was just a really funny and ridiculous situation.

Yesterday, on my first real/full day in Wrocław I had a great experience on a bus. So, we were on our way to church, on the bus, standing because there's often no point in sitting. I was kind of staring off into space, admiring the pretty pond/river thing, out the window, when suddenly I turn around and realise Siostra Whitely isn't behind me anymore. I hadn't heard her say that this was our stop, so at first I seriously thought she had evaporated. I looked outside the bus and didn't see her with the people getting off, and I didn't see her on the bus. I wasn't really sure what to do, but I made my way toward the doors like I was going to get off, just then I spotted her outside the bus... just as the doors shut. So, My companion was at a bus stop and I was on the bus, headed to the next stop in a city I'm not familiar with yet. I was only mildly freaking out, and I quickly focused on my mental mapping so I could get back to her. Luckily the next stop wasn't too far away and we met up soon after we had gotten separated. It was quite entertaining though.

That's most everything that happened this week, but I thought I should include a bit about my trainer, Siostra Whitely. She is super cool, she's basically fearless and is pretty much committed to getting me over my fears with talking to people. That terrifies me, but I know it will be good for me. She has also been helping to really understand the cases in Polish so I can get really good at the language. Like I said before, she's in Art History, she doesn't do a lot of sketching, but she does use charcoal, so that's pretty cool. She used to play soccer as well, and is quite athletic, I think exercising with her is going to help me a lot. She has "the missionary stride" which means she walks really fast, I often find I have to jog occasionally in order to catch up to her... about every minute or so. We went running today and I was pathetic, she ran for about a half hour straight, I had to walk a lot, she lapped me like 8 times. But I'm going to keep working at it and see how long I can run with her everyday before I have to stop and catch my breath. Well, I think that's the bulk of it, I'm super happy to finally be in my area and finally be able to experience real missionary work. I love you all! Kocham cię

P.S. The saxophone music was just traded out for an accordion, it's pretty awesome! Oh, wait, I can still hear the saxophone, he's playing "my heart will go on", from Titanic, Ha!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Don't cry Starszy Meherg :(

Okkidays! It feels like forever since I last got to email... and I guess it kind of has. Today (Tuesday) is my temporary P-day for this week, I will explain why later, it is quite the tale! On Monday morning we left for the airport and Poland and I got to talk to Mom and Laney and Dad a little which was cool. Our first flight was like 9 hours long, Salt Lake to Paris... guys, they had a personal TV screen for every chair... they had the Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones on there... Guys, they had Frozen... And I couldn't watch any of them.... It was so painful! I could play some chess and sudoku and backgammon though, which was fun. You could challenge other passengers on the plane to play you in Chess and Backgammon, so Starszy Burdick and Siostra Holden and I kept doing that. They also had an entire Piano guys soundtrack Available, so I listened to the whole thing several times. I love the Piano guys! their songs are awesome!

We were a little late arriving in Paris, so unfortunately we weren't able to look around or soak it in or eat anything, we just had to run to our next gate. At security, everyone in our district got frisked except me :) The others all said it was because of my fleur de lis necklace. Our airplane to Warsaw was super dinky! There were several good analogies thrown around for it, Starszy Jourdan used casinos which I thought was funny. I can't remember exactly what he said but it was something like - our last plane was like the Luxor, and this one is like a slot machine in a gas station.

While we were on the plane waiting for it to take off, we suddenly heard someone speaking Polish near us. Like a bunch of meerkats, we all perked up and began looking around wildly for the source. We soon found it, a mother, who was calling to her son telling him to come to her "chodz do mama!" we all freaked out! we were whispering to each other and giggling and just being super awkward... Guys, remember how weird I was before the MTC? Well I've gotten worse, we all have. The MTC made us all really awkward around normal people.
When we landed in Warsaw we were all super tired, and still freaking out at all the Polish we kept hearing and seeing on signs. We were greeted by the Edgrins and the APs Starszy Lanham and Starszy Brown. They took our backs out to their cars and then had quite an ordeal trying to get all our bags and all of us into the cars. While they were loading up the cars I noticed that my ankles really hurt, my skin felt really tight and I couldn't figure out what was going on with them. So I looked at my feet for the first time in like a day. I couldn't find my feet though... all I could see were some massive elephant kankles attached to the base of my legs and what kind of looked like my black sketchers poking out from under them... For the last, probably, 12 hours, blood had been pooling in my feet and ankles and they had swelled up. I should have taken a picture, I don't know why I didn't but if the picture Sister Edgrin sent you has my feet in it, take another looks and see if you can spot the horror! So that was fun, and from that I learned that in the summer in Poland there are actually a lot of mosquitos around. They really liked my ankles cus they were nice and bloody, with forgien blood :)

