Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hanging with the Prophets

Last P-day, our zone went on our tour of the city cemetery with Sister Winn. What a blast! Easily the funnest non-missionary part of my time thus far. Our tour guide was a man named Brother Smith, who is a retired church historian and now volunteers at the church history museums and library. He knew his stuff. We learned tons of stories about the prophets we visited and other prominent people in the church history, things that you just don't hear about in Sunday school class! I highly recommend visiting the cemetery, even if you don't have a tour guide. Just being there, where these great men and women lay buried, being ever so close to them...what an experience.

The weather is definitely summer weather. It is hot hot hot! Right now Elder Fifita and I are finding new people. The one investigator we had on date just doesn't want to change, too hooked to weed and smoking, and marriage with his girlfriend that he lives with is not an option right now, them and their families do not want it. Finding is definitely the hardest part of missionary work, especially here in Utah, and when the area you cover is very small. We're out of ideas, we need to rely on the Lord to show us where to go and be led by the spirit.

So, aside from the testimony, I hear Jimmer is a Sacramento King? I hope he does well to represent the LDS crowd. Serving with a Tongan companion is crazier than ever. He's like a big kid, I can't get mad at him for things, I just smile and he'll say, "I'm sorry man!" And I'll start laughing.

Last week my doctor check-up went well. Now I see them every 4 months, and will need an abdomen scan every other check-up, while still having a lung scan every time on account that the lungs are the likely place cancer would come back. So with that, I have two, maybe three check ups left at the Huntsman until my mission is over. If I do have a third, it will be right before I come home. I talked with a Jewish man in the waiting room for an hour there, that was exciting to hear his life story, and what that part of the world is like. I also conversed with an elderly man that grew up in Salt Lake, but was not a member of the church. At first he was stand offish, but he warmed up to me and he ended up being very polite as well. Cancer will do that, it's like an immediate bond between people.

I think it's Summer everywhere now in the country, I hope everyone enjoys it. Remember, wear sunscreen...trust me! Hahaha that tour left my forehead nice and red.


Elder Scotty

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Week of Exchanges

This past week I had a 24 hour exchange with Elder Vogt and Hill and in my district. I went with Elder Hill in his area, the cannon stake. It was fun getting to know him more, and to hear what he has to say, especially since he's only been out a few weeks now on his mission. I tried to imagine myself in his shoes a year ago. We talked to a woman named Laura while she was outside weeding her front yard. She and her daughters are not members of the church, but her husband is. She grew up out of Utah, and knows some things about the church. She was very nice and friendly, but at first she didn't seem very interested. Until we go to know her some more and found out that she has had priesthood blessings before, and she said that she fully believed in them. Elder Hill being the stud that he and the rest of us Washingtonians are, invited her to be baptized. She declined and told us that she had her Catholic background, although she didn't agree with all of it. She had a stillborn child, and felt that there was no way her son could be lost because he wasn't baptized. I opened up the Book of Mormon to Moroni chapter 8, the great letter of Mormon to his son Moroni, about the abomination and curse of infant baptism, and how children are saved through the Atonement of Christ. Big mood swing. She started choking up, and wanted to learn more. We set up a time to see her this past Monday. Elder Vogt and Hill saw her and her daughter that night, and both of them accepted the invitation to be baptized in a few weeks.
Yesterday I had exchanges with the Spanish elders in my district, Elder Torres and Thomas. Elder Thomas came with me to my area, and we had a great time. If you're willing, you can learn so much from someone, in such a short time. I took many things away from the exchange that Elder Thomas did well, and I will try to incorporate into my teaching.
I am glad I got to be a part of that. I hope they continue to grow in their faith and come to know these things are true. Today is our P-day, because we are going on a tour of the city cemetery, where many of the church prophets are buried. We have a man who is a church historian taking us on a two-hour tour, where he will be telling us many cool facts and insights that many people don't know about the early church leaders. I'm way excited! I've always wanted to go there, but never made time to go.
The Tongan companion is still wonderful, we have lots of fun living with the zone leaders. We have a new ward mission leader in one of the wards, a young married guy going to Utah for medical school to be an ear nose throat doctor (Otolaryngology, oh yeah, I remember my vocab from working at a doctor's office!) He is excited to work and I know work will commence in his area. The weather is beautiful today, and will be this week. Here as I'm emailing at the city library the Utah art festival is getting set up all around the facilities. That would be fun to see, next year after the mission I'll get a friend and come up to see it.
Hope everyone is still well. I still feel like I have the same drive I did when I came out a year ago. Yes, there are days that are tough, and I don't want to get out of bed or go knock doors, but for the most part, I love every aspect of it. Working hard makes the days much more meaningful. Take care and I love you all!
Elder Scotty Warczak

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Welcome to the island!

