Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A few weeks' updates!

11-25

No snow yet…and Lance is hoping it will just “give up” like it does sometimes in Utah.
They’re kicking butt and moving forward. He expects to get a baptismal date soon for someone they’re teaching right now.  Another man they’re teaching came to Gospel Doctrine, where Lance taught on the topic of the Gathering of the House of Israel. He loves that topic. Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon, which Lance calls the biggest parable we have, covers a lot of the subject matter. He points out that the Gathering is all saints across the world building Zion where ever they live. He mentions a great book, “A Companion to your Study of the Book of Mormon”. Lance says it’s probably the most helpful book he’s read yet to help him explain to others things within the Book of Mormon.

He had a few experiences that led him to dub this week “drunk person week.” He says that winter can become depressing and one way people may deal with it is to spend time being drunk. He says they went tracting to a “communist block” and saw a lady sitting on the curb looking sad. He and his companion decided to talk to her. It didn't take him long to realize that she had been drinking when she came at him, threatening to give him a kiss. He backed away quickly and explained that wasn't going to happen. So, they all agreed it was time for them to part ways. “It was super funny…and super weird!”
His next experience happened when they were teaching a lesson on the street. During their discussion, a drunk couple came up and began interrupting. When they were asked what they wanted, the woman came up to Lance and tried to snuggle up against him. He backed away and told her he had a Book of Mormon for her. She got really excited and gave him a drunk lady kiss on his forehead and then the couple just stumbled off. But they were able to finish the lesson in the end!

He says his mission is like an adventure every day. He’s learned to embrace change. The Gospel doesn't change but people do. When we get into a rut and aren't progressing, we become depressed. So if we can change, for the better, we feel much more accomplished. Thanks to our agency and mortality, we can work on those things we consider to be weaknesses and turn them to strengths. Recently, he came up with a list of things he feels that he could get better at. He is now working on making them strengths.

The Gospel has changed his life and he has seen how it has changed the lives of many people around him. He points out that it never gets old, becoming some sort of hobby. It’s simple yet it’s the fundamentals of life. He loves the Gospel. And so do I!


 

12-2

Still no snow, just super cold. “But, it’s good. And it’s beautiful!” He says it gets light around 7:30 and dark around 3:30. And the sun just barely gets up above the horizon, like a constant sunset. They’re walking their feet off…he’s got “missionary feet”!

They’re still teaching a few investigators and things are progressing with them. He’s had the opportunity to visit with a few “atheists”, which Lance enjoys. He says they spend a lot of time sharing our beliefs on life after death. And how our lives are of divine importance and that we all have a great purpose. They also address that God is our loving Father and we can gain a personal relationship with Him through prayer.

Lance shares his feelings on the story of Enos, a prophet from the Book of Mormon. The story of this amazing prophet can be found here: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/enos
The story has had a great impact on how Lance views prayer. Enos prays with mighty faith for his loved ones and for the people.  Enos gives us a good example of how we would want to pray…with sincerity. Lance encourages us to look up the topic prayer in the Bible dictionary and read.
“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
Pray not in vain, in a rote manner, but with a sincere heart. Align our will with God’s will.

Lance bought a cookbook and has been making his own pierogis (dumplings), which are similar to raviolis. They are a very popular food in Poland. He loves the Polish language and has been translating during their Sunday meetings. He says it’s a bit of a work out trying to keep up, but knows that he has been blessed through the Spirit to be able to do it. They had a great celebration at the mission president's house for Thanksgiving. He says it was great to get a taste of traditional American Thanksgiving food.


12-9

Finally got some snow…and even received his Christmas package I sent! Last year it took him over a month to get his package, this time around it took about a week. I included some pictures from Thanksgiving so he could see his family. He was most impressed with his brother’s beard. I guess beards are a big deal in Poland.

Lance caught us up on the investigators they’ve been meeting with lately. It sounds like they are covering some great doctrine. He shares the story in Acts 19 where some disciples were baptizing in the name of John instead of in the name of Christ. When Paul explains the importance of being baptized in the name of Christ, they re-baptize properly and receive the Holy Ghost through the proper authority. This is an important story in the scriptures about baptism.

Lance says most everyone has a dog. So he has met a lot of people just by being friendly to their dog. And if he needs directions..."A Polish person will run and jump in front of a car to give directions! If they don't know where it is exactly, they'll call a friend and get those directions!"

Lance concludes by sharing his belief that he is serving for the right reasons. He's not there because he HAS to, he's there because he wants to and he loves.  He is grateful for his conversion to the Gospel and hopes to impart to others his enthusiasm and joy.  Matthew 10:39 encompasses his feelings...that when we follow Jesus Christ by losing ourselves through the service of others, we find a new life.  Again, Lance encourages us to re-read "Jesus the Christ".  It's a great book and I think I'll take him up on his challenge.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Just chillin in Zoliborz

We're quickly approaching Thanksgiving and Lance was remembering the party they had last year with the Nielsons.  He said it was a lot of fun and hopes they'll get together for another celebration this year.  Lance is always up for a celebration!

Last week was "a way good week", he says.  They are teaching a few awesome people and it appears that God is busy working miracles in their lives.  Lance comments that the Gospel will bless your life and give you more purpose...and can't we all use more blessings and purpose???  One of the people they're teaching is an older man who is so very kind to Lance and his companion.  He offers them chocolate and herbal tea and shares with them many stories from Poland's history.  Lance really appreciates their visits with this gentleman!

Usually when Lance speaks of his fellow missionaries in Poland, I hear things like, "They're all the best!  They're all the bomb!  I love them all!"...occasionally he'll mention actual names and tell us something nice about specific people.  Truly, everything he's ever said to us about these other amazing servants of the Lord has been super positive.  This week he mentioned a few of these missionaries and listed some of their great qualities.  All the Elders and the Sisters in his district got a shout out in this recording.

This week's spiritual thought is based somewhat from a talk from David A. Bednar titled, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them".  Basically he gives examples of how people may be too easily offended by human behavior.  He quotes the talk: "When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected.  And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense.  However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me.  Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false.  To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."  Lance says that he finds that to be very true.  We choose how we will react to other's behaviors.

He goes on to refer to 2 Nephi 2:13-14 wherein we learn that we are not inanimate objects to be acted upon.  He quotes Elder Bednar again, "Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon.  To believe that someone or something can MAKE us feel offended, angry, hurt or bitter, diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon.  As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation."  Lance goes on to quote more of the talk, which you can find here:  http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/and-nothing-shall-offend-them

His final conclusion on this thought is we are imperfect people within a perfect church.  We learn through experiences and move on...that's just how life works.  Accepting the fact that we're ALL imperfect and make mistakes and acknowledge that, we stop becoming perfectionists within ourselves and have less reason to be frustrated.  We can be patient, with meekness, and put our trust in God that we will become perfect...someday!  He shares 2 Nephi 28:30, which has become one of his favorite scriptures.  Lend an ear to God's wisdom and receive what He gives us.  We just can't control others.  We can control how we react.

