Prepare to Serve

Monday, October 19, 2015

And Then There Was One

One more week! That's right y'all, my mission is coming to an end... It's OK, I'm not freaking out too much. I'm trying to make the best of the time I have and do everything I can to help leave Kato and Poland better than when I found it, and to make as many great memories as I can. This week was pretty good for memory making, we had a lot of fun things happen this week.

We had some fun experiences tracting. We got let in a few times, of course one of those times a woman let us in and then when when we knocked on her door and man opened it, looked at us like "Why the crap are you here?" and told us to go away. But another time it was a guy named Leszek and he was cool. We talked to him for a while, about how God is our Father and he loves us, and how he doesn't make bad things happen in the world (he was one of those "why does God allow bad things to happen?" people). He was very open to talking but didn't seem too big on changing right now, so maybe we'll recommend the Elders go check on him in a while.

On Tuesday we (as a district) went and had dinner at our Branch Mission leader, Lukasz's house. Elder Burdick was there on exchange, which was fun because he and Elder Weggersen were the ones who found Lukasz. We also had Daniel, a recent convert from Warsaw 1, there on a mini mission. So all 7 of us were crammed into Lukasz's living room, while his children ran amok around us. It was so much fun! Zuza, Lukasz's 2 year old daughter, really took a liking to Elder Park, and showed her affection by throwing little kinder toys at him. He would then pretend to be hurt, which of course made the game more fun for her, and slide the toy back to her, supplying her with more ammo! I was sitting right next to Elder Park, so I got caught in the crossfire a lot. Thankfully the toys were so small that they didn't hurt at all when they'd bean me right in the head.

I finally finished my most legit English poster ever!

​On Wednesday we really wanted to use it for an English whiteboard before English class. So we got it all set up and went out to do it. We took about 5 steps outside of the chapel when we realised it was raining. The poster isn't laminated, so it would be completely ruined if we used it in the rain. So we turned around to go back and just as we did a woman stopped Elder Park (who was holding the poster) and sis Allowitz who was next to him, and asked "I heard somewhere that you guys teach a free English class" (or something along those lines, it was in Polish). Elder Park, being Elder Park, just smiles and points to the Poster he was holding. She laughed at that and we proceeded to explain more about the class and give her an Ulotka (flyer) so she would remember. We then turned right around and went back into the chapel. We ended up leaving the poster inside and just invited people to English in the rain, but it was funny because it was the most successful 5 second English whiteboard any of us had ever had!

Thursday was a bit of a fiasco. We went to visit Anna (who just got baptized about 4 months ago) for a lesson, but she lives in Zabrze which is like a 30 minutes bus ride away, plus after we get to Zabrze we have to hop on another bus to get us close to her house. We got to Zabrze and went to find a bus to take us to her house. I read the schedule and saw that the 86 would take us there, and an 86 had just barely pulled up. So we hopped on, and were just chilling out when I realised we weren't going the right direction to take us to Anna's house. And the schedule said it was the 3rd stop and we were already at stop 4. So in a panic we got off the bus, right as it reached a stop in the middle of nowhere Poland. And double checked the schedule. Unfortunately I saw right as the bus doors shut and it drove away, that the bus does go the Anna's stop... it was just going Backwards along it's route for some reason... So annoying. Unfortunately the next 86 wasn't going to be there for 40 minutes and we were supposed to be at Anna's house 5 minutes ago, so we resolved to walk one stop back and hope we were given some other options. We called Anna to tell her we would be late, but unfortunately she has trouble hearing through the phone on a good day, and to top it off we were walking next to the highway, so she basically couldn't hear me at all. So we texted her. She's really patient and nice though so she was totally fine with us being late. Unfortunately, sis Allowitz realised that in the excitement of jumping of the bus early, she had left her water bottle behind on the seat. Sis Allowitz loves this water bottle so much, she found it in the Kato Apartment, it used to belong to Sis Slagowska, but now it belongs to sis Allowitz. She wrote her name on it 3 times, and carries it everywhere. She was sad, but put on a brave face. I told her we'd look for it if we managed to get on an 86 on the way back. We did catch an 86, but the water bottle wasn't there 😔. We did eventually get to Anna's house, an hour late. She was so sweet though and had cookies waiting for us. We had a great lesson with her, we had her choose a Christ-like attribute and teach us about it. Then we headed back to the bus dworzec. When we got there we saw an 86 pull up. We both quickly ran to it and checked the seat, but it wasn't there. So we went and asked the driver. When we asked him "Have you seen a purple bottle anywhere" all frantic like, he just looked at us like we were crazy and pointed to the dash board where sister Allowitz's bottle was. We both screamed happily, grabbed the bottle, and jumped off the bus (before it took us out to the middle of nowhere again) The driver still looked a little confused but was smiling now. And sis Allowitz admitted to me that she had been faking it when she told me she didn't really care about her water bottle, she loved it and had been devastated. We got it back though! It was a miracle!

