Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Branch Conference in Lodz! Sunday, February 24, 2013

Branch Conferences are starting, and Sunday we were able to attend one in Lodz. It is always nice to visit the saints there in this great city. Above is a picture of many of the members and investigators who attended that day. What a wonderful group of people to mingle with!
The Branch Presidency in Lodz:  President Poludnikiewicz (Center),  his Counselors and Executive Secretaries...Tim, Moosa, Elder Lloyd and Sebastian.
The Primary is always a fun place to be...lessons, games, puzzles....and snacks!
Draman is getting better and better on the piano .... a great skill to have when getting ready to go on a mission.
Irena being helped home by one of our great Investigators, Magda. The Lodz Branch is so good to take care of it's members.
Marcin, a new convert, just getting out of an interview with President Nielson. He was baptized in Poznan and recently moved to Lodz.  He is eager and ready to serve.
Dominika ALSO had an interview with the Mission President. Her mission papers are ready to go and will be turned in when President Nielson goes to Frankfurt for a Mission President's Seminar this week. (We will keep you posted where Dominika will be serving.)
Our missionaries serving in the Lodz Branch. (LtoR): Elders Skolmoski and Z. Smith, Sister and Elder Lloyd--our great Senior Couple who helps out with everything!, Elders J. Smith and Jespersen. We love and appreciate these great missionaries who are working so hard striving to bring the people of Lodz to Christ.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The rest of the Polish statue story...

Wood carvings are a popular souvenir to bring home from Poland. I figured that my life would not be complete until I found just the right one. After some investigating, I came across Marion Ulc...a well-known Polish wood sculptor...and loved his work.
Marion lives in a tiny village close to the city of Kielce where we have a Branch of the Church. He has been a wood sculptor for over 40 years and has had no formal art training. Here we met in his wood shop to talk about a special piece I wanted him to make for me. His son (black shirt) was kind enough to meet us there and translate.
This well-worn seat that had been used by Marion's father to make a living producing wood shingles has also been used by his talented son since his teens.
Marion has spent hundreds of hours creating his beautiful religious works of art.
Showing how these works of art take shape....starting with a block of wood and a pencil.
A piece, that is in the painting process, depicting the nativity. 
I was facsinated by Marion's paint bench.
A closer look and you can see the years and years of built-up paint ... which is in itself a work of art!
Let's get back to the story of MY 'vision' that I have come to ask Marion to create for me.
The beginnings of a Polish farmer with a bundle of wheat.  I asked Marion to create a man with a sickle  harvesting his wheat and carrying a copy of the Book of Mormon.  This represents a missionary teaching the gospel. (Section 4 in the Doctrine and Covenants)
The statue continues to take shape. Above, it is in the painting process. One thing that distinguishes pieces made by Mr. Ulc is the beeswax finish he gives all his creations.
Picking up my statue. I was thrilled with how it turned out. Thank you, Marion, for sharing your God-given talent with us!
Wrapping up the statue, getting it ready to take back to the Mission Home.
Finding the perfect spot for my statue...."the field is white already to harvest"! This is actually the second wooden statue to be placed in the Mission Home. Do you remember the first?  President found Antoni, his wood sculptor, who lives in the forest by Bydgoszcz.  He made the same request as I did.  Describing a man with a sickle, harvesting the wheat and carrying a copy of the Book of Mormon.
President Nielson's birthday party....September 2012. 'Marcin the Missionary' was the birthday surprise....compliments of 2 great Assistants, Elders Basha and Jensen. (You will have to check older blog posts to get the full story of this unique statue.)
It took many Elders to move Marcin to his new place in the Mission Home! But Marcin came with a few surprises......
Several weeks later, we had to cover him with plastic as we replaced the windows in the Mission Home. When we removed the plastic....We found we had our own private 'mushroom farm'!  They actually grew to be about twice this size...
Mushrooms were growing out of Marcin ... everywhere! 
My statue looks better and better each time I walk past it. I can't wait to take 'Marion' home and place it in a perfect spot in our house in Las Vegas.     (President Nielson isn't talking about his!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baptism in Krakow!

