Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cezary Gladun called to the Poland Warsaw Mission

We went to Lublin to visit the branch and to congratulate Czarek Gladun on his call to his home land, Poland, and celebrate with his family. We had dinner in the basement of this wonderful restaurant in old town. Here Elders Sorn, Lewis and Sister and Brother Gladun, along with Czarek were enjoying the company and dinner when all of a sudden the electricity went out.
The restaurant is actually a restored cellar, an old tunnel is a better description; and without electricity, it was really dark. Everyone was scrambling for cell phone lights etc, just to see what we could do to help.
The Lublin Branch. Elder Gladun standing next to President Nielson has accepted his call to serve in the Poland Warsaw Mission. What a great thing to see. He will be serving his fellow countrymen. Poland now has two young men out on missions. Elder Gladun will be the first Polish missionary sent here in some time. Among those Polish missionaries who served in their native land were President Pawelczek (current Gdansk Branch President) and Cielenski (current Wroclaw Branch President). President Pawlik (current Katowice District President) served in Chicago. Elder Gladun reports to the Preston England MTC on February 25, 2011. He is speaking in the Lublin Branch on February 20, 2011. You are all welcome and encouraged to attend.
In the Lublin Branch we met these 3 great YSA's from Taiwan who are studying medicine in Lublin. L to R: Cody, Jasmine, and Grace.
We are so thrilled for this great family, the Gladuns! Sending out a missionary is such a blessing! Soon Czarek will be a full-time Poland Warsaw Missionary. We will love him and take care of him just as we do all our other wonderful missionaries! See you soon, Czarek!
What would the Lublin Branch be without the Elders. Here Elder Lewis (the Branch President) is showing us one of his most used books (next to the scriptures, of course) while Elder Sorn is valuable to the branch with his musical talents. These are such great Elders, and the branch and mission love them.
Elders Lewis and Sorn are with Mareusz. A marvelous investigator who is being taught the gospel by these capable missionaries. We are so impressed with him (and the Elders).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mini Senior Missionary Conference

The Senior Missionaries gathered in the Mission Home on Friday January 28, 2011 for short instructions and reporting on their particular assignments. In this great group are (front row L to R) Elder and Sister Richards (office couple and YSA Warsaw), E/S Neiman (YSA and Member Leadership Support- Katowice), 2nd row- E/S Tarasevich (YSA and Branch Presidency- Bydgoszcz), E/S Harding (SA Warsaw and Branch President Warsaw ll) 3rd row- E/S Harber (YSA and Branch President- Lodz), Sister Sheets (Family History Center- Wroclaw), Sister Briggs (Family History Center- Warsaw), back row- E/S Zatylny (YSA and Member Leadership Support- Gdansk). Sister Austin (Family History Center- Warsaw) and E/S Moon (YSA and Member Leadership Support- Wroclaw). Not attending were E/S Ireland (illness).
After the meeting we walked to dinner and enjoyed visiting and getting to know each other.
L to R- Elders Richards, Tarasevich, Zatylny, Moon, Harber and Neiman.
Front row L to R- Sisters Tarasevich, Zatylny, Harber and Austin. Back row- Sisters Richards, Moon, and Neiman.
It was a great mini conference. Short but sweet with ideas and directions given by all. We were strengthened and lifted by everyone and their dedication to their callings and to the Lord.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our final stop on this roadtrip...GDANSK!

