Monday, April 25, 2011

Week of April 25 from Prenzlau

Well hello everyone,

First off, happy Easter to you all!  I hope you all had a wonderful and peaceful day yesterday!  

Well Easter is actually normally like my absolute favorite holiday... it's just so peaceful and beautiful and the message is just so good, but this was a really really tough one for me. Our week started off decent, we actually had the first day here in Prenzlau where we didnt have more of 2 hours of "finding" planned, so that was really good. But everything just went down hill from there. EVERYONE was gone this weekend, and no one wanted to listen to us. On top of that, we weren't invited anywhere with any members at all this week. We ate, as normal, with our branch president in the church, which was good, I LOVE our branch president. But he lives so far away and is so busy... arg it just would be nice to be able to be at a members house at some point here in Prenzlau haha. So ya, this was kinda a hard and lonely weekend for me, but i just have to keep going and looking for the positive things and ways to enjoy my time here.

This Sunday was an interesting one for sure. My 3rd week here actually in the chapel in Prenzlau, and every time i've been up at the pulpit haha. I spoke with our branch president to our little group of about 15. Speaking in German is still sooo different for me, but our branch President wants to make me a proficient, and very good speaker and gives me a critique after every one of my talks, which is really helpful. He is an amazing speaker, kinda has to be as a Senator, so it's good to learn from the best.:)

Transfer calls will be coming up this next week, i wont be going anywhere, but it's going to be interesting to see if my companion goes or not. If he stays, i will probably be here for the long haul (4 transfers) if he goes i will probably stay 3 i think. It will be really interesting to see how everything plays out.  In the mean time, we have made a pact to make this next week the hardest working week of our mission. And also, we will ONLY speak german with each other, i'm way excited, but i think my companion is a little less enthusiastic, haha but it will be way fun.:)

Well, i really don't know what else to write about. We dont really have much ahead this week, other then about 50 hours of finding... i'm really getting tired of finding haha, but if the ward doesnt help you gotta do what you gotta do.

Hope you all have a wonderful week back home.

-Elder Ott

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18 from Prenzlau

Ahhhhh, i´m in Berlin AGAIN!

Well I LOVE Berlin. This will probably be my last trip here for another couple months... but i hope not! The only hard part is getting back off the train in Prenzlau. I call it PBDS, post berlin depression syndrome. Haha, but you get back into the work really quick.

So my email will have to be REALLY short this week. WE have like 0 time. We´re meeting our Branch President (aka The Senator) outside Hauptbahnof here shortly to head over through securtiy and in to our private tour of the Capitol Building!!! Soooo excited. I am totally sitting in Angelina Merkels chair.:)

Sewww, this week was a really really hard and long one. We had sooo much trouble making out appointments this week, success was so few and far between. But we did however find this one man. My comp and I were walking by this big apartment-like complex, and even though we knew it had been doored out a couple dozen times, i had a really really strong impression to door it again. My comp absolutely hates doors with a passion, which is hard because that´s kinda how you have to talk to people here, the streets arent exactly bustling ya know? But i said, "hey, ya think we should do some doors here" and he was like "ya, i have a way good feeling about this place actually" and i was like "me too" so we did it. Now a man there did tell us on the first set of doors that we were annoying the city of Prenzlau, and how we were crazy, and how we should leave and stop annoying people, and about how it was a sign from above that we should leave because nobody listens to us... but i´m sadly used to hearing that now. So anyways, we pressed on and of course, last house, like 3rd to last of the 60 or 80 doors we did, the man let us in and we had a walk in right there. Now he´s not the most golden person, he´s met with the missionaries quite a bit (but most of the people who we find who are willing to listen to us, missionaries before us have already found and taught and dropped, so that´s not un-normal) but we think that there´s a reason we found him, and we are excited. That was kinda my cool story for the week.

Saturday i had to go up to Neu Brandenburg for the leadership training meeting of our district... but it turned out being a lot cooler than i had thought.  We were surprised to meet an Area 70 from Italy there, and our very own mission president, that was a surprise. Haha, also president put us in charge of translating the meeting into English for the Seventy and Sister Pimentel. Usually that would fall upon the Senior Comp, but i had a lot more translating experience, so my comp was trying to get me to translate, which i´m not going to lie, i would have been really really really stoked to do.  I had been translating every other week in church for a good amount of time in Kiel. But in the end it was just another one of those impressions, your comp should do it. Haha, so basically i made him do it and although it meant the world to him and he actually did a great job. Afterwards as we were joking around about it, he thanked me for making him do that, and said he needed that. And hearing that was actually cooler to me than having the privilege to translate for a seventy. That sounds a bit clíche as a look at that, but it was true.  That meeting actually, and the conference as a whole, was big for me. I got to know our branch president a LOT better, overcome my fear of him a bit haha, and i really love him now. He´s so cool. Stills scares me a bit sometimes, but he´s really awesome.

