Monday, November 24, 2014

The Week before Thanksgiving...

Well this week was a great one again! We worked really hard, and really learned a lot this week!! 
     So Elder Weiler and I are getting really good at trying to follow the Spirit. It kinda sounds ridiculous, but we literally stop and wait at every crossroad for the Spirit to tell us where to go. We've realized that literally we can't do anything without Him, so we try to rely on the Holy Ghost as much as possible out here!! This week I really learned that God has a plan, and when we're obedient to His plans, everything works out. On Saturday night, we prayed before we went out that God would help us find those that were ready, as well as teach us and help us become better. Wellll... we were out talking to people and trying to follow the Spirit, and after a while, I got the impression that I needed to let Elder Weiler follow the Spirit, and to do what he was prompted to do. Shortly after, he got the impression to sit down on a bench by the Urząd, and wait. We didn't know for what, and we didn't know how long. We sat there, waiting for a while, before asking again if this was what the Lord wanted us to be doing. We got the answer something along the lines of "Did I not speak peace unto your soul concerning the topic?"... so we waited some more. Turns out, the Lord was testing our obedience to the Spirit, and teaching us patience, because we sat and froze on that bench for 2 hours. we looked at eachother, and just said we would trust in the Lord. It was literally one of the hardest  things I've done on my mission... this place is absolutely freezing!:)
     So you know those stories that every missionary has about something weird and crazy that happened to them on their mission? Yeah, well I think I've got one. Elder Weiler and I were out doing a whiteboard by a busy mall. I was out in the middle of the street talking to everyone I could, addressing crowds of people, and dancing just a little bit(I can't dance, but I always feel like dancing now for some reason...?), and I contacted a man that didn't want to hear our message. He walked away, and returned after a bit, interested. I told him about some of our beliefs, and he told me that he is a Green Witness.... (breakoff from JW's?).... Turns out he wasn't that interested, but he asked if he could pray for me. I made sure he was praying to God, and was like "yeah man, I guess". So, he stepped aside, and mumbled something to himself, and then walked over to me and put both hands on top of eachother on my right shoulder and started mumbling another language. I was freaking out. I totally thought this guy was trying to give me an unclean spirit. I was praying the entire time. After this "muttering wizard" was done, he said goodbye and left, leaving Elder Weiler and I standing there in the middle of the sidewalk wondering what just happened... I sure love Poland.
     The biggest miracle also happened this week. There has always been a guy on our branch directory named Jan T. He was baptized and received both the Aaronic and the Melchezidek Priesthood in the year 2000. The branch fell apart in Gorzów, (1.5 hrs away by car), and he's been missing for 14 years. We've been actively searching for him for about a year now. Elder Weiler and I went out to Gorzów with the Gays, and searched for him. We knew he was said to live in this neighborhood of 100+ działki.(little garden/summer hut things). The lady we needed who had the resident list was gone, so we talked to a super sketchy looking guy with a hack saw. He referred us to a mechanic down the road that might know Jan. We went and talked to the mechanic. He told us that he recognized him(we had a picture), and that there were 2 options... 1)He might have played music with a man down the road somewhere with a green car, or 2)he was dead, and his son worked at some piekarnia somewhere in town-Polish directions are terrible. So we decided to look for the green car. As we were driving down this country road, we saw a green car. We got out and went and yelled at the house, honked the horn, and two guys came out. They said we were JW's, and almost went back inside. We told them we aren't, and that we're looking for Jan. The bigger fellow said that was him. He came up, looked at the tags, and yelled "Bracia!!"(brothers!!) or coś takiego. Turns out he's not been able to find the church in 14 years. He's still faithful, living the commandments, and was so grateful we found him. He now lives on a huge działka lot, and houses 3 homeless people, and helps them get off alcohol addictions. He literally started crying, and I've NEVER seen a Polish person cry. We got numbers, heard stories, visited, and invited him to church. He came to church for the first time in 14 years yesterday, and he's as strong as ever. He took the sacrament, met the members, and we gave him like 2 years worth of church writings. I love that guy so much, and he definitely gives the best hugs ever, so we're so grateful to have him back!
    This week I really learned just How Much the Lord knows us. I was fortunate enough to receive a blessing this week, and literally I had to stop afterwards, and say a prayer, and just tell God that he is right, and that he knows me better than anyone, and tell Him just how grateful I am to Him! I love being a missionary. I love serving Christ, and teaching people about the Gospel. It makes me so happy! Love you all, make it the greatest week of your life!

Starszy Quackenbush

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crazy packed week....

