Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013

Week 40

Dear Family and friends,

Since I've been slacking so much on my emails lately, I wanted to put a little more effort into this one, so I hope that it is okay.

This week was so fantastic! Having Christmas in the mission field is just the best thing ever! I hope this doesn't sound awful, but I actually didn't miss my family at all! The opportunity to serve this Lord at this time of year is better than any party or present or powder day of skiing that I could ever ask for! I have learned so much about this Savior this Christmas season. I was able to focus on not just the birth of Jesus Christ, but on His life and on His eternal destiny to forever be our Savior and King! I loved singing the Christmas carols because in a very real way, like the angles that the shepherds saw in the heavens on the night of the birth of Christ, so am I an angel singing praises to Christ the Lord!

In addition to it being Christmas time, it is the turn of the New Year. A time for a new beginning. I must say, this week I have been craving a change. I am glad that it's the start of a new transfer with the potential for a new things (missionaries, area, investigators, etc). Allowing you all to peer into the corners of my heart: I feel like I just need a change...I feel like things are just becoming so repetitive. Yes, I am learning new things every day and yes, I do my absolute best to not be rote when I teach on the street and in lessons...but to be perfectly honest, I just feel like something needs to be shaken up. Especially because we have a maxi transfer (aka 14 WEEKS) coming up...I really hope that this 3 1/2 month long transfer won't get me into any ruts or feelings of repetitiveness. Like we all know, my mission is way to short for that kind of thing! After this maxi transfer, I'll only have 2 transfers left...I really can't believe it and don't want it to be true! I love my mission SOOO much! Anyways... just writing what I truly feel here. :) HONESTY CIRCLE! I really hope that people don't think less of me as they practically are reading my journal on this blog! haha

It really is interesting though how I have been craving this need for change. I studied the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness a lot this week... and I realize more and more as I study it that progression is absolutely essential to our entire existence! I'm still learning exactly why, but I think I'm grasping it better and better. I understand that we lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to this Earth...but because we didn't have bodies or knowledge of good and bad, sadness and happiness, easiness and difficulty, we couldn't progress. That's why we were sent to this Earth! I know that if a person is ever feeling that they maybe don't know their purpose in life or are feeling repetitive or like they are dragging their feet in life, it's because they need to PROGRESS! We need to change and learn and grow! When we're stagnant in a place, we don't feel joy...and we are on Earth to have joy! Yes, sometimes in our life getting out of a routine can be uncomfortable, but the joy that is felt as change occurs or even after change is made, is so worth the uncomfortableness. We experience, change, and grow in this life! This is life eternal! To progress and to upodobnić się do become like God who is perfect! I'm grateful that it is a new year... now is the time that I can reevaluate myself, my work and my dedication to the Lord and make changes so that I can progress into the person, friend, wife, and mother that I need to be and will need to be. The Lord has a plan for me, of that I am certain. I know that He has a plan for every one of us! And we can reach the potential we have by continually progressing.

Funny moment (which always is actually a scary moment that later is funny!)  We went to this old less active man's house because he inviting us over for dinner...I don't know why because he seemed like he hated us the whole time! No matter what we said, we weren't doing it right! If we ate too much of the food, we weren't saving enough for others; if we ate too little, he would get offended because he thought we hated his cooking! It was so awkward, and I was sitting across from Elders Lanham and Smith the whole time, trying with all my might to hold in laughter at their facial expressions as we were all trying to hold down our food after shoveling this VERY Polish food down our throats! hahaha it was all just a very laughable experience!

Well I love you all so much!! Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!... Happy New Year to you.. in jail!

Sister Blake

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Week 38

Well, last night I had a little reality check. One of the Sisters in my Zone is giong home with no notice for health reasons tomorrow!!! and thought about what it would be like to have to go home at this point in my mission. Am I holding anything back? Would I be sad to go home? I realized that if I went home at this point in my mission I would be devasted because I LOVE my mission! Despite all the Christmas parties, and other festivities that are surely being had at home, I wouldn't ever choose that over the work I am doing now! I LOVE Poland! I LOVE Polish (never thought I'd say that one!)! I LOVE the people here! I LOVE these righteous saints here! I LOVE worrying about people's eternal progression! I LOVE not even having even enough time to clip my toe nails (a little gross maybe, but it's true!)! And I LOVE talking, teaching, and preaching ALL the time about my Brother and Savior Jesus Christ!

The picture is in front of a Polish Christmas street festival thing! I feel like it's Gepetto's shop from Pinnochio!

Funny moment: We were in a lesson with a mom. Her daughter was home sick from school and is 4 1/2. Her daughter was crying whining and crying and so the mom brought her out and sat her on her lap. Then she started cradling her. In my head I thought "maybe she's a little old for that, but sure if It'll make her stop crying". Next thing I know, the mom lifts up her shirt and starts BREAST FEEDING her TODDLER who was in Kindergarten!!!! Oh my heavens!!! hahah I was totally shocked! and it took all my power to control my facial expressions of shock and to keep from laughing!

Merry Christmas! Sorry this was such a lame email

Sister Blake!

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013

Week 37

This week was so wonderful! This week, as you might remember, all of the missionaries in the Katowice zone got together to go to Auschwitz. It really was a tragic place, but I am so grateful for the knowledge we have of the plan of Salvation! Despite those people's atrocious experiences, they are in a state of peace, and they will one day be able to have bodies again in their perfect form...not starved or disfigured, but perfect bodies! My testimony of the plan of salvation was strengthened so much when I was there. I have more motivation to bring people to the knowledge of the gospel now because I know that the gospel is also being preached to those that died during the Holocaust on the other side.

After our time there, all the missionaries were able to go Christmas caroling together! I've always thought that caroling would be a good finding idea, and it turns out that it definetly is MUCH more effective with a lot of missionaries! I don't think the 6 missionaries of our district really would've been able to cut it was really amazing to be able to sing praises of the birth of our Savior and King! I felt like an angel, in Luke 2 singing "glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will towards men!" ... Also, all 6 sisters (8 including sister king and I) slept at our apartment for the night because the next day was zone conference! It was a little crowded, BUT because all of us were together, we had a very rare opportunity to bond as sisters in the mission. 

My tradition always has been with my companions that before bed, we say one way we saw the hand of the Lord in our day that day. but because there were so many sisters, I was able to be 6x as much spiritually strengthened as we recognized the Lord in our work that day! The next morning we also did a big giant comp. study together and I learned SO much from these fantastic sister missionaries! We really do have the best of the best here in Poland and I'm so grateful I was able to get closer with them and have my testimony strenghtened by them.

NEXT, I got to go on an exchange with Sister Poklinkowska in WROCLAW!!!! It felt like I never left! I got to sleep in my old bed and I got to have lessons with the people I used to teach and got to talk with the people I love there! It was so amazing! The thing that was really a miracle for me during that exchange was seeing and meeting with Tamara! When we met Tamara in October, she was PAINFULLY shy! She seemed nervous to share her opinions and was really quiet and didn't ever show much emotion in her facial expressions. I remember, there was one time when we KNEW she was feeling the spirit stongly because she was holding back a smile. But when i got to meet with her this week (3 days before her baptism!!) the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed her!!! She was smiling and laughing and adding her 2 cents with almost everything we said! And when I asked her what one thing was that she's learned since she met us, she said, "I know that God loves ME. That i'm not just 1 out of 7 billion, but that he loves me." When I opened my mission papers almost exactly a year ago, I had this overwhelming feeling like there was someone I had to find that needed to know that Heavenly Father loves them INDIVIDUALLY. Tamara may very well have been that person. My joy is full! She was baptized on Saturday and couldn't sleep that night because she was so excited to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost!
Funny moment: HAHAHHAHAHAHAH We had a meeting with a girl...she was ended up telling us that she smokes pot from time to time and was explaining how it makes her all "spokonie" and calm and la la la... my comp sister king is on her 2nd transfer in the country and bless her heart didn't understand and said, "EXACTLY! that's the Holy Ghost!!!" hahahhaha I was trying SOOO hard not to die laughing in the lesson!
Love, Sister Blake!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

Week 36

Pictures are worth 1000 words, so this week since I don't have ANY time, here are some pictures. [Kendall said she was going to visit Auschwitz today]

We had a Thanksgiving American feast type activity! Here's a picture of my team (Elder Lanham, Elder Smith, Wojtek, and Barbara!)

