Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Beautiful Things

Sister Smith, Renata (an investigator) and I at Sopot beach

Travelling as a branch on the bus on the way to Bydgoszcz for district conference- the fields outside are just cudowne (miraculous)!

An example of the yellow fields (I think it's canola flowers)
Some grafitti on a bus- says "Nie chce aby było latwo, byle było warto" which means something like "I don't want it to be easy, just as long as it's worth it".

This is a photo I took of a book I found in a store- it's animals dressed up like the Blues Brothers hahaha ahhh.. yes. Good stuff!

This week was another beautiful one with my companion Sister Smith in the "tri-city" area- with the added pleasure of being able to travel to Bydgoszcz for district conference!

This week we found some awesome people tracting in an area we haven't been before. We've been trying to find new places to find more people to teach, so we asked some members in the branch for ideas, and they certainly helped us out! There's a particular area we've been going out tracting in for the past week now, and we've been having a lot of success in finding potentials there. It's very different to a lot of the other areas we're used to going to- more farm land and actual houses (as opposed to apartment complexes). We've been enjoying meeting so many people, and are hoping to see some people at church and meet with them further to teach. We've had some great experiences with people telling us about their desires to find out if God really is there, and even one person we spoke to suggested that we were a sign from God that He's real. Sister Smith's and my eyes opened up wide to hear that out of the mouth of a stranger- of course we are! Haha with modesty of course:

Alma 26:11-12

11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Yesterday was such a blessing. We met at our chapel early in the morning with the other branch members, and all caught a bus together to Bydgoszcz for district conference. Many beautiful things
1. The fields, lakes, rivers, creeks, sky, flowers, hills, stork nests, rain, sun, nature is amazing!
2. Singing Polish hymns on the ride there- members humming along!
3. Klaudia- a primary girl, playing with us and learning English hehe, I was teaching her how to say "th" (it's tricky!)
4. Seeing the beautiful members at Bydgoszcz- some from Szczecin whom I've never met before, and some old faces from Bydgoszcz for whom I have so much love!
5. Speaking German with the Austrian member there
6. Seeing Ewa and talking about Australia (she's coming to visit later this year! She knows the Ireland's :D)
7. Hearing the testimonies of the beautiful Polish people
8. Travelling back and laughing with my companion

Life is just beautiful. Thanks be to God for all of the beauty we have :)

Today we're going to go to the zoo again haha (it was my idea- I guess I'm inspired from Warsaw) and yes, I will indeed be running straight to the kangaroo section haha. So I'll be sure to take more photos and send them next week! I love you all so much, have a fantastic week!

Love Sister Grgich

Monday, 29 June 2015

Trains Vacant Lots and Music

Travelling to Bydgoszcz for Zone Training- we sung primary songs on the train :)

Sister Smith and I posing in the mirror- back in the Gdansk flat :D

Oh look what I found tracting- a cat! "Nachoooooooo"

We were tracting when it started to rain (I straightened my hair that morning- probably won't my time doing that again!)

The car says "Gday".. sort of!

We went searching for a former investigator- their address was an empty block of land! :(
Sister Smith and I on a tram

Me playing guitar at a Relief Society activity (Klaudia, a primary girl in our branch took the photo)

And that would be Klaudia squeezing my face and making me take a photo hehe :D

Wow it almost feels like a whole day since I last saw your faces on Skype ;) hehe That was such a blessing being able to see you all and just talk and laugh, I love you all so much! It was actually a little stressful for me yesterday, I've been struggling a little bit with knowing how to help the branch, when sometimes it feels like I'm not appreciated for my efforts (it can be hard enough dealing with the rejection on the streets from strangers, so I really don't need any more negativity)- but knowing that you all believe in me, knowing that my Father in Heaven sees the work I do that no one else knows about, knowing that I have a companion who loves me and is such a great friend and example to me, having so many friends all over the world that love and support me, really brings me back to reality that I am a daughter of God and I have been so incredibly blessed in my life. I am so grateful to be serving in this branch at this time, I truly love the members and I really want to help them strengthen the branch- sometimes it can be hard for us to trust in God's timing, but when I work the best I know how, and rely on the Lord to uplift me and allow him to use me as a faithful servant and friend, I know that I am pleasing Him, and He will allow me to be a blessing in the lives of others. So I just want to say thank you so much for being so supportive to me :) I love you!

