Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pictures of Home in Katowice

From email sent April 4, 2011:

This is where I live now, it's the biggest apartment building I've ever seen! Every time I move I go to a bigger building. I can't imagine anything bigger than this! It's massive, but the apartments are really kind of small.

Get a load of my GREEN room. Rachel don't paint anything in my house this color, PLEASE!!!

Fast Sunday and General Conference

From Email sent April 2, 2011:

It is Conference Sunday and also Fast Sunday over here in Poland. We get the conference addresses about 8 hours after the event and will watch the sessions throughtout the coming week. However it is Fast Sunday as well and I am directing my fast to each of you. You all do so much for me and I am grateful and I know each of you have huge challenges to face in the coming days and weeks, and have been facing in the last few months. I wish I could help each of you in each challenge but cannot but I can direct this fast to you and ask additional blessings from the Lord in your behalf. I know that through fasting and prayer the Lord will increase your strength to face and overcome challenges.

I have seen His power as I have served here in Poland, the language is so difficult, and I wasn't blessed to be able to speak the language, however the Lord puts in my path people, both missionaries and Polish people, who are patient with me and help me with the language and whatever I need. I do know some language, just enough to usually get me in trouble, but someone always bails me out. I love you kids beyond belief and miss you all so much, I look forward to either seeing you here in July or there in August. Woohoo! The time is going fast and I still have a few things I need to do. so I'm not getting trunky YET.

Love ya,

Baptisms and Blessed like the Sons of Mosiah

From Email sent march 26, 2011:

Good day today in Katowice: two young men baptized this afternoon. Had part of the service at the church, then got on the tramwie to the public swimming pool and baptized there, then back to the church for the rest of the meeting. Tons of people there, hooray!

Then had a meeting with President Pawlik and Darota, she is the YSA president. President Pawlik doesn't like the idea of me walking home at night, so I have one week to find a husband or he will send prospects. Told him no thank you, that I was blessed like the sons of Mosiah to be kept from harms way and that's good enough for now. Elder Neiman told President Pawlik I was no person to be messed with, I had raised sons well over 6 ft tall and they would take care of me. He is totally impressed with the size of the boys, he saw their picture.

I told them I also think couples should be in the centers, for many reasons, however I am all that is available for now. Maybe some more couples will come, but I'm it for now and will do my best.

love love love ya,

Home in Kato

From Email sent March 23, 2011:

So home again only about 4 hours away from my last home, cool thing here is I am by myself and you could come visit me and stay here.... woohoo nice enough, 1 bedroom, kitchen, bath w/ shower, dining /living room combo, 1 hall way closet and entry way, about the size of the family room downstairs. But just for me, it's cool. So tomorrow I go meet the kids at the YSA center, some of them I know already as they were at Szczyrk at the YSA conference last July. So that will be great and 2 of the Elders are the ones I served with in Bydgoszcz, Elders Dombroski and Kennedy, and I know Elder Leimer from Germany and there's a new trainee here, Elder Hooker from Utah.

As soon as I get things squared away, I'll take a few pics and send them to you, so here I am in Kato.
love ya, Mom

Package from Home

From Email sent March 21, 2011:

I got the package today from the postman. He was walking up to the apartment building the same time I was and I saw the American postal tape and the picture on the bottom and just knew it was from you, woohoo and it was. Thank you for all the goodies, I love everything, took the container of mints to P day cleaning the church day and had a blast, all the missionaries really liked the goodies, except for the peppermint patties, they don't know about them, wonder why??? :)

Thank you for everything and the timing was perfect. Thank you for the ensigns as well, I will definitely enjoy them and will share them with the Elders and Sisters in Katowice pronounced like, katovitsa, or usually just called Kato. I leave here about 7am Wednesday, Elder and Sister Harding are me down(hurray!), I really did not want to go on the train, so will be able to take all my stuff with me at once.

I love the socks, for St. Patty's day I cut a clover out of felt and wore it on my badge, then had to cut a bunch more for the elders and sisters. I do enjoy serving with these young Elders and Sisters. So now they are playing Books & Runs here in Warszawa and will have to teach the ones in Kato, down to my last two decks of cards, but that should be good and I'll leave them with the Elders in Kato.

