Sunday, December 25, 2011

Week of December 24 from Berlin

Frohe Weinacht!

Merry Christmas everyone! Wow this was one of those quick weeks, and the next couple days are going to fly by as well I´m sure. We have a shortened P-day today, then at 3pm we´re headed to the church for the final choir practice... yes I´m singing in the choir at a Christmas concert... AGAIN. It will be way fun though. We have a couple really fun songs and I just hope the other tenor and I can hold it down..:) For those of you who don't know, in Germany Heilige Abend (Christmas Eve) is the man holiday celebrated, so all the kids will open their presents this evening and we´re going to be with a SUPER awesome family in the ward. We´re way excited! We totally have the best ward in the mission.

Hmmm, so what did we do this week? Well before I left on my mission I was given the address of an exchange student and a BOM which I was to give her. I never thought that I would serve here in Berlin, but it happened, and I was able to meet with her and give her the book. It was really awesome to finally be able to take it out of my suitcase and give it to her. I don't know how much interest she really had, but the contact is now there and we´ll see what happens.

Probably the main thing we worked on this week was transfers. We spent many many hours sorting them out, praying about each companionshiop individually, and then looking for confirmation that everything was right. When we first sat down and looked at the chart with all of the missionaries in the mission, I thought to myself, "There´s no way this is going to work out!" There´s just SO many people and SO many factors to consider when doing transfers. But when you do it bit by bit and rely on the Lord for your guidance, everything works out and comes together PERFECTLY. It really is amazing. It´s the coolest thing when you´re praying about companionships and one that makes perfect logical sense just doesn't feel right and later you find out exactly why it didn't... just knowing that for those few brief seconds you were worthy to be guided by the Spirit is SWEET. So ya, we got everything worked out and had a great conference call, and next transfer is going to be EPIC! :)

Other than that, we just tried to get outside and do some normal missionary work, despite this time of year being so hard. We talked to lots of really cool people, and got quite a few to commit to come to church this week and to the concert tonight. One other thing that we did, which was probably the highlight of the week, was district christmas caroling. Our whole district loaded up in the big blue bus (Opelus Prime) after district meeting, then headed to meter pizza. It´s where you get a HUGE pizza 1 meter in diameter. Then we spent most of the day going by on less actives and investigators and singing christmas carols. It was one of those mission memories you´ll never forget- all loaded up in the van with one guy with a guitar just singing away. Good times.:)

Well I´m super excited to talk to the fam tomorrow. I still feel like next christmas I'll still be here in Germany, but the sad reality is that the time is flying by. Christmas time on a mission is FAR different than at home, and we all miss our families lots, but we have a family of 4 in our apartment and are enjoying our German Christmas together! Have a wonderful Christmas time. I hope we all feel the real Spirit of Christmas this year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week of December 17 from Berlin

Well another week on the road is come and gone, and it looks like we´ll have a few weeks now to stick around Berlin. It´s nice to be back in my own bed. :)
We had a great week of Christmas Zone Conferences this last week. We started off Tuesday here with the Berlin and Neubrandenburg zones in Berlin. Wednesday we drove off to Hannover combined with the Oldenburg Zones, then the next day to Hamburg with Neum√ľnster, and we finished up yesterday in Leipzig with the Dresden zone visiting. It was so great to see all the missionaries and feel the Christmas Spirit in all the different zones. It´s so fun being able to see all your old companions at least once a transfer and reflect with them. It´s just a special time of the year as well, and I feel a little bit more into the Christmas "mood" this time I think. I feel great today, but that´s probably also the fact that it was my first full night´s sleep as well. This last Tuesday night was the worst though. Because we had so many finisher missionaries going home right before Christmas, President made a rare exception and had us help get all 13 of them shuttled around and off with all their luggage. Normally president keeps finishers very isolated so that they don't "contaminate" other missionaries, but this time we took them to the no-mans land of the Wall where we dedicated ourselves as missionaries (at the beginning of our mission) to have them report on their mission, and to the airport and everything, just because we didn't have enough drivers. Man, I can totally see why we usually stay away from them. Seeing your good missionary friends walk through that terminal to go home is HARD and WIERD. We always liken missions to our lives, and when you go home you "die", and so for me that was the closest thing to an out-of-body experience a missionary could have. Anyway, that was a tangent. So that night we loaded all their suitcases into the van to take them to the airport for their EARLY flight. Problem was, we didn't get the van back to the office to load until around 12:30. After loading we got in bed around 1:20 or so, then got up at 3:30 to get them back to the airport... it was a great way to start off a week of already limited sleep. But as always, we had all the strength we needed and everything went well.:)