Saturday was a wrench day! That means that a wrench got thrown in all or our plans! We had to re-plan our day so many times, and switch things around because we needed to do this thing, or someone called us and asked us to do this that thing. Or we forgot about this other thing we needed to do. The last time we sat down to re-plan the rest of our day, sis Allowitz and I didn't even bother trying to write it in the planner because it wouldn't have been legible.

On the bright-side... At the end of that frustrating day, we did know two very important things, we found out that we did not have to teach relief society, like we thought we would, woo! And that the Wrocław missionaries would be coming to district conference the next day. Which was super great, and not just because it meant I got to hang out with sis McCleary once more before I go home, but also because we needed them for our musical number. There was some debate over whether or not they'd be able to come, and it was really frustrating for us because we didn't know if we'd have enough people in our choir. It was a really good thing we had them though because we would not have had enough people singing, there were only 4 Elders singing, total, and 2 of them were Wrocław Elders, Elder Owens and Elder Lanterman. Our musical number went really well though, especially considering that Half the choir didn't even know the song, or even that they would be singing, until that morning.

Random funny stuff -

When we were on our way to Lukasz's house there were some teenagers near us on the bus. Elder Burdick asked them what stop we were at and they told him and then asked "You guys are Mormons, right?" We of course said "Yeah!". Then one of the guys told us he had met with missionaries for a while, but had gotten really busy with school and wasn't able to keep meeting. He said though "I like Mormons, they're way cooler than Catholics" We all died at that, it was so great and funny!

We met the cutest little kitty out tracting! We named her Pani Emma, and she let us pet her for a really long time, and was so sweet, and then followed us tracting for a little while, like our third companion... well fourth with the Spirit.

Our washing machine broke on Friday! It stopped draining. We don't know what the deal is. We thought maybe there was something clogging the line. We tried to take it apart to find out, and we successfully found some places in the line that were not clogged, but we couldn't open the part that we think is clogged, we didn't have the right tools. So tonight someone is coming over to fix it. In the mean time, we can't wash our clothes. We smell bad! Woo!

That's it, that's all I have to say about this week. It's crazy to think this is my last week on the mission. I have loved my mission more than I ever thought I would. I Never wanted to serve a mission when I was little, because I thought for sure it was going to be a year and a half in which I was not going to have any fun, in which I wasn't allowed to have fun. Instead, the mission has been the most fun thing I've ever done! Sis Whiteley told me in my first transfer, that if I wasn't having fun, while doing missionary work, I wasn't doing it right. I kept that in mind my whole mission and it's really helped me to love every second of my mission... even if some of the moments have to be loved in retrospect. I can still look back on my mission and see the changes that I've made in myself, and how even the crappy times helped shape me into a better person, and I can know that even those sucky moments were for my good.

Man, I don't want to leave Poland! I love this country so much, and the people, and the language! Even though it's flippin' hard! But I'll be back to visit, and I know that I need to continue on with the next stage of life. The mission isn't the end-all, be-all, it's just a side mission. An awesome side mission! Which has given me so much experience and skill points that I can used in the rest of the game! Czyli Life!

Kocham was wszystkich!

P.S. I have a Wacek update... I got a picture with him! The Man, the Myth, the Legend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kato is On Fire

Not literally, don't worry. It's just that there is always something going on here! It's crazy. Last year Kato was basically dead, as far as events and what not, but this year there has been a concert or a festival or something every week, almost every day! This whole week there has been a festival going on in the Rynek, we think it might be a honey festival, because almost every stand is selling honey, but there are some random other things like jewelry and pizza, so we're not sure. And there have been tons of concerts going on for the last month. This week alone we saw I think 3 concerts going on around Kato. There could have even been more, I don't remember. It's funny though because it seems like every morning we see them setting up a stage in the Rynek, or wherever, and then there is a concert later that day, and then, as we head back home we see them taking the stage down... usually so they can move it to a different part of the Rynek. You'd think they'd get tired or taking it apart only to build it back up again, and they'd find a way to move it when it's already put together.