I got your package, Mom, and now our apartment is super fun and Christmasy! :)

We made food for the feast during our dinner hour and getting ready for bed hour and it was a TOTAL disaster!!! ahahhaa but SOOOOOOO FUNNY!!!!
The amazing moment this week I'm going to include but how fast I type it really won't do it justice. Where our apartment is located is right next to a street where, unfortunately, a lot of prostitutes find themselves at night. Kate, having done a report on the horrors of prostitution last year, has opened my eyes to this sad way of life. One night as we were walking home, we had the impression to go over to a woman and tell her her value as a daughter of God. We expressed to her how much the Lord loves her and how much we love her even though we don't even know her. Shivering in the cold, she was touched by the Spirit and started crying. I felt so much love for this woman and sadnesses at the gloom of her situation. But I saw a light dep in her eyes ignite as we spoke and grow brighter the longer we talked about the Lord's love for her. It was a deeply spiritual experience. I love this Kasia Daughter of God, as we named her in our cell phone, and I can't wait for her to start reading the Book of Mormon to witness to her how much the Lord loves all His children, but especially his daughters :) D&C 25:1-3....

1 Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, [Kasia], my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who areceive my gospel are sons and daughters in my bkingdom.
2 A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and awalk in the paths of bvirtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an cinheritance in Zion.
3 Behold, thy asins are forgiven thee, and thou art an belect clady, whom I have dcalled.

I am so grateful for this gospel and that I know my identity and worth.

Love Love LOVE,
Sister Blake

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

Week 35

It seems crazy that all that has happened this week has happened only in 7 days! This week I went on an exchange with Sister Hemming in Kielce! Kielce is, first of all, the cutest city/town ever!! I really hope that I get to serve there one day! And Sister Hemming is absolutely amazing too! I totally felt like the dream team with her! If you ever need to open up a new area of something, Sister Hemming and I would gladly volunteer to do that together! haha But anyways, I am so grateful for the many lessons I learned on that exchange. I left for the exchange a little nervous because it was my first exchange being the Sister Training Leader! And once again I was very humbled and felt like I had no clue what I was doing and even thought "are You sure You knew what You were doing when You asked me to be in this assignment, Lord?"But once again, strengthened was my testimony that God hears and answers our prayers and that He qualifies His servants. I decided to just work as I would work were I in my own preaching area! And it turns out that she ended up learning a lot...I know that the Spirit was teaching her and not me! We learned on the exchange that the best way to be successful is to be happy! If you're having a miserable time and stressing out, you're not going to be successful! It's the happiest missionaries that are enjoying their missions from whom people see a certain joyful light while talking.  When we're stressing out like crazy people and running around like chickens with our heads cut off, we can't have the Spirit with us. I have found that to be true in my mission. Preach My Gospel [book missionaries study to help them teach the gospel] says that patience is enduring and waiting calmly. When I am calm, I am giving the Spirit time to speak to me and I can notice His promptings. Another lesson that I learned is that the best way to be an example, is not by being perfect, but by being yourself and continually trying to improve YOURSELF! Becoming the best version of yourself...not being the "picture perfect missionary". I have found that finding joy in the journey allows me to love my mission and love those around me so much easier! All in all, the exchange with Sister Hemming was a huge success and I am so grateful to have been able to learn from her.

Miracle of the week...for me. I don't think that anyone else besides me would really consider this a miracle, but to me, it is. Contacting has never really been my favorite thing. I have always thought it's really nerve wracking and that I need to pump myself up before I go talking to these random people on the street about Jesus Christ. But the Lord knows my weaknesses and has turned them into a strength! White washing = a lot of finding = talking to EVERYONE.... the Lord knew that one of my weaknesses was liking contacting, and in His great goodness, He this past week turned it into a strength! All of a sudden, I LOVE talking to random people on the street! I love learning their stories and I LOVE testifying about this true gospel! My testimony has become so much more valuable to me as I have been sharing it WILLINGLY with more and more people! I am so grateful for Heavenly Father's all-knowing-ness and His awareness of me and my need to really enjoy contacting.

Daniel (the Elders' investigator here) got baptized on Saturday!! It was so amazing and the Spirit was SOOO strong!! It was so awesome because 5 nonmembers came to his baptism! one of them was a mom Asia and her son Wojtek! They are so amazing and i KNOW they felt the Spirit so strongly during the entire service! I could see it! It was so amazing because there was a moment when I felt prompted to ask her to read part of 3 Nephi 11 where Christ Himself talks about the proper performance of baptism. I gave her my Book of Mormon to read and read she did! WAY past what I suggested!! Her little 10 year old son was also super interested in the baptism and I KNOW that they are going to be baptized one day! ...we hope even for in the next transfer! :) Never say never!!

Funny moment of the week: In our missionary planners, we have a back up plan section. Back up plans are sooo important! Mostly when you have meetings set up. But when you don't have meetings set up and are planning to talking to people in your path on the way to someone's house, there aren't too many back up plans that would be super effective.. and so was the case one of the days this week. Sister King and I were laughing so hard when we looked at our plans to contact on the way to a person's house and I said, "well....if that part of the city blows up --" "We'll give service!!"! I don't know why that seemed so absolutely hysterical in the moment, but we were just dying laughing at the thought that the only thing that would stop us from walking on the street would be if the city blew up! hahaha

Anyways, love you all so much!

Sister Blake

Karen, Kendall's mom here. Here is a note Kendall wrote our family this week and I wanted to include because it is so raw and from the heart:

I feel like I say the same thing in almost every email! But just know that when i get back in 9 months (CRAZY!!! this Wednesday is officially the half way point! I can't believe it!) I'll be able to sit down and have a nice 3 day long chat by the fire with all of you about all the amazing things I've seen and learned! This gospel is true!! It's silly to think I'd give up a year and a half of my fantastic life to this cause if it were not true! If you trust me, trust my sincerity when I say with the fullness of my heart that Jesus Christ established a church and it has been restored!! Why else would I be tromping around freezing in Poland?! I WOULDN'T! I do it because I know that what I preach and teach is NOT a lie! We don't even understand how much happiness Heavenly Father will cause us to feel! If you find yourself saying "ya, I'm content, I don't need to change, I'm a good enough person", then you are selling yourself short!  From the very depths of my soul I express my love for each of you and for my Savior, who I will never turn my back on nor ignore His outstretched hand. He's Always there! Even when it seems too late! I've experienced this, and I know it's true.

