Friday, August 22, 2014

The future is as bright as our faith

We dropped Lance off to the MTC on this day two years ago, so it seems appropriate that today is my final entry in this blog.  

Waiting for Lance's arrival

It's absolutely true that the entire family of the missionary is blessed...the blessings may not come in obvious ways, but they come none the less.  One of the most unexpected blessings I have recognized is the new friends I now have.  They have inspired and uplifted me and I will never forget the love I felt from them.  As I reflect on the last two years, I perceive there are many more blessings that I cannot share here.  I can tell you that my life has been greatly enriched and I'm a changed person.  

Lance feels that he served well and has no regrets.  He loves Poland and the people there and feels that he was sent to Poland for a specific purpose.  He already has plans for going back to visit, as soon as possible.
Being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the most incredible experience he's ever had.  

Going in to meet with the Stake President to be released.

It is my testimony that God loves all of His children equally, that the Book of Mormon is His word, and Joseph Smith was a true prophet who was instrumental in restoring the fullness of the Gospel.  

In Jesus's name,


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Best Two Years

A two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often referred to as "the best two years".  Lance explained that indeed, it is the best two years...for the missionary.  Others benefit from the service, but truly it is the missionary who leaves the field a completely changed person.

Today I write this blog with excitement and joy knowing that tomorrow we will welcome Lance home.

July 7th
"It's super pretty skies, green nature.  Yeah, it's beautiful here!"
They taught a lot of people and one person in particular has been very interested.  Lance is hopeful things will continue.  They also met with someone from California who was visiting Poland to pray at all the Concentration Camps in order to change the spirit in those sad places.  They had a really great conversation!
Lance’s thoughts are starting to turn toward his future for when he gets home.  He has some great ideas on what he wants to do for school and career.  He's got a detailed list of his goals.  I’m glad to hear he’s got a good plan!

In his studies, he often takes a topic and expounds on it.  He recently took the term YOLO (You Only Live Once) and revised it to mean YOLFE (You Only Live For Eternity).
 He quotes 2 Nephi 9:26-27
26 For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.
27 But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!
Of course satan wants us to have a YOLO attitude, and the people who give into it will be as those described in verse 28:
 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
In contrast, the YOLFE attitude is one of a spiritual mind.  Do not waste your resources on that which has no worth, but bless your life and the lives of others with your talents.  
51 Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.
The key to these blessings of success and happiness is gratitude:
 52 Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.

He lists 5 steps to attaining goals:
Put your faith in God
Pray and lift your voice to God daily
Listen with hope and write down the revelations you receive 
Act with hope and confidence
Be full of faith, patient, hopeful, full of love while accomplishing those goals

"Whatever you decide to accomplish, you can.  We're the ones who decide it.  We're the ones who decide how much we accomplish in life.  That's why we should never stop in our progression."

July 13th
"It's me, Elder Kotter calling in from Lublin!"
They met with a young lady from Ukraine, who is very receptive.  Lance says she's very cool and speaks Polish very well, though she also speaks a little English.  He feels more comfortable teaching the Gospel in Polish, though.  He points out that people are essentially the same.  Even across the world, in various languages, people have more similarities than differences.  

He's looking forward to coming home, though he doesn't want to leave Poland.  He mentions that he has learned from his service more of what it takes to be a good leader.  He finds it's important to be a Christ-like leader instead of going forward in fear.  He feels the first key is love.  Second you have to serve with an eye single to the Glory.  Third you need to seek to do the will of God.  Fourth you've got to lift others.  Fifth is to teach..."Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves" - Joseph Smith.

Some questions Lance asks himself when it comes to being a Christ-like leader are:
Am I helping people to understand that overcoming challenges is their responsibility?
Am I guiding others to find their own answers?
Am I following up on tasks they've agreed to do?
Am I helping them find resources to solve their own problems?
Am I encouraging them to trust the Lord?
Does my counsel encourage others to progress?

Callings are an example of when it's a great time to ask these questions.  Another place is in your personal business.  And Lance plans on using these guidelines to further his success in his future business.  
"Super European" hair cut

July 21st
"We've just been working so hard.  Killing our feet and going nuts."
It was the last day for one of his former companions to work on exchanges, so they were able to spend some time together working and celebrating with a member family.
The elder on the far right is home now!

Life is good, he says.  They visited with a lady in their branch and her fiance.  Lance says they had a great time and had some really great food.  It was very healthy!  