This past week we went to Bydgoszcz (again! I feel like it's my second Poland home) for Zone Training. We had a beautiful lesson/training prepared by the leaders of our Zone, and had the privilege of being there with President Edgren as well. We learnt about self-progression and how to apply the things we learn in our day-to-day missionary lives, and particularly focused on our finding efforts and how we can have more people to teach the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the train ride there and back, I had my guitar, so my companion and I played/sung some songs out of the primary songbook (we prepared a song for Mother's Day, and a musical item for a Relief Society activity we had later on in the week). It was really fun, and really uplifting. After reading my patriarchal blessing again, I feel a strong desire to use more of my unique talents in the missionary work (particularly I'm thinking about how I can use music to bring others to Christ), so Sister Smith and I are both working hard to utilise our different abilities in the most effective way possible.

Speaking of Sister Smith- she's absolutely great! We have been working so hard this past couple of weeks, and it is just such a joy to be with her. We have been teaching people on the streets, setting up lessons, teaching in homes, working to find former investigators, trying to be creative with our finding approaches, and always planning and going about our day with the Spirit- it can be hard with all the disappointments, but we are not discouraged and always have the Comforter with us, which help us in those difficult times. We laugh a lot too, which has proven super helpful in keeping us sane. We have a pretty similar sense of humour, and that has been a great blessing to me!

Last week we went out looking for a former investigator married couple (from a few years ago)- they seemed super awesome but unfortunately lived far away, and the phone number didn't work anymore so we decided to give them a visit. So we planned a day to go out after English class, and the senior couple the Shaws were nice enough to drive us out there. After the long drive, we got the street and are looking for number 18. So we see 22... 20... ok good close... vacant, grassy land, and number 16. Huh?? So they park the car and we get out looking around for number 18... nothing. So we knock on the neighbours' doors- one lady says number 18 indeed exists, and that it is the vacant land next door. She'd never heard of the couple's names that had apparently lived there before.. :/ So that was an interesting day! haha, well sometimes you just have to laugh at these situations and take a photo with a frowny face in front of the vacant land! ;)

Well this past week we've met some really cool people, we're hoping to meet with some of them within the upcoming week, and hopefully we can start teaching and helping these people learn more about the gospel and progress towards baptism. We've been to a lot of new areas (as per counsel given by our mission president) and have been finding a lot of success with that. We are continuing to try and teach families who can build and uplift each other in their spiritual progression, and are praying for help with that all the time. The work is going forward, and I feel so privileged to be a missionary at this time in my life. Every sacrifice is worth it when it is for the Lord :)

Keep being wonderful examples in the different wards where you serve, and never forget the ability you have to influence others and change their lives for the better. Love you all so much!

Siostra Grgich

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Leaving Warsaw

We were waiting for a bus after going to a park on pday, so I decided to take a photo of our reflection

his is my district on our last pday together

Us at Family Home Evening with Kaja and Róża, and Sławek

Sister Smith and I doing the dishes at a members house (we got to wear awesome shoes and apron-like things)

I'm in Gdansk again! This past week was pretty bittersweet- I was so sad to leave Warsaw and all the amazing people I've gotten to know there- sad to leave my companion Sister Johnston and sad to leave the city, but I'm also really happy to be in Gdansk and see everyone here again. Sister Smith and I have already started doing a lot of work here- trying to find less-actives, former investigators, working to get new investigators (tracting, referrals, contacting)- we really want to help the branch here grow! (We've both seen the innumerable blessings that come from having strong wards/branches with many people to have many different callings, opportunities for service, growth, learning etc.) So we are of course trying our best to carry out the work here!

