Monday, March 28, 2011

Baptism and Goodbye- a Bittersweet Time

Adam with his friend and first convert

One of those days.....

It's hard to say goodbye.  Kiel was a great place to start a mission!

March 28 from Prenzlau

  Wow, well i cant believe that a week ago i was still sitting in that familiar old internet café in Kiel and now i´m all the way over here in Prenzlau!  Wow, it feels like every thing has changed about my mission and all in less than a week.  So yes, i arrived safely here in Prenzlau right on time Tuesday afternoon, no problems at all. The train ride was very enjoyable, mostly because the majority of it was spent with like my favorite missionary ever... it´s wonderful not to have to transfer alone. I had about an hour and a half of time in Berlin Hauptbahnof, (that means the main train station) which is AMAZING by the way, where i ate lunch and met up with a few other missionaries all headed out to there new assigments as well. Elder P, who i was traveling wanted to take me out and do some street contacting in Berlin (usually the last thing a missionary wants to do on transfer days) but i wanted to spend all the time i could doing work with him before we had to go our seperate ways. We only hit the streets for about a half and hour, but got a way solid contact for the Elders in Göttingen, so that was way cool.  Then i headed up on my train to Prenzlau.
   So Prenzlau.... basically the exact opposite of Kiel. Rolling hills and windmills as far as the eye can see. Everybody in this town has been contacted at least once by the missionaries, which makes finding time, lets just say, extremely frustrating. I dont know if it´s because it´s east Germany or what as well, but the people are generally a bit more... not open... and not too polite about having to put up with more missionaries, so ya, it´s frustrating. Pretty much the worst way to make me angry i have found, is to stick me out in a small dorf, have me walk around for hours trying to talk to people, and then to have me meet people who wont even look at me or respond to me when i approach them... that really chaps my hide. But i´m trying not to become one of those Kras missionaries who bugs people till they respond to you, i just ask them if they know anybody who is polite enough to actually speak to other people and then move on. Man that bugs me though...
   So basically i went from a Gemeinde of 140 active members or so and a nice big church building, to one of the smallest branches in Germany. Yesterday we had 8 people in Church. Our church is a tiny office space we rent out on the second story of a small building. We had 8 people there. I had to bless the bread and the water, my comp had to pass it, and i had to give a 25 minute talk, and we had to teach Sunday School (we only have 2 hours of church here) Haha and we got our assigments the night before church. Pretty much sounds like something right out of an old time missionary journal. My talk went really well actually though, and overall i felt the spirit at the meeting.
  After the meeting, our like one other priesthood holder, our branch president (who is actually the equivilant of a US Senator here in Germany) called us into his office and basically about had a break down. He looked at me and said "you´re new here, PLEASE do something, we cant continue the way things have been going"  Ha, ya, not good. The only people the missionaries have been teaching here are eternal investigators, most of them with some sort of mental disability, and long story short, there´s nothing going on here at all.  So at the moment i feel extremely overwhelmed and i dont know what i can do other than talk to everyone i meet. The city has been doored out multiple times and a good 80% of our conversations end up with the person saying they know exactly who we are and what we do, and dont want anything to do with the "black suit people"  Haha not good at all. One little miracle though, since i got here, we´ve made an appointment out every day. Basically we made out more appointments last week than have ever been made out here in a year or so, and the most my new comp has made out on his mission.  Now we just have to have the faith that they will go through, and work from there. Yep. Prenzlau is an extremely difficult place to work... i just hope it all goes well.
   My new comp is pretty cool, he reminds a lot of my good cousin Travis, except for he´s a bit quirky i might have to say, but we´re doing good together.
   Overall, dont know what all i can say about this week. My German has really been kicking into gear, and that´s been fun. It´s helped a lot too because all we do is try and talk to people all day and spark up some meaningful conversations haha, but ya. I really hope we´ll see some success here and turn this place around.
  Have a wonderful week back home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Aufwiedersehen Kiel!

