Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dzien Dobry

Yesterday was Memorial Day for us here in the States.  Poland celebrates a similar holiday, but it was about a month ago, according to Lance's memory on the subject.  Interesting how many holidays are shared by cultures world wide.

Several of Lance's missionary buddies recently came home for medical releases.  It sounds like they all plan on coming back to Poland as soon as they're healed from their injuries.  He was able to speak on the phone with two of them before they left for home.  One of the elders was Lance's first companion in the MTC and a former class mate.  Lance said, "He is the man!".  Lance says that he and the other elder laughed about how their respective parents raised them on the same type of music..."the best music in the world!!"

Everything is going well for his new Chinese friend.  Lance says she is faithful and an amazing example.  He and his companion met with a man recently who seems to be very interested.  They also knocked on the door of a young Catholic family that were very receptive.  They invited the missionaries in and had a great discussion.  Though Lance doesn't know if they'll want to follow through, he believes the seed was planted.
He says they meet "awesome people" every day.

I've got another package ready to send off this week.  This package contains a voice recorder, some good soap, a small yoga book, and some homemade sunscreen.  The only thing he asked me to include are more healthy food and more pictures.  He says that he and his companion are very good about getting some yoga in everyday.

I passed on some recent messages from his Facebook page.  He was happy to "hear" from these friends and know that they care!

He closes by thanking everyone for their prayers and well wishes on his behalf.  He confirms that he loves God and knows that God loves all of us.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Czesc = honor

Once in a while, I get a translation with the Polish words and phrases Lance uses regularly. Czesc is one he uses frequently to close his emails. Now that I know what it means, I wish I knew how to pronounce it!

As I updated last week, Lance was blessed to baptize and confirm his Chinese friend. Now that she is official, Lance and his companion will begin teaching her the "new member" discussions. I remember 23 years ago when my husband and I were first married, my husband encouraged me to have the missionaries come teach me and answer questions I had concerning the Gospel and the church. I can imagine that the new member discussions are similar to what I experienced with those fine young men. I wish I remembered their names now so I could try to find them and thank them for their patience with me!

Besides my Monday email from Lance, we also had a nice update on Sister Nielson's blog to read....

"We arrived in Szczecin and found these Elders talking with people just outside our chapel."

Knowing my son like I do, I can see by the look on his face that he is very intense at this moment. I mentioned that in my email and he said that yes, at that moment he was being "very bold" with this man. He said it was a good meeting and they gave him a brochure in hopes that he will want to meet again.

Here are some more pictures from Sister Nielson's blog:

This final one is a celebration for Lance's birthday. They're holding ice cream bars.

Lance comments that he thinks his companion is awesome and always has his back. He also comments that his new Chinese friend is righteous and honorable and is so glad to have known her. He states that they are always teaching those they meet on the streets and hope to find those who are ready for the Gospel message and thanks us for our prayers.

They are getting a lot of rain in Szczecin right now, which is similar to Utah's weather. He bought a penny whistle not too long ago and says he knows how to play it now. He has two at home, but didn't really pick them up. He says that he makes up songs and bounces around like he's doing an Irish jig, to which his companion just laughs and shakes his head.

He says that right after doing a white board discussion on Saturday, several girls that had been watching them from the bar came to them and asked lots of questions. Finally they asked where Lance and his companion live and if they would like to go there to party. Lance says he and his companion just walked off laughing and continued teaching the people down the street. He says he thought to himself, "Good try, Satan, but it's not going to work on me!"

He closes by saying that he loves this mission. He prays for and sends his love to all of his family and friends.

He included this picture and asked me to send it on to his brother Russell.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

We called Lance yesterday for our bi-annual phone call. We get to talk to each other on Christmas Day and Mother's Day. It was, as he put it, quite a "coinkidink" that his birthday is also on Mother's Day this year. He says this was the best birthday he's ever had.

You could hear the excitement and happiness in his voice! He wanted to know about everything at home, and we wanted to know about everything in Poland. One insight he shared was that people are the same everywhere, only the language is different. I would've thought that cultural differences would be more apparent. But isn't it beautiful that we are all God's children, no matter where we happen to live???

