Monday, August 29, 2011

Final week in Prenzlau!

Well do i have a story for you people...

So i´ll hit the whole week a bit later, but we are going to talk about Saturday first.:) So, transfer call morning... my comp and i were making our traditional transfer call steak and egg breakfast, when all of the sudden i had one of those super strong feelings like "go put the phone in your pocket NOW" So i went into the other room, it was 9:30, (half an hour before transfer calls) and as i went to pick it up, i noticed it was lighting up and buzzing, i looked at it (apparently we had turned the volume way down) and saw that President was calling. I quickly answered, and my heart rate doubled i bet haha. Anyways, he said "Elder Ott, i just want to say how much i appreciate your fulfilling your assignment in Prenzlau, i´ve been talking with the church leadership in your zone and... they want you to stay there the rest of your mission!" I didnt really know what to say, President is an amazing and personable man, but not much of a jokester haha. He let it seep in for a second and said "take a deep breath elder ott, ACTUALLY i talked with the Stake President in Dresden, they want more baptisms, and i told them i´d send them someone who knows how to baptise, i prayed about it, and it was super clear, i asked again and it was made certain, you are going to Dresden as a Zone Leader"

So yes, there you have it. I AM GOING TO DRESDEN. Haha! I´m going from a city of 15,000 to a city of over 500,000, (twice the size of Kiel) where i´ll be a ZL in one of the biggest zones in the mission. (over 30 missionaries) AND my companion, is none other than the Italien world champion fighter i got to know in Neu Brandenburg already! So basically... i couldnt have asked for more of a dream come true! Ever since i was eight, and i got my book of remembrance as i was baptised, with the Joseph Alma Ott story inside, i have always wanted to go to Germany on my mission, and my dream city has ALWAYS been DRESDEN! Man i am sooooooo stoked. I will totally be able to take a picture at his grave. See the many relics of one of the most cultural city of the world, and, best of all, i get to go to the TEMPLE EVERY TRANSFER in Freiberg. I´m a bit nervous fulfilling the ZL assignment in such a massive zone, and there´s going to be so much to do. But i have a great companion, and i´m 100% ready to DO WORK in Dresden!

So ya, that kind of dominated my thoughts about this week.:) Gave my last talk here in Prenzlau sunday, and it went AWESOME. Said my goodbyes and now i´m just taking in the quiet before the storm starting tomorrow at 12:46 when i step off the train in the amazing Dreseden Hauptbahnhof!

Aside from everything, we had a pretty rough week as far as missionary work goes. Lost some more investigators (poor elder coming here is going to wonder what happened... he´s got a lot of good things and work to do though) but we did however gain one golden new investigator, which makes it all worth it.:) She´s way cool, and a friend of one of our members, so we can teach her with her friend there and there´s just an awesome spirit. There´s no doubt in my mind that she is going to get baptised!!!

Well jeez... i know lots more happened, but my mind is a little occupied with Dresden at the moment.:) It´s good to be on the move again, and try and apply what i learned here in a city and a huge ward at the complete opposite end of the spectrum! Well when i get excited (or come out of oral surgery) i bear testimony, so hear it goes... the church is TOTALLY true!

Love you guys all, and have a great week!

-Elder Ott

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week of August 22 from Prenzlau

Well we had a week of miracles again here in good old P-town Deutschland...

So the mission had the goal this week of achieving 21 Ballards (talking to 20 extra people a day and making out 1 appointment) and... WE TOTALLY DID IT! It was a great way to retire this Ballard system and move our Standards of Excellence! I´m pretty sure that that is the first time ever that anyone has ever had 21 Ballards in Prenzlau... and well now it´s the last as well haha. It was pretty crazy though. We had like a prayer tree thing going, so basically if you didnt have your appointment made out by 7pm you call your DL and ZL and then they have a list of people to call, so basically you just had a ton of missionaries praying for you! I had the chance to have Paco´s town, Hildesheim, land in my list to pray for, it was pretty cool. So that was pretty epic i must say, it´s crazy how when you have faith and prayers working for you, no goal seems impossible.

