Saturday, November 26, 2011

Week of November 26 from Berlin

Wow, I can't believe that it´s already P-day again.... I really think that this week was one of the fastest of my entire mission, maybe even life haha. I can't put my finger on it because technically we didn't have quite as much to do as last week. I think the key was we taught a lot more and did more back-to-the-basics missionary work which felt really really good.

So I think I´m starting to settle in a bit, getting used to the office a bit more. I´m starting to get the dust knocked off of my old computer skills and am starting to get a grip on things. It was really weird having to relearn how to do everything in German haha, but it´s coming slowly but surely. This week we mostly just prepared to travel for mission president interviews which began yesterday and will be going all through next week. It´s kinda frusterating. I´ve learned though with our whole situation, we finally have a week to do more missionary work, but it´s hard to make out appointments because we will be gone the next week and a half, but ya, we do the best we can. We had some awesome teaching appointments this last week though, including one in which we set a sick baptismal date with an awesome elderly lady. The other cool one is kinda a long story, but here it is... so the RLDS church had a ward here in Berlin, but there´s been a lot of contention in the church leadership here and in America, and well, long story short, it dissolved and now we have a way awesome RLDS family more-or-less "investigating" our church, which has proved to be one of the most unique experiences of my mission. We had been working to make an appointment out with them for a while now and finally had our first one last night. It was super awesome. We started with the doctrine we have in common (the Restoration through Joseph Smith) and they shed a few tears and could feel the Spirit. So ya, we´re teaching them regularly now and they have a LOT of potential we think. It´s so interesting working with people who believe pretty much everything you believe already, but just with a couple subtle twists. It´s awesome though and they are amazing people. We also found a bit of time this week to go by on an old exchange student who lived in St. George from here in Berlin... no one was home, but we left her a pass-along card with a little note on it and our number, so that would be awesome to get to see her sometime.

So on the other side of the job, mission president interviews in Berlin went well. We had the chance to give our workshop for the first time and work out all the kinks for the next 15 times we´re going to give it haha. Got to see a lot of old friends though. The Neu Brandenburg zone came down and did everything with Berlin, so I got to see the senior couple from Prenzlau as well as the two elders working there, along with an elder I was with there for 2 transfers, and just lots of other missionary friends. I´m SUPER EXCITED for next week though... let me count some reasons why. 1-Tuesday I will be back in Dresden and see all my friends in the zone 2-Wednesday I will be in Leipzig and see another old mission friend and MTC friend of mine 3-Thursday I will see Paco for the first time on my mission in Hannover! 4- Friday I will get to spend a day in Hamburg, one of my favorite cities in the mission and then... DRUM ROLL PLEASE 5- SATURDAY I´LL BE IN KIIIIIEEEELLL! I´m returning back to my home town for the first time in almost a year! Ah I´m so so so excited.:) And coolest is, I just got a letter a while ago from a lady we met right when I got there on the street who will be getting baptised who I have a good relationship with, and the Kiel ZL´s have made out an appointment with her and I´ll get to surprise her and teach her again. Ah I´m so excited.:):):) It will be AWESOME to be back there again! I love that place.

So anyways, there´s kinda a rough outline for my next week I guess. I´m super excited to get out there and see the missionaries. I´m still working on getting down all of their names and assignments... it´s not as easy as I had hoped. But I´m stoked. And I´m super super excited to spend a little bit of time with president as well. I love that man so much, and am elated to be able to spend some quality time on the road with him.

So ya, I´m doing wonderful. I hope you all are doing just as well yourselves. Love you all so much and thanks for all the love and support. Don't be afraid to write me.:) Love you all! Hoorah für Israel!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week of November 19 from Berlin

