Prepare to Serve

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kato Calling

Wooooooo! This week's letter will probably be shorter because I spent most of it on an exchange! In Katowice! Woooooo!

Tuesday morning, Siostra Whiteley got me all packed up and took me to the train station, loaded me on a train and stood outside the window of my cabin until I left. I felt like a little kid going an a big trip by myself. I saw a little girl getting on the train with her mom, and she was wearing a Dora the explorer backpack and I felt a kinship with that little girl. Whiteley had to be picked up at the train station by the white elders and she was super annoyed because she said it felt like she was a prisoner, being escorted to the chapel while she waits for Siostra Owen to come into town. She told me she really didn't want to have to be escorted to pick up Siostra Owen either, so I told her to make a run for it... I found out later that she did. When Owen called to say she was in Wrocław the White elders were like, "OK, we'll take you there." So she just full on booked it out of the building. Literally like 30 seconds later, the elders look out of the office window to see her running down the street like a hundred yards away. Hilarious!

Anyway, Katowice was really fun, I got to see Starszy Johnson, which was really fun. We taught a few lessons to some cool people, made friends with an Egyptian guy at a Kebab stand ended up walking like 10 miles in one day! Kato is really fun, but it's no where near as pretty as Wrocław. I missed Wrocław so much! I don't know how I'm going to leave it when I get transferred out of here.

The night I got back Siostra Whiteley was filling me in on what I missed while I was gone, and we were planning for the next day when she suddenly says "We should dye your hair tomorrow!" So of course I answer with... "OK!" So yeah, we dyed my hair... it's brown now, it actually turned out really good. Siostra Whiteley wanted it to blend with my roots so as I grow out my hair more it will look natural. It actually ended up blending really really well! I'm going to try and send a picture of it too.

Oh, also, an update on Anya. She won't be able to come back into town for church until September, she has a financial situation at the moment, and just doesn't have the funds for it. I'm going to see if we can go out and visit her soon though, also, we are trying to find out if we can work out a carpool situation with a member who lives in the same town as her, but I've never met this person before, so I'm not sure. Anyway, we are still keeping in regular contact with her, we text her to see how she's doing and if she's reading. She read the entire Liahona that we gave her and she's 3 chapters into the Księga Momona. She is awesome, seriously guys, keep praying for her, we'll need some extra divine help to get this one figured out.

I finally made my first stupidly hilarious language mistake. Every missionary learning a language has to make some ridiculously embarrassing mistake at some point and I did it yesterday! So, we were singing on he rynek and this super drunk guy eating a kebab came over. He picked up an Ewangelia pamphlet and stumbled right up to me, ignoring everyone else around me, because of course he would! Whiteley and Stumpf, who are both fluent in Polish, just stood there, right next to me, and watched this all go down. The guy started trying to as me questions. I could not understand him for the life of me, so I kept looking to Whiteley and Stumpf to tell me if I should respond with yes or no. They couldn' understand all of it either. At one point I looked at Stumpf and he had his confused face on, he just said "I don't even know what he's trying to say right now" and Whiteley was just like shaking her head, basically like, when in doubt, just say no. Eventually the guy was getting so annoying, and he kept trying to stand like right in front of me,swaying dangerously. And I was frankly sick of the sight of him, so I decided to tell him to go away so I said "chodź" Which I thought was the command form for "go" Siostra Whiteley busts out laughing, and the guy just looks kinda confused and doesn't move. So I say it again. Eventually, he decided to start arguing with Elder Owens about whether or not Obama is gay, so I was free of him. Then Siostra Whiteley informs me that if I want to get a creepy drunk guy to leave me alone I need to say "idź stąd" because what I was actually saying was the command form for "come". So yeah, that was embarrassing, luckily the guy was so blackout drunk he definitely wont remember it. It's kinda hilarious too, it's not awkward guys! it's only awkward if you make it awkward, lol.

