Monday, July 25, 2011

Aufwiedersehen Prenzlau?


Hey there ya´ll, had a pretty exciting week this week, culminating with the most anti-climatic transfer call ever haha. But i´ll leave that a cliff hanger right now and write about it later...

So had another week of intense travel this week, but i´ve always said that the best way to enjoy your time in Prenzlau is to be somewhere outside of Prenzlau.:)  The first part of the week went pretty normal up until Wednesday. We had a cooking contest for district meeting which was epic, and the P-town elders (©MC) pulled off a big win with our rockin cinamon rolls. Booyahh! We used our home court advantage and baked them fresh before district meeting.;) Afterwards i hopped into the ZL´s Opel with my favorite ZL and we headed up to Neu Brandenburg for a day, we had TONS of fun together and saw TONS of success, but the main reason we were up there was so i could conduct a couple baptismal interviews. They went really really well, both were well prepared and were baptised yesterday. I promised them i´d come so it was fun to see a couple baptisms. One of them even thanked me during her testimony afterwards for making it such a spiritual experience, so that was a little pat on the back that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.:) Overall though it was a great Tausch and i really enjoyed having a missionary i could talk to about things. (he knows a lot of missionaries i know, and my comp is so young he hardly knows anyone)  So we had a good time together.:)

The next day we took the train back and i walked straight from the train to our car and drove down to Eberswalde to Tausch there. We had a really good day there as well which was topped off by a way cool appointment with a guy where i challenged him to be baptised and he accepted! Haha so i´m 6 for 6 on my commitments to acceptance ratio.:D It was way cool though and the Spirit was strong. It´s hard though because both the Elders down there struggle with the language and this guy speaks a heavy Berlinerish accent that´s hard for them to understand, i just hope the language barrier doesnt prove to be too big. We had a good Tausch (exchange) down there though and saw lots of success.

We then got on a train and headed back from Eberswalde back to the largest city in the Prenzlau area (twice as big as Prenzlau) Schwedt an der Oder where we did our weekly work and got back to Prenzlau later that evening. We´ve been doing a lot of doors lately in towns where the missionaries havent been able to get to without a car and it´s been very refreshing. Havent seen much success yet, but it´s just a thrill to talk to people who havent been approached multiple times by the missionaries who actually give you the light of day to talk to them for at least 5 seconds.:D

Saturday was transfer call morning. We had the ceremonial steak and eggs breakfast, followed by my rendition of "Welcome Welcome Transfercall Morning" (you have to say transfer call morning really fast... then it works) And it began. Haha so unfortunately President started with our Zone though and within 30 seconds of the 22 minute call we heard "and Prenzlau Elders stay the same"  It was way lame!!! I mean, i didnt have my hopes up i would be going, but i like to at least enjoy the anitcipation for a couple minutes!!! Oh well, overall it was way lame, but the branch here was way happier than i thought they would be. A few of the members even called to see if i was going or not, which i´ve never experienced before, so that was a nice morale boost. This means over half my mission now will have been spent in Prezlau... i dont know what to say about that. A few missionaries called to offer their condolences, but overall somehow i wasnt overly sad. We just got back in contact with our baptismal date this week and he was way excited... asking questions on what he needed to do after he was baptised and stuff, so i´m way excited to be able to see his baptism go through here and try and get a couple more going. It´s definitely a very very hard thing to be in the hole of the mission for 4 transfers (a fourth of my time in germany) but i´m not here to see pretty areas or be strengthened and fed by solid wards, i´m here to baptise and invite people to come unto Christ, and where better to do that than in a place with no members right? Overall it will be a good transfer i think, and it will only be 5 weeks long (the mission is trying to merge the Preston England MTC schedule with the Provo one) so there´s a little hope.:)

