Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Week 52= 1 YEAR!

Well transfer calls came this week! I am staying here in Łódź and am getting a new companion named Sister Moncur who I've met before and is just the sweetest missionary here in Poland! I'm excited as well as a little nervous to have a new companion since I loved serving with Sister Montesinos (that's how it is every transfer though :) ). This week seems like it's going to be absolutely crazy! I hope isn't going to be as hectic as it all looks on paper! I really am excited to have my testimony grow of the Savior taking over...having a third companion (Cindy Call [who's my favorite 18 year old Pole from Wrocław whose sister we taught and baptized] is on a mini mission with me in Łódź for a week!!!!! So far it's a blast and is so fun to have a little piece of Wrocław here with me!), and then switching companions in the middle of the week and then having a baptism on Saturday (woot woot for the Elders here who have been teaching the most prepared guy from Ghana!) and then trying to work out a tentative baptism in the future with our investigator who's about to move far away…Oh goodness, I was SOOO stressed out yesterday even thinking about it all! But I know that I don't have to take on that heavy burden, but that as I do all I can, the Lord will take care of the rest and instead of being stressed, I can have peace in the faith that I have that everything will be okay. :)

So last Sunday, we got a new investigator named Urszula. The Elders met her on the street a few days before and when she heard about our message she gave them her phone numer. A few days later, I called and she told me that she was really interested in meeting and in the Book of Mormon because she has been searching for truth and searching for a way to be closer to God. BOOYA! Prepared much!? On Sunday when we met for the first time before church, she agreed with everything we had to say and when she learned about the Great Apostacy ( a time in history, after the death of Christ and His authorized apostles, when errors about Christ's teachings crept into the church resulting in conflicting opinions of doctrine and lost spiritual truths). She was nodding and agreeing and saying that this is exactly why she was sitting here meeting with us, because she recognized that what she's learned her whole life has some truths missing! Right then and there in the lesson we committed her to meet with her everyday for a week and to see the difference in her life as she learns about this RESTORED and FULL truth! And she did! We met almost everyday this week and she said after the second meeting that she feels so peaceful and good after our meetings and that she really has seen a difference in herself in the course of only a week! Oh it was so amazing to hear! She really does have her heart in the right place! I'm so grateful to be a tiny part of Urszula's conversion!

Tender Mercy: So in the MTC, they have these pens that I love! I've only even seen these in my whole life in the MTC. And the ones I bought are starting to wear out and I was just thinking a few days ago about how I could break into the MTC gates to go and buy some! But the Lord had a better idea: This week we went into an art. store (Syd, you would've been in heaven!) and when we went to pay, guess what was in a huge bowl next to the cash register?! THE PENS!!! It was so cool! Even though I didn't even pray for them or anything like that, The Lord knew that it would make me so happy! I KNOW that I found those pens because the Lord wanted me to know that He cared about me and knows the little desires of my heart, even in the silly little things like my love for these pens! :)

Funny: Polish names are hard...but there's a guy named Emil here (pronounced "eh-meal" in "I'm eating a meal"...which making that connection was funny enought in itself!) but the senior Sister here in church yesterday was calling him "EMAIL"! for some reason I just thought it was hilarious! And later her hunsband was teasing her and said "what if you wanted to send him a text instead?" I laughed pretty loudly at that one too! ...I'm not sure what's happened to my sense of humor here, but I'm pretty sure that I'm pretty easy to humor these days! haha

Sister Blake

P.S. To some I sent postcards to talking about the HUGE gread bowls they have at a place here! ...I hope this picture does it justice!

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

Week 51

I think that the weeks that are emotionally a bit of a rollercoaster are the weeks that have the most gained out of them!

This week I was reminded once again of the power of the Holy Ghost. In moments that were a little hard to deal with this week, I felt the companionship of the Holy Ghost in the same way I felt it when I first moved high schools a few years ago. I felt sort of alone for the first little bit while I was adjusting to a new shcool and new friends, but I never felt abondoned because I could in a really literal way feel the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I knew I always had a friend by my side even if not physically. I was reminded of that experience this week and The Lord once again strengthened my testimony of the companionship of the Holy Ghost this week and I have my testimony renewed that the Lord is always by our sides if we're trying to do what's right :)

This week I taught more lessons that I have in a few months!!! I am so excited and I'm praising the Lord for blessing us with the opportunity to teach His children in deeper ways than only on the street! The Lord is placing in our path people who need this gospel desperately and people who are prepared to hear it! I'll talk about one day in particular that was just such an answer to all prayers I've been saying lately to the Lord pleading for the hearts of these people to be quickened:

This amazing day was in fact last Pday. Because the proselyting time on Pday is only 3 hours, it's kind of well known that sometimes Pdays don't end up being the most effective days of the week. But last Pday, we had miracles happen! Not only did we get to accomplish all the things that we needed to and wanted to on the Pday part of Pday, but then we went to a woman's house for our first meeting with her! We met her tracting and she said we could come back! She is a young mom who was once close to God and wants to feel the way she once felt again, but this time with a different way...maybe even a different religion! She is so amazing and we set up to meet again! Right after her lesson, we were able to do a little act of service! One of our potential investigators is REALLY sick! I think she might have bronchitis or something... but we were able to run to a chinese restaurant and get her some chicken soup (yes, maybe a little random that we went to a chinese restaurant, but it was the closest thing). She was so grateful when we delivered it to her :) And what do you know, but our very next meeting was in the exact same building as her! So we were right on time to our next meeting with another mom who never really felt like she was satisfied with her religion! She offered us hot chocolate because she doesn't drink coffee (BOOYA!) and we had a really amazing lesson with her and her two sons! I'm telling you, the one who is 11 is future apostle material! They are really amazing! We implimented some of the things that me and the zone leaders were going to teach in zone training the next day about making the meeting only 30 minutes and setting up again for a few a few times in the same week, and what do you know, it worked! Having the shorter meeting left them wanting more, but the flame was kept alive by scheduling a meeting for the very next day to come back...since the son begged the mom to let us come back tomorrow! It was really just such a miracle! The whoe day!

The rest of the week was also amazing and we continued to teach lessons and find more new investigators and had someone commit to meeting with us every day for 30 minutes in the upcoming week! Things are happening here in Łódź and i am SOOOOO grateful to be a part of it! I love it here! I love the members and I think they are growing to love us more and more too as we have been doing that reach out hour to call people and not just set up meetings but strengthen people throughout the week too! I have had members come up to me this week and tell me that they really REALLY want us to call them so they can be on lessons with investigators! That's never happened before and I am so grateful that the Lord is guiding us in this work!! The hearts of all people in Łódź are being quickened to hear the voice of the Shephard, including mine :)

This week we also had a culture night where we went to a showing of the nutcracker except it was like futuristic and I felt like I was watching the hunger games put on the play! Everyone had wigs on and it was not traditional at all, but it was so fun and mom you would've loved it! There's poland for ya! I'm sad that I couldn't take pictures during the play because the costumes were so awesome!

Funny moment of the week: we were trackting on day and we rang on one door bell and suddenly we hear the word being played "HALLELUJIAH!" .... what?!? We rang it again to make sure we heard right and sure enough the door bell sounding was from Handel's Messiah! Unfortunately no one was home, but you know, maybe that bell is a sign that we should go back because maybe the heavens really will sing when we come knocking on their door! :)

Sister Blake!

PS: So this Saturday I got my wallet pick pocketed out of my pocket, which stinks, but it's okay because it's just material things and nothing that really has lasting importance... shout out to mom and dad for being sports about it and helping me out with it all! But me and my companion were laughing so hard about the reaction of the theif when they open the wallet! "Well well well...let's see what I got this time! ...a picture of Jesus, what are these Articles of Faith?!, her first name can't be "Sister"...another picture of Jesus?! Oh my gosh! ....I pick pocketed a nun!!!!!" Imagine the guilt!! haha... I feel worse for them than I do for myself!

pic#1: If you rub this man's nose, it means you'll be able to come back to Łódź
pic#2: We went to a futuristic version of the Nutcracker with 2 of the Elders here! It was a pretty hilarious night! I wish I could've taken pictures of the play itself!
pic#3: We went to an interesting cafe and tried out their hot chocoloate! It was a pretty cool place, except I think they were trying to make it a little too much like grandma's house...the thousands of porcelain dolls were a little creepy! haha 

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

Week 50 (realized we were off count since February 27th will be a year!)

This week was really so great! One thing that stands out as I think back on this week is the major answers to prayer I've seen! So as you might remember, when I was serving in Wrocław, the work was just on fire! For 6 months I never had a "contacting block" of time in my planner. We were packed with lessons all the time and always had tons of investigators. I remember even one week with Sister Bezdjian, we got 25 lessons in one week (which for Poland is definitely pretty above average!) I was "raised" in the mission thinking that this was so normal, and then after my trainee transfer, I trained twice, thereby still having the untainted image of the mission being hard in the sense of not knowing how to fit in all the lessons we wanted to have! But having since left Wrocław, I've white washed twice (practically in Łódź) in places that have maybe 2 investigators when I get into the city. I've discovered a whole different side of "hard" on this side of the mission...sadly, the side that most missionaries here seem to experience. It definitely is hard to be finding through my own efforts for 90% of the week, but I have learned so many new lessons that I don't think I would've been able to learn any other way! This transfer, as I've mentioned before, has had a focus on diligence...that despite not really having many meetings planned, I've been able to find a love for the work, have a sense of urgency about doing it, and even have a desire to do it! This week, I really feel like the Lord is acknowledging my efforts and blessing us greatly as a result!! A few nights ago, I was feeling a little disheartened after all of our meetings for that day fell through. That night, I felt like I could relate better to Enos and Nephi and other prophets who "pour out their whole soul" unto the Lord. As I prayed, I expressed to the Lord the faith I have in His power and my faith in this mission. I KNOW that the Lord has really amazing plans for this mission and specifically Łódź...and not in 10 years... that there are people ready now that the Lord has been preparing! I expressed willingness to do whatever He asked me to do and admitted that, although I'm not perfect, I am ready! The days following this, we have been seeing really put together people show interest and come to meetings!

