Monday, March 27, 2017

"...but we have to REALLY try."

Dearest Family and Friends,

It is almost April!! :) Happy Spring!!! :) 
I hope you all have a very sunny very smiley week! 

I have been awaiting this week for SO LONG, and it is finally here!! 


Oh my goodness... I am so excited! I look forward to General Conference like I look forward to Christmas day. It is such a special time. Two days of listening to the inspired words of our prophet and his apostoles - there is nothing better. :) 
As I was thinking this morning about what I wanted to tell you all this week, all I could think about was General Conference. I thought back to the past years conferences, and the wonderful experiences I have had because of the inspired words spoken in them, and there is just too much to tell! It's almost impossible for me to sum up through the internet how I feel about this special time of year - but if you can imagine me smiling from ear to ear and jumping up and down yelling "Yayyyy!", that might give you an idea of 1/100 of the excitement I feel! :)

Yesterday in Relief Society, we were reading a talk from last October's general conference called, "Am I good enough? Will I make it?" and it had such an impact on me. There have been so many times throughout my life that I have found myself asking those questions - and as the end of this wonderful mission I've been on creeps around the corner, now is no exception. I have often found myself wondering the same things that are in the title of this talk, "Am I good enough?" "Am I the missionary and the person my Hevaenly Father wants me to have become?" "Will I make the difference I was called her to make when all is said and done?" It is scary sometimes - nearing the end and realizing there is still so much more you have to do, and wondering if you will really be able to do it. But there was a quote in that talk from our beloved President Hinckley that was very powerful to me. He said, "All God expects of us, is that we try. But we have to really try." One of the sisters in our class asked us the question, what does it mean to really try? And another replied, "To do all you can, and not give up. But even when you fall short, to try again." As I heard that, a little memory of my sister came into my head - a memory that I had not thought of or even remembered for years. 
My little sister was probably about two years old. I was just sitting at my kitchen table trying to do my homework, and she was trying to get into the juice on the top shelf of the fridge. :) My mom and I smiled as we watched her stretch her arm as high as she could to reach the bottle, but she was still about two feet too short. She stretched as high as she could for as long as she could and she tried and tried and tried some more... But it was no use. She was just too small. She stepped back from the fridge a little bit and looked at my mom and I like she was about to cry. But just as my mom started to get up to go help her, she stepped back and ran into a stool that was sitting behind her. She turned around and looked at it, and with big eyes and her little smile she pulled the stool over to the fridge. My mom and I couldn't help but smile as she climbed up on the stool and was finally able to reach her juice. 
It's a simple story, and I don't know why I thought of it - but it taught me a lot yesterday. :) She could've given up after she so sadly realized that no matter how hard she stretched she just couldn't reach it. But she didn't. She REALLY TRIED. :) I'm sure she really tried when she stretched as far as she could, but when that didn't work out, she didn't give up. She tried another way. :) That is what it means to really try.
Who would've ever guessed a two year old could teach me such a valuable lesson? :) I love her. 

I testify of the truthfulness of what President Hinckley said to us. "All God expects of us, is that we try. But we have to really try." There are so many wonderful things about that though... Maybe it's the fact that He expects our best effort, but He does not require us to do it alone. Or maybe it's the fact that when we stumble and fall, through the atoning sacrifice of His Son we always have a second chance. It's a lot of things... But no matter what way we look at it - it is wonderful. 

I am grateful to my Saviour Jesus Christ, more than I will even be able to say, for all He has done for us. I'm grateful for second, and third, and fiftieth chances... all because of Him. I know sometimes in life we may be stuck in those moments that no matter how hard we try to stretch, that juice bottle is just a little too far out of reach - but I also know that He will always be there to help us. There is no place so dark or deep that the eternal light of His love does not reach. It is a beautiful promise, and it is ours forever. :) 

I hope you all take the time this weekend to listen to the messages that have been prepared for us. I promise you that if you have a question, or concern, or even just a desire to know something, and you pray to the Lord about it - He will answer you, He will comfort you, and you will know He hears you - all through the inspired words of our leaders.  

I love you all, and wish you an amazing week!!
Z miłością,
Siostra Kamp 

The painting crew.

Elder Barlow having too much fun in the Tiger store!

Everyone likes to make fun of me for being such a "farmer", but all the teasing was put to rest when they realized they had no idea how to blow out eggs, and only "Sister Kamp the farm girl" knew how... HA.  I haven't heard a teasing word from them since ;)

Painting eggs at FamilyHome Evening!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Contagious Joy!

Dear Family and Friends, 

Hello, everyone! I hope this week has found you all happy and healthy! 

