Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The YSA's head to the Regional Conference in Hungary!

Monday night...YSA's from around the central/northern parts of Poland start gathering at the Wolska chapel. A bus is starting from Warsaw and traveling to Katowice to pick up the rest of our YSA's there....and then it's on to Hungary for the Young Single Adult annual regional conference. Pictured above: Marta (Warsaw), Adam (Katowice) who is on his way home from a vacation in Gdansk and met the train in Warsaw, Sebastian (Lodz), Dominika (Lodz), Agnieszka (Warsaw) and Magda (Lodz).
'Lublin' showed up with Cody and Jasmine representing that great Branch. Cody is the Branch President there and does a great job.
'Bydgoszcz' was well represented with Kyle, Otis, Ewa and Oskar.
Michol (new convert), Martyna and Gracja from the Kielce Branch.
The bus rolled in, Marta-our Warsaw YSA President, started directing traffic!
Our YSA's have got a long trip ahead of them....but they are excited none the less! Everyone quickly shoves their luggage under the bus and boards. On the road to Katowice to pick up the rest of the group!
We made it to Katowice by 11:30 pm. and got (most!) everyone together for one group picture before boarding the bus again...this time for Hungary. This year we have 31 Polish YSA's attending the conference. They are excited and ready to meet new people and be 'spiritually' fed with all the great classes and fun activities that await them. GO POLAND!
On the bus (again!)...this time for the night. When they wake up, they will be in Hungary and ready to have a blast for the next few days! Meanwhile....
We had an opportunity to visit with two of our great YSA couples....the Jensens (left) who run the YSA Center in Warsaw and the McGraths (right) who run the YSA Center in Katowice. We thank these two couples for all they do to help strengthen these young single adults in the church. They truly are mentors and are having a great positive influence on these young lives.
Having rode the bus down with the YSA's...we and the Jensens hopped on a train in Katowice to get back to Warsaw. Yes, the train station is still very torn up...but they ARE making progress. When finished, the Katowice train station will be wonderful! We can't wait! AND we can't wait to hear how the YSA conference went .... good things are happening all over this country! We love serving here in Poland!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday in Kielce...

After traveling all week for interviews, we ended up in Kielce. President needed to interview the great missionaries serving there, AND it is always a wonderful Branch in which to attend church.

Elders Jespersen and Vreeken are teaching many new investigators. Having just had a baptism and with some investigators with baptismal dates, they are keeping very busy!

Unfortunately, several people left before I was able to get a picture of them. But here are a few of the great members/investigators of the Kielce Branch:

First the Relief Society: Anja (who gave a great Sunday School lesson today on families), Martyna and Ella.

The Priesthood: President Najberg (Branch President), the Elders and Martyn-a member who has recently moved back to Poland from the Czech Republic.

There is always such a great spirit in this Branch. Not only is it filled with great members and investigators, but it also enables President Nielson to practice some Polish. Be watching for a new meeting place....it is coming soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On to Lodz...District Meeting and Interviews. 25 July 2012

