Saturday, June 30, 2012

Senior Training Meeting....Lodz. June 2012

This last weekend we gathered our great Senior Missionaries together for a Senior Training Lodz! Why Lodz? This city is located in the middle of Poland and was a centralized location...perfect for training. (LtoR): Elder and Sister Reed (Poznan); Elder and Sister Jensen (Warsaw), Elder and Sister Tarasevich (Lodz), Elder and Sister Peck (Office Couple-Warsaw), Elder and Sister Sheley (Wroclaw) and Elder and Sister McGrath (Katowice). We love and appreciate EACH of these couples for their countless, tireless service to building the kingdom here in Poland. We have the BEST Senior Missionaries in the world! Each couple had a topic of training they were to present. The Taraseviches were going over the differences of 'Shepherding vs. Herding' when it comes to helping members in their church responsibilities.Using a 'visual', Elder and Sister Jensen explained the importance of helping our YSA's have 'deep roots' in the gospel to help them throughout their lives.

Elder and Sister Reed taught the importance of this builds our branches. When Members (and even Missionaries) realize what a testimony is, how you can attain one, why you need one and what you can become with one, the church is strengthened and we have 'real growth'.
The Sheleys teaching the need to 'Serve with all your heart'...All presentations were marvelous and well prepared. Like I said, we have fabulous, talented, hard working, faithful and devoted Senior Missionaries to help love and support not only our members/investigators but our missionaries as well. Our 'Parent/Child' English class was introduced....with visuals and manipulatives neatly organized in a folder. This 9 week class will be taught on Saturdays by our junior Sister Missionaries in cities where there is a Senior Sister to oversee the program. We are anxious to see what a great 'finding tool' this will be in introducing the gospel to families. A birthday! Over the weekend, Sister Peck celebrated her birthday with us. Did you know that if a Senior Missionary has a birthday on a mission, it doesn't count towards how old you are? ;)
(Motivation to go out and serve!) With a day full of instruction, the Senior Missionaries were getting restless....hungry to be exact! As we took off for the restaurant, we ran into this! The main roads were being shut down for hundreds of bikers who were riding for a charity. We finally left the drivers in the cars as we ran to Piotrkowska Street to catch a.... Pedi-cab! Ulica Piotrkowska has claim to being Europe's longest pedestrian street. Here the
McGraths are enjoying themselves while taking in the sites of this beautiful street. Followed by the Pecks! Elder Peck's camera was kept busy as they were taking in all the monuments, street statues and more that is found on this delightful street!
Gathering everyone at the restaurant... ...we ordered 'troughs' (literally)of delicious polish meats, peirogi, vegetables.....Everyone had their fill! On the way back, President Nielson decided he needed to 'work off dinner' and made a 'deal' with this pedi-cab driver. So back to the parked car we went!
With some great training and great was time to take a short tour of what this city of Lodz had to offer. Every city in Poland was effected by the Nazi regime, and Lodz was no exception. It became the site of one of the first Jewish Ghettos in 1940, and because of the textile industry that was located there, was one of the last to close. Of the 230,00 Jews housed in this ghetto, just over 800 survived the war. This is Radegast Station, the train station where the Jews were shipped to the Nazi death camps. Each train car (these are original) was loaded with up to 100 persons not knowing that they only had hours left to live. Monuments showing the different death camps the Jews were shipped to. The size was determined by the number of persons that were sent to die at each camp.
There was a feeling of reverence for the people who suffered and died here...all could feel it. The next stop on our tour of Lodz was the 'Runoff Water Museum'. This underground oval-shaped water system was built in 1926. It was intended to drain the water away from the city. It was a storm drainage system that took the sediment out of the run off water and carried most of the water back to where it could be filtered. A section of it has been turned into a museum. It was cool....figuratively and literally. A nice break on a hot day! Our last stop...the Museam of Cinematography. With Warsaw being totally destroyed in WWII, the founders of the National Film School 'temporarily' moved to Lodz in 1948. It stayed and Lodz has been nicknamed: 'Hollylodz'. Many prominent Polish producers, directors, actors have graduated from this school. The museum is located in a 4-story mansion once owned by one of the wealthiest industrialist in Poland and houses equipment of early cinematography. Here we are with our guide, Agnieszka. It was a wonderful Training Seminar.....great presentations, great sharing of ideas and a great tour of a most-interesting city, Lodz. We love our Senior Missionaries and are thankful for each of them and the talents and abilities they bring to the mission. A special 'Thank you' to the Taraseviches for planning the wonderful tour. It was MUCH appreciated. We love you all!
Every couple needs to serve a will change your life AND the lives of others! The gospel is true. Come share your testimonies with those that need you. You won't be sorry! Have your family help you, set a date, talk with your Bishop and keep exercising (faith, prayers and your body). You are needed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Warsaw II District Meeting....and the 'Dobra Strona' newsletter.

