Monday, May 28, 2012

Week of May 28 from Braunschweig

Hey everyone!

Wow, had a lot happen this week!  The days just seem to fly by faster and faster the further into the transfer we get. This is the last week of this transfer.  It´s hard to fathom that I´ve been out of the office for that long already! Let´s see, where to begin...

I suppose the highlight of the week was our zone conference on Wednesday. It was fun to be back in a zone conference again! Probably the coolest part however, was that I had 3 ex comps there, 2 of which I served with in the office and one of which I served with in Dresden who is now an AP. Anyways, it was way fun to see them all again. This next week a LOT of my mission friends are going home, so it´s been kinda hard lately to say goodbye. I´m going to miss this group going home a LOT, but we´re going to hang out in Provo, so at least I know it truly is aufwiedersehen. (til we see each other again). So ya, that was really inspiring, and it was the first Zoco in over a year where I didn't have any assignments to fill, so that made it double relaxing. :) President taught us about the Love of God and gave a brilliant Thema. The rest of the workshops were pretty run-of-the mill. We have a big generation of new missionaries, so a lot of the workshops are based on pretty basic skills... it´s still cool how the Spirit always can teach you something new if you listen.

Well as far as the work goes, we´re just wrapping up oure great "sifting" process. We´re going through all of the people we meet with and finding the gold to concentrate our time on. Sadly, this was the first week of the transfer where we didn't make out a new baptismal date, and we dropped our list down to 5, but the 5 we had are all doing wonderfully! All are coming to church, and most all have caretakers at church, so we´re super excited for them. I see all of them becoming great members that will actually be able to build the ward and bring something new too it. We probably did less finding this week though than ever before- we just had hardly any time. One day, we were on the go seriously every minute, and 2 people approached us and made out appointments. I talked to one guy at a bus stop and then our bus came we needed, so I just had to give him a card and say, "just call" haha and he totally did and we totally met in the church and he´s way interested. Our miracle walk in man from 2 weeks ago came to church again as well, and we had a good lesson during the 2nd hour, and we hooked a golden Chinese investigator up with our new Chinese member, so things were starting to click. I can honestly say the only problem we´re facing right now is the risk of gaining too much weight with the crazy number of eating appointments members are giving us haha.  I´ve never had so many eating appointments in my mission!  It´s good though. Probably our coolest "friend of the church" finally came back from a vacation in Switzerland, so it will be great to see her again too. She´s always a ray of sunshine to meet with. All I can say the more and more I reflect on the work here in this city, is that God is just good, and even though it´s still not easy, and even though sometimes you start to feel like you´re running out of steam, he always compensates!

I´m anxious to see what transfers bring with them next week.  We have the call coming on Saturday. My comp is almost definitely going and we´ll probably lose one of the 4 sisters and gain a new district member... it´s going to be really weird having to call in to the transfer call and not know anything, haha I forgot how exciting they can be.:) Well I hope that you all have a good week this week, and hope to hear from you all soon!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week of May 21 from Braunschweig

Another week in the books!  This one went a little bit quicker than normal it seems like. We had lots of traveling to do and lots of people to visit.  I´ll see how well I can recap it.

So Tuesday we headed all the way over to Leipzig so that my comp could visit a member dentist over there who does everything for free. I thought I was done with Saxony, but apparently there was still one more trip to be made. It brought back lots of memories getting off the train at that massive familiar train station.  It reminded me of the days way back in Dresden where we always had to switch trains there at Leipzig early in the morning one the way to meetings. Probably the highlight of the trip was getting to eat a world famous Leipzig vanilla donut for the last time. They´re SOOO good and you only find them in Leipzig. Overall though it just made for a long day on trains, and even though it gave us some time to catch up on some planning and stuff, it ate up way to much missionary time. But what else can ya do?