The concerts were pretty cool, we got to stop and watch a few minutes of them as we walked by. There was a marching band concert, which we only saw the sound check of, the Elders were in the area at the time and got to see some of the actual thing. Then on Friday there was a scat group performing. That one was really funny because some Larrys decided to attend and they just love dancing at concerts. And the last one actually wasn't set up at the Rynek at all, it was in the Tesco parking lot right behind our house. That one was crazy, because when we were sitting in our house we could hear the music as clearly as if it was just playing in the other room.

As far as the rest of the week goes, it's been great! We had a couple of really fun meetings with some of the members here. We met with Sandra and Kumo on Monday for FHE. They moved here from South Africa about 6 months ago and they're super fun. We played Uno with them and it was crazy fun! So much fun that they invited us over for dinner on Saturday so we could play Uno again. Sandra made us chicken and rice with this super yummy South African tomato gravy. And Kumo and I made some of my "Sweet Mother Teresa! Brownies".

I finished reading the Book of Mormon out loud in Polish. I made the goal to do it back in my 3rd transfer and I finished it on Thursday. It's been great to because I noticed that day after I finished it that every time I spoke to someone I was able to remember more words and I was able to understand a little better. I think people were able to understand me better too. When we went to drop letters for tracting I managed to convince a guy to open the door for us, and I don't even know how I did it. I rang his domophone, he answered I said "Ulotki" which is a trick we sometimes use to get into buildings, which basically means we're dropping off flyers. It works about 7 times out of 10. This time though, he asked me what kind of flyers, so I told him they were letters about our church. He asked why, I said because we want to invite people to hear our message. he said what do you want me to do about it? and I, thoroughly confused, said "open the door please" and he did! I was so surprised I almost didn't react fast enough to push the door open when it buzzed.

Friday was culture night, and it was so dang fun! First of all, have you guys heard of "lock rooms"? I don't know if we have them in the states. If we don't we need to start one because they are so fun! It's basically like real life Nancy Drew. They lock you into a room with a bunch of crazy clues and stuff and you have 45 minutes to solve the clues and get the door open. We totally solved it. We went a little over time though, the girl let us slide by because we were so entertaining. She said we where the happiest group she's ever seen. Apparently people are normally a lot angrier and stressed when they do it, but we was having a blast! And they played good music during the game so we were even singing! She said No one has ever sung while trying to get out of the room. After the lock room we got pizza, went the the chapel and watched The Book of Mormon Movie. Oh. My. Gosh... that movie is so hilariously bad! It was straight up like MTS3K. We just made fun of the movie the whole time and died laughing. We had a little extra time afterwards and Elder Garrett informed us that he had never seen Saratov Approach, so we watched that too. It was pretty freaky to watch on the mission, especially since Russian isn't too different from Polish, so we could understand a few words here and there. It was a really fun Culture night though probably one of the best ones I've had on my mission.

We had a small miracle moment this week. On our way back from Sandra and Kumo's house on Saturday night sis Allowitz lost her earring at some point. She was really sad, because they were her favorite pair. Before she had noticed, when we were walking through the park, I had thought I heard something fall, but I didn't really think too much of it. I felt sure though, after I found out she had lost her earring, that, that is what I had heard, and I was certain that if we went back right after church the next day we would find it. So we went back, and we were looking around for about 30 seconds when I saw something turquoise and gold among a bunch of leaves inside a big storm drain. It was the earring! But unfortunately we couldn't get the grate off and I couldn't fit my arm in far enough to get it. So it seemed like all hope was lost. But it wasn't because I totally got a twig, hooked it on the earring and pulled that sucker out of there! It was awesome!

Random Funny Stuff -

Sis Johnston just called me about 2 seconds ago from a mountain top called Zakopane, on the boarder of Poland and Slovakia. She just wanted to see if she could get reception, and it worked!

For a few days there was a random 12 foot square in front of the mall that was roped off for no reason. In the middle of the square was a small pile of rocks... we were thoroughly confused.

We had district language study, and we had a section on family words! As the section started Elder Garcia sang this lovely little song "I have a family here on Earth, they have forgotten me. I want to share my life with them through all mortality!" Haha, we all died laughing!

Elder Park chipped his front tooth trying to catch a Mento in his mouth...

That about sums up this week. Only one more email and then I'll be home!

Kocham was!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Conference! Woo!

This week was awesome! Conference! Woo! And it was just packed with lots of really fun little things. And a few sad a crazy things. For one, I am no longer in a threesome. Sis Johnston is now in Kraków with sis Herrera. It's just me and sis Allowitz now. Sis Bąk who was in Kraków is now in Wrocław with sis Slagowska and sis McCleary. We were really sad to say goodbye to sis Johnston, and she was really sad to leave Kato, she loves this city, but the transfer will be really good I think.

