So I wrote a really long email last week, so this week I'll do a short one haha :) I've realised that I don't have any photos to send unfortunately- we've been pretty busy and I guess I just forgot to take some! All good!
So yesterday we went
tracting after church and lunch/dinner, and we found an area with some
pretty friendly people! We managed to teach 3 people at their doors! One
guy was Finnish, so he spoke English (a welcome change, I must admit!)
and he had some close Mormon family friends, so he knew a bit about us
and respected us which was really nice. We also found someone that
didn't have a lot of time, but said he once had a Book of Mormon but
lost it, (he last spoke with missionaries 2 years ago) so he asked if he
could have another copy and of course we eagerly gave him one! Then
another man we spoke to said he wasn't so interested at first, but we
were able to share a bit of our main message, and after some time he
said he'd be interested in reading the Book of Mormon. We didn't have any
more spare copies on us, so we'll be returning to get him one, and
hopefully he'll want to meet with the Elders to talk more. We had so
many great experiences, we almost forgot it was raining outside! Haha
yeah, we got pretty wet, and it was a little colder than expected
(weren't prepared for that!!) but luckily Elder Taggart (senior
missionary) gave us an umbrella as we left their house to go tracting,
so it ended up just fine! Plus, I think some people had pity on us, and
let us in their building to knock in the warmth of the apartment blocks,
rather than just standing outside at the domophone. People are nice :)
visited Wioletta again in the hospital, and there were different people
in the room visiting others, so we got to talk to some of them, and one
lady even invited us over to her home! So we're hoping to visit her
soon- she was interested in knowing some things about our church, so
we'll try and help her out! Later that day we saw an old man struggling
to walk home, so we went and helped him (he had heavy bags and needed to
cling on to someone for balance). It took a long time for him to get
back- along the way, a man was out walking his dog, and he came and
helped the old man too. It was nice to be able to help out, I've never
really had an experience before with doing that- I feel like I always
hear about those stories of helping an elderly person cross the street,
but here was a real situation! So it felt good that we were there at the
right time to help someone.
Yesterday was great being in
the chapel, getting to partake of the Sacrament, singing hymns and being
uplifted by the faith of the members. Sundays are my favourite days! I
hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday, and that you'll continue to
have a great week!
Lots of love,
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
|Saying goodbye to the Shaw's at Sopot beach (we ended up playing volleyball and the weather was perfect!)|
|Tracting in a very typical Polish klatka (apartment building)|
|We've moved back up to the 8th floor- so we spent Saturday moving all the furniture back into the new rooms for church on Sunday (we all love the renovated space!)|
|Sister Smith and I at the Malbork castle today (we sort of accidentally matched outfits today!)|
I have my planner this time so I'm able to remember things a lot easier (I've been trying to be better at recording things down at the end of the day). So I might just go through each day as per my planner (I'm not very creative-sorry!).
Last Monday went really well- the rain held off and it was perfect weather for beach volleyball. The Shaw's came and we had watermelon together, got to play with some new-found friends (and some old ones), and said our goodbyes to the Shaw's who are nearing the end of their mission here. After pday, we set up a table on a main pedestrian street in Sopot, and we found some great people to talk to. Perhaps one of the best parts of that day was when we had come back to Gdansk, and we spoke to a Belarusian girl about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. She was so open and really wanted to read the Book of Mormon. I had my guitar with me, and she was like "So are you going to play something?" and I said "Sure!" so then we played and sung a short version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and it was really cool. Ula was so friendly and just made Sister Smith and I so happy. We invited her to church (we were in the vicinity and the big brown building in which our chapel lies is easy to see from many parts of the city), and we're really hoping that she'll come and allow us to teach her more. It was really cool to have someone so open to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it and Joseph Smith. Sister Smith and I have been praying a lot for people who will receive us (D&C 31:7), and Heavenly Father has been blessing us with wonderful opportunities- we are working hard to have more progressing investigators, who will continue to keep commitments and work towards finding the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday, we had a great district meeting and shared our testimonies with each other- it was a special occasion. It's so important to talk with your friends about the gospel, and spiritual things. It helps you feel the Spirit, and can help you realise your own testimony (that often happens as you bear it). When we bear our testimonies to people in Poland, I can always feel the Holy Ghost witnessing of the truth of what we say. It's also super important to be a living testimony by the way we act in private and around others- and as missionaries, we're very aware that people look at us and make judgements on the Church, based on what they see from us, so we need to always be an example of Christ. There's a great talk from Elder David A. Bednar in 2009, I'll just quote some of it:
"We should remember that bearing a heartfelt testimony is only a beginning. We need to bear testimony, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to live it. We need to both declare and live our testimonies.