Well it's late and I'm done in, nearly through packing but gotta get to bed. love you all and thank you again!

Transfer to Katowice

From Email sent March 17, 2011:

Just got a call from Pres. Nielson and I am being transferred to Katowice down in the south part of Poland , down near where we had our YSA conference last year. The senior couple that is there end their mission the end of March and there are not any other senior couples to take their place; I am the only one with YSA experience so I get to go. So I may be there for 2 months or til the end of my mission, who knows, but I do get to see a lot of Poland in all these transfers. At this point I won't have a companion, sometimes that's a little scary, but I do know the elders that are there, part of the Bydgoszcz bunch that was so close and I'm excited about that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Polish Wedding

From Email sent February 12, 2011:

So tomorrow the sr. sisters are preparing a luncheon for a wedding, croissants with chicken salad, buki with ham and ser(cheese) and lettuce. juice , and wedding cake, It's amazing they are getting married as most couples in Poland don't , just live together for several years til they have enough money to get married, Rafael has been a member for quite a while and Agnieska will be a member a year in a week or so. They will go to the temple in April or May, forgot which. because the temple is out of the country, couples can go up to 3 months after the wedding.

In Poland all marriages have to be performed by the state first, then the couple can have a church wedding or whatever, so first we will go to the building were the official ceremony will be done by the state, then the luncheon, then the bride and groom go to dinner with the immediate family, then a party for all that evening, like a reception. Also in Poland , people don't have to wait a year to go to the temple, so they are going in April, Agnieska will be a member a year the end of Feb. Rafael has been a member for quite a while, don't know for sure how long.

State Official, Great Seal of Poland

Rafiel & Agnieska

The Wedding Cake

Eating Wedding Cake

Me, Agnieska, Rafiel & Sister Briggs

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crafting, Wedding, Teaching & Quilting

from email sent February 6, 2011:

this week has been interesting, mostly working on the quiet book activity, shopping for stuff and making kits, on Sat. there were 22 sisters and one man, Swavek,
and also there is a wedding on Sat. Rafael and Agnieska, and we are doing the luncheon after the ceremony,for 90 people. In Poland all marriages have to be performed by the state first, then the couple can have a church wedding or whatever, so first we will go to the building were the official ceremony will be done by the state, then the luncheon, then the bride and groom go to dinner with the immediate family, then a party for all that evening, like a reception. Also in Poland , people don't have to wait a year to go to the temple, so they are going in April, Agnieska will be a member a year the end of Feb. Rafael has been a member for quite a while, don't know for sure how long.

Also had the opportunity to go with the sisters and teach Wong Dak again, interesting teaching when the investigators have absolutely no knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ. He had two friends there as well, all are Buddhist so we had a very interesting conversation..

Sister Briggs and I are doing a quilt,for a wedding present and we tied it off last night , and today I made pillow shams to match ,Interesting way to quilt here,no quilt stands, so we pinned it to the carpet on the floor, pretty tough getting up after sitting on the floor or on our knees to tie it off. but got it done is just a couple of hours, not bad for two old ladies.

Also had a baptism on Sat. after the activity

pictures include:
quilting on the floor
quiet book activity
apt in Warsaw, huge buildings and tramvie

Monday, January 31, 2011

Crazy Driver!

from email sent January 31, 2011:

will be home in about 6 months, however I still have tons of work here and tons to do.

Polish people are so amazing, wonderful and in some can see the value of some of those Polish jokes. some of these people seriously need an attitude adjustment. mostly the tramvie and autobus drivers, I think they for the most part are aspiring race car drivers or demolition derby drivers. and rude beyond belief, their favorite past-time is to watch an elderly person run across the street to catch the tram, then take off just as they get to the door, I am amazed there are not more fatalities than there are, and there is usually at least two or more a month. drivers just taking off with people not even fully on the tram. seriously (gwupi drivers) stupid, but just have to be careful and pay attention. My favorite statement is that "I was blessed to be kept from harm's way, not stupid's, so pay attention."

so love love love ya and today is a real P day, first one this year, so I think we are going to Adam's Ties and don't know what else, probably out to lunch somewhere. Sister Sheets is here from Wroclaw, so the three of us are having a great time. do widzinia, MOM

ps, on Sat. went to the renik and bought some fun kids toys and had an interesting lunch, will attach a couple of pics, one of my lunch and one of me seriously impressed with the presentation, but it was good.