Monday night we finally got to Gdansk just in time to go to dinner with the missionaries and some VERY nice people who live in this beautiful city.
L to R: Elders Zatylny, Hancock, Lundin, David, Elders Plumb, Siebert, President Nielson, Brat Kempa-branch mission leader in the Gdansk Branch, Sister Zatylny and my new friend, Marzena Kempa. After a great dinner we took a walk down Dluga Street.
Here we are in front of Lech Walesa's office--the 1st national leader of the Solidarity Union. Solidarity (a broad anti-soviet social movement) was founded in Gdansk in September 1980--it's birthplace being the Gdansk shipyards. Years later this would lead to the break-up of the Soviet power in Poland. L to R- Brother Kempa, his wife Marzena, Elder & Sister Zatylny, Elders Lundin, Hancock, Plumb, David (their investigator), and Elder Siebert.
We continued our walk and found ourselves on Murami Street---otherwise known as the "Amber Street". During the day this street is lined with merchants selling beautiful amber jewelry. This precious stone is found in large deposits along the Baltic shores in Poland. Yes, I'm coming back when these shops are open! We had a great evening...great company! Brother Kempa promised us a personal tour of this amazing city. In the background is one of the tallest brick cathedrals in Europe.
The next morning, we were on our way to District Meeting with the Gdansk missionaries and guess what? Yes, another devoted recycler! I am impressed!
Once at the chapel, District Leader Elder Plumb held a great district meeting. Elders Lundin and Hancock (on the far left side) are serving in Warsaw but were in Gdansk to fulfill residency requirements for Elder Lundin. Missionaries in Poland are not required to have visas but have 2 year residence cards, allowing them to stay here for that period of time.
Our missionaries in Gdansk: Sister Zatylny, Elders Siebert, Plumb, and Zatylny. Things are happening in Gdansk...they are teaching to find and finding to teach. Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The road to Hel...

If you have been following the blog, you know that we have been traveling A LOT lately....and it looks as if this is going to be our schedule for the next 2 1/2 years! So...I am having to develop some new talents.... making lunch in the car going 130 km/h on the bumpy roads of Poland. I am learning to juggle everything and not plaster my skirt with peanut butter and jelly! When President Nielson has just passed lots of big trucks on the road, there is no stopping for anything.....not even lunch! Those that have driven the roads in Poland will understand.
We decided to take a side trip on the way from Szczecin to Gdansk...So we took the road to Hel. Yes...Hel, Poland.
This town with the interesting name is located on the end of a 34 kilometer (21 miles) long crescent shaped sandbar that borders the Baltic Sea. These swans are out in the Puck Bay (the south side of the sand bar) standing on ice!
The road to Hel (!) is virtually vacant at this time of year but in the summer it is packed with tourists heading to the beach city. Can you believe this road is on a sandbar that is no wider that 500 meters (550 yards) and is at the highest point 23 meters (75 feet) above sea level?
Along the road you see a military base...the sign is written in 4 languages...polish, english, german, and russian! Interesting when you realize that this peninsula was the last place the Poles surrendered to the Germans in 1939 AND in 1945 was the last piece of polish territory to be 'liberated' from the Germans by the Russians. Being the gateway to Gdansk, this town has seen it's share of battles.
Once in town, we visited this great brick lighthouse built in the 1820's and...
...the fishing dock. Not quite like Wahweap.
As you can see, the day that President Nielson stays off the phone will be the day that Hel freezes over. did!

Monday, January 24, 2011

On our way to Szczecin....(and it's far, far away!)

