Sunday, November 9, 2014

All is well.

Dear Mom,

Yeah, we also had the time change. So we got an extra hour of sleep. But yeah, now I am very tired in the night time when all of the District Leaders are calling in safe. And I just want to go to bed!! haha

I think Elder Jones and I are going to have a day where I speak in British accent all day, and then a day where he speaks in an American accent all day. Probably not on the same day. The crazy part is that there are TONS of British accents! And my companion can tell the difference between them when they all sound the same to me! haha.

Yes, President Edgren came down to Kraków. And he took us out to eat for dinner. And then the next morning he took me and my companion out to breakfast. But because it was a holiday, there was only one place open... McDonald's -- haha
President Edgren told us, "Oh great, what is your mom going to think when she finds out that I took you out to eat at McDonalds??" haha
It was great to be able to talk to him.

I have not gotten any packages from Amazon except for the camera cord. Thanks again for that, by the way! :)

If your package has arrived at the office then I will get it next week at Zone Conference :)
Wait, so are you going to be learning Polish? That is fun!

Things are going well here in Kraków. Halloween was last week. All Saints Day is the big holiday here though. EVERYBODY goes to visit the cemeteries and light candles and put flowers on the graves.

We did service at the cemeteries a couple times and helped people clean graves. It was really cool and really nice to be able to help people.

And then for Day of the Dead, we had a Branch Activity and we all went to the big cemetery in Kraków. And Romek, who is a genius historian and a tour guide of Kraków, led us on a tour through the graveyard. It was really cool. I will send some pictures. :)

Zone Conference is next week. And a general authority is coming. A member of the Seventy. Elder Christopher Charles. It will be cool! :)

Love, Drake

City photos by Russ Back

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Brilliant! (and other new British phrases I've picked up lately)

Me and Elder Jones

Dear Family,

It's been a busy week with my new companion.  First I had zone training.  We usually have the missionaries talk to train the other missionaries in the zone.  But I thought it would be nice to have someone who has been recently baptized talk to the missionaries instead.  So Marcin and another new convert spoke and it was really great.

We had a Halloween party for the people in the Branch. Lots of preparation for the missionaries -- planning, buying pumpkins, cleaning up.  It went really well and was really fun.   

It's also really fun with music because Elder Jones is from Wales, the United Kingdom, Britain!
So he likes the same music that I like -- really great British bands.  He loves The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd,  U2.  Brilliant!

I've even been speaking with a British accent at times, without even realizing it now that Elder Jones (from Wales) is my companion.  And I find when I do that, I end up using fancier words. But they don't actually use the word "fancy" like that because they'd say "I fancy that!" but would say "posh!" to describe something really nice.  Brother Tuderhart (who is from England) from the branch says, "Cheers" instead of "goodbye."

A company here in Krakow (also in Germany and is other places in Poland ) studies food, water, lifestyle -- making a "human library," inviting people of all kinds of lifestyles or backgrounds to come so they can learn about us.  So Elder Jones and I were invited to go last week.  It was really great.  We gave them lots of Books of Mormon.  We will be going back this Thursday and will be doing another conference with the rest of the employees there.  

At McDonalds (a rather posh place in Poland) with the Edgrens

Guess that's it.  Cheers!

-- Drake

Podcast of Elder Allen and Elder Hon in a Polish podcast interview about the gospel.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Krakow again -- Training again!!

Note from Renee -- I haven't been posting to Drake's blog lately because he's mainly been sending voice recordings and hasn't sent any photos in weeks!  I finally found out why no photos (see in his letter below). In the past few weeks, he's been busy teaching, preaching and training.  Last week, he went to Warsaw last and picked up a brand new to Poland companion, went to Zone training while there (saw Elder Hubbard, which always makes him happy!), went to Auschwitz again with the current missionaries in Krakow (Elder Hon was transferring and wanted to go there before he left), and Drake was sick one week with a cold (which didn't keep him down, but make it a little harder to keep going). All is well though, for sure!  Drake is staying in Krakow for at least another 9 weeks, possibly until the end of his mission in February.

At Zone Training -- photo courtesy of Elder Hubbard's mom :)
Dear Mom,

Bell Choir is super fun! I hope you like it. It's super fun. Yup it is.

I think I did here that you are in the Stake Young Women's  Presidency. Is that fun? Have you done that before?

My new companion is super cool. His name is Elder Benjamin Jones and he is from Wales!!  Super cool, huh? So he has a super interesting accent and says a lot of things differently. Which is fun. This is the craziest part though. He is the same age as CEBRE! haha. He is four years older than me! Which is certainly something new, because all of my trainee companions have always been younger than me. But I am now teaching Elder Jones how to be a missionary and how to speak Polish and he is 24! haha It's pretty interesting.

You haven't heard the "as the crow flies" term?
What the crazy? I thought everyone knew that!! I feel so alone... But dad has heard it that is good.
Has Cebre or Terra?

