Wednesday, August 27, 2014

FIRST WEEK IN POLAND WAS.......THE BEST!!

Hello everyone!
Oh my gosh, this week has been absolutely fantastic!! I'm just going to do this chronologically, so here goes:
We left Monday morning at 4:30am  and were on a few different planes to Poland. It was amazing to get to talk to the family and others during the layovers! On the planes, I got to sit next to Sister Kuchar on like every flight, which is great because she's become one of my best friends! She was one of the Sisters in my zone that understood me, and we got to talk all the time!(She's the basketball star who already graduated college if you didn't remember!) We talked a lot, I slept a lot, and we even had a really cool experience. On the Flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, we were sitting on the second-to-last row of the plane. Behind us sat two black(that's the only way to describe them-I'm not being rascist) girls who live in Denmark. Sister Kuchar and I started talking to them about the church and some of the things we believe and such. They were super interested, and it was a funny conversation because Sister Kuchar and I were tag-teaming teaching in the small open space between the seats. We taught really well together and even ended up writing our Mormon.org profile accounts down on the back of a pass-along card of the Salt Lake Temple, and gave that to them and told them to look us up! I guess we'll never really know how that worked out, but they said they would.
     We arrived in Warsaw Tuesday at noon, and had to work our way through the airport and get our baggage and such. President and Sister Edgren and the Assistants to the President(including Elder Caskey) met us at the doors! Elder Caskey and Elder Fotu are the greatest missionaries! Honestly I learned so much from them in the day that I've known them! I decided I wanted to be a missionary like Elder Caskey, here in Poland. We headed back to the mission home to drop off luggage, we worked on some legal work and had lunch, and then we hit the streets. I didn't get to work with Elder Caskey or Elder Fotu, but went contacting with another Elder for about an hour. We actually found a very strict Bible-believing Christian who didn't speak Polish... so we taught her in English. She brought up that verse in Revelations about there being no other standard works or whatever... I haven't actually seen the verse yet... so I brought up Ephesians 37 about the 2 sticks of the gospel. Essentially, we bore our testimonies to her and she went on her way. We slept in the mission home that night. I played the piano while some Elders and Sisters sang, and I played the song for the devotional that night. In the morning, I asked Sister Edgren what I could do, and she told me she didn't want me to help in the kitchen, but she wanted me to go sit down and play the piano for her while she worked. So I played for a while Wednesday morning until breakfast-time.
     After breakfast, we had a meeting and met our trainers and found out where we would be serving. My trainer's name is Elder Blom(pronounced Elder Blum), and he's amazing. He's a fairly built guy-he's from New York and he wrestled and played football. He 's been out a year and a half, and this is his first time as a trainer. We are serving in the small city of Kielce. There are only 4 missionaries here, all Elders. We are whitewashing the city-meaning none of us were in Kielce last transfer, so we're all very unfamiliar. The other Elders are Elder White and Elder Torres. They're great and I've loved getting to meet them! There is one main street called Sienkiewicza in the town, and then there's just smaller streets and apartment buildings. The street's like a mile long, set on a sort of hill, and there's shops and stores lining both sides of the streets. Cars aren't even allowed on the street-just a bunch of Polish people. Elder Blom and I put our nametags on, and walk right down the center of the street, and talk to as many people as we can. I've made it a goal to not pass anyone by(within reason), but to talk to everyone I can possibly talk to... it's hard but I have a good time doing it. People see us coming, for sure, and it's really funny to see people recognize us and make a run for it. hahahah Poland definitely isn't anything like South-America! We get turned down time and time again, but it's great and I love it! Sometimes Poles do this really funny thing where they bring their hands up to their chests, and then throw them(limp-wristed)off to the side like they're trying to push you away... It's really feminine and it's hilarious to watch normal men do it!
     Elder Blom sure lets me do a lot- and I'm so grateful for that! I usually contact the people, and go as far as I possibly can until either I can't figure out what they're saying or I have no idea what's going on, and then Elder Blom takes over and I can cut back in when I understand what's going on again. My Polish has gotten so much better in the last 5 days since all I've been doing is talking since I walked off that plane.
     What makes all the rejection worth it is definitely when people actually stop and talk to us. Whenever they do, I feel the spirit so strong as I listen to these people and their lives, and connect with them. I absolutely love it!