Sunday school was good.  Two young women showed up after having a lesson at the Rynek earlier in the week.  He said they were very cool.  The topic for the lesson was about having a good attitude and work.  If we want something, we have to act and work for it.  If we don't, we become someone who "gets acted upon".  Some people blame the world for their problems, but truly we determine our own happiness.  
2 Nephi 2:14 talks about that...
And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
If we go into it with an attitude to learn and grow, our work will bring forth the fruits of our labors, happiness and blessings.
He lists some great scripture references.  

Some ideas to help us be more diligent and self reliant...
Lead by example, letting others govern themselves.
Plan and carry out projects and work to do with family.
Find ways to serve others with love and labor.
Carry out essential smalls tasks that lead to big changes.
Live and teach the principles of self reliance by managing money.
Do all in love and diligence with an eye single to the glory of God.

We're either progressing or digressing.  If we're always anxiously engaged, with a good attitude, we can get stuff done.  

He gets to teach in the upcoming Zone Conference on how to connect with people.  He's excited to do that!
He's had the chance to teach and visit with a bunch of Ukrainians, which he's loved.  They also met with a man from Bulgaria who accepted a Book of Mormon from another set of missionaries.  He's an artist and Lance bought one of his paintings to bring home...

He closes by saying he doesn't regret one day on his mission.  
"I have such a strong testimony of this mission. It's literally saved my life."

July 28th
"I love Poland SO much!  It's seriously like one of the best places on Earth."
He goes on to explain his love for the country and the people.  He feels so very connected to it and knows he was specifically called to Poland for a reason.

Church was awesome...they had 10 people come, which is more than usual.  He was excited to have so many wonderful people there.  

His study has been on the Holy Ghost lately.  His focus has been understanding what it is that happens when we feel his presence.  We are all spirit children of God.  We lived with Him and learned from Him.  We had a long time to feel God's love when we lived in the pre-existence.  Then we come to the world and we become separated from the Spirit over time.  The Holy Ghost, whom we were so well acquainted with in the pre-existence, testifies and speaks directly to our spirits.  So it's spirit to spirit because it is pure.  We can recognize this in our hearts.  We may not be listening or become distracted and not recognize those spiritual impressions.  When we're worthy, we can receive everything we need.  We must act on it valiantly and immediately; otherwise the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.  
Acting on the promptings empowers us.  It gives us more confidence in what we're receiving is true.  The Spirit makes your mind clear and gives peace.  That which edifies and enlightens is of the Spirit.

He closes by asking me to tell everyone hi and he'll see them all in no time.  Things are going well with all their investigators.  He testifies that the Gospel is true.

August 4th
"It's very beautiful outside today.  It looks like it's going to be a pretty hot day." 
This week was, as he put it, the busiest week of his life.  They even skipped dinner a couple of times due to their lesson teaching.  He loved it!

They visited a nearby town to serve a woman by working in her yard.  Afterwards, she feeds them loads of amazing Polish food.  He lists the different types of food, but I couldn't begin to know how to spell them!
They had a really great experience in another town that hasn't seen very many missionaries.  There are a few less active members there and Lance felt impressed to go see them.  They met with a man who Lance feels is very prepared to be baptized.  At least one of the less active members committed to come back to church regularly.  They're still meeting with the artist from Bulgaria.  Things are going very well with that!  He is very faithful, even through some trials he is going through right now.  

Lance gives a detailed description of Poland and it's beauty.  He describes the little cottage homes, fields, the sunset...he swears the moon is bigger there!  So pretty.  He loves Poland and its culture SO much.  He's really going to miss it and love it always.  He plans to return to visit someday.

His study focused on positive words this week.  He takes to heart the admonition of Paul and never let any corrupt communication proceed out of his mouth.  Only that which edifies.  This is found in Ephesians 4:29:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Alma 38:12 also counsels:
Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.
A soft response that is delivered with love is most effective.  Commemorate and encourage others in their good deeds and let them know we feel they're doing a good job.  In the end, it depends on the humility in our own hearts...instead of being prideful or jealous.  It encourages others to continue on the right path.  
Lance gives a story found in Alma chapters 60 and 61 which demonstrates this concept.  See
Moroni speaks with boldness and Pahoran has a soft response.  

Lance feels like the most joy he's experienced has been during his mission.   A lot of people say the mission is the best two year.  "It's the best two years because it's the best two years for you."  He says it's hard to describe in words what it has meant for him.  The Book of Mormon is true and the keystone to our religion.  