Aside from that however, we also somehow found a way to teach a lot this week too. Perhaps our biggest success however, wasnt teaching in the sense of gospel teaching. So we´ve done a lot of work at the Refugee camp here in the city, and we noticed that hardly anyone could speak german. They almost all want to learn German... but there´s no class here they can take. So i said to myself "self, why dont we teach a class" So we got the flyers out and everything, and well, first class we had 10 or 15 people, haha, the room was almost not big enough. A lot of them were from Afghanistan, and there is one guy there, kinda the ring leader (also a great investigator) who speaks a little English and Persian (the main language they all speak) so basically... I teach in german, my comp repeats it in English and then this guy says it in Persian. It was a big success though and the people really liked it. Some people in the community have heard about it as well, a lot think it´s great and some have even volunteered to help sometime, so it´s awesome. One of the watchmen at the camp keeps tearing all of our signs down, and some people try to lock up our building so all the Ausländers (out landers?) cant get in... but we still find a way to pull it off.:)

Well i dont know much else to talk about... basically just had hours of doors and normal teaching appointments this week. One interesting experience though... So we were doing doors in this little dorf, when all of the sudden this van came speading up to us and this tough-looking guy roled down his window and said "Hey... you guys spreading propoganda around here" I was a little scared because he looked like a crazy NPD guy putting up campaign signs (and they´re very anti-american) Anyways, i was just like, "well we´re talking with the people about a book that changes lives" and he was like "i know who you are... youre the MORMONS!" Now i wasnt sure whether to be scared or not, but the fact that he didnt call us JW´s (WHICH IS WHAT THEY ALLLWWAYYS CALL US!!!) roused my curiousity. I said "Well ya, that´s our nickname, people call us that because we believe in the Book of m...." then he interupted and said. "They talk about you all the time on South Park! I LOVE mormons! They say you guys are the only ones going to heaven" So anyways, he said he wants everything we can give him to read about us, BUT doesnt want us to teach or meet with him until he has read a bit. That was weird though... Media Referall???

Well, headed down to Berlin tomorrow for Leadership Training... gotta give a workshop there, hope it all goes well. Transfer calls coming up this Saturday as well... i cant help but think i´ve gotta go!

Have a wonderful week everyone back home! Love you all so much!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week of August 15 from Prenzlau

Halli hallo once again dear friends and family!

Still alive and kicken in P-town Deutschland, had quite a week this week, not sure how i´d describe it, but naja it was definitely a rewarding one... in the end anyway.

So basically our week went a little something like this, Monday... EVERY appointment fell out, Tuesday EVERY appointment fell out, we did have Zone Conference though (surprised that didnt fall out) Wednesday EVERY appointment fell out, Thursday FIRST APPOINTMENT we ate lunch with a the parents of the branch president in Templin, way cool, the father is not a member, so that´s an awesome opportunity at completing a family, but ya, afterwards everything else fell out.:) So basically Friday rolls around and we hadnt taught a single investigator all week! Not the most encouraging situation, because when appointments fall out that means that you basically have to go do another extra hour of "finding time" added on to the hours you already have planned. Sew basically we knocked on doors all week long.:) Friday though, we finally got in with a new investigator, 2 actually, then with 3 saturday, and two more sunday so that saved the week.

Tuesday´s Zone conference was super super cool, lots of little changes in the program. Sister Pimentel also gave an awesome thema based on the story of my ancestor Joseph A. Ott and it was a really cool experience. The big talk though was the taking away of the Ballard system. The ballard system is this, you get one ballard for talking to 10 extra people a day, 10 when your comp talks to ten extra a day, and then the third ballard comes when you make an appointment out. So you have the possibility of getting 21 a week. Ballards are basically how missionaries judge other missionaries and it´s aweful. For example, it was SUPER easy to make out appointments in Kiel, but here, you can talk to EVERYONE you see the ENTIRE day long and not even get into a conversation. So, you have all these missionaries who havent been in rough programs, whispering behind your back "he only gets like 16 ballards a week" and it´s super frustrating. It´s kinda like you're talking with people just to get a time and a place to meet so you can get your ballard instead of because you want find interested people. So anyway, that system got tweeked a bit so it´s a little better, and now i dont have this crushing burden of i have to make out an appointment today or else, haha it´s still there a bit, but hopefully we can focus on finding for the right reasons now. Prenzlau has really changed my whole perspective on numbers, even though to my absolute amazement, and concern, we actually stay above average in most categories.

