Prepare to Serve

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!

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