What a long week this week! Oh man, literally it was the weirdest week of my mission.
Oh Monday I got on a train to Bydgoszcz for an exchange with Elder Hubbard, the zone leader. It was such a cool experience! We ended up teaching a SUPER cool hour long street lesson to a guy named Paweł and his friend. He ended up taking a Księga Mormona, so that was waay cool! I also got to see my boy Elder Sidwell... I sure love that guy! He's in the group ahead of me, and it would be a blast to get to serve with him! Bydgoszcz also has Sister missionaries, so we did a whiteboard with them, and got to go to a famous Naleśniki restaurant named Manekin. It was super cool! I also solo-taught a Baptist couple on the whiteboard. It was like a 20 minute lesson, and it was super interesting. They were trying to tell me that they didn't believe the Joseph Smith story because the Bible says that no one can see the face of God... which I think it does, but it's a bad translation, meaning no one "unclean/unworthy" can see the face of God. Eventually I found out that I wasn't helping them, and they weren't ready to hear it, and let them keep going... I was really blessed in that lesson, though. I understood like so much of the entire conversation, and was able to talk back to them and quote scriptures and reference the bible without any help (except for the good 'ol Duch Swięty),... it was really cool!
    I ended up heading back to Szczecin for literally less than a day, before getting back on a train. We had Zone Conference in Bydgoszcz with the entire zone. It was such a cool experience to get to learn and testify with all of the other missionaries. The Spirit was there so strongly, and the Lord surely blessed me with personal revelation through the Spirit that was much-needed!
     Lech's Baptism was on Saturday!! It was such a cool experience! I was able to confirm him a member of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints, bestow upon him the Holy Ghost, and give him a blessing during sacrament meeting yesterday. Everything was in Polish, and the Spirit really blessed me with what to say and how to say it, so that it made sense, and was what he needed. I am so grateful!!
     This church is SO true. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ-especially the fact that we can live with our families again. That is my absolute favorite thing to tell people on the street... and I love it so much that I can live forever with my family! The Gospel is the best, and I absolutely love my mission. It is literally the greatest decision I have ever made, and it's blessing my life so much!
     Love you guys!! Keep up the good work back home!
Elder Quackenbush
Zone Conference

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hey all,
Really there are absolutely NO words to describe this week. None at all. Elder Weiler and I have been blessed beyond comprehension. We started off the week suuuper pumped about the week. The Spirit just hit me and got me all excited, and Elder Weiler and I decided to do a "Heaven Week"...working even Harder than we did last week..(if that's possible)... We wanted to get the "Standard of Excellence"....which includes 2 investigators with baptismal dates, 2 progressing and in sacrament meeting, 3 recent convert/less active lessons, 3 new investigators, and 4 lessons in the presence of a member(sorry that sounds awkward...this is Polish we're talking about)......... Many missionaries Never make the standard their whole mission, and some only make it once. It is special enough that it was one of the first stories Elder Blom told me during our transfer together. We knew it was a HUGE goal, but we worked our tail off for it.
   This week we kept meeting with Lech(the younger)... he's progressing SO well, and so ready to get baptized, confirmed, and to receive the priesthood on Saturday/Sunday. We gave him his last 2 commitments on Sunday, and he's ready to get Baptized! His interview is on Tuesday, but we've already done a mock interview and he passed with no problems at all.
    We also met with Paweł. He's a very soft-spoken guy from Ukraine, and he's awesome. I sure love that guy. (He's the guy to my right in the pictures at the Gays home). Lessons with him are super hard because his Polish isn't that good... so a bunch of the words are Ukrainian... and I thought Polish was hard enough. We met with him, and talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, how it is the "good news" from Christ on how we can make it back to him. We invited him to be baptized, and he said he would just like to read and pray first! We're so ready for him!
     Bartek. We met with this guy twice this week. He's an atheist that we found in the area book, and we're trying SO hard to get him to read and pray. We'll keep working with him.
     Old Lech. This guy we also found in the area book. He was also an old investigator, who used to have problems with the Word of Wisdom. We met with him last week, and invited him to baptism and to change his life, and said not yet. We met with him again, yesterday. We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he loved it. He accepted a baptismal date for the 13th of December. We also found out in the last 2 meetings that he's been changing his life. He no longer drinks, and barely smokes. He even read out of his Word of Wisdom pamphlet that he had kept, and was pumped about the blessings. We're so excited for him!
     So when Elder Weiler and I were out teaching in the parks one day, we gave an Ulotka to some guy and his wife that weren't really interested in the gospel. Later, we were walking through the park, praying at most of the crossroads to know where to go, and felt that we should go back up these steps back into the park. We saw Romald and this lady Again, and they talked with us this time. We talked for a while about the church/what we're doing. Then, a day or two later, we saw him AGAIN. We talked for about an hour about Everything... Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, Everything. He told us he wanted us to come teach him and his sister in their home on Saturday. We went on Saturday, miraculously found his house, because his Sister showed up at the perfect time, and helped us get there. He had invited us to Family Dinner. His two sisters, one of their husbands, the lady we had met in the park, and his Father. We had some amazing conversations about the church, and invited them to church, and to Lech's baptism on Saturday. At that dinner, they (forced us to) allowed us to eat Sledge. Yeah... it tastes worse than it sounds. It's pickled, raw herring. And they made us eat a lot. It's like a Polish favorite, and it's terrible. It's a missionaries worst nightmare. Literally I'm still tasting it.
    By Sunday night, we were finally able to take Lunch at 6 o'clock at night. We knew full well that we could take the night "off" due to the fact that we had another meal hour and some studying that we could have done. But, Elder Weiler and I were both impressed that we needed to go out and put that last bit of effort in for the week... to try to find our last two needed Investigators. We had very little success that night, until about 8:30. We met the most prepared girl named Sophie, who didn't speak Polish, but spoke really good English. She was Really interested in our beliefs, and in the Plan of Salvation. We taught her, and then set up to come back to that same spot on Tuesday night with an English Book of Mormon. I'm really excited to see how that meeting goes. Then, we kept looking and looking, knowing our time was running out, and praying at every crossroad to know where to go. We felt like we needed to go a certain way, and the Last possible guy we could have talked to was incredibly open, accepted a book, liked what we taught, and set up with us again. Miraculously, we made the standard, knowing full well that everything that happened was a blessing from God. I am so grateful for this week!
The Lord is really blessing us. I know He is leading us, and protecting us every single day. I am so grateful for the enabling power of the Atonement. Literally it carries me when I'm sooo out of energy during these hectic days. Wiem że ten kościół jest prawdą. Kocham tę ewangelię, i błogosławi mi każda dzień. Kocham to, że ja mam okazję aby głosić że możemy żamieskać razem że naszą rodziną na wieczność, po smierci. Kocham moją rodzinę! trzymajcie się