Sunday was good too, i spoke with a District Presidency member about revelation, and our talks merged together perfectly. I felt really good about that talk though, i learned a TON preparing it and arguably even more when i was giving it from the pulpit. It´s weird how i seem to learn more giving talks as i actually give them, i guess that´s what happens when you have half hour time slots haha. I shed a few tears as well as i talked about how my brother was facing one of the biggest decisions of his life, and how i constantly pray that it will be a revelatory experience for him, and how i would honestly give anything and everything i have right now to be there with him, which makes me tear up as a write this right now... but i really hope he finds the inspiration he seeks and needs. Well anyways, afterwards we ran up to Neu Brandenburg on the Autobahn, quick story about that, so there was a tour bus full of kids (my assumption is it was a trouble youth bus, why is forthcoming) but i was bump drafting off of them to save some gas and i was going to slingshot past them at the next bend (maneuvors i learned from my Uncle Craig while drving to Disneyland once) when all the sudden i saw the curtains part in the back and this guy drop his pants and moon us against the window... it was pretty disturbing. But how many people can say they´ve been mooned on the Autobahn eh? Well, ya, anyways the baptisms were way good and i enjoyed hanging out with one of the ZL´s who´s leaving tomorrow for my dream city Dresden.

But ya, overall it was a good week. The baptism is back on track and i´m excited to finish strong here in Prenzlau.  It´s hard, but possible, and i cant help but think the end has to be in sight.:) Have a wonderful week back home, i miss and love you all.

-Elder Ott

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week of July 18 from Prenzlau

Well dear family and friends, had another great week in His service this week. I think we ended up teaching more lessons this week than have been taught in this program in a long long time, and there´s a special reason for that i believe... let me explain it to you.

So, it´s no secret that the transportation in this area has been really rough. It´s hard to schedule lots of appointments when you have to bike 45 minutes in between them. I tried to talk with President about getting a car for the area. Eventually he said it would come down to me having to draft up an argument to take the car from another program. I wasn't sure if i wanted to do that because i don't like to think that our program is more "special" or has more needs than another, even though it has nothing to do with that, so ya, i entertained the idea, but wasn't sure whether or not to push it forward. Well this last Monday President called and said he had talked about it with the Assistants and would like to try a car out in Prenzlau for a little bit. haha The only thing was, we would be taking it from our neighboring city Eberswalde. Ya, that was kinda an awkard phone call afterwards haha,
Me- "hey guys, so how ya doin?"
Me- "good... sewwwwww, about your car"
Haha not good, it was kinda like, ya drive your car up here for district meeting and then you´ll be taking the train back. So they aren´t way happy, but at the end of the day they have a much bigger city with a great transit system and their program will benefit a lot from them getting outside more. Oh ya, so the main point, WE HAVE A CAR!!! :)  It´s been so great being so mobile! It really has helped a lot. I love the euro roads here with the beautiful trees and the autobahn right there, it´s great. And it´s helped the work a lot. We were able to maintain our finding of new people as well as boost our lessons quite impressively. She´s a little blue Opel Corsa hatchback and she´s beautiful.:) I actually don´t like Opels to be honest, but i can't complain i guess. The church actually could have had a cheaper deal with BMW, but they didn't want the image (which is weird because you can't throw a rock without hitting a Beamer here) nor a bunch of teenagers driving around with BMWs, especially on roads with no speed limits.;) So ya, that was a big highlight of the week.

Overall though it was a more quiet week this week. We stuck around in Prenzlau and Paselwalk, and just taught most of our investigator pool. Sad part was, very very few of our investigators made much progress this week, so sadly it looks like it´s back to a bit more fishing to find the elect. Our baptismal date is having some real problems and has ended contact with us for a reason we don't know, which was really hard to take, but ya, that´s the thing about missionary work. You can keep trying to get better and do your best, but at the end of the day the ball's in the investigator's court. So we are going to really hit up the doors in the surrounding Dorfs.

Next week however is going to be just as crazy as the last week it looks like though. Gotta go up to Neu Brandenburg to do two Baptismal Interviews this week, back down to Eberswalde another day, and then off back up to Neu Brandenburg to be at the baptisms. It´s too bad too, i really was hoping to be in town this Wednesday. We´re having our Pioneer´s day celebration which i got put in charge of planning, and i was really excited for it. We were going to make root beer and johnny cakes and watch Legacy. It was genius because Germans HATE root beer so i was going to get a lot of it... oh well, gotta take one for the team sometimes.;) I hope everything goes okay.