First of all, for P-day we went to a castle, the same castle at which we had a snowball fight last year, and we climbed around it. Then we played capture the flag. We brought foam swords so we could LARP while playing capture the flag, and we did that for a while, but then they started breaking, so we switched and started playing normal capture the flag... Except that we were playing on the edge of the forest with huge rocky hills and junk so it was a billion times better! I spent most of the time being stealthy and sneaking around the forest and climbing over huge rocks and hills. We all came away with some battle scars, but it was so worth it.

The best game was the last one we played. As soon as it started I ran straight for the trees and began sneaking my way around to the other team's jail area so could let out any team mates who got trapped there. I was going through the trees for a few minutes when I suddenly felt like I was being watched. I looked up and saw sis Johnston (on the opposite team) standing about 20 feet away from me, grinning eerily. It was straight up like the scene from the Village when she's walking through the forest and then the camera moves a bit and there's one of the creatures standing right there, watching her, it was so freaky. I ran back out of the trees and found two others from my team, Elder Garret and Elder Garcia. They both ran for the flag which distracted sis Johnston enough that I was able to run right past her and the jail and into the brush behind where the flag was. I then hid, watching for everyone to leave the flag alone, and forget I was there. Eventually Elder Garcia made a run for the flag and it distracted everyone enough that I stood and started to dart out of the brush. However, when I was about 4 feet from the opening, my arm ran into something more solid than just grass and twigs and I realised that what was in front of me was a huge thorn bush. So I stopped, just in time to see Elder Summers charging at me from the other side of the bush. He jumped right into it, stopping about a foot from me. Let me paint you a picture here so you can understand how strong and thick this thorn bush was... Elder Summers in a pretty big guy, a football player, and this bush was literally the only thing that stopped him from bowling me over. When I saw he was stuck I took a hard left and ran through a thinner area of the bush, shouting "sucker!" of course, for good measure. Just as I got out of the bushes I saw that I had distracted Elder Summers just enough that Elder Garcia had gotten the flag. And that's how we won. Elder summers had to surgically remove a few thorns from his legs and arms, but It was still great fun.

Tuesday was a very stressful day, but it ended really well. Sis Johnston had been planning an exchange with Wrocław, but because of the transfer she wasn't sure if it was going to work, so she changed some things around and decided that she'd still be able to do it but that sis Herrera would come to Kato from Kraków, Sis Slagowska would come to Kato from Wrocław, sis Johnston and sis Allowitz would stay in Kato have an exchange with each of them, and then I would go to Wrocław to be with sis Bąk and Sis McCleary. Booyah! Best exchange ever! I got to have another exchange, my 4th exchange, with sis Bąk and an exchange with my very favorite companion, sis McCleary! What more could I want?... well, a single plan for the whole day working out would have been nice! Trying to get people in from their cities, and trying to get me to Wrocław was a disaster. Sis Herrera ended up not having enough money on her person to get to Kato, so they had to go to the Elders' apartment and borrow some money from them, so she missed her bus and didn't get in until about an hour or two later than planned. And I had a moment of temporary idiocy and read the train schedule wrong, for the first time in my entire mission. Which caused me to miss my train, because we were on the wrong peron (platform). Luckily there was another train leaving a few hours later, but I ended up not even getting into Wrocław until after 9:00. I made it though, after a very stressful couple of hours, I made it. It was a really fun exchange too. Sis Bąk is hilarious and it was especially funny having an exchange with her after I had just had one literally the week before. And it was so great to catch up with sis McCleary, it's been so long... I'll admit, there was a lot more talking than sleeping going on during that exchange, but it was so needed!

While I was in Wrocław I, of course, ate at BLT and Flatbreads, jak zawsze. And we did a whiteboard with the elders, which was fun because it meant I got to chat with Elder Owens and Elder Lanterman again. And we taught English, so I got to see a few of my old English students again. It was also just a lot of fun to be able to be in Wrocław again, one last time before I go home.

When I got back to Kato I was a little melancholy, I think because I realised just how little time I have left in my mission. No one was there to pick me up because they were a little late in helping sis Johnston with her stuff. So I walked to the chapel by myself and just stood in the doorway waiting for them. It was a little funny because as I was waiting this huge guy walked up to me, and I wasn't 100% sure what he asked me, he either said "Do you work at a discotek? are you looking for a discotek? or do you want to go to a discotek?" Either way the question was really confusing and I didn't really know how to answer any of those possible questions in a kind and patient manner, so I feigned dumb and told him I don't speak Polish. He told me he was a bouncer for a discotek (I'm not surprised, he was the size of a house), he then stopped read my badge, and realising I was a nun, kind of crossed himself and turned to go, but before he went he looked back and gave me a thumbs up. It was so bizarre, Poland is full of strange moments like that.