This week was one full of so many smiles - and not just for me! :) 
Sister Larsen and I will be painting our apartment today (wish us luck!) so I don't have a world of time... but I wanted to share one experience with you all that brought a smile to my face (and it still hasn't left!) :)

We were able to meet with several of our sweet members this past week, and they were the most wonderful meetings!! But one of them I just can't NOT share :) 
This lovely member of ours is so dear to my heart, and I just love her! She is the sweetest old lady, and calls herself my "Polish grandma". :) Well, long story's short - we asked her if we would be able to come over this week and help her get started on her family history work, to which she happily agreed, and it. was. the. best. 
We logged in to her familysearch page, and SURPRISE - much of her family tree had already been being worked on! With every name of her ancestors that popped up on the screen, she would let out little screams of joy! "My grandfather!!" "WHAT! My great-grandmother too?!" "Are you serious?! He's on here too?? This is impossible! :O" It was just the cutest thing in the world. :) My heart leaped every time she let out one of those little excited yells! We were able to show her how to find more information about her ancestors, and you would've thought she won the lottery!! Each time we found something (or even a hint of something), she would jump up, do a little dance, then run to the phone and call her brother - her screams audible from the other room! It made me so happy!! :) 
The feeling of sitting in meetings like that, and feeling the Holy Ghost testify to everyone in the room of the importance of this work, and of the eternal worth of families is indescribable. I consider it one of the biggest blessings to be able to assist those love here be able to assist those they love on the other side. :) 
But that wasn't all! Even after we left, she sent me the sweetest sms thanking us for all we did, and telling me how the smile that meeting had brought to her face was never going to leave! Sister Larsen and I were all smiles for the rest of the day :) BUT THEN, the next morning we were at home, studying from the scriptures when my phone began to ring. I went and picked it up and saw that sweet members name on the screen, and couldn't help but let out a little chuckle. :) I answered, and before I could even say hello, I heard this - "SISTER KAMP!! Listen to me!! I am here with my son, I called him yesterday and told him he needed to get over here as soon as possible, and we are both just looking at this page in complete SHOCK. Complete shock! How is this possible?! How?!" I was just laughing and laughing, she was so happy!! :) Her son asked me if this family history website we use has records of only Mormon people, and I explained to him - No way! :) Our church a few years ago had come to Poland, and gone through the records of each city and microfilmed them, so every birth, death, and marriage record that exists in Poland can be found on that site. Sometimes they haven't been indexed yet, so you just have to order the microfilm that record was saved to, and go through it, but every record is on there. He could not BELIEVE it! :) hahaha. They were both yelling for joy and dancing around throughout the whole phone call, and it just warmed my heart so much!! :) 
The joy of family history work is contagious. :) 

Just a short little story to hopefully put a smile on your faces this week - I'm sorry I don't have much time!!
But I love you all so much, and wish you an amazing week! :) 

Z miłością,
Siostra Kamp

Dinner at the Tufts!

Family Home Evening

When you run into friends on Preparation day...Crazy sunglasses selfie is a must!

Train selfie with the best people!

Train rides with Sister Larsen! :)

Buying paint to repaint our apartment!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

For God loves His children. I know that with everything I am.

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow! So much to say!! 
But first of all, I hope you all are doing well! It is so wonderful to hear from you all each week. :) I am so grateful for the love, support, and prayers I receive from you!! 

Well, this week has definitely been an incredible one. 
Sister Larsen and I were able to travel to Warsaw this last week for MLC (Missionary Leadership Conference) in preparation for this week's zone training, and it was absolutely amazing. Each time I am able to sit in a room with the leader's of our mission and talk about the Saviour, His gospel, and how we can better serve the sweet people of Poland - it just fills my heart! We talked about so many wonderful things, which I'm sure I'll tell you all about next week after our training, but one thing I wanted to share from that is this:

While in Warsaw, all the missionaries that were there for this conference were able to go to a nearby park and play a life-size game of Monopoly. But, this wasn't your average monopoly game of everyone trying to buy the Boardwalk but always getting stuck in jail... It was a monopoly game of Poland's history during the Soviet rule. On each square was written little facts about the suffering the people of Poland experienced during Communism - but it was written in a way that it was related to the game. For example, "You are caught speaking Polish in public and are immediately arrested and seized of possessions. You are not allowed to say goodbye to family, or finish your tasks. Go directly to jail." Many of the spaces were so much worse than that, but it breaks my heart to even type them... But you all get the idea. I wish I could somehow sum it up to you all, in a way that would describe the hurt my heart felt as we played... but I really can't.

