Prepare to Serve

Monday, September 29, 2014

Anti Cud

This week was pretty uneventful, nothing extraordinary, from what I remember. We did some whiteboards, and some contacting, got sushi with Prezydent Cieleński again (this time I did not eat 30 pieces of sushi, I had a normal portion), we ate a Pizza Hut again, even though Sister Whiteley vowed we wouldn't for the rest of the transfer :) I studied Polish, a lot.
The biggest thing that happened this week was that I improved a ton with the language. I kind of hit a wall with the language and had a mini freakout because I felt like I hadn't improved at all. So Sister Whiteley helped me figure out a new, better language study plan and I've been working a lot more on the language (not that I wasn't working at it before, now I am just working smarter). That happened around the middle of the week, and since then, even in just a few days I've seen a ton of improvement.

Yesterday, Sister Whiteley had me set up meetings with two of the members in the branch. I was kind of nervous because I knew I'd have to be able to understand enough, and converse enough to figure out a time and a day that works for everyone. It went totally fine though. I actually understood almost everything they said and had very little trouble responding.

...yeah, that's pretty much it for this week, it was pretty chill, and uneventful... well, that's it for the fun an uplifting stuff, there was one absolutely ridiculous and semi-horrifying thing that happened, which is the subject of this email!
First, some background on the word "cud" it means miracle, and everyday Sister Whiteley and I identify a "cud of the day" something awesome that happened that day, or something that made our day brighter. Well, on Friday, Owens and I had an "anti-cud!".

We were doing a whiteboard at Grundwaldski, everything was going normal, Owens and I were in a not-so-rare moment of nobody having any czas (time) to talk to us. Suddenly we noticed a flock of pigeons gathering near a crosswalk, so we looked around and both noticed a woman with two huge grocery bags, seemingly full of birdseed and nothing else. Owens watched her calling the birds to her and said "Look, the bird-lady is calling her flock!" We thought it was so funny that she was just throwing handfulls of birdseed around her and hundreds of pigeons were encircling her, so we continued to look over there inbetween trying to talk to people.

For like 5 or 10 minutes she called her flock. Then she set down her bags and I noticed her creeping up on a pigeon. I looked over at Owens, intending to make a joke about how she was going to catch that pigeon and eat it, but he was talking to someone. So I just went back to contacting. Then, just a minute later, Owens and I were both bez (without) contact, so we both looked back at the pigeon-lady, just in time to see her snatch up one of the pigeons. She then put a rag (which I'm assuming was soaked in ether!) up to the bird and then wrapped it in a plastic bag and put it in one of her big grocery bags and then just casually went to the nearby tram stop!

Owens and I were both stunned. We stood there for at least a minute staring at her, our jaws dropped in shock. It was completely crazy! After that happened Owens looked at me and said "I guess it's cheaper to buy a big bag of bird seed than it is to buy quality meat." I really hope that the woman is planning to nurse the pigeon back to health or something, though. That option is a lot less disturbing, and doesn't make me feel like i just witnessed the opening sequence of an episode of Doctor Who in which they find out the woman is some sort of terrifying cat alien!

So, yeah... that was the anti-cud. It was really weird...
Kocahm Cię, Keelah Selai, i tak dalej

Monday, September 22, 2014

Co powiedziałeś?

We had zone conference this week. Which means we woke up at 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday and hopped on a train to Katowice. Elder Owens and I spent yet another train ride playing Phase 10. We are locked in an epic battle and we will continue to wage war against each other until one of us is victorious! Zone conference went well. We got to meet some of the new missionaries, they all seem super young, maybe it just seems that way to me because I'm really old, but even compared to my MTC group they all seem really young. Because it was my birthday last month I got cookies from Sister Edgrin. Sister Whiteley and Sister Petherbridge also got cookies even though their birthdays are next month, because this would be the last time they could get some of Sister Edgrin's cookies (they are unbelievably good cookies).
We also heard the testimony of a recent convert from Kraków, Marcin. He told us how he was searching for a long time and had even been approached by missionaries before but he hadn't ever had the time to talk to them. When he finally did start meeting with them it was because they finally approached him when he was waiting for a friend and had the time. He came to English for a while first though. He said that He decided to start meeting with the missionaries when he found out that one of the Elders' names was 'Drake'. That name had been stuck in his mind for a really long time and he had heard it in his dreams a lot. He got baptised maybe two months ago. He's a really cool guy.

