Monday, March 26, 2012

Week of March 24 from Berlin

Wow, wow, wow- what an awesome week here in Berlin!!! So much happened this week I don't even know where to begin.  Probably with the best I suppose.

Well Tuesday we met with our amazing investigator, the professional Russian pianist. She's pretty much one of the smartest, most charitable, and amazing people I've ever met. We started the lesson with just a bit of small talk, finding out how her week had gone. She had been applying for a visa to go to America on vacation, so we talked about that and she said "Ya, it was a very good week. I got the visa, and I booked some flights to America. Oh ya, and I decided I want to be baptised as well." Haha, she said it so nonchalantly though, it totally caught us off guard. After a few seconds, all I could mutter were the words "With us?" and she said, "Yes, of course with you!" It was seriously the coolest thing ever! We asked her why, and she responded that she had read 2 Nephi 31 as we had asked her to, and prayed about it like we asked her to, and just knew that it was right! So yes, it was one of the happiest appointments of my mission. The timing is super frustrating because we weren't able to fit another appointment in with her in our crazy schedule this week, and next week we´re traveling to leadership training, and then on April 12th she´s leaving to America for a month, so it´s just super frustrating not being able to meet more regularly with her, but we´re praying for her and have faith everything will work out. Our goal is to get it done before she leaves, but we may just have to settle with waiting til she gets back.... by which time I won't be here anymore :( but that doesn't really matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. So ya, hopefully we can meet with her at least once this week, but who knows, we´re traveling like crazy.

Speaking of crazy, that´s exactly what this last week was. 10 new missionaries came, and we had a TON to do in the office. This transfer is a 5 week transfer, so basically we lose one of our more relaxed weeks where we can focus more on missionary work in our own area and to prepare for the busy weeks. We managed everything just fine though and everything is going well. The goldens were great. Crazy story though, as we picked them up, we were waiting outside the terminal when all of the sudden this short black guy came walking out with a crazy hair style and super super nice clothes. I was standing right in his way and he brushed by me quickly when all of the sudden cameras started going off everywhere and people started to realize who he was. It was Sean Paul, some famous rapper I guess. But ya, if you see any news of him in Berlin with video clips, that big white lurpy missionary he pushes out of the way when he walks by was me haha. So that was weird, but then came the good part, and all 10 goldens showed up ready to work. That´s easily one of the biggest things I´m going to miss about the office is picking up the new missionaries. It´s just so refreshing to feel their great spirits, and the excitement that radiates from them to start their missions right. We spent most of the day with them, and then took them downtown to show them how we find people to teach here in the Berlin Germany Finding Mission.  It was awesome. Thursday we had golden conference which was super good as well. Lots of the trainers were good friends, 2 of which were ex-companions. My last companion here in the office, and my Swiss companion from Dresden, along with a few other good friends. It was super fun getting to see them all again, and to see them get their goldens.:)

Friday we had Zone Leader Council in Hannover. We were up til about midnight the night before getting all of the reports ready, and then I got up with one of the ZL´s who was staying overnight with us to drive up together, also a good friend who lived with us in Dresden, and we went on a nice run together at 5 am before we left. We had 9 people in our apartment that night.  It was crazy. We have a drit (trio) living with us now, and then 2 sets of ZL´s came and stayed the night.  Our apartment is like a hotel sometimes. We headed to Hannover early and then after the meeting my companion and I, instead of driving everyone back in the van, hopped on a bullet train down to a town called K├Âthen to pick up a car which needed to be transfered to another city in the mission (by the name of Prenzlau ;) ) On our way, we found out one of the missionaries had just had some sort of freak nerve attack and was in the hospital. So we hurried over, waited for them to stabilize him, and we took him home where we gave him a blessing. We then took the car and headed back on a late night trip all the way from down in Saxony back up to Berlin. Along the way we stopped off the side of the road in a famous little town called Wittenburg, where we payed a quick visit the the Schlosskirch, aka the church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door. It was SUPER cool to walk the same footsteps that Martin Luther walked up to that door. The door has since been turned into a bronze one with all the 95 thesis engraved on it.  It was a super cool experience to see such a historic site, one that plays a big role in the Restoratino itself. I´ve learned to gain such a great appreciation for Martin Luther as I´ve been able to visit places where he has been, and read the Bible he translated in the language that he translated it.  He was a great revolutionist who opened the doors to religious freedom.

So anyway, we got back from that late last night, and now I´m back here at my desk again. It´s been a crazy week and I know that there are some things I´m forgetting, but hopefully I´ll remember them again and write them down somewhere. The fun isn't over though, because now that car we brought up here needs to go to Prenzlau, so today we´re going back to my old stomping grounds! P-town here we come! It´s going to be epic. We´re going to go visit some cool little places and a couple members- it´s going to be lots of fun.:):):) Then we need to take the current Prenzlau car and drive it 3 hours down to Leipzig where it will be picked up and taken back to Frankfurt. It will be a fun little road trip. I really do love the travel, it´s just always new and refreshing, and provides quiet moments where I can clear my mind and reflect and ponder a bit.:) Also it´s good because we have lots of presentations to prepare for the upcoming meetings. Not to mention the fact I´m speaking in church tomorrow.  I don't mind it though- teaching really is a joy- I just hope that with all this practice I can somehow start to get better.

