Monday, February 29, 2016

Sczcecin, Poland - Poznań Zone Conference, The Prayer Room, He is always aware and there

(Raquel sent so many pictures this week - I couldn't decide what to post
 and not to I posted all of them! - Stephanie)

Epic P-day bowling!
Nick, Siostra Sloan, Ola, me, Starszy Einfeldt, Starzy Garrison (floor)
Starszy Einfeldt
Maybe we should post the Plan of Salvation on that backdrop?
Siostra Sloan!
Nothing but love for these two!
I won second place after Starszy Garrison!
(Let is be known because it may never happen again as it has never happened before!)
Zone Conference in Poznań!
MTC peeps!  It was sooooooo great to see them!  Missing you Barney and Lerch!

(photo credit: Joanne Ashworth - thank you!)
We couldn't stop smiling!
"Starszy" steals my camera once again!
Starszy Ashworth and Starszy Coutu!
Starszy McPherson, Starszy Vance, Starszy Garrison!
Starszy Musgrave, Starszy Liechty, Starszy Einfeldt!
Training with Starszy Musgrave!
Starszy Ashworth, Starszy Musgrave, Siostra Dekker!
Siostra Young, Siostra Sloan, Siostra Craig!
Siostra Kamp, myself, Siostra Dekker, Siostra Young, Siostra Craig, Siostra Sloan!
I love these ladies!  I've learned so much from each of them!
Siostra Sloan on the train home from zone conference!
Our awesome elders: Starszy Einfeldt and Starszy Garrison carrying
the whiteboard and easel for street contacting!
Boise Buddies braving the cold!
Although you can't see it in this picture - it was sunny in part of the sky!
Crazy weather!
It is a choice to be happy - no matter the weather!  Ha!
This is such a cute park! Look how cute the kids are bundled up!
The cold doesn't stop Poles playing with bubbles!
"Chalk Talks!"
We are trying to build our English Club!
We stand out on the street and invite people!
(Madre D: Don't you love the pram/buggy in the back!)

Sunday School - perhaps we need a lesson on reverence!
(Siostra Sloan took this picture - I think my face might say it all!)
Cześć Family and Friends!!!!

Another week has flown by way, way, way too quickly!! Time is so funny here and I still feel like I just got to Poland when I have been here for two months now! 

This week started off awesome! This transfer we really want to do something every single P-day! So starting last Monday we went bowling with the twins!! It was so much fun! 

The next day was zone training! Zone training was incredible! 

We talked about what it says in our mission call and the blessing promised! We are promised blessings as missionaries but we have to do our part in order to receive these blessings! One of my favorite quotes was: "obedience does not equal perfection, obedience equals repentance!"  I loved this quote because sometimes I feel as a missionary that I have to be 100% perfect but knowing that all I have to do is try my hardest and really rely on the atonement is a huge comfort to me! 

We also talked a lot about miracles and what a miracle truly is! Another quote I loved is: (as missionaries...)"Miracles are the things we do, they aren't the exception, they are the rule!"  
I know I write about it all the time but I truly see miracles or tender mercies everyday! 

The final thing we talked about were the three steps to lasting success! They are: 1. An invitation with every conversation, 2. Setting expectations, and 3. Teaching with boldness! 

The last one really struck Sister Sloan and me! We want to bold when we contact people! We also talked about being bold out of love! I love this! We are delivering a message of change but it is out of love for the individuals with whom we speak!  

It was so good and I just felt so pumped to be a missionary! 

Zone training was also amazing because Siostra Dekker, Siostra Kamp, our Starszy Ashworth and I from the MTC are all in the same zone! It was a mini MTC reunion and we were all so excited! It was so good to see them all! I was so happy to see my trustworthy companions again! It was exactly what I needed!! I have missed them all so much!! 

This week was also a hard week for me to be honest! I struggled this week just trying to feel like I was being a good missionary! I became frustrated because I wanted to be guided by the Spirit to know where we should go or what we should do and I didn't always have a definite feeling.  I've been given the opportunity to lead and when we wouldn't have success I blamed myself! 