So, an interesting thing happened while they waiting for a tram.  He said some drunk guy kicked him in the foot as hard as he could.  Lance asks him why, and the guy responds with an apology and shakes Lance's hand.  As the guy stumbles away, the guy declares he doesn't like people who preach the Gospel of Christ.  Soon, the man was bothering others around him for cigarettes and money.

Lance says that speaking Polish has been giving him cankers!  He says the ways he has to move his mouth is tough and he gave us some examples of how some strange the words can be for an English speaker.  One word he shared sounds a lot like a bunch of shhhhh-es.  So funny!  Regardless, he loves the language, the people, the culture, and the land.

He closes by asking for more of his CDs to give out.  I'm putting his Christmas package in the mail this next week so he'll have it by Christmas.  I'll include his CDs, some more Christmas CDs, a bunch of healthy treats/snacks, pictures, more essential oils, and an awesome missionary looking stocking.  :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Being a trainer is the BEST!

November 4th, 2013

Apparently, the early winter weather passed them over and they are enjoying some warm fall temps.  Which he is happy about!  He is also happy that he is going to be a trainer again and stay in Zoliborz.  He says it's a lot of responsibility and can be a little nerve racking, but he absolutely loves it.  It makes him think about being as good an example as possible, at all times.

The week brought many opportunities to teach lessons, both on the streets and in people's homes.  They have been meeting with a man and his sister, which Lance says has been going well.  He says they are very open minded and he appreciates that.   They also met with another woman who has been going to their English class.  Lance says she is progressing wonderfully and believes she will accept baptism soon.

Halloween in Poland is much more of a spiritual celebration and it goes for three days.  November 1st is called "The Day of the Dead" and the missionaries put together an open house at the chapel to introduce the Gospel to visitors.  They put up several displays representing different aspects of the Gospel, such as The Plan of Salvation and the Restoration.  They also sang hymns and served refreshments.  He said they had a great turn out and it was a lot of fun.

For his spiritual thought, he focuses on leadership.  He says being on this mission has really taught him how important it is to lead by example.  Though he feels like he has been taught since childhood how to lead, he feels that he has grown much more in this area through being completely obedient to God's will.  He adds that being bold, confident, and diligent in all things makes a good leader.  He has learned a lot of great things from his leaders on the mission.  He points out that those people who are always being obedient to the Lord are those who have had the greatest influence on him.

Lance also feels it's important that missionaries do their best in all things, to be optimistic and positive.  To just be happy and enthusiastic about life, ready to help and serve.  Willing to give more than is expected.  He explains that he has made it his goal to be a "consecrated missionary"...someone who does these things because he wants to.

To quote Tad R. Callister's talk Becoming a Consecrated Missionary:
"What is a consecrated missionary?  It is a missionary who is willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice and to hold nothing back.  It is a willingness to give every ounce of energy, every conscious thought, and every drop of passion to this work - to submit our will to God's will, whatever it may be."

Lance also shares a great scripture from the Book of Mormon...Alma 38:5 "...I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day." See http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/38

This young man was a good buddy in Poland, but he's home now.
I'm certain Lance will be looking him up when he's home!

November 11, 2013

Lance starts off this week's recordings by sharing a lot of great things about his new companion.  Lance says that getting a companion straight out of the MTC is fun because they have so much fresh hope and excitement...and it is a great boost!

They were able to meet with an elderly man who survived WWII.  The man took them to a memorial near their apartment to show them where the Polish Uprising began.  The man was able to give them a lot of the story of how the Uprising started.  Lance usually jumps on the opportunity to learn anything he can about Poland from the people he meets.

They have been experiencing "so many miracles" lately!  They met a man from Nigeria who is in Poland playing for a soccer league team.  Lance says he is so cool, has a lot of faith, and is very sincere.  Lance speaks of an elderly man they are meeting with who is doing wonderfully.  They received a great compliment from this man...he used an honorable term in Polish which means something like "I bow to you".  I guess it's a huge honor to have someone "bow to you"!  Lance said this has only happened to him twice now.

His spiritual thought for this week is about being a part of God's work.  As a missionary, Lance has had the opportunity to immerse himself in teaching the Gospel.  But it applies to all of us...God helps us make our weaknesses strengths.  To accomplish God's great work, we must strive to be in alignment with His will and express our Christ-like attributes.  Lance says that one scripture that has influenced him greatly is from Mosiah 28:3, which reads:  "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble."
He says that has personally been a reason he's on a mission...to share the same happiness he has with others.  Though he's not perfect, he knows that he can still help others.

Lance loves Poland and the Polish people.  He loves the Lord.  He loves his family and friends.  And he loves life.


Monday, October 28, 2013

A few weeks' recordings in a nutshell!



October 14th:
Lance starts off by describing his area.  It sounds like Zoliborz is beautiful in the fall.  There seems to be a sort of mist that has an amazing "Poland" smell to it.
His week was productive!  He went on an exchange with another elder in Bialystok.  The town and the branch in the town are fairly small. It's about 3 hours away from Warsaw and he got to ride the train...which he loves.  He says the scenery reminds him of how he imagines the Medieval days would have appeared.  
As District Leader, he goes on exchanges with all the elders in his district and he enjoys that very much.  He gets to know the elders and meet lots of people in their areas.
One of the elders in his district is going to start following Lance's diet plan, so he's glad he's been able to be a positive influence in the health area.

The spiritual message he shares with us this week is about the blessings that come from serving a mission.  One important aspect of this mission for him is the deeper understanding he now has of living a consecrated, Christ-like life.  Living a life consecrated life can be tough sometimes, but it is possible!  See the talk by Quentin L.Cook that inspired Lance to consider this topic here: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/05/personal-peace-the-reward-of-righteousness?lang=eng

Lance goes on to share his feelings on how we can recognize and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  Listening thru a prayerful attitude and strive to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  Our actions have a huge effect on this.  One thing he has learned on his mission is that if it brings forth good fruit, if it enlightens, if it uplifts, if it's positive and affirmative, then it's of the Spirit.  And we need to act upon it.  When prompted to do something, don't wait, just act on it immediately.  He lists four steps that he uses to apply this in his life:
1. Live worthy of the companionship of the Spirit
2. Pray for it, for enlightenment
3. Listen for the promptings (keep your mind open, scriptures, etc)
4. Act

He concludes his recording by expressing his love of Poland, the Polish language, and his mission.  "I just love everything!"

October 21st:
Lance begins by expressing his amazement that he's been in Poland for a year at this point.  Well, October 23rd, to be exact.  He says time is flying by so quickly.  His responsibilities as a district leader keep him so busy, but he enjoys every minute of it.
They went to see the play "Singing in the Rain" for their culture night.  They had bought seats in the back, but just before the play started, they were offered seats on the front row.  He found out later why the front row was empty...they all got wet from the "rain"!  He said it a fun time for everyone!
They were able to teach about 12 lessons on the street.  He says it was a good week for contacts.  He met a young man who was listening to a metal band that Lance had seen live before his mission.  So, it was a good ice breaker.  They had a good conversation and left the young man with a Book of Mormon.