Oh, yeah! Siostra Whiteley had another, mostly hilarious freakout on saturday. As it's getting closer to when she goes home she has to start thinking about how she is going to get all hr stuff home. She was throwing huge clumps of clothes out of her closet and yelling about how she hates all of it, and it's not coming home with her. It was hilarious! I realise that this is definitely one of the reasons why we are companions at this time. Whenever Whiteley gets like this, I basically just approach everything with a calm positive attitude and help her see that things aren't so bad. My positive attitude in the face of pretty much all negativity has been a real asset to me and my companion so far. I definitely have a testimony of staying positive. Remember that family. I know sometimes things can be crappy, and sometimes stuff just doesn't work out the way you want it to, but if you can just brush it off and look forward with a positive attitude, everything just gets better!

Well, that's basically it for the week. Sorry this is kind of a shorter letter than usual.

Also, the picture of my hair is not fantastic, the light is a little dim in the chapel and it's getting cloudy and rainy outside, but I'm sure we will take many more pictures in the coming weeks.

Kocham cię

P.S. Shazi! I'm so sorry I haven't written you back, I keep meaning to but then I run out of time! I think of you often though, and I frequently sing "Miss New Booty" in your honour!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"I'm working on Christlike attributes... like good posture"

Ah! This week was crazy! and hilarious! Siostra Whiteley's brain broke a little this week, but it's ok, I helped her get everything sorted out. She's just freaking out a little because she goes home in October and, quote "I don't know what I'm doing with my life!" Lol, it sounds kinda bad because you can't here the way she says it, but it's actually hilarious. She started freaking out at the beginning of the week when she got really impatient with the Elders and kind of snapped at them. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as she thought but it worried her a little. She's scared she will return from her mission as the same person she was when she started and as she puts it "I was a BRAT!" So the focus this week has been Christlike attributes! At the start of the week she was seriously stressing because she claimed she didn't have any of them and she found it really really hard to work on the others... so she made up a new one - good posture. She felt like that was one she could work on. I've been doing it with her, it's really good. Occasionally we'll both be in a meeting or something, sprawled out in our chairs, then we lock eyes, and at the same time adjust our positions so we are sitting up straight. To make it official I even made an entry in Preach My Gospel under the Christlike attributes chapter, I'm going to try and send you a picture of that today.

The attribute she's been focusing on the most... besides good posture, is patience/temperance. Occasionally when she's doing something that is frustrating her, like when her hair is in her face or something equally ridiculous, she'll suddenly shout "I"M TEMPERATE!!!!" However, after just a week of trying to be more patient she is actually seeing results. Yesterday when we were singing at the rynek there was a woman who came up to our free table, so Siostra Whiteley went to talk to her, next thing we know the woman was like freaking out, yelling at her and stuff and shouting that the book of Mormon isn't true and whatnot. But, because Siostra Whiteley has been working of patience she was able to just calmly bear testimony and respond calmly and kindly without feeling like she needed to "throw down". The woman didn't take a book of Mormon, but she did take a restoration pamphlet and she got Siostra Whiteley's email so she could contact her and ask questions. Siostra Whiteley said it actually ended up being pretty good. So yeah, right there is an example of how if you really want to overcome a weakness, even if you really don't think you are capable of it (because Siostra Whiteley told me numerous times at the start of the week "I can't be patient! I just can't!") If you have a desire to change, put forth the effort you can, and ask god for help, you can absolutely overcome that weakness.

I can't quite remember how it happened, but at some point this week we started quoting SNL a lot, specifically the Chris Farley quote "livin' in a van down by the river!" Whenever we talk about how we are losing our minds, which comes up a lot, we'll say something like "if I keep doing this I'm going to end up livin' in a van down by the river!" The day it started we had been talking about that Chris Farley skit and later in the day Siostra Whiteley was trying to explain the difference between different types of crazy, and she said something like "there's fun crazy, and then there's literally insane... like living in a van down by the river" And it's just exploded after that. We use it with the Elders a bunch but Stumpf doesn't know SNL so he thinks we're "livin' in a van down by the river!"