New faces in the Warsaw II District. We met this morning and reviewed lesson 4: "Revelation through the Book of Mormon". Elder and Sister Peck came in from the office next door and Sisters Holmgren and Forsey, Elders Szymanski, Kennedy and Pofelski from their Areas. Elders Dopp and Gudnason are our Office Elders, and they have a busy day. You'll see why soon.Elder Pofelski is the new District Leader. This was his first lesson in this assignment. He did a great job. He had everything prepared and lead a great discussion. He also left plenty of time for......Role Play! Here the Elders are teaching the Sisters the value of the Book of Mormon and why it is important to read the Introduction that explains what this great book is all about. After their discussion it was time to change.
Elders Szymanski and Kennedy (who has extended his mission for three weeks--the first week working with the Warsaw II Elders) also teach Sister Peck about why the Book of Mormon is your most valuable resource (besides the Spirit) in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is truly Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
After the District Meeting, everyone quickly left to get to work...that of preaching the gospel. The office had some other important business that needed attention.The monthly newletter, The Dobra Strona, was being finished and corrected so it could be printed and mailed out. This month we featured Krakow on the cover with 6 miracles stories, Standard of Excellence accomplishments, pictures, articles, calendaring items, birthdays, Polish language tips, office business helps, photos of arriving/departing missionaries and those baptized since our last publication. Elders Gudnason and Dopp made the deadline, and we can relax for another month... WHEW! A job well done!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Former Assistants then and now...

Here are three former Assistants with a great soon-to-be missionary, Elder Lanham. They were all at church for Elder Hillyard's homecoming. We welcome Elder Lanham who will be reporting to the MTC August 22. We look forward to meeting you. Please know that you are in our prayers now. Now....FLASHBACK! November 2011 Chopin Airport, Warsaw, Poland. Last November two Assistants (Hillyard and Dabrowski-far ends) were saying good-bye to their trainers and former Assistants (Garrett and Eastman-middle). Seven months later... was one happy reunion as these 4 met up again with the return of Elder Hillyard. Even though they have lost the suits, white shirts and name badges, they still look great! We love ALL our Missionaries ....past, present.......AND future! They all are special. I have always wanted a great big family....and now we have one!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Branch Presidency Called in Bydgoszcz

A new Branch Presidency was sustained in Bydgoszcz. President Zalewski and his two counselors, Brother Wencel (first counselor) and Brother Kagele (second counselor). We enjoyed a wonderful Sunday with this great branch.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Red Group and Three Great Sisters depart...

As excited as we are to receive new missionaries in the mission, we know that we will be losing some of our best. And here they are (LtoR): Sisters McAdams, Garcia and Mann; Elders Sheridan, Hillyard, Ball, Kalinowski, Lundin, Murphey and Curtis.

This is the largest group that has wanted to do a little 'pottery shopping' before leaving Poland. So before dinner, it was off to my favorite pottery shop. Some very lucky moms are in for some very nice surprises! You cannot have enough Polish Pottery, it is the best. Now, back to the mission home.
With such a large group going home, it's important that suitcases are organized and weighed, junk is thrown out and the good stuff given to me to clean and distribute.
Our great Sisters have everything under control. Everything upstairs was neat and orderly. Our Elders...
...decided that the most important use of THEIR time was to make sure the Assistants were grilling the hamburgers, chicken and hot dogs just right! Elder Kennedy is also in the Red Group but will be extending his mission for another three weeks. So his departure will be July 11. But tonight, as we have transfers tomorrow, he was with his MTC group and is a big part of this. Later, when reality hit...
...the downstairs looked like a bomb had gone off! Hopefully, everyone will get their own stuff in their own suitcases! They also bought lots of ties at Adams. But what to do with all this stuff?