His spiritual thought was inspired by a couple of talks he had read recently.
One was about four types of missionaries:
The first type of missionary was the one who is super disobedient and goes home because he can't handle it.
The second type was disobedient but finishes out the mission but doesn't accomplish anything.
The third type was obedient but does it out of duty.
The fourth is the consecrated missionary who is obedient and does it because he wants to, not cuz he has to.

The other talk was about purifying ourselves through a forty day process of giving up things and behaviors that aren't beneficial.  He gives an example of the symbolism of animal sacrifice...that we don't need to sacrifice an actual animal, but the animal within us.
So to begin your 40 day process, start with a fast.  Ask God to help you discover those things you could benefit from changing and what kind of attributes and characteristics you would like to achieve.  Write down what revelation you receive and review it every night before bed.  Pray in the morning for the strength and ability to achieve what you have written, then in your nightly prayers, review with the Lord how you did.
Lance has been doing this for a few days and feels more spiritual than he ever has.  He feels like he's been an obedient and good missionary, but this has helped him work on the things he'd like to improve upon.  So he can be the best he can be according to his own judgment.
I would like to add that sacrifice is not a term I use in my daily life.  I use the term "willing offering".  When I attempt this forty day purification for myself, I will willingly offer up to the Lord those things/behaviors/actions/thoughts/etc. that I feel would benefit me and my spirituality.  Because God loves all His children, regardless.
(I couldn't find the talk references on lds.org)

He concludes his message by thanking us for his last package (which included a TON of CDs), a few healthy treats, and the wedding announcement of a friend.  So far, we've sent him a package every month since he's been in Poland.  Costs about $30 each time, and so worth every penny.

October 28th:
Lance starts out his recording with a weather report.  This week has been nice weather, no need for a coat, and just great fall temps.  He says he does appreciate Utah's weather; whereas before, he used to complain about it when he was here.
He shared a funny story from last week.  He said that as he and his companion were doing their language study when they heard accordion music coming from their street.  When they looked out the window, the guy playing looks up at them with a huge smile and starts jumping around while playing.  I guess he was going to every window and playing till someone looked out.  Lance says they've seen him before on a Tram...where he was playing for everyone.
They have a new investigator that Lance has asked us to pray for.  He says the man seems very open minded.

The spiritual thought Lance shares today is something that was inspired by Mosiah 24 (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/24).  God gives the people in this scripture story the comfort and strength that they need during their time of affliction so that the burdens are light upon their shoulders.  God does this same work with us in our own lives.  The trials aren't taken away, but made light.  Only, that is, if we want the Lord's help.  Can we be humble and ask for help?  And then give it all to God?  It's up to us!

He concludes this recording with a summary of what is going to be happening this week.  They are planning on putting on an Open House on Halloween in their chapel where they put up displays and offer refreshments and give tours.  In Poland, there is two days of Halloween, which they call the Day of the Dead and the next day is All Saints' Day.  He loved one of the CDs I sent...his favorite song is this one:
http://youtu.be/nLGMglXJVaU

I knew he'd love that CD!


Some pictures from a trip to the zoo earlier this month:



Friday, October 4, 2013

"It's positivity. And it's the best thing to have!"

Warsaw Uprising Museum
I'll be attempting to combine two week's worth of recordings/email correspondence in this post.  For whatever reason, I've gotten behind.  So I'm finally catching up, thanks in part to my awesome friend Betsy who gave me a little reminder nudge last night!

Every Monday morning at 5:00 a.m., we go straight to the computer so we can hear (download) Lance's words...and if we're lucky and he's still on the computer, we can have a short chat session.  He isn't too fond of typing either, so the recordings are where we get most of our details.

Last week's correspondence begins with him sharing what the weather has been like in Warsaw.  Winter is making an early appearance.  He says that it's "alright cuz I've got a coat and stuff."  He does plan on stitching up the holes in his winter clothes.  Another great skill learned in the mission field cuz he didn't do such things before!  The area of Warsaw he's in is called Zoliborz, which he says is very beautiful.  He promises to take more pictures before next transfer.  There is a nice park with a small lake that they visit everyday to meet people.  They met a guy there who has shown a great deal of interest, so they are hopeful for him!

Lance is loving being District Leader.  He has really gotten to know the missionaries in his district much better because of it.  He had his first district meeting recently and he felt it went really well.  He was a little nervous at first, but it ended up being "really fun".  He makes phone calls every night to make sure they're all safe and good.  He says it has really helped him know better how to help and serve everyone.  Plus, he's learning how to better himself and be a better leader.

The spiritual thought he chose is "the tongue of angels".
He begins by quoting from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 32:2-3.
Verse 2:  Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?  And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
Verse 3: Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
Lance points out that the tongue of angels are the words of Christ...words of truth and faith.  Positive words full of hope, optimism, enthusiasm.  Words of affirmation, salvation, manifestation.  When we speak truth, we are speaking the tongue of angels (2 Nephi 33:1). He goes on to quote Ephesians 4:29, which reads:
"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."  When speaking, speak the truth with faith and hope.  Use our words to build, not destroy.  Use our words how Christ would to manifest happiness in our lives.

Our words have power!

This week's correspondence begins with a report on the weather...still very cold, but it sounds like Fall is beautiful sight to behold there in Warsaw!  He says they taught a lot of lessons on the streets, which always makes Lance happy.  He asked about everyone's lives and how everyone is doing.  He always makes a point to ask about specific family members and ask me to send on his love to them.  It sounds like he's loving the mission.  He comments that he enjoys being DL.  He learns something new everyday.  Most important to him, is to lead by example.  He speaks very highly of every missionary in his district.  I think he's made some life long friends!

On Sunday, they had a visitor, who studies religions as his specialty, come to church.  He is writing a paper on our religion and wanted to experience it for himself.  Afterwards, he interviewed the missionaries, asking many authentic questions.  He commented after the interviews that out of all the religions he's studied and experienced, there is something unique and different that he found very appealing.  Lance says it was a great experience for everyone.

His spiritual thought for this week is from 2 Nephi 2.  He quotes verse 14: "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 in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon."  He goes on to read verses 16 and 26.  (See http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2)
I am very familiar with this concept as I have done my own personal scripture/spiritual study on this topic.  So I was quite pleased that Lance chose this for his spiritual thought!

Lance points out that we ALL have free will, or agency.  The ability to choose.  To act or not to act.  Another way to say "not act" is "being acted upon" because if we don't act, we're allowing things to act upon us.  Because we're here, we have opposition.  We are always enticed by one or the other.  He uses a personal example of if he were to be prompted to speak to someone and chose to act upon that prompting, he would receive the reward of that action.  If he chose not to act, he would be acted upon by receiving the consequence of that failed action.  God expects us to exercise righteous action.  If we choose to use our agency for good, we will receive that which is good.  And vice versa.  We MUST act or be acted upon.
By freely choosing to be obedient to God's will, knowing that God's will is pure, we will not fail.  We could get up or give up.