Missionary Work

Had the opportunity to go with the sisters on a teaching appointment, since I know so little Polish , I generally only bear my testimony of a particular issue, seriously wish Julie was here , one of the investigators is from Tibet and speaks some English, some Polish and mostly Mandarin Chinese, he said he will be here in July when you all come and wants to talk to Julie, it's very interesting teaching someone with absolutely no knowledge of Jesus Christ and see the light go on as a small amount of understanding begins. He is reading the BOM, but doesn't understand much so far. I think he has the same book as the one I sent Julie, funny to see him read from back to front. .... love ya and gotta run. MOM


From email sent January 1, 2011:

Oh here it is cold alright, about 2 feet of snow on the ground and snows almost every day, and it's a bitter cold that goes right through your body, standard dress for going outside is....garments and thermals, one layer of shirt/sweater, skirt, another sweater. all long sleeve,scarf, coat..another scarf, wool, knee high socks over the tights, fuzzy socks over that and then boots. and 2 pr gloves. sound warm.... not really enough and still get cold. oh and the wind blows so cold. welcome to Poland. predicted to be the coldest and snowiest in 100 years. I think Julie would turn into a popsicle. love ya Mom

Happy Birthday Song

from email sent December 4, 2010:

this is the birthday song like the American happy birthday
Sto lat sto lat
NIECH zyje żyje nam
Jeszcze raz jeszcze raz
niech żyje, zyje nam
niech zyje nam (only once)

at the end yell Sto lat very loud

Polish Christmas Traditions

From email sent November 29, 2010:

On the nite of Dec. 5, the kids put their shoe by the window so Santa can put candies in them. then on the 25 they celebrate regular Christmas day with big dinner,12 dishes , but don't know what each dish is. one is borst, a red soup, several meat dishes and don't know what else, and an empty place is set in case a stranger comes in, I think that's from the Jewish custom of setting a place for Elijah and leaving the door open a bit. he would be a wecome guest.

another tradition is on Christmas day the family sits in a large area and the head of the family gives everyone a wafer, like the ones Catholics use for sacrament, and each person goes around the circle and gives a piece of the wafer to each person and wishes them luck or happiness or something good to happen in the coming year.

also the tree is decorated on Christmas eve by the older children and adults. with lights and whatever they choose, usually a real tree and stays up til the needles literally fall off. and the last was, there's lots of eating and drinking.


From email sent November 28, 2010:

here's a couple of pics of the branch in Bydgoszcz, guess who the old white haired lady is???? look like somebody's grandmother, oh I am a lot of bodies g'mother. love it. there is one family of 7 kids missing from this pic, they were all sick today with a stomach flu, no fun.


From email sent November 5, 2010:

On Tuesday/Wednesday of this week, Sister Marshall and I went to Krakow to visit, one of the things we did was to tour the Jewish Quarter during the war, mostly it looks like every other city in Poland, very old and dirty, slowly the cities are being refurbished, painted and cleaned up. All of the synagogues except the one we are standing in front of is the only functioning one left in Krakow. At one time there were five and most are now being used for other purposes., like museums or just left in ruin, Oddly enough Krakow wasn't bombed during the war, so the old castle and churches are still standing. wish we would have had time to visit the palace as well, but we choose instead to visit Auschwitz and Bierkenau. That will be a memory forever engraved in my mind. to see the reality of the brutality of the war. When we went to Birkenau it was nearly dark, so by the time we went inside one of the buildings it was very dark and there are no lights, I did have a small flash light so used that, However when those women and children were imprisoned there, there were no lights, and all had to be done in the dark, hungry, tired, cold any other debilitating adjective one could imagine, and there I stood, cold but with a warm coat, scarf, and SHOES. and there because of my choice, and not HUNGRY, and could go buy whatever kind of food I choose. I think seeing it in the dark with a tiny flash light left much more of an impression than seeing it the daylight. to maybe feel to a very small degree as those women did. How is it that I am so blessed?? There is a brick chimney(heater) in each room, however they had nothing to burn and if they used the beds slats they would have been shot, literally, There were 3 levels and each level about 6 feet across and to each level. about 5 people were assigned.
As I walked through Auschwitz and went up and down the stone stairs, there are indentations where thousands of people walked and hand rails they touched and I felt to a small degree the sadness, the terror, the finality of life in that camp. The displays of hair, shoes, (men, women, children and babies) the personal items, shaving brushes, shoe polish, leather suitcases, glasses, anything a person could use to sustain life to even the least degree of comfort was taken from them, artificial limbs, canes. braces, the list is forever long, all were taken and these people slaughtered as animals. as that is how the German political leaders looked on these Jewish people. So completely sad to see a pile of little boots.