Well survived my first week here in Berlin.  It was just a wonderful, but crazy week here in the office. 1st weeks of the transfer are always the worst I hear, so that´s a good sign. It was a great experience to get to see so many things though and just learn so much. My last email was pretty short, so I will try and get caught back up a little bit on what has been going on this past week.
So I got here to Berlin Sunday night.  I arrived, dropped my luggage off, then headed to an appointment with a member family here in the area. Then we came back and headed to bed. Monday was when the race started though. We started off taking the numbers from the whole mission.  That was pretty crazy.  I always complained because it took so long as a District Leader from 3 programs, then as a Zone Leader taking numbers for like 15, and now we´re kickin' along at like close to 50.  It´s good though-the computer makes it easier. Then we had to stick it in a program to generate some reports, then we had a staff meeting, followed by putting together some more reports for our weekly meeting with President, then we met with him, discussed some things, and then went out to eat with the office staff. Then we came back and got to work on getting things ready Zone Leader reports and Stake President reports. It is hard because I haven't seen a computer in over a year really and I have no idea how I would run all of these programs in English... much less German. But we found a way somehow. Then we spent a lot of time getting things ready for the new Goldens coming in.  We picked them up from the airport on Tuesday. That was really cool because it was exactly a year ago about that I was getting to Germany and having all of those exact same experiences that they were having. We took them out to do their first mission finding time and then got them all back to the hotel for the night. I thought driving in Dresden was bad, but Berlin is pretty crazy itself. The car we have is pretty cool though.  It´s a Chevy Cruz, the only non-Opel in the mission, and the only stick shift, so it was good to go back to those manual days again.:) The next day we had all of the finishers coming in, among other things, and it was pretty crazy as well. Thursday we mostly just got ready for our Zone Leader Council, and Friday we had it, and well that´s just a fraction of what has been going on, and now I´m sitting here at my computer trying to explain it haha. It´s good to be busy though, so I won't ever complain about that.

So I would have to say probably one of my favorite parts of this job so far has been getting to work so closely with President and his amazing wife. They are just two of the most amazing people that I think I know. You really never realize the amount of work that goes on in a mission until you´ve been through the office I don't think. Just the logistics of it all- there´s just so much that needs to get done, and our mission president and his wife do it very very well. The 2 couples here in the office are amazing as well. They take some long nights sometimes, but they are just always so happy and upbeat. I think I´ve come to realize the past couple days just what an amazing/weird thing a mission is. Who sends a bunch of teenage boys into Europe, give them a huge city, a car, and money with little or no supervision, and then expects them to teach people about God... and they do it! I´ve come to learn quite a bit lately that missions are really a lot more about turning young men into what we need to become than I maybe thought earlier. Ya our role is important in finding people and bringing them to the church, but in reality the ones who are most often found, baptised, and become solid members are found by members, or by the Lord first, and then prepared for the missionaries. It´s helped me see that a mission means so much more than knocking on doors.  It´s about becoming someone who the Lord would have you be. It´s just a crazy thing that we do with these missions, but it´s one of the best things I think we do.

Well, can't think of too much else to say. We´re going to go see a bit of Berlin today we think, just try and take a deep breath and try and get some missionary work actually done this weekend. We seem to have very little time to proselyte, but try to squeeze out an hour or two in the evenings. We just re-opened kinda a new area as well, so it´s kinda like we´re starting from the ground up I suppose, so that doesn't necessarily make it any easier. But we´ve made out a few appointments and are meeting with a couple of people which is really cool. It´s crazy, that Mongolian family we found in Dresden, which was moving, is totally moving into the area where I am now... how crazy is that? Lost them, but picked them right up again on the other end... pretty cool. I´ll probably also have the oppurtunity to go by on a girl that a lady in our ward gave me here in Berlin before I left on my mission, so those are two pretty cool possibilities.

Well we´re gonna head out here in a bit, but I just hope you all know how much I love you and I hope you have a wonderful week back home.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week of November 14 from Berlin

SO much has happened this week and there just isn't enough time to even begin to explain it all... but just to rap it all up in a few words, yesterday I woke up in Dresden, and today I´m sitting in the mission office trying to figure out how in the world to learn how to be a good assistant to the president... and it doesn't appear to be an easy task.

So Saturday morning was a big surprise. I got a call a little bit before transfer calls where President surprised me and said I´d need to be on a train here to Berlin the following day. So yesterday I left Dresden at around 5 pm and got here to Berlin a few hours later. Everything following that has been purely trying to get settled in, and getting barraged with the huge number of meetings that come with the beginning of a new week, at the beginning of a new transfer, trying to get 210 missionaries situated and trying to get adjusted to the new circumstances... just not an easy task. But there´s lots of fun adventures awaiting the next 6 months, I´m almost sure of it.

Leaving Dresden was a bit weird. I was just totally expecting to stay there for another transfer with my dear Swiss friend, but you just never know what the Lord has in store for you I guess. The last Sunday was good though- 2 baptisms from people who I had once taught (not belonging to our program though) and just a nice peaceful last walk aroung the middle of the city talking to people. It was a crazy time to reflect. It´s so weird that with this new assignment, I can basically predict how the rest of my mission will go. Office equals 4 transfers, then I will have 2 1/2 where I can go out somewhere and die training a golden (hopefully). But now it's time to focus on the here and now and trying to figure out my role here and find how to lift, encourage, inspire, and bless everyone I´ll be working with the next little while. It´s been pretty humbling, seeing all that we have to do, but I know that the Lord brings you down sometimes just to lift you higher.