Lance was honored and privileged to baptize his friend from China on Saturday. He also confirmed her to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday. He says that those who are converted outside of China are allowed to continue in their faith, but they are not allowed to proselyte or hand out teaching materials. I'm certain she will be a good example and influence on those around her when she returns to China in July.

With her permission, here are the pictures Lance forwarded to me via email today...

I have been privileged, too, to get to know this lovely woman through Facebook. As Lance put it, "she is incredible and such a powerful example of faith!" I would have to agree. Oh, and props to Lance's companion who is really good at making sure there are lots of pictures taken!

During our phone conversation, I made sure to ask him how to pronounce some names of the people and places. The Polish language has a few letter variances from the English language:
There is no Q, V, or X. The Ł is pronounced "woo". So the town in Poland spelled Łodz is pronounced similar to "woo-dj". The town where he is serving now is spelled Szczecin, and the pronunciation in English would be something like, "sha-che-cheen". I still think Welsh is trickier!

Lance reaffirms that he is in the right place at the right time. He bares testimony that God loves us all equally and has not left us alone to wander aimlessly. He states that he is learning more about himself and his fellow man by being in the mission field.

I am very proud of him and the man he has become!
Laser Tag

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fun fun fun fun, Monday comes after Sunday

If you haven't been subjected to the song "Friday" by Rebecca Black on youtube yet, I won't suggest you look it up.  It's very annoying!  And Lance was always sure to make me listen to it when we were out on wheatgrass deliveries, just to torment me.  Being the funny guy that he is, he would sing HIS version of the song whenever the occasion arose, which has become an endearing memory of our time spent together before he left.  And he is sure to reference it in his emails...thus the title of today's post.

Mother's Day is next Sunday and we have our scheduled time to call him.  12:30 p.m. our time, which translates to 8:30 p.m. his time.  He says that this week will be the best considering he will be baptizing and confirming his Chinese friend, celebrating his 20th birthday, and speaking with his family.  He says, "I love life!"

No surprise at all, Lance absolutely loves his new companion.  Lance says that the companion reminds him a lot of his cousin Ross.  Though he misses his last companion, he knows they have a lasting friendship that will carry over when they are both back in Utah.
I am so thankful that all of his companions have been wonderful, strong, and faithful young men.

Lance is very excited for the baptism scheduled for Saturday!  He is so honored that she has asked him to do the ordinances.  He describes her as a strong person and very solid in her faith.  He adds that she has been such an amazing example for him.  He vows to always be in contact with her for the rest of his life.  

There are two different Elders in Szczecin now, one of which he knew from his time in Warsaw.  Lance says they had an instant friendship.  It appears this young man is into the same type of music Lance is and due to the fact that they're both from Utah, they had friends in common.  That elder's companion has only been in Poland for 6 days and Lance says he told him that, "he is starting in the best town!  You learn Polish the fastest and you get punched in the neck your first week!"  I truly hope Lance didn't scare him!

He says he is finally feeling like he knows the Polish language well.  They recently did a method called "white boarding" where they stand out in a busy area with a white board and write a Gospel topic at the top.  In this case, they wrote the phrase, "What is the purpose of life?" and began asking everyone who walked by to write on the board what they think.  He says it is a very effective way to create a conversation with someone.  

This past Saturday, I was able to visit the local renaissance fair that Lance used to perform at.  So many of the regulars remembered me as his mom and asked how he was doing.  Before Lance had left for his mission, we decided that he needed to buy a hurdy gurdy to bring home since we never see those around here.  Well, there was a lady playing one at this ren fair!  So I took a picture to send to Lance...
If you've never heard this instrument played, please look it up on youtube!  It's an interesting sound...similar to bagpipes.

Saturday evening, we were able to celebrate his grandpa's 85th birthday.  It was a great time to visit with our loved ones though it makes it more painfully aware that Lance isn't here.  But everyone is supportive and has such encourages words and thoughts to relay to Lance.  I am so very grateful that Lance has such support in this endeavor.  It isn't easy to leave your home, job, school, friends, etc., for two full years.