Thursday, May 30, 2013

(A Special) Mission Leadership Council...

This morning our Assistants, Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders all traveled into Warsaw.
We held Mission Leadership Council at a very special place to all Polish Saints... Nowy Swiat.  We use Nowy Swiat to teach lessons and hold special meetings.  It once housed missionary couples, Church meetings, the Family History Center and our Young Single Adults.
Elders Wilson, Vernon, Neuner, Dopp, Tingey and Raines with Sisters Howells, Bezdjian and Allen.
President went over goals and heard reports from our leaders and what their plans were this coming month.  President also spent time going over the Dedicatory Prayer offered by President Spencer W. Kimball for the country of Poland and then the Prayer of Supplication and Thanks offered by President Thomas S. Monson.  Then we all walked to the special place where this occured.
 As we walked down Nowy Swiat, the missionaries contacted people along the way.  Here all four elders are about to speak to the crowd they are approaching.
 Sister Howells (on the left) is talking as she walks; and Elder Vernon is running to catch up to the couple he wants to share our message with.
 In front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and as you enter Saski Park, Elder Raines is contacting people and talking about the Book of Mormon.  Our other missionaries are scattered around doing the same thing.  We worked our way back into the park where we wanted to meet and visit.
This is where Presdient Kimball offered the dedicatory prayer.  We sang a hymn and had a wonderful prayer.  It was our last Mission Leadership Council, but one I will always remember.  Elders Zelezniak, Tiner, Tingey, Raines, Vernon, Wilson, Neuner and Dopp.  Sisters Howells, Bezdjian and Allen.  What a great spirit there is here in this park and at this special and sacred spot.  Nothing is better than to be in places like this and with the missionaries of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Specialized Training...Warsaw (part 2!)

Wednesday morning was one of those busy days, but the most important item was being at the Mission Office for our last session of Specialized Training.
The Warsaw II District (which includes the Elders from Lublin) was in today, and everyone was ready to go.  We had planned on starting at 11:00am; but everyone was early, so we began at 10:45am. (A great start already!)  Elder Boyce, Sisters Lenhart and Masters.  Elders Manwill, Cieslak, Finch, Saltmarsh, Stockford, Zelezniak and Tiner.
President does a 'good/Better/BEST' presentation every so often.  Since this will be our last Specialized Training, he has been reviewing this all throughout the mission.  It has changed over the years but applies to every one of us missionaries.
The great Sisters in Warsaw II.  Sisters Lenhart and Masters. Both are hard working and dedicated missionaries.
Our Lublin missionaries, Elders Stockford and Finch.  They were companions in the MTC; and once again find themselves together in Poland.  Both are doing such a great job with the language and being consecrated missionaries.
Our Office Elders:  Elders Manwill and Cieslak.  With all the changes in the office lately, they have been fast learners and are doing a great job!
Elder Saltmarsh (District Leader in Warsaw II) and Elder Boyce.  A great companionship who are serving with all their might.  We love and appreciate this great companionship.
Our Assistants who help us in so many ways.  These are great Elders in every way possible.
After this wonderful meeting,  I needed their help with something that needs to happen about every big run to MAKRO.  All of the former Assistants know what kind of a trip this will be...
It was a beautiful day.  The rain has stopped (for a few hours) and both helpers were ready with their own carts.
(Little did they know that they would need several more before we were finished.)
After a couple of hours, we finished shopping with 6 FULL carts.  We have enough to supply the mission home and some of our conferences with the things that help keep us running... 
I knew these Elders could work, but I didn't know that Elder Zelezniak has a special talent for packing and stacking.  He worked at a well-known soft drink distribution center before his mission and can look at items and figure out how they can be packed together to maximize the best use of space.  He did a great job in getting everything into our record time!  Thank you, Elder Tiner and Elder Zelezniak. They made a great team! This trip brings back a flood of memories with all our assistants who helped in these "fun" stocking-up trips.  
We quickly drove home so the Elders could be out by 6:00pm for "prime time" proselyting. We had one more important thing to do tonight.
We attended institute at our YSA Center in Warsaw II.  Marcin is the instructor, and we were able to sit in during his lesson.  We are grateful for our Young Single Adults and all they do.  We are thankful also for Marcin and his wife who are their instructors.  
After the lesson, Elder and Sister Jensen had a delicious meal prepared that was enjoyed by all in attendance.
A great day in the mission. But, every day in the mission field is a great day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back to Specialized Training...Warsaw (part one) !