Hallo everyone!
Well i hope your week back there was as good as mine out here. Lots of stress this week, but lots of blessings as well. Well i dont know where to start out first so i will just take you through my last weekend step by step since that is where most of the big stuff happened.
So friday we had lots of appointments lined up, and then the evening free to focus on our baptismal interview candidate. We wrapped everything and after a bunch of problems getting the District Leader here and finding him, i sent my comp and him with the senior couple a half an hour up the autobahn for the baptismal interview. After they left as i was walking with our DLs comp our DL called and said that my comp had forgotten the baptismal form. That was bad because president had to do the interview via skype, and they had to get there early to install it. And president had to do transfer calls, so his time was VERY short. Haha so i called the ZL´s had them come pick us up, grab a form from their appt and zipped up the autobahn to get it there in time. Long story short, everything worked out just right and as i was doing some doors waiting for the interview to be over, we got the call that he had passed his interview. It was a huge relief.  Then transfer calls came.
So i think i mentioned before, that transfer calls for me are like the most anticipated 30 minutes of my life.  So to know you´re probably going to another city in Germany, but not having any idea, haha that´s epic. Well anyways, i will be leaving Kiel and headed to Prenzlau in East Germany.  My area heads up to the Polish border and is right in between Neu Brandeburg and Berlin.  Basically Prenzlau is the black hole of the mission.. EVERY missionary make Prenzlau jokes\and or is mortified to go to Prenzlau. So to sum it up, i´m going from  the jewel city of the mission to the smallest, hardest city of the mission. Supposedly every door of Prenzlau has been knocked on 10 times if i understand right haha, so it´s supposed to be way hard. President called and said also that there´s a possiblity either my comp or I will be called to the Branch Presidency there. I´m going from one of the most solid wards in Germany to like the smallest branch haha. Afterwards, after a bunch of missionaries had called to say how sorry they were to hear i was headed there and to tease me a bit, i was feeling pretty down to be honest. But after i talked with my next comp and worked out when i´d be getting there and stuff, i´ve felt a lot better. I´m gonna go work my butt off and light Prenzlau on fire!  Haha, it was funny though, i literally said one day after i had been teasing one of the ZL´s that he´d be going to Prenzlau "i should probably stop making Prenzlau jokes or else i´ll end up going there" and bam, haha now i´m going. My new comp was in the mtc with my comp now, and he says i should like him. I really hope he´s solid. Good news though is i get to stay a junior comp just like i wanted.:)
So Saturday, after recovering from a brief moment of depression, haha was really really cool. We had an awesome appointment, and i extended my 3rd baptismal commitment in German, and our investigator accepted!  Way cool. Basically i´m leaving this program my trainer and i started here with 2 baptismal dates, so i feel really good about that. The program did not have less than 17 lessons this entire last transfer, so i feel really really blessed to have seen it develop like it has. It seems like just yesterday my trainer and i got off the train with no area book, no map, no bus schedule, no ANYTHING, and now it´s just taking off.  Saturday was a good day.
Sunday was the BEST however! I got to give a short goodbye talk, which was A LOT harder than i expected. I kinda got a little emotional surprisingly. I was always so scared i would never be able to make a an impact on the people here as well as my trainer did... but this last weeked i got so many phone calls and invites to visit, it was just overwhelming.  It was such a bitter\sweet feeling seeing how much a missionary can mean to someone, but also having to say goodbye to them. It was a pretty emotional day for me.  The baptism was AMAZING as well. Everything ended up happening without to many problems. As i was sitting there with this investigator, who means a lot to me, singing "kommt ihr Kinder Gottes" (one of my favorite German hymns) i felt the spirit really strongly. Afterwards i asked him how he felt, and he just said "clean" It was a very special experience for me. The rest of Sunday and today has consisted of packing and goodbye appointments. It´s been heart wrenching at times, but so sweet!  I really cant sum it all up how much Kiel means to me. I´m not even going to try.
So tomorrow morning i´ll be hopping on my bullet train to Berlin, and the connecting up to Prenzlau. I leave at 753am and get there at 2 o clock. A little bit of a ride, but i really like that. I´ll finally be able to catch up on a letter or two and reflect on my wonderful time in my birth city here in Kiel. My DL here will also be in my district there as a ZL, so that will be cool to have a good friend in the District already.  I´m excited to get to work fulfilling my next assignment in Prenzlau and all the cities up to the Poland border.  I´ve been learning a few Polish phrases from an investigator, so maybe i´ll get to use them! Hopefully.  Have a wonderful week everyone! Thanks for everything!
-Elder Ott 