Sitting down for our last meal old fashioned grill (per request!)
After interviews with the President and a great testimony meeting, it was on to a tradition.

Everyone leaves something of themselves for us to remember. Sister McAdams was first to leave a piece of a favorite sweater.

Sister Mann left a piece of a beautiful scarf...

...and Sister Garcia left a piece of a much worn skirt. Now it was our Elders' turn...

Elder Ball volunteered to be the first to leave a remembrance.

Elder Sheridan was second..

...with Elder Kalinowski being next. This was a tie someone gave him, and he felt it an honor to leave with us...

Some seemed a little hesitant to go through with Elder Lundin.

Elder Curtis bravely stepped forward... did Elder Murphey. This was a big night for him (later).

And lastly, came Elder Hillyard, a former Assistant, who had seen this done many times. An old pro.

What a great group of Missionaries. We will truly miss them. The Elders actually went into the MTC the same day as President and I did. We kid them that we have been out longer... having entered the MTC at 10:00am, and they came in at 12:00 noon. We started our missions together...and now, it's time for them to leave. BUT WAIT! We have some other business to go over! The first night these Elders came into the Mission Home, someone had a confession.

SOMEONE had brought a piece of their 'blankie' with them on their mission. Twenty two months ago a vote was taken to 'leave the blankie in Poland' at the end of his mission. Tonight, another vote was taken to send the Elder home with his 'blankie' or leave it here. "The 'blankie' stays in Poland" was the majority vote! The Elder who will humbly leave his blanket of 21 years behind is...

Elder Murphey! Here he is 'properly' disposing of 'blankie'. President is there for always.

'Blankie' did not go without a fight! The thing burned and burned. Elder Murphey held up quite well under the circumstances! Afterwards, we put everyone to bed. Tomorrow would be a big day.

This morning I got up early to go downstairs to start breakfast for this crew. This is what I saw..

All my 'green' ties had been changed to RED! (This group of missionaries is called the Red Group because that is the color of their missionary cards on President's Transfer board.)

President and 'the red group'. A group of great, hard working Elders.....FULL of personality! Seated (L to R)- Elders Hillyard, Sheridan, Kennedy, Curtis. Standing- Elders Murphey, Lundin (whose flight was canceled in London, had to stay the night and will arrive in Las Vegas a day later), Kalinowski and Ball.

After breakfast, we said 'good-bye' to Sister McGrath who had graciously come to help me through these last two very hectic days. Thank you again, Sister McGrath, for all you did. I couldn't have made it without you!

The Assistants arrived right on time to load the transporter ..... and 2 other cars.

Elder Hillyard, having given it his all, making his way to a car with the aid of a cane. (The cool cane is a gift for his dad!) Handcarved from Krakow! (We are worried about it making it through security).

Cars are loaded, prayer has been said and one last picture of the group at the Mission Home.

At the Airport: With everyone's bags checked (at the proper weight!) we stopped for one last picture with these phenomenol Missionaries. They raised the bar in Missionary work in Poland. We love these missionaries and will follow all they do for the rest of their lives. They are part of our family, and we thank them so very much!! It's always the hardest thing that President and I do- to wave good bye as they make it through security. Then we have the long walk alone back to the car in the parking lot. It's not a fun thing.

But this morning around 7:00am President got an email from two of our great former missionaries...Stash and Carson. They wanted to Skype. So we talked to them for a few minutes and a flood of great memories came back. This was a joy! They are waiting to see some of the great missionaries we put on the plane a few hours ago. We had so much fun talking with these great men! Don't they look terrific! These two are examples of what great missionaries are in the Poland Warsaw Mission!!

We love this Mission. We love our missionaries. We love this work, and we could not be doing anything better than serving a mission. If you want the experience of a lifetime...go serve. Go wherever they call you and do whatever they ask you to do. Just serve and the Lord will place you where you should be and what He wants you to be doing.