The Edgrins took us t the mission home, which is super nice, but just to drop off our stuff. The APs then took us to the mall to get our pictures taken for our legal work. While we were standing in line a lady came up to Siostra Holden and I and said something in Polish, neither one of us knew what she was saying or how to respond so we both just stared at her awkwardly until Starszy Lanham rescued us. After that the APs took us to the office so we could sign some legal documents. We met the Warsaw Senior couple there, the Durrants, they are funny. And the office Elders Starszy Smith and Starszy Meherg.

Then it was back to the Mission home. When we got there we were able to set our stuff down, then were immediately called down for dinner. As we approached the kitchen I heard a familiar voice speaking Polish, but when I saw her I had no idea who she was. Nevertheless, she pulled me into a big hug, repeated what she had said in English so I could understand, (it was "hello, how are you?" but for some reason I didn't get it) then directed me to sit at the table. We had Spaghetti for dinner and it was awesome. They also gave us salad with it, and we learned they don't have ranch dressing, but instead have a different kind of dressing that is basically creamy pesto! :) So, needless to say, I ate all my salad and really enjoyed it.

While we were eating we were able to learn a little about this Polish woman who had greeted us. Her name is Alex, she is a convert, she is a return missionary, and she is moving to Provo in July to become the new Polish teacher at the MTC. Also, the reason her voice sounded so familiar is because she was the Polish woman who Brat Tribe called during class and had us talk to. (I think I told you guys about that) anyway, so that was really cool.

We then met with President Edgrin so he could decide what areas we are going to, and while others were in meetings we all sat around, sang, and played the piano. That picture Sister Edgrin sent was taken after most of the interviews were done, when President and Sister Edgrin finally let us go to bed, it was probably around 9:30 at night. Sister Edgrin said that they usually let the new missionaries go to bed around 7:30 or so the first day, so they can get more rest, but our flight was super late.

That was the first day, it was exhausting, from Monday morning, to Tuesday at 9:30, I had only slept about 2 hours on the plane... so that's why I look so exhausted in the picture, and don't let the others fool you, they were all dead on their feet too. About 60 seconds before that picture was taken Starszy Owens was asleep on the ottoman.

The next day was our first real day. It was stressful! at least the first little bit was. We all knew we where going to have to go contacting and we were super worried because none of us could remember any Polish. Luckily, they game us Temporary Trainers/Role Models to help us out. Siostra Poklinkowska was my Role Model. She is from the US but her family is Polish, which is super cool! and her name is really hard to pronounce, I heard he mess up on it several times.

Siostra P is like the nicest person I have ever met, I'm serious. You all just saw Divergent, so you will get this, she is hard core Abnegation! all the way, all she wants to do is help people and she is always more concerned about others than herself. She knew I was nervous to go contacting, I didn't even have to say it, so she went easy on me. She would initiate all our contacts. As she talked to people she would, every once in a while, pause, turn to me, and ask me a question in Polish, I then basically just bore my testimony about whatever she asked me. It went really well. We talked to a few people who were actually interested, at least enough to listen to us or take cards or other materials. We got one womans email to send to Canada, because she was only visiting Warsaw on vacation. And we met a girl named Ola who we set up a meeting with for the next day. The cool thing about her was that as she was approaching us, I felt so sure we needed to talk to her that I was willing to stop her if Siostra P didn't, thankfully I didn't have to. There were a lot of people who turned us down, and some were kind of mean about it, but it wasn't as bad as I thought I was going to be. And every time We got turned down Siostra P would turn away from them with a smile and go right back to the conversation with me or sing a hymn under her breath, it was pretty cool.

Because of President Uchtdorf coming, and the weirdness that was apparently going to cause in the schedule, we were told we would be spending the next couple of days with our Role Models and we wouldn't find out who our trainer was or where we were going until Saturday, after Uchtdorf addressed the Missionaries.
So, all of us Missionaries went out to lunch and had perogies, which were awesome, and then we left with out Role models to go to our areas and do missionary things. Siostra P and I lived in an area in Warsaw called Bemowo. We were "whitewashing" it, which means that neither of us had ever served there so we would find out where to go and what to do together. Because of this, my mental mapping skills and all the talents I gained from video games became super important and I kept Siostra P and I from getting lost. In the next couple of days we did a lot of contacting and tracting. We went to parks mostly, and talked to people there.