Sister Sloan is amazing though and when I told her how I was feeling she suggested to me that I should read the Ricciardi letter! (I'm sure you can find it via Google.) This letter is written by a missionary who served in England with an Italian elder named Ricciardi and everything he learned from him! I really encourage you all to read it because it has changed my entire mission! 

The last passage of the letter is titled "The Prayer Room!" In it the man describes how he had been serving in an area for several months and had no success, when transfers came he was sure he would be transferred and wasn't! He describes how he went into a room in their apartment and prayed out loud for 45 minutes! He was angry and he was ready to speak his mind! He received an answer though that changed his mission! 

Here is his response: 

“Elder Humphrey, I am here. I know who you are. I sent you to those neighborhoods, the very ones where you experienced nothing but rejection. I prompted your changes in direction to even more difficult neighborhoods. I know where each of the elect in your area resides. I know their names. I could send you to those addresses only, and save you the time and sacrifice looking for them. BUT ELDER HUMPHREY, WHAT GOOD WOULD THAT SERVE YOU? The mission experience is to do what you are told, when you are told, to go where you are asked, and know that the blessing comes from enduring what I ask of you. This is not about you; it is about opening your mouth at all times in all places. Doing My will without thought to the end result or consequence...this is what serving a mission is. That day in September of 1986 completely changed my focus. My anger went away. I became cheerful again for the first time in many months. When doors slammed in our faces, I would say to my companions, 'The Lord knows these doors are slamming in our faces. This is part of his plan, the experience. He sent us to this neighborhood; He needs to know we can be trusted servants. That we will actually go where he wants us to go, do what he wants us to do, when he wants us to do it.' ”

I read this last part and began to say the prayer for companionship study! I became emotional as I felt that same love Elder Humphrey experienced!  

I decided to put this to the test!

On Friday night we were contacting and we weren't having any success, we were about to turn back when I felt with 100% faith that we needed to keep going and that we would find someone to talk to! 

We continued and still didn't have any success until we talked to this man! We began talking and Sister Sloan is really amazing and lets me speak a lot with contacts! She introduced us and explained what we did and then she turned to me! 

I started talking about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and how we can learn of God's plan for us and receive answers through it! I felt the Spirit so strong and I know he did too! He said he was interested and wanted to read the Book of Mormon and gave us his number! 

I don't know if anything will come of it and I pray that it will.  I did learn how our diligence really can be tested and if we keep going we will be blessed! 

The Lord knows every door slammed in our faces or person who says "nie mam czasu" (I have no time) to us! He knows how hard we work and if we continue to be diligent and press forward we will receive blessings!  

I am honestly grateful for this week!  It was definitely rough and at times hard.  I learned and grew.  Above all, I felt the love from my Heavenly Father so much this week! Never give up - He is aware of you and me and is ALWAYS with us! 

Looking back on this week I feel grateful.  Times like these are the moments when I truly see God's hand in all things!!

Kocham Was!!

Siostra DeMordaunt

(Note from Madre D:  Here is the complete story of The Prayer Room - it is long but worth the read - especially if you are associated with anyone serving a mission.)

The Prayer Room
This last story runs very deep in my heart, as it represents a major turning point in my thinking about mission life. As I mentioned earlier, I was transferred to Birmingham as my second area. It was a tough blue collar city, populated with a lot of people from all over the world. My new companion was an Elder from California who had one month left on his mission. We were in a part of Birmingham known as Sparkhill. Tough neighborhoods, with lots of people from Pakistan and India. Very Muslim influence, so you can imagine how missionaries preaching Christianity might feel surrounded by mosques. I remember on the second or third day wondering “why put missionaries amongst people who are so devoutly religious but don’t care about Jesus Christ”. A month later my senior companion went home and I received a new companion from Germany who also only had one month left on his mission. This was very difficult for me, as I wondered if God was punishing me. It was very emotional for me to have had two consecutive months of sending missionaries home. Muslim area, two companions, last month for each. Month three I received a new companion and I became a senior companion. My new companion absolutely didn’t care about his mission, and was frankly biding his time, watching the clock, simply waiting to go home (and he had 14 months left).