On Monday after pday we met at the chapel for FHE, and got to see Róża and Kaja one last time. We watched a couple of talks from the most recent General Conference (one of my favourites- "Choose to Believe" by Elder L. Whitney Clayton) and said our goodbyes. The next day we set off for our different cities (Sister Johnston went to Katowice), and when I got to Gdansk I was warmly greeted by Elder and Sister Shaw (senior missionaries). It was nice to see them again- their first transfer in Gdansk was when I first came into the country, so I know them pretty well. They feed us dinner on Sundays so they have a special place in my heart! Haha ok I'm joking about that being the reason why I like them so much, but really they are so special because of the great work they do here, and they've always uplifted me and made me feel loved!

This week we've been able to meet with a couple of the members, and we've been calling SO many people to find out if they'd be interested in having lessons from us -we've been trying potentials (people who've never had official lessons but have given us an address or number) and former investigators. We've also been able to do a bit of tracting (one of my favourite things to do as a missionary since my first transfer with Sister Wood) and unfortunately haven't found anyone yet who wants to meet with us, but we're keeping the faith and working hard. Sister Smith and I are really focusing on finding families to teach, so we're going to try some new areas (or, areas that we haven't been out to much) and tract and contact there to see if we can find anyone interested. Missionary work in challenging, but that's probably why it's so rewarding. I'm excited to be here with my new district- I'm excited to use my talents to the best of my ability and praying that I will always live up to my potential. I'm so excited for this new transfer and to see what comes of it.

Yesterday at church I bore my testimony and was so filled with love looking out at the members of the branch (and visitors). I thought about the people who weren't there (that I knew should have been) and realised that I miss them not only because I don't get to personally talk to them, but I miss their presence because I know how important it is for them to be attending church and allowing their souls to be fed. I know how important it is to be regularly attending church so that we can renew our covenants with our Heavenly Father, that we do want to constantly allign our will with His, and uplift others along the way. We all make choices everyday and have to commit to ourselves and be accountable to the Lord that we will work on what big or small faith we have, to show that we trust God and know that His ways are higher than ours. I'm so grateful for the reminders I get to do this, from the examples I see in other members, and for the experiences I've gained on my own.

Well I will see you on Skype on Sunday for Mother's Day (so excited!). I love you all so much, be happy and remember to pray and read your scriptures together! :DD

Love Siostra Grgich

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Kangaroos at the Zoo

Elder Wright with his kangaroo coin purse... and the kangaroos...!

Kangaroos at the zoo! I tried speaking aussie to them, but they were just chilling, doing their own thing. Didn't even look at me! Haha oh well

Kaja giving us a tour at the Museum of the History of Jews in Poland (not sure if that's what it's officially called..)

My companion Sister Johnston and I with the Kosonavich family (they're Americans but with a Croatian heirtage, and they did the same thing like we did with adding an 'h' on the end of their name!)
This week will be the start of a new transfer for me in the beautiful city of Gdansk, in which I'll be serving with the magnificent and even more beautiful Sister Smith! Sister Johnston and I had just finished visiting a less-active member in our branch, and were waiting for the bus when we received our calls from President Edgren. I was so excited to learn that I'd be getting to serve with my MTC companion again, and whilst it's a little sad that I only got to be here for 1 transfer, Sister Johnston and I both feel good that we have left this area a little better than we found it :) (which is always the goal!) and we're excited for the new Sisters to come and do the same. We're both so grateful for the opporunity that was given us to work with and amongst so many different people here, and we're really going to miss it!

So I sent you some photos- including some at the zoo! I actually forgot to bring my camera, so these were taken from my companion's camera. So last week we went to the big zoo in Warsaw and got to see a lot of awesome animals! I was especially excited about the kangaroos, wallabies and emus (they unfortunately didn't have koalas), but I also really enjoyed the hippos, monkeys/baboons, seals and flamingoes :) I don't know how people think all of these incredible creations just came about by chance- they were CLEARLY created. And how grateful I am for all of God's beauty in the world :)

After the zoo, we met with an American member family and an investigator Molly for a lesson and dinner. It was really nice, but also a little sad because Molly's since gone back to the States (where she's from) and we really miss her! What's cool though, is that she might work for an Australian family who live in Utah, so I told her that they'd of course naturally be awesome because they're Australian ;)