My favorite contacting experience so far was at a park just down the street from our Bemowo apartment. It was actually on my first real day, on Wednesday. We were in the park, just walking around, not having any success and actually having to deal with some pretty rude people. Siostra Poklinkowska told me I was being baptised by fire and that contacting wasn't normally this rough. She told me Satan was working hard to try and discourage. I think she was probably right, I think Satan knows I'm going to kick some serious butt on my mission and he wanted to stop me on that first day. Anyway, we were walking down this fairly deserted section of the park when we came upon 2 teenage girls sitting on skateboards and just talking. I didn't really want to talk to them because... well, I don't really like talking to people, it is what I expect to be the biggest hurdle in my mission. But I knew it was going to happen, and I thought it needed to happen, even if I didn't want it to. Sister P stopped at started talking to them and I stopped with her and turned to look at one of the girls. She was about 15 and had brown hair and huge, blue eyes. As soon as I looked at that girl I had the most powerful thought/feeling and at that moment I heard in my head "she's going to get baptised, she's going to join the church". We talked with those girls for quite a while and they were both interested, they responded to our questions, seriously thought about their answers when we asked them things, and before we left we gave them each a Book of Mormon. Those were actually the first books I gave out. Both girls were on vacation from other parts of Poland, and I didn't catch a lot of what was said between them and Siostra P, I just remember that feeling that I got when I looked into that girl's face. I'm not sure if I will get to find out what happens with them during my mission, or even in this life, but I'm certain that girl will join the church.

The weirdest experience so far was with English speakers. It was on my second real day, with Siostra Poklinkowska. We were in a park off of a street called Nowa Swiat. We started talking to these two oddly dressed women sitting on a bench. Siostra P got about 5 words in to introducing herself when one of the women, dressed in a pink baseball cap and a Hanna Montana shirt, even though she was in her mid to late 20's, said "do you speak English?" Siostra P says "oh, yes, we do. Where are you from?" and the woman responds with "from the same planet as you"... Is that not the strangest response? I sure thought it was odd.  Well, both women were super interested in talking about spiritual things once they figured out what were were talking about, but they had really strange ideas and were really intense and kind of frightening at times. They wore almost the same thing, except the older woman's hat was orange and her shirt did not have Hanna Montana on it. They both wore lots of bright colours, mostly orange and pink, and they both had the same green beaded necklace on. They both refused to tell us their names or where they were from. The one who spoke to us first, and who said the most had the biggest eyes I have ever seen. At one point when we were talking to her, she was looking straight at me and talking very fast, I was looking right back and her huge, dark eyes and I couldn't help but think to myself "Are these demons?" Siostra P said something later that I thought made way more sense. She said she thought they were legit Aliens, disguised as humans... lol, it was super weird at the time, and it's still weird now, honestly, but I still don't quite know what to think about that meeting.

Oh, yeah, I mentioned Ola above, the girl we met on my first day. Well, I won't get your hopes up, she didn't show up for the meeting. But, when we were going to meet her, right outside the old church building, the first meeting place in Poland (right next to a Pizza place now) Siostra P stopped a girl and started talking to her. She was so cool! Her name is Weronika and she was super interested, she gave her information to Siostra P and we even gave her a Book of Mormon. I was pretty said about Ola not showing for our meeting, but I decided, I think the reason I felt so strongly that we needed to talk to Ola was so we could meet Weronika. If we hadn't have made the appointment with Ola we would have never met Weronika, there's no way, Nowa Swiat is way far from Bemowo. It was cool though.

Ok, so before Uchtdorf came and talked to the missionaries, I'll admit I was getting a little drained, mostly just because I am super awkward when it comes to contacting. I really don't like stopping people on the street and trying to talk to them because they are usually trying to get somewhere in a hurray and then a lot of the time they are super rude to us when that is the case and it just really bums me out. But Uchtdorf clearly knew I (and probably many other newbies from my district) needed some inspiring words about this very subject because that's all he talked about. He told us how even if they are rude to us it is still a good contact because they may realise they were rude, feel bad about it and they may be kinder to missionaries in the future. He used one of the branch presidents as an example, he did that very thing. The first time some Elders tried to talk to them he was really rude to them, but the next time he felt bad, so he listened, and then he joined the church! That was a really cool thing to hear and it really helped me. He said other things but I can't really remember, I took good notes though...

