Monday, June 27, 2011

Week of June 27 from Prenzlau

Oh my dearly beloved!

Hello again from the little old DDR town we call Prenzlau! We had a great week this week... where to begin?

Well we´ll start from the beginning i suppose. Sewwww after a really nice and relaxing P-day this last P-day we headed out to do our 3 hours of finding from 6 to 9 we have to do every P-day to reach our goal of making out one new appointment with someone new a day.  9 o´clock roles around and after having talked to everyone we saw for 3 hours, stopping bikers, just going crazy, we still hadn't even managed to break into a conversation with someone. So what we decided to do was to take up the ZL´s on there little offer to call them if we haven't picked up that new appointment and have them pray for us, and BAM, 2nd person we talk to we make out an appointment. And on the way home, at just after 9:30 i just felt like we needed to stop another guy with his bike, and BAM made out an appointment with him too. It was a cool evening and a great way to start the week.

The next day, Tuesday, we ran into an AMERICAN living in a tiny town in our area called Paselwalk. Apparently he fought in the war in Iraq, was born in Italy, has lived in Chile, and ya Texas as well. He said he used to be a Mormon as well before certain events that he wasn't able to talk about transpired. He speaks 6 languages fluently and is like the equivalent of the most interesting man in the world. I personally think he´s working for the secret service haha, but we´ll see. He says we´re welcome back to his house whenever, well actually i believe his exact words were "if anything ever goes South, you drop your bikes and run as fast as you can to my place. I always got your back, ya understand what i´m trying to say?" So i´ll take that as an invitation.:) Who´da thunk though, an American living in Paselwalk Germany.

This week has actually been probably the toughest of my mission, healthwise. I´ve just been feeling really sick lately, and i just can't seem to catch up on sleep or energy. It all culminated Friday when i had to wake up at 5am to catch an early train up to Neu Brandenburg for Zone Meeting.  After not being able to even climb into bed til 11 because of being on the phone for so long. I swear, having leadership responsibility on a mission = no time in the evening to rest. But ya, it was a WAY LONG day, and i couldn't get to bed until late that night as well, so i´m still trying to recover. I remember when i got set apart though i was blessed i´d never miss a day of work due to sickness as long as i was obedient, so so far so good.:) President interviews seemed to go well as well. President says the District Presidency is really happy with my work and that they´re asking to keep me around for a while. That´s really nice and all, but it kinda scares me.  I´m already going on 3 transfers here, and 4 would be a fourth of my time in Germany.  That would be a really really hard thing to be called to go through. But we´ll see i suppose.

Our local Basketball league is doing well as well.  It´s slowly starting to grow and spread. My skills just keep coming back to me piece by piece as well. Last game i hit 6 straight 3´s and actually dunked it in a guy's face... ha no idea where it came from, but it´s definitely helping to catch people´s interest. Still nothing like my Bro just TEARING IT UP right now, but still, we´re playing for baptisms.  It´s a different field of play.:)

Sunday also brought a cool experience. We´ve been working with a member and getting her ready to get her patriarchal blessing. She was supposed to get it today, but had an accident and wasn't able to walk without having a lot of pain. She asked me to give her a blessing yesterday, and said when she woke up this morning, all of the pain was suddenly gone and she could walk without any problems. So looks like it´s going to work out with the blessing today after all. It´s awesome to see the Priesthood influence and sustain the Work.:)

Hmm, well the only other experience i can think of, is the other day while i was in Eberswalde on exchanges, my comp and i smelt something really nasty in the stair well. In fact, if i remember correctly, i think i made the comment "it smells like death". Well anywho, long story short, the police knocked on our door the next morning and asked if we were aware our neighbor had been dead for about a week... that was an interesting experience.

Well the work rolls forward here. 3 solid new investigators this week, just gotta hope that the message takes. Also have some good prospective investigators for this next week, so we´ll see how it all works out! Have a wonderful week back home.  Love you all so much!

-Elder Ott

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week of June 20 from Prenzlau

Hey family, hey friends, how´re ya´ll doin?

Well another week down here in P-town, new comp has come, new leadership role is assumed, and the work goes forward!