This week we were able to have some really amazing lessons with less-active members in our branch. We were able to teach a lady and her non-member husband and son about prayer, and encouraged them to pray as a family- the lesson went so well, and they were appreciative of the songs my companion and I sung at the end :D We were able to teach a single lady about forgiveness and how freeing and enabling the Atonement really is. The Spirit was felt so strongly during our lesson with her and we have been so blessed to see so much progress in this woman's life as we have met with her this transfer. It's such a beautiful thing to hear from people, when they tell us they once had a problem with something and now, because of the gospel, it's gone. I'm so happy to have been a part of helping someone with that. We were able to teach another woman about family history and temple work (it's starting to be a favourite topic of mine!) and I'm just always so appreciative of the hospitality and kindness of the members here in Poland towards us as missionaries (and others in general!). I love teaching, and meeting people and just being a missionary :) P.S. mum and dad, I totally suggest you two going on a mission some day together. You could go to Bosnia, it'd be so awesome! Hahah ok that's just what I see in my head that would be really great!

Well I'm not sure what else to say, except that I love you and appreciate you and pray for you often! I hope you all have a wonderful week - tell Baba "volim te" (I think that's correct).

Love Sister Grgich

Monday, 22 June 2015

Family History Lessons

This week we taught a couple of lessons on family history and temples, so you would be proud of me mum! So on Tuesday we visited a less-active member and encouraged her to prepare for the temple and work on her family history, and she was willing and happy so we're hopefully going to help her with that (particularly with creating an account on FamilySearch because it's not really translated fully into Polish). It was really awesome to get to know this member better (I hadn't known her very well before this) and help her with something that I'm now a lot more passionate about. We also did a "musical whiteboard" where I played songs on my guitar and we sang while other missionaries spoke to people to see if they're interested in learning about the gospel. It was really fun and it felt good to share my talents in such a way. It was also one of the elders' last day in the country so it was a bit of a solemn occasion with the music and everything- a lot of emotions of happiness for this beautiful gospel, and sadness for saying goodbye to this amazing missionary. Later that day we also got to meet with two recent convert women in our branch- we spoke about teaching and learning in the church and watched a mormon message- it was really nice to be with them and share and listen to each other's testimonies. 

The next day my companion and I got to help out with an American family who are preparing to move back to the States not long from now. We were helping with moving boxes and food etc, and we got fed lunch so it was a pretty awesome day :D Later that day we had planned to teach a potential investigator, but he didn't show up, so instead we were able to do a Book of Mormon reading after our English class, and we ended up having a really good lesson with the people that came to that! We read from 3 Nephi 27 in English and spoke to discuss the verses while reading. I truly felt the Spirit testifying, and afterwards one of the people there mentioned how he felt such a good atmosphere with us and during that reading/discussion. It was so nice to hear that, and reminded me how grateful I am to have the gospel in my life, and to always have the Holy Ghost with me:) 

On Thursday we went to Somchit's house (Thai member), discussed the visiting teaching message for this month (about the Christlike attribute of being without guile) and then made some sushi! I wasn't too excited for the sushi haha (but I thought of you two mum and dad), but it was cool to read from the message, because Somchit was able to read it in Thai (we found it for her on her ipad). It was probably the most understanding we've ever had in our lessons, and we were also really happy because she mentioned how she has spiritually grown since the last week we met with her. It's so fulfilling to know that the commitments we extend to people really do help them make changes for good in their lives. 

On Friday we were able to have a few good street lessons- at one point 4 young students actually came up to us and so we spoke with them for a while. I don't know how interested they are in learning more about the message, but they happily took pass-along cards and we encouraged them to look at the website for our church. We also got to visit with Kaja at her house- she made us dinner and we helped clean her turtle tank haha so that was fun (my 'best friends' are her turtles- Barbara and Jerzy). We were able to speak about the importance of not procrastinating, but making decisions now (particularly moral ones) so that we are strong for whatever happens in the future. We also got to see Kaja yesterday in the town- she was volunteering for an awareness cause about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising so we went and said hello to her :) She is seriously the best- we love her so much and I'm really gonna miss her when I leave :(. Thank goodness we have phones and the internet and mail, right? :D

Well we actually did a lot more this week but I've got to go, so I'll just keep those memories in my journal haha. Love you so much, have a beautiful week :)

From Siostra Grgich