Many of the children were adopted by the other citizens of the cities, and raised as their own, so their heritage was lost, but their lives were saved. I think I shall never complain about my black shoes not matching my brown skirt ever again, I have sufficient for my needs. and more.

So of course I have a question, how does the atonement cover those people who committed and allowed to be committed against those people.? Is there enough time in all eternity to even come close to repenting for all those acts of atrocity?? and if they willingly did these things, how can this be?? I remember the story told of Corrie ten Boom in conference about meeting one of the guards from the camp where she and her sister were imprisoned and her sister died. he had asked her forgivness for all he had done. and how she felt, so in this life time must he seek personal forgiveness from each person?? and what of those that died, must he ask for personal forgiveness from each of those people. so many questions and I do have a tiny tiny tiny understanding of the atonement, but not much. and so many questions,

Pretties and Parties

From email sent October 29, 2010:

Poland is very beautiful and the people ,for the most part, are really quite nice and friendly, probably would be more so if I could speak the language better, but keep on trying, it's a VERY DIFFICULT language to learn and my memory just ain't what it used to be.

Pictures include beautiful tree, Fall in Bydgoszcz a mistletoe tree, here it's a parasite that grows in lots of trees, and a birthday party for one of the elders

Halloween Party

from email sent October 28, 2010:

this year in Oct.there are 3 Fri, 3 Sat. and 3 Sundays and that won't happen again for about 834 or so years. interesting bit o nonsense, Someone has way too much time on their hands to figure that out, not me, that's for sure, tomorrow we are planning a Halloween Party for the branch here, not really a big holiday here, some of the western events are just coming here, so we're looking forward to a great time. BOO

one of the elders just called and wanted an idea for a costume, I suggested a "Larry" that's what they call homeless people here, or hobos are the same thing. not a lot one can do with your basic black suit and white shirt maybe a ya bunches, Mom

Classes, Travelling and a Birthday Party

From email sent September 19, 2010:

jak sie masz?( how are you?)the class went well, we reviewed reading a pattern envelope and the guide sheet and how to make t shirts. Sister Zan said to thank you so much for sending them, seriously the Burda patterns are a joke however there is a place on line like ebay one can purchase patterns very similar to American ones, only have to have an account and I don't know how to see the catalog, perhaps on line as well. who knows, I just really appreciate you sending those. one set is left in Wroclaw for that branch and the sisters will trace off the sizes they want and not cut the patterns, hopefully that is the way it will be done.
So on tuesday we leave for Warsaw and the senior outing and then the plan is to go to Morlbork, the largest standing castle in Europe and be there for two days and come home and then Sept. is nearly over, time is flying by so fast. amazing.

But don't know how I will deal with Christmas, this will be a first ever to be alone, well not alone there are other missionaries here and will probably have them for dinner , it's a three day event and we've already been invited to Andziej and Alicja's for one day and the 26th is Andziej's birthday and he said we had to bring him a present , even if it's just a sucker and wrap it in BIRTHDAY PAPER. they are fun kids and they are kids, he is 23 and she is 26, and they have huge responsibilities in the church, he is 2nd counselor in the mission presidenct and she is the RS pres and institute teacher and also teaches Sunday School on Sunday a month, Andziej is traveling most of the weekends visiting other branches, that's a lot for kids that young, but they do well. Oh and his favorite pasttime now is Books and Runs, even if we just have 15 minutes, it's " shuffle those cards and lets do a hand and save the score til we can play again, and Alicij's favorite thing is to beat him in cards, rarely happens and she saved the last score sheet and is going to frame it and display it, funny kids.