Prayed for me to open up to a scripture that would be good to include with this email, and opened up to I'm following the prompting and including it: Mosiah 4:30 ....although I highly recommend reading chapters 2-4 in Mosiah cause they're some of my favorite :)

p.s. I'm going to Auschwitz next Monday and am not sure if i'll be able to email next week.... so if you don't hear from me, I'm okay! :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013

I never know how to start off these emails.. but anyways: The work here is coming pretty great seeing that we've only been here one week! We had a few first meetings that were pretty great! Especially with a woman named Sylwia!! We were walking home the other night, of course trying to talk to everyone along the way, and we said hello and introduced ourselves to this one woman Sylwia. She had a pretty unusual reaction and she smiled HUGE and greeted us super friendily! Turns out she was meeting with the Sister Missionaries here 14 YEARS AGO!!! She now has 3 children and invited us over to her home to teach her more about the gospel!! We were so excited to go over to her house on Saturday and the meeting went really well and I really think it's just the start of something absolutely fantastic!

Something I learned about this week was angels. There have been several moments on my mission when people start talking about angels! When I met Ania in Wrocław, the deciding factor for her to set up to meet with us was when she asked, "Do you all believe in angels?". Whenever we would meet with Czesława she would always call us her angels (maybe it had something to do with the hair haha, but i know it was deeper than just that!). There was even a time when someone thought I was an angel! It was a blind woman. I was talking her her about the gospel and looking into her fogged eyes. She had a huge smile on her face and was holding onto one of my hands. I was speaking to her straight from my heart about the joy and peace Heavenly Father gives me as I read the Book of Mormon and live her teachings, when I put my free hand on her arm. I saw that her face look startled and I assured her that the hand she felt was only mine.  She smiled and still looking a little confused said that she thought that it was an angel that was beside her. I was near tears as she said this being reminded of the verse in 2 Nephi 32:3...that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. How honored I felt in that moment to be one of the Lord's angels. I have the assurance that when I was speaking from my heart that I really was speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost and that she felt it, even physically as I testified of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a missionary, I am an angel! I have the amazing opportunity to do what angels do! I get to praise the Lord Jesus Christ! I get to sing His name! I get to testify of Him! I get to tell others to fear not. I get to declare good tidings of great joy. I get to bring others to repentance. I get to appear to people in their path and bring them closer to the Savior, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Price of Peace! This IS the work of angels! And I am an angel in this glorious work!

Sister King and I are getting along great! We're learning how the other one works and are working hard, but having a lot of fun while doing it...the best combination! I am learning a lot from her and we're growing a lot together too...learning how to teach better and how to use comp study to its maximum potential (which I am convinced is by throwing out "the outline method" and preparing spiritually so we can be fully prepared and have our own testimonies grown in order to better teach by the Spirit and not by the outline!)
The funny moment this week is also a bit of an unfortunate moment too: We were contacting the streets of Katowice on a cold dark evening and were starving! We searched for a place to eat and the streets just had absolutely zilch besides loud bars! So when we finally came across what we thought was a nice sandwich place, we took advantage of the opportunity and ate being reasured that we could pay after we were finished eating...not even having looked at the prices! STUPID! Because the bill was absolutely laughable!!! and laugh we did! In this life, you can cry or you can we decided to laugh and might have to starve ourselves for a little bit this week to make up for the dent it put in our budget hahaha but it was soooo hysterical!

Sister Blake

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

Week 33

So like I mentioned before, I am white washing again[where both missionaries are new to the area]! It is pretty different to go from a place where relationships have been being built for several months to a place where you know no one and your companion knows no one, and our teaching pool is a big 1. haha But you know what, I am really excited to start from ground zero! Like "Preach My Gospel" says, the miracles we see here in the next transfer will shine brightly like "a diamond against black velvet" :) . I know that there awaits us many miracles here, seen and unseen!

 So Katowice (or at least our area) is a LOT smaller than Wrocław! It's not very pretty cause there's a lot of construction going on, but if the Lord wants me to be here, I'm at least grateful that it's during Christmas time when everything is just happier and more cheerful anyways! ahha so that's a blessing! I went to church on Sunday and fell in love with all the members here! It's a pretty huge branch (30 active members) and that is really cool! Some are a little funny, but some are real kingdom builders! So that's really great!! I'm actually surprised to how well I'm adjusting to a new place, new members, new people, and a new companion! I've felt peace and joy despite leaving my first Polish home! I know that it is because my life is founded on Jesus Christ. How grateful I am to have Him in my life, guiding me and helping me through it all. Whether it be through scriptures, through prayer, or literally feeling His strengthening power, I have felt peace because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today we had zone training! Which went really well. Elder Lanham, Elder Smith, and I all felt like we had prepared as much as we could, but then just let the Spirit guide and help us! I felt like I learned a lot even though I was one of the 3 people leading the "zone counsel".  It was pretty great, the Zone Leaders really wanted to include me in the zone training as the Sister Training Leader, so it was really neat to get to be a part of inspiring the missionaries with the two of them and I really felt like I had an equal part in it! I'm grateful that the zone leaders I work with really encourage me to discover the real definition of a Sister Training Leader.

I was really seeking inspiration of how I can magnify this assignment as Sister Training Leader and I have talked to each sister companionship in the Zone [area of a mission] this week. I also called each of them last night and asked them to ponder a question that I had come to my mind the other night as I was really thinking about them and the sisters' needs in this Zone. So I called each of the sisters and asked them to think about the question "Am I as spiritual as I have ever been in my life?" I know that that question seems really vague and you'd think "well, DUH! I'm on a mission! Of course!" But I have found while being on a mission that GOING on a mission really doesn't mean much. It's what you DO on your mission. The first couple transfers of my mission, I felt like I was just running around like a crazy person doing all the things I needed to do and found that I got caught up in the to do list that I forgot the real purpose of me serving a mission! I forgot about the thing that matters most! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! So the question of "Am I as spiritual as I have ever been in my life?" seems super obvious, but actually, it is really easy to get caught up in things and forget about the most important things... to forget about our spirituality!

If while on a mission, I'll be closer to Christ than at any other time in my life, I want to be pretty darn close! It will set the stage for the rest of my life! But I know that as we really do the things that matter most, we'll come closer to the Savior... And I'm so grateful to have that knowledge and that desire to become more spiritual than ever before! BUT everyone! just because I learned this lesson on a mission does not mean that it only applies to missionaries! I think everyone should take a little second to think about if we are as spiritual as we've ever been...and if not, figure out what you need to do to become the most spiritual you've ever been! Maybe that means giving something up, or making a life change, or starting to do something again! But I promise you, that whatever change you will make in your life to become closer to the Savior, He will help you make that change! and you'll feel strengthened!

Funny Moment: Elder Lanham, who is one zone leader here (and the only Elder who stayed in this city from last transfer...and many would consider him quite the catch), took us to a pizza place here.. it was sooooo hysterical! The waitresses saw him walk in and smiled, came over and offered us a pizza for 50% off! Then when she was walking away from our table, she was staring deep into Elder Lanham's eyes and accidentally backed up into the table behind her!!! oh my goodness I was doing all I could to not burst out laughing! Who says that missionaries are awkward while we're away!? Elder Lanham's charm got us a pizza for 50% off!! haha

I love you guys so much!!!

Sister K Blake

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

Week 32

So of course you know my miracle of the week! It was Krystyna being baptized! A few months ago, I met a lady named Krystyna on a tramway. She was coming back from her sons grave and was feeling pretty down. Then a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (me) came up to her and started speaking in bad Polish about the Book of Mormon. We set up an appointment to meet  the very next day. Her story hasn't necessarily been one of the instantaneous miraculous stories that I've been telling for the past few weeks, but it is miraculous none the less to see her amazing progress. From her starting point of not understanding the need to be baptized by proper restored authority, to now showing forth her faith by being baptized is just miraculous! I tell you, it was so beautiful to see her so excited and happy on the day of her baptism and on the following day at her confirmation! I can't tell you how blessed I feel to have seen the whole process out until the end! And boy what a pay off when she mentioned that Sister Malinowska and Sister Kukurenda (members of 20 years) are good examples to show her what she can become!...She sees that this is just the beginning and she's willing and ready and excited to learn more and more and grow stronger and stronger! Not to mention that she got the most beautiful blessing during her confirmation and said she felt warmth. I'm so excited for her!