     Poland isn't exactly exploding with baptisms, but the Lord is in His work here. I have seen so many miracles just in the last week, it's amazing. One of my favorite things so far has been talking to Magdalena. We contacted her down Sienkiewicza and early in the conversation, she told us she speaks really good english and to talk to her in English. I don't even know what happened, but the Spirit took over. I started talking, and ended up asking her thought-provoking questions(centered around eternal families) and ended up teaching her the entire first lesson with Elder Blom. We bore testimony, and gave her a Book of Mormon with the promise that if she read it and pray to know of it's truthfulness, that God would answer her prayers. She is so ready to hear the gospel. The whole conversation, she ate up every word about eternal families. She told us that she tries so hard to be a good mom and teach her kids to pray, but doesn't know if they will be saved and everything. Like I'll start filling up the font now. hahaha jk but I can see how much the gospel can bless her life and the lives of her families. A few days later, we received a call from her daughter. Magdalena shared the book with her family and her daughter has already started reading it and absolutely loves it. They are ready to meet, and we are setting up a meeting with them hopefully this week! There are miracles in Poland, and I've already seen them!
     We have one investigator at the moment. Her name is Sylvia. She's about 19, and she works in the ice-cream shop down Sienkiewicza. We had a lesson with her like the first day we were there. Elder Blom was talking to her and I had absolutely NO idea what was going on. He stopped, looked at me, and then told me to say something.....now entering a few seconds of freaking out... and then the Spirit just hit me AGAIN. I bore one of the Strongest testimonies I've ever born about the Book of Mormon, and promised her that if she would read it and pray to God, that He WOULD answer her. The Spirit in that meeting was INCREDIBLE and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!
     Our apartment is definitely interesting. It's tiny and older and pretty dirty, but I love it! The little kitchen is so small I don't even think Elder Blum and I can stand next to eachother in it! And as for my stomach-I definitely not worried about it because there's not that much to eat, Polish people drink so much juice(since the old Russian pipes aren't exactly good for your health), and we walk all day. I'm definitely going to be dropping a bunch of weight, but that's good because then I won't have to eat as much!! hahahah Also, the cooking experience in Poland is quite hilarious. We went to the store, and Elder Blom essentially told me to plan and make two meals the first week-which usually wouldn't be a problem. BUT, try making a meal with Polish ingredients (they don't have SOOO many of the normal things we have in America-scratch that... they have about nothing. They have the smallest selection ever, and once you decide you want to make something, you can't understand the directions to save your life.) Soooo, the meals are interesting but I've made them work!
     One thing about Poland is it's a bit different than Arizona. It rains like 5 days a week hard, and it's really cold... but I love the change! We're going to get me a huge jacket right after email time so I won't freeze anymore! It's so cool to get to walk down Sienkiewicza in the pouring rain and still try to talk to people... It feels legit and it's one of my favorite things! hahah
     President Edgren and Sister Edgren are absolutely amazing. They're so kind and grandparent-ly....! haha They actually visited us in Kielce yesterday for church. We don't even have a ward. We had 16 people in church yesterday, including missionaries and the branch president. I played the keyboard for sacrament, and they asked me to play a special musical number, too. So I played 'Have I Done Any Good' and it was super amazing. The branch might be small...well tiny... but the Spirit was there and it was such a sweet experience! I also was able to bear my testimony in front of everyone, which was such a cool experience. It was shorter and limited, but the Spirit speaks all languages and it was amazing to speak Polish that day.
     The Polish is really coming along. I love speaking Polish, and I love when the Lord surprises me with things that I can say that I had no idea I could say! There have really been some miracle moments with Polish that I thank my Heavenly Father for!
     My address is a mystery.... I think it's just safest to send things to the mission home-even though it may take longer to get to me.
     I couldn't be happier our here in Poland. I have time to better myself, to study scriptures, to come closer to Christ, and to learn Polish and work to bring others to Christ. I'm loving it out here and they're going to have to drag me out of this place when it's time to leave!
     I love you all, and hope you're doing well! Keep up the good work back home!
Love,

