Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Combined Warsaw & Katowice District Conference - preparations

This event really started back in June of 2010. Elder Teixeira was here on a Mission Tour, and he and President Nielson started talking about things we could do to get more members involved. One thing led to another. In August the idea of holding an All Poland General Conference started to take hold, and the plan was for the weekend of February 25-26, 2012. Because of the Euro Cup in Poland this year, there aren't many conference centers available with our specifications. Most Hotels have been booked for a long time. Elder Kopischke called in September and things were discussed. By chance, the Radisson became available and Elder D. Todd Christofferson was going to be in our area for other conferences. It all started coming together.Originally this conference center was booked. So we had decided on another Hotel. Brother Jarosz and President went and visited there and even had a contract ready to sign. As they were meeting regarding this they both said it just didn't feel right. They called the Radisson Blu one last time and because of a cancelation the week before, it was now available... the very weekend that Elder Christofferson would be here. Things were falling into place.Brat Jarosz was so key in all of the negotiations and planning. The stories that President would tell me about how this and that happened and changes that were made for the better makes me know that this conference is supposed to happen in Poland at this time.So, in November we finally signed an agreement and the real planning started. We thank Marta who was so great to work with. We have had some wonderful conversations with her regarding why we are holding this conference and who is coming. We have a reserved seat for her and her husband on the front row.In January 2012, we started meeting with the tech people about sound, and projections for our music and Church logo. We will be using the entire conference floor with interview rooms, Priesthood and Women's Leadership meetings, the Adult session Saturday evening and the General Session Sunday morning. The meals and other details were attended to by Brother Jarosz and Elder Jensen.This last week we met again to go over everything- coat room, children's room during the sessions, our organ hooking into their system, lunch for the missionaries, lunch for everyone following the Sunday session, close to 80 hotels rooms (sorry not at the Radisson!), chartered buses, train tickets, speakers, translators and seating for the Choir. The same details that planning every conference entails!Brat Jarosz, Elder Jensen and Pawel (the Radisson tech guy) discuss the small details to make sure what we need can be provided and who has what responsibility. We can't thank these two men enough. One other man that helped so very much is President Jagard. He helped with reservations and transportation for all the members coming in from around Poland. President Jagard and Jarosz have done an exceptional job of getting everything ready.Now fast forward to Tuesday February 28---Just to make sure we have things covered, we held a combined Warsaw l and Warsaw ll District Meeting at the Radisson so all the Warsaw missionaries knew where to go and what was going on. They will also be the ushers for the conference. Most companionships will have two other companionships staying with them Friday and Saturday nights. They needed to know the bus and trams schedules in advance so everyone can arrive well in advance.Sisters Mann, Ence, Smithee and Garcia will help and were some of the first to arrive this important training day.Elders Dopp, Curtis, Hancock and Walter were also ready. This morning when we got up,the sun was out and it was almost like Spring. As the missionaries started to arrive, it was snowing and cold! So hopefully, this storm will pass and this weekend we will have great weather.We met in the Polonia l room where we will be holding our Missionary Session with Elder Christofferson. From here we walked to the other rooms and got a feel for the conference center layout.The room will be arranged in a certain pattern and will be like that until the evening session when the seating will be changed to a different configuration to handle the congregation.Elder Dabrowski (and Krzyminski) went over the arrival times of incoming missionaries and who would be assigned to stay in what apartments. They also had instructions emailed to all the missionaries for tram and bus connections once they arrived in Warsaw. The entire mission is coming in, and it took some real coordination! Thank you, Assistants!With so many people coming and going, the missionaries needed to be aware of different rooms, coat rooms, restrooms and meeting room assignments. Elders Myler, Walter and Tanner are ready to serve in any way they are asked.All of this was done in a short time. We feel this was a good thing to go over. These are great missionaries. Elder Dabrowski, Sisters Mann, Garcia, Ence, Smithee, Elders Hancock, Siebert, Tanner, Murphey, Myler, Dopp, Krzyminski, Walter and Curtis. The Jensens were with us and helped again with these preparations and even more with.....Bedding and Towels! With all the missionaries coming in to stay with Warsaw missionaries, they needed additional items to accommodate visitors. We bagged up what they were lacking from the mission home, and the Jensens were kind enough to deliver everything to their apartments. As for President and me, we will have 10 Elders and 4 Sisters staying with us. The McGraths, our Senior Couple from Katowice, will also be staying at the mission home for 'crowd control'. We have a very busy and great weekend ahead of us! (And I will have DAYS of laundry ahead of me next week as I clean, sort and put everything away!) But it will be well worth it to be together to hear from an Apostle of the Lord. This is what it will look like for the conference. If you build it they will come! We are expecting over-flow attendance. The missionaries, members and guests are sure to have a memorable experience. Those that are planning on coming, we welcome you. Like the missionaries, come prepared to hear the voice of an Apostle with messages for each of us.
This will be a great weekend for all of us. I love this Church and the great Leaders the Lord has called.
------There will be no pictures of the Conference, see you next week some time. No cameras.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Visiting's been a while!

