Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Visiting the Warsaw I District Meeting...Jan. 31, 2012

President is finishing up his interviews with the missionaries. Today we visited the Warsaw l District. Sisters Sheets, Garcia and Smithee along with Elders Myler, Walter, Kalinowski (from Lodz as Elder Hancock in on an exchange there with Elder Gladun) and Siebert. These are the last of the Kinder Eggs and also the latest edition of the Dobra Strona.

Elder Myler's lesson today was one of his own choosing. Besides being a gifted musician, he has the best penmanship in the mission. We walked in, and I thought this had been 'stenciled off' it was so perfect. It was a great lesson---organization and clarity really make a difference.

As we "role played", the missionaries used a Dreidel (a spinning top) that would land on a number. Each number represented a 'situation' that you had to role play. Very spontanious and very "think on your feet". Elders Walter and Siebert are waiting to see what 'situation' they will be dealing with.

They reversed things and Sisters Smithee and Garcia taught the two investigators- Elders Walter and Siebert.

Its been really cold in Warsaw this past week. Today was no exception. The high was 8 degrees F and the low was -2 degrees F. Elders Kalinowski and Siebert are ready to head out after District Meeting.

Elder Walter and Myler are finishing up and looking forward to success in their specific area.

Sister Garcia and Smithee are ready to brave the cold and apply the things taught in the lesson and meeting today. As the mission is reading the Book of Mormon together, we discussed Jacob 6 and 7 today as well. We hope that you are following along. If you have a missionary in Poland, please follow the reading schedule and discuss in your emails the thoughts you and your family are having as you read. Share your feelings, and ask your missionary for his or hers. There is strength in reading together, and it just isn't for Poland. I love my missionaries, this country, the members and for sure-- The Book of Mormon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A weekend of many great events!

This weekend was full of great activities. This blog post will be a 'pot-pour-ri' of many events. Try to follow along; and hopefully, it will make sense!

Sunday night we had 3 special visitors from Lodz ...Sister Su and Sister and Elder Tarasevich. They had a very important meeting with President Nielson. Plans have been made for a Thai translation at the Freiberg Temple, and Sister Su is going to the temple this week to receive her endowment. Leaving Tuesday morning, she needed a temple recommend from President Nielson. This great sister is so excited to go to the temple. There are two times that missionaries want to see their investigators in white, at baptism and in the temple. This shows the wonderful work Senior Couples can do in Branches.
I need to back up a day to Saturday morning. The day started at 5:30 a.m. when I had to drive President to the airport. He was attending a Priesthood Leadership Meeting being held in Vienna, Austria. How exciting to get to go to Vienna! When he came home, I asked him..."What was the city like?" President said it reminded him of Peoria, Arizona. WHAT? He couldn't remember anything and said of the 9 hours he was there, 6 was in a stake center (which was beautiful), 2.5 hours was in the airport and 30 minutes was in a taxi. He did say the meeting was tremendous. Mission Presidents, District Presidents and the Area Presidency met and the day flew by. When President Nielson comes home from these meetings, he so excited for the great work of the Lord to move forward. We love our Area Presidency and the great men that they are! Here are our Poland District Presidents, Pawlik and Dresler with Elder Erich Kopischke (our Area President).

Returning back to Warsaw Saturday night with President Dresler to very cold 7 degree weather.

While President was away I had plenty going on here in Warsaw II. The Branch held a special Teacher Development Training seminar Saturday afternoon. Above are those who participated in teaching our great teachers (and anyone else in the Branch that was interested!) how to be better gospel instructors. (LtoR): Monika, The Nettos, Brother Pew, The Picketts.

We had a great turnout.....I counted at least 30 people! This is most of them....with several 'hiding' in the back. It was truly a great night and very well planned. Thanks to all who helped! Among those attending were: Anja, Krzystof, Dominik, Dennis, Sisters Armstrong and Gorniak, Beata, The Picketts, The Staples, The Netos, Kasia, Marcin, Brat Herman, Alex, Monika, Brother Pew........and many others.