After Uchtdorf talked we said goodbye to our Role Models and got our trainers and our areas. I am going to be serving in Wroclaw with Siostra Whitely... yes, Lillywhite and Whitely, there are several companionships in Poland that prove God has a sense of humor, ours is one, another I heard about was Starszy Rains and Starszy Fogg, the weather boys.

Sunday we didn't have normal church because President Uchtdorf came to the Marriott in Warsaw to speak. Members, non-members, and in-actives from all over Poland came to hear him, it was cool. I got to meet a few, and even saw the woman, Marta, that Siostra Holden and I talked to in TRC our last week at the MTC.Every missionary in Poland was in Warsaw this weekend to hear from President Uchtdorf, and after he spoke, they all split up to go to back to their areas/ to their new areas.

Unfortunately we couldn't go to Wroclaw yet, because we had legal work to do. On Friday we spent several hours standing in line outside legal offices just trying to get a number so we could maybe have our legal work done, we have to be fingerprinted and stuff. We didn't get in, so we were going to have to stay in Warsaw for Monday/yesterday, and try again. Yesterday we woke up at the crack of 5:00 am so we could get to the law office at 6:00 and start standing in line. Even with this head start, we were still about 12th in line. Unfortunately the office doesn't open until 10:00. So we (my distract, the office elders, and many of our trainers) stood there for four hours, playing chess on the travel chess set I bought and talking about TV shows and our experiences with our trainers and with missionary work so far. The line behind us was huge, it stretched like a block, and at some point in the four hours people began cutting in line in front of us with our noticing so the line in front of us had gotten fat. at 6:00 we were 12th in line, but when we actually got our number we where in the 50s. Once we had our numbers we could go anywhere and do anything as long as we were back when they called us, so we went and go lunch. We went to a place called Amrit, which is popular among missionaries, and had Kebabs. They are really good, I don't think I've ever had one before but, depending on the style you get, they are either like Indian gyros or Indian burritos.

We also went and hung out with the dying Starszi and Siostra at the Rynek. They went home today and wanted to see the Rynek once more before flying home. We hung out with them Sunday too and went to a Chopin concert in a park. They were super cool and were all reminiscing hard-core. It was weird though, after spending some time with them it felt like I was going home, I kept having to remind myself that I've only been here a week, lol. I kept thinking "Oh, I remember this place, so many memories! I'll miss it so much" and then I'd mentally slap myself and be like, "of course you remember it, you saw it three days ago! and your mission just started, you weirdo!"

Anyway, then we went back to the legal office and sat there until 6:00 pm, waiting for our numbers. So, if your keeping track, that's twelve full hours. They closed at 6:00, and by that point only three of us had our work done, Starszy Wieler, Starszy Burdick, and Siostra Holden. Poor Starszy Meherg was in tears of fury and exhaustion when we left the law office yesterday. Those poor office elders have had to deal with so much crap since the process to become legal in Poland changed like a month ago. Yep, I am not yet Legal... and I can't go to Wroclaw until my work is done. So Siostra Whitely and I are taking our p-day today because we didn't get one yesterday, and we are going to try and make it to Thursday with our limited supply of clothes. She only brought 2 outfits, and I only brought 3, the rest of my clothes are in my suitcases which are waiting for me in Wroclaw. :) It's a crazy situation, but it's all good, we have an appointment at the law office at 11:30 tomorrow, so we will get this wrapped up then, and our train ride is at 9:30 on Thursday.

that's most of what happened this week... the summed up version if you can believe it. Warsaw is a pretty awesome city. In some ways it really reminds me of London, but in most places it really feels like Utah... Other than the fact that everyone speaks Polish and all the signs are in Polish, that is. I was told it is more humid in Poland, but at least in Warsaw the weather feels exactly the same as Utah... or maybe I just got used to it really fast. I've been told Wroclaw is amazing too, pretty much everyone, even the people who haven't served there, says it is the most beautiful city in Poland. It's also been described as "Disneyland for Missionaries". Also, apparently the ward is amazing. I'm really excited to get there.

Siostra Whitely Loves Wroclaw, she has served in quite a few cities, even Gdansk, which is sometimes referred to as the most beautiful city in Poland, but apparently only by those who have never been to Wroclaw, and Siostra Whitely likes Wroclaw more. She is super cool, and one of those people who is now afraid to just speak her mind and tell people whats what. I am really excited to serve with her because i am certain she can help me break out of my shell and feel comfortable talking to people on the street. She is also a vegetarian... so that's going to be different for me, but she doesn't care if people eat meat around her, she just doesn't eat it herself. She's also almost done, I think she said she has about 2 transfers left, so she'll be going home in either October or November.