So I have been transferred to Katowice! I will be "white washing" [when missionaries are both new to the area] with Sister King (who awesomely enough was Sister Poklinkowska's companion in the MTC!) My new address is:

Al. Rozdzieńskiego 86A/12
Katowice 40201

I am really excited to go and white wash Katowice! Yes, I have been a little sad here and there because of how much I LOVE the members here in Wrocław and the investigators we have and I will surely miss my amazing partner in crime Sister Poklinkowska, not to mention what a GORGEOUS city Wrocław is! But you know, despite all that, I know that the Lord has a great work for me in Katowice! It's actually pretty neat...we've been kind of hinting to President Edgren all transfer that we wanted to stay here in Wroclaw and be together, etc...and he agreed and felt like it was a good idea to keep us together in Wroclaw!...but after much prayer about the needs of the mission, he felt like she needed to stay and I needed to go to Katowice. It gives me comfort and peace that this really is where the LORD wants me to go. I know that Sister King and I are going to see so many changes and miracles in Katowice and I know that we are going to see many more Tamara's and Rebekah's and Ania's who have just been amazingly prepared and just placed in our laps! I know that we will find them and I'm so excited to be a part of this work! There will be new friendships to make, new roads to navigate, new hot chocolate places to find, and new souls to save! And I'm really excited! And same with being the new sister training leader!! I'm excited for how much trust I have put in me and I know I'll learn a TON from this assignment! Anyways, who knows what the Lord has in store for me! But I have faith that these assignments, members, new companion and new city will shape me into the person the Lord needs me to be for the rest of my life! I just pray that one day the Lord sees fit to send me back to Wrocław or maybe to work with Sister Poklinkowska again! :) But my thoughts are not His thoughts and I know He will do what is best for me!

Also this Friday was All Saints Day! (the Polish version of Halloween...except much more meaningful and a really beautiful time where families gather and go visit the graves of their loved ones!) Last week we went and helped clean graves and this lonely fritz hanse didn't have any relatives to clean his or his 3 friends graves, so Sister Poklinkowska and I did it! and this is a picture of the final product! It was so pretty and there were SO many candles in the cemetery! It was actually pretty awesome because there were so many candles lit, we actually weren't cold at all!! but as soon as we left the gates of the cemetery, it was pretty darn cold (not freezing yet, but cold). It was so cool to go and see this part of their culture, but I'm also so grateful for the restored truths that are in this restored church! I know that I don't have to pray for the souls of my deceased relatives because I know that they are in the Spirit World and are doing missionary work to bring OTHER souls unto Christ! (if this is unfamiliar to you, click here so you can understand what I'm getting at here :) )

OH! One other thing! Jessie Conner! I don't know if you are in the Irvine area or not, but it was the craziest thing! So Sis. Pok. and I were walking to the chapel like I've done over 800 times (I did the math) and we passed these 2 younger looking guys and a dad (50's)... Here's how things went down.. "Dzień dobry! Jesteśmy misjonarkami z kościoła Jezusa Chrystusa--"... "Oh, we're from America...we don't speak Polish"... "Oh great! neither do we!!... where are you from in the States?" ... "California".. (Sister Blake starts jumping up and down) "I'M from California! what part?!" ... "we're from Laguna Beach!" (Sister Blake starts jumping up and down again) "I"M from Laguna Beach!!!" Anyways!! It turns out this this man Matt and his son Victor are from Irvine (not exactly Laguna.. but wszystko mi jedno) and Matt's wife (Victor's mom) is MORMON!!!! I didn't really know what to do I was in so much shock!! But they started walking away and all I could think to do was to give Victor a little pass along card... THAT'S IT!? That's all I could come up with!?!... but you know what, it's okay. We prayed that this little encounter may have a lasting affect on them and I pray that Jessie Conner is in their area and can figure out what family has gone on a vacation to Poland lately (sorry Jesse for the vague "details" haha...good luck!) But it was really cool and i really hope that Matt feels the Spirit that is in him home because of his wife's faithfulness to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:14).

Also...many know that I have a very acute sense of smell... and things this week have been reminding me of so many random lovely things in my life that I know and love! a blessing! This week I have smelt Sundance Resort lollipop General Store and Sam when he was a baby and we were at GNancy's house in DC for Thanksgiving!!! :) (specific, yes, but a tender mercy you Sambo!)

Also, a sweet thanks to Grandma Ruby for her package :) Thanks so much! Love you tons!

I love all of you so much and can't wait to report on the miracles I see in the upcoming week next time!

Siostra K. Blake!

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013

Week 31

Well, first and foremost...I've done it again... yes..indeed. I have once again asked someone to cut my hair who had no idea how and without giving them any guidelines! Whoops! It's okay though :) Sister Poklinkowska did a fine job despite the fact that she cut off about 2 1/2 inches! hahaha ah.... someday I'll learn :)

In other news: I am speechless... I will tell you why: For the past week, we were planning with our golden investigator Rebekah (the one where SO many obstacles have been put in our way to meet with her) to go to Katowice for District Conference with all the members in the southern part of Poland. We all 3 had our train tickets...bought them and they weren't exactly cheap! She sent us a text message on Friday saying "We'll meet here at 8am! I'm really excited!" ... Sunday comes along and there we are at the train station at 8 a.m. 8:15 rolls one. We began to lose our cool... called her and left a nice message saying "We're here :) "...8:28. We call Rebekah hundreds of times and sent tons of text messages because our train leaves in a mere 8 minutes! Still no one! No answer and going straight to voice mail! We started panicking and decided to get on the train hoping that she was already on the train or hoping that she forgot to change her clock and that she was already in Katowice because of the time change! We jumped on the train in full faith and in near tears hoping that she's be in Katowice waiting for us! We took the 3 hour train ride there and looked through the whole train for her...all except the last 2 train carts. With full faith, we jumped off our train (not while it was moving...don't worry) and ran to the conference, hoping to see her there greeting us at the door! We got there and ..she wasn't there.. I cannot express to you the absolute devastation of acting in full faith in both the Lord and also in Rebekah and then being disappointed at the end result....a few tears (a lot of tears) were even shed. But I just knew that something went wrong!! Who would buy an expensive train ticket just to pull 2 missionaries' legs! It just made absolutely no sense!... This morning we got a text message from Rebekah saying: "Hello, I've been trying to get in touch with you! I was running late yesterday but I managed to catch the train. I tried calling and texting you to no avail. I couldn't find you and didn't know the address of the church in Katowice!" ....... WHAT!!?!!?!?! She was on the train in the last 2 carts! The only 2 we didn't check!!! This morning, some more tears were shed. I can tell you I've never been more speechless in my whole life.  I still am speechless in fact! But you know...I learned a valuable lesson. In Matthew 16, the disciples of Christ forget to bring bread. po prostu, they made a human mistake. The Savior mentions it, but in a deeper sense...beyond just their forgetfulness. The disciples thought that He was mad at them for forgetting the bread, but Jesus explains that He's not the slightest bit upset about that because they've forgotten the bread before and it's all turned out fine! He explains that He was trying to teach them a deeper lesson by using their forgetting the bread as a way to teach it. Likewise, Sister Poklinkowska and I made a human mistake...we didn't check the last two train wagons. But we realize now that that isn't necessarily the lesson the Lord is trying to teach us. He's teaching us to be diligent and perservere in faith, not giving up! I KNOW that she is prepared! I KNOW that she isn't lying to us. No one could tell us such Preach My Gospel quote worthy things about the way this gospel makes them feel! Sister Poklinkowska and I are persevering in faith, understanding that that's the lesson the Lord wants to teach us!