After Zone conference my exchange with Sister Bąk started. She's in her first transfer and is having some trouble with the language. So I was pretty nervous about it. I didn't need to be though. We had a really good time, and managed to do just fine. We didn't find anyone, but we went out there and tried to talk to people! Even though neither of us could say much at all! It was loads of fun too. I was actually able to get by, and answer Sister Bąk's questions, pretty well. Though at one point she asked me how to say something, and I wasn't sure if I had it cased correctly, so we just decided to ask a woman at the tram stop. She was super happy to help, and I had everything cased right except for one word.
We had kind of a cool moment too. We were walking across a bridge, heading toward the rynek and we saw a woman approaching us. We both felt strongly that we needed to talk to her. But we had a bit of a communication problem and as she passed, each of us thought the other was going to say something, so neither of us said anything. The woman kept going, and for a second, so did we. Then we both stopped, turned around and watched her walking away. Sister Bąk looked at me and said
Bąk - "I really feel like we should talk to her"
Me - "I think so too"
Bąk - "Is it creepy to chase after her?"
Me - "Yes, definitely... but I think we should anyway."
Just as we decided to turn around and chase her down, the woman stopped, turned around and started walking back towards us. We both quickly agreed and made it clear that I was going to talk to her, so we wouldn't miss our opportunity again. We tried to talk to her, but she ended up not listening, which was kind of a bummer, and left us a little confused, but it was a really cool experience none the less. I think maybe we just needed to be another set of missionaries in that woman's path to the gospel. And possibly the spirit was testing us a little.

Something kind of funny that I noticed during the exchange was that normally, when I'm with Sister Whiteley, like 1 or two people will approach us, in a week, asking for direction. But that one day that Sister Bąk and I were together, like 3 people asked for directions. I was able to understand them just fine, but I didn't know the places they were trying to get to, so I was no help at all... It was just perfect timing though, I'm certain they all came our way because Sister Whiteley wasn't there to help me.
Sister Bąk and I had a funny experience with Polish. We were walking through the rynek, on our way to English class when we saw this girl walking with her boyfriend. As they passed she said, in the sassiest tone imaginable "Co powiedziałeś?" (what did you say?) It might have been one of those, "you had to be there" situations, but we died laughing. It was just the way she said it, with so much sass! She was basically a Polish Valley Girl! We couldn't stop saying it the rest of the day, and even got the Elders saying it.
The only other big thing that happened this week was that I gave a talk on Sunday. The way that Prezydent Cieleński told me was really funny. We were all at the chapel, because we had just had coordination meeting, and were looking at pictures from the Uchtdorf conference. Elder Smith had a phone call, so he left for a while and then came back a few minutes later, offering me the phone and telling me that "the captain wants to talk to you", I had no idea who he meant by "the captain", so I went into the conversation pretty confused.
Me - "Hello?"
Cieleński - "Hi! How you doin'?"
Me - "Hi! (realising now that it's Cieleński) Pretty good, how are you?"
Cieleński - "I'm great... Hi! How you doin'?"
Me - "Great! How are you?"
Cieleński - "I'm good... how are you?"
Me - "Fantastic... did you have a stroke?"
Cieleński - "I think I might have... Hi! How are you?"
Me - "Hi! I'm great, is there something you wanted to ask me?"
Cieleński - "Yeah! Will you give a talk a on Sunday?"
Me - "... you mean in two days?"
Cieleński - "Yeah!"
Friday, when he called me, was pretty late in the evening, so I pretty much just had Saturday to write it, which would not have been a problem at all, except that I first had to write it, then translate it into Polish, then practice it enough that I could actually give it.
It went really well though. I spent most of Saturday writing it, and translating it. It was on the restoration, and how it's important that we recognise the importance of the restoration and what it means to us. It was a lot shorter than I had expected it to be, but only because it took me a lot longer to read through it in practices than it did when I got up there. Once I started actually giving the talk the Polish words/pronunciation, came quite easily. I'm not sure what happened, by the end I just realised that I was saying everything with relative ease. I got a couple of compliments from some of the members too. Though they were very likely just being nice, whatever, it still made me happy.

That was basically it for this week. It went by really quickly, I swear I was just emailing like yesterday, and now I'm doing it again!
Kocham cię, i tak dalej.
I learned the word for "bummer" it's "szkoda" (shkoda), haha! it's my new favorite word!