Anyway... that was basically my week and whatnot, there were probably other things I wanted to talk about, but I can't really think of them right now... Anyway, I'm doing great, my ankles are mostly back to normal size, though they are covered in bites and super itchy, and I am just so excited to get to Wroclaw and start working!

I love you all, and I miss you but I know this is where I'm supposed to be, even when the work is tough and we aren't seeing much results I inevitably have a moment where it hits me just how much I love this and how happy I am to be here... though I still wish I could play video games... maybe just on P-days?

Kocham Cie!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

This Week

This past week has been crazy! We are all itching to go to Poland, we barely even get anything done anymore when we don't have a teacher... and sometimes even when we do. We've managed to convince our teachers to spend several class blocks just answering our questions and telling us stories about Poland. It's been really fun, we all can't wait until we have stories like that of our own.

Our Starszy and the Bulgarian Elders have been practicing hard for their musical number, they still aren't sure if or when they will be performing, but if they do it will probably be tomorrow, or Sunday. Starszy Jourdan is sick though and is praying that it's not tomorrow. I recorded them singing it last night on my MP3 player and I saved it onto my camera SD card so y'all can hear it, the quality isn't fantastic, I was closest to Elder Howard who sings base so sometimes he is really loud, but whatever. I have another version where it's a little more even but it's saved onto the MP3 player itself and I can't figure out how to copy or move the file.

I had a really cool experience that I wanted to tell y'all about. So last week I was feeling really discouraged about the language. For some reason every time I opened my mouth to speak Polish I would forget everything, I literally could not speak. I would stutter out a word and then have to sit and think for several long seconds before I could remember another word. It was especially bad in lessons. I don't get to speak much in lessons in general, my companion is a lot quicker on her feet than I am and I often don't know what I want to say in English until after I've thought about it for a while. But last week even during the very brief moments when I would be able to think of a response faster than my companion I wouldn't be able to say it in Polish. So I did the only thing I could think to do and I prayed and begged heavenly father to help me because I was really tired of just sitting there in lessons, saying nothing. As I prayed that scripture in D&C that I can't remember the reference for or even very much of, popped into my head. It's something like "think not what you will say, open your mouth and the words will be given to you in the very moment" or something like that. The point was that I realise I spent too much time thinking about what to say and I just needed to open my mouth and trust in the spirit. We had a lesson planned for the very next day with a brand new person, a less active member named Emilia. I was determined to get in there and as soon as there was a moment just open my mouth and trust that the lord would give me something to say. So that's exactly what I did! I had 3 big moments where I tried this in the lesson (it was a pretty short lesson) The first time was super successful, i had kind of had a thought to what I was going to say before, but as soon as I tried to speak it all just spilled out of me, in Polish, I only had to pause to like of like one word, it was awesome! The second time was less awesome, I had gotten a little emotional after the first time because 1 the spirit was like crazy thick, 2 because my prayer had been answered, and 3 because Emilia's story for why she hadn't gone to church was really sad. So when I went to say something the second time i couldn't talk again but this time it was because I was trying not to cry. The third time was soon after the second and I was even more emotional, but I really felt like I needed to say something, I had no idea what it was but I didn't care. I opened my mouth and immediately knew what to say, and I forced myself to say it, in easy Polish, while fighting sobs. I was really mad at myself for breaking down during the lesson, I've been really good about not doing that, but it was such a cool experience and I have had a much easier time speaking Polish ever since then... Well, I just wrote you a novel and I'm, only halfway through the week, but whatever, I just thought I should share that.

