Monday, February 8, 2016

Szczecin, Poland - Exchanges with Bydgoszcz, Moving apartments, Grateful for our president!

My MTC buddy:  Siostra Whitney Barney on exchange from Bydgoszcz!
(Note from Madre D:  I went to school with her dad!)
It was so good to see her!  I loved every minute!

Selfie with the elders and the siostry from Bydgoszcz:  
Siostra Barney & Siostra Craig (Calgary, Canada)!!   
I can't even think about transfers and leaving each other!  
I am so grateful for Siostra Pierson!
Traditional kababs with the district!

Siostry selfie! 
Loved my time with this girl and I love this square!

Cześć Family and Friends!!!!

This week started with another exchange! Sister Barney (from my MTC group) and Sister Craig came up from Bydgoszcz on Monday!! It was awesome having them here! We did a lot of contacting and a stanowisko! I love exchanges because I am able to learn from other missionaries! Sister Craig was super awesome to go contacting with! And our "sleep talking" Sister Barney was fun, fun, fun to spend time with!  We did the district's traditional Szczecin exchange with kababs and paczki too! 

I feel like I have so much to share this week that I don't even know where to begin!

I think it has finally clicked that I NEED to speak Polish with people! I don't mean that I haven't been speaking with people, because I have, but something different clicked this week! I all of a sudden had this crazy bursting desire that I NEED to share the Gospel, no matter how broken my Polish is! This became really apparent when Elder Liechty and I were street conacting someone about the Book of Mormon and we didn't understand what the person was saying! Usually I would just give them a card and say visit our website to learn more but instead I just started bearing my testimony of the Book of Mormon! He took a copy and said he would read! 

I have this crazy bursting desire to share it with everyone! I know my language would get better if we could teach more!  We are trying our best to get investigators.  But now I realize I can and NEED to teach on the street even if my Polish is broken!  

Sister Pierson and I were talking about what we are really sharing - a message of joy! I can honestly say that I have never been this happy before...that doesn't mean that I don't struggle because there have definitely been some dark, frustrating moments but this Gospel really is a message of joy! I have begun to say more and to testify more when I don't know what to say and somehow it always works out!

Another thing I want to share is more on Christlike attributes!! 

I can't believe my transfer is coming to an end this week! I love my district so much and especially our district meetings! 

This week for district meeting we came up with a Christlike attribute not in PMG (Preach My Gospel)! The one we really discussed was the one Elder Platter added:  COURAGE!! For those who don't know my favorite quote is "All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just 20 seconds of embarassing bravery and I promise you something great will come of it!" Growing up sometimes I was really fearful about things, I wanted things perfect and always loving.  I was often scare to try when the situation wasn't perfect or welcoming at trying something brave or now - but now I love, love, love courage!! Courage can change a lot of uneasy situations for the better and when it doesn't change something we learn so much from just trying with courage!! 

We talked a lot about how we are literally on the frontline against Satan and temptation! We talked about how we can't stand still but need to actually fight! Elder Liechty said the best thing -  he said the biggest weapon of defense we have is truth! I love this! I have come to realize how true this Gospel is and how it really is a weapon of defense! It made me so pumped to be a missionary! 

This week was also awesome because....TŁUSTY CZWARTEK or FAT THURSDAY!!! (See the cultural blurb at the end of this letter!) This is a holiday here in Poland where you eat as many Paczki as you can!! It is crazy!! There were three hour lines all over Szczecin in front of paczki shops!! The twins' parents own a bakery and they were so sweet and gave us a whole bunch! We also bought others because you can never have too many paczki! It is such a fun day and it seemed like everyone was in lighter spirits! We had a normal day of missionary work but later that day we all met up at the Senior Couples apartment and ate as many paczki as we could! I couldn't get through that many but it was so much fun!! Seriously this is the best holiday ever!! 

Friday was kind of crazy! Due to some circumstances we had to switch apartments with the Elders! This was a crazy day full of packing and moving but we are all settled in now!

On Saturday President and Siostra Edgren came up here!! I was so happy to be able to sit and talk with them!! We talked a lot about what we learned from the missionary broadcast! It was so great to see them again! They have such incredible advice and it was really what I needed! President sat and talked with each of us indivdually and it was exactly what I needed! 

Sunday was incredible! I have come to love Sundays so much more on my mission! They mean the world to me and no matter the week I have I know I can come to church and be strengthened by the branch members! The members all have these incredible fire testimonies! They are so incredibly strong and have taught me so much about the gospel! I was able to hear some of their testimonies yesterday and they all have incredible stories and this amazing faith! They have helped my testimony to grow so much! 

We also had our last family dinner of the transfer with Elder Platter! He leaves to go home this week! I know I said it before but I really love my district! They have taught me so much and they have helped me to push myself to be a better missionary!!

This is the last week of this transfer!! I don't know where I will go or if I will stay but I am so grateful I was able to serve in Szczecin! I am so grateful for Sister Pierson and for everything she has taught me! I am so grateful for our district! I am so grateful for this gospel and to be able to help and serve the people in Poland!! 

Kocham Was!!

Siostra DeMordaunt

Charming Polish Culture:  Tłusty Czwartek

As many of you  probably know Fat Thursday/Tuesday or Tlusty Czwartek has been celebrated since the Middle Ages as part of "Carnival" which is celebrated by most Christain religions.  The Poles eat as many paczki (Polish doughnuts) on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday so that they have a reservoir of energy for spring.  Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent - a 40 day fasting period that is observed by most Polish (90% Catholic) so they indulge big time before they fast!  (Do you do this before you fast?!) I heard the record in our mission for the most paczki is 40!!  

There is a folklore that is you fail to eat Paczki on Tłusty Czwartek you will bring misfortune upon yourself for the whole next year!

Paczki are not as sweet nor filled as much as an American doughnut but they are really tasty.  If I understand correctly, in the Middle Ages the paczki used to be made from a heavier dough more like bread and was not round.  Now they are fluffy, light and don't flatten when you take a bite.  I think they are traditionally filled with plum and rose jelly but now they have so many choices for fillings.  The lines outside of the bakeries are crazy long with people waiting to purchase their paczki.

(Note from Madre D:  I tried to find a pronounciation of Paczki:  POHNCHkee (plural) and Paczek: POHNCHek (singular).  I also found out that the average calories for one is between 300-450! YOWZA!  The average Pole eats 2.5 on this day.  40 paczki by one missionary...can't even think about watching that consumption!!  Raquel didn't tell us how many she ate - darn it!  I found a bakery here in Boise that makes them with plum filling for Fat Tuesday. We ordered some. - Stay tuned!  
P.S.  I didn't order 40!  
P.S.S. I also found a recipe that I may try next Sunday!)

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