Starszy Quackenbush

Elder Quack, Elder Pantalakis, Elder Wilcox
Pre-departure to Poland

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Elder Quack arrived in Poland!!

Elder Quackenbush arrived in Poland!!  No email to add but we did get to talk to him during his layovers.  He sounded happy and excited for the next adventure!

We also received a short email from President Edgren that all 14 missionaries arrived safely in Warsaw and they send this pic.

MTC Group
 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Last PDAY in the MTC...Poland or Bust!

It's official. My last PDay at the MTC is almost over. On Monday morning, I'll be on several different planes which will eventually land me in Warsaw by Tuesday! I'm so excited for the adventure... and I've just gotta make it through a few more days!

So about this week... it was a tough one! This week I am thankful for trials. The causes are unimportant and mostly self-inflicted, but at one point this week I was having a really hard time. I found myself on the ground in the hallway surrounded by like 300 Polish note cards and absolutely in the dumps. I was stressed out, I had so much stuff to do, I wasn't feeling good, and everything seemed to be going just absolutely wrong. I probably said 500 prayers that day for help and comfort and anything else that could help me. When I was in my lowest moment, the Spirit prompted me to get on my knees and pray. I knelt down in the middle of the hallway and poured out my heart to God. I asked for help, I let Him know how I was feeling and what I wanted to get done that night. When I ended my prayer, I sat back down in the hallway, and this time, something new caught my eye. I noticed my favorite picture of Jesus Christ hanging on the wall in one of the nearby classrooms. It's the one where he's dressed in crimson and looking straight out of the picture. When I saw the picture, it gave me so much hope. I remembered why I'm out here and what I'm doing. I remembered that Christ is there for me when the world wasn't, and that I have taken upon myself His name. Now every time I pass that picture, I can't help but point it out and remember why I'm here. It is such a blessing in my life. Also this week, I was given a priesthood blessing. I felt impressed that Elder Wright should give the blessing, and I had Elder Wilcox and Elder Coutu stand in. The Spirit was sooo strong. The blessing addressed exactly what I needed, and it was a gift from God. I know the Priesthood power is real, and it blesses my life every day.

I got to go through the temple for the last time for the next 2 years, and I'm super sad! I had such an amazing experience this morning, and felt the Spirit strongly! It is amazing how peaceful and wonderful it is within the temple. It's the house of God, and I know that for a fact!

We've been practicing contacting a lot this week with the other Polish Elders and Sisters. It's honestly one of my favorite things so far! We pray for the Spirit, and go for it, and practice finding people to teach and teaching them based on their needs. It's so much fun, and I love doing it! That's a really good thing, since that's literally the first thing we do when I get to Poland. We walk off the plane, put our suitcases in the car, are driven to the Warsaw town square, given Book of Mormons and pass-along cards, and told to go contact real Poles... LIKE WOW! I'm so excited to get out there and dive right in!

We got 26 new Elders and Sisters yesterday, including the next set of Poland-bound missionaries! Some of them are super cool! I get along really well with this 24 year old Elder from Wales. He's super chill and I think we'll get to be pretty good friends in the next few days!

I am so grateful that I was able to be blessed with such a hard week this week. It is preparing me to be a better person and a better missionary, and I am so excited! I just love it so much! The Church is True! It brings me so much joy and happiness!

Love,

Starszy Quackenbush



Thursday, August 7, 2014

One and a half weeks left in MTC....




  Dzien dobry! 
Jak się macie??
This week was honestly really challenging. I'm still absolutely studying my butt off and giving it all I've got these last few weeks in the MTC... which is mildly tiring to say the least. BUT, I'm still absolutely loving it! The Lord has blessed me this week with a love of reading the Book of Mormon. Whenever I was discouraged or feeling down, I'd go Read my Book of Mormon and feel the Spirit and feel so much better! I'm so proud of my Księga Mormona.  I added marking ribbons, scripture tabs for key scriptures in the missionary lessons, and have really come to appreciate the Book of Mormon more than I ever have! It is the word of God, I know it, and I'm reminded of that every time I read it!

On Sunday I was released as zone leader, which was pretty sad... But I was also called on Sunday as the next District Leader, so I'm super excited! I'm sure learning a lot from serving and helping others like I know Christ would! I'm still amazed at the love we are blessed with as we serve God's children. I've come to love these people so much, even if I've only been able to serve them for a short time!

So there's this older Australian girl in my District going to Poland with me, and she's the best! She was intensely intimidating the first part of the MTC because she already knew Polish so well, but we have become good friends! This week we even decided to learn Joseph Smith's 1st Vision in Polish. Instead of learning it conventionally, however, we rapped it. I'd throw her a beat, and she'd rap it, and then she would do the same for me! It was super fun, and we were blessed to learn it super quickly!

I'm still absolutely loving playing soccer with the Elders at gym time. There are some pretty good players and we have some fun together! I found out this week that my nickname is "fancy feet" or something like that...? They yell it every time I call for a cross... so that was pretty interesting!

Wednesday was definitely one of the best days I've had at the MTC. I felt the Spirit lots, I worked hard, and focused all day hard. I am so thankful for the many packages from all of my loved ones... I legit almost cried I was so happy. They absolutely changed my day around! Love you guys!!

A week and a half until Poland.... next Monday!! Oh my goodness! I'm super excited to see what it'll be like!( and I'm also super excited for some REAL food... the MTC has rotated through its menu's 2 or 3 times already and I'm dying.)

Update on the missionaries: they're all doing great, and studying hard... We did, however, lose one elder this week. He decided to go home to fix some worthiness problems from before his mission. He fasted and prayed and knew that was the right thing to do, so he did it. I am proud of him for having the courage to do so, but am sad to see him go. Please guys, Stay Worthy! It really isn't worth it. Do the things you need to do, don't do the things you shouldn't, and God will bless you! We've gotta be clean to have the Holy Ghost, which is one of the greatest gifts we have! I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost and His guidance in my life, and am grateful for the examples I've had in my life to teach me to stay clean in order to have the Spirit!

