Monday, October 29, 2012

Lance's first email from the field

Well, it's no surprise at all...Lance officially loves Poland.  In fact, everything is just "amazing"! 

Here are some excerpts from his email today:

"Poland is SO AMAZING!  After the way long flights, we landed in Poland and met with the mission president and his wife and went over to their house.  Got fed and went site seeing/tracting.  It was so sick!!!!!"

"Seriously, this whole town is amazing!!!  It's so beautiful!  So that first day we saw the palace and a huge Catholic cathedral!  It was amazing!!  Fall here is so beautiful!  The leaves are falling and it's amazing!  Anyway we saw the palace and the way it looked and felt, and just being here in the country, gives me chills thinking about it!"

"So my new companion is Elder Fletcher, he's seriously the bomb!  He is the best at the language, everyone agrees, and he has sick studying habits, and he saves my butt every time I can't speak or say something, haha!"

"Speaking to people is amazing!  Yeah, the first day was tough speaking to people because my vocabulary isn't huge, but after that first couple days, I started just speaking!  I can without a doubt see God's hand in my learning the language and teaching with it, just everything!"

"My area is Warzawa 2!  Just me and Fletcher!  We get to see Stolens tower all the time and it's amazing!"

"I talk to everyone and give them a huge smile and say Dzien Dobry!  haha, and they look at me all weird and just say it back."

"...smiling at everyone, letting them know that they exist and that they truly do matter and that God loves them so much!  And through just that one smile, they can see maybe that's enough to get through another day or spark the flame to their conversion in Christ."

"This message is divine and of God and I truly do love being here!"

"Dzien Dobry kocham cie!"

I can't be sure, but my guess is he is having an AMAZING time there!  

I'm guessing the tower he's referring to is this one.....

Hopefully he'll attach some pictures to his next email!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Nielsons are just plain awesome!

Shortly after Lance received his call, I was advised to look up President & Sister Nielson's blog.  Every (I mean EVERY) activity, function, baptism, move the missionaries make are all photographed.  They take time to describe, in detail, what is happening in the Poland mission.

I'm not sure I can express the feelings I had when I saw the photographic evidence of Lance walking off the plane and being so warmly welcomed by the Nielsons.

Looking handsome in his chocolate brown suit.  
He plans on buying a new Polish suit.  

Today he met his trainer and learned he had been assigned to Warsaw.  

The elder on the far right is also new.  
He's standing next to his trainer.
Not sure how it happened, but their heights match quite nicely.

This was Lance's first chance to speak with someone about the Gospel.
The missionary standing with him has been in Poland for a some months now.  
I feel like I know him...his mom has been a great "friend" to me via email & Facebook.

So, a special thank you to the Nielsons!  Though Lance is many miles away, their blog has helped me to feel close to my son.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

On his way!

Best idea:  Sending Lance a cheap Trac phone to call me while at the airport!

We spoke this morning while waiting for his flight in SLC.  We have been very diligent about writing and emailing, but actually hearing the excitement in his voice was so much better!   He will have a layover in Detroit then again in Amsterdam.  I believe, if my math is correct (though often it is not), he will arrive in Poland sometime very early Tuesday morning.

During our about 30 minute conversation, Lance expressed to me his gratitude for his experiences in the MTC.  No surprise, knowing my son as I do, he made good friends out of everyone around him.
He has a special gift to be able to relate to anyone in any situation.  And now he is exemplifying his gift by going to a foreign country to serve the Lord.

Lance shared with me a pretty cool experience he had while waiting in line to board his plane this morning...

He said that he and his companion were visiting and Lance said some words in Polish.  A lady standing in front of him turned to him and said she is from they started up a conversation.  She gave him some good advice as to where to visit in Poland, what the best cathedrals are to go see, and what to expect as far as weather goes.  At the end of the conversation, he offered her a Pass Along Card (little cards with our church's contact info on them and an uplifting message).  She said, "No thanks."  He called it his first rejection of his mission.  But he was so happy about it, anyways!  He said he got to know an awesome person from Poland, got some great advice, and realized that he was able to converse with her in the language.  He views such "chance encounters with random people" to be of God.  I would have to agree.

Serving an 18 month to 2 year proselyting mission is not an easy undertaking.  A missionary chooses to leave the comforts of home, family, and friends to be sent away to an unknown area.  Many missionaries leave their girlfriends/boyfriends, their jobs, their schooling, etc., all in the name of furthering the Gospel.  In Lance's case, he also left behind his love of writing/performing music .  He worked at a local production plant for many months, some weeks with no days off, to save and pay for his mission.  He even sold his beloved drum set.

All of his own free will.

So, yeah.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Leaving for Poland next Monday

Lance's letter we received this weekend and today's email are full of excitement about him leaving for Poland next Monday...

"It's crazy!  We have less than two weeks left!!!  It's insane how close it is around the corner, I'm so extremely excited to go to Poland!  It is so crazy I'm going to Europe!"

Like I said, he's excited!

He had this to say about the language:
"This language is truly the BEST LANGUAGE EVER!!  Hahaha!  It's so extremely beautiful."

He goes on to comment about Conference:
"General Conference was divine!  I have never watched it with as much concern and desire ever before in my life, and I obtained so much out of it.  I had written down some questions I wanted to get answers for and they were answered in the first couple talks!"

"If you have the time to, you should get on and find the talk given by David A.'s amazing!  It has helped nourish and prove witness through the Spirit what I truly needed to work on."

He writes some in Polish, but again, no translation.

Some scriptures he shares:
2 Nephi 13-27
Mosiah 2:17

He signs off his letter with a language I am somewhat familiar with...
"Garu di, hwyl fawr!"

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Latest update

My birthday was on the 28th and boy was I surprised to receive a surprise package from Lance in the mail!  Here's my birthday present...
I took this picture to send via email to him so he knew I got it.  
If you know me and my family, the "metal" sign is commonly seen in pictures.  
Yeah, I take a little credit for that.

He also sent his SD car so I could pull off some pictures.  It's so great to "see" him and his buddies!
Standing in front of Starszy Stumpf's German flag while holding Lance's Polish flag.

Lance tells me he and Starszy Lanham are like twins.  Gee, I don't see the resemblance....

This young man standing with Lance has the last name of Maddox.  Could be a relative!
Smith, Stumpf, Lanham, Saltmarsh, Finch, Stockford, and Kotter

Lance's letter I received on Friday was quite inspirational....

"I know that by the time we (he and his fellow missionaries) leave here, we will be as spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared as we could possibly be through Christ and be the missionaries He wants.  And that is a most beautiful thing!"

"One of the biggest things I have learned over the last couple weeks is that having faith isn't enough.  You must constantly be nourishing your faith by completely converting yourself to God and completely submitting yourself to His will."

"Also, it's something I say in every letter, but I have come to learn that it's an important and essential prospect of life to serve!  To build people up, build up the Kingdom of God, to reach out instead of reaching in.  Once you do these things, you forget your problems, your trials disappear, because reaching out and serving is truly the Light of Christ!  Like in Mosiah 2:17...check that scripture out, it's powerful!  That what we call "trials & burdens" are actually blessings."

"To become the best we can be, not better than anyone else, but better than we used to be, more of who we already are, continually progressing, striving to become like Christ everyday."
One of Lance's favorite scriptures...Ephesians 6:12
He even gave one of his songs this title.