A few minutes later though the other missionaries showed up. I was standing in the doorway, waiting, still feeling a bit melancholy, when suddenly sis Allowitz jumped out from behind the doorway and scared the living crap out of me. It was strange though because the moment I saw her my feeling of melancholy disappeared and I felt so happy to be back in Kato. And so happy that my companion had just risked accidentally scaring a random Polish person to play a trick on me which subsequently cheer me up. Something that I've done my entire mission and that has really helped me to feel good about each day is that I like to point out the "cud" or miracle or each day. That was my cud of that day, Sis Allowitz is so much fun!

Friday sis Allowitz and I went with Elders Park and Garret out to a random city I've never been too, but that Elder Garret knew from his previous transfers in Kato. We wanted to do some finding activities and "tag" a few places with chalk drawings for English and church stuff. So we went out there, found a really cute little park, and decided to tag it. But, just as we had split up, and were about to start drawing, a bunch of cute little old dudes showed up and went to go sit on a bench near us. They saw that Elder Garrett had a guitar with him (he loves to have singing whiteboards, so he brings his guitar everywhere) One of the men came up and asked if he was going to play for them, so Elder Garrett decided that would be a fun thing. He left me and Elder Park to draw our ads for English and, and took sis Allowitz with him to sing for a bunch of old guys. They loved it! Elder Garrett and Sis Allowitz just sang a bunch of hymns, and they didn't really sing fancy, but those old dziadeks just soaked it up. In between songs they would chat about what we're doing here, and about how there used to be a branch in that city a few years ago, and they'd try to convince Elder Garrett and Sis Allowitz that they'd be cute together and that they should get married, haha! It was so cute!

Saturday and Sunday was conference! Yay! My third conference on my mission, and the only one not spent in Wrocław. It was really really good though, best conference I've ever seen... probably because I paid more attention than I ever have before. I took so many notes and got so many answers to questions i both did and didn't know I had! Also, there were a few great moments where I felt like I was watching it at home. For example, during the first song, we were just chilling, talking about the choir, then, of course the key change happened. I noticed it, but didn't say anything. But then, Elder Garret goes "and there's the key change" I was like "yes! there's always a key change" and Elder Garrett and I proceeded to talk about the Mack Wilberg formula for conference hymns. It was just like being at home.

Random funny stuff-

Elder Jackson was in Kato on exchange and he brought with him to district meeting, a bottle of peppermint oil (because like half of Poland is totally obsessed with essential oils). He took it out in the middle of the meeting, so everyone wanted a little. We all took a drop, rubbed it on our hands and on our foreheads... And then proceeded to squint at each other for the rest of district meeting, that stuff is super strong and it makes your eyes water like crazy. No one could see anything, but we still carried on with our district business and spiritual thoughts and stuff. Every couple of minutes someone would wipe the tears out of their eyes and say something like "Man that stuff is strong!"

When Elder Park was in the MTC he was there for conference. This was last October. For Priesthood session they had a choir of Elders from the MTC, Elder Park, Elder Jones and Elder Lanterman were in that choir. So When we found this out after the Saturday morning session (which we watched Saturday night) we just had to watch it. we watched all the songs and we found all three Elders, and I realised I vaguely remember seeing Elder Park during Conference last year, because we made fun of him. He was right behind the conductor when they had the congregation sing, and he totally forgot the words, it was so funny. We watched it again on Saturday and we just died!

We have a new game in the district. If you make eye contact with someone and you pretend to shoot a blow-dart at them, they have to freeze, and they can't un-freeze until someone pulls the blow-dart out of their neck. We've been having a lot of fun with it. NP- After district meeting on Tuesday I managed to sneakily get everyone else in the chapel. So I was the only one who was able to move and I exploited it, and waited quite a while before un-freezing everyone else. Another time was on Friday, on the bus back from our chalk-talk with the elders. Elder Park and Elder Garret managed to freeze both me and sis Allowitz, and then to proceeded to call our phones, over and over again so they could hear our ringtones and watch us squirm (obviously not physically), unable to do anything about it. And the last example was after conference ended yesterday. Everyone kept freezing each other, it was straight up out of control. At one point I walked back to the kitchen, out onto the balcony and down to the end so I could look through the window into the YSA room and freeze elder Garcia. It has been a lot of fun.

Well, I think that's everything for this week.

Kocham was!