Anyways, something miraculous happened this week! TAMARA! We met this 20 year old girl from Aber Bagion (spelling??!) (someplace near the Caspian Sea) and she found a flier for our English class and saw that it was offered by our church and she's been searching for a church! She says one of her questions is why God has stopped speaking to people today... just got the chills even typing this! We showed her to our chapel and we showed her the wall of pictures of modern day prophets, through whom God speaks to us today! She smiled. We showed her the Sacrament Chapel. She said it felt like home. She smiled. We had a Plan of Salvation lesson. She said the Book of Mormon answers her question that she can't find in the Bible. She says she understands the necessity of a Savior and understands Christ better. She smiled. She even laughed! I am just amazed CONSTANTLY of how the Lord keeps putting this amazing people in our paths! I will forever be grateful for the past 3 weeks where miracles have been heaped upon us like pounds of snow in an avalanche! I know the Lord is hastening His work because it's beginning to avalanche here in of the (if not THE) most Catholic countries in the world! And I know the miracles aren't going to stop! Bring on another transfer because I'm ready to be amazed some more!

Funny: I asked Brat Zań on the phone if he and his family and pregnant wife would be coming to the baptism this Saturday and he said: "If my son doesn't birth himself my then, yes." I was DYING laughing!!!

Can't believe it's actually Pday again. This may have been the fastest week of my mission so far and i have a sneaky feeling that next week will be even faster! AH!

P.S. I snuck some Christmas music, even though its still October, and listened to Judy Garland sing me my favorite lullaby (lulu in polish): Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. It was a tender mercy :) [Background on Kendall, she likes to listen to Christmas music 12 months a year...loves Christmas like no one I know :)]

Love you so much! We will get transfer calls in 6 days! AH!
Sister K Blake

pic #1: me and Agnieszka Kukurenda! She's a member in the branch and so awesome I love her so much! and she was also in Time magazine for being the Woman of the Year! ;)

pic #2: this colorful cow reminds me of home and the mooses (meese?) all around Park City :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013

Week 30

I think my favorite part about being a missionary is the part where I get to see people progress towards their best selves. Over the past few weeks, we've been working with a few people who have some baptismal dates coming up! I look back on when I first met them and am truly blown away by their progress. One woman (Krystyna), I remember our first meeting and she didn't really understand much at all. The first couple of times we asked her to be baptized, she said "but i've already been baptized". But now she is praying personal prayers, is coming to all 3 hours of church, is doing all she can to get work off on Sundays and even find a new job because she wants to keep the Sabbath Day holy so badly, she is beginning to recognize the Spirit more and more, she's quit drinking coffee, and she is getting baptized in 2 weeks! She still recognizes that she does not know everything, but her faith in God's promises really blows me away! She doesn't know a ton about this gospel, but she knows that the Book of Mormon is from God, and that God wants us to be baptized by someone who holds the proper authority (which is only found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!). She has faith the promised blessings that come with baptism really will be given to her. Despite a crazy home life, I see her becoming happier and happier every day! The members have really reached out to show her love! and she is on a greater scale feeling the love of God because He's proud of her decisions to try to have a closer relationship with Him.

Something Sister Poklinkowska and I recognized this week is that this change we see in people does not come from us or our work. Yes, sometimes we feel like we have to change these people's lives. But I realized this week that it is NOT me who is changing these people's lives. I am leading them to the person who CAN change their lives...and that person is our Savior Jesus Christ. I have seen Him transform these people into a better version of themselves. And I see more and more how He is changing me to become the best version of MYself.

When I first left on my mission, I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone else that I'd go on a mission and come back and still be Kendall and not a weird "Sister Blake". But I understand now how silly that try and hold onto yourself like I was trying to. I have seen myself progress to be more spiritually in tune, to be more patient (still working on it), to be more virtuous, to make this gospel the center of my life. In the process of this change, I'm still me...but I'm just a better version of me! I realize now...what's so bad about being "Sister Blake"! That's the best version of myself...Avery in her letter a few months ago drew the attention to the fact that our name tags have 2 names: our last name, and Christ's name. Here I am representing my eternal family and my Eternal Brother. Yes I'm still me, but I'm becoming more and more the disciple of Christ I've always wanted to be!

We've made really great relationships with the members here and even the other day, we exercised with our dear friend Sister Malinowska! She walks every morning in this beautiful park with ski poles :) It's pretty great and we went with her this week and it was just beautiful! So a picture is attatched!

Also the funny moment of this week, We had "Sports Saturday" which is an hour and a half this Saturday where we played basket ball with members and investigators... it ended up being perfect because with Ania angels investigating the church, we've got to be sure that she has friends! So it went really well!! But a member named Ola thinks my name should be Vivian because she thinks that "Vivian Blake" rolls off the tongue real nicely and that it sounds like a movie star :) So any time that she would want me to pass her the ball during this Sports Saturday, she kept yelling VIVIAN!!! haha it ended up being a good trick because it confused the other team! muahaha

Anyways, have a good week! be healthy...not just physically, but spiritually too. Just like not eating or drinking for a day takes a huge toll on us, not reading the scriptures and praying for a day also takes its toll on our spirits . So eat up and "feast upon the words of Christ!"


Sister Kendall Blake

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013

Week 29

I cannot even count the miracles of this week!!!! Honestly, I can't even count all of them! I tried to write most of them in my journal, but I know I probably forgot some because it was just the most amazing week ever! First and foremost, on Tuesday was Zone Training in Katowice! We went to Katowice, and right before we left to get on the train back to Wrocław, Elder Lanham said, "by the way sister Blake...thanks for the investigator!" I was a little confused because I couldn't remember what he was talking about... but then he went on to tell me that a young man about 23 or so had found my blog on the internet!!! He's from POLAND and he started reading my blog and he decided that he wanted to learn more about what I was writing!  And then emailed my mom to ask about which missionaries are in Katowice! Long story short, he is now meeting with Elder Lanham and Elder Wilson in Katowice!!!! Learning about this amazing gospel that brings so much joy and happiness to all those who live it!!! Krzystof, if you're reading this blog post, know that I am so honored to be a part of your discovery of eternal and restored truth! This is the true church of Christ, and He is the head of it! Keep meeting with Elder Lanham and Wilson, because you are on the right path! I promise you that!

Next miracle: Rebekah...last week she committed to be baptized on our first meeting...czyli, to be baptized three weeks after we first met!!! But I have learned this week that Satan's power is SO real! He does NOT want people to find happiness! He will do all he can to get in people's way of finding the truth! We had 4 meetings set up with Rebekah this past week...every single on of them had some CRAZY out of the blue thing get in the way that didn't allow us to meet! I'm talking not just coincidences getting in the way, but a real force trying to stop her from continuing in the joy that she found! Cell phones breaking for only 1 hour and then working fine after going to our next meeting, unusual meeting places, cell phones dying when they shouldn't have, tramwajs breaking down! I'm talking every thing that Satan could throw in her way, he did! Despite the very real obstacles getting in our way, Rebekah continued to keep the Book of Mormon on her person at all times and in just 1 week has read 250 pages of the Book of Mormon because she sees how much joy it brings her and she recieved an answer to prayer that she knows it's true! The Lord ALWAYS wins!! We met with Rebekah today (twice! haha...didn't want to let her out of our sight!) and she expressed such joy that she's found the truth and will be getting baptized in a mere 2 1/2 weeks! She also was a little afraid to ask her stickler boss for work off next Sunday, but the Lord always wins! He softened this boss's heart and now Rebekah has every Sunday off from now until forever! In addition to ALL of these miracles, during one of the days that we waited and waited with our phone service not working (but only for the one hour that we needed it to work to communicate with Rebekah!) we ran into a girl named Ania.

