Friday, March 28, 2014

A few pictures, a few words

Drake didn't write much this month -- just commented on a few photos I sent to him.  But in his voice recording, he said quite a bit!  He said that they had a few days of exchanges wtih Elder Saltmarsh (below) and a Polish/New Zealand/Tongan missionary named Elder Zelezniak. (Hopefully we'll get a photo of him another day).  Elder Zelezniak grew up in New Zealand and other places, but has Polish descent.  Anyway, Drake said that he's an amazing missionary and has been on his mission for over 2 years -- he asked to extend his mission because he loves it so much.  He goes home in a just a few more weeks and Drake feels blessed to be able to get to work with him.  

He loved getting to work with Elder Saltmarsh for a day, as well.  He said that they set up a display with a scripture on the white board, and sang hymns in Polish as people passed by in the park.  I'm sure they both loved it!  

On exchanges with Elder Saltmarsh
A mini-missionary from Poland (Aleksandra) sent this photo with the following  written below:
Believe, Hope, Endure -- AWESOME MISSIONARY!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tons of Ties and a Turtle

Me with Jan's pet turtle.
Dear Mom,

Ok! This week I actually have some time to email! so here I go! :)

As you know, I am in Kraków. It's a pretty cool city. The branch is pretty small but bigger than Poznań's. The branch president's name is Andrzej Kucia and he has been a member for about maybe 10 years. He is in his 30s, unmarried, and is a dentist! Our newest member of the ward is a 50 year old man named Jan. (Pronounced yawn) He got baptized two days before I got here. So he is the recent convert that we have been working with a lot. We meet with him almost everyday. He is absolutely obsessed with Indians. Like Native Americans. That's what got him so interested in the Book of Mormon in the first place. He is pretty cool. He paints. We went over to his house an there was a turtle walking around on the ground. It is his pet. His room is covered with American Indian stuff and paintings of Indians, that he drew. Last week, he gave us a painting of his of a shipwreck. It is now hanging in our apartment. I will send a picture.

Painting from Jan

We went to Auschwitz a week ago. I sent a voice recording about that and the guy I talked to. It was all very interesting and very surreal. It felt like I was inside a history book or in a documentary.  I think that maybe Grandpa would think that was interesting. 

When I was in Warsaw, there was a member named Marcin Gałecki. I talked about him in a voice recording once. He is the one that loves temples. When he heard that I was going to Kraków, he told me to visit his uncle Marian Lisek, who lives there. So last week, we went to his address, and right when we got there, an old lady (maybe 90 years old) was opening the gate to the driveway. We asked her if Marian lived there. She said he did. I asked her if we could visit him. She said yes and let us in. I asked her if she was Marian's wife. She said yes. We went inside and Marian wasn't home yet. But she had us sit down and made us some raspberry tea and cookies. I asked her about her family and if she had photo albums. So she got out her photo albums and showed me the pictures of her family. Then Marian got home and we talked to him. We talked to them about the Restoration, the Book of Mormon and the Plan of Salvation. They are Catholics, but don't actually believe in it. We asked them if we could come back another time. So we returned a week later, and they were home and let us in. Marian is 90 years old, and is not healthy. He thinks he is going to die soon and doesn't really care about anything anymore. So we shared with them the Plan of Salvation and testified to them of what we know. 

Marian and his wife.

I told him that I know there is a life after death. I told him that my grandma died a year ago and that I miss her so much. But that I know that I will see her again. I asked him if he would want that all to be true. He said, "Anybody would want that. But I just don't believe it." So we testified more. It turned out that they are just so old that they don't care about religion anymore and doesn't really matter to them anymore. Pretty sad. But we offered them service and told them that we may come back soon in the future to help them, check up on them, and see if there is any service we can do for them.

Zone Conference was 2 weeks ago. I got to see Elder Hubbard. That was cool. I was asked to give a special language presentation to the Zone about how to learn Polish. So I did that. Yup.

I bought frozen strawberries from the store today

So yup. That is what is going on right now. Oh! We also have an investigator named Kamil. He has been coming to our English course and he comes to church and institute. We had our first missionary meeting with him last week and taught him the First Lesson (The Restoration). It went well. He said that he will get baptized when he finds out that the Book of Mormon and the church. We committed him to read and pray. At the end of the lesson we knelt down and he said a prayer asking if the Book of Mormon is true. He wasn't in church yesterday because he was out of town. But we have a meeting set up for later this week. I translated for all 3 hours of church yesterday. Haha. After a few hours of translating your brain kind of is melted. haha. But it is really fun.

I think I am going to send a package home soon with some stuff. I have way too much extra weight. It makes transfers really hard. I have like way too many T-Shirts that I don't even wear. Oh, Elder Cieślak and Tingey actually just last week sent a package that I left in Warsaw that I didn't have time to send. So that should come soon. I don't even remember what is in it. But then I might send another package this transfer.

Guess what?  I met a guy on the bus today from Los Gatos!  Weird, right?

Alright. That's all folks! Love you!

Starszy Drake Allen

P.S. I think you will all like the voice recording today. haha. It's different than most.