At Church today was Brother Weisenburger (Left)from Florida. (He has a son serving in the Santa Rosa California Mission. Our great friends, President Jon and Susan Bunker, are his Mission Presidents!) Also shown are Mikol and his wife, Kate, who just arrived from the States a few weeks ago. These are wonderful people and will surely bless the Church and lives of many in Poland. Welcome!

Elder Krzyminski and Dabrowski with 2 of their Investigators and Brat Herman at Church on Sunday. This is a wonderful couple who are just a delight to have with us.

Now back to Saturday......I said you would have to pay attention to follow this post! Elder Basha is busy taking care of the newest purchase in Lodz. We have had problems in Lodz renting a place with a swimming pool that would allow us to use it for baptisms. So to solve the problem, we bought our own small pool to use as needed. This branch had one a few years ago; but it was damaged so we started renting facilities with pools. Now we that have our own, our problem is solved! It will be put to good use as there is another baptism in Lodz in a couple of weeks. (The pool was set up in the Relief Society room and took Elder Basha about 3 hours to fill).

Elder Basha and Elder Szymanski with Sebastian before the baptism. This was a great day for Sebastian, the Branch and the many people who have been praying for this. Congratulations!

Now here are some faces that haven't been on the blog in awhile!!!

Remember these familiar faces? These were some of our former Assistants... Carson Garrett, Thomas Eastman and Stuart Tribe. All three were great missionaries, and I think pretty great guys to go on a date with. I can see that they have mastered planning as missionaries, and it's carried over into their social life. They look great, don't they? All six of them look great. This makes you realize that the church and the world are so much better with returned missionaries coming back with experience, wisdom and prepared to do great things. We love and miss these great men!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From Poznan to Bydgoszcz to.....HOME!

