Friday, March 30, 2012

Senior Missionary Couples departing-

Elder and Sister Richards are heading home to Las Vegas. We have known this great couple for many years. They moved into our ward when President Nielson was serving as Bishop. We have served side by side in the stake, at the temple and shared many tender moments together. This chapter of our lives involving Poland started two years ago. President and I had just received our call to Poland, and we all went out to dinner in Las Vegas at our favorite Mexican food restaurant. We discussed about how fun it would be to serve together on a mission. One thing lead to another, they submitted their mission papers and the Lord called them to the Poland Warsaw Mission, too. Now two years later and 18 months in Poland, Elder and Sister Richards are returning to our beloved Lakes Stake and all the great members there. So on our last night together, we decided to go to the best Mexican Restaurant we have found. (Not many to choose from here in Warsaw!)

We had a great night talking about the past, the present, all the wonderful friends we have made in Poland, the greatest missionaries- young and senior in the Church and some of the best members in the world. We also talked about the future and good times ahead.

Back in the Mission Home, it was time to "leave something behind" for us to remember Sister Richards by...

... and "something to remember" Elder Richards by, also.

We will miss this great couple who served in the Mission Office, the YSA Center in Warsaw, as the Branch President in Warsaw and most recently the Branch President in Poznan.

At the airport is was a rather easy day. No real incidents to report. They had the best travel plans of anyone we have taken to the airport. Leave at 12:00noon, a short transfer in London and non-stop to Las Vegas and arrive at 6:45pm Vegas time. Wow! They will meet with President Ringer tonight while President Teshima is at General Conference sitting in the seats real close to the front on the floor of the Conference Center. (He always gets the really great seats!) Good-bye, Richards! We love you! Thank you for serving side by side with us!

Twenty four hours earlier, Elder and Sister Simons, who served in Seminary and Institute, have been reassigned to the London South Mission. Elder Simons served in that area many years ago as a young Elder.
Before they departed, we wanted them to "leave something behind" for everyone who comes to the mission home to remember them by...first Sister Simons and then Elder Simons.

This was a special tie that Elder Simons was leaving behind.
We wish them all the best and know the Lord guides His missionaries to where He needs them. There are no coincidences, and they will be in England for many reasons. They will continue to serve and be great missionaries. We love you both.

The Senior Missionaries in Poland are fabulous. They are so dedicated and gifted. They serve in so many ways and assist the work as only wise and experienced members of the Church can. President and I have been blessed by being around these great servants of the Lord. We love them as our younger missionaries. What could be better in life than to serve a mission with so many wonderful people?!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday in Warsaw...March 27, 2012

Tuesday throughout Poland is District Meeting day where the Missionaries gather in their Districts to be instucted as to how to teach the gospel more effectively. Today, we found ourselves visiting Warsaw II District. (LtoR): Elder and Sister Jensen, Sister Peck, Dominik-leaving May 1st for the Washington Tacoma Mission, Elders Murphey, Tanner, Siebert (District Leader), Pofelski; Sisters Mann and Forsey. A great group of Missionaries!

Elder Siebert (right) was well prepared with his lesson which was on helping Investigators realize the importance of prayer in their conversion. Of course, any good District Meeting has plenty of opportunity to....

...Role Play...or 'Real Play' as we like to call it. Here Elders Tanner and Murphey are teaching our more than willing Investigator, Dominik the steps of prayer. Two and 1/2 years ago, Dominik was a REAL Investigator being taught by Missionaries.

Elder Pofelski "real plays" with Sisters Mann and Forsey as they go through the steps of prayer with him.

After District Meetings, I had a very important meeting with someone myself....

Ania Jagard (2 1/2) and I were celebrating 'Ania didn't have to have heart surgery today'! She was scheduled to have a hole closed in her heart on this day; but after going in for her final checkup, the doctor said that it wasn't necessary. Hurray! What better event to celebrate! It was not only a great day for Ania but for her parents as well! What a great blessing from Heavenly Father.

We finished up the day with going to Warsaw's YSA Family Home Evening and Institute class. That is always a great way to end a night. Tonight was special, however. We were saying 'good-bye' to Dorota who is moving to the Netherlands for work. She gave a wonderful FHE lesson tonight on the importance of families and being with them forever. Dorota...always remember that you are a member of the YSA family here in Warsaw. We love you and wish you much success! (LtoR): Top Row: Michol, Marta, Dorota, Sister Mann, Dominik, Patricia, Katie. Sitting: Kamil, Kinga, Sister and Elder Jensen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Night in Warsaw l, March 26, 2012