I hope y'all are doing well... keep up the good work, do good things, and remember the gospel and the church are true! I know it! I love you all, make it a good week!

Love,
Starszy Quackenbush

Elder Quackenbush & Elder Coutu

 



Friday, August 1, 2014

Letter #6 from the Provo MTC

Cześć!!  
     Only 1 word can describe the week I've had.....WOW.
Lot's happened this week, and whether they seemed good or bad in the moment, I definitely learned something from them all!!
     So on Thursday nights I have what's called TRC, which is pretty much home-teaching members of the church in Polish(while still on MTC property). Elder Wilcox and I prepared a lesson on receiving revelation through church attendance. We were teaching a war veteran and his wife. The man had been stationed in Poland shortly before the Cold War. The lesson went great. We read scriptures and taught them and bore testimony, and the Spirit was totally there! Then, things turned South. The vet then turned to his wife after the lesson, and proceeded to laugh out loud at a small reading mistake I had made when reading in Księga Mormona. I guess my CH's had too much C and not enough guttural H... He laughed at the fact that the Polish people were going to make so much fun of me for that...

........So yeah, that happened. I prayed for patience and love, and the Lord helped me turn that experience into one of the biggest blessings I've had so far on my mission. I needed someone to knock me down and tell me I couldn't do it. That experience motivated me like no other. If I thought I had studied hard before, I was so mistaken! I've learned so much since last Thursday night, it's incredible!
     I've also had some pretty amazing experiences this week! Elder Wilcox and I had the opportunity to bless a new sister who was having some troubles with a surgery she had before coming into the MTC. She had a huge hole in her back that had started bleeding and pussing and hurting her since she got to the MTC.  I anointed her, and Elder Wilcox and I gave her a Priesthood blessing. She was blessed that the wound would begin to heal. The next morning she woke up, and the hole was completely covered over. It hasn't given her troubles since... What a miracle from the Lord! I am so grateful I was able to be a part of that experience!
     Another cool experience I've had this week happened when I was talking with one of the new elders back in the residence one night. looking back, I realize the Spirit completely guided our entire conversation. we were supposed to be talking about one thing, but (miraculously), the conversation turned, and we were talking about important things. Even as he was telling me the story, the Elder said, "I don't even know why I'm telling you all this"... It was the Spirit helping him, I know it! He told me his whole life story, including info he never tells anyone. This elder has had a very hard life-moving around the world, settling just long enough in foreign countries for his dad's job to end up not working out, and then they'd move again. Because of this, he was never able to have real friends, and has rarely opened up to anyone before. He moved back to the states a few years ago. he told me he had made some huge mistakes, and that he didn't do good things in high school. Well, this last December his Dad died of lung cancer... nobody here knows except me and Elder Wilcox.  The day before his dad died, he had a talk with this Elder. This Elder then decided to fix his life. his Dad died the next day, and his Mom became unresponsive for forever, but he talked to priesthood authority, repented, and turned his life around. He went through the temple, and was called on a mission. I found out he was having doubts if he should even be out here on a mission right now. Then, the spirit took over. The Spirit was bringing all these experiences I've had that were absolutely PERFECT for his situation. All these thoughts were coming to my head, which were NOT my own, and I just had to put them into words for him to hear. I was prompted to give him a certain promise... a big promise. I hesitated because it was a big one, but decided to follow through with my goal to follow the Spirit, no matter what. I promised him that if he went and prayed that night, and talked with God, and told him how he was feeling, and what the situation was, that God would answer his prayers, and tell him that he IS supposed to be out here on a mission. The next morning, he acted completely different. When I brought it up, he smiled at me, and told me he now knows he's supposed to be on a mission right now. The lord truly answered his prayers, and my many prayers, and allowed me to help one of His children. I wouldn't have been able to do that without God and His spirit, and I am so grateful!
     Another cool story; Brother Robinson is the first counselor in my Branch Presidency. He's a lawyer, and he's such a great guy! He pulled me aside one night this week and told me something pretty neat. He showed me a picture of one of his grandsons, who, he pointed out, has brown eyes like mine. Brother Robinson told me that their family wants him to grow up to be just like me-and that they are even having him pick back up piano lessons... that was such an honor and a cool experience for me!
     I also got to see my boy Riley this week during my Sunday temple walk! I was honestly shaking, I was so excited to see him! I was so grateful to get to see him again for a few minutes... love that guy!
     Jezus Chrystus prowadzi to kościół. to wiem. Ja wiem że to kościół jest prawdziwa i ksiąga mormona jest słowo Boże. jestem bardyo scęsliwy bo to jest Jego Praca. JA KOCHAM GO!!

Kocham was!
Starszy Quackenbush

Elder McEuen and Elder Quack

Elder Quack and Elder Erickson

Elder Quack and Elder Riley Wardrop