This past weekend Slawek was baptized in Krakow by President Dziubla.  He was taught the gospel by Elders Szymanski and Stockford (and Elder Godwin who was just tranferred to Szczecin). This is a wonderful man who will add to the great spirit in the Krakow Branch.  The highlight of our mission is to witness the mighty change of heart as one receives and accepts the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Welcome Slawek to the Kosciol Jezusa Chrystusa Swietych w Dniach Ostatnich.

A new Granddaughter joins our family!

Welcome to the family! Yes, we have added another granddaughter to our group of very cute and talented :) grandchildren! Her name is Cooper, and she was warmly welcomed by her older sister and brother on February 22.  Mother and baby are doing great.....Dad looks a little tired, though.
We look forward to being able to hold her in person....but for now, thank heavens for Skype! We are grateful for our family, and to Heavenly Father for blessing them while we are in His service.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our departing Missionaries leave for home....:(

After seeing our new missionaries off this morning to their new cities and with their new trainers, we were ready this afternoon for our departing missionaries to arrive.  We took them to Saski Park to the spot where President Kimball dedicated Poland for the Preaching of the Gospel. It is still hard to believe that Sisters Sheahan and Forsey along with Elders Rogers, Jensen and Gladun are going home-  We just met them last week when they arrived...(or so it seems!)
First to participate in 'leaving something behind' for all of us to remember him was Elder Gladun. 
Elder Rogers was next.....
...and he was followed by one of our Assistants, Elder Jensen.
Sister Sheahan left behind a piece of a much worn scarf.... did Sister Forsey.
ALL these Missionaries will be greatly missed.They have contributed so much to the mission and have helped pass on 'righteous traditions' of the Poland Warsaw Mission.  We love them all so very much.
As I was cleaning up the kitchen, Elder Jensen walked in and said...."Can I take out the trash for you, Sister Nielson?" ...a phrase I had heard him say so many times. As a former Assistant, this good Elder had made his share of trips to the trash bin! I HAD to take a picture of his last trip.
At the airport the next morning...5:00am. As you can see, it was calm and quiet. We said our 'good-byes' to this great group of Missionaries whom we will love and care about throughout eternity. (That's just what happens in this calling!) We wish you all the best...Keep the mission in your prayers. Once a missionary always a missionary.   Elders Gladun, Rogers, Jensen; Sisters Forsey and Sheahan.  This was a rather uneventful trip to the airport.  Things went smoothly.  As we drove back to the mission home we told Elder Gladun of the many episodes of our airport experiences and how there is always something funny or memorable with each trip.  But not much this morning.
President, myself and Elder Gladun walked into the Mission Home when we received a phone call from the airport...
...someone had forgotten their suit coat in the closet downstairs. So...It was back to the airport to deliver the goods!  Probably the fastest trip to the airport that we have made.  A security guard was waiting for us and whisk the coat through security to an awaiting Elder.
Why is Elder Gladun still with us?
A few hours later, his mom and the rest of his family arrived at the Mission Home from Lublin, Poland, where Elder Gladun is from.
It was wonderful to spend a few hours with this great, Mikolaj, Grandparents and parents. Elder Gladun is the first in his family to serve a full-time mission for the Lord...and won't be the last.
A special surprise....Elder Gladun's grandfather is an artist and had painted this famous Palace in Lublin for us. It is a beautiful painting, and we feel honored to accept it. We spent some time with Elder Gladun that was a perfect finish to a wonderful mission.  How fast two years will fly but how permanent the changes in a missionaries life can be.  One of the truly amazing things in the mission field is the watch how young missionaries arrive (bewildered, scared, afraid, unsure of themselves, etc...) and see them change and how great they become.  I just wish everyone young man would go on a mission.  Not for selfish reasons but to serve the Lord.  When they do that, the miracles and the mighty change of heart occurs.  They become what the Lord knows they can be.
Another wonderful morning in the mission home...
Now its time to get ready for our weekend in Lodz.  President says we leave in two hours and that usually means one hour and forty-five minutes so I close with-  I love this Church, I love the great members in Poland, I love the Lord and I love all of my missionaries.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Days Two/Three for Our New Missionaries- Assignments and Companions