Here's something weird. Last night I was saying the poem Hey Diddle Diddle
I don't know why... haha
and I got to the part where it says "The little dog laughed to see such sport..."
And Elder Jones was like, "Huh?? Sport? I've always heard it as "to see such FUN"
And I was like, "what...?"
So I don't know if it is different in Wales. Or if there are two versions or what.
Because then I called one of the other Elders in our district and asked him to recite the poem
and he said sport. and he is from Utah. So... I don't know.

So mom. You may be wondering why I haven't sent pictures in a while.
I would!  But I lost my camera charging cord! And so I can't charge my camera and it is dead.
I have tried to find the cord here in Poland, but it is a weird one and I can't find it anywhere

So maybe you can find one on and get it sent to me so it gets here fast??  Thank you!

Oh, we also have an Elder Weggersen in our district. He is from Norway! He is super cool! And Mom, you know that you have Norwegian ancestry through Grandpa Southwick, right? :) So I have a bit of Norwegian in me as well! :)  

Yeah, I am super happy that I get to stay in Kraków longer! I hope I just stay until the very end! :)

Ok, I hope you like the necklace! :) It's amber!!! Because Poland is very well known for it's amber!


P.S. from Renee -- yes, my Grandma Southwick's mother and father were both born in Norway -- why none of us have blonde hair, I'll never know!)

In leiu of lots of pictures, I'm posting a video from our Skype call on Mother's Day -- my apologies if the sound doesn't match the video perfectly.  Starszy Allen singing "I Need Thee Every Hour"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Romek's Baptism, First Fish and the Salt Mines

Marcin baptized Romek in the river
Elder Hon, Romek, Marcin and I
Dear Mom,

It feels like lately I like never have time to even write an email talking about everything that is going here. I guess it's a good thing that I have the voice recorder so that I can send you recordings. This week's recording was a longer one because I was covering two weeks time.

Romek's baptism was so great!  He wanted to be baptized at the river and it rained all week long. We looked at the forecast for Saturday and it said 80% chance of rain.  We woke up on Saturday to rain and it rained half the day.  The skies cleared and it was in the mid-70's for Romek's baptism. Just perfect!  Romek had actually said that he was going to be baptized in the river whether it was rainy or stormy or what (because he'd get wet anyway :) ), but the weather was nice for all of us there.  Marcin, who was baptized a few months ago is now a priest and baptized Romek.  

We went to the Wieliczka Salt Mines on our P-Day -- the first time for everyone else in our district, but I had already been there (back in April).

At the Salt Mines 
Gotta taste the salt :)
Pretty cool

As you know, we never ate fish because you and dad don't like seafood.  But now I've eaten some fish my mission.  A few pictures to capture the big moment: 
Eating fish for the first time
My real feelings

So Racer is about to leave!  That is so crazy that Racer is going off to college. What classes is he taking? Who is his roommate?
You called Racer "Trace" Is he going by that now...? 
He should know that he will always be Racer to me.

Where on earth is the rock in Arkansas that Bryce proposed to Terra? It looks like they are on another planet!
(That is Terra standing on the rock where Bryce proposed)
I hope you like the pictures I sent!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mission Life in Kraków

Taken my Lisa K. from Warsaw while visiting church in Krakow
(I emailed these pictures to him before he wrote)
with Elder Hon
Elder Allen waving from that window up high in the middle
(click on it to see it bigger)

Dear Mom,

Hey, where did you get those pictures? Secret paparazzis?

That's not the apartment building window. That's our CHAPEL! :) haha We are on the third floor. (well, I guess they call that the fourth floor in USA)

The group of Poland missionaries who went home
just a week ago
Wow, that is so crazy about all of those missionaries going home.

Those were my MTC Sisters and I knew all of those missionaries really well. 

I got to see Elder Hubbard in Warsaw
at the Missionary Council for Zone Leaders
Practicing the song "If you could hie to Kolob"

Okay, for the missionaries who just came to Poland,  Elder Campora is serving in Lódź.  So I won't meet him this transfer.  And Wright is in Warsaw, so I also won't meet him.
But tomorrow I will meet Elder Summers, because he is in Katowice with Elder Dodge and they are coming to Kraków tomorrow for Zone Training, which I am teaching.

The Kraków Zone Training Meeting.  