Busy, busy, busy

From email sent September 16, 2010

What a week this has been, first we had zone conference cancelled, our area authority had to remain in Germany for other meetings so couldn't come. I don't know when conference will be, probably another week when we have a milliion things to reschedule. like we did this week, Guess that's the way it goes, a million things to do , or nothing. rather have a million things, time goes by faster.

So next week the schedule at this time is for the senior outing in Warsaw on Wed and thur,travel on tuesday , leave for Morlburk Castle on Thursday evening and be there on Friday and come home on Friday pm. gonna be exhausted from all that travel and then it's nearly Oct.
The sewing classes are going great and leave tomorrow for Wroclaw for two days to teach there and do alterations for the elders, Usually just shirts and suits. sometimes mending their slacks. I do enjoy it and it's a good way to serve. so maybe my purpose is to do just that, oh and teach them how to play Books and Runs. Probably will need more decks of cards if I get transferred again, not in the plan, but one never knows.

Message from Poland

from email sent September 6, 2010:

Dzien dobry,

Tthe work in Poland continues to go forward howbeit very slowly, The vision of L. Tom Perry is truly correct as the youth are the ones generally more willing to listen to the missionaries. Institute here begins in Oct. after a long summer break, so many kids leave the city for the summer it's hard to have much of any kind of program. so we're startig again and hopefully all the kids will return. I do stay busy teaching sewing classes, go to Wroclaw once a month and teach a group there, 4 YW and 4 RS. sisters. and this week will start teaching another class here in Bydgoszcz.

It's so much fun to see the sisters, young and old, excited about making their own clothes. We started with making pajama pants and after class in Wroclaw the sisters did a little fashion show wearing their new pjs and did a funny little stomp dance. it was way cute. This month we are doing baby blankets, a different way to bind the edges, simple projects, but learning none the less. it's great fun.

In August I received a package from my girls, love to get packages and letters and emails with pictures. Among all the goodies from my family there were two letters from Primary kids in their ward in Phoenix with Flat Jim and Flat Choco. two little missionaries to serve mini missions here in Bydgoszcz. we had a great time doing splits with other missionaries and going to church. They will be returning to Phx. this week after about two busy weeks serving here. Hopefully I can attach some pictures. Not always successful there. .

do widzenia, Siostra Austin

Gift of Tongues and Out of Harm's Way

from email sent August 31, 2010:

did you get the email with the Polish words, 'When I get home you can speak some Polish to me. I cannot carry on a conversation, but know lots of words and can read Polish, just dont know what all the words mean, but still learning. Among all the blessings President Ron Smith blessed me with when he set me apart, one of them wasn't the gift of tongues, in fact he set me apart for an English speaking mission, however he did bless me to be kept out of harms way and I am so thankful for that blessing. crazy drivers over here , no speed signs and autobusses and tramvies everywhere, driving like crazy. If one were to get a license, the first thing to do is take the rear view mirror off the car and not see what is going on behind.

Polish Words

From email sent on August 30, 2010

here are a couple of Polish words to learn with Polish and english spelling and pronouncation

good morning dzien dobry (gen doe-bry)

hi czesc (chest)

good bye do widzenia (doe vid-zen-ia) w's are pronounced like v's

thank you dzienkuje (gen-kulia) sounds like julia with a k

please prosze (pro-sha)

thought this would be fun to learn. It's a very hard language and there are 7 different case endings for it is hardfor me to carry on a conversation, but I know lots of words. I probably sound a lot like a little kid just learning to talk, duh.... I am. love ya bunches, MOM

