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