Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week of February 25 from Berlin

Well the crazy week is finally come to an end and I´m finally back home again in Berlin. It´s been a pretty long week with very little sleep, but we survived and finally have a bit of time to shoot some quick emails off.
So to start off the week we had an awesome day Monday.  We had tons of stuff to do in the office, and tons of things to get ready before we hit the road, but we had lots of good appointments too. We had a way awesome family home evening with a super cool family, and the kids all interviewed us as missionaries, and it was just a good time. We also found a WAY cool new investigator.  He´s a super cool lawyer from Sri Lanke, so we´re super excited to get to meet with him in the near future. I´ve got a really good feeling about him. He´s from the New Apostolic Church, but is super open and ready to accept truth as he finds it. We stayed up pretty late making the final preparations to hit the road, and then the next day it was off to my favorite zone- DRESDEN! The interviews were pretty good there, They started at 9 am and we ended at just after 730 pm.  I don't know how president does it, but ya, had a great time in that city again and finally got to see snow there! Dresden is gorgeous as it is, but I think it´s even more amazing with snow. That night we left up to Leipzig to stay overnight for the next round of interviews. That was interesting, because 3 of the 4 missionareis living in the Leipzig apartment are from St. George-2 from Snow Canyon, and one from Dixie- so the 4 of us had a nice chat about the ST Geezy together. Leipzig took just as long, and we found time to sneak out of the meeting and head over to visit a guy who just got baptised by my companion, which provided a nice breath of fresh air. It was also my companion's birthday, so that made it even more fun. We left then from Leipzig to come back to Berlin and change out supplies for the next, longer leg of the journey.

The next day we made the drive over to Hannover and had a good meeting there as well. Got to see lots of mission friends, including my last companion here in the office who is currently serving there. It´s my favorite thing in the world to visit with old companions.  It´s just so fun!

Following those meetings, we spent the night in Hamburg for interviews there the following day. We woke up early in the morning and went to the stake center and played some serious bball there and had a good time. Those interviews went a long time as well, but finally they ended and it was time to make our way to the promised land- KIIIEELLLLL!

KIEL WAS THE BEST. I love that place so so so so much! It was kind of a bitter-sweet moment though, because that very well may be my last time in that city on my mission. We aren't scheduled to be back up there until after I´ve left the office. :( But it was still great to be up there. I just couldn't help but smile.

Then we made the 350+km drive back down to Berlin that night, and after almost running out of gas and having to hunt for a small little dorf to fill up, we got home pretty late. It was a fun week though. During interviews, districts have their district meetings and we get to sit in on them and observe them, which I love because I always get to learn so much. I sat in on 14 district meetings, and got to hear so many cool ideas and things.  It´s definitely one of the many blessings that come with the current assignment, haha I almost feel like I´m cheating or something. We taught about "commitment centered teaching" and how as a mission we need to 1- Live commitments ourselves before we give them so that we can teach with conviction and have the Spirit seal our testimony, 2-Focus on teaching with a commitment in mind the entire lesson, which can totally transform how we teach. 3-Following up with that same conviction you commited with. We watched a pretty intense missionary training session with Jeffrey Holland where he tells us to "be devistated" when people don't keep commitments. Overall it was well recieved I think.  We´re really focusing on bettering the quality of our teaching as a mission, because we work so hard, and filling our teaching pipeline with so many people, we just need to focus on plugging all the holes in that pipeline which leads to baptism.

Today was kinda a special day as well. We had stake conference. Despite being half-dead due to fatigue, my comp and I sang in our ward's choir for the conference. Our super golden investigator came as well and loved it, so we´re excited to see if that helps her at all. We were in our seats about ready to sing an opening song when I saw her come in and hurried up and ran down from the choir to greet her.:) The conference ended up being a satellite transmission from Salt Lake. A seventy, the first couselor in the primary presidency, Elder Nelson and President Eyring spoke to all German-speaking stakes. It was pretty cool, the seventy spoke and conducted the meeting in his thickly accented German he had learned on his mission here. The coolest though was when Elder Nelson stood up, and then asked for permission to wave to his grandson through the camera who is actually serving in our mission at the moment.  It was a pretty big shock for everyone in the room when he announced his grandson was serving in the Germany Berlin mission.

So ya, good week of travel followed by a great stake conference- can't complain at all. Really hope we can find some more investigators in these next couple days at home.  We´re leaving up to Hamburg this Thursday for a conference and then back down to Leipzig the next day. It´s going to be quite a drive, but we just keeping doing the best we can! Hope you all have a great week back home, love you all!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week of February 18 from Berlin

Hallo schöne Grüße euch alle!