Yesterday in Church at the Warsaw I Branch, Jonathan Jagard was sustained as the new Branch President. President Zielonka was released, and we thank him for the marvelous work he did while serving. Tonight we met at the Wolska Chapel to set apart President Jagard. With us were (L to R): Mateusz Turek here on training from CES, President Dresler, Liz and President Jagard. Not only did the Warsaw I Branch get a new Branch President on Sunday, but Rafal and Agnieszka blessed their beautiful baby girl, Maria. What a wonderful event, and I was so sad to miss it. But as you can see, Maria has a set of very proud parents. How fortunate she is to be able to be raised with the gospel in her life. The church in Poland is a very small world! These two brethren were good friends growing up in the church in Wroclaw. Neither of them knew that the other one was in Warsaw today. Mateusz (left)will be coming to Poland to train and instruct our Seminary and Institute teachers. He is in town for two days and was talking to President about his good friend Michol (right) who he had not seen in years. President figured out that his friend Michol is currently the Institute instructor for the YSA's in Warsaw. They will be working together to strengthen the testimonies of the great young people we have in the church here.Our Monday night continues.... Family Home Evening for the Single Adults. Elder Jensen (kneeling) gave a wonderful lesson on preparing ourselves to hear the messages from our Apostles and Prophet this weekend....AKA: General Conference. Here members and Investigators met to discuss how we all have 24 hours in our day; but if we don't make time for the spiritual things in their lives, our 'spiritual roots' will be very shallow. These 'spiritual roots' need to be deeply planted in the gospel soil, so we can withstand the challenges of life. A great lesson with lots of participation! Elder and Sister Peck do a great job with the Singles. For those of you who have followed the 'progress' of the 'leaking pipes in the Wolska Chapel, this is what it looks like today. The ceiling and the foyer have never looked better. We are 'back in business'! Thank you to those who watched over this enormous task! Sisters Jagard, Peck, Katie, Garcia and Sheahan. On the way home from the Wolska Chapel, we looked across the Wisla River and saw the Soccer Stadium all lit up. It was stunning! The Euro games start in June, and Warsaw is ready. Well, the STADIUM is ready. We still have high hopes for the roads leading into Warsaw!Down by the Stadium is this beautifully lit but simple bridge. I love how it lights up the River. Warsaw is almost magical at night. We are heading back to the Mission Home, but will start early the next morning. Mission life is NOT a life of leisure, but it is a GREAT LIFE! We are both grateful to be a part of building the church in Poland alongside some great Missionaries and outstanding Members!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bydgoszcz in the Spring....March 25, 2012

The weather is warming up and everything is starting to bloom. We were in Bydgoszcz this weekend for several temple interviews and to visit the Branch. We arrived before President had to start his interviews, so we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go on a walk. What better place to walk to than down the Bdra River to the Old Town. The Opera House is straight in front of us. As we got closer, we saw a familiar sight... The balancing statue is back! The last time time we were in Bydgoszcz, it had been taken down to be refurbished and cleaned. Today, an added attraction...a large branch is caught between the bird and the tightwire. I don't envy the guy that has to retrieve that. This statue glistened in the sunlight! It is mesmerizing to watch it sway in the breeze. It was unveiled on May 1, 2004...the day Poland joined the European Union. It is designed so it's center of mass is below the wire which prevents the 50 kilogram statue from flipping! It is worth the trip to Bydgoszcz to see this cool statue.
Close to the statue, across from the Opera House is the bridge that President Nielson and I put our 'lock' on....We walked by to see if we could still find it; and after 15 minutes of searching, we finally did. (See Blog Post Nov. 13, 2011 for details!) Bydgoszcz is FULL of one way streets. It can be frustrating at times when you know where you want to go, but can't find a street that you can drive down. The above is an example of a typical one way street....shared with a tramvaj. In the busiest intersection in this great city are these tunnels leading down to underground walkways for pedestrians. I think they look like giant catapillars. You can cross the streets underground and avoid the traffic above.
Saturday night was spent holding temple interviews.
Sunday morning we were at the church early....but there was one family we didn't beat there! We were met by Kornilia and her two great kids, Weronika and Konrad. Their family is too big for their car, so every Sunday these 3 get up early to catch a 7 am. bus from Torun where they live to Bydgoszcz to meet the rest of the family who drives to church in their car. And they are faithful attenders! As we walked up the steps to the church, we were met by Artur their father. He was there with their other children to greet everyone.
Artur and Kornilia were there for temple recommend interviews. A very big family in Poland was the first to arrive...all seated and ready for church to begin! Way to go! I had a special surprise for those who came early to church today...American Gold Fish Crackers. This is probably the #2 treat that American moms bring to church to help keep their kids quiet...the first being Cheerios! These Polish kids had never had a 'fishy cracker', and they were excited to try them. (The rest of the box is in the Primary room cupboard. Emergency stash!) Shown above: Alicja, Adam, Denis, Ola (faking asleep!), Weronika, Konrad, Daniel, Weronika and Emilia. Emilia and Ola (now awake!) couldn't wait for church.....they found a comfortable (?) seat at the coat rack and started snacking! Jerzy taught the Gospel Doctrine class. Our lesson was on The Doctrine of Christ, 2 Nephi 31. He gave a great lesson. PRIESTHOOD MEETING: Is this a great sight, or what? This is the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood combined. What a powerful group! Bydgoszcz has the largest Aaronic Priesthood in the church in Poland. I see lots of future missionaries! Andrzej is the Elders Quorum President and did a great job teaching fathers how they can raise their daughters. Answer? Love their mothers! It was taken from an October 2011 General Conference talk by Sister Dalton, the Young Women General President. You cannot visit the Bydgoszcz Branch and NOT visit the Primary. What a great group of kids. Ewa (gold sweater) is the Primary President and all the kids love her. Today, Weronika...(on Ewa's right) taught a lesson on 'Everyone is Different'.Relief Society: The Relief Society combined with the Young Women today for the first part of the meeting. What a wonderful group of Sisters we have that belong to this great organization (or will belong someday!). There is always a good feeling when the Sisters gather. We have an anniversary! Marek was baptized into the church 1 year ago. Here he is with Elders Hooker and Sorn and his Branch President, President Isaac.
The Bydgoszcz Branch....well, some of them outside on the front steps of the church building. This Branch is like a 'mini-ward'. They have all programs in the church functioning well. We love visiting the Saints in Bydgoszcz. Many had left before I could get a picture but this was a great day with all of the wonderful members and investigators.