Oh my gosh!!!! I just remembered, Laney will love this! So, Siostra Whiteley totally watches Portlandia, which was like my favorite show before I left, second only to the walking dead. Anyway, this week we had a lesson with Ola (a member, I have mentioned her before, she is who Olek is based off of) and she took us for ice cream, which was amazing, but it was the only thing we had eaten so far that day. So after Siostra Whiteley and I agreed we needed to get real food after, so we decided to go to a nearby restaurant that has burgers, including really good veggie burgers... if you're into that kind of thing, which my companion is, so yeah. We were there for a really long time because seriously the waitresses there need to get their crap together. So we were looking around at the place. It was outside, all the tables were different, some were basically futons, none of the chairs matched, some people were drinking out of jam jars, and none of the waitresses had on anything even close to a uniform. The whole place looked really familiar and suddenly it hit us, this was the most hipster restaurant either of us had ever been to! So hipster in fact that it looked like it had been taken straight out of Portlandia! It was so funny!

This week we decided that our flyers for English class are bardzo sketchy. They are printed on crappy paper and super ghetto, they aren't even cut in straight lines! So we decided to re-do them. When we told Fotu (our district leader) and Stumpf, about this Siostra Whiteley joked about focusing on the fact that we are Americans... except for Stumpf. Fotu did not think this would be a good thing, he sometimes struggles to understand when Siostra Whiteley is joking. But because he told us not to do that we of course had to do that. We of course made real flyers, but we also made fake ones that are hilarious. I have a picture so I'm going to send it to you all. It's in Polish, but you don't really need to understand all of it to get the joke, except the last line. It says "Come practice English with Amurkins!... and one German".

We had a lesson with Anya this week. It went awesome, and I was actually able to understand a good amount of it. I found out later that during the lesson Siostra Whiteley was really unsure if she should extend the baptismal invitation. So, while someone else was talking, possibly me or our member Siostra Kuchno, she said a quick little prayer in her head, and the words came into her mind "Follow thou me". So she extended the commitment, and Anya said she would. We weren't able to set up a date though cuz she lives like an hour outside of Wrocław and she needs to figure out her financial/living situation first, but still, AH!!! I'm so excited!
Well, that was basically it for the week. It was crazy, and so much fun! I'm sad though because time is flying by, I'm over halfway through the transfer and I really don't want it to end!

Welp, Kocham Cię!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jestem Siostra Snowywhite

This week was so much fun! Siostra Whiteley and spent most of the week singing... everywhere, at the kaplica (chapel) w domu (at home) out on the ulica (street). We have the same taste in music... rap and hip hop. Siostra Whiteley knows every word to most rap songs, it's hilarious. I don't know if you guys got all the pictures I sent you, but if you did, I included some pictures of Siostra Whiteley, she looks super hipster in those pictures, because of her glasses... and to be honest, she kind of is, but beneath that hipster exterior beats the heart of a gangster. Yesterday someone's phone went off on a tramwaj and their ringtone was gangster's paradise. She flipped out and started rapping alone with it, she knew the whole thing. She is also the only person I know (outside a few of my family members) who knows the song "miss new booty". Shazi and I love that song, it's hilarious, and ridiculous, and Siostra Whiteley has it memorised. We have also picked this transfer's theme song, because every transfer must have a theme song. It is "Check Up On It" by Beyonce. We are constantly singing that one. We sing it before we go to sleep, and we sing it first thing in the morning, it is just always stuck in our heads. The reason for it was because Siostra Whiteley has bought a lot of pencil skirts for when she goes home, and she was lamenting the fact that she can't wear them here because if she does the Elders will "check up on it" haha! It has been a lot of fun!

There was kind of a lot that happened this week, I'm not sure if I can remember it all. We talked with Prezydent Cielański a lot this week. I'm sure I've talked about him before. He's the branch Prezydent, he served a mission in Poland he speaks perfect English bez accent (without an accent) and he's hilarious! His nickname for me is "Sister Snowywhite" We had lunch with him a couple of times this week (which means we got lunch to eat at the kaplica, saw he was in his office and ended up eating in there and talking with him for a long time) On Wednesday we got kebabs with the elders, brought them back to the chapel and all ate with Prez Cielański. I got a fritkebab, which I promised myself I'd only try once because it is "the bane of missionary health" it's basically just fried flatbread with tons of meat and sauce all over in it and then fries... He likes to joke around with us and occasionally ask us deep physiological questions. He also likes to occasionally text us with totally random questions. This week he texted us saying "do you guys want to get coffee sometime?" Siostra Whiteley, knowing he is a big joker said "sure, when and where?" he responded with "on Sunday at the coffee shop below the chapel" lol Siostra Whiteley joked asking if we were going to see how many commandments we can break in one go. it was entertaining.