 This morning President held Specialized Training in the Wolska Chapel for the Warsaw I and Lodz Districts.  We met in the Relief Society room and had a wonderful time with our great missionaries.  Don't they look Great!
 Elders Garfield (Warsaw I District Leader) and Peacock.  They are having great success and are dedicated to missionary work.
 Elders Van Bakel (Lodz District Leader) and Wolfley in from Lodz.  These are great Elders...and are probably the companionship that consumes the most food!  However,  Elder Van Bakel (who has lost 55 pounds) is out and running each morning with Elder Wolfley (he has lost the 25 pounds he gained in the MTC).  Another companionship of great missionaries.
 Our wonderful Sisters from Lodz, Sisters Wendel and Holmgren.  They are assisting Lodz in so many ways. It is so good to have Sisters serving in Lodz again.
 Elders Hayes and Baranowski in from Bialystok.  Elder Hayes is carrying many of the duties as the Branch President is out of town for a few weeks. Elder Baranowski is seeing miracles with family members that still live in this great city. 
Our Warsaw Zone Leaders, Elders Raines and Tingey, are such great leaders and missionaries.  They not only teach but show how to do missionary work.  We are impressed with all they are accomplishing.
 Our Elders in North Praga, Elders Gibby and Szymanski. Great Elders that keep finding people everywhere who are interested in our message.  Their smiles tell it all.
 Sisters Howells and Barth in Warsaw I.  Great Sisters who know how to find and teach the gospel.  They are fearless and talk with everyone.  We love our great Sisters.  They are all wonderful.
 President has been waiting for one last final touch to the Wolska Chapel.  Our new lights have been installed! They add so much to the beauty of our great Wolska Chapel. 
The overall appearance of the chapel is perfect.  The new lights add a brightness and clarity that is just what we needed.  We are so pleased with this new addition.
Tomorrow, Specialized Training takes place in the other half of the Warsaw Districts.

Elder Register departs.

Early this morning we took Elder Register to the airport.  He is the last of our 4 Elders that have had to go home on Medical Release. 
Elder Register stayed behind this last week to train the two new Office Elders.
 Elder Register (Center) shown with Elders Zelezniak (Assistant), Manwill (Office Elder ), Cieslak (Office Elder) and Tiner (Assistant).
 Elder Register had one request on his last night in Poland....He wanted to go contacting; so, he and the Assistants headed out. They returned with some great contacts...and one less Book of Mormon.  Elder Register sprinted (as best he could) to the end.
 Tuesday morning...early! (4:30 am) it's time to say 'good-bye' to this great Elder.
 This morning was a busy day at the airport and the security line was starting to fill up.  For some reason Tuesday mornings are busy at Lotnisko Chopin Warszawie.  Elder Register is making his way through the line and ready to be checked and scanned.
He is through security and off to the gate.  We love and will miss this great missionary.  He has helped in the office the last while and served in every calling and assignment to his best ability.  We pray that his knee will heal quickly.  We were sad to see him say "good-bye".
Elder Smith Update:  After a successful surgery on his ankle he celebrated his 20th birthday with family and friends.  We know that he will heal fast and our prayers are with him.  (We love the shirt he is wearing.)  We love and miss him.

Poznan....Wroclaw...then back to Poznan. There is still much to do.