Ania: We spoke with her and at first being a little wary of us, we testified of knowing the Book of Mormon's truth. She said "I've never heard anyone talk like this...I'm really excited to meet with you again!" we exhcanged phone numbers, set up a meeting, and right before parting ways she said, "oh and one more thing... do you believe in angels?" ...I was so touched! Something about this young 18 year old girl, wearing a skull shirt and a studded necklace, something about her question really touched me. "yes." was all we could reply... a huge smile came across her face and she said, "okay, see you on tuesday!".....THE LORD IS PREPARING PEOPLE in all ways! people of all different types! We ended up meeting with her and teaching her the plan of other words the plan of happiness... And happy she was! She said she had never felt more hope and joy than she had in our meeting with her and she too has committed to be baptized!!!

So moral of the story is, satan tried to put an obstacle in our way from meeting with rebekah, but the Lord made the best out of it and led us to Ania AND rebekah is still progressing! The Lord micromanages this world I am telling you! The smallest little things He is doing to bring EVERYONE this joy!

In addition to that!!! joy continues to be full especially when czeslawa and krystyna both accepted the invitation to be baptized  this past tuesday! they too are working towards the 2nd of November! And of course, our rock solid member, sister Malinowska had been on TONS of lessons with us this week! She's really beginning to trust sister Poklinkowska and I and is really growing to love us more and more every day!
I FINALLY feel like I would cry my eyes out if I had to go home! I LOVE my mission and i LOVE the people I'm working with! I LOVE my companion! I LOVE the members here! I LOVE my life! I LOVE missionary work! I LOVE the Lord!
...and I LOVE you all too :)
Sister Blake
oh...and i LOVE the FALL TIME!!!! We've been running in the foggy fall mornings and the leaves are just out of this world beautiful! Attached is a picture of the view outside our window! and also a funny picture of us and our fellow "sisters". and also of us and REBEKAH!

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013

Week 28

Wow. What an amazing blessing to hear the words of prophets! I feel so incredibly blessed to have grown up in a family that values the words of prophets. I can see how abiding to their words have really blessed my life. Especially being on a mission in Poland where every one asks what the differences between our church and the Catholic church are, I really feel like I have gained a much stronger testimony of why we have a prophet. I so much better understand that a prophet is someone who has the authority to recieve revelation from God on behalf of the whole world. It is his responsibility to tell the Lord's children God's will for us and how we can accomplish it in the day and age that we live in. "And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach His commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into His rest" (Alma 13:6). It is our responsibility to listen to that council. "Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before Me; For his word ye shall receive,as if from Mine Own mouth, in all patience and faith" (D&C 21:4-5). A few investigators came to some sessions of conference, and I could noticeably see a difference in them...that difference was the Spirit. They were filled with it. They were glowing with it! I can't wait to talk to them about how and what they felt while they listened to the inspired council of the prophet and apostles.

In other news, Sister Poklinkowska and I are doing SO great! We have finally found a way to plan in companion study that I think gives us enough direction and structure in lessons with also enough room to let the Spirit guide. Sister Pok and I have become good friends and are on the same page with our vision of the work and with our vision of how to get there. I am so grateful that we have been assigned to work together! I learn from her everyday! for the amazing miracle of the week!! It is a miracle on SO many levels!! A few weeks ago (meaning in the first week of how time flies here! haha) Sister Ellis (my comp from last transfer) spoke to a British woman named Rebekah. For months we tried to get a hold of her and she was out of town or teaching English or broke her phone, etc... the obstacles go on and on! So last week, Sister Poklinkowska and I FINALLY set up a concrete meeting with her! She is a 24 year old, young, BRILLIANT (she went to Oxford at the age of 16 and finished her bachelor's degree in one year), and best off all...doesn't speak a lick of Polish!!! haha (just kidding, Polish is great). So we finally met with her! We got to speak English! She is an honest seeker of truth. The whole lesson was TOTALLY led by the Spirit and the whole lesson (mostly her responses to our questions etc,) could've been written in Preach My Gospel! At the end of the lesson, we invited her to be baptized. Without any hesitation at all, she said YES! She now has a baptismal date to be baptized the first weekend in November!! It was just so amazing and Sister Poklinkowska and I were just beaming and saying prayers of gratitude for the rest of the day! We've been focusing on having enough faith to witness miracles, and it was amazing to be involved in such a miracle this week!
I am so grateful to be on a mission. I feel myself changing! And in the best of ways! I have learned SO much about myself, the Lord, and the gospel since being on a mission. Sometimes I almost feel bad that I learn so much more than I end up teaching my investigators! I slowly can feel myself changing and I love it! I want to become that best version of myself. I want to become the missionary that the Lord wants me to be! Like Elder Ballard said yesterday (...I hope...since I listened in Polish! haha) "the Lord loves us for who we are and for who we can become". I know He loves me right now. I know He loves me even when I don't deserve to feel His Holy and Healing Love. But I want to become the person that He knows I have the potential to become!
Funny Moment: We were talking to a man, I was walking backwards and backed into a short pole that was on the side walk.. "this gospel will bring peace to your faaaAAAAM---". Arms flailing, face of terror, skirt caught! Luckily I ended up catching myself before I could fall, but needless to say, it was a little hilariously embarrassing!

Sister K Blake

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

Week 27

Boy does it feel good to repent! I have learned so much about repentance this week! When I say repent, I am not necessarily talking about in prayer (although that is an important part of the process of repentance). I am more talking about repentance as change...improvement. For example...honesty circle here: The branch had been planning this Grill for about 3 weeks. Sis. Pok and I knew about it, we wanted it to be successful, but we weren't really doing any thing about it. On Tuesday, we recognized our fault!...keep in mind the Grill was on Saturday! We hadn't contributed a single thing to this Grill! We hadn't even told a single investigator about it! This is where the repenting came in...I didn't necessarily get on my knees and apologize...I ACTED! We recognized that we were in the wrong. We stopped doing what was wrong. And we started doing what was right! Once we realized that we had been slacking on our end, instead of saying: "Oh well! Too late!", we decided to start doing what was other words: repent! We immediately started making plans for what we could do to help! We called people to prepare a spiritual thought, we put together Family: Proclamation to the World as party favors, we made invites, we called and texted everyone, etc. We changed! We improved! We stopped being complacent, and started being proactive! We repented! And boy did it feel good!

I learned that repentance is always hardest in that moment where you have to humble yourself! It is so hard! You say a rude remark to someone, you realize it was wrong...and then it's that really REALLY hard moment where you have to admit that you were wrong...where you have to humble yourself. But as soon as you do it, you feel so much better!! We feel better because we're repenting! We are tapping into the first steps of repentance...of using the Atonement of Jesus Christ! It is through Christ that we can feel better! It is through Christ that we can be relieved of guilt and shame! What an amazing gift we have! Yes repentance can be hard...but it's only that first step that is hard! If there is something in your life that you recognize you're not doing all that you could, or that you're not doing what you should...I encourage you to take that deep breath, admit (to others if you have to, to yourself, and to the Lord) that you were wrong...and then allow the Lord to help you to change! It's never too late! Even for us...with the Grill on Saturday and our first step of repentance on Tuesday...we ended up having 2x as many nonmembers at the Grill than members! The Lord will always enhance and sanctify your efforts to change, to improve, to repent.