Thursday Morning: As everyone was up early for their first full day in Poland, their trainers were boarding trains traveling to Warsaw to meet these new missionaries. A full day of contacting and training was on the agenda today.
After breakfast, the first item of business was to start their legal work.  Everyone headed out on the 8 minute walk to the Mission Office which is just around the corner from the Mission Home.
 All of our new missionaries received instructions on what they needed to do to receive a Residence Card...valid for the time they are in Poland.  Elder and Sister Hutchinson, our new Office Couple, along with Elders Register and Walter do an excellent job of explaining and keeping the mission running.
 "Meanwhile back at the ranch", the trainers had arrived and President was going over their new responsibilities in making sure the 'righteous traditions of the mission and missionary work' are passed on to the new missionaries.  Each missionary goes through a 12-Week Training course to assist in becoming more effective teachers of the gospel. (Standing: Elders Zelezniak, Wilson, Tingey, Neuner and Vernon. Sisters Masters and Young)

While this is going on, the new missionaries have finished their orientation of legal work and are heading to the Rynek for contacting...
 Elders Register and Boyce speaking with a man about the Book of Mormon...
 Elders Jensen and Meherg talking with a lady about the restored gospel which is on the earth today.  (This is Elder Jensen's second to last day in Poland, and he is working harder than ever!)
 Sister Packard and Lenhart talking with everyone they see...
Elder Gibby explaining to this man as they are walking the importance of our message.  Pretty good for his first day and being all alone. Great job, Elder Gibby!
 Later in the afternoon. When everyone is back from contacting and the trainers' training is complete, President is ready to make assignments for cities and companionships.  The first is Elder White...
His new companion is Elder Zelezniak.
They will be serving in the beautiful city of Gdansk.
Elder Boyce will be serving with Elder Wilson in Warsaw II Branch.
Elder Gibby will be serving with Elder Vernon in...
...North Praga or Warsaw I Branch.
Next is Elder Caskey...
...who will serve with Elder Tingey in the great city of Poznan.
Next is Elder Meherg who will serve with Elder Neuner in Kielce.  We will now have two companionships serving in this growing and great branch.  Now the Sisters...
Sister Swenson will be serving with Sister Masters in...
our northern most city-  Gdansk.
Sister Lenhart will be serving with Sister Young and they are in...
...the Warsaw II District, Warsaw II Branch.
Afterwards they had a few minutes to meet and visit before everyone continued on with training and mission documents.  This is always a fun time to be around missionaries. There is a great excitement as a missionary receives his first assignment. Now, they finally get to experience real life as a missionary and doing what they came to do... preach the gospel!
Dinner tonight was a real treat.. 16 around the table.  What a wonderful groups of great missionaries.  You cannot ask for better than this!!!   Elders Meherg, White, Zelezniak, Boyce, Vernon, Sisters Lenhart, Young, Swenson, Masters, Elders Wilson, Neuner, Gibby, Caskey and Tingey.
Tonight after dinner and testimony meeting, the Warsaw missionaries headed to their apartments.  They can arrive at their apartments in time for 9:00pm planning and be ready for tomorrow.  Sisters Young and Lenhart, with Elders Vernon, Gibby, Wilson and Boyce.
As Elder Meherg was departing the MTC, he received a bag of candy which he could not eat so he brought it to Poland and decided to leave it with our "American Candy Stash" for all of our missionaries to enjoy.  They can eat all they want and never have to ask for permission. There is only rule: EVERYONE uses hand sanitizor before helping yourself. (This is NOT a collection of petri dishes for germs!)
Friday Morning: This morning the rest of our new missionaries  and their trainers are all ready for the ride to the train station.  Sisters Swenson and Masters (Gdansk), Elders Tingey and Caskey (Poznan), Neuner and Meherg (Kielce), Zelezniak and White (Gdansk).
This is always a great sight- eager missionaries heading out to teach the world.  It was so fun to have new missionaries and trainers in the mission home.  They are so wonderful.
Now, it's time to clean, cook and get ready because in 5 hours the departing missionaries who have served faithfully for so long are coming in for their final night in Poland.  The emotions of transfer week.  The longer we are here, it does not get easier.  I love my missionaries-  some President and I  have known for only days, others for years; but it seems like we have all known each other forever...