Anywho, that was good, Saturday we had our mid transfer transfer-call. President said "and in the prenzlau district....(super long pause) no changes!" Haha so it was kinda a little adrenaline rush for nothing.

Our main focus right now is taking new investigators, which we´ve been finding a couple every week, and turning them into progressing investigators. It seems like most everyone who meets with us are just really nice people who love to talk about america, it´s super hard to get them to actually investigate the church though!

Past couple days have been kind of interesting. So basically there´s a political party very active here in our region, call the NPD. The NPD is literally the reformed Nazi party... yes it still exsits. It´s pretty shocking seeing some of their campaign stuff. "no more foreigners!" and all this stuff. One guy we are teaching in a city just north of us is from Chile, and some guys broke into his apartment and wrecked up all his stuff. They just had a big celebration because it´s like the 50 year mark since the Wall went up, and the NPD and Communist parties had these t-shirts and signs and stuff and they said "thank you for the 28 years of protection" with picture of soldiers with guns in front of the Brandenburger gate. Latest poll said that in the city right above us, the NPD have 20% of the votes, pretty crazy. They´re very anti american. I say that because we got thrown in to an interesting situation this last week up there. It was actually with a communist, so it´s different, haha but basically this guy tried to bash it out with us about how vile american was, pretty crazy stuff he was saying. It´s been weird kinda being in the middle of the big political frenzy lately.

Anywho, as said it was a long, hard week. Still dont have any progressing investigators, but we´re looking for them! Got to take a ride in the branch pres´s brand new Audi... WOW. That was a lot of fun. The german cars are something else, that´s for sure. But anyways, Sunday was very uplifting and was a great day leading into p-day today. It will be interesting to see what next week brings!

Have a wonderful week back home... love and miss you all so much!

-Elder Ott

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week of August 8 from Prenzlau

Over 20 weeks here now... that just hit me the other day as i was sitting in a meeting with the branch president after church on Sunday and saw another District Conference coming up on our agenda... I was totally here for the last District Confrence... haha will it ever end?

Naja, who knows?  Another week has come and gone in P-town, we worked hard, struggled mightily, but in the end when you look back you just cant help but see some miracles.:)

First miracle happened on Tuesday, so we had just come back from a few hours of doors and street contacting to have an appointment with a prospective new investigator in Prenzlau. I was really surprised when she answered the door with our card in her hand as she said "i hurried home just to be here when you got here." I was freaking out, like "this doesnt happen, she´s excited to meet with us" haha then she said, "I never ever wanted to meet with you guys, and never will, and i wanted to make sure i gave you this card back, please never come back" Haha... downer. So anyways, we decided to street contact our way down to an old investigator. As we were going over what we wanted to talk about with her, we decided we were not going to offer a baptismal committment this time... we have talked about it so much it´s become more of a plea than an invitation. So we started teaching about how we find peace in a life based on following the word of God, the whole time trying to fight the impression to commit her to baptism, well, finally i gave in and posed an actual firm commitment, and well, she surprised us and accepted! It was pretty cool. I would have never thought i would have seen 4 people accept a baptismal committment in my time here in Prenzlau, but somehow it happened.

The next day we finally met with our new investigator again, the guard from the refugee house. That was kinda a downer as well. He basically said he put my birth date into a his astrology program on his computer at home (he´s big into astrology and horoscopes and all that)  and he basically said that it warned him that i have a gift of converting people to my causes, even if they personally dont want to be converted. So basically he said he didnt trust us talking to him about Mormonism any more because he thinks i would somehow "trick convert" him... i can honestly say i have never experienced that before. So ya, basically thus we see how Satan works with people through Heathen belief systems. He says he still loves us though, and will keep reading in the BOM, but that he will never be a Mormon. "Maybe in my next cycle of development after this life" he said... too bad, i dont think he knows how true that statement probably is haha.