We had a cool experience this week though. While we were chatting with Prez Cielański and I was doing some of my trainee stuff on one of the computers in his office. Siostra Whiteley is suddenly like "ok, we have to go contacting now." We had very little time until we were supposed to be back at the chapel for our coordination meeting with bobby, and it was raining outside, not good weather for contacting, so it seemed a little random, but I was like, whatever, Siostra Whiteley knows what she's doing. So we went out, and it really felt like we were trying to get somewhere in particular. Usually when we contact we walk kinda slow, but we were at traveling speed. we didn't even stop to talk to anyone, Siostra Whiteley tried to hand out 2 cards but other than that we just walked right by everyone. Neither one of us felt like we should talk to anyone, until we reached a park and walked right up to a lone girl sitting there. Siostra Whiteley and I both felt like we should talk to her. So we did, and she was really nice and totally listened. We didn't set up with her or anything, Siostra Whiteley didn't even know what she was saying going into the contact, she had her read a paragraph in the przedmowa (introduction) and she's not even really sure what it was about, she just felt like she should have her read that one. We left her with a card that had our info on it and then turned around and headed right back to the kaplica so we wouldn't be late for coordination meeting. It was weird, cuz it felt like we were only out there to talk to that one girl. I don't even know if anything will come of it. Siostra Whiteley said something kind of cool though. She said that ours is a mission of hope, most of our efforts we wont see the result of, we just have to hope that every time we talk to someone or give out a flyer that we are making a difference for missionaries down the road.

We've had some interesting experiences with the gift of tongues, meaning that we are called to preach here in Polish. What I mean by that is, we have a few bi-lingual missionaries in our district, Siostra Whiteley speaks French, and Starszy Stumpf speaks German. But neither one of them can speak anything other than Polish, and English (kinda, but even that gets hard sometimes) While whiteboarding the other day we ran into a french guy, so Fotu sent him over to talk to Siostra Whiteley, who found she could not speak French. She could think of how to say something in French, but when she would open her mouth, it came out as Polish with a French accent. And Yesterday the same thing happened to Stumpf with a German lady. He kept accidentally speaking Polish to her, and couldn't remember any German, which is insane because it's his first language! It's funny though, I'm sure once they are released they will remember how to speak their other languages.

What else happened this week?... Oh! The White Elders (meaning Ownes and Whiting) accidentally made sweets akin to Virginia carmels or Bordeaux chocolates (just the inside, not the chocolate part) they were trying to make buttermilk syrup and they cooked it a little too long, so they decided to just keep cooking it to find out what would happen, and the result was some really yummy candies. They gave most of it to me too, and there was a lot, so I've been having a really good week.

I also tried Kaktus Sok (cactus juice). There are rumors about it that it gives you weird dreams if you drink it before you go to sleep. So of course I drank a shot of it like a minute before I went to bed. That night I decided I wanted to have a dream about aliens... and I totally did! It was super cool and really vivid, I thought for sure it was real. I forgot big chunks of it the next morning, but there were some things that I remembered so vividly I was able to draw them. I will have to show you guys pictures though. The details of the dream are not super complicated, basically Abed contacted aliens and they showed up and tried to take over earth so we had an underground resistance against them and Abed and I met their queen and the inside of her ship looked like something out of a haiyo miazaki film. It was awesome!

Lets see, what else happened?... Oh! we also had a girl in church yesterday, an investigator. She read about us on the Internet, found where we meet on Sundays and came to church. Yay for self-referrals! We gave her a book and set up a meeting with her on Saturday. Her name in Anya, pray for her! I'm so excited, she seems super nice and cool.