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14 From Kiel

Transfers are next week, so it might be safer for any mail sent this week to go to the mission home in Berlin. 
Hello Everyone!
Well I´m pretty much officially loosing my mind right now thinking about how fast the time has gone. Tomorrow will officially be my 6 month mark! That´s ridiculous. It seems like just yesterday i was sitting in the MTC scared out of my mind wondering what exactly i had gotten myself into, knowing only that i was doing the right thing, and now i´m sitting here in Germany... 6  months of the best time of my life gone. I dont really know exactly what to think about that, haha so i just wont.;) I was thinking about how much i miss my two wonderful MTC teachers! Brother Wickes and Sister Christopher/(maybe Dias) ;) They were the best. I would be comps with them any day! (that is if Sister C were Elder C, but actually maybe... okay ya know i´m just gonna stop typing haha)
Sewww, anyway, sadly no baptism this last week, due to circumstances, let´s just say, WAY beyond our control. But hopefully everything will work this week... it will be close, but we have to get it done.  
Other than a couple sad set backs, the rest of the week was actually quite productive and awesome.  We have a way solid new investigator from Iran who speaks Persian and was banished for opposing Achmadinijad (no idea) and now he´s here waiting for his pass. Really sad story, lost EVERTHING, but hopefully we can help him. I´m not sure we´d be allowed to baptise him (there´s lots of rules pertaining to middle easterners) but we can at least help him as much as we can. He lives in a tiny dorf about 40 minutes ,with the bus, outside of Kiel. He walks in to Kiel and back home, 2 hours each way, every day just looking for something to bring him help/hope and well, just so happened we were crossing the same bridge the other day.:) His house is way hard to find and we were lost in this dorf for a couple hours haha, but it was well worth it to meet with him. And we got to take a train back! i LUUVVVV trains.
We also had a burger fest at a less active members house this week which was totally awesome. We had a competition between the all the missionaries and i finished out on top eating 8 massive hamburgers!  Wow i felt bad after that. And although i wont go in to all the sad after effects, i will say this, i would fix 10 toilets to experience that same level of pride that i had after that contest.
Placed 2 Russian BOM´s, 2 Turkish, 3 Arabic, 1 Albanian, oh and a German one the past two days. I really love the Auslanders here! I took a little flak on exchanges with the DL this week for picking the "most poor and ghetto" places to work here in Kiel. But truth be told, those are the people who need this message the most, they´re the ones who are ready, and they will be the Pillars of the Church when all of the different races flood to it, so i´ll take the flak for that gladly.  That´s where i want to work.
Well sorry this weeks email is so short, i´m really struggling for words at the moment. This week had a lot of hard things to handle in it, i lost a lot of sleep this week haha. Probably my favorite day though was when my best friend out here, the swiss ZL, saw how tired i was and that i looked really weighed down and took me out on a super Split with him. We ran around the Ghetto and had an amazing time trying to find the elect and i finally started to get more excited and find more joy in the work. After it was all said and done he said, "that was the Elder Ott i know... enjoy the best time of your life out here" and i really realized how much better i need to do at ALWAYS keeping a positive attitude. I cant let anybody or anything stop me from enjoying "die beste Zeit meines Lebens!"
Hope you all had a wonderful week. Love and miss you all so much.
Elder Ott

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7 from Kiel

Hallo everyone!

Well wow, what another great humbling week of missionary service! Filled with miracles ever single day!

Well i have no idea where to start! I guess first with the best news. So... J has been making a big fuss over the Word of Wisdom and it´s been stopping him from getting baptised again. Well haha, the ZL´s thought it wasnt a big problem and that it was taking too long to be baptised so they decided to go over and pay him a visit. Both of our ZL´s are native german speakers and one cant speak english at all, and well, haha J gave it to them and they left with a fight. Sunday though, i sat down and had a really good talk with him, and well, very long story short, he will be getting baptised a week from Sunday.:) Probably my last Sunday in Kiel, so that will be a good way to head out from this city that is SO close to my heart. I already almost tear up when i think about leaving this place, this is sacred ground to me, i have learned more about myself walking these streets and trying to talk to people these past 3-4 months than probably my whole life leading up to this point. I love Kiel!

Well in other news we found another AMAZING investigator this week. She´s a soft spoken amazing young lady from Mongolia! She´s way solid and is comitted to finding out if this church is true or not. It´s actually getting to become easier teaching people with absolutely NO Christian backround. She´s Buddhist, and we´re also teaching a Hindu, so it´s tricky sometimes. Haha one of her reasons she´s not sure if Jesus was really crucified is because she cant believe that a civilization could be so cruel as to crucify someone... hahaha i wanted to slap her and say "Gengis Khan ring a bell?" But ya, we explained that it was a common form of punishment at the time and then just bore testimony, there was a great spirit there and i cant wait to meet her again.

Our other two student investigators are doing wonderful as well. I extended my first 2 baptisimal commitments by myself this week, both didnt take, but both said they´d consider it and have an answer next week. I love teaching the youth here in Kiel at the Uni... i learn sooo much from them.

The B family is also making progress again. Haha Herr B thinks he´s my dad here in Germany, he is just always there. He always just bear hugs me when we come. I had one of those "yep i´m on a mission" moments as he was driving us home one night in his huge work van (which i´m not completely convinced isnt stolen) smoking a cigarette and having us translate Michael Jackson songs into English as he sang. He firmly believes he´s not dead, but ya, haha i didnt feel like getting into that discussion. Last night we were there too and he invited another friend (number 3) to listen too us. He is a HUGE polish guy who has the Bible like memorized. He is like the freaking big henchmen off of Get Smart, haha he loves us though and is a Solid new investigator. I just wish i could use my bible better in German! It´s hard to because he uses the Luther Bible (the best as far as i´m, and Joseph Smith, concerned is) And all i have is the stupid Einheitzübersetzung.  But ya, it´s great.

Also the Mettenhof project is officially back on line. We got in to some money outlander housing and made out like 8 appointments is 1 hour... amazing. 3 Russian, 1 turkish, 1 Albanian, and 3 Arabics. The Albanish family looks to be way solid. But ya, we´re meeting with a lot of way cool people this week so hopefully everything pans out! Meeting with a WAY legit student from Bangledish tomorrow too who´s way cool. Man i hate meeting with people when you dont have the BOM in their mother language... crazy how often we manage to do that haha. But ya, have a wonderful week back home! Miss and love you all dearly!

Elder Ott