Note from Renee -- In Drake's voice recording, he spent the whole time talking about his ties and which one each of us in our family would like best.  (Missionaries wear ties 6-7 days a week, so they get into their ties :) )   It was fun to hear his reasons for why we would like each of them.  And he even sent pictures to show us which he was talking about :)

Dad (his chocolate chip cookie dough tie)
Mom (because I like purple & periwinkle)
Cebre (he calls this his Candy Cane tie)

Terra (because she likes orange, & stripes)
Racer (because he likes blue and it's kind
of like Ravenclaw's tie in Harry Potter)
Lexie (the Strawberry tie)
Lexie (he couldn't decide between the 2)
James (because it looks like his favorite
video game character's shirt -- Ness)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Visit to Auschwitz

Dear Family, 

The reason that I didn't get to email yesterday is because we went to Auschwitz.
I am sending a voice recording from there.
We don't have time much today to email either.
I will try to send some pictures.
But I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive!  Love you!
Elder Drake Allen

From Drake's voice recording

I'm with the missionaries today at Auschwitz.   We've been waiting for the bus for about an hour and a half.  We only have a half hour to email and probably won't even have that much time. I hope I have some time, but I probably won't have time to send a long email until next week.

Wow, I'm at one of the most historical Holocaust /World War II  sites in the world!  
We came with the elders from our district and the missionaries from Katowice district, too.  Auschwitz is right in the middle of the 2 cities.  The missionaries who are here are:   

Elder Zelezniak
Elder Taylor
Elder Finch
Elder Caskey
Sister Peterson
Sister Swenson 
Elder Anderson
Elder Saltmarsh
Elder Hubbard and
Alexandra (a member from Warsaw on a mini-mission with the sisters in Krakow).

This is Camp #1 --  Auschwitz is the German term for the Polish village Oświęcim, (pronounced Ohsh vien' sheem) that the German's came to and created this prison camp.  Oświęcim was a little village before it was a concentration camp.  There is still a town there.  

We were waiting here outside the gate  at the bus stop after our tour of Auschwitz.  This man walked up and I started talking to him. I talked to a this man who was maybe in his 80s who is from Poland -- and I talked to him about the gospel and about the Book of Mormon and taught him and gave him a Book of Mormon and got his number and stuff.  And he actually lives here in 
Oświęcim in the little town here.  He was a little kid during WWII and he was alive while everything was going on while this was a current concentration and extermination camp.  I said "Wait, you were here  and were just a little kid when they were here and were killing all of those Jews?"  which is crazy -- And he said, "Yep."   

And he told me that actually took away his uncle and his uncle lived in the camp for 3 months and every now and then as the Nazis were marching,  they would gather up 10 people and would place them against the wall and would shoot them.  And his uncle got taken away when he was just 5 years old and was taken to the concentration camp and was shot.  The man's name was John.    We saw that Execution wall and I'll send you a picture of that.

Execution Wall 

About the concentration camp and talking to that man . The most interesting thing about it . It's such a privilege because in 10 years or 15 years or whatever.  All of those people who were alive as teenagers or even children during WWII won't be alive anymore.  You won't be able to hear those stories  I've had the opportunity to meet so many people on the street or  meet with old people in their homes homes and talk to them about what it was like during WWII. It's so wonderful that I got to come to Poland while these people with such a rich history are still alive and are able to relate their stories.  It's way cool.

I met a lady I remember in Bydgoszcz named Badabada   and she told us a story about how  here in Poland, the Nazi's took away her dad and blinded and starved him.  And he somehow was able to come back.  It's a way cool historical experience.  It's a once in a life time experience to be here in Poland, such a historical place.

Especially in Krakow.  There are so many places to go and see.  They have Auschwitz and the Wawel Castle and Oscar Schindler's factory, what the Schindler's List movie is all about and tons of stuff like that.   

The bus is coming, it's time to go.  


Friday, March 7, 2014

First week in Kraków


The view from our apartment
Dear Family,

I am now in Kraków and am serving with Starszy Taylor.  He is from Texas.  I am continuing his training, which is really fun.

My new companion -- Elder Taylor

I will get more pictures of the inner city (the pretty part) this week.  I have been in the City Center, which is the most beautiful part of Kraków. 
But I didn't have my camera with me.

City Center in Kraków found online

Ok! I have to go! But I promise to email you a long email next week! It was weird today because Elder Taylor had to go to the dentist (who is a member of the church here, which is convenient!)   I will probably have more time next week.

I hope you enjoy the recording and the pictures though! Love you! :)

Elder Drake Allen

P.S. from Renee -- Drake sent us a voice recording of him and Elder Taylor walking on the street to the bus  on their way to the dentist.   We got to hear him greet people on the street and he taught us a few bits of Polish:

Pronouncing Kraków -- not even CLOSE to how I was saying it --  First, there's a soft roll of that "r" (not sure how to write that phonetically). But he says (and this A is a soft "a" that almost turns into an ow as in owl) -- KRA-koof (with the oooo being more delicate and European sounding than we use it).

He also said the missionaries just abbreviate Katowice (Cat-oh-WEETZ-ah) to Kato (Cat-oh), not to be confused with the mean guy in the Hunger Games 

And I just learned a Polish slang word -- not sure how it's spelled.  For "in other words" or "aka," they often say "chili" even in the of their English sentences -- Fun to learn these things that are part of their daily lives.

And the greeting on the street that we heard him say over and over  is " dzień dobry" which he said directly translated means  "Day good" (or "Good day!")  

The first word is said just like the name Jane (like Tarzan and Jane).  And the last part is Doe (as in Doe, a deer) and the "bry" is like brick without the "ck"  (These are all the visuals or helps that Drake gave us -- I'm sure I would have forgotten seconds later without them!)  And the intonation is that the Jane is higher, the Doe is lower and the brih slightly back up.

So all together now -- for hello -- they say -- Jane Doe brih (or D
zień dobry if you feel confident in your Polish!)