Having almost interviewed most of our missionaries, we end this part of the trip in the great city of Lodz. There President was able to not only interview these great missionaries, but attend a District Meeting AND English class. Here are the missionaries of the Lodz District: Sisters Smithee and Masters. Two hard working Sisters such as these deserved a special little treat....how about some Princess cookies? They were delighted! Both are doing great with the language and in teaching. They have great desires to work and be contacting everyone. Elders Tiner and Tanner. They refer to themselves as "Las Vegas in the Boat". Both are from Las Vegas and Lodz means "boat' in Polish. These are tremendous missionaries. They called last night to let President know that have another investigator with a baptismal date. Elders Johnson (District Leader) and Roberts. Both of these Elders are doing a great job in Lodz. Elder Johnson leads great district meetings and is supported by his companion Elder Roberts. They serve well together and we have seen amazing growth in both of these missionaries. President with Elder Tarasevich who serves as the Branch President in Lodz. They are shown with Elder Johnson, the Branch translator, and the new translation system they received a while back. We have several members of the Branch who speak English and this has been so helpful! This is like the one we use in Warsaw I. We ordered this about a year ago and its good to see it finally arrived. After District Meeting and lunch, it was time to 'hit the streets'. Sebastian has some extra time today to help with street boarding. (LtoR): Elders Myler (Assistant) and Johnson, Sebastian, Elders Roberts and Basha (Assistant). The Assistants are in Lodz to do a mini-exchange with these good Elders. What makes YOU happy? The question the missionaries used today for an effective 'whiteboard' on the street. After having talked with many people, passing out copies of the Book of Mormon and setting up a few appointments, Elders Myler and Johnson head back to the chapel. It's Wednesday in the mission. What does that mean??? English classes start soon! Sisters Masters and Smithee show the sign-up sheets for Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced English. These classes start in the late afternoon (4:00pm) so our missionaries can be out on the streets during prime contacting hours (6-9:00 pm in the summer). The revised classes all across the country have been a huge success and a more effective 'finding tool' for those seeking truth. The Advanced English class today is taught by Elders Tanner and Tiner. The people attending this class speak quite well but want to improve vocabulary, comprehension and pronunciation. What better way to learn than to use the Liahona as their 9-week textbook? Reading stories, finding new vocabulary words and phrases are effectively taught as we 'preach the gospel' during the entire class period. Our students are loving this class and many are being taught by our missionaries in addition to the English class. The Beginning English class was taught by Elders Roberts and Johnson. Lots of repetition and group participation is involved here. But of course, it begins and ends with prayer and a spiritual thought....again remembering the real reason we teach english in Poland...."to bring others to Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ". PMG p.1 'My Purpose' I couldn't help myself. We have 4 missionaries in Poland serving from our hometown of Las Vegas, and we were all in Lodz... together. Of course, I had to take a picture! Our hearts may be in Poland, but 'Home Means Nevada' ! (State song we all learned in Elementary school!) Elder Tiner and Elder Tanner ...with us! -------------More Las Vegas in the Boat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bydgoszcz Zone District Leader Training and Interviews

We arrived at the Bydgoszcz chapel early to start interviews. Coming up the street were our "traveling Assistants" who stayed with the Bydgoszcz Zone Leaders last night. It was a beautiful day and yet we knew it was going to be a warm one also. The Elders got things set up for our District Leader Training meeting as well and then everyone started showing up...First came Elders Gladun (Bydgoszcz District Leader) and Hannemann. They live close by and also arrived early as they were being interiviewed before the training started.Then Elders Skolmoski and Sorn from Poznan arrived. Even though we had just seen these two at a great baptism just two days before, Elder Sorn, the District Leader in Poznan had come for the training.Elders Klosowiak and Hayes arrived from Gdansk. Elder Klosowiak is the District Leader, and they were both interviewed after the training. This entire Zone is leading the mission in lessons, baptisms and doing so many great things.While the District Leaders were in their training meeting, their companions went out teaching and contacting. They are stamping their pass along cards with the address and information of the Bydgoszcz Elders. These three went out for two hours and had great success talking with everyone. These are three terrific missionaries. (Elders Hannemann, Hayes, Skolmoski)This training meeting was inspiring. Standing: Elders Gladun, Sorn, Myler and Basha. Seated: Elders Klosowiak, Hooker and Jensen. They set goals and made plans that will assist everyone in this great work. The Zone Leaders (Elders Hooker and Jensen) did a marvelous job with their training and discussion on what to do to help investigators better understand our great message.After a couple of hours of teaching on the streets, the three District Leaders' companions picked up lunch at our favorite mini-pizza place!It is always a treat to meet in Bydgoszcz with these tremendous missionaries. They have really been working hard and the results can be seen.The day is over and the Poznan Elders are off to the train, the Gdansk Elders had already departed as have the Bydgoszcz Elders. Elders Hooker and Jensen are now off to teach and contact. Another wonderful meeting. We are heading to Lodz for our 6th city in 6 days. We also have now interviewed 2/3 of the missionaries. This is really the greatest calling in the Church. We have the best missionaries in the Church alongside us. They do everything in their power to help invite someone to follow the Savior.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back to Poznan for District Meeting and Interviews!