I deployed the Ricciardi work schedule on him, and he began to come around. 2 months later when he left, he thanked me, but he was really thanking Ricciardi. This was a tough area, we had taught very few discussions, handed out hardly any copies of the book of Mormon, no investigators to church since I had arrived. It was wearing on me. At that point in time I was called to be a trainer. I thought “what a bummer to have to train a new missionary in such an “armpit of the mission” area (please excuse that reference). My spirits where really low, because I had been working harder than ever, being more prayerful than ever, really obedient, and no one wanted to hear our message. At that same time, I was seeing missionaries in neighboring parts of Birmingham scheduling baptisms. One companionship bragged that they had just come back from three days in Scotland (not just outside our area, outside our mission, WHICH IS AN ABSOLUTE NO NO) on a site seeing outing and they had a baptism scheduled the next weekend. I couldn’t believe it. That night I asked the Lord, flat out, why do this to me. Why should I work so hard when those other Elders are having fun, being disobedient, and still baptizing.
I believe this kind of pivotal moment comes into every missionary’s time in the field. It is a moment where you have to decide what is more important, obedience OR everything else...I was now praying to leave the city of Birmingham, because I’d had enough. When transfers came, I thought for sure I would leave (typically missionaries stayed in an area 3 to 4 months). I was now into month 7, but neither of us was transferred. Now I was really mad.

The next morning after the news of no transfer, I got up and went into a spare room on the third floor of our flat that I regularly used for personal prayer. I said what I would describe as an angry prayer. I asked the Lord what the use of staying so darn obedient was if I was to have no baptisms. I said “Father, you are almighty, I pray over the map every day, I stop our bike rides at the slightest prompting to rethink what we are doing, where we are going, all to prove that I am listening, and you still send me to neighborhoods where there is nothing but vile, mean, personal rejection”. Ricciardi of course would have been overjoyed at those kind of prospects. I wasn’t. I could write 10 pages about what I said that morning in that damp, musty, moldy room.

Then it happened. The answer to prayer that changed the course of my mission and frankly my life. Let me fast forward a minute to May of 2007 before I finish the prayer room story. I was working in New York City, living in New Canaan, CT (had lived there 14 years), and married with 6 children and one day I received a call from an old mission friend Michael Walker. We were never companions, but back in 1986 he and his companion at the time had moved in with me and my companion for three weeks while they looked for an apartment in another part of Birmingham.

He was coming to New York City on business and asked if we could meet for breakfast. I had not seen or heard from Michael in over 6 years so I was surprised not only to hear from him, but that he sounded so anxious to see me. I wondered if he was okay or needed help. I picked him up from the airport that morning and we had breakfast at my favorite spot in Manhattan. We reminisced about a lot of mission memories, and then seriousness fell over our meal. He looked at me and said “Can I ask you a question about something that happened when I was living with you and Elder DeGala in Birmingham”. The strangest impression came over me when he asked that because at the very moment he asked the question I already knew what he was going to ask me... I knew this had to do with the “prayer room”.

I quietly said “sure”. The first line out of his mouth was “there was this room on the third floor of that apartment in Birmingham...” I immediately raised my hand motioning for him to stop talking and I began weeping so uncontrollably that restaurant patrons sitting around us became uncomfortable and uneasy. He waited for me to respond. It took 10 minutes for me to gain my composure. He patiently waited, then continued, recounting to me that he had seen me pray in this moldy smelly room in our flat, and he had started using it for his own personal prayers. One morning he came to the room to pray and could hear me praying out loud in the room. He left and came back 10 minutes later and could still hear me praying. He returned several other times over the next hour intending to use the room for his own prayers, and could still hear me in there praying. I had never until that day prayed out loud in my personal prayers, nor had I prayed for longer than 5 minutes, but that morning, with all my frustrations and anger, I decided to say my prayer out loud and I had plenty to say. My friend recounted that though he could not hear what I was saying; when he pressed his ear to the door he could sense the earnestness and emotion of my prayer.