So another week is come and gone.  We had lots of time to work on our area this week, which made things go quicker and made things very enjoyable despite a few disappointments we had. The new companion is awesome and things are just going great.

The week started out with the normal fallout from the first week of the transfers.  Lots of little projects to do, lots of things to follow up on. Also had a couple incidents requiring some emergency transfers, which can be very time consuming in and of themelves, but overall everything went pretty smoothly. We met a couple times with our super golden investigator who totally came to church last week! Everything was just perfect, then came time for a perfect baptismal commitment to which she said, "Yes, I will 100% be baptised... the only question is either with you or the Jehovah´s Witnesses. I´m meeting with both of you." NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Bleh, every time we find something good, some sort of opposition always has to arise! That´s a really big problem in this country. Most everyone who is willing to meet with you has already been found and met with by JW´s. It´s super frustrating, because even though our church has been here twice as long, they have more than twice as many members here, and EVERYONE always thinks we´re JW´s. With their conviction from members to do missionary work, yea even unto tracting, and their mastery of the language and culture of those they teach, I suppose it shouldn't be the biggest surprise. Still makes me sad though. So we now have a battle for this person´s soul coming up, and we are out of town next week, so we´re fighting with one arm. We´re getting some members involved though and hope to build better contact from their side.

Aside from that, most all of our other investigators played a successful game called "Avoid the missionaries at all costs this week" and since we´re traveling all next week they´ve got a double bonus 2 week pause from us... argghhh. We found some awesome new ones this week though, so hopefully they´re still around when we get back from our trip. We met a lot with some key ward members this week as well and built up a good relationship with them, so that was good also.

Yesterday we had our first round of zone meetings for mission president interviews. It was 2 zones combined- the smaller Neubrandenburg zone and the large Berlin zone. We started at 9:00 am and poor President wasn´t done until 7:30 pm. Sooo many interviews, it just takes such a mental toll I would imagine. Luckily it was in Berlin, so we took off to go by on some people and do some doors and didn't need to stay the whole time. Next week we begin in Dresden, then Leipzig, then Hannover, then Hamburg and Oldenburg combined, and ending in Kiel with the Neumünster zone. We´re going to be talking about teaching ´commitment focused´ lessons and the importance of commitments. Should be fun.

Well today we´re headed to go bowling with President´s son and enjoy the quiet before the storm comes next week. We won't have a p-day next week, so we´ll make this one count.:) Anyways, hope you all have a wonderful week back home. Love ya bunches!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Week of February 11 from Berlin

Wow, the first week of the transfer is finally come and gone, so many crazy things happened and it was truly an amazing week!
Sunday night we picked up my new companion at the main train station in Berlin.  The new assistant gets picked up early so he can be at our office staff meeting Monday morning. He came from Kiel, so that was an instant ice breaker we had to talk about, but we´ve known each other from zone leader meetings pretty well also, so we´re going to get along great no doubt about it.  He´s one of the most loved missionaries in the entire mission.

But Monday ging alles los, we hit the ground running trying to prepare for all the new goldens coming in the next day. Planning everything out, printing off all the materials they needed, and making sure we were in the best position to help them start right. Tuesday came eventually and we got to go pick the goldens up from the airport, easily my favorite part of being here in the office.  It was so fun to see all their bright, smiling and confused faces as they got off the train. We´ve had a pretty bad cold front here lately.  We´ve made it all the way down to -15 C° so the goldens got a good taste of the cold European wintertime when they got here. It´s always so refreshing to spend time with them and reflect on those days way back when when we were starting our missions as well and how nervous we were... ahhh i love it so much! We spent most of the day with them though, and at night we took them out to eat and then took them to do their first street contacting.  It was super cool.

Wednesday we met with all of the trainers in the morning to train them and then we had our golden conference. I always feel so envious doing the trainer training, because I´ve wanted to train so bad my entire mission.  It´s the coolest experience to watch as the companionships are announced and how excited everyone is. Usually in that meeting we talk a lot about the Standards of Excellence in the mission, and my companion and I enjoyed getting to bear testimony to the goldens that their assignments came from the Lord, because we witness it first hand, and how they can expect to see miracles in every single area in which they serve, of which we are also first hand witnesses.  It´s a great group though and they´re going to do fabulous here in Germany!