It's Monday morning...a very busy day for Assistants...even on the road. Elders Myler and Basha arrive at the chapel before 9 am. Can you tell by the size of Elder Basha's suitcase that they have been on the road for a week now?

No matter where they are, numbers are important to collect and tally. The number of lessons taught, lessons with members attending, number of investigators attending Sacrament meeting, Books of Mormons placed, baptismal dates, etc. are all organized to be sent out to the President and then to the missionaries in their weekly email.

The Szczecin Elders have arrived for District Meeting in Poznan...along with Dagmara, a great member of that Branch. Dagmara and I have some errands to run today so we will not be in District Meeting.

Sister Folsom and Sister Allen are next to arrive. These great sisters are a wonderful companionship and are teaching some great investigators.

With District Meeting underway, the Assistants have got a special assignment. Two missionaries learning to speak Polish were sent to the England Leeds Mission in June. Elders Basha and Myler are having a Polish skype lesson to help them with learning this challenging language.

The Poznan District: Sisters Allen and Folsom; Elders Skolmoski, Sorn, Van Bakel and Berry.

For lunch break, we had a special treat...Magnum ice cream bars! Why?

Because Elder Van Bakel had a birthday a few days ago! After District Meeting, lunch and some contacting and teaching...

It was time to send the Szczecin leaders back home to their city.

Being a little worried that they would miss their train, Elders Van Bakel and Berry decided to 'cut' through a construction zone. They made it....by seconds!

Meanwhile, the Poznan Elders were on exchange with the Assistants. Elders Myler, Sorn(District Leader and Trainer), Basha and Skolmoski (Trainee) in front of the Poznan chapel. It was a great exchange.

Now it was time to get on the road again. We are headed to our next city, Bydgoszcz. A few surprises awaited us...Little did we know that we would be driving through Elder Myler's ancestors' home...

...Gniezno, a small city located near Poznan! What a surprise!

Elder Myler plans on returning to Poland with his family to Gniezno to search out ancestors. The church shown in the background will be somewhere they will go to find family birth and death records. Many churches will not give you information unless you come to them in person.

As we were traveling a two lane road, things were starting to look familiar to President and me.

Following the GPS, we were led to this small mansion tucked away in a forested area.

President and Elders Myler and Basha headed to the front door. But along the way, they were attacked by a huge swam of giant (carnivorous) gnats. It was the most amazing thing I have seen... and they have experienced. They were attacked! (If I had only been able to figure out the 'video' part of my camera!)

When they got to the front door the giant angry gnats left. It was like a cloud left. They knocked on the front door and a man yelled out from a window saying that the man we were looking for (a wood carver that President and I met some months ago) lived in the little shed close by. The woodcarver was going to make something special for us. Months later, we had not heard what was going on, so we went to find out...

This is our woodcarver friend sitting in front of 'a warrior' he was carving for a customer. President told him what we needed, Elder Myler did the translation and negotiating of price and it was a successful trip. Hopefully, he will carve what we want. We will find out in September. This was quite the experience for the Assistants and President. The carving will be 2 meters(6 feet) tall and we will take pictures when we pick it up. I don't know how President thinks he is going to get it home.... It was a fun day...full of a variety of experiences. Never a dull moment in Poland! We love it here!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Interview Trip continued...with a few surprises!