The ZoCo´s went great though this wek. We gave a Thema on miracles and how they´re everywhere when we look for them- macro-miracles or micro-miracles. We watched the last minute of the 1980 Soviet vs. USA olympic hockey game where at the very end the guy announcing the game yells "Do you believe in Miracles!?" It was great and the missionaries were super energized to see more miracles in the work I thought. These last four weeks of the year we launched a little something called "The Advent of Miracles" where starting every Sunday of the Advent time, we have specific goals and things we work on, and as we pray every day to see miracles and write them on the Advent Wreath Calendar we sent everyone, we expect to see them and see a jump in the work. We´ve seen SO MANY amazing miracles and it´s really just sweeping through them mission like a wild fire. The first week we focused on finding, and we reported the best finding numbers the mission has ever had (we measure it by New Apps. Every day you´re supposed to make out at the very least 1 appointment with someone new (tracting), and as a mission with 210 missionaries we average 6.8 per companionship that week CRAZY!) The second week we focused on Joint Teaches (having a member at lessons) and reported the highest number per companionship on record. The whole focus has been responding to the Europe Area Presidency´s letter calling for inviting people to come to church, and we´ve had the highest rate of investigators at sacrament meeting in 6 months! We are really just seeing tons of macro-miracles, and the micro-miracles are just everywhere every day.

One of the biggest miracles happened to me personally this last week. So I´ve written a couple times about the miracle with this investigator my trainer and I found a year ago in Kiel and how she is going to be baptised in October and how I got to teach her on a surprise Tausch a couple weeks ago. Well, in the short time I got to be there, we talked about if she had prayed to know if her date was right. Well a couple nights ago I got off the phone with the Kiel ZL´s who had just gotten off the phone with her, and apparently she had woken up a couple nights ago not being able to sleep and decided to she had to pray about what we had talked about. And she got a powerful answer.:) She´s now going to be baptised on the 7th OF JANUARY!!! Haha, it was such a wonderful miracle! I get to go back up and have been asked to speak at it.:) So now, not only do I get to go back to Kiel for the baptism of one of my greatest Kiel friends, but I´ll be spending the day there doing work too!!! Yep, Merry Christmas! Life doesn't get any better.:):):)

So anyway, that´s basically what´s been going on with me the past week or so. Transfers start being decided this next week, so we´re gearing up for some late nights with pres. I´m super excited though! Have a great week, love you all so much!
PS Oh ya, and I found a wild hedgehog outside the office this week.:) They´re like rats for Germans.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Week of December 10 from Berlin

Well, we had a lot slower of a week this week, but it was still pretty busy none the less. It never ceases to amaze me, the logistics and just work involved in running a mission of over 200 missionaries- truly mind boggling- but ya, there´s always something to do. Good news this week was that we were able to get out of the office a lot more and just do more missionary work. I love trying to figure out how to run the administrative type of service, but at the end of the day, I think the ministrative service is more enjoyable.
So we started off the week with our normal office staff meeting, which increased our big looming to-do list right above our board, and then got to work trying to get all the little immediate odd-jobs done as quick as we could. It ended up being a pretty busy day though and we only managed to slip in a half an hour of e-mail time to make up for our giving up a p-day the Saturday before. Tuesday was a bit better, but we had a blitz transfer and president pulled an Elder into the office, so now we officially have 2 office elders to help lighten our load a little bit, which is really really nice. We got him picked up and all settled in as well as tried to stay on top of our busy work schedule. Most of our preparations this week went toward preparing for the big ZL telephone conference we were going to be having. It´s crazy trying to manually generate so many reports and putting so many numbers into excel sheets.  Man, you just start to feel like a number cruncher sometimes. It was cool though, I got to lead the status reports on the conference call and everything went very smoothly. That´s probably been the weirdest part about this new assignment I´d say-  just having to do all these things that I always would make fun of the AP´s having to do when I was a Zone Leader. But anyways, president gave an awesome Thema and it was a good conference. The other thing we worked on this week was an upcoming mid-transfer transfer. Transfers are actually pretty crazy things as it turns out, and this only affected a handful of missionaries, so I´m sure I´ll have a lot to say after we do it throughout the whole mission.  Basically we three sit together and talk about possibilities, but then spend most of the time in prayer asking if the decisions made were correct and praying about EVERY companionship. It´s definitely one of the most intense revelatory experiences I´ve ever experienced and it´s definitely one of the most cherished experiences as well. Waiting either for the warm burning in the bosom or feeling the peace that comes from a yes answer or the stupor of thought or cold feeling around the heart that comes with a no. One thing´s for sure though, EVERY assignment a missionary gets in this mission is confirmed through the Spirit, so I dont think I´ll complain ever again about where I´m put.:)