Maybe it's just because Sunday's are the most recent days to when email, but I always feel like I write about Sunday's in my letters home! But again, this Sunday was so great! Such a wonderful Branch (smaller church congregation than a Ward) we have here in Wroclaw and every time I go, I feel edified! I always feels the Spirit and am Always uplifted! What an amazing thing. People we talk to every day say: "I don't need church. I am my own church. I pray every day. I read the Bible every day. Why do I need a church? I'm too busy for church." The list goes on and on. But something that's amazing about the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the "church" helps you develop yourself. This is a church of people. Yes, I suppose it is an institution...but really, how could anything function without organization? But it is not the institution that receives or gives inspiration. It is the people that make up this church! The people that lead the ward, the branch, the relief society, the stake, the district, etc. are amazing people who we can be strengthened by! Even more amazing about this church is that anyone can be in it! You don't have to pass a test or memorize so many scriptures to contribute! Everyone can contribute! Even if you're not a member! I find this something truly amazing and a true sign that this is the true church of Christ...because Christ Himself would never turn anyone away from participating or contributing if they had a desire to!

Sister Poklinkowska and I are doing wonderfully! We, together, are stretching ourselves. We're trying to replenish our teaching pool and have been looking for more people to teach. In doing so we've been getting out of our comfort zones and trying different ways of talking to people...trying our hardest to be genuine and not just strive to get their phone number, but really try to get them interested in the message! It's much harder because it is a lot more of OURSELVES that we are putting out there...we've started wearing our heart on our sleeves...and gaining a greater understanding of what it means to give our whole HEART to this work. Genuinely telling people how much this message means to me, and having people not care in the slightest, has given me a greater appreciation for what I do know! As I have been sharing more of my own heart, I have recognized how much I really cherish every piece of knowledge that I preach!

Miracle! Yesterday, we ran into someone that we've been trying to get a hold of all week! We were SHOCKED to see her and Również was pretty shocked to see us! But it turns out that she just didn't have credit on her phone to call us but has thinking about us all week!! We obviously set up a meeting and she is so prepared to hear the gospel! We are so excited to see her on Tuesday and so amazed at how the Lord literally puts people in our path! I love the Lord and I love this work!

Funny: Sister Poklinkowska and I were talking about how people probably thought that when we invited them to the Grill that it was a trap for baptism! "Hi ma'am! We're having a party this weekend! It will be at a pool! And everyone is going to wear unique, body length swimsuits!" We were laughing pretty hard about that one!

Sister Kendall Blake

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 23, 2013

Week 26

Well this week was my birthday! Officially old maid.. just kidding! It's just the beginning! I spoke with an old Polish woman named Krystyna (who's straight out of Great Gatsby!) in the hospital the other day and she related a story of how she was in love when she was 21 and went on about how great an age it is! So I'm grateful! :) Thank you to all the wonderful family and friends I have who made my bday special for me! I have been overcome with joy about how amazing my family is! I have such determination to do all I can to be able to live with my family (past, current, and future) for the rest of eternity! I'm so grateful for a knowledge of God's great plan for us!

This whole week, Sister Poklinkowska and I have really been trying to make plans with the Spirit, then tell those plans to the Lord and trusting Him to sanctify our make them efficient, to make them worth while, to put people who He's preparing in our path! Well we did that after church this Sunday. We told the Lord that we were going to go and visit a very old less active member who can't leave her house. It turns out she was in the hospital! But we told the Lord that we would see her so we stuck with that plan and rejoiced in the opportunity to be prompted to go and visit her in her time of need! On our way to the hospital and returning back home from the hospital, we ran into probably 5 GOLDEN people that I just know the Lord has been preparing to hear His gospel! The first girl was Zoey...she is from the UK (Liverpool) and she said that she wasn't sure if God existed... we told her about prayer and I shared a personal spiritual experience with her and she agreed to meet with the missionaries in the UK! Next was Ola...she said that she doesn't really know if she knew God all that well and we bore testimony about how we are LITERALLY God's children and we can have a Father-daughter relationship with Him! Turns out her mother is in the hospital and she's going through a really lonely hard time and we gave her a Book of Mormon and are going to set up to meet in a week!

After our lovely visit in the hospital with Sister Ciechowska (who really loves us and was SO grateful that we came to see her) we were walking home and ran into Wojtek, a man with twin daughters who will benefit so much from the unifying power of the gospel in families. Then we literally almost ran into Jacek! Jacek was closing up shop when I felt like I should turn around and go talk to him...turns out he knows exactly what the Spirit feels like saying that he every once and a while is told what to do in his life by a quiet voice "not a literal voice, but that's the only word I can think of to describe it"!!!!! Needless to say, I was practically in shock by and yet not surprised about how well our Heavenly Father knows each of us so well...He put Sister Poklinkowska and I in these people's paths for a reason and I'm so incredibly grateful to be a part of this amazing work!

Sister Poklinkowska and I are doing so well!! We're learning better and better how to teach together and are really enjoying all our time together! I love her so much! She is always serving me which makes me want to serve her and as a result we love each other so much! I'm grateful for her desire to learn and improve! She is so humble (maybe sometimes even a little too hard on herself) but we're helping each other have more faith in the Lord and faith that He will help us teach and speak in Polish!

Funny Moment: For my birthday, sweet Sister and Elder Durrant invited us over and made STEW!!! (KARNies...not lamb, but any stew is fantastic as I know you 3 would agree) The funny part is how funny my district leader thought he was to give me a present...a huge jar of rotting pickles!!! He also gave me a Rubix cube made "especially for me" so I could master it... all 6 sides of the Rubix cube are one color... I must admit, it was pretty clever and actually pretty funny! But of course I couldn't really let him have too much satisfaction, so the below picture is a picture of this pretty funny event!

Also! Something else that not many missionaries can say is that I went to a ballet with my mission president and his wife the other day! Sister P and I took our culture night on Saturday night and it just so happened that the president was in town so we invited him and his wife to the ballet too!! I actually didn't know what kind of ballet it was so I was scared out of my wits that we would have to walk out or something if it was "contemporary" and not suitable for the eyes of innocent missionaries! hahaha but everything ended up being okay! haha

Well I love you all so much! Thanks for all the support and prayers and love!


Sister Blake

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013

Week 25

First and foremost...last week I said that that reference was in Acts's actually Acts 19:1-6...where Paul had to baptize the people a second time so it could be done by water AND the Spirit!

Next item of business: This is going to be SUCH a great transfer!! Sister Poklinkowska and I are getting along so well and I feel like such an equal with her! I'm teaching her as much as I can, but really she is teaching me SO much! I'm so grateful to have her as my companion! I truly feel like my work here in Wrocław is just beginning! My first transfer I was here, I white washed this area (means that they were both new to the area)  and was a trainee...needless to say, I didn't really have a clue of what was going the city, in missionary work, or in the lives of my investigators! My second transfer was a little better...I knew where I was in the city and everything, but because I was the senior companion but could only speak the language "tyle", I really didn't feel like I completely understood what was going on all the time. I feel like this transfer is just the beginning of my work here in Wrocław simply because I finally understand the background of the people I'm working with! I'm able to discern their needs better! I'm able to see where their coming from! The relationships I've built here over the past few months are finally starting to reap... In all honestly, I really feel like I could stay here for at least another transfer after this one! I feel like I have just barely reached the level with the people here where I can actually make a difference! Where I don't feel like I'm drowning, but that I have my head above water. I know that the Lord directs all His work, but I'm so glad that I'm in the boat, which He is the captain of...instead of trying to swim (practically drowning!) to keep up! I'm the happiest I've been in my whole mission so far because I really have started to truly grow a love for the people because I understand them now that I have developed a relationship of trust and service with them! I'm so excited to be serving here this transfer and hope the Lord sees fit that I stay for another one after this!