Monday, September 15, 2014

On the Road Again

We went to Warsaw again this week, that was the big thing that happened. We had a six and a half hour train ride there. Elder Owens and I played Phase 10 the entire time, while Siostra Whiteley slept. We stayed with Siostra Tobler and Benson while we were there, which, is were we stayed when we were stuck in Warsaw for a week last time. So that caused a lot of deju vu and hardcore revertago.
Soon after we arrived in Warsaw Prezydent Edgrin called and asked if he and Siostra Edgrin could meet us somewhere and take us to dinner. So we met them at the mall right by the dworzec (station) that looks like a blob monster in attacking downtown Warsaw, and got food at the food court.

I got to see most of my MTC district on Wednesday, everyone except Johnson, Torres, and Sidwell. We hung out at the urząd, thankfully for only about 3 hours, and then went and got lunch before getting back on a train for Wrocław. This one was seven hours. Owens and Whiteley slept for most of the ride and I drew until the train got too shaky. Then Owens woke up and we played Phase 10 for the last two or so hours.
The current shame of our lives is that Siostra Whiteley and I went to Pizza Hut three times in the last week. Two of those times were two consecutive days... the first two times we went to the Pizza Hut on the Rynek, but after we got the same waitress both times we decided to go to the Dominikańska one, because, Siostra Whiteley said that if we got the same waitress again, after having just been there the day before, that "I will literally end my life right there in Pizza Hut"

We also went to our new favorite hipster restaurant BLT & Flatbreads (we now have three! "Buka z Masłem" "Frankies" and "BLT & Flatbreads") twice this week. we almost went a third time, but then we saw the same cashier from the previous two times was there, so we just awkwardly turned around and left...
So, yeah, needless to say we went a little crazy with eating out this week, but we have made it a goal this week to not do that so much... hopefully we will stick to that.
It was Renata's birthday this week, so we made her a cake and went over to visit her and Robert with Elders Couto and Smith. While we were there they gave us some cheesecake that they had bought for the occasion. The thing about Polish cheesecake is that it's very dry, and not very sweet... so it's best in small quantities. However, when Robert was cutting the pieces, he made them all pretty big, but none quite as big as the piece he cut for Elder Smith... it was literally bigger that his face and it took him forever to finish it. After he had been working on it for a while, he gave up on utensils entirely (it was a little to hard for them) and just ate it with his hands. We were all dying, even Robert and Renata thought it was hilarious.

There's a member who lives really far away, and can only come to church every once in a while. So I've only meet her once before yesterday. Her name is Ania and she's really nice. I've noticed that everytime I talk to her I can understand just about everything she says and can actually respond to her. I'm not sure what it is about her but for some reason my Polish is just way better around her. Siostra Whiteley has talked about this phenomenon before, she says there are some people who you just have better Polish around. Unfortunately there are also people who make your Polish worse, and for me that seems to be most of the branch :)
We had a pancake party with the Elders yesterday. We've been planning it for almost two weeks now. On Saturday we loaded up on baking supplies, and on Sunday we all went to the senior couple apartment and made buttermilk blueberry pancakes and had buttermilk syrup and ate cookies. It was tons of fun. While we were there we noticed they have a grill on their balcony so we are talking about maybe having a grill there sometime too :)
That was basically all for the week. Going to Warsaw took up most of the time, and other than that it was pretty uneventful. Nothing really mind blowing to report, just good times.

Kocham Cię i tak dalej

Monday, September 8, 2014

Johannes! Powiedz mi o sobie!

ya! email time! wooo! I forgot my list of stuff I was going to include in this email... so there will be no email today!!!!
... żart!

Don't worry, there will be an email, I may just have to fill in the gaps next week.

First of all, I have a gap to fill in from last week, I forgot to tell you guys about the terrifying tram ride Siostra Whiteley and I had last Tuesday. First off, there are two types of trams here, there are the speedy, fancy ones that have air conditioning and TV screens, from which we find out tommorrow's weather. And then there are the tin cans on wheels... litterally, they have no air conditioning, instead they have windows that you can occasionally force open. We had just climbed into the death tram that was going to take us 2 stops away to the senior couple apartment. We went one stop, a few people got on with us, and then the doors shut and the tram started inching away from the platform, at literal inchworm speed. Suddenly the cabin started getting really smokey, and no one could properly breath. A couple of us tried to force open the windows, but they were stuck. The tram was breaking down, but it was still moving, very slowly toward the next platform. I couldn't help but think, as I was choking on the smoke, "I should have known I'd die in one of these trams". When we eventually reached the station and the doors finally opened Siostra Whiteley and I practically exploded out of it. It was a crazy situation, I'm sure it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time, because I think that tram is still in operation, but it was pretty freaky nonetheless.