Inside the front cover of my Book of Mormon is a little post it note, on which I wrote a small quote from a sweet old man I met on the street months ago. I have read it often, but after this week I have not been able to read it without tears in my eyes. He said simply, "When it appeared to all others that we had nothing left, in the hearts of us all we still had God. And that was something they could never take from us." 
This little country that has stolen my heart has been through so much, and lost so much - but they continue on with astounding faith. It never fails to amaze me... I don't know why such wonderful people had to suffer in such a way... But if there is anything I have truly come to know, it is this - that the Polish people are SO loved by Heavenly Father. I can feel that each time I am with them. The Lord is so mindful of all those who suffer, or are caught in the storms of life, and it is His promise to us that even when it so seems, we will never be alone.
"And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."
For God loves His children. I know that with everything I am. 
I apologize for the serious email today, but it was something that completely touched my heart, and I couldn't not share it with you all. I hope you know how much the Lord truly does love you! Believe Him when He says He will never leave you. Trust Him when He says He has a perfect plan for you. It is true, and of that I can truly testify. 

I love you all, and hope you have an amazing week!! You are in my thoughts and prayers!!

Z miłością,
Siostra Kamp

Getting in the car with Elder Ashworth behind the wheel... Scariest moment of my life!

Saw my beautiful, lovely, amazing Sister Van Woerkom at MLC this week!! I love this girl. 

Dinner with our sweet friends! The love I have for this family is indescribable! 

Puzzle Hunt at Family Home Evening!

Executives or not?

The little squares that changed it all for me. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Miracles of familiar faces!

Moi Drodzy,

Good morning!! It is a beautiful sunny day here in Bydgoszcz, and I am hoping it is the same for you all - wherever you may be! :) 

Not too many crazy things happened this past week, but there is still a lot to tell! 

We and the Elders were invited to be special guests at a high school this past Thrusday in a little city called Fordon. We were asked to put a presentation together about "the Life of an American Teenager" and teach 4 english classes of 16-19 year olds! I know!! Scary!! After that day, I have a new found respect for the high school teachers all over the world. They deserve some Polish ice cream... seriously! :) It was an adventure - but an EXTREMELY fun one! I actually had the opportunity to do the same thing a year ago at the exact same school, and it was so fun to go back! I recognized so many familiar faces, and they recognized me too! I was even able to take a photo with a few of them. :) It was such a blast! 

We had so many little miracles this week, and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed (again) with how good the Lord is to us. On Saturday we were on the beautiful bridge in Bydgoszcz with the Elders talking to everyone we could see about our family history program! It was AMAZING. Not only was it the most beautiful day ever (We were in short sleeves! In February! What!), but so many people were out and excited to talk with us! It was a little taste of summer - seeing all the wonderful people everywhere, each with an ice cream cone in hand! I also ran into my friend Artur that day - miracle!! He came to our english classes when I was in Bydgoszcz last year, but Elder Tufts had told me just a few weeks ago that he had stopped coming, and we needed to get in contact with him! Elder Tufts and I have been trying to contact him for the last few weeks, to no avail... but - TA DA! The Lord has a plan! I didn't even see him at first, but I bet you all can imagine my surprise when I heard a, "Hello, Alexis!" behind me and turned to see him! Was it weird to hear my first name? Yes. haha! But oh my was it a tender mercy! He told me he will be in English on Tuesday, and I can't wait! We also ran into our sweet members - The Kagele's, and it was so good to see them all! They are the best people in the world. I love them! 
Later that evening, I received several calls from sweet people we had met wanting to set up a meeting and work on their family history with us - and THAT was a miracle. I cannot wait for this upcoming week! 
There were just tender mercies all around that day! 

We had some other really fun times this week, and many other miracles, but I'm sure the photos I send will mention everything I don't have time for! :) 

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL week! I pray for you every day, and love you all so much. I really hope you all know - I really can feel your prayers. Thank you SO much for them, and the love and support you all give to me each week. It means the absolute world! I love you!!

Until next week!

Z miłością, 
Siostra Kamp 

We taught the littles how to make American Pancakes this week, and they are professionals!!  :)

Getting ready for our classes!  "The Life of an American Teenager"

Running into the Kagele's (ft. Sister Kagele and Ella!)  I love this family!!

Fun at family home evening :)

Some of the familiar faces from the English class I taught last year!  Reunited!

Our sweet friend Agnieszka and her two kids, Tomek and Kasia, came down from Gdańsk to visit!  We love them!  Sunday dinner with them and our friends, Alicya and Asia was a must :)