Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week of March 31 from Berlin

Well what another fun week here in the best mission in the world! We had a good time traveling around this week and are happy with the way things are going. Mostly we´re just happy that we´re surviving this special 5 week transfer and all of the challenges that it brings with it. You wouldn't think losing one week in a transfer would make a whole lot of a difference, but when it´s one of the only 2 weeks in the transfer where we have to relax and focus on our area a bit more and prepare things in advance for the busy weeks, it takes its toll on you I suppose. Last week of last transfer we had to do transfers all week, then came the first week of this transfer which was crazily busy, then a travel week with leadership training, throwing in a Zone Leader Council on the other side of the mission, and an emergency medical trip with a car pick up and delivery trip... and ya, needless to say, I just hope the Lord sustains our area of his vineyard in our absence, because frankly the last three weeks have been pretty ridiculous- haha.
One of the highlights, for sure, was last p-day after writing emails we got to go back up to my old stomping grounds in Prenzlau. That was an experience and a half! I can´t believe I was in that little place for 6 months- haha, but it brought back the fondest of memories and somehow I felt this sense of belonging there, like I was home again. I got to visit my adoptive German grandmother there, which about gave her a heart attack (we thought a surprise would be fun :) ) but it was a happy reunion. We passed by to say hi to a couple other members, then went and delivered the car to the senior couple there, who came to Prenzlau when I did, and catch up with them at my favorite ice cream place right across from their house. It´s crazy to see the change in them as they near the tail end of their time here as well.  They are just so at home and magnifying their callings there. Anyways, then came the highlight.  I got to go visit the man we baptised there.:) It was SO good to see him again! And the coolest part was hearing from him how things were going. He´s still having some bad health problems, but the new branch president, who just got called to travel all the way down to Prenzlau from another city, picks him up and he goes to church with him every Sunday. It´s so cool! So ya, we caught up a little bit and he is doing really well there in Prenzlau.

Sunday we had a great day at church. I gave a talk for the first time since Prenzlau- haha- and it went well. It was weird having to keep it down to 15 minutes, but I managed and it went okay I suppose. I talked about Obedience a bit. I talked about how we learn in the Pearl of Great Price in Abraham 3:25 that the world was created so God could "prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." Obedience is not only the first law of heaven, but really the first law of EVERYTHING. I talked about how in our mission we strive to develop the attitude that it´s "cool" to be an obedient and diligent missionary, and how we are missionaries who shave every day despite us not even really needing it, but are doing it because the White Handbook says so. :) I then talked about the Liahona, and how we learn in 1 Nephi 16 that it "did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them." So I figured I could talk about how those three attributes relate to obedience and how when we are obedient the Lord will bless us with direction in our lives. Faith is a fun topic. I talked about how I don't believe in this whole "blind obedience" deal. I think the word blind shows a lack of trust, so we should replace the word blind with the word faithful. No, we may not always understand the reason why we have a commandment, but we should trust the Lord in following it. That trust is evidence of our faith in Him. I think that´s what Lehi wanted to teach his children in his dying words when it says "I know in whom I have trusted." It´s important to realize that obedience is probably the most the simplest, most pure outward expression of our faith. Next comes diligence, also important in obedience. In Preach My Gospel it talks about diligence being an "expression of our love for the Lord." So I talked a bit about things that have helped me to stay motivated to be diligent on the mission. Finally comes heed. Elder Bednar gave a great talk in which I remember something he said that was very profound. He was talking about obedience, and at one point he used the word exacting obedience instead of exact obedience. At this point I used the wonderful parable of the kite, and how the string is what keeps us steady and helps us fly higher, like the commandments. Should we cut the string, despite our thinking that the kite would then fly higher, it would in reality plummet to the earth and crash. As we are constantly in the process of exacting our obedience, we are, in effect, lengthening our string, or knowledge of the commandments. We exact our obedience as we study the commandments and learn how we can be more obedient to them, and work on keeping them with the right attitude and for the right reasons. Moving from a law of Moses mindset to perhaps the Higher Law mindset. Then in closing, I talked about how every blessing we recieve comes from obedience "to that law upon which it is predicated." The Lord gives us commandments in anticipation to be able to bless us. So ya, hope someone learned something from all of that...

Most of the rest of the week was spent getting ready for leadership training and then going on the road. It takes a long time to make all the assignments for every meeting and to call everyone and print all the material off. We used a powerpoint in our presentation talking about how our mission wide standard of excellence of 20 lessons each week is totally attainable and how important it is to increase the quantity as well as the quality of our lessons in the mission. We showed a bunch of charts and graphs showing how close we have come in the past, and talked about how we can increase the quantity of or lessons. Then we talked about the worth of Gold, Silver and Bronze and how gold is like a joint teach with a member, silver an investigator lesson, and bronze a member lesson and how we wanted to increase the amount of gold in our teaching every week. Overall we presented everything pretty clearly and I think it was well recieved. As we were talking about teaching people we already teach shorter and more often, we used an example and had a missionary dip his finger in honey, and then have to eat a huge heaping spoonful and we asked him which was more enjoyable. Sometimes we expect our investigators to eat these massive feasts of spiritual knowledge, when they really have had a life of spiritual malnutrition leading up to that point. Giving them a rich meal would lead to indigestion and sickness, so we want to give them shorter, simpler, more frequent doses of spiritual knowledge. It was fun to see the missionaries with mouths full of honey though. I remember doing that before basketball games, bleh, I couldn't stand it.

So ya, then we just traveled and taught, and traveled and taught some more until late last night we pulled in home, and now I´m back here at my computer again. Yesterday we were in Leipzig and that was fun. My comp had served there for 6 months, baptised a way cool guy there who took us out to eat at a famous schnitzel place where they make schnitzels bigger than you can imagine. We had a huge one loaded with potatoes underneath it along with tons of other stuff... it was intense. So ya, we visited a couple members and new converts from him quickly on our way back and it made for an enjoyable end to a nice trip. It´s fun to get to see good old friends, many of which are now seasoned vets ready to go home soon. It was fun to see the next generation step up though and take over lots of the teaching and stuff.  I hope they handle the change of mission presidents well... I don't know how anyone could ever replace President Pimentel!

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