Well i gotta start runnin, so that´s about it this week. We are gonna have to work harder this week and step it up even more... the program didnt move forward enough this week. I´m tired sometimes, and it´s hard to keep going, but hopefully we start picking up some momentum this week!

Love you all so much, and have a great week!

-Elder Ott

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11 from Prezlau


Greetings to all of you beautiful people who read this email! The fight for the souls of Prenzlau continues!

Well i cant say that we have a whole lot new going on. We are finally starting to see the growth we have been working soooo hard for. It´s so tiny, but it´s still progress. We doubled most all of our numbers this last week (Pessimist-"what did you even double them from like 2 to 4 Elder Ott".. Elder Ott- "Yup") Haha but we will take what we can get. It was actually a bit more significant than that, we have 4 new investigators and one in church, pretty cool actually. It´s very rare to find new people here, because most of the people that you make out appointments with have met with the missionaries before and are mostly crazy... so when you find someone brand new in Prenzlau, that´s usually really good. One of which is a total Branch President in the future, but he just seemed so skeptical and hesitant to meet with us, but i have NEVER prayed and fasted so hard to meet with someone in my life. He is the future of this branch! Ugh i really hope we meet with him again!

So the new calling is actually going to be a bit more work than i expected, or pressure at least. I thought it would just be like, oh ya he´s the missionary and branch counselor, but ya, doesnt look like it´s going to all go down like that. I have to to councils with the stake presidency every month, with the branch pres twice a week privately, and with basically all the ward every week. I got my handbook and everything, with a list of people who are possibilities either to recieve the priesthood and/or temple recommends. WOW. I had no idea there were so many people who were members. Granted our area stretches far away and some of them live a 2 and half hour car ride away, but still, so many. Basically in my meeting with the District pres, he said that if Priesthood doesnt grow here, this branch will be dead within 10 years probably. He told me it was our job as a branch presidency to get goals for priesthood, temple recommends, and baptisms and then make it happen.  He said our district has been tanking, we used to average 20 baptisms per year (our district is MASSIVE) and last year we had 2.  So ya, i guess what i´m trying to say is, he basically psyched me out of my mind haha. Trying to read this whole handbook in German, try to learn the vocabulary of church leadership in German, and just trying to convey my thoughts and feelings is hard in German sometimes. But this work has to go further, in spite of my weakness, or the weakness of our small branch. No unhallowed hand can stop it, so i have the faith that if i give my best, seek correction, and stay humble, i will not hinder the Lord from miracles. My goal is to make Prenzlau as open for miracles as possible.

Speaking of trying to change things a bit here, we should be meeting with the mayor within the next couple weeks. Looks like it might end up being a pretty big deal. Should actually get a bit of press as well. I´m way nervous, especially because the one investigator we had in church this week is the mayors ex wife, hehe, so ya i´ve heard some pretty interesting things about him. But the good news is i got the Senator on my side.:) I´m also getting some basketball set up for the youth in the area and working on trying to get to play soccer with the political refugees. Also planning on attending a few other church gatherings from the Catholic and Evangelist groups here around Easter to show that we are supporting other churches as well, and Faith in whole. That´s kinda gonna be my goal with the Mayor. Deliver a brief history of the Church here in Prenzlau, how long we´ve been here, notable members and what not, deliver this article telling him what we do and why we have missionaries and get him to understand, our primary goal is not to convert all of Prenzlau to some weird sect, but to make the world a better place through tolerance, service, and love and then offer our services to help better the city. Just celebrate the heritage of Prenzlau and leave him with a positive impression. I´m still pretty nervous, but i hope everything really works out.

So i am totally writing this email from BERLIN:;) Gosh i love Berlin. We wont be touring the capitol building today because of a meeting, but we will be trading our bikes in with mission office and getting new ones, and coming down to see the building next week. It´s soooo coool here. The building are amazing, the Bahnhof is MASSIVE, ugh it´s crazy. So excited we found a way to get down here twice in one transfer haha!

Well anyways, i´m going to go and enjoy a nice little get away from Prenzlau and take a p´day here in the one and only Berlin. Gonna play some soccer and get to see my favorite ZL from Kiel again!!! Sooooo excited.

Thanks so much for the wonderful support and prayers. It´s only gonna get better from here, i feel it.