Well we´ll start out with the new transfer which started on Tuesday. Sent my last companion on the train way up to Rendsburg, a beautiful city right next to can you guess where? KIEL!!!  But he´s way happy there so i´m happy for him. My new comp just arrived from the southern most part of the mission from the quaint town of Schwarzenberg where he began his mission. He´s a really young missionary, and he still has that golden work hard and have faith mentality, so it´s been a refreshing first week. We´ve seen lots of miracles and are living as consecrated as ever, and we´re comitted to only get better.  Anyway, he comes from Wyoming, and is actually just as old on his mission as i was when i came to Prenzlau, weird. The language has been the biggest barrier so far. We´re trying to speak lots of german together to boost his language skills a bit, and when we get to the point where he understands german, i think we´ll really take off.

The new DL assignment has also been a new thing as well. My evenings basically dont exist anymore because i´m always on the phone. I swear you have to call someone about something every night, and having to put together uplifting district meetings every week takes a bit more study time as well, but it all usually tends to get paid back in blessings i´ve come to find out, and there´s also plenty of other missionaries to rely on to help share the load. We have our once-every-12-week interviews with President this Friday in Neu Brandenburg too, so that will be a nice change of venue. We have a mission tour of a seventy July 5th coming up in Berlin as well.

Well the week this week has really consisted of teaching our investigators, then getting on the bikes, riding out to an obscure dorf, doing doors, making appointments, then biking all the way back out to the dorfs, having all the appointments fall out, then biking back to Prenzlau.  Seriously, SO MUCH BIKING. We made out an appointment with a man in Prenzlau from Mosambuique (shouldnt even try to spell that) and he gave us the name of where he lives and everything. As we ate lunch and looked on the map to see where he lives... we were like, "poop" 18 kilometers away uphill. Got all the way out there and he wasnt even home at the time we said we´d be there. But, for some reason i went to the wrong address first, but saw the same name he gave me on the house, so i rang and it turned out to be his son. After he told me where his father lives, we went and rang him, then came back and the son took the Book of Mormon and the Restoration film and said he´d give it to his dad, so it was a little miracle. Sadly he didnt really wanna meet with us at the moment, but hopefully later on they´ll call. Bottom line though,  Thursday, before it was 1pm, we had biked over 40 kilometers.  I really cant feel my legs. My seat got busted too, and so in an effort to be frugal, i bought the racing seat on sale at Marktkauf. I think it was on sale because the material they used to make it is probably equivilant to the hardness of a space shuttle tile, bleh, but yes my legs grow ever more beautiful. I really dont know what we´re going to do if these people start turning into solid investigators and need multiple visits per week, but we´ll cross that bridge when it comes to that.:)

Gave yet another talk this sunday as well. I talked about putting off the natural man and about how we do that when we truly become humble and submissive. We become more humble and submissive as we A-Strive to see things from an eternal perspective and B-Fill ourselves with charity as we serve others. As we strive to see things from an eternal perspective and acknowledge the reality of what Isaiah taught when he said "my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways, saith the Lord"  We become submissive. We are willing to have things "inflicted upon" us and begin to see the depths of humility and submissivness as we are called to pass through what we see as obstacles in which we may see no purpose. Also, as we strive to develop charity we become more humble, in that the more we learn to think of others, the less we are able to think of ourselves and thus be tempted by pride. Bottom line is, if our spirit doesnt control our body 100%, we wont be able to inherit the Kingdom of God, for "no flesh can inherit the Kingdom of God" Anyway, it seemed to go pretty well and i was able to convey myself in German without much trouble.:)

Overall though, really long and straining week, but that´s how it is every once in a while in missionary work. The blessing are there though, we just have to stay worthy of them and REALIZE THEM! The church is true, i find that out again and again. My testimony grows as i realize that I CAN DO HARD THINGS.:) Have a wonderful week! Love you all so much!