A miracle that happened this week was completely a direct result of complete faith. Sister Poklinkowska and I were really striving to achieve the standard (meeting their goals for lessons taught, investigators that come to church, ....) this week! We worked and did all we could to achieve our goal and everything was all set and achieved except for the number of people in church and a new investigator. Church started and we had 2 wonderful investigators in church...the sacrament hymn was being played and we were still waiting for Lucyna to arrive, who had committed to come. Instead of losing faith, I just prayed so hard and had the faith that whatever happened would be in the Lord's will. And who walks in?! But Lucyna! During the Sacrament hymn! Faith brings miracles! And now my faith is doubled! Which I hope will bring double the miracles next week! On top of that, the Lord helped us set up a meeting with a woman named Marta who says she has been praying to know the right path for her and that she wants a deeper meaning in religion than what she is currently experiencing! She became a new investigator! The Lord wants to bless us! He wants to help us achieve our goals! We just have to have the faith that He will help us get there!

I love this mission so much! I'm so grateful to serve at this time! I love the mission, I love the people, I love the members, I love Wrocław, I love my companion, and I love the Lord! What a fantastic life I'm am blessed to live! The Lord has given me everything and there is no way I can ever repay Him for all He's given and done for me. I am serving "Him who has created [me] and is preserving [me] from day to day, by lending [me] breath, that [I] may live and move and do according to [my] own will, and even supporting [me] from one moment to another... If [I] should serve Him with all [my] whole soul yet [I] would be an unprofitable servant" (Mosiah 2:21).

Now...the funny moment! What you've all been waiting for... So we went to this less active woman's home...she's SO old and her husband is like 20 years younger than her... but he always feeds us...usually it's soup or something sort of tasty...right now it's mushroom season and I really love mushrooms, so he offered us some and of course I said yes! ....... what he brought out was.... I don't even know! It was this brown GOO and it looked like pond scum and was brown and looked as though it was alive! There were slimy mushrooms in it!! I honestly felt like I was eating slugs!!! I took about three bites and then set it aside...but he would NOT let us leave his house until I ate it all!!!! FLASHBACK SYD!!! Does this remind you of anything!!! Except this was not tortellini! It was sluggy mushroomy goop! AH! it was horrible  but also so hilarious! I've been laughing a lot's very healthy..i recommend it :)

Love to all those reading this message! :)
Siostra K Blake

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013

Week 25

Wow what a week! I got to go to the mission home and pick up my new companion! She is SOOOOO CUTE!!! I love her so much already! We're on the same page and she's so cute! I don't feel like her trainer at alL! I feel like her equal! She's from Alabama originally, but has spent the past few years in Washington state. She is a recent convert of 3 years...her name is Sister Poklinkowski...I'm just going to write sister Pok. for short though.. haha She already contributes quite a bit to lessons and I feel like her equal rather than her trainer which is so nice! I adore her and am so grateful for this opportunity to serve with her!

As much as I LOVE missionary work, it was really nice to be able to help Sister Edgren (the mission mother) in the kitchen a little bit and feel like a part of a family. That's something that I really love about this mission: all the missionaries are so close and we are close with the mission president and his wife as well...we're all a part of this mission family and I just love serving with some of the strongest missionaries in the church!

Something that Sister Pok. and I have been discussing a lot in the past week is the importance of being able to share the gospel in any conversation. I love what Elder Holland says about listening... that if we listen with love to someone, there will always be something that you can tie to the gospel and expound upon for them! My Aunt Sandy is an amazing example of this. She can start a gospel discussion with just about anyone! I feel like a lot of the times, when I just start a normal conversation with someone first on a train or a bus, that they are much more open to talking. As we get talking, I start trying to play a sort of game...where I try to figure out what they are saying can tie back to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ... It's almost like a puzzle! I try to fit the conversation together and lead it in a sort of way to be able to testify of this glorious gospel! I really want to master this by the end of my mission! I want to solidify this ability to turn any conversation into a discussion about: our identity as literal children of God; or our ability to return to Heavenly Father after this life and be with our families; or the direction the Book of Mormon gives! Because then when I return from my mission (not getting trunky, just making goals! haha) I will already have those skills to remain a consecrated disciple of Christ and a consecrated missionary despite whether or not I have a black tag on. The gospel really does apply to people in any situation! No matter the trails we have, whether big or small, no matter our age, no matter our cultural background, this church is the only church that contains the FULL gospel! What a blessing to have this knowledge! And what a privilege I have to help people apply this universal gospel in a very individual way!

My mom asked a few questions that I'll answer here:
Tell me some more about the people you are teaching,  are you regularly teaching anyone specifically?
Yes, we have a lot of people that we meet with regularly! I feel blessed to have so many investigators! Most weeks, are days are absolutely filled with lessons! I'm so grateful! I have been teaching Lucyna (with the darker hair) since June...and Czesława we have been teaching for about 2 1/2 weeks. Love them both! Totally opposite people, but that's what's so amazing about this gospel! Lucyna is a slow learner and slowly but surely understands more and more as we teach super simply! Czesława is speedy and understands everything, but doesn't really get what's different about our church and the Catholic church...(for anyone who's wondering, it's priesthood authority, Book of Mormon as full gospel, and a living prophet...just a couple main ones)

Is anyone interested in being baptized?

I think I need to better help people understand the importance of being baptized by don't know how many times I've heard people say "but I've already been baptized...why do i need to be baptized twice?" well because the priesthood authority to baptized was restored straight from John the baptist to Joseph Smith and now every worthy male can also have that authority in our church! Not to mention the gift of the Holy Ghost given by proper authority is also essential...which is given after baptism! Even Paul baptized people for a second time when he found out they hadn't been baptized in the name of Christ or given the Holy Ghost after baptism (i think that's found in Acts 9...maybe)

How often do you get an opportunity to come teach investigators another lesson?
Most of the time! 

How often is tracting effective?
Honestly I've never been tracting because I don't really believe in it...the chances of someone answering the door is super slim and then the chance of them letting us in is even slimmer! I figure that when the parents come home to their kids after work, why would they let two random people come in and share a message? You just want to sit on your couch and relax! I find it's more effective to talk with people on their way home...for instance on bus rides home, etc. Exchange numbers and then plan a time when we can meet...that way they can plan WITH us a time that works for them...rather than us barging in on their family down time when they just want peace. But that's just moim zdaniem.

Are your days mostly tracting in parks, or knocking on doors, or visiting inactives, or working with members?
When we're not teaching investigaotrs, we're teaching inactives...when we're not doing either, we got and seek out former investigators and talk to everyone in our path along the way. Having that destination (a former's house) allows the Lord to put people in our path rather than just walking in circles in a big area.

So those are just a few Q and A type things :) I'm so glad I get to be here for another transfer! I feel like my work is only beginning! I love the work and love my companion and love the branch and love my investigators and love my family and love the Lord!

Funny Moment: we went to a less active member's house named Katja...she didn't answer her doorbell so we called her...she picked up and said that she wasn't at home...which is a little strange because I could hear her voice through her open window! hahaha Sister Pok and I were laughing pretty hard at that one! But we'll go back sometime next week :)

Sister Blake