He also says that 2 Nephi 2 is probably his favorite book in the Book of Mormon..."It's very powerful and cool.  Yeah, it's legit."

He ends his recording early this time because they are leaving to find a place where he could rent a cello to play at a musical fireside coming up in a couple of weeks.  He also thinks he will be able to see all the sessions of General Conference since he's in Warsaw.  He's looking forward, as are we, to hearing from the Prophet.




Warsaw Uprising Museum

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lance attends "The New Zealand Embassy concert celebrating an anniversary for strong Polish and New Zealand relations"

Last week was pretty eventful for Lance!

He begins his recording by filling us in on the the weather, which has been raining and cold. But it didn't deter them from teaching lots of lessons. They use the buses, trams, and metros to get around and he enjoys sharing the gospel while traveling. The people are a bit surprised when he starts up a conversation, but for the most part, the people are polite.

Lance was invited to attend the New Zealand Embassy concert with another elder in Old Town, Warsaw, by a renowned violist from BYU. The concert was to celebrate strong New Zealand relations with Poland. The concert included ambassadors from New Zealand, Malaysia, Russia, Argentina, and Poland. He said it was a little intimidating when they first walked in because it seemed so "high class", but they were able to talk to everyone and represent the church well.
The violist from BYU emailed me to let me know how she felt about the experience. She said that both Lance and his companion represented the church "with poise and grace". Lance was very impressed by her and asked me to send her his CDs.
They were able to mingle with the ambassadors and the musicians. She points out that the Elders' ability to speak Polish so well impressed everyone, especially the pianist who commented on how beautifully they spoke. Most of those in attendance had never interacted with LDS missionaries or Mormons, so the missionaries left a strong positive impression. She received many authentic questions about the church afterwards.


A professor emeritus of viola and a founding member of the International Viola Society
Two of the concert artists
The concert artists being introduced by the New Zealand ambassador to Poland
The picture on the wall is of Poland's own Chopin



Lance LOVED the music, which he said was very Baroque/Medieval/Renaissance/Old World. The Polish violist played a song that Lance says was a perfect musical description of Poland..."It was the best song I've ever heard!" He had some great conversations and received some good advice on music and schooling. They all left a lasting impression on him. He ended the night by sharing the Gospel with the taxi driver and presenting him with a Book of Mormon!

This week's spiritual thought Lance shares is on talents. We all have God given talents and gifts...and with these talents, we can build the Kingdom of God, as well as creating a happy life for ourselves. He says that if you're not sure what your talents are, then prayerfully ask, "What am I good at?" I would like to add that we can ask ourselves, "Where are my passions? What makes me enthusiastic?"

Through prayer, self examination, and desire, we will discover what we are good at, even if we don't recognize it as a talent at first.

We must be ready to commit our time and effort toward fully developing these talents. Have faith that God will help us and have faith in ourselves that we can achieve whatever it is we honestly desire. We will attain the abilities we need for our desired talents!

Then we should act on these talents. Use them everyday, exercise them in your own behalf and on the behalf of others. Sharing with others is a great way to cultivate those talents. The main point he emphasizes is to pray for what we want to gain/achieve/accomplish...and it will show up for us.

Lance uses the example of Lehi, a prophet of the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi, Lehi is describes as a "visionary man". Not that he's unrealistic, but he has a goal. His gift/talent is that he is a prophet. He has a vision from God and desires to make it happen. He sees this as a worthy goal.

He closes his recording by extending his love to all his family and friends.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Warsaw is awesome!

Things sound great in Warsaw.  Lance in an area called Zoliborz, which he says is amazingly beautiful and green.  He says that during the war, everything was destroyed and when Russia rebuilt the town under communism, they build a bunch of plain square apartment buildings. Here are some pictures from the internet:
He misses Szczecin and the missionaries he worked with in the area.  The train ride from Szczecin to Warsaw took about 6.5 hours.  A friend from his Szczecin branch accompanied him on the ride because he had some business in Warsaw, so Lance was glad to have some company...plus they practiced Polish.  They met a woman during the ride and ended up teaching her the first lesson and gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to attend church. He says, "I just love those experiences on trains when you get to teach people.  As much as I can, I try to have those experiences because they're so cool you never forget them."
He met up with three other Elders when they arrived in Warsaw, including his new companion.  The other two were leaving the next day for their new town, so they took the opportunity to share the Gospel the rest of the day.  They worked and worked, he says!  Because Warsaw is a faster paced city, there is more rejection.  A person will often stop just long enough to say they don't have time.  Which can be disappointing, but they still were able to teach a lot of lessons.  He feels like he knows Polish so much better now and can actually communicate quite well.

He points out that the church supports itself in Warsaw.  The chapel's not a part of an apartment building or part of a member's home.  The members of the branch do the majority of the responsibilities at church instead of the missionaries.

He's getting along great with his new companion and has a lot of respect for him.  Lance says there are 12 missionaries in that district, including himself, and he is enjoying being District Leader. It's a lot of responsibility, but he feels it a good opportunity to become a better leader.  He says this mission has taught him everything he needs to do in life and is so grateful he chose to serve.

Lance begins this week's spiritual thought by quoting 2 Nephi 4:23.  "Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time."  Nephi shows here that we can pray during the day and receive our answers in our dreams.  Often our dreams contain symbolism that our direct answer to prayer.  Lance says he makes it a habit to write in his dream journal so he can contemplate what he's learned and review it later.

He shared a couple other scriptures, but this one I feel is a good one for us all to read.
D&C 76
1: Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior.
2: Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doing none can find out.
3: His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.
4: From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.
5: For thus saith the Lord-I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness, and in truth unto the end.
6: Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
7: And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.
8: Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.
9: And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.
10: For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will-yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

District Leader in Warsaw I

Transfers are in and Lance is going to the Warsaw I district as district leader.  He says he's excited yet nervous at the same time!  In fact, he says that DL can be a fun calling...he gives credit to his last DL for being an incredible example of what a good leader can do.  His new companion hasn't been in Poland for long, so he's excited to meet this new Elder.  Lance started out in Warsaw when he first arrived in Poland almost a year ago. He says Warsaw is a LOT different than Szczecin...more fast paced and much of their contacting is done on buses.  He says he loves Szczecin and is sad to leave it behind, but plans on returning someday in the future to visit "his town".

His spiritual thought this week was based on how to know if something is of God or not.  He gives the example of times when we may be simply sitting in church and suddenly feel like we are being inspired by the Spirit.  He suggests that when something like that happens, we ought to stop and ponder on what the Spirit is trying to teach us.  Often those little inspirations come from something simple, because the Gospel is simple.  The best way he says to remember what it was the Spirit witnessed is to write it down.  He also gives an interesting possibility that deju vu is a recognition from God that you are on the right path.  The Spirit will always reveal it to us.  Perhaps deju vu is another sign, another way God confirms the path you're on is right.

