Friday, June 13, 2014

Loving life in Lublin

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

Here is the update for the month of May:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Gospel's true."

Rockin their "pan" hats!

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

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

Russell and Tiff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Gospel is true!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Hurdy Gurdy