Brat Tribe Proposed! He is getting married! We are all super excited for him. He told us the story Monday morning, but to keep if feeling like class he told it in Polish. He's so animated though that we were able to understand all of it, even when he used words we didn't know. He was gone all last week and we had been wondering why, We were supposed to teach him/Olek on Wednesday and Friday, but on Wednesday he was preparing and on Friday he was celebrating. He proposed on Thursday, but he had not been planning to. He went to Becky's (his fiance) Mom on Wednesday and said he wanted to propose either Friday or Saturday and he needed her help. She said "of course I'll help you, but why not do it tomorrow". They had other stuff going on Friday and Saturday, a graduation and I think a recital or something. Brat Tribe was nervous to bump the date up to the very next day but he agreed to it. Brat Tribe and Becky first met in art class in Junior High. Becky has a sister going to that same Junior high right now, who has an art class in the same room. So, Becky's mom told her that her little sister had left her phone in the art class and she needed to hurry and get it before the janitors locked the door. Little did Becky know Brat Tribe was waiting in there with a picture he had drawn of the temple and their future family in front of it. One of the funny things he told us was that he had drawn a dog with them in the picture, Becky doesn't like dogs. So when he showed her the picture and asked her what she thought of it, the first words out of her mouth were "I don't like that dog..." While she was looking at the picture Brat tribe pulled out the ring got on one knee and then asked her. And of course she said yes! When they left the Junior high all their friends and family were waiting for them outside. It was cute... or so we heard :) it sounded cute. The best part of the story though was when Brat Tribe was describing how Becky came through the door. He walked over to the classroom door and said (in Polish) "Then she opened the door and.." Just then he opened the door and on the other side was Brat Jensen, just standing there. We all just died laughing, Sestra Dubois said they could hear us laughing from the Czech room halfway down the hall. Brat Jensen said he had been standing there for about five minutes just waiting. It was so funny!

Last week the Bulgarian Sisters got locked out of their room. This is the second time this has happened to them... see, this is why I wanted to bring my lock-pick set, I knew I would need it. The poor things had been showering and they didn't realise that none of them had a key. Two of them hadn't brought clothing so they were hanging out in the bathroom in just towels while the Sister Talakai and Sister Lewis went to the front desk to get a key. Sister Lewis luckily had her PJ's with her... but Sister Talakai was in a moomoo (I just realised I don't know how to spell that...) They also didn't have their cards so they couldn't get into the building through normal means. They ended up sneaking through the laundry room and running in and out of classrooms so no one would see them in their PJ's with their hair all mussed. Sadly on the way out of the building they found themselves in a hallway lined with senior missionaries still in the building for some reason (it was like 11:00 at night). Fortunately none of them even looked up when the girls bolted past them. It was quite the entertaining tale!

We had our Skype TRC again yesterday, our last one. Brat Tribe almost forgot about it completely, which I was fine with because I didn't really feel like doing it... none of us did, but then Siostra Holden reminded him (it was honestly like we were little kids in elementary school and class is two minutes from over and we haven't gotten any homework, so we think we're all home free... and then some kid from the front row raises their hand and says "but teacher, you forgot to give us our homework!" and everyone groans) As a result of him forgetting, he had to find people last minute on facebook (they don't just plan to be on skype then, our teacher has to arrange it). Sister Holden and I ended up not having to teach a lesson because by the Brat Tribe got a hold of someone there was only about 5 or 10 minutes left (the others got priority in teaching because most of them weren't able to last week). The person Brat Tribe got was one of his good Friends Marta, who lives in Warsaw. He wanted us to just come an talk to her and get to know her. She was really cool we chatted with her for a while, she taught us the word "Spoko" which is "cool" and informed us that everyone in Warsaw says spoko it is "bardzo pomocny slowo" (that L has a slash through it) Which means "a very helpful word". The best thing she did though was when she leaned out of the frame for a minute and came back with an adorable black cat in her arms! I died! His name was Takila! She asked if we liked cats, I told her I love cats, I have four, I'd have to! Then she asked if we had any dogs. I said "no, I like dogs, but I don't have any" she responded with "I have a dog... but I don't like him." It was really fun and seeing a kitty again. I was super tired yesterday morning, but that rejuvenated me!

I can't remember what else happened this week. We are all just so excited to get out of here and get to the field, all of us, not just the Pols, everyone in our zone! We all leave on either the 9th or the 10th and we are freaking out! Oh, we got our flight plans! We are flying non-stop to Paris and then we have a 2 hour layover before we fly to Warsaw, All the other districts are super jealous because they all have like 5 or 6 our layovers and several flights. I think our flight is at 4:30 p.m. or something. we leave the MTC at 11:30 a.m. Monday morning. So I'll be calling y'all sometime between then. Should I call dad's phone or the house phone or what? Some of you may have work, but I might have enough minutes to call several phones... and if not I'll just get more quarters :)

I'll be sending you at least 1 box with some of the stuff I don't want to take to Poland. I am sending back some of my notes from class too, and some class materials because I can't see myself ever even picking them up again in Poland. I am also sending a list of more songs you can put on my SD card when you get it. There might have been more stories I wanted to share with y'all but I can't remember right now. If I remember anything else I will either write it later today or in a letter to go in my box of stuff

I can't wait to talk to y'all on Monday, watch for my call.

Kocham Cie!