Monday, June 29, 2015

25th Anniversary of the Poland Warsaw Mission

June 29, 2015

Thursday we got our transfer calls. My new companion is Sister Avonlea Gustafson from the land of Canada and she is great! She just came from being Sister Bąk's companion in Warsaw II. And we will be staying here in Lódż. I am actually really looking forward to this transfer.  We talked for a really long time last night about how we would like this transfer to go, if we can accomplish the goals we have set, it would change and bless us so much. Pray we can have the spirit, motivation, and guidance we need.

Before transfers was the big Warsaw Bash. This weekend was definitely one of the high-lights of my mission. Sister Herrera packed up on Friday and then we set off for the train station early on Saturday morning. There were so many bags!!!! We made it down the elevator in our apartment building and were not even out the door and I was just thinking oh boy I don't know if we are going to make it to the station with this much stuff. I had a back pack and small purse for the night, then she had two huge suitcases and four other bags. Heck I still have no idea how we made it to the bus stop to get to Kaliska train station. Then we met up with our district who also had a huge pile of baggage from the elders leaving and somehow we all got it on the train and into only one compartment. Seriously quite the feat of strength.

We hauled the baggage through Warsaw to the Wolska chapel where we stored all of the luggage. President and Sister Edgren got matching white Poland T-shirts for all of the missionaries so when we got there we got to change into jeans and our matching Poland shirts. We had lunch, played sports and games, then a presentation on the history of the church in Poland which was really quite interesting. This country has gone through a lot, especially the saints here. I have to admit as we watched this presentation I kept thinking wow 25 years and not much growth. Only about 320+ active members in the entire country out of the 1,500+ that have been baptized. I was missing the point, like so many others I have only looked at what was missing. Elder and Sister Adler of our area 70 came and spoke with the members and missionaries. He changed my perspective. We analyzed the dedicatory prayers and he encouraged us to
look not at what is missing, but what we have accomplished in these 25 years since the official establishment. President Whipple the first mission president to serve here 25 years ago sent a video message everyone watched, which was cool. Afterwards we had a grill (barbacue) for dinner then the members had a dance party. I heard they got quite jiggy with it, I am so jealous I wish we could have seen it. The missionaries traveled over to the Wiktorska chapel in our missionary attire and had a missionary fireside with Elder Adler.

They crammed all of the missionaries into various apartments all over Warsaw and the mission home for the night. We luckily got to stay with Sister Bąk and Gustafson in my old Warsaw II apartment. Dang that place always has some kind of funky smell going on. Next day we had the Sunday service, grabbed our new companions and got shipped back out to our respective cities. It was a really great weekend.

I would have to say my very favorite part of the whole experience was the people we saw. Not only did we have every single missionary gathered together, so many companions and friends, but all of the members as well. After serving in three cities now it was such a huge blessing to see all of my Poland family gathered together as saints of the Church of Jesus Christ. The first day when we came walking up to the chapel, guess who was outside waiting to greet us. Anita! I dropped all of my bags and ran to see her. So many people that I love in one
place. Anita, Diana, Henryk, Kaja, Karolina, Ela, Wojtek, Sławyk, the Netto's, Stan, Wioletta, Klaudia, the łódzians, Sister Johnston, Sister Bąk, all of the Elder's and Sister's. We all laughed and talked and took pictures and it just felt so so good to see them all again. I think something I have struggled with lately on my mission is having love in my heart. I feel cold and toughened by hard experiences and sometimes worry if I have made a difference in the slightest for anyone. Seeing everyone lit the flame in my heart that warmed my entire soul, and I remember for the first time in many months that I have an eternal
family here in Poland. I have people I have helped, served, taught, loved, prayed for, and fought for. They are the joy the source of any true joy I have found on my mission and I will miss them so much when I return home. Kaja is the joy of so many missionaries, she is one of the brightest lights in Warsaw, and to know that I had the privilege of meeting her first and serving with her for five months. She walked up to me as I was leaving on Sunday and showed me her Book of Mormon. She said, I have just finished it again, then opened the front cover and there was a picture of me and Sister Tobler taped right in. She is my example and one of my dearest friends, I hope I can be there for her always. Diana is preparing to be baptized soon, she has grown up so much. During the prayer over the food she stopped playing with Klaudia, bowed her head, and at the end sincerely and reverently said Amen. I love that child! I wish it could have lasted longer, but I guess there is just too many ravenous missionaries to feed with the members. I am grateful for the opportunity to be reminded on my mission of the love that Jesus Christ has for me, and my purpose these last 6 months. Poland has struggled, fought, it was said it is "the bloody doormat across which the nations of the world have tread", and in 25 years people may look and say that small
numbers and the difficult work has failed a bit. Honestly I was starting to wonder that myself. But you know what, I look at the growth I do see, and I see the hands of God at work through angles and his servants. This country will have a temple someday and I want a part in building it.
I really look forward to this next transfer and I am praying for you all. Keep the faith, Heavenly Father wants ALL of His children to return to live with Him in glory. He will provide the means and way. Ask, Seek, and Knock, it is far greater than we remember sometimes. We are striving to become like Him.

Sister Benson

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