August 11th
"It's so good to be calling in.  It's crazy that this is going to be the last time I call in.  It's super's like the same feeling I had before going on my mission.  It's almost nostalgic.  I remember going into the MTC like it was yesterday.  I love this mission so much!  I've really changed.  I know that I've become who God wants me to become.  I feel like I've at least mastered the basics.  It's just cool."

He feels very satisfied with his mission.  When he thinks back on everything, he has no regrets.  He hasn't wasted one single day.  He's happy to say that he's given it his all every day.  He feels he got put with the right people and the right companions.  He sees God's hand in all things.

He's been studying lately on how desires lead to actions.  These things are so important.  Whether it be a thought or a word or an action, God grants according to our desires.  What we insistently desire over time is what we will eventually become.  We will attract the rewards and/or consequences.  To act or to be acted upon.  Make your choice!  
Mosiah 4:30 is a good example of this idea.  See
The Book of Life is being written within our very bodies by our thoughts, behavior, actions.  It can be read as easily as a book can be read.  We determine who we will become through our thoughts and actions.  Our bodies are temples.  And we should not defile our temples. 

They had a really good sacrament meeting in church.  He was so grateful to see at least 11 other people and he just couldn't stop smiling!  He felt the Spirit so strongly and felt the love he has for those he has met on his mission.  He points out that there are no ranks in the Church.  The Prophet is no better than us.  They just have a different assignment.  We all have different responsibilities over God's work.  Lance feels like he's learned so much from his companions, his mission presidents, and all the people he has worked with.  Especially the Polish people.  It was worth the 8 hours a day spent breaking his legs and destroying his feet.  He will never forget all these beautiful things.  

They are still meeting with the artist from Bulgaria.  Lance says he's the most humble and faithful person he's met.  This wonderful man has accepted baptism and is scheduled to enter the waters at the end of this month.  Lance feels this is going to help all the members in his branch, too. 

All the prayers, the love, the support from his family and friends have had a huge impact on his life.  He will carry this all with him for the rest of his life.  He closes his final recording by bearing his testimony.  I won't write it here since he will certainly be sharing it in Sacrament meeting next week.

The best two years.  Hands down.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let the countdown begin

July 1st marks seven weeks until Lance's return!  Yes, we are all very excited!

And now for a summary of June's emails and voice recordings.....

June 2nd
"Tried to do some yoga last night.  Found out I've lost some flexibility.  I'm going to have to do a lot of yoga when I get home!"
Lance and his companion taught 17 lessons this week and gained one solid investigator.  Lance says he is "super prepared".  So they've been meeting every day for the last week and came to church.  It was a great experience at church considering there was another man there who is investigating and the two investigators became friends.  It was also Fast and Testimony meeting and Lance's new friend stood to bare a testimony.  So they are very excited about this man and his spirituality!

Lance has been studying lately about the will of the Lord.  
He shares some good scriptures:

1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

(So, God commands people to do things that He knows we can accomplish and He gives us the help and grace to do so.)  

1 Nephi 9:6 But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.

God fulfills His promises to us, as well.  Whatever he commands and promises WILL come about.  He never falls short on His end. It's up to us to fulfill our end.  

Act in faith.

In closing, he says he has really enjoyed reading "Jesus the Christ" and how much he's learned from it.  
They are looking forward to hearing from President Uchtdorf next week. 

June 9th
"Lublin's awesome, as always.  This last week's been really good!"
Lance starts out by sharing what they've been focusing on with their new investigator.  Repentance is one of the main topics they have been discussing and how repentance is a part of recovering from addiction.  It's a way to put behind us the mistakes we feel we've made.  And to go forward with confidence.  

Lance says he and his companion have been talking a lot about how there is no better work.  He feels like in comparison to all his work history, this has been the best and most rewarding experience yet.  And he's not even getting paid!

They had a culture day this week and went to the castle there in Lublin.  

They also had a branch get together at a member family's home with their investigator.  He says it was great food and they had a lot of fun!

His spiritual thought for this week is about trusting the Lord. 

2 Nephi 4:34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

When we trust in God, we know that everything is going to be okay.  
He goes on to comment on how important it is to read the scriptures.  He points out that the Book of Mormon is the keystone to our religion.  "While we read the Book of Mormon everyday, it strengthens our testimony and builds our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ."