We got into Poznan late Friday night. The next morning early, we met Elder and Sister Sheley who were nice enough to show us around Poznan. This would be our last visit to this beautiful city, and all we had seen (the past 3 years) was the inside of our hotel and chapel.  The Sheleys even got 'lunch reservations' at one of the finest restaurants our Senior Missionaries often frequent---  lunch in their little Skoda.  Sister Sheley knew we would be running fast today and would have no time to eat, so she fixed lunch for us and off we went.  Thank you, Elder and Sister Sheley, for being the perfect tour guides and hosts.
Our first stop was Town Hall in the middle of Poznan's Old Town. It was the city's administrative building until 1939. Now it is a museum...worth seeing! Everyday at noon, hordes of people gather around the front of this magnificent building. Why?  (You'll see!)
Locate the dark brown doors just above the clock. Every day at 12:00 noon, a trumpet blows and they open. 
Out come 2 mechanical goats...which were originally added to the Town Hall clock in 1551. Why goats? Legend has it that the city dignitary cook had burnt a roast deer and attempted to replace it by stealing 2 goats from a nearby meadow. The goats escaped and ran up the town hall tower. There they began to butt each other which attracted the attention of the townspeople. While watching the goats, they discovered a fire which had started that could have caused great damage to the town.
Now these goats are revered, and the 'fight' between them is re-enacted every day. Here you see they have faced each other. And now the show begins.....
The mechanical goats 'butt heads' twelve times then return to their 'home' in the clock. (And everyone cheers!) In 1675, the tower, clock and goats were destroyed by lightening.
In 1913, the goats were once again restored to the tower....being absent since 1675. (Above are the 1913 goats and mechanism.) In 1954, the above goats were replaced by the current ones.
As you can see by the above picture, rain OR shine, the 'fighting goats' are one of Poznan's best-known (and most popular!) tourist attractions.

Another surprise in Old Town.  Above is the 15th Poznan Uhlans Regiment (1st Mounted Rifleman Regiment formed in Poznan) which started in 1918 and fought in many battles from the Polish/Soviet war to the Warsaw Uprising.  It consists today of 20 volunteers and 20 trained horses. Every Saturday at noon they run through drills and check guards at the Old Market Square. It was impressive...especially to see the maneuvers on slippery cobblestone!
That afternoon, we had a special event to attend to in off we went.
A VERY cool bridge that we have always seen from a distance; but this time traveling into Wroclaw, we were going to be able to drive over it! 
We found ourselves in Wroclaw...where we also found another 'cool' sculpture as we drove into town... this train engine coming out of the ground. Not sure what it represents. My guess....commemorating the Polish underground that existed to help so many people escape during  WWII. 
Now for the reason we are in Wroclaw.....
Cynthia was baptized! What a great day in the life of this wonderful young girl. She was certainly ready to follow the example of her Savior, Jesus Christ. We happily welcome Cynthia to the Church! Here she is shown with the missionaries who taught her, Sister Bezdjian and Blake, and Mariusz, a great member of the Branch who baptized her. Now...back to Poznan!
POZNAN: Sunday morning began with missionary correlation meeting.  Elder Sheley (the Branch President) was busy taking notes from investigator updates from Sisters Lidtka and Bown.  In fact, this afternoon after Church these Sisters meet with two new investigators and set a date for their baptism.
Today in Church was a very special day for Marta. Not only did her mother come to Church, but she gave her 'farewell' talk in the Poznan Branch. Marta will soon be leaving for her mission. She will be serving in the Illinois, Chicago Mission.
 Relief Society meeting in Poznan.  I wanted to take one last pictures of some of the great sisters we have in the Poznan Branch.
I also wanted to visit the Young Women's meeting where our sweet Natalie has the Sisters undivided attention. Sisters Lidtka and Bown are teaching her how to be a righteous young woman in today's world. (We will see Natalie this weekend in Warsaw where we will be having a country-wide Young Women's Conference. They are always SO fun!)
Some of the men who attended Priesthood today in the Poznan Branch. (Elders Jespersen, Caskey and Sheley along with members of the Branch.)
We now head back to Warsaw. We have more Specialized Training (Tuesday & Wednesday), Mission Leadership Council (Thursday) and a Young Women's Conference (Friday-Sunday morning) to get ready for! Never a dull moment in the mission field....but I love it! And I love serving the Lord in this great country!