What are 5 members of the Warsaw Branches doing in Poznan this Sunday? Attending the 1st of several branch conferences being held in the Warsaw District! It was a wonderful conference with many great speakers and musical numbers from the Poznan Branch and the District leadership. Back Row: (L to R) President Dressler and his 2nd Counselor, President Armstrong, Brother Rzeczycki (supportive husband)! Front Row: Magda Dressler (supportive wife!), and Gosia Rzeczycka, District Relief Society President.
After the 2 hour conference, a nice lunch was served...pot luck style! Polish women know how to cook and are so generous in offering to bring things. It was a very nice lunch. Thank you, Poznan Branch! (Shown: Jola and Gosia)
The YSA's of Poznan....Grzegorz, Marta, Alicja, Karolina, Lydia and Bodek. A great group of young people!
After the dinner, the kitchen was full of great helpers! Marta, Regina (whose son, Viktor went into the MTC last Wednesday!) and Bozena!
What a great Sunday it was to be able to mingle and visit with not only the Missionaries but the great Branch members (and Investigators!) as well. It was a wonderful Sunday.
The next day, Monday....the Missionaries from Szczecin came in for District Meeting. Elder Marsing (District Leader serving in Poznan) meets Elder Fletcher (serving in Szczecin) for the 1st time...after having several discussions on the phone these 1st few weeks of transfers. They had never met and it was great to see instant brotherhood and love for each other.
Elder Marsing did a great job teaching 'The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion'. This new District Leader is learning fast!
At the end of every District Meeting comes a language review....accompanied by a few groans!
The Sisters in Poznan, Sister Sheahan and Sister Lepannen, feel pretty good about their answers.
Elders Fletcher and Rogers (serving in Poznan) look like they know the answers!
Elder Lundin (serving in Szczecin) has Elder Richards close by to help him if he needs it!
We had a little trading going on, also. President traded another Kinder Egg to Elder Marsing for some Taco Bell Hot Sauce packets. Elder Marsing was able to pick these little wonders up in Lublin from the Mecham family. Taco Bell Hot Sauce puts that 'extra touch' on Mexican food you make out in the mission field!
The Poznan District: Elders Rogers (Poznan and doing great!) Richards (Branch President and going strong) Fletcher (Szczecin and really a remarkable Elder) Marsing (Poznan District Leader and well organized) Lundin (Szczecin and a great missionary) Sisters Sheahan (Poznan and the best voice in the mission and Europe) Leppanen (Poznan and a wonderful missionary and gifted teacher) and Richards (Poznan, counselor to the Branch President, and everything else). We love these great missionaries.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN... from Poznan to Bydgoszcz we passed a new section of highway where they are building another great looking bridge. Perhaps next year we will get a picture of this completed. It was a cool design. The road will go straight through the double arches.
In Bydgoszcz we were able to meet with the Kagele family. What a great family that just moved here from the Netherlands. Thank you for such a nice night and wonderful hospitality! They are great people.
The next morning at the Bydgoszcz chapel. The Branch President (and doing marvelous) Michael Isaacs, stopped by to make sure everything was going well. Joining him are Elders Hooker, Ball, Sorn and Bode.
Elder Ball, the District Leader, gave a great lesson and led a wonderful discussion on "How to begin Teaching". This was a well planned out lesson and really involved the entire district.
Elder Hooker was the investigator, and Elder Ball was the missionary demonstrating on how important appearance is when representing the Lord and the Church.
Our Zone Leaders, Elders Hooker and Sorn, got some kind of a streamer that sailed through the air and had to demonstrate it. These are gifted athletic missionaries AND they are terrific missionaries of the Lord. They both are great!!
After our meetings and some interviews we ran over to Torun and met with one of the great families in Poland...the Skurzynskis! Conrad and Weronika were such great examples to their brothers and sisters all night.
These kids were GREAT during dinner....and a delight to be with. Of course, they deserved a Kinder-Egg! A special thank you to Weronika who sat by me all night helping me converse with her siblings in Polish. She is learning English and does an amazing job ....and is very patient!
We love this family. It is not easy to raise 6 kids in Poland; but these parents are doing a great job!
After a great visit, it was back on the road home to Warsaw. The interviews had come to an end. Next week are interviews in Warsaw and then up to Gdansk.
The road home wasn't too crowded and very few trucks. This was a welcome site, the backside of the downtown Rynek area in Warsaw. Behind us is the Wisla River. When we get to this point, I know it's about 10 minutes from home. "There's no place like home!" (Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz)It was a wonderful trip. We met with 75% of our missionaries and had some great visits with the Senior Couples as well. We met with some of the best people in the Church also on this trip around Poland. The members here are absolutley the BEST in the world. They are dedicated and live the gospel. If you want to find wonderful people, come to Poland! I love this mission, my missionaries and my extended family here in Poland!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Interview Trip continues....making our way to Poznan!

What would traveling around Poland be without seeing different styles of bridges...and we passed several of them traveling through the southwest portion of Poland.

As we made our way from Katowice to Wroclaw the weather began to change. We started out with President wearing his sunglasses and...

the clouds started to gather......the rain began, and soon it turned to this...

As we pulled into Wroclaw, the snow was coming down! We had boxes we needed to deliver to the missionaries at the Branch, and we needed to park close by. The parking lot was full; but as we came around the corner on the last row one car pulled out, and we were able to take it. That was a "Tender Mercy" for sure.

In the Chapel was President Cielenski running the Family History Center this day. He is not only the Branch President but helps with everything. What a great member he is!

As interviews started, each of our missionaries were given their "Kinder Egg". Elders Buckner, Hayes and Sisters Folsom and Stay. Great missionaries in this wonderful branch who are teaching some amazing people at this time!

After the interviews, we were able to walk over to the beautiful Rynek with our missionaries and grab some lunch. By this time of the day, the snow had melted and the weather was cooperating with us.