From Warsaw to Szczecin is a very long drive. On the way we went to the small town of Swiebodzin. Step aside Rio de Janeiro...Poland now has the biggest Christ statue in the world! It is supposedly 42 feet taller than the one in Brazil. Construction of it started in 2008 and the crown was put into place a few weeks ago.
There isn't much to see in this area but the statue certainly stands out. There was no charge or parking fee. We parked across the street in the Tesco parking lot. There were many families that were sight seeing as we were doing. It was really quite a nice place to visit and admire.
It was a beautiful but cold day for a visit. We were surprised at the detail in the face and even the outreached arms and hands. We were glad we took the time to stop and see this.
It made us thankful for the faith and belief in the Savior that so many others have. In a world that seems to be moving in other directions, it was great to see these people still have respect for the Savior.
A view of the statue as we were leaving the city which is located 1 1/2 hours west of Poznan.
More Polish trivia.....I have seen these recycle containers in most of the cities that we drive through, but I have never seen anyone near them. Just as I was saying this to President Nielson... came an ecology-minded citizen down the street carrying bags of recyclables! Who knows how far she had walked to get there.
This was for all my American friends who murmur when they have to take their recycle containers to the curb of their front lawns every other week! I won't complain any more.
And what would a road trip be without a picture of another incredible Polish bridge. They should get the 'Coolest Bridges in Europe' award!
We finally made it to Szczecin (which I had no idea was a port!) Since the 1700's, this town was part of Germany and had been the main port for land-locked Berlin. After WWII, the Russians passed through this city leaving much of it in ruins. Now it is home to Poland's finest Naval University.
We arrived in Szczecin on Saturday night just in time to speak at a fireside held at the branch. L to R: Elder Attebery, Jurek, Mateusz, Elder Stohel, Henryk, Grazyna, and Arek.
After the fireside, it was Pizza Hut for the Elders! Lucky for me they have a salad bar, but the Elders love the pizza.
The next morning we got to the chapel early. The street where the chapel is located was so beautiful and peaceful that I had to take a picture.
The entrance to the Szczecin Branch. 29/13 (building 29 suite 13)
Elder Stohel, President, Lucasz (a future missionary!) and Elder Attebery right before Sacrament Meeting started.
Picture taken of the Szczecin Branch right after Sunday School. Elder Attebery, Mateusz, Stefan, Zbyszek, Elder Stohel, Henryk, Lucasz, Grazyna. A great branch with a great spirit. This city was truly a delight to visit and see the wonderful things that are going on.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ryan Millar Fireside-- 21 Jan 2011

Last Friday night, the Warsaw District YSAs sponsored a fireside with Ryan Millar, who plays volleyball professionally with a Polish team in Rzeszow . Ryan played at BYU and lead them to two national championships. He played on the US Olympic volleyball team in 2000, 2004 and 2008 when they won the Gold Medal. He has played professionally in Europe for the past 10 years. He has an amazing life story and shared his testimony with us. He is married and has two young sons. We hope we can have him speak again, perhaps next season.

Pictured L to R: Kasia, Dorota, Dominik, Ewa, Nasa, Camilla, and Marta.
Members and non-members were in attendance. Dominik conducted the meeting with President Nielson doing the introductions. Pictured: Dominik and his mother, Anna.
The Missionaries in Warsaw were excited about the 20+ investigators and inactives in attendance. It was a great night for everyone.
What would we do without a great translator like Robert Magnuski! Thank you, Robert!
And thank you, Ryan, for sharing your life challenges, experiences and strong testimony with all of us. For those that attended it was wonderful. We thank Brother Millar for taking time out of his busy schedule and in between tournaments to come and speak to us. We truly appreciated it! and Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A nice trip to Lodz....

Sunday morning we got up at 4:30 to get ready to go to Lodz for their Branch Conference. On the way there, we found that we weren't the only ones up! As you can tell by the picture, the sun has not come up yet. This sweet lady is already hard at work balancing the full milk container. She was on her way from her dairy that we had just passed a few blocks back to sell the milk she had just collected. She was really struggling to balance her heavy load on her bike.
We finally made it to Lodz and there we had a wonderful conference with the Lodz members and investigators.
After the Branch Conference these kind members of the branch had fixed sandwiches and fruit for everyone to eat. L to R: Jadwita, Violetta (just released as Relief Society President), Brat Poludnikiewicz (who was just released as Branch President), Krzystoff (Elders Quorum President), and Asia (who was just called as the new Relief Society President). Thank you....everything was delicious!
The Young Men of the Lodz Branch and their Young Men's President, Marek. L to R: Hubert, Dramen, and an investigator friend.
The new branch presidency- Brat Tudor-Hart, Elder Harber and Brat Diarra.
Me and Violetta...she works as a translator for the Church.
Story: Sister Steadman (kneeling) lost her name tag soon after she arrrived in Poland last October. She has been using one of her trainer's badges and just taped her name on it. Earlier this morning we had brought her a new name tag with her very own name on it. Sister Steadman was thrilled to be official. That night we went to visit a member and Sister Steadman could not find her name tag. She had only had it for a couple of hours and somehow it had come off her coat. We looked all over and finally Sister Bautner and Elder Harber helped her find it in a deep puddle of water. And I think she still has it as I am writing this......... We will tease her about this for months to come.