Well transfer calls are this next coming week. This transfer has honestly been one of the longest i feel like, so it will be good to finish it off.  There´s lots of buzz and rumors and stuff, but i think at the end of the day, i´m going to have to end up going 4 here. I was really hoping to get a shot at training my good friend Paco, and it could happen if President wants to move my junior companion after 1 here like he did with my last companion, so ya, we shall see.:)  It´s always refreshing to finish a transfer though.

Well i´m trying to think of what else i could share... we had a pretty funny/scary moment the other day.  So we have been working a LOT at the local refugee camp as of late, and the other day i parked my car in the parking lot out front. I had kinda a uneasy feeling because in Germany you NEVER know where you can and can't park and they give out little parking tickets like candy. My main concern was whether or not the parking area was public or privately owned, but we were only planning on being there an hour and there were no signs at all saying we couldn't park there. Well anywho, we´ve been having lots of troubles with the guards at the camp lately, but there was a new one there who i hadn't met before. Anywho, while we were in our appointment he went out and locked the gate up so we couldn't get out, even though it was still visiting hours, so when i left the building i saw what he had done and was pretty angry/nervous. I went and talked to him, and he said the car was going to be impounded for illegal parking on government property without a park slip, which made me mad because it´s like wide open with parking places and everything, so he said i could either give him 80 euro right there and he´d forget it, or that the car would be impounded. He let me sweat it out for a while and then... he start laughing and said he was just kidding haha. I wanted to punch him, but i had to laugh myself.:) He said he saw me come in and wanted to talk to me, so he locked the car in, we talked for about an hour actually and it was as if we were best friends, it was really weird actually, i´ve never really connected with someone like that. He said he felt as if he had known me for 20 years. Of course i brought the conversation back to the gospel... and after talking about his beliefs for a while, i introduced what the Book of Mormon is and he found it interesting, he then gave me his work schedule and said that we could come back and talk more about it whenever we want. Haha it went from disaster to miracle in literally 1 second.:)

All the experiences you get on a mission, i hope my journal will be sufficient enough to help me remember them all.:) I still have and entry for EVERY day of my mission. But anyways, hope everything goes alright this week, it´s going to be a big one for sure! I hope you all have a wonderful week as well! The Church is true, Jesus is the Christ, and the Work goes forward! Hoorah for Israel!

-Elder Ott

Monday, July 11, 2011

Week of July 11 from Prenzlau

Hey ya´ll back home. Wow did i have a KERAZZY week this week. UNBELIEVABLE. Where to begin hmmmm....

Well Monday was a well deserved, needed, relaxing P-day. Kind of a calm before the storm kinda feeling to it, which it turned out to be. We ended our P-day at 6 as always, went outside and talked to everyone and ended up finally making out our appointment at around 930.

Tuesday we had to roll out of Prenzlau in the car with the senior couple in their car to head down to Berlin for a mission conference with Elder Caussé of the Seventy. It was one of the most revelatory and edifying meetings i have ever been to in my entire life. He pulled the, what i´ve coined, Russel M Nelson technique when he taught, this technique can be broken down into a few basic steps. This is it... 1-You live a completely consecrated life for decades in a row so that your basically best friends with the spirit, 2-You get called as a General Authority, 3- You just show up at meetings with no previously planned topic of discussion and proceed to edify everybody in the room. Haha, he basically said, "i don't know this mission, i don't know your needs, this needs to be a revelatory meeting" and what followed was him teaching us for about 5 straight hours everything we need to know to baptise the entire land of Germany haha. It was really awesome. I really couldn't write anything he said and do it justice, but basically he taught us how to focus on baptise, be successfull missionaries, and to work with members. It was great.  And the cherry on top was that when we got there, MY MTC TEACHER was waiting for us on the front steps to greet us! He´s doing a study abroad and is living in Berlin, soooo cool to see him.... but it gets better later. Anywho, i ended up having to drive home from Berlin because, well, senior missionaries are just that, senior, and Berlin is a crazy place to drive, so we all decided we´d feel a bit better with me at the wheel. So i navigated my way through the heart of Berlin back to Prenzlau, that is a big city though, crazy. It´s like your given a car, and told not to damage it, then thrown into the middle of crazy traffic in the heart of Berlin, and oh by the way... the car is the Lord´s. Crazy.