Lance also points out that we are given little promptings of the Spirit regularly, yet we may ignore them sometimes.  When we do that, the Spirit withdraws until you come seeking and listening again.  He says he has learned to just follow the prompting without questioning.  God encourages us to ONLY do good.  It's that split second after receiving that prompting that the adversary influences to make us second guess ourselves.  It's always a good idea to study it out in your mind and your heart...ponder and pray to know if it's the right thing to do.  If it is of God, you'll know by the fruits of your actions.  Chapter 7 in Moroni helps us to understand this concept (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/7?lang=eng).

Does what you want to do encourage you to: Do good?  Follow God?  Give you peace?  If so, then apply some action!

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Today's a way good day!"

It appears they will be hearing on their transfers very soon.  And just when I finally mastered how to spell AND pronounce Szczecin!  

Lance begins by thanking us for his package, which contained healthy foods and toiletries, as well as another copy of his CD.  Good news, he reports, is that the mission president has given them permission to listen to other music besides MoTab.  So that means he can officially listen to his own music!  

He says that he and his companion are out on the streets for at least 8 hours a day.  They've taught 18 lessons on the streets this last week.  And he reports that his feet hurt so bad!  He says that he has noticed that as they are teaching a lesson to someone that is interested, there are various distractions that always show up.  As an example, in the midst of teaching a lesson, a person will come up and try to interrupt by making random comments and ask distracting questions.  He says that he knows this is adversity at its finest.  So, they just ignore the random person and continue teaching the lesson.  Eventually, that person will give up and leave.  

He shares an interesting story from his train ride to Bydgoszcz for their recent conference.  They met a nice young woman who happened to have a harp with her, which she let him play.  He bought a copy of her CD.  She plays for events like Renaissance fairs so they had a LOT to talk about!  There was also a young man there who became interested in the conversation.  So Lance and his companion were able to do some teaching and make some new friends.  

This week's spiritual thought has to do with fears.  He points out that as humans, we all have fears of some type or another.  It's just a part of life.  Sometimes we just ignore them or blow them off.  He says to make a list of those fears and give yourself an opportunity to look up the scriptures that "destroy" those fears.  Dissect and eliminate the fear with prayer and scripture study.  

He gives a few scripture references that showed up for him in conquering his own fears.....
2 Timothy 1:7
Psalms 27:1
D&C 122:7-9
And finally...his favorite scripture of all time...the one that changed his life...
2 Nephi 1:15
"But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love."

He goes on to mention the importance of "trials" (a.k.a. tribulation, adversity, burden, complication, difficulty, etc.).  Trials help us to grow closer to God.  Without these annoyances, we might as well be like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden...innocent.  There would be no reason to want to improve and grow.  God is always there to help, but we HAVE TO ASK.  It's up to us to use our agency.  
Mosiah 24:15 tells us how we can overcome these trials (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/24.15?lang=eng). 
Instead of asking God to just take it all away, they asked to be strengthened to overcome.   

Lance closes by saying "It's the life!"

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventures in Poland!

As a mom, I sometimes forget that Lance is an adult and not my little boy anymore.  I have been reminded over the last year that, indeed, he is a grown man.  Living in a foreign country, sharing the Gospel with those who will listen.  And he does this of his own free will.  We have missed him a lot over this last year, especially during family functions and gatherings.  Yet we wouldn't want it any other way.  At times I want to shout, "Hoorah for Israel!"

Lance hasn't received his package yet, but I'm sure he will soon.  He says, "I feel so close when I get a package.  It feels like I'm opening up home."  I've been able to send him a package once a month since he's been in Poland.  When he was in the MTC, I sent him one a week.

He starts out his recording with catching up on his week.  They've been meeting with a man from India.  He calls him Mohit because the guy reminds him of a friend from Utah with that name.  Lance says the guy believes in God, but is new to the idea of free will and other simpler aspects. They taught a total of 18 lessons last week, 14 of which were street lessons.  They meet many of their contacts in the local park...
He says they speak with everyone.  They don't pass one person without at least giving a card or something.  He says they just bare their testimonies with boldness, followed by asking the person what it would mean to them to know about this plan...and hope that someone will be open to hearing the message.  At times they get brushed off, but it doesn't seem to discourage him because he loves teaching the Gospel.  He also says they refer to the Restoration as soon as possible because it stands out.  If you'd like to read more about the Restoration of Jesus Christ's church, visit http://mormon.org/beliefs/restoration.

For this week's "spiritual thought", Lance refers to chapter 10 of the book of Moroni where the prophet Moroni lists some examples of the spiritual gifts that we, as children of God, are blessed with.  Lance says we are born with many gifts and we can attain more gifts during our lives...we need only ask of God then act upon it.  We all have a variety of gifts, though we're not all blessed with the exact same gifts.  If it were like that, we wouldn't be able to benefit each other.  We are more enabled to serve others, which in turn serves ourselves. He also suggests that we write them down, similar to how we would write in a prayer journal.  He says for his personal study time that morning, he reviewed his Patriarchal Blessing and picked out all of  the blessings God has promised him, then wrote them down.  Then he is going to "work on them" to see how he can help accomplish these blessings.

And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will. - Moroni 10:17

He says to find out God's definition of the gifts he has individually been blessed with, or would like to receive, he has used the book "True to the Faith" (see http://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/language-materials/36863_eng.pdf), the scriptures, and much prayer. Referring to the scripture in Moroni 10, he shares that if there be an end of gifts, it is because of the unbelief of man (Moroni 10:24).

Lance gives the example of those who believe there are no more miracles.  If the scriptures are right and God is unchanging, then why would miracles end with the death of the Savior?  Why would He stop speaking to mankind?  I believe it is only when people turn a deaf ear.  If you want to know, ask God then be willing to receive the answer.

If there is a gift you want to receive, ask God, write it down, then go to work.  Lance shares the example of the gift of discernment.  He says it is the way we can see the difference between a teaching of Jesus Christ of a teaching of satan.  Helps us discern that opposition.  Also to help us know if someone has bad intentions.  He invites us to read D&C 46, 1 Timothy 4, 1 Corinthians 12.  I know these scripture references well.  I have 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 framed and hanging on my wall.

To conclude, he shares by sending his love and greetings to those who have been so supportive and encouraging.  He says he loves this Gospel and loves this mission.  He is glad to have another year of service in Poland, but looks forward to coming home to go fishing with his dad, go to concerts with his brother, see his nephews, and attend my yoga classes.

I am also looking forward to that day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Be anxiously engaged

Another week of missionary work brings us all closer to Lance's one year mark!  It is really strange to think about what we were doing at this time last year.  So much preparation...physically, mentally, and spiritually!
He remembers that he was working hard to get his CD done, had a fun trip to Moab UT with his brother and cousin, and running around getting ready.  He says he felt he knew "just enough", like to just get to the MTC.  He feels like he will apply everything he's learned on his mission in his life when he gets home.

Now I feel as though I'm doing the countdown again.  Only 375ish days left!

The work is going forth in Poland, as always.  He has been serving in Szczecin for most of this year now and loves it.  Transfers will be coming up soon and he's hoping that he gets to stay there.  It's still hot, though the weather is cooling off a little.  They bought two fans, which run constantly, but do little to cool them off.  He says they're always running around, working hard.  "I love it!"

