Monday, February 25, 2013

The 6 month mark

Lance hit his 6 month mark on February 22nd.  And now he's serving in Szczecin...a northern town on the border of Germany.

Szczecin is pronounced shchechin.
And I thought the Welsh language was hard to pronounce!

So far, all of Lance's emails have had a resounding theme of "it's amazing!".  And this week's email is full of such sentiments.

The train ride from Warsaw to Szczecin took seven hours, during which Lance was able to enjoy a lot of Polish scenery.  He says it is absolutely beautiful.  And it appears that Szczecin beats Warsaw (not by much, though) in amazing-ness.  The city is near the Baltic Sea and there are several harbors that he plans on visiting.
A Szczecin harbor (not Lance's picture)

Lance shares that those he has contacted have been very willing to listen.  He says they seem very patient there.  His branch consists of about 7 members, including the Branch President...a far cry from the 50 members in his Warsaw branch.  Meetings in Szczecin require the missionaries to do much of the teaching.  He believes the members are very strong in their faithfulness.  

My email to Lance this week contained many questions, of which only a portion were answered.  One of the more important questions I had for him was if he had a new mailing address.  Thankfully, he did share that so I can get his package mailed off to him this week.  

Starszy Lance Kotter
ul Piotra Skargi 5A/4
71-422 Szczecin

Not surprising at all, he thinks his companion is great.  He mentions that every companion he's had has been wonderful.  

As always, we filled him in on everything going on at home.  I updated him on some of his buddies who are also serving missions, and he was glad to hear about them.  He has one good friend who is serving only 2 hours away in Berlin, Germany.  There are usually a few members of our ward that ask how Lance is doing, so we always let him know there are people who think about him.  He says that he is really excited to come home and see everyone and catch up, but he's loving Poland and wishes time would slow down a little so it won't go by so quickly.  I'm wishing the opposite!

He closes his email by wishing us well in everything we do, and encourages us to continue being awesome.

"Kocham cie!  Barzdo!  I wszystkiego najleprzego!"

Monday, February 18, 2013

Transfer to Szczecin

Lance received his transfer last night.  He is scheduled to leave for Szczecin this Friday and he is so excited!
Though he is going to miss those he has gotten to know while serving in Warsaw, he is looking forward to meeting new people of this new area.  And he is very excited to be Elder Cieslak's companion!  I remember Lance talking about him a couple months ago and how they have many things in common and how he hoped they might be able to serve together someday.  He says that Szczecin is at the northern border of Germany and it is rich in history.

As always, I update Lance on things at home and things that I think he would be interested in.  The recent asteroid "near miss" and the meteor explosion over Russia were definitely topics I knew he'd be interested in.  He had heard about the Russian meteor.  He was also interested to hear about the side effects of the intense solar flares that have been going on recently.  We also updated him on the missionaries that he knows are out right now and a few that have recently been called in our ward.  I know he enjoys hearing about everyone!

He asked for more pictures of his family and more peppermint oil, but other than that, he has been able to find everything he needs there.  He mentions that he loves the blender/food processor he bought and has been labeled "the cook" since he takes time to prepare healthy meals, especially the Indian style meals.

The Malaysian couple he has been meeting with are doing well.  They invited some friends over for their last discussion and Lance thinks it went very well.  He says he going to miss them when he gets transferred.  They receive many promptings and visions of where to go and whom to talk to while they're out everyday.  He shares that sometimes he'll begin to speak with someone, and the person sitting next the them is the one who turns out to be the interested one.  Unfortunately, he won't be able to attend a baptism of one of his investigators that is scheduled for early next month.

As always, he thanks everyone for their support and asks that I send his love to everyone.  He looks forward to catching up with everyone and everything when he gets home next year.  He encourages me to watch Supernatural and listen to Van Halen for him in the meantime.

He closes by reaffirming that he loves it there.  He proclaims his belief that God lives & loves us...and that we are here for a reason.  He also reminds us that he prays for us everyday.

This is why I love Mondays.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dzien Dobry!

We've become accustomed to being greeted by Lance's email first thing Monday morning.  However, this morning was a disappointment as there was no email.  Though I know he's "Mom" imaginations take hold and I begin to worry...just a little...about why.