GDANSK: This is one of several stadiums that have been built around Poland to accommodate the 2012 Euro Cup being held in Ukraine and Poland in June. Each one is very unique. This is one of my favorites.....when the sun hits it right (which there was NO sun this trip!) or at night when they light up the entire stadium, it glows like a piece of amber! Very appropriate as it is situated close to the Baltic Sea where much of the amber of the world is found. It will hold approximately 70,000 people. The stadium is finished. The parking lot..........well, they still have a few months to work on it, thank heavens!
Saturday Night: When we go to Gdansk, one of the highlights is being able to spend a little time with the Kempa's (front) and the Lewis' (back). These two couples are fun to visit with, and President Kempa has a 'knack' for picking wonderful but inexpensive restaurants.
Of course, we invited the great missionaries who serve in Gdansk. (LtoR): Sisters Steadman and McAdams; Elders Johnson and Berry. You will see more of them later in the post!
Sunday Morning: The Branch leadership is there early... ready to welcome the Saints to the Gdansk Branch. Brother Lewis (1st Counselor), President Kempa (Branch President), and Elder Johnson and Elder Berry.
Sunday School: The missionaries had prepared a wonderful lesson on how to help Investigators feel welcome when they come to church. It even included some 'Role-Play' which the members loved. It's ALWAYS good to practice. It was very well done. Good job, Elders and Sisters!
Gospel Principles Class: Meanwhile in the Gospel Principles class, President Kempa was instructing Investigators and new members on the basic principles of the gospel. It is exciting to see them understand more fully Heavenly Father's plan for them. (L to R):Irena, Joseph, Lydia, and Ania.
Relief Society: We had a lesson taken from the 2011 November Conference Issue on 'The Blessings of Eternal Marriage'. Wioletta, the Relief Society President, did a beautiful job leading the discussion. What a wonderful group of women we have in the Gdansk Relief Society!
Primary: Marzena and Sister Lewis were team-teaching Claudia. Their lesson today was on Noah's Ark. Klaudia carefully painted a wooden ark so the animals would have a safe place to get out of the rain! We are grateful to Marzena and her English skills as she helps Sister Lewis (Primary President) communicate with Klaudia.
Meetings after Church: The Relief Society Presidency met after church to plan an activity. Sisters Steadman and McAdams offer such great leadership help as these women are learning to lead, love and serve one another. (L to R): Wioletta with Klaudia, Sisters Steadman and McAdams and Helina.

This small branch is functioning well. We love to visit the members here. They are faithful, and they are striving to grow the church in this area. There are some big changes coming to this Branch. Watch for them!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WROCLAW: A baptism and a great visit!

We were able to attend a great baptism in Wroclaw in the late afternoon. Ola was baptized by Brother Zan. She is a great young member and adds so much to the branch. She is here with Sisters Folsom and Stay. Sister Modzelewska just arrived for her mini mission. She and Ola have so much in common as young women and converts to the Church.

President with Andrzej at the baptism. It was so good to see him again. This great man is a convert of 19 months. He is very involved in school, so our paths never seem to cross. We met Andrzej when we first came to Poland and attended a great YSA conference in Szczyrk, Poland...a wonderful conference where Elder and Sister Ireland did such a super job with all our YSA's hosting the conference.

Back at the chapel, there was lots of visiting and congratulating. Ola with 'her' missionaries, Sister Folsom and Sister Stay, with Sister Malinowska...a great member and help to the branch.

Elders Buckner and Hayes with Anetta, Agnieszka (Relief Society Counselor), Adam, Daniel and Ola...Relief Society President. The Wroclaw Branch is doing well!

While everyone was visiting and eating refreshments, Brother Zan was attending to duties....helping in the Family History Center. This is another member who helps so much in the branch....and there are many of them.