Elder Quackenbush

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Halloween Week

Hey fam!
Oh my goodness... what a week we had this week! The Lord really blessed us this week as we worked and worked and worked!  I'm so grateful for Elder Weiler and his good work ethic... it really helps us get things Done out here in Szczecin, and the Lord has been right there by our side!
So I got to meet Jacek. He's a member that lives Way outside of Szczecin, and he's super strong, but can never come to church! This guy is like 5'2, and has energy like the Breinholts... i.e. a LOT :) We were able to meet with him for a little while while he was in Szczecin, and it was suuuper cool!
Lech: So I don't even know where this guy came from. He is literally the most prepared person I've ever met. We just gave him one of his last commitments before baptism, and he's set! Next Friday, the 14th is the date... and we're so excited!  He is also prepared and accepted the call to receive the Priesthood after his confirmation.... I'm so excited for him!!
Older Lech: So this is a miracle... Old Lech was a past investigator that Elder Weiler and I found while calling through the area book. We called, and he said: "Brothers! Why haven't you called me in so long??"........ so we met with him this week. He had a baptismal date like a year ago, but relapsed on alkohole(I don't know how to spell it in english anymore... oops ) right before his baptism.  We brought Serguisz, and taught him the Word of Wisdom in no uncertain terms...(Well, Sergiusz did... the Spirit was just spitting words out of his mouth) and Lech agreed to try his best to live it! We encouraged him, and he's going for it! He told us he wants to set a baptismal date soon after he switches his work... so we're pumped! and then, he came to church Sunday. If that's not a miracle.. .then I don't know what is!!
So Jan is a member, and he's a master on the piano. He plays by ear kinda like Mckenna Breinholt. He is secretly writing a song for Lech's baptism. He found out I play the piano, and this week, we put two pianos together at the chapel, and he gave me the chords for the song, and we put it together as a kinda duet. It sounds sooooooo sweet, and I'm so grateful for it! We're going to play it at Lech's baptism I think!
So I actually kinda got Halloween... like the most legit Halloween of my life. Elder Weiler and I purposely saved all our meal time for the day until nighttime on November 1st... which is All Saints Day in Poland. Then, we went to the 3rd(the Poles were wrong.. it's not the first) biggest cemetery in Europe, and just walked through. It was the foggiest night I've ever experienced, and cold and thick enough that we could feel our breaths hitting us in the face. The only lights out in the cemetery where we were, were the candles on the graves. hahah We didn't turn our flashlights on. It was one of the most legit, eerie things I've ever done, but it was SOOO fun!
The Gospel is So True. Let me say that again.... The Gospel is the truest thing on the earth. I am so grateful for the experiences and trials I've had that have helped me realize that even more out here in Poland. Missions are great, life is great-and I'm absolutely loving it, and the gospel is great! Love y'all... keep doing good things!

Elder Q