He loves the new members of his branch!  He has such wonderful things to say about them all.  They have one investigator right now who is sick and having a tough time of things.  Lance says this man is one of his all time favorite people and hopes he will continue to meet with the missionaries, despite the adversity.
The Spirit and truth are inseparable!

Lance also included some pictures of the festival that was going on a couple of weeks ago.  No pictures of him or his companion, dangit, but these are cool, none the less!






Here are a few from a mom of another missionary...



As usual, I updated him on the happenings at home.  Though to me it may seem dull in comparison to what he experiences daily, he loves to hear all the details!  He doesn't receive too many letter or emails from anyone else, so I try to keep him in the know of what is going on with friends and family.

Since he got the voice recorder, he has been preparing and sharing with us a "spiritual thought" every week.  This week's thought was mainly about prayer.  He says one thing he has learned is that effective prayer requires effort.  He says it's important to focus on what you're needing.  He shares some steps that have worked for him.
1 - Pray with a purpose and faith.  Ask yourself, why am I praying?  What do I expect to get out of this?
2 - Pray with sincerity, real intent, with all the energy of our heart.  He refers to the story of Enos (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/enos/1?lang=eng).
3 - Give serious thought to your attitude.  Think about your words and stay focused.
4 - Thank God for all you have and ask for His help.  He wants to hear from us.
5 - Rely on the Spirit.  Let the Spirit guide.  Then write your thoughts down in a journal or in notes.
6 - Give an accounting of your day.  What you accomplished.  Showing that you care and that you acknowledge Him.  And announce what you want to do tomorrow.
7 - Use the scriptures in harmony with prayer.  Scriptures are the window to revelation.
8 - Act on your prayers.  Think, meditate, study it out in your mind.  Have faith and hope that God will answer.  Keep your eyes, ears, heart, mind open and write it down so you don't forget...
2 Nephi 28:30 
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.
He says it can be summed up in this scripture found in Moroni 10:4
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

He also suggests we revisit a talk given by M. Russell Ballard called "Be Anxiously Engaged".
(see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbBeg_mRrvA)

Be anxiously engaged.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"We must have perfect hope...knowing we will accomplish the goal!"

Last week's email and recordings were held up in cyberspace thanks to my gmail account being locked.  I guess exchanging a handful of emails with attachments with Lance last Monday morning was a bit too much for that account.  So, now I am using my yahoo account to email him.  I love having options!

He starts by describing a fun festival that went on for a few days that happens once every five years.  In their area, Old Town, the festival activities go on in the street right in front of their home.  The festival has carnival rides, a Renaissance fair with old time instruments...including a man who makes lutes, old boats...including ones that are similar to the ones in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.  He says there were concerts and loud drinking parties going on all night.  So they wore earplugs every night!

Things went very well with the baptism last week.  Their branch has now increased by three members!  Lance reports that the new members are quite happy and are already doing their parts to further the Lord's work.
From left to right: Lance's companion, the three newest members, a member of the branch, and Lance

Lance shares that one of the newest members served the sacrament this Sunday and it made Lance so happy to see the man's willingness. They have another investigator they are meeting with that is dealing with some health problems.  His wife is also recovering from a car accident, so things are tough for them.  Lance has asked us to pray for them to recover from their issues.  He mentions there are others they meet with, and those they speak with randomly in the park near their house.  He feels like the Gospel is progressing in Poland!

Two of the newest branch members.  Lance says they are the best couple ever.


In Lance's recording, he shares a topic that he says "...changed my life and the way I look at things and it truly has blessed me so much."  He references the talk by President Uchedorf entitled "Of Regrets and Resolutions" (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2rQAKuLo7o).  He encourages us to revisit the talk and shares that the subject matter has helped him adjust through his transfers.  I personally have read and listened to that talk multiple times, so I also feel it is a beautiful message!  Lance also goes through an effective method to achieving goals...

He says first, our goals must be committed.  Second, our goals must be realistic.  And finally, they must be measurable.  He quotes 2 Nephi 28:30, "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."  He proclaims this to be an appropriate scripture for goal setting and achievement.  Goals that are in harmony with God's will.  Just like the example we see with God's Plan, there is an orderly way to achieve goals.  Another scripture he shares is Alma 42:26 (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/42?lang=eng), which is yet another great example of this subject.

How does God measure His goal of the Plan of Salvation?  He measures it through us.  When we do those simple things like living the commandments, scripture reading, prayer, going to church, etc.  Lance shares that he has gained an understanding of "living by the planner".  He has found it is helpful and takes the stress off.  And God has set forth an example of how this can work in our lives. 2 Nephi chapter 2 lays out the plan of salvation...to bring to pass the immortality of man.  Lance emphasizes verse 14, "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."  I don't think Lance knows this, but that is one of my all time favorite scriptures!  Question is...are we going to ACT or be ACTED upon while here on Earth???  I love that so much.  He finishes his spiritual thought by sharing Mosiah 4:27...And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."
To find out more about God's plan, visit http://mormon.org/

So, the weather is hot there but they have regular rain storms to cool things down.  He is looking forward to autumn!  From what I've heard, that season is absolutely beautiful in Poland.  He says that the clothes he brought with him are fairly worn out, so he will be going on a little shopping spree.
He says life there is great!  He feels like he learns much every day.  He loves the mission and thanks us for our fasting and prayers on his behalf.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Doubt destroys hope and is a great tool of the devil

Summer is in full swing here in Utah, and in Poland.  According to what I've heard and read, Szczecin has milder temps, but the humidity there is much higher.  And they don't have air conditioning!  He says they all just sweat all over the place all day.  He says it's all good, though, and everyone just deals with it.

He starts out his recording with quoting a scripture from the book of Jarom in the Book of Mormon.  He shares verse 11, "Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.  And after this manner did they teach them."
Lance says that he finds that to be very cool.  That it shows the pattern of this church and is a good example of how we teach each other.  We have "callings" that are volunteer leadership, service, and teaching positions through which we exhort people to live more fully the Gospel.  He says as missionaries, they extend commitments to people to come to church, read, whatever it may be.  This is comparable to the scripture reference.
He also makes an interesting point from this scriptural reference.  He says that these people were a great example of affirming things (affirmations)..."persuading them to look forward to the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was."...there is NO doubt in their hearts that the Messiah was coming.  Perfect hope = affirmations.  I love that correlation!

He goes on to say that doubt is the antithesis of hope.  Doubt destroys hope and is a great tool of the devil.  Doubt is another type of fear...fear that things won't happen the way you'd hoped.  It leaves a person in a sad and anxious pattern of living.  Instead, affirm!  Put it out there as though it has already happened.  Then with steadfastness and diligence, you will have manifested your desire.  Which desire must always be in harmony with God's desire...or that desire will waste away and perish with the things of the "world".  Our desires need to be 100% in harmony with God so we can manifest endless blessings.  This is a Christ-like attribute.

Another scripture story he focuses on is the one about "the Stripling Warriors" found in Alma, chapter 56.  He believes this is another great example of what can be done when one does not doubt.  They KNEW that God will always deliver them.  See http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/56?lang=eng to read the story yourself.  It's a great one!