Wednesday we still held district meeting and then i hopped in the car with my favorite Italian ZL and we went crazy in the city of Neu Brandenburg for a day. I had lots of fun and learned lots there. It was refreshing to be back in a somewhat big city as well, even though Neu Brandenburg is by far the most Ghetto and least desirable ZL city in the mission haha. We saw lots of success though and had a good time together.

Thursday after our train broke down and we got stuck in Paselwalk for a hour and a half, we finally limped into Prenzlau at 1 o´clock. We had an hour until the ZL´s train came so we did some finding all together for a bit and made out some solid new appointments. Then came the best part though. So we had a new lesson with this guy we found when we decided to sacrifice some rest time and go out and talk to people for 20 minutes, and ya, the Spirit was way strong and we taught a good third lesson, and long story short, we have a way awesome new BAPTISMAL DATE for the 13th of August!!! It was way awesome though, he would be a huge asset to the branch here.

Friday we met up with the Eberswalde Elders in Schwedt and had a Döner together and then i headed back to Eberswalde for a day. It was another really good exchange and we saw lots of success. Culminating with a way solid appoinment where i got to extend a baptismal date again, same scenario almost exactly as the day before, and he also accepted! The Elders there both have big struggles with German, so i´m hoping they can pull it through and find a way to communicate, but it was another cool commitment. I believe that´s the 6th baptisimal commitment i´ve extended which has been accepted, so it´s just always a special occasion when that happens.

Saturday we had a big street display in Eberswalde to help boost the program a bit. It was my first street display, and it was met with a luke-warm welcome by the city. I actually think that hardly anybody stopped to look at the table, but our whole district was running around finding people, so we made out lots of appointments for the Elders there. I really hope that it boosts that program a bit more.  Overall though it was a WAY solid week for the district. The ZL´s picked up 2 new baptismal dates as well, so basically we got 4 in the district this week which is unheard of. Way happy and proud of our District!

So, as good as Saturday was, we got home really late and then i talked with our other branch counselor and found out the assignments for this Sunday where either A-gone or B-not given out. Sewww, basically that left me with another 25 minute talk and the hour Sunday school lesson with my companion. So Saturday night was kinda stressful, but if i´ve learned anything here it´s been that i can do hard things. The scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 kept ringing in my ear "when i am weak, then i am strong" And overall, it wasn't my most polished or best talk, but it worked and it turned into a good Sunday. BUTTTTT, that wasn't even close the best part. MY MTC TEACHER TOTALLY TOOK OFF FROM BERLIN AND CAME UP TO PRENZLAU SUNDAY. Basically i got to spend a Sunday doing missionary work with my idol from the MTC.:) I even got to invite him to share his testimony and he was totally there for all of our church meetings. We also did some finding with him and taught a lesson with him. INSANE! I would have never ever ever ever ever thought i would ever be doing missionary work with him here in Germany. INSANE. It was sooo good to see him though. I love my MTC teachers sooooo much! I missed them both, and i still hope Sister C is doing amazing. They influenced my mission more than they could ever know!

Man, well my fingers hurt, that was a lot of stuff haha. It was a crazy week though in the service of the Lord. I learned lots, i grew lots, and i´m better for it! The Work goes forwards, i just hope i can keep up! Have a wonderful week, love you all so much!

-Elder Ott

Monday, July 4, 2011

Week of July 4 from Prenzlau

Halli Hallo!

Well another week come and gone in Prenzlau, lots of blessings, lots of heartbreak, lots of success, lots of mistakes, but naja, what can you do?

Well, trying to think of how i could possible try and catch you all up on another week in the mission field with me always limited time... Not an easy task.

