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!