We were able to stay in Lodz Monday and FINALLY took a P-Day. So President and I and the Harbers (along with our tour guide, Hubert) decided to see the sights in Lodz.
Our first stop was Radegast Station which has been turned into a Holocaust Memorial. Passing through this station were 150,000+ Jews who were herded into cattle wagons bound for Auschwitz. Lodz was the first Polish city to have part of their city walled off as a Jewish Ghetto.
Three original train wagons used for deportations stand silently next to the station.
This is actually a long tunnel which leads from the station to a very large brick chimney memorial holding a flame. The inside of the tunnel is lined with original deportation lists.
One of the largest Jewish Ghettos in Poland is located near this memorial. It once held 230,000 Jews. When the Red Army 'liberated' Lodz in 1945, only 880 Jewish survivors remained.
Also nearby is the largest Jewish Cemetary in Europe founded in 1892. These are the walls of the outside of the cemetary lined with memorial plaques.
On a lighter note...this is Piotrkowska Street. The missionaries refer to this just as "P Street". At the beginning of the 20th century it was an elegant boulevard. During WWII it became a gloomy, grey street with blackened buildings from soot. In the 1990's a foundation was formed to clean it up and it is basically a walking mall full of great statues edicated to the city's famous residents and bronze stars embedded in the sidewalk (like Hollywood Boulevard) honoring Poland's film stars.
A building that has been cleaned and restored. This street contains some of the most beautiful buildings in all of Poland. Very ornate.
One of many great statues along Piotrkowska Boulevard.
This statue is dedicated to the famous pianist Artu Rubinstein. It is located in front of the house where he once lived.
One of my favorites....Charlie Chaplan. Very appropriate considering Lodz is the center of Polish cinema and home to one of the best film schools in Europe. It opened in 1948 and was placed in Lodz (2nd largest city in Poland) rather than Warsaw because Warsaw was in ruins.
The way you get around this street is by foot or by these bicycle taxis.
It was soon time to meet the missionaries so we headed to Manufaktura---a series of red brick factories that have been remodeled into a massive shopping and entertainment complex. These buildings once were one of the largest textile manufacturing facilities in the country.
There we found Elders Nielson and Fritzsch. These two Elders were the first to meet the new Standard of Excellence for our Mission that was introduced in 2011.
Getting everyone together for Pizza Hut, of course. A missionary favorite! L to R: Elder Fritzsch, Elder and Sister Harber, Hubert, Sisters Steadman and Bautner, Elder Nielson.
The next day, we sat in on the Lodz District Meeting....led by District Leader, Elder Nielson. Here he is going over the new Standard of Excellence goals and what their district did last week.
And district Meeting wouldn't be District Meeting without role play! Sister Bautner and Sister Steadman role play placing a Book of Mormon using bold statements of truth!
It was time to head back to Warsaw, but we didn't want to go until we had visited the sight the Church bought a few years ago on which to build a chapel. It is in a great location.....
...and is a beautiful and deep piece of property. That is what our goal is here in Lodz. To invite enough people to follow Christ and be baptized so we can build a chapel for them.
The Harbers, great friends of ours from Las Vegas, are working with all their might to help accomplish this. Great things are happening in can feel it. And we could sure use your prayers! We love the people of Lodz! There is a great spirit in that branch and we can't wait to visit them again!