June 23rd
No recording from last week.  Lance was in Warsaw helping his new companion fill out all his paperwork and to attend the conference.  They also taught 19 lessons and still meeting with their new investigator.  They also welcomed a new member to their branch this week!  So Lance is very happy about that.

He learned a ton at the conference with President Uchtdorf.  He says, "It was enough knowledge to carry me through the rest of my life.  It was, as you will, another patriarchal blessing for us all.  It was really really really good!"  

He shares an example in 1 Nephi 18 of overcoming pride.  Our compass (Liahona) will cease to work if we become complacent and fall off track.  Trust in the Lord and hold fast to your faith, and you will be able to find your way.  
God's perfect and always has His hand reached out.  When we put God first, all things work out.  If we get off track, pray and ask for that personal revelation we desire.  

Lance says that everything is going great.  He's enjoying this last transfer and gets along great with his new companion.  They are planning on spending the rest of the P day shopping and hanging out.  He closes by expressing his love and appreciation for everyone at home. 

June 30th
"We worked super hard this week!  We taught 22 lessons on the street." 
They met with someone in the park this week who at first was not interested, but after some conversation, the man thanked them for their wise words.  So they're planning on meeting with him again this week.  

Lance's spiritual thought comes from 2 Nephi 4:18.

Sometimes in life we feel like we are encompassed about by sin.  "We groan in sorrow in our hearts".  We want to awaken our souls, like Nephi.  Don't allow our weaknesses to become excuses to droop in sin.  Fill yourself with love, which will eliminate that place of the enemy in our souls.  Live in gratitude...that is the secret to happiness.  President Uchtdorf also spent some time on that topic in his talk.  And if you're loving, there is no room for anger.  Lance says that thanks to his mission, he has learned how to control anger and frustration a lot better.  

Taken from
Lance's blurry face is in the background
Lance's honorary mission mom/family
One of the elders in Lance's group
Lublin branch missionaries

"Everything's good here.  I love it.  Just working hard!"
He says life is great, he loves his calling.  


Friday, June 13, 2014

Loving life in Lublin

We received an email two weeks ago with Lance's proposed return travel itinerary......August 19th!

Here is the update for the month of May:

May 5th
"Lublin's awesome!  Loving the life here."
Lublin, he says, reminds him a lot of a Medieval town.  He makes the comparison to the scenery in the movie Braveheart.  It's very much how he had imagined Poland would look like.

The week was busy with Zone Conference and teaching many lessons.  They have one person who is very interested in the message, though he has been agnostic.  He came to sacrament meeting and had some questions that a member in the branch was able to help answer.  So that was good for everyone!

Last week, their lesson in Sunday School was about the church in Christ's day and this next week's lesson, they will talk about Christ's church today.  With smaller branches, they typically have just a sacrament meeting and a Sunday school lesson.  Lance thinks they might start implementing Priesthood and Relief Society lessons soon.  He says they have a few regular investigators right now who attend sacrament.

He says he focuses more of his studies to leading the branch and Sunday school.  He did a study recently about "secret combinations" to get a better idea of what that means.
Cain was the first to accept secret combinations as an oath between him and Satan.  Due to pride and selfish desire to gain glory from man, secret combinations have been administered to men since that time.  We learn a lot about this concept in the Book of Mormon.

2 Nephi 28:9 reads:
Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish docrtines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

Lance explains that secret combinations are always administered in darkness and secretiveness.  They are used to get power, to murder, to rob, to get gain, to overthrow all nations.  The Lord does not work in secret abominations.  Visit to read more about the reality and the dangers.

(As I read this scripture, I personally find this to be so fitting for our day.  I see secret combinations at work all around us.  They are being used to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries....including our own personal freedom.  There was a time when I didn't, couldn't, understand why there would be conspiring men.  It was hard for me to fathom why anyone, any group of people, would want to impose upon me and my happiness.  I completely and fully understand it all now and it is very disturbing.  I am extremely grateful that my eyes are open and I can make educated and inspired decisions!)

Lance reminds that we have the power to overcome these conspiracies.  Be aware of the pattern!  Protect ourselves through the fundamentals.  Read scriptures, pray, meditate, attend church, make sacred covenants with God, etc.
(And remember, secret and sacred are NOT one in the same.)

He concludes his email by expressing his excitement that we are going to be Skyping for our Mother's Day call!  I had called the Mission Office to make sure my calling plan would allow me to reach Poland.  The elder that answered my call told me the good news.  So exciting!