A really amazing woman named Gosia became a new investigator the next day and she NEEDS the gospel in her life and is excited to see how our meetings and the gospel will help her in her life. We set a baptismal date with a super sweet investigator named Beata and she's really serious about it and ready to commit! And we had a "walk-in" come to church who merely received a pass along card yesterday and she's super put together and willing to hear the message too! ...Once again, my faith has been transformed into knowledge. I KNOW full heatedly that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I know that He wants us to have success (even if it comes in a different form than we think it will). and I know that the Poland Warsaw Mission is a place where the field is white and ready TODAY to harvest! I'm so grateful to be serving here in Łódź!

This week I also got to go on an exchange with Sister Pearson in Warsaw! She has great work ethic and really has a strong desire to be a good missionary! All in all, it was a good exchange and I really love Sister Pearson! It was neat because there were some things on her mind that I feel like I was really able to help her with, not necessarily even things about the work, just general things, and I had had similar experiences last transfer that helped me relate directly to her! It really goes to show that the Lord really does know our needs. It's been so amazing to be to be the Sister Training Leader in 2 zones, because on every single exchange I've been on, I specifically was needed for that person at exactly that time. No one else could've! It's just been amazing to be a sister training leader and be able to help these dear Sisters here in such a personal way. Time and time again I'm reminded what a blessing it is to have this assignment and of this calling to be a missionary here in Poland.

Funny moment: last night I was talking to someone on the tramwaj, and a couple sitting behind me heard me talking and asked my companion where we were from. She told them the States, and this couple said that they knew it because when they heard me speaking Polish, they said I spoke Polish with a Californian accent! haahah what!? I just thought there was speaking Polish with an English accent, or French accent, but not just from America, but a California accent! haha who would've thought...even way over here in Poland, I've still kept that part of me alive! hahah

Sister Blake

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 3, 2014

Week 45

Hello all!

Well it was neat. Yesterday, I realized that I wanted to be more led by the Spirit in all that I do and say. It's not enough to just be worthy of having the Spirit, I need to be LED by it...and take action! Last night, we had a pretty open night. We were on the way to visit a former investigator, but seeing that we had no specific time set up to be there, we decided to follow every single thought that came into our mind: crossing a street, tracting a building, I even had a thought to knock on someone's window! And I even started out a conversation by saying, "Hello Sir, we're missionaries and I see that you're smoking a cigarette!" with a huge smile on my face!...what? I don't know, but it's what came to my head so I said it! By following any thought that we had that night (assuming that they would all be from the Holy Ghost because we had faith) we ended up after a few turns and crossing the same sidewalk 5 times, we ran into a girl who we talked to for about 2 minutes about warmth. She told us that not fire or blankets give her warmth, but praying... THAT's the kind of answer we're looking for! She ended up being in a hurry, but said she really enjoyed our conversation and SHE asked US for OUR number so we could talk another time! BOOYA! So following the Spirit, even in all the seemingly silly things, really led to a miracle that we KNEW would come! :)

This week I also got to go on an exchange in Warsaw with Sister King!! (my comp last transfer) It was so fun to be with her again, and despite the fact that we were together just a few weeks ago as companions, I learned so much as a result of the exchange! I learned from her how important it is to humble yourself and be willing to change! She's such an example of humility and not just making the best of your situation, but turning it into something where you can feel successful and grow from it! I loved being with her again and it was so fun becuase it felt so normal to be back together as companions again even though it was only for a day! :)

Another thing on my mind this week is Wrocław. I have been thinking about Wrocław so much! Not because I am not enjoying Łódź, because I really love it here! But just because I've been thinking about the people I met and grew to love there! Members, English students, Investigators, and even people on the street that I only met once! I find myself praying so hard for these people and wishing I could go back even for just a day to go through all the records and get in touch with the people who have been on my mind! I have trust in the Lord's timing, but on the same hand it breaks my heart that these people might not hear about the gospel for years! But I also know that these feelings I'll be dealing with for the rest of my life! and I know that when I leave Łódź, I'll feel the exact same way :) Be assured that I really do love where I am, I love the work I'm doing, and I love the gospel that I get to teach and preach!

Funny moment of the week: On Monday, we had to book it for the train to Warsaw! My train was going to leave and we were still on the tramwaj about 25 minutes away from the station!! We said a prayer asking for the Lord's help! Wow!! What answers to prayers did we see! The Senior couple was across the street at a red light and we hopped in their car and said go go go to the train station! (as if we were bandits of some kind!) We got there and the train had been delayed! haha. So we ended up having plenty of time! haha. It was so hilarious and also so sad that Sister Montesinos fell down on the ice in the craziness of it all! Bu,t she's a trooper so it's alright! So many miracles we see and we don't even have to send them to the Vatican to be approved as miracles like other religions have to to be considered true miracles! haha. They happen every day!!

Sister Blake
Picture Kendall took from the train...looks like out of the movies