Polish Names brought to Church Headquarters...March 2012.

A few weeks ago, a group of people who love Poland got together to present a very special gift to our prophet, President Monson. It was a special wood box that contained over 10,000 names of people of Polish ancestry that had been entered in the New FamilySearch program starting from January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011. Many of the family names submitted have already had temple work done for them this year. Accompanying former missionaries and Ada who is attending BYU was Brother Fussek. He and his wife were sent to Poland in the 80's to prepare the way so a mission could be established in this country. (L to R): Ada Jarosz, Carson Garrett, Will Plumb, BJ Hobbs, Brother Fussek, Andrew Darowski, Stewart Tribe, Angela Smith.
Magda and Sister Sheets headed this project with the help of many members throughout the country. They are shown above with the hand carved box that a copy of the names were placed in.

A close-up view of the box shows a carving of the Frieberg, Germany Temple, the temple the Polish people attend. It was hand carved by a local wood carver here in Poland.

The inside of the box revealing the list of the 10,000+ names and a letter to the Prophet. Much work has gone into gathering these many names....even some of our non-member patrons of the Family History Center helped. Missionaries were able to teach them why we do temple work and we were given permission to do the work for their family members. It was a great effort on everyone's part.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

'Red Group' Training March 20 & 21, 2012

These eight Elders are part of the "Red Group". Elder Hillyard is holding a drawing with the other members of this group as they started out in the MTC all together. Sisters Bailey and Allen (you can tell by the drawing which is which), have been released and are home; Elder Oborn was assigned to Chicago and is serving there now. We called them the "Red Group" because their missionary cards for President's Transfer board are in Red Cardstock. (L to R): Elders Ball, Sheridan, Hillyard, Lundin, Kennedy, Curtis, Kalinowski and Murphey. One hour after the Leadership Training Meeting finished, we started another Training Meeting for these Elders. This group came into the MTC the same day President and I did...June 23, 2010. We all met at the MTC and they are our 'original missionaries'. We brought this group in for special instructions and assignments that followed. We started their meeting at 4:00pm, followed by dinner and more training and a late testimony meeting.They walked over to the mission home for dinner after instruction. It seemed like a few weeks ago that they were all arriving in Poland at the start of their missions. We enjoyed the evening, established goals and got ready for their last big 'sprint to the finish'. This is a great group of missionaries who will accomplish miracles in the next few months. Early the next morning, a few of them were up and went for a jog around the beautiful area where the mission home is located. I am not sure where the other four are... ...they were back preparing for breakfast before their return to their assigned cities. They all know their way around the kitchen and as always were a big help. As they are leaving they had prepared their own "Title of Liberty" and contract to finish strong to the end. They had committed to not give up or give anything less than 100% to the work. They all signed it and presented it to President. They also have some other things they promised to do and to keep. Eight totally different personalities and unique men. Eight talented and gifted missinaries who will serve faithfully and valiantly all their days in Poland. The beauty of the gospel and the mission is seeing them come together, be united in this great work and become close in caring and supporting each other and others. It was a great 18 hours with these special missionaries.