The relationship between testimony and appropriate action is emphasized in the Savior’s instruction to the Saints in Kirtland: “That which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do” (D&C 46:7). Our testimony of gospel truth should be reflected both in our words and in our deeds. And our testimonies are proclaimed and lived most powerfully in our own homes. Spouses, parents, and children should strive to overcome any hesitancy, reluctance, or embarrassment about bearing testimony. We should both create and look for opportunities to bear testimony of gospel truths—and live them."
On Wednesday, we finally got to visit and talk with the lady who was in the hospital/care housing. We had such a beautiful time with her- we sung her songs, and spoke with her and her mother (who has been visiting her everyday for the past several months that she's been in hospital). Many other patients really appreciated our music, and I know that it meant a lot to Wioletta to have us just keep her company. She spoke about how she used to be a dancer and teach children, and now her legs are paralysed, but she is slowly getting better, and calls herself a living "miracle". She has great faith and is such an example to me of perseverance and optimism. I'm so impressed by her mother and friend's support, in visiting her often and uplifting her both physically and emotionally. We are hoping to visit her again this week, and I feel so blessed to have that opportunity to serve such a beautiful daughter of God.
On Thursday we went tracting in an area we haven't really been before (we're always trying new areas) and it was a bit hard. We were getting a lot of cold rejection and our spirits were feeling a little low. One lady (whose house we hadn't even knocked at yet) got really angry at us and started yelling that we're a sect etc. and even when we went across the street, she was still yelling at us and being really mean. We offered to help her (she was grabbing a clothes rack at the time and trying to move it) but she didn't want our help. It's a little sad that she had these bad feelings about us, when we hadn't done anything wrong (when in fact we're just trying to do what in our consciences is right). We decided to go to a slightly different area to continue tracting before going home. We were able to speak to a really nice man at his door about the Restoration, and while he didn't want to have a return visit, it was really nice to have someone be friendly to us. But you know, even if we hadn't spoken to anyone that was nice to us, I know that we are doing the right thing, and we are trying to serve and teach people about Christ. Even Christ was harshly rejected by many, and I will never have to go through the type of things He went through. I am so grateful for His Atonement- He is always able to comfort me, and that knowledge has been one of the greatest helps for this time of my life (and will continue to be for the rest of my life as I certainly will go through more trials!).
On Friday while looking for some less-active members of the branch, we asked a neighbour if she knew if anyone still lived in the apartment next door (that was the address of the less-active lady)- she said no (unfortunately) but then we started talking with the friend of the neighbour who was on her way home (she was mostly just interested in the fact that Sister Smith was from America) and by the end of our conversation she offered to drop us off on her way back. It was so nice of her, we still had some work to do out in the area, but it was such a nice gesture from a complete stranger :) Just more proof to us from God that He really does care for us, and that there really are so many wonderful and good people in the world- willing to help a stranger. Oh and just a little fun side-note, we had dinner at a burger place that night, and the song "the Boys are Back in Town" came on the radio, and it reminded me of dad playing that in his band :) Little tender mercy!
On Saturday we helped move furniture from the 4th floor (temporary place of the chapel while our original 8th floor premise was being renovated) back up to the 8th. All of our district worked hard to make the place ready for Sunday, and the hard work really paid off! The place looks so great, and it's so easy to feel the Spirit there. We had church yesterday and the members love the new space. I'm excited for new paintings to come so we can have them up on the wall. I just love the feeling of being in our chapels! I love the paintings of Christ, I love the view of God's beautiful world outside, I love thinking about all the amazing experiences I've had throughout my life, that have happened in or at church sites. Times I've been in the Primary organisation and had wonderful life-impacting lessons from amazing, dedicated teachers, the many mornings of Seminary, building my faith and testimony about the restored church- I just love that we can go almost anywhere in the world, and find one of these chapels in which this truth is taught and learned. I'm so grateful to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I know that this is where Gos wants me to be.
Ok I've run out of time, and there are many other great things that happened this week but I'll have to tell you about them another time! Love you so much, remember to be happy :D
Love Siostra Grgich
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
|I only have one photo this week! This was at church yesterday, with a man who lived in Tassie!!|
This week Summer has really made itself evident- I don't think I've ever been so hot (there's not a lot of air conditioning out here, and we spend a lot of time outside, so I'm really feeling the Polish summer!) I actually don't mind it though, it's nice not to have to wear layer on layer of coats and scarves and what not (although sometimes that can be fun too!). Yesterday we got on a tram that did actually have air-con, and it was like stepping into a little piece of heaven from being outside haha.