Later in the afternoon we went to visit the Call family. This is one of the great families in Wroclaw and in Poland. AJ, Cynthia, Wioletta and Cindy. This wonderful family travels an hour and 45 minutes to get to church each Sunday....and they never miss! Great blessings come to those who obey the commandments...especially the Sabbath!

At the Calls, we attended a 'private piano recital' where Cindy...


and AJ all played beautifully! It was delightful...thank you all for sharing your talents with us!

On our way back to Wroclaw that night, we passed through Opole (located about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Wroclaw) where the Church had a branch years ago.

It was a beautful city. Returning to another beautiful city, we made it back to Wroclaw for the night and still had time to walk around the Rynek. Wroclaw has one of the prettiest Rynek's in Poland...I have to admit that it is MY personal favorite!

The Christmas lights are still up. They don't take down the Christmas lights until the end of January, and no one is complaining. They are stunning in Wroclaw! These pictures really don't do them justice.

The next morning before more interviews, we walked over to the Raclawice Panorama...probably the most visited sight in Wroclaw. From a raised balcony in the middle of this rotunda you can view a 360 degree mural depicting the Battle of Raclawice (a city near Krakow) which was faught in 1794. Poles were attempting to gain independance from Russia...and this battle was a victory. Nine months later, however, this nationwide insurrection was crushed by the Russians; and Poland ceased to exist as a nation until WWI.

This amazing panorama was commissioned a century later and is painted on a canvas of 15 meters (50 feet) tall and 114 meters (385 feet). Nine artists completed this immense canvas in nine months. Three-dimentional items (tree trunks, plants, weapons, roads), special lighting and sound effects bring the rotunda to life. It is difficult to tell what is painted and what is real.

The painting was on display until 1944 when a bomb damaged the canvas. The rotunda was built in 1967 but remained empty until 1985 when the painting was shown for the first time in 4 decades. It is truly a 'must see' for anyone visiting in the area.

Sidenote: The soldier in the white coat on the brown horse is Tadeusz Kosciuszko. He led the Polish army and peasants against the Russians in this battle (1794). This amazing Pole is also beloved by Americans....He fought as a Colonel in the American Revolutionary War.

After the Panorama, we had time to walk around and see a few more fun sights in Old Town Wroclaw. Above: Crossing over to Sand Island where many churches have been built.

Does this look familiar? Yes, it's one of the bridges where you place a lock on it with the name of the one you love. (I particularly like how neat and organized these locks are because of the construction of the bridge.) President and I plan to place a lock on this bridge just as we did in Bydgoszcz. Another trip, maybe!

Walking back to the car, we spotted this cool looking old building and thought it was an old factory. We saw many people walking in so we decided to follow them.

WOW! It was an indoor open air market...Market Hall. The colorful fruit, vegetables, baked goods and candy was everywhere and so many other things to shop for. Too bad we are short on time and need to get back to interviews:( ...maybe next time :)

They had a "Milk Bar" (as you can see from the prices) which was very popular with the locals. When we add our 'lock' to the bridge, we'll have to come back and try it!
Back in the car, we turned on our 'trusted' GPS to show us the way to Poznan...our next stop.

I use the word 'trusted' very loosely! Could it be that we are the only ones heading to Poznan today?

We finally decided to STOP following the GPS when it told us to turn down this road!

We continued making our way to Poznan via small country roads. The sign on the right is a sample of the names of towns that we see all over. They are easy to pronounce for Poles. But as an American, all I have to say is "I'd like to buy a vowel!" (quote from an old American game show, Wheel of Fortune)

We are making headway......finally, a road with a stripe in it! Poznan can't be far off now!

The REAL road into Poznan! This is the kind of road we were supposed to be on! Good thing we were a little ahead of schedule and had time to 'tour' the countryside! The next two days will be filled with Poznan Branch Conference, visiting members, Interviews, District Meetings in Poznan and then Bydgoszcz.....etc! Warsaw in Wednesday and then to Lublin...

We love our mission, our missionaries, the members and this great land! We are so blessed.