"The Gospel's true."

Rockin their "pan" hats!

May 12th
Lance's 21st birthday!  And the day after Mother's Day!  What a great time to be alive.
I sent him a birthday package too late, so he didn't get it in time for his actual birthday.  I did send some balloons so he could make his own party.  Little did I know that a family in his branch was planning a celebration BBQ for him!  This sweet sister and her husband don't speak much English (and I speak NO Polish) sent me pictures on FB of the celebration.  My husband and I even got an invite!  Too bad we couldn't hop a plane to Lublin...cuz I sooooo would've.

Our Mother's Day call via Skype was absolutely wonderful!  I took lots of video of our conversation for Lance to enjoy when he gets home.  His reaction to seeing us was SO priceless!

Russell and Tiff

Our chat was so wonderful!  He looked so healthy and happy and just glowing.  We got to meet his companion and share a few words.  What a wonderful young man and mission companion for my son!  Lance filled us in as much as possible on how things are going.  Much of our time, though, was spent on filling him in on our doings.  Russell has an exponentially longer beard than the last time I sent a picture, so Lance was cracking up.  Tiff was leaving for Arizona the next day to start her new job, so it was great to have her there with us, especially so Lance could wish her well.  Lance asked about everyone in the family and friends.  It was great to share with him all that has been going on, though I do try to keep him updated in our weekly emails.  It was just an overall wonderful experience to chat live with him!

Lance begins his recording by expressing how wonderful it was to see us all over Skype.  He says we all look great and healthy.  His dad wore his "pan" hat during the chat and I brought out a little Polish flag so he could see we are always supportive of him and Poland.
His spiritual thought today pertains to reconciling some differences in our beliefs and those of a predominant religion in Lublin.  Lance says the missionaries do not Bible bash.  Instead, they use the complementary scripture that supports our position as the "other sheep".  He uses the concept of "knowing a prophet by their fruits".

Matthew 7:15-20 explains this very well....
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The complement to this in the Book of Mormon is found in Moroni 7:5-6...
5 For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

So how might we know if a prophet (or any person, for that matter) is sincere in their intentions?  If their fruits are charity and perfect love for all mankind.  If they are meek, humble, full of charity. They are not puffed up, prideful, search for reasons to argue, and do not try to stir up the hearts of man.  False prophets, or false Christians, will be like ravenous wolves.  They are caught up in their pride.  By that, all charity is lost.  So by their ACTIONS (their fruits), you shall know them.  The things they say, their body language, their vibe, the things they desire, everything manifests into your actions...whether they be good or bad.
Christ-like attributes are a give away for someone who has charity, for self and others.

Lance closes his recording by again, expressing his love for Lublin and the people there.  He loves teaching the Gospel.  He appreciates our prayers and love.  He prays for us everyday, too.  We'll be reunited in three months!

May 19th
"Hey, good morning, Parents!  This is Elder Kotter calling in from Lublin!  Lublin's pretty sweet.  Super pretty.  It's been raining like straight for the last week and half.  So much that there has been some flooding in parts of Poland."
On the docket for his P day activities today:  rent bikes and peddle around the town.

Things are great.  Working hard and TONS of lessons with a lot of people!  They extended an invitation of baptism for one man.  It's looking promising.
They had a couple from Utah visit their branch this week while there doing research for genealogy.  I received an email from them praising Lance's work and his character.  Such a wonderful surprise!

There is a family in the area that attend church regularly, though they are not members.  Lance says they are an AMAZING family!  They had Lance and his companion over for dinner and Lance said it was wonderful, just like home.  All healthy and natural.  I was happily to hear from her on FB...she is into yoga and healthy lifestyle.  I love that I have a new friend in Poland!  Lance also mentioned a young woman from Taiwan who was leaving to go home to be sealed in the temple.

Here is the picture I received from my new friend:
 A picture of Lance's friend from Taiwan.:

The spiritual thought he shares today is taken from his lesson on repentance in Sunday School.  He shares 2 Nephi 2:6-10.  Read the passage here:
An essential key to obtaining the power of the atonement is through repentance.  Repentance does not dictate that we need to be "super sad" or anything, but it's an exciting change.  It's a fresh outlook on God and life in general.  Confess our sins to God and compensate for them.  Then FORGIVE.  Ourselves and others.  If we don't forgive ourselves, then God cannot forgive us.  Move forward with determination in our new lives.  So, repentance means to forgive ourselves completely and quit reliving the past.  It's good to remember the lesson we learned from those experiences, but use the lesson as a positive affirmation of our new selves.  "I love repentance!"

