Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kaja's Baptism

August 25, 2015
Where to begin!
The last two weeks in Lodz were really great. We were able to accomplish a lot of good. Actually one of my favorite things about this last transfer is that I look back, and I can really see the growth, the difference that we made. While there is still a lot of room for growth, the past two months with Sister Gustafson have brought change. My district focused our transfer on creating a firm foundation with the members, less-actives, and investigators. By the end of my time we actually had investigators, meetings regularly with members, and a stronger feeling of love in the branch. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve in Lodz, and with Sister Gustafson.
For a quick summary of the past two weeks. We got to attend part of the YSA conference with our investigator who is on date to be baptized the 3rd of October. Three members helped us out on her lessons, which was super cool. We also made a gigantic batch of delicious cinnamon rolls for the YSA's. Looks like my baking and cooking skills are worth something after all. Throughout my last week we got to meet with some of my favorite people/ members in Lodz. The more I spend time with these people and learn about their history, the more I love it here in Poland. The culture still takes me by surprise sometimes, but these people are amazing. Thursday we had culture night with our district. We went out to a Polish restaurant called Galicia and ate Hungarian goulash and naleszniki. My favorite part of the week then came on Saturday.
So some stuff happened last week that actually almost prevented my companion and I from going to Kaja's baptism, but it worked out, and I am just so grateful that we got to go. Saturday was just one crazy, busy, emotional, happy, wonderful day! We woke early on Saturday and caught a train to Warsaw. While on the train we actually got transfer calls, which totally surprised me! I wasn't expecting them until way later in the evening. Guess what, guess what, guess what... I am headed back to my homeland of Warsaw II. We are whitewashing the area and bringing in two other whitewashed sisters, so my area has four sisters for the first time that I have been here. My companion, Sister Stephanie Carlson, and I will be serving in my familiar area same apartment and everything. While Sister Smith trains a new sister down in the Walanów area. It is going to be a good transfer I can feel it.

Anyways back to Saturday... so we get off the train and went to old town where we met up with the Warsaw I Sisters and had a language study together. After we went out by the university on the Rynek and had a finding activity. I knew I would be seeing Sister Tobler sometime, and I was so excited. Then up she walked, my wonderful, beautiful, Sister Cassie Tobler! It was so unreal I didn't even know what to do, but at the same time I remembered even more so why I love her so much. Cassie is the best! She and I had the opportunity to contact together for a bit. The funny thing is the only guy we taught a lesson to was all in English, good times. Then we ate Kebab's at Amrit, and headed over to the chapel to prep for the baptism.

 Kaja was already there super early. Goodness I love that girl. She looked absolutely radiant in her baptismal white! I was feeling pretty anxious because I was nervous for Kaja, nervous to sing (first solo in front of a large crowd for part of the song), and so much was happening all at once. I prayed that I could calm down enough to feel the spirit, sing in the musical number, and support Kaja. The baptism started and I still just felt so overwhelmed until the opening song started. The opening song was "I like to look for rainbows" in Polish, and as I sang the first line of the song, I was hit with one of the most overwhelming spiritual feelings I have ever felt in my life; more than anything I think I have ever felt on my mission. I had the realization of where I was sitting, in Poland, at Kaja's baptism, and the feeling I felt was so powerful that I immediately started weeping; uncontrollably, actually it was rather embarrassing. But the spirit that I felt was so pure, so piercing, and so powerful. I know that was a feeling straight from God, and if that is any indicator in the slightest of the love God has for us, than we are indeed truly precious. When Kaja got up to go to the font she looked so nervous, I am proud of the courage she displayed. Then with me, Sister Tobler, and Sister Gustafson sitting right on the front row, she was baptized with what I know was authority from on high. Such a beautiful moment! I could not for the life of me stop crying. Cassie and I got up to sing at the end and I thought I was going to stop breathing from nerves, but heck if Kaja could be brave, so could I, plus I had a professional singer with me! I probably sounded a bit like a scared child opening the song, but the harmonies kicked in and it ended with a couple more tears and a powerful punch of spirit. Several people were crying, including me; I could not pull it together. Basically, Kaja was a miracle and I am so grateful that I ended up on a mission in Poland and met her. I have said it many times, but I know she is one of the reasons that I am here. 
After the baptism was just a flurry of greetings, chats, pictures, and then us rushing to the train station to head back to Lodz. We accidentally lost my companions cell phone in the process, managed to call and have the elders find it, caught our train, and then rushed back home in Lodz in the night. Such a crazy day, but so worth it. Sunday was spent packing and singing with my district for one last time at a musical banner board. We managed to contact this amazing lady Iwona who set up with my companion. Yesterday (Monday) I hopped a train, picked up my comp from her train, wrestled our baggage across the city, and arrived back at my good old apartment in Warsaw. 
So with the ups and the downs, I am a happy camper. Seeing Cassie this week was such a blessing, things are so different, but at the same time, still the same. My bond with her runs deep and I am grateful that I ended up with the chance to live and serve with her for four blessed months. I know that she is also another reason I came to this mission. 

 I am grateful for how good the Lord has been to me and for the opportunity to serve this mission, I have been grateful for that every day since the start. I know with all of my heart that this church is true, if you doubt that, I challenge you to ask God. He will answer. I really look forward to the next transfer and feel like we can do some really good things. I have always wanted to return to Warsaw, especially to end my mission, but I prayed that I would be in the coming months where I could make the largest impact and where the Lord needed me the most. These last four months are going to count, and like my setting apart blessing says, I hope that generations of Poles will know the name of Sister Benson for good. God has been good to us!
Love, Love, Love
Siostra Ellie Benson

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