He returned again and this time did not hear me praying, but below the door could still see my shadow. Another 20 minutes went by and upon hearing me open the door he came down the hall and saw my eyes almost swollen shut from crying. As we passed each other no words were exchanged. After telling me the story up to this point over breakfast, he began to weep, as he told me that he entered the room to pray and a flood of emotions enveloped him immediately without explanation, causing him to cry and wonder what had taken place in that room.

So there we were at breakfast 21 years later, in New York City, and he wanted to ask me a simple question. “What happened in that room?” That brings us to the moment that changed my mission forever. What happened in that room is simple, for the first time in my whole mission I asked through earnest prayer for answers I deeply desired and needed, and I received an answer from the Lord, a literal answer that I could hear with the same clarity and resonance that my friend was talking with during breakfast.

That morning I had prayed for close to 45 minutes when I decided to cease praying, still not having formally closed the prayer, just quiet in my thoughts and tears. I was having thoughts of going home, giving up. Then I heard this message: “Elder Humphrey, I am here. I know who you are. I sent you to those neighborhoods, the very ones where you experienced nothing but rejection. I prompted your changes in direction to even more difficult neighborhoods. I know where each of the elect in your area resides. I know their names. I could send you to those addresses only, and save you the time and sacrifice looking for them. BUT ELDER HUMPHREY, WHAT GOOD WOULD THAT SERVE YOU? The mission experience is to do what you are told, when you are told, to go where you are asked, and know that the blessing comes from enduring what I ask of you. This is not about you; it is about opening your mouth at all times in all places. Doing my will without thought to the end result or consequence... this is what serving a mission is.

That day in September of 1986 completely changed my focus. My anger went away. I became cheerful again for the first time in many months. When doors slammed in our faces, I would say to my companions, “The Lord knows these doors are slamming in our faces. This is part of his plan, the experience. He sent us to this neighborhood; he needs to know we can be trusted servants. That we will actually go where he wants us to go, do what he wants us to do, when he wants us to do it”. I became jovial. Missionary work became fun, not work at all, because I stopped taking the rejection so personal and blaming myself. I now knew that all I had to do was talk to as many people as I could for the remaining 14 months, make sure that only the truth came out of my mouth, be prayerful about EVERYTHING, and the Lord would do the rest. The week before I was transferred out of Birmingham we baptized a woman. Nearly 8 months in that area and we finally saw someone step into the waters of baptism. Patience and prayer saved me from possibly quitting.

CS Lewis, one of my favorite authors said something that to me captures what it means to see the Lord Jesus Christ while on your mission. He said “We can say we believe in Christ as we believe in the sun at noon day, not that we can see it, but that by it, we can see everything else”. The things you will witness on your mission, is what makes you a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. By no means am I suggesting you are a witness in the way that our apostles and prophets are, I am saying that to see people change their lives, to love people from another place, is a testament to the existence of God and his son Jesus Christ. Even as I write this, I am looking out my kitchen window, I see the trees swaying, I see grass and flowers, but I don’t see the sun. However, it is the light of the sun that allows me to see what I see, and that is how I know the sun exists. The existence of the Son of God has that same value to us, as CS Lewis put so well, it is because we can see at all that we know Christ lives.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts. I have a deep abiding passion about missionary work. I know that your family does too because I have seen it. I will never forget the unconquerable spirit I became on my mission. To walk off that plane and know that I gave it my all was a powerful testament to me that God lives. As you know, you cannot fake or feign a mission. I have over my post mission years attended many missionary homecomings. It’s not hard to tell who really gave themselves to the work, and who had a two year “somewhat interesting experience”. Going on a mission, and serving a mission are two different things. Most anyone can go on a mission, but serving a mission is a whole other ballgame. It is in your blood and upbringing to be nothing but the best missionary. Give Satan a good strong kick in the mouth and “just swing”. Thank you for your service to the Lord.

Danny Q. Humphrey 

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