Lance says one of his goals of his mission was to better understand the Holy Ghost and better understand Him.  He feels like he has been able to accomplish that.

"The Gospel is true!"

(This recording was exceptionally fun as Lance struggled several times to come up with the English words for things.  Cracked us up!)

May 26th
"Looks like it's going to be another beautiful day.  I've been trying not to get sunburned, but you know how hard that is for a red head!"

They taught a lot of lessons and met with quite a few people.  They've extended a few invitations to baptism, so they're hopeful.  He loves to see the fruits of teaching people!  He says he can't believe how fast time flies.  He is very grateful for everything he's learned over these two years.  He's been thinking about plans for when he gets home.  He wants to become a health and wellness counselor...helping people with their basics.  Lots of great opportunities in that field, for sure!

He's been reading a lot out of Jesus the Christ lately.  In the book, the author gives a great breakdown of the parable of the talents.  To read this story, click here:

Lance loves this story!  Everyone is given gifts...many diverse gifts and talents that enrich our lives and the lives of others.  The Lord expects us to use our gifts.  If we don't, we can lose it and become miserable.  And if we want to increase our talents and gifts, we can ask for them and work for them.  We are ALL capable of receiving more!  Line upon line, precept upon precept.
2 Nephi 28:30 reads:
For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

It just goes to show that we need to use and develop these gifts.  We have the ability to help ourselves and others to grow.  We balance each other out and build the Kingdom of God.

We can at least pray to recognize the gifts that God has given us, or those we'd like to obtain.  They are attributes of God's character within us.  What a great prospect!  Some take more time to develop.
Ether 12:27 states:  
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Lance says he has learned this during his mission.  Through experience and hard work.  Such as gifts of leadership and boldness.

He feels like this mission has blessed his life more than he can even comprehend at this point.  He believes if he were anywhere else, he wouldn't be learning half as much as he is right now.  This is where he's supposed to be.

In two and a half weeks, President Uchtdorf will be visiting Poland and Lance is very excited!  He plans on recording the whole talk on his voice recorder.




Hurdy Gurdy

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Another month down, three more to go!

Yes, I have begun the countdown!  I spent a large chunk of time yesterday organizing pictures from the last 21 months so that I might begin the task of printing them for his scrapbooks.  And I do believe it's going to take that long for me to get it all put together!

April 7th

"The weather has been way nice and everything is going so awesome!"
They were able to watch most of General Conference and it was exactly what he needed to hear.  He specifically mentions the talks by Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Elder Ballard, President Uchtdorf, and President Monson.  Much of what is heard in General Conference is also taught by the mission president in Zone Training so that the missionaries can teach the members.  Zone Training was excellent and they all came away feeling "pumped up".

One topic that was focused on is why people followed Joseph Smith.  Some of the reasons they came up with are that he had the Spirit with him, he had such strong confidence in what he believed, and that he KNEW he is a child of God.  He lived his life in accordance with this knowledge.  They also read in the book of Moses that Moses went to pray and sees God face to face and comes to the understanding that he is a child of God.  When satan comes to tempt him, Moses is able to withstand the temptations and even cast satan out.  It's a good example of what we can also do when faced with temptation.  Remember that we are children of God and we have more power than anything the adversary can dish out.
Moses chapter 1 reads: "For behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  This is God's vision for us.  So we can strengthen each other in the knowledge that we are His offspring.  Lead by example, lift others up with your actions and words, serve with compassion, etc.

They were asked in Zone Training to think of a time they felt the most faithful.  Lance says it was when he opened his mission call to come to Poland.  He remembers feeling that no matter what was in his way, he could accomplish it.  That faith carried him through times when he would struggle; like when he would forget things or the language seemed too difficult.  God is willing to provide help whenever desired and we need to trust in Him.  Be 100% obedient to the commandments (the first two focus on LOVE).  And be sensitive to and be worthy to receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  Recognizing the Spirit in our lives comes through experience.  Just trust Him, have faith, be obedient to the commandments, act on the promptings, be patient.  And, using the Atonement.  The struggles we face help us grow.  Lance says he has felt that at times, especially during this mission, that once given responsibility, he felt the weight of it and couldn't always see the blessings like he may have expected.  Ultimately, the blessings are there, if we are willing to recognize them.  God helps ease our burdens and lighten the weight so that we can more easily bear them.  Instead of worrying, ponder.  Ask, "Why are things the way they are?"  Control what you can control in your life.  And put the rest in God's hands!  Read Helaman 5:12 here:

April 14th

"It's been a pretty big, full week of stuff!  We got our transfer calls!  I'm sure you already know about this since we told Brother K and he probably told Sister K and she probably told all the moms on Facebook..."