Well I don't have much more time this week. We´re trying to work out an error on some excel stuff to get a bunch of reports done... it´s going to be a LONG night. Hopefully I´ll have time to get everyone more caught up next week. But love you guys all so much! Pray extra for me this week. I´m gonna need it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week of November 7 from Dresden

Hola amigos!

Well I had an amazing week this week that´s for sure! It just started right, went well, and ended strong! I think it all started Monday with our family home evening activity. We met one of our investigators right before and he totally brought a way cool friend who was interested to hear about our message too. Now that probably doesn't sound like much, but here that´s kind of a big deal. Sometimes investigators are just like mushrooms- they come in bunches- and we´re finding lots of new people through this one! We also carved Jack-o-lanterns, and my comp and I carved an EPIC plan of salvation pumpkin haha.

The next day we had kind of a longer day.  Late that night as we were driving back to go see a contact by our house I got a phone call from a very familiar friend- none other than the branch president from Prenzlau! WOW, haha it was so good to hear his voice again! He invited us to grab a late night burger with him real quick, so we met up with him and I got to see him again! So so so good. He was down here for a meeting and had just finished his press conference when he realized he could find some time to meet with me, so we got to catch back up on alot. Golly I love that man...

Hmm... one maybe not so cool thing haha. So the elder´s program is helping an investigator quit smoking so they took all of the ash trays and cigs out of her house. Well they didn't have much time I guess so they brought it all home and tossed it on the table real quick. One thing they brought was this cool clamp thing, because poor people make their own cigs here to save money, haha. Ya, we didn't have any tobacco, but it peaked my curiosity so I fiddled with it a bit on our lunch break before we left. Well long story short, a guy came for a surprise apartment inspection, haha and in the middle of the apartment was a cigarette maker with tons of cigarettes everywhere haha. So ya, that took a bit of explaining... just bad timing I guess.:)

We also had our Zone Conference this week combined with the other big zone in the mission. It was pretty stressful but ended up being pretty good. I got to see most all of my MTC district reunited, so that was a really really cool opportunity! So many young missionaries coming into the mission though, it´s weird, and all of my friends seem to be dying. Sad. Anyways, we also had a packed house at stake conference too which was also good.

Well the last and coolest experience happened last night. So a couple days ago, before leaving for an exchange, I picked out 2 streets and said a quick prayer asking the Lord which street the elders should door.  I´ve learned that asking yes or no questions, or questions with 2 options seems to make it easier to feel a confirmation.  Anyways, I gave it to them. Well, they didn't ever get around to it, but we went there last night, and WOW, craziest thing happened. So we buzzed a guy who let us right in.  It was obvious after we saw him and started talking that he was from America. He´s from Detroit, and I can honestly say I felt in him one of the noblest spirits I´ve felt in a long long time. There´s no possible way I´ll be able to describe everything, but we´ll put it this way. He knows the Bible very well, but more importantly understands the Gospel better than probably 90% of our members. He said the opening prayer and prayed to "Heavenly Father" in the name of Jesus Christ. He has had many revelatory experiences throughout his life, and KNOWS the voice of the Lord. About 20 years ago, he was instructed to leave his church, not knowing 100% why. He has spent the last 20 years "searching" and "praying for the Lord to send more servants into the field to harvest." He is honestly one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. And even though he is decently well schooled in our doctrine (he studied to become a priest for 2 years) and I think is a bit skeptical, he knows, just as well as we do, that there was a reason for him meeting us that night. He said that normally he would have NEVER opened his door or answered the buzz because his German isn't the strongest, but that he was expecting something else and we had perfect timing. He´s leaving tomorrow to go back to America for 3 weeks sadly, but I´m anxious to see him again when he gets back. And that my friends was a testimony building experience which I needed desperately. I felt more edified and refreshed talking to him than with many other people I´ve talked to. What a tender mercy, which came as an answer to sincere prayer. I am so thankful for experiences like that. They build me and my testimony up, and help my testimony to sustain me and not vice versa. God is truly there, and he truly does answer prayers, even in mysterious ways sometimes. It´s true, I´m pretty much convinced.:) Have a wonderful week, love you all so much!