After he, for all purposes, dropped us, it was pretty hard. The next day though, we were up in Paselwalk doing a bit of finding, when the oddest thing happened. So basically, i parked the car, got out of the car, and talked to the first lady i saw on the street, and she said "yes, i would love to talk to you, why dont you come up, my house is right across the street"  I kinda had to do that really hard blinking thing to make sure i wasnt asleep haha. I´ve had walk-ins before, but never with the absolute very first person i´ve talked to!? Well she´s an older more fragile lady, her house was full of dolls and knitted things, haha but then all of the sudden, i beheld a really tiny heart picture frame with the picture of a man in it. He was about 7 feet tall, his eyes were white, and he was wearing a leather overcoat. It was totally the Undertaker from WWF! Haha, i LOVE the Undertaker. So we had an instant connection. Basically our small talk at the beginning of the lesson consisted of favorite wrestlers and the technique of the Undertaker. Haha, back home my bf Elder Hatch and i would always play wrestling games, and i was always the Undertaker and he was always his brother Kain. Haha, who knew that was maybe preparing me to connect with this little old german lady who loves WWF wrestling haha. That was, honestly said, probably the LAST thing in the world i expected!

Well, the rest of the week was really hard. Lots of haters out here. Hardest part was probably when the cool family we were teaching in Templin dropped us, that really stung a bit. Definitely one of those more downer weeks when nothing seems to be going your way.  Hopefully this week is a bit better though. Got ZoCo in Berlin Tuesday, probably an Exchange later in the week.  We bought a district sand volleyball last week though, so now we can play sand volleyball on P-days, which stokes me out of my mind, but of course, it´s rainy today. Haha, i dont mind it though because it was scorching a couple days ago and i wanted to die.  But ya, should be a hard, but good week.

Certainly remains to me an honor to labor in the Lord´s vineyard this last time. I was studying Jacob 5 the other day in German.  It just hits me so hard every time how the Lord says multiple times "what more could i have done for my vineyard"  He sends instructions, has capable servants, he even works in the vineyard himself! But still, so many of the trees refuse to be tame and yield fruit. It pains him to the point where he even weeps over his vineyard. That´s a great parable, and insight into the Lord´s view of his work. Make sure to yield good fruit this week ya´ll! Love you all so much, have an awesome week! :)

-Elder Ott

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week of August 1 from Prenzlau

Wow... that´s all i can really say after a week like this´n WOW.

So we had a pretty good week this week.:)  Haha, i suppose i´ll set up the background by the one really sad thing that happened this week. So we were way excited to have our baptismal date "back on track" So the Elders met with him while i was gone, and apparently when he asked what he needed to do after he was baptised, they went ahead with teaching about Temples, work for the dead, and the Word of Wisdom. Ya, so his appointment fell out and when we went by he acted like he had never even known us and said he wont be baptised. After we left, he called me and said he was sorry, but we just had way too much deep stuff and he felt way overwhelmed, i tried to explain that we could go slower, i mean we had only met 3 times, but anyways, he´s gone now. That was a sucker punch to the gonads for sure. It was really sad and frustrating for me. I mean, it´s never the missionaries fault when an investigator drops out, but it really just stinks when you arent there for the last appointment.:( But, ya, it was just making us more humble and ready for a week of crazy miracles.:D

So we´ll fast forward to Wednesday. District meeting. So it´s early in the transfer and i wanted to do something to spice up the district, and well, so there´s a non active member here who was given the missionaries 2 nasty dark chocolate bars per week here for a long long time, and well, noone eats them, so basically we have a TON of chocolate and nothing to do with it. Sooo, i decided that as a district we would be building a temple with it.:D I got the dimensions for King Solomon´s temple from the Bible, using one litte square as a cubit, but it ended up being way too big, so we´re just going to build a normal temple.:)  It was a big surprise though, and i had a cloth over it and everything, so we sang "how firm a foundation" and then i unveiled it. The response was hilarious. It was basically exaclty how i imagine it went when the Kirtland Temple was announced. At first there were shouts of joy and excitement, but then came the murmuring "how shall we construct a temple?" "i dont even know how to work with chocolate" "How is it possible" So i put on my best Brigham Young impression and pulled out the old quote "I dont know how, i just know that as we remain diligent in our efforts, a way will be provided" I was going to pull out 1 Nephi 17:50-51 as Nephi built his ship... but we just left it at that. The construction is actually going very well... i´ll have to send pictures.