Also, Prezydent Edgrin was in Wrocław yesterday and today, visiting with his wife and sister. We went to lunch with him today, which was awesome. Yesterday though we ran into him in the rynek as we were going to sing. He was wearing Jeans and a Polo shirt, it was super weird "like seeing a dog walk on it's hind legs!" After we started singing/contacting he went and changed so he could join us. He taught a lesson to a guy with Elder Fotu. The guy looked super interested, I'm pretty sure that they at least gave him a book and might be meeting with him sometime. The look on his face as they were teaching him was so cool, you could see that he was feeling the spirit. While they were teaching him though Siostra Whiteley walked by them, coming back from talking to someone else. She came up to me and told me that Prezydent Edgrin had just invited the guy to be baptized. Prez is freaking awesome, he just goes out contacting with his missionaries because he's in the area and then invites a guys to be baptized right there on the street. He's been learning Polish since he got here and he's almost as good as most of the missionaries who have been here for a while, he's such a boss!
Well, that's basically it for the week, that's all I can remember anyway... except that I'm pretty sure I saw Mila Jovovich in an ad in one of the malls here! It was super cool! Ok, that's all now.
Kocham Cię!

Monday, July 7, 2014


This week was pretty crazy and literally flew by. We ended up spending most of the time with Elders Stumpf and Fotu. Stumpf is from Germany, but speaks perfect English, and Fotu was in Siostra Whiteley's MTC group. (we also have Elders Whiting and Owens in our district, but we didn't do as much with them this week) On Friday we four went to Legnica, which is about 45 minutes outside of Wrocław for some meetings we had set up. Siostra Whiteley and I had plans to meet with one of Siostra Zań's friends and the Starszy had a meeting with the Call's landlord. Then we all had plans to go out contacting with the Calls later. Unfortunately our meeting fell through so we went to the Call house early and hung out with Cindy while the Elders had their lesson. It was literally 2 and a half hours long, the guy they meet with could really talk! But it was cool cuz we got to get to know Cindy a little better and talk to her about her plans to serve a mission. She is about 18 right now and really wanted to serve at 19. Before the age change she actually prayed that they would change the age so she could go at 19. When they did she flipped out. Unfortunately because of some stupid stuff going on with her schooling she probably won't get to go until just after she turns 20. She's super cute and excited for it though. Siostra Blake gave her one of her Badges, and Cindy put her name on it, so she has her own badge now.

Anyway, after the Elders were done with their ridiculously long lesson, we went contacting with Cindy Call and her mother. We went on splits for a little while once we reached a park and I went with Siostra Call. That woman is fearless. She served a mission in Ukraine and is gung-ho about helping us missionaries find more people, especially in Legnica, they want another branch there really badly. We stopped to talk to some people who were just chilling on a bench in the park, and at first she just struck up a normal conversation, (I don't know what about because I couldn't understand her, her Polish is particularly hard for me to understand) and then she just switched into the gospel and the people were super interested, we gave them a Book of Mormon, and got their number and even told them about the English class we teach, which they were also interested in. Then later, when we had run into Fotu and Stumpf we brought them over and talked to the people again. This time we gave them a plan of salvation pamphlet and even taught them a little about the word of wisdom, and they were still super interested. It was so cool! At the same time this was happening Cindy and Siostra Whiteley contacted a girl and got her information and set up a meeting for Tuesday! We may have to reschedule because we actually have our coordination meeting at that time, but we'll see.

So that was the cool stuff with investigators. That was also the 4th of July. Siostra Whiteley and Starszy Stumpf have kind of an epic battle of Germany vs. America going on right now because of the world cup. Siostra Whiteley says she isn't normally this patriotic, but when Stumpf goes on about how great Germany is, she likes to talk up America just to bug him. They argue about it a lot, but it's all in good fun, it's obvious that neither one of them really cares that much, they just like to argue. On the 4th Siostra Whitely and I wore red white and blue and we even got Fotu to wear a red white and blue tie. Starszy Stumpf showed up to the train station wearing a German flag bracelet and tie that he stated is "Nazi Brown". By the end of the day though, we had managed to get him to say "Amurika!"