And now onto this week, it was pretty chill, the most exciting thing that happened was that the Stumpfs were here! They arrived on Wednesday, we first saw evidence of them at our English class. Siostra Whiteley and I were preparing to start when three people walked past the door. We only caught a glimpse of them, but we knew right away that it was zee Germans! I turned to Siostra Whiteley and mouthed "they're here!" Poltergeist style. We didn't get to actually talk to them until after English though. Stumpf's parents are super cool, they took us out to get Indian food and we got to chat with them for a while. His mom has almost no German accent, but his dad has a pretty thick accent, his name is Johannes (we think, still not sure) and he is an enigma!

We got to hang out with Stumpf a little bit during the week too. We got hot chocolate (which was basically just hot pudding drunk through a straw) and we took him to the hipster resturaunt. We sat in menu seats this time. At one point Stumpf recognised one of the songs they played, all the music they play there sounds like a song you know, but then you realise it's a different song you don't know, but he actually did know this one. So, we joked that he had won the hipster prize, which would probably be something ridiculous that most people would have no use for, like a typewriter, or an old-timey bicycle... or a bee keeper suit.
Speaking of hipster stuff. at one point, during out dinner with the Stumpfs, mama Stumpf (or Lady Cathrine, as we've been calling her for the past month... not sure why, her name is Marianne...) Asked if our parents are part of the facebook group, Poland moms and dads (or something like that, not sure if you guys are). She said you need to get an invite for it or something and my response was "well, my dad is so hipster he was probably already a member before I even opened my call" lol, Siostra Whiteley, I laughed, I'm not sure if the others got it though. We're not sure Stumpf quite understands our hipster jokes, it might be a German thing...

We also had our Sport Saturday, which Stumpf joined us for. Other than us missionaries, the only people who showed up were Stumpf, Ola, and Cindy, so that was kind of lame. But it was still pretty fun. Most of the group played Basketball, and the rest of us (Whiteley, Owens, and I) played Badminton. Eventually Stumpf and Ola joined us. The whole time we were playing Badminton I kept pretending that the rackets were light sabers, because they had blue and red ones. At one point it was Me and Owens with blue rackets, against Whiteley and Stumpf, with red rackets. I referred to them as Sith Lords and said dramatically "I should have known all along that my Jedi Master was really a Sith Lord!" Siostra Whiteley just laughed and rolled her eyes, and Stumpf and I spun our rackets and made light saber noises :)

Oh yeah, we taught more accents to our English class, we taught them stuff like 'aks' and 'ya'll' and 'imma be' we taught them to leave off the 'is' and 'are' when they want to sound street, example sentences - "you crazy!" "where you at?" i tak dalej (etc.) We also taught them how to speak with a Brooklyn accent, and various southern accents, and valley girl, and a little bit about the Minnesota accent, but I couldn't really do it justice. Our class is tons of fun. Also, on a more serious note, we taught them how to make the 'th' sound. I never realised until I had to teach it, that it is a weird sound, it's really hard for people to make that sound when they are learning English, it's totally normal to me, so I never even thought about it, but it's a weird noise!

Anyway, this week we aren't teaching English because we have legal work to finish in Warsaw. Siostra Whiteley, Elder Owens and I are traveling to Warsaw tomorrow morning and will be returning Wednesday night. It's another 2 Owens days, woo! The week after, however, we are having our exchange. I will be staying in Wrocław, and Siostra Whiteley is going to go be with Siostra Petherbridge in Kraków for a day. Siostra Bąk, will be coming here with me. She is in her first transfer, so I will be senior companion... I'm only freaking out a little bit :) She's from Minnesota though, and we will be teaching English together, so I am excited to show them what a real Minnesota accent sounds like.

I had another cool language moment at church yesterday. I had a conversation with Siostra Kuchno, like, an actual one, not one where I just understood what she was saying and responded by smiling, nodding, and saying "tak". I understood what she was saying, understood the couple of times when she asked me questions, and responded with multiple word answers! Woo!!! So yeah, that was cool.