Well aside from that... it´s been good to get out lately. We kinda just took over a new area in Berlin called Dahlem, and it´s kinda rough to get things started. Basically when we leave the office to do missionary work, it becomes pure finding. And since we´re on the road every other week it´s kinda difficult to schedule appointments, but we´re trying. We only have a small handful of investigators, but we´re trying to increase the numbers little by little. It used to be that the AP´s had another set of missionaries in the ward who could help out a lot when time was tight, but without that now it makes things a bit harder. The great thing though is the AMAZING ward. It really is just the best ward ever. We had our ward christmas party last night, and it was just a blast. We got lots of non-members out to it and it was just really good. Santa came and after he had had all the kids come up and gave them presents after they sang a song or said a poem, the ward had us come up and they gave us a gift as well. We didn't really know any songs or poems... so we just qouted D&C 4.:) You could just feel the love though and it was a great experience.

Well aside from that, not much new I suppose. Hitting the road again next week for Christmas Zone Conferences so gonna be another fun week. Not as much traveling as for interviews because more Zones will be combined, but I´m excited to get back out to all the beautiful cities again.:) Well hope the holiday season has started right for you all as well. It´s been rough here without snow- I WANT SNOW- but we´re still loving every minute of it. Hope you have a fabulous week back home. Love ya!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week of December 5 from Berlin (kind of)

Wow! Well we had a really crazy week on the road last week, and sadly it ate all of our p-day, so we only have a couple minutes to write today.  I´ll see if I can maybe explain a little bit what has been going on.

So last week we had a normal busy office Monday- taking in numbers, generating reports, sitting in meetings, then packing everything and getting ready to hit the road Tuesday morning at 6 am. Tuesday we headed over to Dresden, which was way way cool to be back there for a little while. It was fun seeing a lot of friends still in that zone and just being in that city again. Afterwards we enjoyed a nice dinner with the Pimentels in the beautiful central garden in Dresden, which made it a very enjoyable evening. We then drove over to Leipzig where we slept and got ready for interviews. Leipzig was one of our bigger zones, and president started interviewing at 9am and we didn't finish until 8 pm. It´s amazing how much time he takes to worry about the individual missionaries. During that long time though I got to do some finding with an old MTC friend.  We found a couple really cool guys, and taught a lesson with one of the ZL´s, so that helped break it up a little bit. Then we loaded back in the van for the 2 1/2 drive back to Dresden to reload on supplies (which we deliver when we go to visit the zones) and get ready to hit the long leg of the trip. We got home late and I wasn't asleep until 1 am, then we woke up at 5 am and made the super long drive to Hannover where we stayed for a day.  I met back up with my good friend from St. George. After that we headed up to Hamburg where we slept over, had interviews, and the next day we drove all the way up to KIEL! Sooo epic being back in that place again. I taught the one investigator we found my first week in Germany, and it was just so so so so so cool! After FINALLY finishing interviews and having given our half hour workshop 12 times, we were able to make the long 4 hour trip home to Berlin.
So ya, yesterday was a crazy missionary Sunday.  We still had 5 investigators at church somehow, and today is actually almost even crazier, just trying to get caught up on all the work we missed last week in the office. Good news is though, that president has just called 2 office elders to help relieve the burden a bit because it has been getting bigger and bigger lately. So ya, that´s kinda where I´m at right now, just trying to take a deep breath before we plunge back in for Zone Conferences in a few days. It´s been very enjoyable though, being able to spend great quality time with president and with an awesome companion.

As far as missionary work is going... our new baptismal date had a lot of problems this last week, but she got lots of help from the ward and is doing a lot better at the moment. This family we´re teaching from the RLDS church did end up coming to church and that was super awesome to see them there. We are building a really good relationship with them and hope we can keep getting to know them a bit better. Other than that though we just didn't really have time to teach people much.  We just weren´t really home at all this last week. Oh I found out something really cool at church though... so one of the young families in our ward has a mother who is from the Suttner family back in St. George. I used to play golf with her younger brother and danced with her younger sister in social dance sometimes... weird how small the world is. This ward here in Dahlem though is really just super awesome!

Well there´s lots of little stories that happened as we travelled this week, lots of little miracles too, and as I try to think of what I could share there´s only really one experience that comes to mind. So that morning we woke up at 5 am to leave, we were a bit bummed to have to go get all the ice off the huge van and about how cold and miserable the morning was going to be... but for some reason as we came outside to get all the ice off, we realized that even though all of the other cars were caked with ice, ours didn't have a trace of ice anywhere. How it happened I cannot really say, but we counted it as a tender mercy and are super thankful for it. There are so many little blessings that attend you as you do your best to serve others.  The tricky part is just recognizing it sometimes.  :)

Well, love you all and hope to hear lots more from you soon! Have a great week!