Sewing Classes and New Traditions

From email sent August 29, 2010

The classes are going really well and the sisters are excited for the next class to begin, It's so fun to teach them. We're starting one in Bydgoszcz tomorrow for karolina, wish you guys could meet her and Tomac, they are such a cool couple, Tomac is quiet and serious and karolina doesn't have a serious bone in her body. she comes over to play cards with us, and the elders come over every Sunday for dinner and cards. so she came tonite and we all played 3 games.but Elder Davis said we CANNOT BREAK TRADITION, so the games and dinner are not part of the routine, besides they never have money for food, I really think they give most of their money away, so we love to feed them whenever possible. great young men, love them to pieces.
From email sent August 14, 2010:

this is a picture of a real stork's nest here in Poland, Storks have been protected for many hundreds of years here, even since the 1300"s. It is considered good fortune if a stork builds a nest in your chimney, mostly now they are seen on the top of poles like this one. They come back each year to the same next and in the sides of the nest other smaller birds build nests. There are not many storks and the mama and papa stork take turns getting food and caring for the young.

the 1st picture is in Gdansk at a parade. love to you all and now you know that storks really do bring babies.

Adam's Ties

From email sent August 14, 2010

pictures of Adam's ties, just a corner of the warehouse and an old 1800's engine I saw on the way home to Bydgoszcz...(ignore the time stamp in the corner-wrong date)

Shopping and Driving in Poland

From Email Sent August 12, 2010:

just got back from Warsaw and am beyond bushed., we had the most amazing
time with sister Nielson, the new mission matron. We met her at the Bubble
Mall in Warsaw and shopped a bit, found my favorite store in Poland Van
Graaf, and they carry Brookshire shirts and clothes and I love the quality
and the style, only a bit expensive, but worth it, a typical button up shire
made from cotton blend is about 99zl, so really that is about $34 or sol.
not too bad and fit so much better than WalMart stuff. sleeves are long
enough. Guess it's about like Miller Rhodes.
So we shopped for a bit then decided to go to Adam's Ties, He manufactures
men' s neck ties here in Poland for several different men's stores. among
them are Pierre Car'mdin and some I didn't recognize, any way Sister Nielson
and I had never been there and sister Marshall didn't know the way, so got
out her trusty map with key places marked, like the mall, the Church, the
mission home and Adam's ties, so off we went Sister Nielson was driving,
Sister Marshall navigating and I'm in the back seat reading street signs,
only one able to see them and somewhat read them, so Sister Nielson thought
we were not on the right road and said we needed a conference, so pulled up
on the sidewalk between a light pole and a street sign and really checked
the map. decided we were on the right track and just waved her arm out the
window and took off. then continued on that way for a bit and didn't get in
the right lane to make a turn, so just pulled in the safety lane and turned
around, After only 5 weeks in the country she's a real Polish driver. Then a
bit later on we weren't sure if we were on the right road again an did
another sidewalk conference. The statement "if you don't like the way I
drive, stay off the sidewalk" really applies here. She is a riot. love her
to pieces. Got to Adam's Ties and that place is amazing, probably several
thousand or more ties. I did take several pictures and will attempt to ssend
them to you and did buy some ties, then went to a Polish Pottery place and then to
dinner and then to the mission home to crash. today was a zone leader
conference and we helped cook for that and then needed to alter skirts for
Sister Nielson, that's what we went over for. and then home on the train,
another 5 hours,

Train rides are no longer an exciting event and next week I need to Wroclaw
to teach another sewing class. hope I don't have an adventure like last

well better get to bed, tomorrow is YSA and I think we're playing Ping Pong

Youth Conference Article

from email sent August 9, 2010

Here is a link to an article written about the July 2010 Young Adult Conference. "Gazeta" is one of the most popular daily paper in Poland.

1st picl. group, 2nd ski lift, took us clear up to heaven 4500 or so ft. 3rd. Esau from Canada, Hispanic, Sister Galbraith, Sister Marshall, my comp, some guy, me, recognize the gray hair and sunglasses, in front are Karolina and Agnieska from Warsaw , all the rest are pics of the group making bird nest(houses) and the last pic is my comp taking a pic of who knows what.
a huge service project, picking uprubbish on the ski trails, and even more huge was the hike down the mountain , just thought you might like to see some of what we did in Szczyrk,