We had a funny moment with the Elders and JW's this week. We went Whiteboarding with Stumpf and Fotu. Whiteboarding is where we write a question on a whiteboard and ask people to answer it (not sure if I've explained that before). We were set up in a tunnel underneath a tramwaj station, about 30 yards away from where some JW's had one of their stands set up. It wasn't an ideal situation, but we didn't have a lot of choice because the weather was not great. Fotu and Stumpf really wanted the question to involve a verse from the bible, but no one had brought their bible, and Stumpf and Fotu couldn't agree on what the verse said. So Fotu looks down the tunnel at the JW's and says "I bet they have a bible... should I go ask them?" And that's what he did. Fotu went and asked the JW's if he could look at their bible. They kept him there for like 20 minutes talking to him and we presume trying to convert him. And it was all for naught, the verse had been changed in their bible and the meaning was totally different.
Along with their epic battle of Germany vs. America, Stumpf and Whiteley have also had an epic battle of planner covers. We realised at the start of the week that this is Stumpf's last planner, he goes home in August. So Siostra Whiteley asked if she could make him one. It started out innocent, she genuinely wanted to make him a nice planner cover. But at some point in changed and it became about making his planner the most embarrassing thing possible. So, we decided to use some truly horrible pictures from the chastity pamphlets. They are these ridiculous pictures of couples playing tennis... playing isn't quite the right word, their just standing there looking creepily at each other while holding tennis racquet's and balls.... it's creepy. We used pictures from both the English pamphlets and the European pamphlets. It's now very entertaining to see his planner. In response though Stumpf made a cover for Siostra Whiteley which is pretty bad too. It has a picture from the chastity pamphlet on it as well, and on the front has a collage of various stages in a relationship, with the words, "to date or not to date?" It's pretty embarrassing and Siostra Whiteley has worked hard to hid it from investigators and members when she is planning meetings. We still both agree that it is better than Stumpf's though.

I'm getting the feeling that it won't be hard to stay under budget with my food here. Last wee I spent about 40 zlots on my food for the week, those of you with calculators out there, who know the exchange rate will know that is a little over 13 dollars... for a week. Today I spent 43 zlots, and I got a good about of food. I came away with Salmon and Kielbasa and Pierogi (one kilogram... that's a freakin' ton of pierogi!) and a massive package of noodles. and that's not even all I bought. The food is all really good too, but I haven't been eating too much, Siostra Whiteley keeps me grounded, I haven't even bought chocolate since Warsaw. She is such a frustratingly good influence on me! I have mostly been living off of pierogi because they are the best thing ever and they take almost no effort! (unless you make them from scratch, then they are a pain apparently) I also have had a lot of pasta and grapefruit.

Oh! I have a fun game that I came up with that you can play while eating grapefruit. Laney! this is good surgeon practice! It's called Grapefruit Cancer Patient. You get some tweezers and try to pull out all the seeds without damaging the grapefruit. Then when you eat it you count up the number of seeds you found. If you find more than 4 seeds you get sued, if you find 4 or less, you get a lawsuit but you are not guilty, and if there are no seeds then the grapefruit's death was not your fault and you win! I have only won once so far, but I have been not guilty twice! It's a really fun game when you have very few forms of entertainment.

The weather here has been insane! Most of the time it's like walking around in an oven. The forecast shows we are going to get lots of storms this week, but it also says it's going to get up to about 34 degrees... Celsius... Celsius sucks, but that's what they use here. Anyway, that's really freaking hot. It's all good though, Siostra Whiteley and I decided to spend our dinner hour a few days ago, going to H&M to get summer tops because I have none, and she wanted more. Now the heat is bearable, I still don't like it, but whatever. At least I'll be sweating and hot in a cute t-shirt.

Contacting has gotten a lot easier lately, I've been working really hard at having a good attitude during it and not worrying about it if people turn us down, and it's been tons better. I've also been doing better with understanding people. I still can't really speak Polish worth beans, and when someone is talking to me face to face in Polish my brain generally just breaks and I can't understand them. But I've been able to follow conversations around me pretty well and I was able to pick up on a lot in church yesterday.

That's basically it for this week. Today we are going to the mall with the Elders, Stumpf needs new shoes for when he goes home so we are going to help him find them!