-Elder Ott

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week of June 13 from Prenzlau

Well well well, lots to write about this week. Baptisms, Confirmations, Holidays, Transfers... where to start.:) I suppose i shall start with the best part of the week.
Sewwwwwwww Saturday!!! Ba ba ba BAPTISM! The baptism totally went through, it was incredible! So, as it turns out, earlier in the week our investigator confessed he was terrified of the Uckersee, and would rather be baptised in Neu Brandenburg (aka the next nearest font) so we all met up and got up there with the train, which was no easy task. Had to find and call a taxi to pick us up, buy the right train ticket according to our boundaries (sometimes complex) switch trains in Paselwalk, then find someone to pick us up in Neu Brandenburg, then do it all over again coming back, bleh... totally worth it though!!! It was a very small service, no members showed up (wait actually one, but we paid for her), which was very dissappointing... i dont know what to do with the members here sometimes... so it was just us, the ZLs and the Senior Couple. But he didnt care, so neither did we.:) He was really big, so we took my companion down in the font with us to help baptise him, so ya, everything went smoothly. It´s just so humbling to see success of that magnitude in an area where for so long so little has been seen.
Then Sunday came around. Now Sunday here was a holiday called Pfingsten... it´s a really cool holiday where the Germans celebrate Christ giving his disciples the Holy Ghost as he left. It consists of Pfingsten Sunday and Pfingsten Monday, and most Germans seem to celebrate it by getting drunk. A couple weeks ago we had the holiday of Himmelfahrt, or in English i think they say "the Ascension" (man i cant spell worth beans any more) or aka when Christ went ascended to heaven. They celebrate by all riding their bikes around in weird outfits from bar to bar drinking kegs of beer... it´s a charming day for missionary work.:P Anywho, the Senior couple got way sick and our Branch President wasnt there as normal, so guess who got to preside at sacrament meeting, ya, there´s a first time for everything i suppose haha. Then our newly baptised member asked me to confirm him as well, which i dont find optimal, if i´dda had it my way members should baptise and confirm, makes a better connection, but ya, anyways, i confirmed him and gave him the gift of the holy ghost... ON PFINGSTEN! How cool is that? Get the Holy Ghost on the day we celebrate having it. Way cool. But ya, not a whole lot of people there, but it wasnt a bad attendance. Then after that i had to drive an hour down the Autobahn to the missionary program under us in Eberswalde to make sure their Sacrament meeting ran smoothly down there, since the senior missionary is the branch pres there as well as 1st counselor in Prenzlau, so he´s got a full plate. Anyways, ya there arent many men members there who arent mentally handicapped, and the missionaries down there are kinda strugglers, so we went there and got everything back in order and made sure the meeting went well.  Oh and i almost forgot, as i confirmed our new member, haha, i gave him a priesthood blessing afterwards and i said his name, ya know, like "and (so and so) we give you also a blessing" and when i said his name haha is said "what?" as he was sitting in the chair. Man the things you dont think of telling people, we just take so many things as normal that are so different to others, we forget that sometimes. Anyways, overall though a strenuous but rewarding day.
Oh ya, and transfer calls (drum roll please)... ya so i´m staying. My companion is going however, was up to Rendsburg which is next to Kiel, lucky dawg! Haha he´s got mixed feelings about leaving, but he´s pretty stoked he only had to be in Prenzlau for one transfer and see the only baptism here in YEARS. But ya, anyways, looks like they´re serious about keeping me here for a while in the branch presidency, it´s gonna be another long 6 weeks i´m afraid, but hey, i can do hard things.:) My new companion is just coming out of his Golden city and is in his 3rd or 4th transer i believe, so i´ll be taking over the Senior comp role as well as the responsibility of a District Leader, which was also a surprise. It will help keep me consecrated and working hard to try and be a good example to a young missionary as well as help support and lead my district, so we´ll see how it all goes down.:)
Well ya, there´s my week, i´m sure lots of other cool things happened, haha but i´m in Berlin again right now to say goodbye to my favorite Swiss missionary who was my ZL in Kiel... ugh i cant believe he´s going home! But ya, not thinking the most clearly... there´s so many buildings and cool people to see! So ya, i´ll send all of the pictures as soon as i can from the baptism and everything and a couple videos too, when i can! Love you all so much! Have a great week!
-Elder Ott

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week of June 6 from Prenzlau

Well just nearing the end of my 5th Transfer here in Germany and my 2nd here in Prenzlau. I´m really excited to see what this next transfer call brings. I have the feeling i will probably be staying i must admit, but who knows, anything could happen. I would love to get to jet to another city for a transfer and get ready to train PACO! But i wont get my hopes up... 200 missionaries, 76 cities, but ya, who knows.