Well I do hope you are all doing well back home! Love you all bunches and pray for the best for all of ya!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Week of March 17 from Berlin

Transfer week is finally over.  We just had the transfer call a little over an hour ago and the past hour has been spent taking endless amounts of phone calls for permission to call people, but maybe I´ll be able to slip a quick email in here.:)

Well most of the week was spent on my knees this week together with President and my companion trying to figure out what should happen here in the mission for transfers, and when you´re praying for all 210 missionaries individually that takes a little while. But we studied everything out in our minds, felt the burning confirmation, and finished up a transfer. We have lots of new goldens coming in to the mission, and we have lots of great trainers who are good friends, so it will be fun to train them and pick up all of the goldens for my last time here in the office.

We did have a few other things going on in the week as well. Lately we have been taking a bit different of a focus in our own area. Most of our finding has consisted of doing street contacting since we´re in the booming metropolis of Berlin, but we just haven´t seen the growth we´ve wanted, so we´re moving the emphasis a bit more over to doors, specifically student housing here in the Berlin area, and lately it´s been paying off big time. Lots of new appointments and lots of new people to meet with, so now we just need to sift through them to find the ones who are going to make progress. We also met with most of our investigators this week, and worked on having more members with us at lessons, but sadly not a lot of progress was made in our teaching pool this week.

Last week for P-day we went to the pergamon exhibit here in Berlin which was pretty cool.  Lots of old art and stuff. In a couple of hours a good old friend is coming down to spend this p-day with us from Prenzlau. I served in the branch presidency with him up there, so it will be fun to see him again and reflect back on good times.

Well not much else new to report this week, just more of the same. The quiet that comes before the storm of the first week of the transfer. This transfer will be my last one in the office, so I´m pretty excited to end my time here in the right way. Hope you all have a wonderful week back home, love you all!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week of March 10 from Berlin

Another week come and gone, we were kept pretty busy this week which was really good, and now we´re done with the traveling for the transfer so we have time to build our own area up a little more this next week before everything gets hectic again.
So Tuesday we had our Zone Conference for the Berlin and Neubrandenburg zones, which was a little bit different than normal because there was a 4 day space between our last zone conference, so it´s kinda weird taking a break like that then getting back into the thick of things and teaching the same workshops again, but it went really well. I have a lot of good friends in the Berlin zone, so it was good to be around them again and hear about the success they´ve been seeing. I really have gained a new perspective for the whole point of meetings in the church here. Back home it´s just kinda taken for granted that members are everywhere and we always associate with each other. But out here in the mission field where you´re such a minority, it means everything to you to really gather together with fellow saints and build each other up. I remember being in Prenzlau and feeling just so isolated, and then just to see the massive number of people at general conference on the tv just made me swell up when I realized, "Hey, there are actually more of us on this planet." So ya, it´s fun to get to witness all the missionaries greet each other and be with them all for a day.

That night my companion and I left alone to go over to Hannover. The van was needed for new senior couples who were flying in (we have a new awesome office couple) so we had to take separate cars to the conference. It was fun cruisin' up the autobahn and getting to spend some quality time talking with my awesome companion. We stayed with the Hannover elders and zone leaders.  It was fun because both the ZL´s are good friends and one of the elders is actually my last companion, so we enjoyed our time together. The next morning we got up and got to run through the city and see it a bit.  I´m getting almost addicted to running these days.  We run about a 5k every morning now.  It just makes you feel soooo much better for the rest of the day. I even bought a european running suit that was on clearance at a sport store last p-day.  It´s amazing.  The full body tights are the new thing- America will catch on some day. :)

The conference went well, and then we headed back to Berlin and got home late that night. The next day we had an exchange with the Zone Leaders in Berlin. I went with a good friend on what was probably our last exchange together. We´ve been in the same zone in the mission for 6 transfers now and  we´ve had a good amount of tausches, so it was good to end with him. We met with a way cool investigator who accepted a baptisimal date.  We met with a way cool investigator with a member and had one of the most spiritual lessons ever, then with our new convert who made a nice meal for us. Then we tried to catch up on some office work for a half hour, during which time 3 teenage girls came walking into the office and said they had researched our church and wanted to know more, so we taught them from the office and have another appointment with them today.  Then another cool member fed us and gave us DDR coins from the 50´s as well as a coin from 1917, and ya, it was a really good exchange.  I learned lots. :)

Yesterday we got caught up on a lot of office work and met with a couple investigators, and ya, the day flew by. This morning we went on a nice long run, and we´re headed out to a way cool european history museum today, so it should be a good time.