The next days consisted of entering numbers and generating reports for our Zone Leader Council, and preparing for a special visitor from the first Qourum of the Seventy. He had visited our mission before and is notorious for being pretty intense and critical. So we were all pretty nervous, and by this point in the week I was already feeling like a zombie from lack of sleep and all the mental exertion. Most of the time were weren't in bed til after midnight working on everything, but every morning we started at 6:30 and worked the whole day through. Anyways yesterday morning was the meeting. The general authority´s flight came in later so he was only going to attend the middle portion of the council. He came in right as we finished going through each zone's status report and as we started going through the mission charts, it was kind of nerve wracking trying to facillitate the conversation, but it went super well! After that we broke for lunch and my companion and I got to sit next to the visiting authority and talk with him. He was super nice, and in our short conversation I felt like I learned a lot about him. After lunch he gave a two hour instruction period and then left the meeting. After he left, we finished some number stuff up and then gave a quick workshop on comp unity. Overall it was one very memorable meeting and it was so awesome to be a part of.

On the side of all this, we taught some awesome lessons this week too. We met with our new Russian investigator as well as our RLDS family and had some good appointments. It was good to get out and teach a bit as well.

So ya, after all the stress and things to do, which I cannot even begin to convey in writing, p-day is finally here and it´s time to unwind.:) We´re going to go to the stake center in the middle of Berlin and play some sport together, so we´re super excited. Hope you all had a wonderful week back home! Love you all so much!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Week of February 4 from Berlin


Another great week here in big beautiful Berlin! We had lots of good times this week, and did lots and lots of work as well. This week was probably filled with less office work than any other week I´ve had thus far, which means that we have many hours of pure finding to do. It´s kinda frustrating when all you do is finding and you end up having to probably just pass investigators off, but it´s just good to go about doing the work of the Lord. We saw some ridiculously cold temperatures this week, and had our first snowfall of the year. The other night while we were doing finding it was hovering at around -15° C, and it made for a long 3 straight hours of street contacting and going by on contacts.  It was good though. We did get to teach a couple cool lessons this week and have some cool little miracles.

So the other night we took president´s son to institute, which is about a half an hour drive straight through the city from our house. We had forgotten one of our planners and didn't have the address for an appointment we were running close to being late for. It was kinda a flaky appointment on the street, and the guy said he was moving back to India the next morning, so we wondered if it was even worth it running back to grab the planner and get there 45 minutes late. We felt though that it might be worth it, so we did it anyway. We showed up, and the guy had just walked in the door.  He said "Oh I´m happy you came.  I tried to text you to let you know I´d be late for our appointment.  I just walked in the door." We then had the opportunity to teach him a bit. He was super interested, but wanted an English book instead of the Hindi one we gave him, and of course, it turned out we had an extra one in the car. He said he would read the whole thing and research the internet sites we gave him.  He was super excited. Now I know that probably doesn't sound like much to you, but experiences like that make your week sometimes over here in Germany.  It really was just a tender mercy to us.

In another light, we were teaching one of our new super promising investigators and had one of the worst lessons of my life. I don't know what it was, but the Spirit just wasn't there and I think we just weren't prepared as well. That is one of the worst feelings as a missionary though, when you have a bad lesson where you don't feel satisfied. I think of the scripture in D&C that says "if ye have not the spirit, ye shall not teach." The "ye shall" is the old English command form, which brings thoughts to mind that that is really more of a commandment than a suggestion. All you can do though is repent and try and do better the next time. He´s pretty quiet, which makes it difficult, but he´s got potential, and I´m pretty sure we can get him on baptismal date this next lesson. He committed to come to church this week too, so we´ll see how it goes.

Wednesday I got to head into the heart of Berlin, tiergarten, for an awesome exchange with one of my best friends in the mission field. He´s a long time Zone Leader and I´ve known him since my second transfer in Prenzlau. I had a BLAST getting to spend a full day doing missionary work again in an awesome, booming, thriving area. We had a great time getting caught up as well. It was super stressful because I totally know his future for transfers, and he and his companion devised very elaborate and thorough strategies to get me to spill the beans, but I stayed true and didn't say a word.:) Transfer week is one of the longest weeks because for some reason, everyone you talk to asks you what's going to happen to them, and they can be pretty cunning in how they go about doing it. Transfer calls are taking place here in a few minutes though, and everything will finally be over with.

Well can´t think of much else new other than that to report. Our new convert had a birthday this week, and we gave her a booklet we made from pictures of the baptism and notes the ward members wrote to her to congratulate her. She said it was the best birthday she´d ever had and was super happy.

Well it will be exciting to have a nice relaxing P-day today. We´re going to the Olympic stadium here in Berlin. Tomorrow my new comp will be coming in on the train. He´s a super super awesome guy and I´m excited to work with him. He´s currently a Zone Leader in Kiel, so we´ll have lots to talk about when he gets here.:) Hope you all have a wonderful week back home!