So I just realised I have a new planner, so it doesn't have last week in it, and I have a really bad memory about what happened, so I'll just start from yesterday and see if anything else comes to mind :) Well we had church on the 4th floor (it'll probably be the last time there, because our chapel has been renovated and should be ready to move into back on the 8th floor in time for next Sunday) and it was the Shaw's last Sunday in Gdańsk :( They are a senior missionary couple that came to this city when I first got here, so I've known them for a long time, and they pretty much fed me dinner every Sunday (except for the transfer I was in Warsaw)- so I owe them a lot. Not only do they make awesome dinner, but they are also just incredible people- great examples of service and charity, and so enthusiastic and motivating to the younger missionaries in our work. We're hopefully going to play volleyball with them today at the beach for p-day (if the rain holds off) so it'll be great to spend time with them one last time. Yesterday at church, we had a guest come, he's from Colorado and is a professor at a school in Gdynia (only for a few weeks though, so he's not permanently in our branch). It was pretty random how much we had in common, so he served his mission in Germany, plays the guitar, and lived in Australia for a year! He lived in Tasmania and said he went to the Sydney temple a couple of times, you probably wouldn't remember him mum, but in case you do, his name is Bill Emery and I got a photo with him haha! Pretty cool how small the world is.
Yesterday was also really great because we got to be with the members (love them so much, and I really do love this branch) and I just love how they are so loving and charitable. They put on a little party/get-together thing to say goodbye to the Shaws and it was so sweet. They will really be missed by the members here. Yesterday was great because it was fast and testimony Sunday. I bore my testimony (I used to be pretty shy about it before my mission, but now I think I'm a pro ;) haha, so I like to get up whenever there's time) and I really felt the Spirit from fasting as well. There is a special power in fasting, and I'm really trying to make sure I have meaningful fasts- it's been working, and I've been getting help and answers to my prayers. I know that God helps us as we do our part to let him help us.
After church, Sister Smith and I went to visit a former investigator. We found her apartment the other day, and her husband (I think) answered and said she's in hospital. So he rang her up and let us talk to her, and she invited us to visit her. I'm not sure what happened, but I think it must have been a stroke or something because she's not in a good state. So he gave us her room number and the address of the care place, and we went and visited yesterday, and unfortunately she was asleep, but the husband (or however he's related) was there and we got to speak to him a bit. We were hoping to sing some songs for the former investigator, but we ended up just talking to the man. I was reminded of the times we sung as a Relief Society at elderly homes during Christmas time, and our district spoke about it afterwards and decided we'd really love to go to hospitals/elderly homes here and offer if we can just come and sing some songs for the patients. I love music and I love how it can cheer people up. Sometimes people think we're just here to get more members for our church, but I think they're really missing the point, of the fact that we want to share the gospel, because we know that their lives will always be better with the knowledge of the restored gospel, than without it. It may not be easier, but it is true, and in an eternal perspective, it will always improve the quality of people's lives if they live by the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the way the Church has blessed my life (not only the teachings, but the organisation itself, which is the means by which we are taught and can live the teachings). I want to share the gospel with others because I can say with total assurance, that people are better off with having restored gospel truths in their life, than without them.
I love you very much and hope you all have a lovely week. Again I would write more ahhh but I'm running out of time, so I'll just leave it at this!