Not a lot else new. President is finally getting back from a training meeting in Frankfurt with Elder Christopherson, and next week it´s time to come together again for transfers. Should be a fun revelatory week, as it always is.:) Love you all a bunch and hope you have a good week!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Week of March 3 from Berlin

Wow, it´s crazy to think at how fast this week has flown by. It really just feels like yesterday I was writing last week's email. Time flies when you´re constantly on the move, but I'm trying to build the kingdom up everywhere wherever I am! We had an awesome round of zone conferences this week and lots and lots of stuff to do.
So due to a change in president´s travel plans for a meeting in Frankfurt next week, we had to bump two zone conferences up to this week. Normally this is one of those weeks where things slow down, and we can focus on our area, but instead it turned into more of a mad dash to get things ready for all of the conferences this week. Monday was pretty normal, just lots of things to print and get ready as well as getting a new presentation ready to be taught. Tuesday was more of the same, and Wednesday we left in the afternoon to drive all the way up to Hamburg to stay the night for zoco the following morning. We woke up extra early the so that we could all go down to the church and play some basketball for our morning sport. It was super fun. I´m still super out of shape, but lately I´ve been running about 5K every morning when we aren't traveling, and I´m starting to feel a lot better again.

Anyway, the theme of our zone conference came back really to time, coupled with agency and the atonement. We talked about the doctrine of time, and how God gave us time, agency, and the atonement to succeed in this life. President related a story of when he took his family to NYC and the Empire State Building. He talked about how he stood at the front door and had his kids watch taxis go by. The one right in front of them as they were watching was the present, the one that had already driven by was the past, and the one which you knew was coming, but couldn't see, was the future. He then took them to the top of the building and had them look down. From that vantage point they could see both the taxi directly in front of the building, the one that had driven a block away, and the one that was on it´s way to the front of the building. He taught that how from God's higher vantage point, the past, present, and future are all present to him. He can see everything, and even though he doesn't compel the taxis to drive a certain route, he remains omnicient because he sees where they come from and where they are going. He then showed us some math, and that in our average life span, we have over 1 million half hour time segments, while awake, in our life. He told us we were all millionaires and that the key to our future happiness would be how we invest our time. It was a great presentation. His wife then taught that principle by hanging a big piece of string across the chapel and then hanging a pen on the middle of it and saying how the string was eternity and how that tiny point where the pen hangs is our time on earth. She taught the importance of using our time wisely and doing the smaill and simple things which would help great things come to pass in our lives.

Then our job was to teach how we could put all that into practical application and become effective missionaries. We talked about magnifying our calling and about how magnifying your calling is really focusing spiritual light through your calling so that that light shines brightly for other people to see. And how do we magnify our callings? President Monson said, "by simply performing the service that pertains to it." We talked about how so much of the time, we get caught up in thinking we aren't magnifying our calling when we aren't doing extra things other than what we were simply called to do. It´s good to go the extra mile, but we can be sure we are magnifying our calling when are simply doing the things we are supposed to do, and doing it consistantly. So we went through the day of an effective missionary and talked about how every day we start right, work hard, and finish strong. Starting right includes the basics- getting up on time, doing sport, and doing good study. Lots of people take Prophet Benjamin's words, "Man should not run faster than he has strength," as an excuse sometimes, when in reality our attitude should be, "How can I build up more strength so that I can run faster?" I think everyone would like to run faster, and starting your day right gives you more strength to run faster throughout the day. We talked about working hard, and I talked about my time with my first companion in Dresden and how our motto was, "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." As we find ways to sacrifice throughout the day, it brings the blessings of heaven. For example, our mission has never taken a dinner break. We sacrifice that time so we don't miss prime finding time to find more people. It´s a sacrifice to only eat lunch and then stay out the entire day, but it brings the blessings of heaven. And for finishing strong we talked about the importance of planning and staying organized at the end of the day- area book, etc. We ended by passing out 2 posters we made for every apartment in the mission that say, "Will I be obedient, diligent, and clean today?" and "Was I obedient, diligent, and clean today?" and told them that if they asked themselves these questions at the beginning and end of every day, they would know they were magnifying their calling. We had a fun little movie we shared as well, and everything went really well. Most of it was like I said, practical stuff, but those were a few of the doctrinal points we taught.

So ya, that was all really good. Next week we have two more zoco´s so I hope it continues to go well. It´s been kinda a bummer not being around a whole lot. I almost feel like we´ve taken a 3 week trip out of our area with this special little schedule change, but our investigators are doing alright. I just hope they keep improving. We´ve been doing better at getting other missionaries to go by on them in our absence and I think that will help a little bit. The good news is this will really free up the last week and a half of the transfer, so hopefully we can build a lot more during that time.

So yes, life goes on. Still happy, healthy, and blessed. This will be our first full p-day in 2 weeks, so we´re excited for that. It will be nice to get caught up on some things.:) Hope you are all doing fabulous back home. It´s so good to hear from you and to hear that you´re doing well. Love you all lots and hope you have a wonderful week!