Thankfully, it showed up in my inbox 3 hours later than normal.  Better late than never!

Lance begins by thanking me for the recipes I sent in his last package.  He bought a nice blender/food processor there and has been enjoying making "banana ice cream" and "saag".  Banana ice cream is just blended sliced frozen bananas with some coconut milk to thin it out.  Saag is Indian style creamed spinach.  

He reports that everything is on track for an investigator's baptism next month.  He still meets with his Malaysian friends regularly.  Not everyone he has been meeting with still actively investigates, however.  But he is confident that once the seed is planted, it can grow as strong as an oak tree...someday!  He mentions they met with someone this week who at first claimed atheist, but after some discussion, admitted he does have a belief in God.  So Lance encouraged him to pray with faith to receive guidance from God.  The conversation went quite well, and Lance feels that it was "a miracle of the week".

They made a stop at an Indian food restaurant last week.  Lance said it was very good, but nothing compares to our favorite place here in Utah.  He asked me to let the owners know that he has "Tandoori pride!"

We always fill him in on things that have been going on at home.  This Saturday, I was blessed to hear Sister Sherry Dew and Sister Wendy Nelson speak.  The meeting was absolutely incredible.  I shared with him parts of what Sister Dew said about asking our Angels for help and how she made the distinction between the power of the Priesthood and Priesthood Authority.  These were some of our favorite topics to talk about before Lance left for his mission.  He made the comment that he believes LDS people are usually open minded to these ideas.  And, I would have to agree.

Last week, Lance mentioned that he has the occasion to meet some "grumpy" people.  So this week I included a picture of Grumpy Cat to reference those unfriendly contacts he may make.  Kind of a funny way to look at being told off, I guess.  He says he just smiles at them and expresses love to them.  He figures they probably think he's a creep, but maybe they'll appreciate it someday!

Lance shared that he finds it incredible that prophets like Moses have been testifying of our day and age.  He also shared that he feels we have been preserved for this specific time for many reasons, the most important of which is to be the bearers of Truth and bringing it to the world.  He feels like he learns more and more every day and is so very grateful for knowledge.

He closes by sending his love and support to everyone at home.  He thanks those that pray for and wish him well.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Everyday is a huge adventure!

Well, as usual, Lance seems to be doing wonderfully.  Outside of some of the "grumpy" people he comes across, his typical interaction with the people of Poland is positive.

In this week's email, he begins by proclaiming his appreciation for other cultures.  He recognizes that all people, no matter what faith they claim or background they may have, are all children of God.  He feels like the "message" is one of peace, happiness, and eternal joy.  And it will bring all His children closer to Him.  Lance also paraphrases the words of Elder Holland (probably his favorite Apostle) wherein he says the work will not be forgotten and consigned to the ash heap of history.

They have been meeting with someone who has committed to baptism next month.  Lance is so excited!  Not all his recent investigators have been so accepting of the Gospel, but he knows that planting the seed is of utter importance.  He asks that we continue to pray for his friends, a.k.a., investigators.

Lance was able to visit the cello store last week and get some playing in.  Today they are planning on going to an Indian restaurant called "The Buddha".  Between the few restaurants and his new Malaysian friends, he has been eating all the good foods.

According to Sister Nielson's blog, Poland will be receiving 29 new missionaries!  Which means there will be some transfers.  He isn't sure where he'll be next, but is happy to be where he is needed most.  We absolutely love Sister Nielson's blog!  We check it almost daily to see how the work is progressing and hopeful to see a picture or two of Lance.

Last week, I reminded Lance that he is a direct descendant of many Pioneers, some of whom knew Joseph Smith personally.  His g. g. grandfather was James G. Willie, the captain of the Willie Handcart company.  The Willie company, along with two other companies, got a late start from Iowa and got stranded in Wyoming by the early arrival of winter.  Travelling by handcart was slow and tedious and most of the immigrants were city folk and not used to rugged conditions.  Many people died from starvation and exposure.  Thankfully, James G. Willie survived and helped to settle Mendon, UT.  This is only one story of his ancestors and their contribution to early church history!

Lance closes his email with enthusiasm over his mission.  He says, "Everyday is a huge adventure!"

                                                                      James G. Willie