Well first interesting experience would have to be Tuesday. Sewwww, it´s no big secret that our mission bikes BLOW. We are already fixing them at least twice a week and the kids always looking to vandalize them doesnt help much either, but ya, for the most part they´re things that can be fixed. Well tuesday we were in a big hurry to Bahnhof to catch a train, so we were going really fast when all the sudden i heard a big pop behind me. I looked back in time to see my comp lose control of his bike and literally flip over the handbars and slide like 6 feet across the cement on his backpack . EPIC. Haha his chain snapped off as he was pedaling really quick and the sudden lack of tension made him go over the bars. Lame though, we missed our train and needed the bikes for appointments so we had to go back home and fix them. My handlebars and seat had come loose as they do every 3 days anyway, so ya. We went home, grabbed the tools real quick and ran out of the appartment, problem was, we set our keys down and didnt grab them as we ran back out, so basically, my bike was locked up, his was broke, we actually still needed one more thing from the appartment to fix his bike, and ya the spare key i made last transfer and gave to a member was a good 30 minute walk away, haha WUNDERBAR. But it´s little incidents like that that make a day memorable and make a mission, so we couldnt help but smile and laugh and just get walking.;) We went on later that night to teach 3 really cool new guys from Afghanistan who speak Persian. They´re soooooo cool! I´m trying to learn a little persian from them to, it´s way cool. We have a new investigator from Palestein as well who´s way strict Islam, its soooo weird that i havent tought a muslim since Kiel, an eternity ago. Haha i have to knock the dust off my Koran and start to get back into the habit of teaching muslims again. The three Afghanis are all converted Christians though, so that makes that a lot easier.

So i think i wrote maybe last week about how we found this guy by a miracle while he was on his bike... turns out to be our most solid investigator at the moment. We´ve met with him twice this last week, the first meeting was really really really good, the second meeting , which was at his house, was decent as well, it was just hard for the spirit to be there because there was Pornographie EVERYWHERE. Lining the walls, on the table, bleh it was no good.  So ya, cigarettes everywhere and Cafee, we will DEFINITELY be teaching him at the church from now on haha, until he´s baptised and all cleaned up anyways.;)

Yesterday we headed back up to go by on a referal in a town called Paselwalk to go by on a contact recieved from the Neu Brandenburg ZL´s, pretty interesting experience. So pretty much this lady  was the nicest lady ever, the ZL´s talked to her about Charity and apparently she was just eating it all up! Well we got her address and brought her over a BOM. She was soooooo nice and loved us instantly. We klingeld and she said she´d come down to us, and she just couldnt stop grabbing our hands and telling us how we glowed, and it was just incredible. She took the BOM and said, it must be true and was so excited... then... the husband. I HATE SPOUSES GETTING IN THE WAY OF SALVATION!!! He came on the box and said, "you get back up here right now!" She jumped and started pushing us aways saying "god is with you" "leave this place and never come back!" "the people here are evil" "Never forget me!!!" She then stuffed the BOM under her shirt and said she´d read it, and then she retreated back upstairs. Apparently her husband must abuse her or something, long story short, we were just kinda left standing there with that blank "did that really just happen stare" on our faces. It was really heartbreaking and sad, and weird haha, but i hope something maybe comes out of it?

As we came back last night as well, we got a call from our prenzlau missionary mom who has a room renting business here in Prenzlau. She said she had a family from America there who wanted to meet us and to get a tour of the church. The Bahn workers were on strike, so our train was a bit late getting back, but we made it to the church and met up with them. Wow. I miss americans. Haha, it was so weird meeting someone who actually respected and admired you! They were so nice and upbeat and happy!!! They were asking all sorts of questions and the kids as well, it was really one of the coolest things that´s happened to me on my mission. They gave us the good ole "keep on goin Elders, we´re praying for ya!" And i honestly never have felt more rejuvinated in my life. It was so wonderful not to be met with appreciation and love! They were just amazed at how hard the work was here and how we do it. And only one of them could speak German so i think they thought it was really cool to hear us speak it with the member there. Ah, i just realized, i AM a missionary and people DO love the missionaries! Ugh, i cant get over how cool it was! It made me smile the rest of the night.:):):)

Well anyways, it´s just another example of those tender mercies of the Lord he always prepares for us. I dont know if that family will ever know what a boost they were for us, but they definitely blessed our lives by wanting to see us!  Just following those instincst and first thoughts, it just always enables you to be a tool in the hand of the Lord and bless the lives of those around you!  The longer i stay here in Prenzlau, the more i seem to realise though little blessings you get and to be thankful for them! They´re almost always there when we reflect back and look for them, it makes for more gratitude which leads to more satisfaction and happiness with life!

Love you all so much! If you see a missionary this week, tell them you´re proud of them, that your praying for them, and to keep on going! It makes a difference.:) Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Ott