That was basically it for the week I think. Not a whole lot happened this week other than our friends from "zee fazzahland" stopping by for a visit.

Kocham Cię, & Keelah Selai

Monday, September 1, 2014

Can't function... too hungry

Not a whole lot happened this week. So this is going to be a pretty short email. This biggest thing that happened was that we both somehow ran out of money, completely. And we forgot to go food shopping on Monday, so we had no food... I used my card a little for food because I desperately needed to eat more than nuts and cereal (that's literally all I have right now). Siostra Whiteley had like 8 zlots in coins that she was able to use when we were desperate for food. It was rough though. It was basically a fasting week. We are still excising everyday though so we both spent the latter half of the week like zombies with no energy. It was hilarious! Every once in a while, in a meeting or on a tram, we'd look at each other, totally drained, each of us looking about as pathetic as the other one felt, and then just burst out laughing. On Saturday, we had a meeting with our Elders to figure out the details of our "Sport Saturday" that is allegedly happening next week. Elder Smith called Prezydent Cieleński to ask him a question. While talking to him Cieleński revealed to him that fast Sunday would be the next day, instead of next Sunday. Siostra Whiteley just laughed and said. "Well, that's good, cuz we don't have any food anyway!" It's all good now though, we got our new funds in for the month and we went grocery shopping, woot! we get to eat again!

We didn't really have any amazing lessons this week, a lot of our appointments had to be rescheduled. We did have a lesson with a less active, and I understood all of her and Siostra Whiteley's small talk. It was really cool. I've gotten to the point now where I can understand a lot of Polish, at least enough that I can occasionally drop eves on the conversations of random people on the tramwaj. So that's been fun. I've also done better with not freezing when people talk directly to me. This week I had multiple random people ask me questions and I understood and was even able to respond. The questions were all things like "What time is it?" and "What number tramwaj is this?" but still, progress!

 Because we didn't eat much this week we consequently spent several of our dinner hours shopping. I know, we didn't have money for food, but we did have money for clothes, what's going on? that's probably what you are thinking. We didn't have MSF funds, which is used for food and essentials, clothes money comes from personal funds. Paying for food with personal funds is annoying... it makes sense. Anyway, I got myself a transition jacket, because it is most definitely fall here. And Siostra Whiteley bought herself some new going home clothes, including a gorgeous pair of high heels. She needs to get used to wearing them again though, so whenever we are home she puts then on and then walks around the apartment. Our downstairs neighbors must hate us, but it's OK because they threw a loud party the other night that lasted until like 11:00 a.m. the next day, so we hate them too :) Seriously, it was annoying, they kept shouting and singing, badly, I think they thought they had karaoke going, but they didn't... there was no music...

We also did a test pack for Siostra Whiteley... Well, I packed, she sat on her bed in the fetal position freaking out and saying that there was no way I'd be able to pack all of her crap. I did though. I got all her clothes into one bag with space left over. She is now really happy because she knows that she can buy a lot more clothing... I may have done a bad thing...

We had some more funny stuff happen in English. During the class Kasia pointed out a hint of Siostra Whiteley's accent (it's not thick or super Utahn, but there are a few things that she says with kind of an accent) and so that got us on the subjects of accents. We ended up going through a couple of them, Southern, and Minnesota, Boston... and then Jive. I just kept thinking of the scene from Airplane, when the stewardess is having trouble understanding the two black guys and that old woman says "Excuse me, I speak jive" So we talked about that for a little while. Kasia brought it up and wanted to know about it, but being the two whitest white girls in the world (literally, it's in our names) we couldn't teach her much. It was just really funny because when we were planning English we actually considered talking about accents, and at one point I suggested we teach them some jive.

This week wasn't terribly exciting, the Elders weren't in the city for a good part of the week because Meherg didn't come here until Wednesday, and Coutu had to go to Warsaw to finish his legal work. So, I don't even have any fun Elder stories.

I expect this coming week to be awesome though! Elder Stumpf is back!!! Or rather Hendrik Stumpf (His name just screams GERMAN!!!! It's terrifying!) He will be in Wrocław on Wednesday, and he'll be staying through Sunday! He's brought his German parents and he'll be in normal people clothing, which will be weird. I know we are definitely getting lunch with him and his family on Wednesday, and they might be coming to Sport Saturday, so it should be a lot of fun! Woot!

So yeah, that was basically it for the week.

Love y'alls, Kocahm Cię, Keela Selai, i tak dalej...