This week has been excellent, he says.  He speaks a lot about his current investigators.  One is a man who is currently dealing with cancer.  He has chosen to be baptized and they have a date set for next month.  Another one is a young man that Lance says has been great to help them with the language.  His baptism is scheduled for this week.  The married couple, he says, are awesome and progressing so well.  He says they are funny and cheerful.  The wife gives them food, which is always appreciated by the missionaries.  They are very excited for their baptism this week!  Finally, Lance tells us a bit of a young woman who has been researching the Gospel for a while.  She is currently praying for an answer and Lance feels like he has been able to give her some clarity through a couple of great lessons on faith.

He closes by saying that he is grateful for this mission and keeps us all in his prayers.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Recordings = Details

Happy day!  Lance figured out how to attach the audio files from his voice recorder so we got to hear a lot of this week's update!

I ask him to give us details, but I get a lot of the same, "...he's the bomb!", "...it's amazing!", etc.  Which is nice, of course, but when I read other missionaries' emails/blogs, they always seem more detailed.  And as I suspected, I don't get those details because Lance doesn't like to type.


Things are going quite well for his newest investigators.  In fact, Lance says that they have four baptisms scheduled for this month.  He had a lot of wonderful things to say about all four of these people!  He shared the stories of how he and his companion met them all and how all the meetings were divinely inspired.
Two of the people are a married couple who were involved in another religion, but were feeling quite negative about the fear-based doctrine taught within that religion.  Lance invited them to attend church and they decided right there and then to attend.  That night, this sweet woman received a confirmation through a dream that this is the right path.  They are now extremely excited about their upcoming baptisms.  Lance is also excited that this will be the first couple in their branch in Szczecin.

Lance tells the story of how they met with another person from these new investigators and that it was absolutely divine timing for this man.  He had just gotten some bad news about his health and was feeling quite down when Lance and his companion saw him sitting on a bench in the park, looking sad.  Lance and his companion spoke with him about God's plan of happiness.  They also shared with him chapter 32 in the book of Alma (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/32?lang=eng), which is a powerful chapter on faith.  They closed with a prayer for his health and his faith.  Lance says he has been coming to church and is progressing very well.

They met the other young man in the same park.  They noticed him sitting on a bench reading.  Lance asked him if he liked to read, and the man responded to the affirmative, after which Lance handed him a Book of Mormon.  He came to church the following Sunday and announced he'd read the Book of Mormon...which was approximately one week.  Lance says, "It's crazy!  He read it in like a WEEK!"  Now this young man is taking the discussions and is learning to integrate his spirituality with his intellectuality.

Lance says they depend on the current members of their branch to help them with the discussions and teaching in church.  He says it adds a completely different level of understanding when someone who is Polish is there to share their own stories of faith and conversion.  I think that's true anywhere you go!

He says that everything is going wonderfully.  His companion is "the bomb" and they have a lot in common.  They spend a lot of time out on the streets talking with people unless they have a lesson to teach.  He says they often teach the lessons in the chapel where the Spirit can be the strongest.  He says the one thing he has learned is that if he is obedient and faithful, everything is possible.  He affirms that obedience brings protection, even boldness.  He says this is one of the most powerful lessons he has learned on this mission.

He closes by asking me to tell everyone hi and that he loves us all.  He also says he loves Szczecin and hopes he can serve the rest of his mission there.



Monday, July 8, 2013

"There are so many miracles happening here!"


This week has been eventful for Lance. He and his new companion are getting along famously and are furthering the work of the Lord!

Lance states that he recognizes the blessings and miracles happening all around him. He and his companion recently met someone in the park that Lance describes as a "sad man". This man had just found out he has a serious health condition. So, Lance and his companion prayed with him and taught him a portion of the Plan of Salvation. This man shared that he was moved upon by the Spirit. He showed up to church on Sunday to learn more. He decided that day to be baptized! So, there are three baptisms scheduled for this month. Lance also hopes that another young man that came to church that day for the first time will also feel moved upon to be baptized. Perhaps there will be four baptisms! Lance feels that this is an example of miracles. He feels like the Spirit is strong with them as missionaries. I would have to agree!

His good friend from China leaves for home this week. Lance will miss her but he is happy she gets to go home to family...and share her new faith. He knows she will make a difference in her home country. He says, "God has such a huge plan for her and when I look at her I see it, she doesn't know it yet but she will truly change the world." I would have to agree with him on that, too!

Lance is enjoying being a trainer. He says it's been a good test for him to always be obedient and be the best example he can be. He knows it's a lot of responsibility but realizes that he's not doing it alone...he has divine help from the Lord! 

He shares that something in 2 Nephi 4 made an impression on him. Nephi counsels to always put our trust in the arm of the Lord, not man. Lance would agree that we should look to do the will of God in all things. We cannot fail if we are doing God's will. 

Agreed!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"The work is getting even bigger and the Gospel is spreading even faster!"

Lance finally received his package, which contained his voice recorder. Unfortunately, his former companion, who knows how to attach audio files, has been transferred. Maybe he'll figure it out for next week!

Lance is pretty happy about being a trainer and is impressed with his new companion. The young man is from California and used to be a wrestler. Lance was also a wrestler for years, so they already have that in common. He adds that this new elder is funny and "can take a joke!". I am supposed to tell his mom that he is amazing and "the bomb!", but I don't know his mom yet...

He told us about a couple they'd met two weeks ago who began the discussions and even came to church. Without adding too much detail, they are impressed with the truthfulness of the doctrine taught and are ready to take that first step - baptism. The big day will happen in just a few weeks...long enough to attend meetings and learn the rest of the Plan of Salvation. As Lance's Chinese friend put it in a recent Facebook post, "Kotter said God tells us the way , is the simplest way.. you see.. to be happy. to choose the right way. Haha...so right!! Simple. I like simple."

She's right.  The Plan is absolutely simple!

He finally had the chance to hear the recent missionary broadcast and had this to say, "It's incredible that we are using the internet so exclusively now for serving. I know that's going to change the world, as it already has."

We have had that belief for years now...that the internet is going to be used to take the Gospel to the whole world.

Lance is still loving Szczecin.  In fact, he would love to stay there his entire mission. He's had some wonderful experiences and has made some great friends. He assures us that he is fully living each day to its potential. As he puts it, "When we come in at night and plan, I feel so good because I gave it my all that day. And then I pass out and die until the alarm goes off!"

As always, he has something wonderful to say about his Chinese friend. He shared that she gave an excellent talk on faith in church this last Sunday. He is so very impressed with her diligence and talent!

Last week, Lance shared some scriptures that he has found to be very inspiring. One of which is a story in the Book of Mormon of a valiant military captain who led his people to victory against the opposition. Captain Moroni reminded his people that they will be victorious because they are fighting to defend their families, their freedom, their God, and their religion. If you'd like to read the story for yourself, visit http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/43?lang=eng

I find this story, like most all stories in the scriptures really, to be very timely.