But yes, then Wednesday we drove down to visit the branch president and his family in Templin, which is unreachable without a car, thus the missionaries had not been there in years. They were so excited to be able to have us there! We grilled, ate, then we gave a spiritual thought from 1 Nephi 17:50-51, replacing the end with "instruct us where to find a family ready for the gospel" then we had them pick out a street to do doors, prayed, and we set off to go get it done. En route, they then called us and said they had just felt like they should call a family they knew and ask if we could come over. Well they accepted, we went over, taught them, they accepted, and want to learn more! We even gave the husband a blessing for the sick! SO SOLID. We are meeting with them again and are so excited. It´s the first member referal in years here! And they were so excited too, i told them we need to come back more often, he said "good, that sounds really good, we have a few more ideas" KA CHING. The members trust us, and the blessings are following. The mother of the branch pres, whose husband is a non-member even invited us over to eat with her, and maybe even teach her husband! It was really really big for the program.

The next day we headed down to Schwedt to do 5 hours of just hard core finding.  En route, one of my favorite dead missionaries, (an old ZL in Kiel) called me, he was back in the mission visiting and wanted to know how i was doing. It was sooo great to hear from him again. He´s one of the hardest workers this mission has ever had, and it really motivated me to keep pushing down in Schwedt. We made out multiple appointments! One of which was with another cool family! So we´ll see if we cant get Schwedt opened up a bit more.

The following day, we didnt have much going until out of nowhere, our SUPER GOLDEN investigator lady, who we made a baptismal date out with a couple months ago, called us and wanted to meet! So we did. She´s soooo golden. She reads the BOM EVERY NIGHT and marks it. And just knows it´s all true. She talked a lot about how much she wants to be baptised. The problem is just she cant get away from her husband, and she is so busy with her nursing school she just cant make time, she said she´s going to work harder though to try and come to church and stuff. We fasted for her, and i really hope she starts picking up. She says her 7 year old daughter still talks about the Restoration film we watched, and how much she loved it! AWHHHH, why are the perfect ones even hard to keep up with!  Cool to be back in contact with her though.

Sunday, well actually Saturday night i found out i would be giving the Sunday School lesson, and i just couldnt figure out what i should teach it on. Well Sunday morning, the answer finally came, and i wrote all the impressions down, and fastened together probably the coolest lesson i´ve ever taught before, it went so good, i really felt so much more like a mouthpiece for the Lord, ah, it´s just the best feeling!  Funny story though... so afterwards turns out my comp forgot his keys which contained the key for the bottom door of the building the church is in... and somehow that door got locked. Branch president wasnt there and no one else had their keys, sooo basically the branch got locked in the building. Haha people started getting pretty mad and stuff, but i just threw on the Legacy film for the kids, made a few calls, and got one of the sons of a member, who is not a member, to grab his mom´s keys and ride his bike down to the church to let us out. Haha catastrophe avoided... kinda fun though.

So later Sunday though, i got a call from the ZL´s in Oldenburg... clear on the other side of the mission. And pretty much the most amazing miracle ever happened. So, a couple months ago, my last comp and i were talking to people on the lake here in P-town. We talked to a really old guy and a young guy sitting together on a bench. The old guy was really grouchy and told us to get lost, so i just focused on the young guy, and then set a card down on the bench for him. Haha, well apparently he was visiting his dad here, and he lives in Oldenburg. The ZL´s there were doing doors, and he let them in. He said he had talked with missionaries before in Prenzlau, and that his dad was closed but that he thought about what we said and took the card home with him. He showed the missionaries the card, and they called the number on it... which was our number. Well, in the first lesson, he was committed to be baptised, and they said he´s just golden. Haha, what are the chances!!??  The smallest, tiniest town in the mission, to the ZL big city on the other side of the mission... really crazy!

Well that was amazing, but what really capped the week off was that we finally met with the refugee home watchman i talked about last week. He is LEGIT. We had an awesome first lesson. He promised to read the BOM and even had me sign it hahaha, that was a new one. But we will be meeting with him regularly now!  And we have his work schedule so we can work in the Heim now around when he´s there to avoid trouble with the other guards. The Lord really does answer prayers!!!

Sooo, all these experience lead me to determine once again that the Church is totally true!  I love Mosiah 4:11. When we really realize our own nothingness and call upon the Lord "daily" and plead with him to bring his work to pass through us despite our weaknesses, he not only can and WILL help... he WANTS to help. There´s very little doubt in my mind that when we are concecrated, humble, and actively seeking to do His will with pure desire, that he will help us!

Have a wonderful week back home everyone! Love and miss you all soooo much!!!

-Elder Ott