Well let´s see, what´s some cool news about this week... hmm... oh i dont know, maybe just that one of our investigators is GETTING BAPTISED THIS SATURDAY!!! Yup, yessir, that´s right my friends. After a couple year pause, Prenzlau looks like we´ll be seeing a baptism. As of now the plan is to do it in the Ucker Lake, a really big pretty lake right next to Prenzlau, and he asked if i would do it, so ya, it will be pretty cool i´m hoping. The last week before a baptism here is always so crucial and soooo hard. We have a text that goes around the whole mission having all the missionaries pray for the people getting baptised by name, so ya it´s intense, i hate to admit it, but Satan seems to have a whole lot of influence here in Germany, so we NEED the prayers.

Aside from that, we also heard from our other investigator who wants to be baptised FINALLY. It´s like she just disappeared off the face of the earth, but she finally called and apparently she´s been up in a bigger city called Greifswald, while here daughter had to have a big eye operation or something, and ya, she still doesnt know when she´s going to be back, but said she´d look us up when she was back in town. Ugh, it´s sooo hard to keep people once you´ve committed them to baptism here... i dont know what it is. Something ALWAYS happens it seems like. Even our investigator who wants to be baptised this week had to go out of town unexpectedly and had to miss church... which led to us having to get special permission from president to still baptise him. But ya, after lots of pondering and prayer, we decided to go on with it, and not give Satan more chances to do anything.  The branch isnt very much behind it, we're hoping to have 3 in attendance, but he fills all the requirments in D&C 20 and has the desire, so it calls for baptism. Should the ward not accept him and he fall away, that will not be answered upon the missionaries' heads. Even though we are going to do our best to keep him there.:)

I also got a few letters from some investigators and reactivated members in Kiel these past couple weeks, it always warms my heart and picks me up to know that i was able to impact others at least a little bit in Kiel.  The most uplifting news however, came from a member there who talked a bit about how the man i was able to baptise there was doing. Apparently he hasnt missed a week, except one where he was in Belgium, and passes the sacrament every week. He attends every meeting and is a big asset to the ward there. He picks members and investigators up in his car and is always willing to help. That had me beaming for a good hour or so.:)  It´s so beautiful to see how the gospel changes lives! I see it so much even in our baptisimal candidate here, and it makes the endless hours of hard, sun burning, seemingly fruitless work, well, more fruitful and fulfilling.:)

Also worth reporting, is our recent success with our community basketball league. It has really opened a couple avenues to gospel conversations... actually far more than i anticipated. Apparently this using your talents stuff really works haha. No real solid investigators yet, but everyone wants to know what we´re doing here and we get to answer lots of questions.  My companion and i are doing as well as ever. The plays we draw up in companionship study are working really well, and the pick and roll has really strengthened our companionship, as well as our offense. He always wears his Okur Jazz Jersey, and he has an Al Jefferson one he wants me to use. So far we are 3-1 and we are playing well. Just staying true to the fundamentals, playing hard, playing smart, and playing together.:) Last game we actually beat a team 21-0, it was amazing. Ended the game with a back door cut and finished above the rim. It was really weird actually... i wasnt expecting it, my comp wasnt, and the Germans sure werent either. I dont know, i dont think the hoop is quite 10 feet, but i was still impressed. I wish i had it on video. I flushed the toilet and everything.:)

But back to the important stuff... The church is true. I find that out again and again and again every day it seems like. And even though it still breaks my heart to see so many people reject the gospel, and even though sometimes i wonder if i´m doing more harm than good giving all of these people the chance to accept the gospel only to have them reject it, the notion of the one person out there waiting for me keeps me going. Maybe we knew each other in the pre-existence, maybe i promised him i would find him.. sobering thoughts. But the work does move onwards and upwards, despite my many weaknesses and nothingness, and despite the mentality of atheism so rapant here. Thanks for the prayers and the good wishes. Pray for a baptism in Prenzlau! We need all the help we can get!!! Love you!

-Elder Ott

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Week of May 31 from Prenzlau

Howdy ya´ll! How´s it going back on the other side of the pond?

