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