After a great Saturday, it was time to get down to the 'business' at hand.....interviewing the missionaries throughout the country. We had the opportunity to stay over in Wroclaw for church and meet with the missionaries there. The Wroclaw District: Sisters Young and Ence; Elder and Sister Sheley; Elders Marsing and Bode. We love and appreciate each of these missionaries. Each is working hard to bring the gospel to the Saints in Wroclaw. A special 'thanks' to the Sheleys. They have had their hands full with member and missionary needs....but those smiles have never left their faces! Senior couples are so critical and do SO MUCH GOOD out in the mission field. There are not better Senior Couples in the world than those serving in Poland! We love them all! This was a special Sunday for Marzena who was baptized yesterday. Today in church, she received the gift of the Holy Ghost to be a constant help to her throughout her life. Those participating in the ordinance were President Nielson, Brother Zan and Elder Sheley. This is Lucy's first time on the blog! Here she is shown with her mom, Agata, and big sister, Emilie. She was born the first week of June. Mom and baby are doing great! The Elders with Adam and Brother Klimek...two great priesthood brethren from the branch. Sister Ence and Sister Young had a great week...ending with their investigator, Marzena, getting baptized! Wioletta, Ula and Sister Malinowska....three great women who do so much for the branch and have been SO helpful to the Sister missionaries. They are warming up leftovers from last night's branch dinner to feed anyone who is hungry after church. They are shown with one of the new investigators, Stanislaw. Me and my #1 translator whenever I am in the Katowice District....Cindy! Cindy and her family will be moving to Las Vegas soon and will truly be missed here in Wroclaw. Palo Verde Ward, watch for her....she's darling! After church, the members like to sit and visit. Mariusz, Sister Sheley, Lucy and Tomek. This is a very family oriented branch. The members are very diverse....but love and accept each other like family....just as it should be! Saying 'good-bye' to the Wroclaw Branch....(LtoR): Eric (investigator), Marzena (new convert), the Sisters, the Sheleys and Lucy! We are on our way back to Poznan for interviews and District Meeting tomorrow. But first.....a few stops are on the schedule!About 25 km from the city, nestled in the forest is this 'hospital in the forest'. We are going to visit a very special member of the Wroclaw Branch. The Assistants are now traveling with us....but only President and I will be entering the hospital. President Cielenski has been hospitalized with TB....HE IS DOING GREAT! and receiving great medical care. He is in great spirits (anyone who knows him will not be surprised about this!), and the members of his branch are taking very good care of him. We wish him the best and pray that soon he will be able to return to his sweet wife and beautiful daughters.
It was great to see that President Cielenski is doing so well. He is loved by everyone. Now....it's back on the road for us..... Along the way, we saw this stork who had built his nest on top of a smoke stack! The storks are everywhere and their young are getting bigger. In September, they will start the trip back to Africa. I'm not sure if I have shown this bridge before....does that mean we have lived in Poland too long? But, the pink color was eye-catching....especially in the sunlight....so I tried to share it with you.
On the way from Wroclaw to Poznan (if you take a small detour) is a small town called Swiebodzin. We have been there before, but there is a really good reason to return. On a recent road trip taken by our Assistants, they went by this town making their way to Poznan. They were worried they were lost. Looking down, watching the map VERY closely, trying to figure out where they were...they forgot to look UP! It they had, they would have seen... ...this magnificent statue of the Savior. When they returned to Warsaw and told us where they had been but they weren't able to find the statue, we couldn't believe it. Let's see....watching the map but forgetting to look UP....hummmmmmmm I see a gospel principle in that experience! They were so sad when they realized that they were SO close but had missed it that President decided to surprise them with a second chance. Me and the Assistants at the base of the 'Christ the King' statue....to show you the size of the structure. (Yes, they felt a little 'sheepish' when they found out how close they had been, but missed it...especially when they saw the size of it!) Elder Basha and Elder Myler will not forget this day....it was a beautiful Sunday, a beautiful setting and great company. We appreciate all these good Elders do to help the mission. They work hard and are dedicated.
And what could be better than this? How about getting back in the car and receiving your favorite treat? For Elder Myler, it's a Kinder Joy egg; for Elder Basha, it's a KitKat! This day is 'journal entry' worthy for them! And it's back on the road.............