-Elder Ott

Monday, April 4, 2011

Week of April 4 from Prenzlau

Well i dont necesserily know how i´m going to write all that happened this week, i also dont remember how to spell the word necessarily... haha i´m not going to beat myself up over it.
So wow, this week was a really really really hard one. After visiting most of our investigators here in Prenzlau, it was obvious that the people being taught were either extremely mentally unstable, or making absolutely NO progress. Either way i was instructed from the branch president, mission president, and the Spirit to stop regular contact of the missionaries with them. That means, complete program rehaul, aka starting from SCRATCH. A lot of missionaries tend to hang on to investigators in small cities to keep their numbers alive, or in other words they hang on to the lessons, not the investigators. But ya, we arent going to do that here in Prenzlau anymore, haha and although our numbers this week were absolutley hideous, at least we are using our time the way it is supposed to be used.
Speaking of time, i´ll recount how we spent our time this week. FINDING.  Finding finding finding. We basically walked around every day, for most of the day, and talked to people on the street and then did doors in the evenings when everybody was home. The results were a few appointments, of which 0 went through, and i met someone else with the last name of Ott and had a good conversation until i tried to bring it back to the Gospel at which point she just walked away. The persecution this week was also a new high for me. I had some teenagers hit me with a rock as a rode by on my back, one man threatened to crucify me, and had various people cuss me out in German, haha it was not good at all. I was getting SOOO frustrated. For the first time on my mission i thought maybe i was wasting my time, until quickly my thoughts were corrected... this is the Lord´s time, and he called me here to spend it in Prenzlau and my opinion on whether or not it´s effective is irrelevent. So i´ll just keep working. No matter how many people mock me to scorn, or yell at me, or completely ignore me and wont even acknowledge i´m talking to them, or throw stuff at me, or swerve at me with their motorcycle because they think it´s funny to see me have to move out of the way (yes that happened too), i will just tell them "okay see you tomorrow" and try and move on as nicely as possible. It´s really hard, and at times i feel really alone, but it´s not bad to have to swim in deep waters sometimes.
Aside from trying to find people to listen to you, it was a tender mercy to be able to be strengthened at our zone meeting and also General conference this last weekend. I had a really good interview with my mission president and we shared some revelatory moments together. Conference also opened my eyes. We were only able to watch the first 3 sessions and the priesthood session, but overall it was very good, even in German. It was weird how badly i wanted to here the Brethren´s voices and how bad i wanted to be strengthened by other latter day Saints! I really was hoping to hear their voices, somethings lost in the German translation just by not being able to hear the actual voice, but i still learned a lot. President Uchtdorf´s priesthood session talk about not living below our abilities as priesthood holders really opened my eyes and made we realize the power we´ve been given.
That power is going to be needed here in Prenzlau too. Somewhat unfortunately i guess you could say, i ran into our District President and 1st counselor of our mission in Neu Brandenburg at General Conference. I introduced myself and he said, "i know exactly who you are, i have hear about you" haha a little creepy to here from someone like that. But long story short, i guess he asked president to send a missionary to prenzlau who could maybe stay a while, and lead the ward because the branch president´s political career is taking a lot of time. So ya, somehow that was supposed to be me and now i´m a counselor in the branch presidency here haha.  It wont change a whole lot i dont believe, i´ll just have to do some more meetings and conduct church meetings and stuff, and preside while the branch pres is gone, but ya, never in a million years thought i´d serve in a branch presidency at the age of 19... hooray for missions. Hopefully it all goes well, i dont think it will change much of anything for me.
Well we´re definitely going to start doing some new things here.  I talked with our branch pres and we have an appointment with the Mayor next week to talk about changing the perspective of the Church here in Prenzlau. We are also working with the city soup kitchen and political refugee home to try and find some more service activities. After talking with the mission president we will also be ordering those helping hands vests for service for the mission. Just like the theme in Conference, i feel like service will change the perception of the "black suit people" here in Prenzlau.  The church for some reason has also not pushed media advertising here in Europe much at all either. So president is having completely new pass a long cards printed, with the purpose of driving people to our internet site and generating our own media referals. We have also remodeled the site to be more investigator friendly, and the first time they get on the site a splash page pops up where they select the pass a long card they recieved, and basically with one click we can get media referals. It´s based of the theory of fishing with nets, not with single lines anymore. So ya, once the cards are printed, we´re planning on getting one in every mailbox in Prenzlau and seeing if we can revolutionize the work here.
Well a lot going on here. I´m not to excited for the hours of finding ahead, but i am excited to see if the work and the new ideas will change this place. Ya it´s hard getting completely shut down time after time, but you just gotta look at it as if you´re one person closer to finding someone who´s been prepared for you and not that you´ve found another one who´s not ready.  So there´s the update on the mission so far, haha prayers would be gladly recieved for this places sake.  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!
-Elder Ött