Well we had a pretty long/solid week over here. We worked hard, we get tanner every day, and we give lots and lots of people the chance to accept the gospel and it´s message every day. Problem remains, however, there aren't many takers. We keep working though, I just keep trying to think to myself every day how I can give the next person I talk to the best chance possible to accept the Gospel. I figure if I can do that it can: 1- keep me from going insane, and 2- make me a better missionary to those who actually acknowledge my presence haha.  It´s been good though. We made out a couple new appointments this week which ended a bit of a drought, so can´t complain to much.

Probably the highlight of our week was Sunday. We had a record attendance in church with 17, and it probably should have been higher had a couple of the normal people been there. I don't even know how so many got there to tell you the truth. But ya, it was pretty awesome. The big news though is that we FINALLY got our baptismal candidate to church!!!! It was so amazing. You see, there´s only a handful of cars who can pick people up for church in the morning, and the branch president is the only one who´s willing to help, all the others just flat out say no. Anyway, so we finally had everything lined up and everything, and then bam, President B´s car wasn't going and they were running behind with the kids, so long story short, after a quick prayer I went up to a guy whose wife is a member, pretty scary guy as well, and told him I needed his help desperately, and somehow I got him to go pick the investigator up. It was great! So ya, the branch wasn't receptive to him at all unfortunately.  I don't think anyone even acknowledged he was there without me introducing them. But the bright spot was that a member from the district presidency was there and he fellowshipped him swimmingly, so that was pretty exciting. He really liked the church though, in spite of the luke warm welcome, and it looks like he might be getting baptized in 2 weeks as planned. I don't want to get my hopes up, but I really hope everything works out.  We also got the 27 year old single adult in our branch to get her patriarchal blessing recommend, which was another way sweet triumph, to me anyways. We´ve built up a pretty good friendship and it was cool to see the process of getting her started to prepare for the temple and her patriarchal blessing. It might not be a big deal to some, but it means the world to me to help her. Half of our branch has either A- been to the temple once and now can't go back or B-has never been at all. So any time progress is made, it´s just awesome.

Haha, well there´s the good part of the day and the week, but of course i wouldn't be being honest with ya´ll if I didn't throw in some of the not so sweet moments.:)  So we also set a new record this week in what we call diss points. We were honked at 16 times, and had insults shouted at us 8, so ya, it was a 24 pointer week, we usually like to keep it in the 12-15 range but oh well. Also, last week during church, someone messed with my new bike´s gear box and jacked it all up so it really blows now, haha but this week they stole my whole brake system during church. I don't even know how they did it- mad props- but they literally stripped everything. So we´re trying to find new places to park our bikes now because everyone knows that they´re the missionary bikes and at this rate, my bike´s going to be one blocks this next week.  That´s not the worst for the week though. Also on Sunday we went out to an appointment in a tiny dorf about 7 to 10 km´s outside of Prenzlau. The appointment fell out so we just decided to finish out dooring the rest of the dorf. Some kids were harrassing us a bit on their bikes and stuff, but nothing really out of the usual, until we came back to where we locked our bikes up and realized they had totally jacked up our front tires. They let all the air out and pulled the tube partially out of mine and well, it was obvious we weren't going to be enjoying the way awesome downhill bike ride back to Prenzlau... it was a long walk instead. I was having an internal struggle whether or not to go find the kids and chew them out and get angry, or to just laugh it off and get walking. As I started walking away, the scripture in Acts 5:41 came into my mind when the apostles walk away from a council "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."  Then I thought, ya it´s kinda embarrassing walking along this country rode with flats, and the people in the cars sure thought it was funny, but I wouldn't call this suffering haha. So ya, there´s where I found my perspective, I got to take a scenic walk through some beautiful fields of flowers in my favorite country in Europe, not so bad when you look at it that way. No doubt that some of the things I pass through here are hard, but I´ve learned over time that I can do hard things.:)

2 weeks left til the end of this, my 5th transfer. Not many missionaries at all stay over 2 transfers here in Prenzlau, so I´m interested to see what this transfer call has in store. I´ll probably end up being frustrated, transfer calls never ever seem to be good or satisfying, but it´s something interesting to look forward to at least. I cant believe I´ve been on a mission for 8 and a half months now, it boggles my mind, time flies but stands still at the same time. I can't recall my life before being a missionary.  It´s like there´s a veil there President Topham put on me or something haha, but you just have to keep working hard to make time count.

Thanks so much for all the support and love! I love you all the mostest!

-Elder Ott