Fourth of July is this week and Lance says that Poland celebrates their independence, he thinks, in April. His one year mark is fast approaching and he says that he wishes time would just slow down...he doesn't want this mission to end! Their mission just recently had a change in presidency, and though he truly loved his last president and "mission mom", he knows he'll love the new couple.

He closes his email by reminding us that he prays for us all and is grateful for our prayers on his and the mission's behalves. He says, "Everything here is amazing! I love this work with all of my soul!"


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Transfers! A re-post from Sister Nielson's blog....

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2013


Day 2 for our New Missionaries & their Assignments

 Our new Missionaries were up early this morning ready to start their first FULL DAY of Missionary work in Poland. After spending the day contacting, teaching lessons and attending English class with some of our Missionaries serving in Warsaw, they anxiously returned home to find out who their real companions will be. So...let's get started!

Elder Hardy is assigned to Szczecin with Elder Kotter.  What a blessing that will be.  Elder Kotter is full of enthusiasm and life, and Elder Hardy is anxious to serve.

Our newest Missionaries in the Poland Warsaw Mission ...with their trainers! All of these Missionaries will be leaving early in the morning to board trains for their new cities.
All except these 3 companionships. All their bags are loaded in the transporter, and they are ready to be dropped off at their new apartments. Planning at 9:00pm is next on their schedule!
Tomorrow is transfer day...which means many of our missionaries will be on trains traveling to their new assignments. They will be talking to everyone...because that's what we do. We talk to everyone about the wonderful message we have! The gospel is true...tell someone about it!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Staying Szczecin for another transfer

Transfers...they seem to be bitter sweet!  Lance is quite happy to be staying in Szczecin (he loves it there) but is going to miss his current companion.  He shares that his companion is, "...the bomb and a way funny guy!"  It does appear that at least one of the other elders in Szczecin, who is also the branch president, is staying as well.  They are good friends and Lance is glad they can continue to work together.  

Lance is going to be a trainer this time around...and he is very excited about that!  He says he hopes he can train the new elder well.  He does feel confident that he is ready for the responsibility.  He feels like he has learned a lot about the power of positivity and hopes he can impart some of that understanding to his new companion!

Yesterday, we in Utah (and other parts of the world) were able to watch a live broadcast of the missionary training titled, "Hastening the Work of Salvation".  Though Lance wasn't able to watch it live, I'm certain they will get the opportunity soon to watch it online.  It was a very inspirational program!  As I have suspected for years now, the internet is going to be a huge tool in getting the Gospel out to the four corners of the world!  Missionaries are going to start using the internet whenever possible to help spread the word.  
If you would like to watch the replay yourself, please visit http://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/a-new-vision?cid=HPL1P01W01031&lang=eng

Over the course of last week, I received three amazing emails regarding Lance.  One was a response from an email I sent to Sister Nielson thanking them for their years of faithful and happy service in Poland...and for being wonderful to my son!  In her response, she suggested my husband and I ought to be very proud of Lance and that he is faithful and diligent.  

Later in the week, I received a surprise email from a man who lives in Salt Lake City.  He and his wife were in the Denmark/Germany/Poland region to visit friends from the mission he served in Denmark 40 years ago.  They were having lunch at a sidewalk cafe when they saw Lance and his companion walking by.  He says, "We had a great experience meeting your sons.  They are obviously outstanding missionaries who carry a great spirit with them."  He says that they didn't have time to visit too long as the missionaries had an appointment to teach a lesson in the park.  So they parted ways.  Later, the man and wife again ran into Lance and his companion.  He says, "As luck (or the Spirit) would have it, we ran into them a second time on a different street that happened to lead to their apartment."  He shared that they had a great discussion about the challenges of missionary work in Poland and how to move it forward.  He included this picture:

The last email I received this week regarding Lance was from his soon to be former mission president, President Nielson.  Here is some of what he had to say about Lance:  "I wanted to take a moment to let you know just how wonderful Elder Kotter is doing.  You have every reason to be pleased, happy, and proud of your son.  It is a real joy to have Elder Kotter in the Poland Warsaw mission.  I know that the Lord called him here and that he is striving each and every day to be the missionary the Lord and you want him to become."  How wonderful and comforting it is to know that my son is happy, faithful, and doing a great job!

I shared these emails with Lance and he said those were some awesome compliments!  He is going to miss President and Sister Nielson, but knows that they will get to see each other again.  Especially since they live in Las Vegas, which isn't too far away from us.  He also remembered well the couple from Salt Lake City and thought they were wonderful.  

Lance was excited to have two new investigators attend church yesterday.  They met this "way nice lady" on the street earlier in the week and she said she had met the missionaries before, years earlier.  She stated that she is interested in learning more.  So she and her husband showed up for church.  Lance gave a talk on the Atonement in sacrament meeting.  He feels the Spirit was testifying strongly to everyone in the room of the beauty of the Atonement.  Then in Sunday School, the topic was the Millennium, resurrection, and Spirit world.  It was a great discussion and he could tell they were very excited to learn more.  So the missionaries have plans to meet with them again later this week and they are planning on attending church again next Sunday.  Lance says, "There truly are so many miracles left and right!"

His Chinese friend is leaving soon but Lance is confident she will do very well in China.  He says he loves her and that she is very strong in the faith.  He is very grateful to have had the opportunity to teach her.  I know I have personally enjoyed reading her faithful posts on Facebook!

My husband shared a scripture with Lance:  Ether 8 (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/8?lang=eng).  That scripture references the "secret combinations" that have been on the Earth since Cain slew his brother Abel.  Secret combinations are what I refer to in our modern day as conspiracies.  And they're only conspiracy theories until they are shown to be conspiracy facts.  In the meantime, we as Latter-day Saints believe that conspiring people are being inspired thru evil designs to thwart the Lord's plan.  Though we all know that nothing of the adversary can win over righteousness, we are still painfully aware of what is being done to make mankind miserable.  Lance had this to say concerning the scripture:  "I know that we can be protected from evil in any form because we put our faith in something that will never fade away!  Something that is eternal and we saints fight for something that satan does not...and that's our families, our freedom, our God, and our religion.  We will always be strong and protected if we follow God and fight for what is right!"

Lance says he loves the story in Alma 46 (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/46?lang=eng).  He says that verses 11-23 are his favorite because it shows the manner by how we should protect ourselves and swear to God that we will follow him and do what's right always.  He also loves Captain Moroni's example in chapter 48 of Alma, verses 11-14.  I would agree that the book of Alma is one of my absolute favorites!  

Lance closes his email by thanking us for our inspiration and guidance.  He says he takes his dad's advice by treating everyday as though it's his last...by living life to the fullest, everyday.  

Here are some pictures from Sister Nielson's blog.  I am so grateful for her work in keeping the blog up to date, even with all of her other responsibilities!

Zone conference in Bydgoszcz 

The Szczecin District

Missionary Handbook study chase

Celebrating recent birthdays

The Nieslon's tradition of cutting a tie (or a scarf for sisters) to add to their collection

Holding up their donations