Racer is flying alone to Salt Lake City? That's fun. Has he been on a plane before? Is he scared? Tell him that I think that flying on airplanes and going to airports is one of the funnest things to do on Earth! haha :)
So who is Racer rooming with at BYU-Idaho?
And how long will he be going to school there?
As far as what's going on here, Romek's baptism is actually going to be this week because we had to postpone it due to some family matters. But it's still going to happen. And Marcin is still doing it. I gave a talk this Sunday in Church and it was about gifts. It was really cool preparing for it. I focused on 3 gifts that we all have or can all have in this life.
1. The Gift of Agency
2. The Gift of the Holy Ghost
3. The Gift of the Ability to believe in Jesus Christ
Talking about the third one was the coolest. I talked about how every single person on this Earth accepted Jesus as the Savior before this life and that we chose to follow him. We were able to believe in Him there, and we had faith in Him there, so we still have that inherent ability here on Earth. EVERYBODY does. Everybody one Earth has the ability to believe in Christ because they believed in Him before this life. I even said in my talk that deep down, every single person on Earth is a Christian. But not all of them know it. :) haha That's really interesting. And true.
I don't have a voice recording this week but I will send you one next week! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Still loving Krakow (and a TON of pictures!)

Dear Family,

I have been in Krakow for about 6 months now.  It's rare to be in an area in our mission for that long.  And I just found out that I get to stay in Krakow for another 9 week transfer! That will be 8 months here.  I'm super excited about it!  And when President Edgren told me that Elder Hon will be staying with me, I literally jumped up and down because I was so happy :)  He's a really great companion!  He will continue to be a district leader and I am now a zone leader.  I'll get to go to Warsaw next week for a missionary council (aka Jedi Council) where the zone leaders all meet with Yoda (well, President Edgren :) ) .  Elder Hubbard is a zone leader,  also, so I'll get to see him there!

It will be great to stay in Krakow with the people that I love so much.  Just one month ago, Marcin was baptized.  And this Friday, Marcin will be the one to baptize Romek!  That is just amazing.  

That's super fun that you got to meet the Jensens and Aleks! They are so awesome.  Aleks helped me SOOO much with my Polish and the Jensens are just wonderful.

Here are many pictures from the past few weeks:

Pawlik's Cobra Factory -- We went there again on a P-Day
Elder Dodge joined our companionship -- a trio!

Elaine S. Dalton came to Poland to speak at the Eastern Europe Young Single Adult Conference.  She & her husband wanted to spend time in Krakow and we met up with them and the Edgrens in the Rynek.  She is super nice!
Marcin with a new haircut!
Branch Luau -- During the Spiritual Thought
We bought some Hawaiian shirts at a thrift store for the Luau
Romek is the one on the far right;
he is the one getting baptized this Friday.

Everyone else did the hula while I played the ukulele
We made a Title of Liberty and wrote the things that would 
motivate us to want to stand up for what is right. 
Biking in the rain -- a total blast!!!

We got caught in a storm while riding bikes across the city and just kept riding 
and riding because it was so much fun!! :) 

 and we rode on bumpy fields which reminded me of riding my bike 
in our yard in Fieldbrook when I was growing up :) 
    Elder Vernon came back to Poland with his family post-mission.  
It was so great to see him!
Elder Vernon's family (& you've already met them, mom :) ) 
We offered "free paintings" at our street display.  The Polish people were not interested for some reason, but the Chinese tourists were!  :)

We went up to the Ogrodzieniec castle to play capture the flag during our Zone Conference for P-day (click to see it bigger)
Me at the castle ruins  
Capture the Flag -- Our companionship
Our District
Kielce, Kraków, and Katowice Districts at the ruins
P.S. While in Utah, our family went to visit the Jensens, who were in Krakow with Drake for 4 months, as well as Aleksandra (who is from Poland), who served a mini-mission in Krakow for 3 months.  They loved James so much that they wanted to keep him!  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Marcin's Baptism

Our MTC District at the Uchtdorf Conference
The conference with President Uchtdorf was a time of reunions with church members from areas I used to serve in and with missionaries I haven't seen in a long time.  My MTC companion, Elder Blom (far left) and I haven't seen each other since we arrived in Poland early last May!!  Same with Sister Young (in the white sweater).  It was so great to see them all again!  But the conference was also a time of goodbye's.  All of the sisters from our group will go back home in August and it may be until I get back home till I see some of these elders and many others I've served with, as well.  

Singing in the park
Laser Tag with the other missionaries :)

Dear Mom,

The baptism this week was amazing. I'll make a voice recording all about it.

Haha, I don't even remember talking about Pringles during a voice recording, but I guess I must have. I tend to ramble on those.   (He had told us a few months ago that he was super excited to find Pringles in Poland and spent quite a bit to be able to have some :) )

Elder Hon, Marcin, and I
It had been raining all week and early in the day.  But when we got to the lake, the skies had cleared.

Marcin's baptism went really well. It was really cool to have it be at the lake and to be able to be the one to baptize him.

The Pawlik's are the best. We are hoping to actually go to their house next P-Day! I'm excited.

The Pawlik family and Aleksandra (far left)

Tell Elder Hammond congratulations from me and ask him if he still wears the H-Dizzles :)


Elder Drake Allen

Singing a medley of hymns at the church for the conclusion of the service after the Baptism.