But actually, no, she wouldn't tell us!  So we had to wait till P day to find out!  It was torture but I survived.  Turns out Lance was called as Branch President in Lublin, which he was VERY surprised about.  Surprised and excited and nervous.  He feels this position will teach him a lot and hopes to do well in his responsibilities.  As always during his mission, he is putting all faith in God to help him.
He is going to miss his current area and companion, though.  Especially the branch president of the Bydgoszcz branch.  Lance is also going to miss a member family who made the missionaries feel like they are a part of their family.  He will also miss his companion and the many branch members.

Bydgoszcz Branch President
Sister K set up a service project
Some of the members in Bydgoszcz
Bydgoszcz missionaries
One of MANY meals at the K's home

Anyways, he sums up what he learned from this General Conference.  He learned how important it is to stand up for what we believe in. Be steadfast in the Gospel.  People might not always believe what we do and even criticize us, but we should always do what is right.  Speak out to make it known that we follow Christ and we do it with love.  Like "What Would Jesus Do?" to remind us how to change the world through righteousness and Christ-like love.  And all things are possible with faith, hope, love, and righteousness.  

Lance points out that we chose to come here and we ought to do our best to profit from the plan that God has given serve, love, and do what is right.  He testifies that the Gospel is true, that we have a living prophet, modern day revelation...the fullness of the Gospel.  Though not all believe that God still calls prophets and apostles, we do.  

April 21st

This week's email came on Tuesday instead of Monday.  In Poland, they have a national holiday the Monday after Easter Sunday called Smigus Dyngus, so everything was closed down for the day.  So we are glad to receive an email, even if it's a day later than usual.  But he says Lublin is a beautiful town.  There is a castle and a shopping center called a rynek.  There are a couple of concentration camps there, one nearby and the other is Auschwitz.  He doubts they will go see those, though.  
His new companion!

Lance says his new companion is very faithful and a hard worker.  He says they get along great and have a lot of great plans for the work.  Lublin is somewhat of a college town, so they have been meeting a lot of people his own age, which they have enjoyed.  He also explained how it works for him to be Branch President AND a missionary.  Basically, he is sustained as Branch President.  So another elder in the area proposed the sustaining, and it was unanimous.  They have a great family in the branch that has been very helpful.  He says they love missionaries, which is nice!  Here are some pictures a member of this family posted to Lance's FB page...

I can see they are being loved and cared for by this wonderful family  

In light of the Easter season, his spiritual thought focuses on the Resurrection.  He points out that it can be hard to believe in such a concept.  But thanks to more clarification through the Book of Mormon and modern day revelation, we have a better understanding of what it means.  There are many difficult concepts in the Bible that the Book of Mormon clarifies. Truly, it is one of the "sticks of Judah" spoken of in the Bible!

April 28th 

Lance begins by describing Lublin's beauty.  Parks, buildings, nature.  They have been teaching many college students, including some who are very open to the Gospel message.  One investigator even came to church and the Spirit was very strong.  
"It was a really good week!"

Lance points out 6 fundamental attributes of Christ's church.  They're all written in the Bible and Book of Mormon.  
1. Revelation - Through prophets and personal revelation.  All through the Holy Ghost.
2. Authority from God - Priesthood power to guide the church in God's name.  
3. Organization of the church - Order 
4. Fundamental principles and ordinances - Baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances
5. Ordinances for the dead - Proxy ordinances
6. Spiritual gifts - Tongues, discerning spirits, healing, being healed, etc.
It makes sense that those attributes would be found in Christ's church. 

Interesting foot note.  The records that comprise the Book of Mormon were being written BEFORE the book of Revelation was written.  

As with all scripture, faith is required when reading to know if it is truth.  

He closes by sharing how much he loves this mission and his new companion.  He says this companion is "way chill" and a great missionary. 
Lance feels like this mission has transformed him into more of who he already was.  
"The Gospel's true.  The church is true.  Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  Book of Mormon is true.  It's all true.  It's a matter of faith and the only way to find out is to pray."