There is always one member who is first to get out the vacuum and start cleaning! In the Wroclaw branch, it is Mariusz. This good brother is diligent in making sure the church looks great.

It was a wonderful night to be with the Saints in Wroclaw. There is nothing more special than a baptism! And now on to Sunday!

Sunday at the Wroclaw Branch. The Branch Presidency: Adam (1st Counselor) and President Cielinski. These good men do a great job of taking care of their 'flock'.
In Wroclaw, the meeting schedule is flipped: Relief Society, Sunday School and then Sacrament Meeting.

Relief Society: Guess who taught a fabulous lesson from the October 2011 General Conference? OLA...who has been a member for less than 1 day. She is a pro. It was well prepared, invited participation from the class and taught with the spirit. We are thrilled that Ola is part of the Wroclaw Branch.

Primary: Ula, the Primary President, had a small class today...could the freezing cold have anything to do with it? I was able to give the Primary children the 'treat' that my grandson, Dax, had stuck in the last box we received from home. They came with specific instructions that these Valentine Fruit Snacks were for 'the little children in Poland'. They gladly received them!

Young Women: Sister Cielinska with Cindy and Kelly....a small but faithful group of Young Women who are working on their Personal Progress.

Emilie's mom 'sneaks' a picture during she REVERENTLY plays with a book. Good job, Emilie!

The Cielinskis are expecting another baby in June. One of our great families in Poland....and growing! Both President Cielinski and Agata served as missionaries in Poland. He serves so very well now as the Branch President, and Agata is a great support to him!

You might remember a few posts back, we visited AJ at his home; and he and his sisters put on a private recital for us. Here he is sharing his musical talents with the entire branch as he plays the hymns for church. He did a great job!

A view in the center of town. Wroclaw is actually built on a group of islands, and there are rivers that run through it.

You may remember the above picture from two weeks ago. This is what it looks like at 30 degress Fahrenheit. You may have heard that Poland has been hit with some really COLD weather. The SAME view at -4 degrees Fahrenheit...

What a difference a few degrees make and a whole bunch of ICE. It is cold!

As we were making our way to Katowice, we started seeing some snow. The southern part of the country gets much more snow than where we live.

We are driving into Katowice at the end of the day. It has been a great weekend and Sunday in Wroclaw. As we come into Katowice there are coals mines everywhere, but the city air is somewhat clear today.

A familiar site in Katowice the sports areana. Elder Niemann will remember this.

Our Senior Couple in Katowice, Elder and Sister McGrath, were nice and invited us over for dinner. After being on the road and traveling it was so nice to have a delicious dinner with these wonderful people. Like some of our other Senior Couples, Elder McGrath serves as the Branch President in Katowice. Sister McGrath serves as the Relief Society President and 'all-around counselor" in everything else. We love our Senior Couples! They can make such a big difference in the cities where they are assigned.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lodz Branch Conference 19 Feb 2012

It was Branch Conference today in Lodz. Before the meetings began, the Relief Society Sisters gathered to put together a light luncheon for all the members afterwards. It was a real 'team effort' and everyone helped.
Magda and Wioletta, two great sisters who can do everything....especially translate. Thank you both for MANY faithful hours of service.
The Elders (Kalinowski, Gladun, Szymanski and Basha) with our Aaronic Priesthood holder- Draman...a future missionary of the Lodz Branch!
The Lodz Branch Choir: These Polish Saints sounded wonderful! Elder Kalinowski did a great job as the choir director. It is amazing the talents you develop in so many areas when you are on a mission. This is a great branch. Sister Soo in the front was at the temple a few weeks ago and her smile is still a bright as ever.

Sebastian and Dominika. Sebastian is one of the newest member in the Branch. He was baptized the end of January. He is a great addition to the Lodz Branch. We love and appreciate his strong testimony.
Sister Ellis and Sister Jones with Teresa, her son Ramuald and granddaughter, Pamela. Teresa is actually the newest member of the Lodz Branch...having been baptized just days ago.
The Lodz Branch Relief Society Presidency...Mirka, Maria (President) and Wioletta. These Sisters each spoke today in Conference. What a great love they all have for the sisters in their Branch. They are leading by example as they serve so diligently. Thank you, Sisters, for your
dedicated service. You are making a difference!
After a long day, Elder Tarasevich, our Branch President in Lodz signals that is was a successful Sunday. He and Sister Tarasevich are wonderful in their callings. This is a great branch, and everyone is serving and contributing. We had such a nice time visiting with the members and missionaries alike. Lodz is doing well!