We went to a Tongan birthday party at the park. A man came up to us and said, "HEY! Come and help me with the pigs." So we drove over to his home and saw this in his backyard! Polynesians really bring the island with them huh? We're invited to things like this all the time. Having a Tongan companion is bizarre. Unorthodox would be a good word to describe it. Do things really ever go according to plan...not really. Does crazy stuff happen with Tongan members and other Tongan missionaries....yeah, but with the Tongans, you just kind of go with it. And the thing is, miracles still happen.

Right now we have two solid investigators. One Samoan and one from Micronesia. The Samoan girl is from my part of Washington, she grew up in Hilltop in Tacoma, and her fiance grew up there as well, and went to foss high school. We talked about Lakewood, and Tacoma and all that, and how people here think Rose Park and West Valley are bad! HA! We joked about how bad Hilltop use to be, and that "ghetto" here, has got nothing on good old Lakewood and Tacoma!
Right now the mission is in a slump, the baptisms every week have been steadily going down. It will be interesting to see what is discussed this week at leadership training Tuesday and Wednesday. 

 Elder Fifita wants to start riding bikes....ugh! No no, it's fine, with summer I want to get in great shape, and riding a bike will definitely do the job. I'm buying a helmet today and tomorrow we hit the streets of west valley, white boy Elder Warczak and 320 lb. Tongan Elder Fifita! Seeing him ride a bike is priceless.
Another month in the transfer and then onto the second half of summer. It'll be 2012 before I know it.
Elder Scotty

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No Trainee for Me

I am still a district leader, but I'll be getting another companion. An elder in my district will be a trainer. Perhaps I can steal the trainee away by doing exchanges all the time and teach him the ways of Elder Warczak! HA! It'll be a great transfer, it will take me to mid July, the summer will be halfway over! The only thing I'm sad about is that I'll still have the car as district leader, I want to be out on the streets, EVEN if I had to ride a bike, it would be a great workout and I'd get some color on my white Polish skin!

We have an investigator named Brent. Brent is a certified catholic priest, but is no longer practicing in the faith. He has native American ancestry, and so believes in many Indian traditions. He also believes that the Book of Mormon is true. Brent is one religious snowball, everything rolled up into one! He wants to be baptized, but wants to know FOR SURE if this is the right thing for him. Our lesson with him started off with the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which went off into many tangents. We held it at a members home, and the member was very good at not saying anything ridiculous. I did my best to keep the focus on Joseph Smith. The lesson ended well, but man, he is the hardest person I have ever taught. His questions come from everywhere, it is hard to plan for or think of what he might say. My game plan is to go in prepared for what it is we planned on teaching him, but really trying to say everything by the spirit, and not what Scotty Warczak would say. Obviously that's something missionaries are taught to do, teach by the spirit and allow the Holy Ghost to be the actual teacher, yet for Brent, I really have to be at my best and listen to the promptings that come to my mind from the spirit, or else I fear I will say something that will turn him off completely.

Our other investigators are not progressing, with my new companion we will need to do a great deal of finding, and working with the members. We are working with many less-active members of the church right now. With so many here in Utah, it really is a worthwhile thing to do, because all of them know non-members, and other people that we can teach. If I can help a person come unto Christ, whether they're members or not, I feel that I'm doing my duty.

This Thursday I hit the year mark. Hoe would I describe my first year? A roller-coaster ride really. I think most missionaries feel that way. I had some transfers that were amazing, others that were a struggle. When I think about when I first entered the MTC and what it was like that first day, meeting my other missionaries going to Salt Lake,  meeting my instructors and beginning to learn the ropes of being a missionary, I can't believe I've come this far. I remember the second day in the MTC going to observe these role-plays, with a person pretending to be a non-member, and telling us about their lives. We as the missionaries had to think of what we would teach the individual. Some of them really stumped me, I had no idea what I would say to them other than, "Jesus loves you!" Now, looking back, I would know exactly what to say in each of those scenarios. I have had wonderful investigators. My best has to be Rico, my first convert! The friendships I've already made, I am anxious to see what the second year will hold in store for me! 

Sunday we spoke in one of the wards. I told my story of getting a call to serve in Scotland, cancer, called to serve in Salt Lake, and all that jazz. Afterwards one of the service missionaries came up to me and handed me his card and told me after I'm done with my mission to save up my money and come to Scotland, and I could stay at his house. He's originally from Scotland, and is a lawyer here in Utah. I'm excited to go see Scotland, I still hold a place for it in my heart, I long to go there and preach the Gospel. That time just isn't now. Salt Lake is always keeping me on my toes with all that goes on. It's been the hardest thing I've ever done, but the most rewarding.  I'll make sure to work even harder, so that my family and friends will be blessed for my service. I know I'm preparing the rest of my life right now, just like Elder Holland said, I'll be able to trace every good thing in my life as a result of me serving a mission.

I love you all, and I'll see you in a year!

Elder Warczak