Monday, 13 July 2015
|Sister Smith and I with a new member from the Szczecin branch (we just met her over the weekend and she is the cutest!)|
|We gave a presentation at a school about Pennsylvania and taught them how to play heads down thumbs up :)|
|Playing primary songs at the mission home|
|Elders Whiting and Hon, myself and Marcus (those Elders (along with another) taught Marcus in Bydgoszcz, and he was baptised- he's from Austria and so awesome!)|
|Sister Smith and I with Klaudia at the celebration in Warsaw|
Hi Family!! Pozdrav Obitelj (hahha i don't know if that's correct, it's meant to be hrvatski/croatian)
This week we had a big 25th celebration activity of the rededication of the church in Poland. All the missionaries, and many of the members from all over Poland came to Warsaw for games, food and a historical presentation on Saturday, and then we had a special church service on Sunday. I got to see a bunch of the members (and investigators) from the other areas I've served in (Bydgoszcz and Warsaw 2) and it was just such a great experience. We had a visit from Elder and Sister Adler from Germany (they're area authorities for the Church) and the missionaries got a special fireside from them on the Saturday evening. There was so much learning done over the weekend (in terms of my personal revelation). I really learnt a lot about my purpose as a missionary and how I can keep my faith and expectations high for the development of the Church in this country. I have such a great desire to find and teach families, and guide them towards the light and happiness of the gospel, so they can strengthen each other and the rest of the members here in Poland. As a missionary here, I really have no greater desire than to see this area flourish with faithful and strong members, and I one day hope that with the generations, there will be more temple marriages and children being brought up in this knowledge. Seeing all the members on the weekend just brought me so much hope- these people are truly precious children of our loving Heavenly Father, and they are on their way returning to live in His presence forever in true happiness :)
This week also marks the beginning of a new transfer, and I guess I'm still the Gdansk Queen :p Haha, Sister Smith and I are staying for another transfer together here, and I'm so happy! We have had such a great transfer together and are working so hard, so we are stoked to have another couple of months to work together with this beautiful branch. We have seen some success with our 'singing tables/tunnel singing' with finding people who are interested, so we're really hoping to see people make progress. We're not sure if our flyers will work (we only did it for a couple of days- they get posted over quickly..so if we want to do it we have to put them up a bit more as we're out and about) but we're hopeful with that method of finding too- there were a couple of people that called, so we'll see where that goes! Sister Smith and I have really seen how the Lord has placed people in our paths- I know that the people we meet have not been coincidences and we pray for these people that their hearts will be open so they can receive our message and be able to find out the truth of it for themselves. I know that as we put all of our trust in the Lord, He will guide us to people who are preparing for His message, and they and this country will be all the more blessed for it.
Ok there was actually a lot more that we did this past week but I'm running out of time to tell you about them, so I'll just leave what I have to say for post-mission stories ;) I love you all so much and hope that you have a very happy week!
Saturday, 11 July 2015
|I made some Oblatne! (bosnian treat!) My companion loves it :D|
|Vegemite Cadbury- that's certainly not your average cadbury chocolate block!|
|I got a package from Australia!|
|Sister Smith and I during culture night|
|By the old town with Sister Smith|
|On the Ferris wheel|
|Reading the General Conference Liahona!|
|Photos from culture night (ferris wheel, bumper cars, the old town of Gdansk etc.)|
|Sister Smith and I with Marinella (member in our branch)|
|Sister Smith and I eating dinner at the Shaw's|
This week we had many beautiful opportunities of serving others and building our own testimonies. We've been trying out new methods of finding people- for example, we posted up flyers on boards around the city (they have places where it's legal and free, near tram and bus stops) inviting people to meet with the missionaries to find out about what 'mormons' believe. We're just testing the waters at the moment, but it seems to be working at least somewhat- we had a call from someone who's interested, and we've also been seeing people looking at the flyers as we post them (we try to talk to them of course too right there!). We took parts straight from the mormon.org website in Polish, about what to expect from meeting with missionaries, and made little rip-off tabs at the bottom for people to have our number and address of the chapel. We also have an invitation for people to come to church on Sunday on the main flyer. So we'll see if this brings any more interested people!
We've also been trying different street approaches, we've been able to meet with some members and former investigators. Sister Smith and I have felt a lot of unity in our teaching, and we feel like just at the close of this transfer, we've really got into a good swing. We're hoping that we'll stay together for next transfer, but we won't find out until later this week, and then we'll be transfering on Sunday (if at all), because we'll be in Warsaw over the weekend for a 25th anniversary of the Poland mission rededication. I'm super excited about seeing members from all over, and I hope I get to see some of the people I've been priveleged to meet during my times serving in Bydgoszcz and the Warsaw 2 branch. It'll be a great experience for all the members I'm sure- I love Poland and I have so much pride for this beautiful country! (in the best way possible!) I just have so much motivation and enthusiasm for the Lord's work, I know that His kingdom will roll forth, and I am so blessed to be able to help with the missionary efforts for God's children in Poland.
Oh, also, we received the General Conference edition of the Liahona in English yesterday, I've already been devouring it! I really encourage you to go over the talks again (if you haven't already) and really think how you can apply the counsel of our modern prophets and leaders of the church. We are so blessed to have continuing revelation for the Lord's church, and we should never take that for granted!
2 Nephi 32:3
"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."
Love Sister Grgich