Wednesday we had district meeting and the ZL´s came down. It was nice to have some fellow elders in the meeting to have my back with all of the sisters haha. I talked about Charity and Service mostly in the meeting since president is trying to put more evidence on service projects. While studying I stumbled upon some old notes in my PMG and one really stuck out to me. "Service to yourself dies with you, service to others leaves a legacy" and under that I had written, "What kind of legacy are you leaving in Germany?" It was a good moment of reflection for me. I had also written down my three motivations for doing service. 1-Because I love God and want to serve him. 2-Because there´s a possibility I may develop more charity for those around me. and 3-Because of anticiptation that it may just result in a bit of joy. I was just more and more impressed the more and more I studied how important charity is. 1 Cor 13 taught me that in Peru and Moroni 7 in the MTC, and really the ways we can develop it are limited. We can 1-pray for it, and 2-serve people. So we´re going to look for more oppurtunities to do more service as a district.  We´ll see how that goes.

After the meeting I got to head back with an old friend to go on exchange in Hannover. We had a great time and talked through a lot of things together, as well as see tons of miracles in Hannover. We found a way golden family from Iraq and just had a great time together. Then I got to spend the night with him and my first companion in the office together (who lives in the same apartment with his golden) and it was just great to see them all again. It´s weird having such limited opportunities to go on exchange these days haha.

Throughout the rest of the week we had a few super cool lessons, and had lots of our investigators cook for us even! Chinese food made by actual chinese people is sooooo good! I love it. Next week our Indian investigators are offering to feed us some of their dishes, so we´ll see how that compares. It´s awesome to have so many investigators who are also becoming good friends, and who care about you as a person and who want repay even a small portion to us for our helping them. This, coupled with the sudden surge in member eating appointments, is not looking to good for my weight loss plan haha. It´s good though- people are opening their hearts to us as well as the message.

Sunday was a disappointment. We had 6 people all lined up to come church, and only one showed up. We need to find a way to get these students up and ready to go to church somehow... so that will be our focus this week. They need to come to church if they want to make it to baptism!

Well love you guys a bunch! Have a great week back at home and keep us in your prayers, love ya!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week of May 14 from Braunschweig

Hey grüß euch!

Wow that was a fun week this week, and what was the cherry on top? Getting to talk to my most beautiful and amazing mother last night!!! What a great day that was indeed, and for more reasons that one.

I really need to do a better job with writing down my miracles every week so I can structure them better in these emails, haha but I´ll give my best shot to account for what all happened this week.

Our biggest success this week was getting the members more involved in the missionary work. We more than doubled our joint teaches and member lessons this week, and still managed to get all of our investigators taught. We just finished dooring out the biggest student dorm building here in Braunschweig with like a little over 600 doors or something, so now we just kinda have to sift through the pan a little bit and fish out all of the gold we´ve found. I´m learing more and more every day how tough it can be to teach more and more people and try and plan for them versus merely knocking on doors and finding new people.  Normally in missionary work tracting is what you picture as the "hard work" but when you're teaching like you should be, it´s hard work as well.

This week we did a street display with our new street display equipment we recently received. We got a permit and set up down in the middle of the city and got a couple members to come out and help us represent the church. Displays are kind of a bitter sweet thing.  Yes, you can sometimes find lots of cool people, but having a banner and a table with the name of Christ and stuff also intensifies the people's feelings of hatred towards you haha. Despite the 200 cold rejections, we managed to place about 5 Books of Mormon, make out 2 new appointments, and invited a couple people to church. I was sitting there looking at our members and how discouraging things would get sometimes, and it was easy to question, "Is this really worth it?" But the words of "every soul" having "great worth" in the eyes of God were stuck in my mind... and what is the "worth of a soul?" I´ve thought about that a lot lately.  The worth of a soul truly equals the potential of becoming like God.

Yesterday was one of the greatest miracles I´ve ever seen on my mission though.  We were just greeting people in church when a kind of scruffy man came walking in and sat quietly on the back row. I hustled back and introduced myself to him and sat with him throughout the church services. I got to know him a little bit, and during the second hour of church the thought came clear, "Take him and teach him in the 3rd hour" so when it came, I grabbed a member (my companion was already teaching another class) and we went back into a little room and taught him about the Restoration. At the end the thought came, "Invite him to baptism," so we did, and he totally accepted and said he had been looking for a place to get baptised for quite some time now... HOW COOL IS THAT? Just a walk in from off the street, walks out of the church with a baptismal date! He gave us all his info and we´ll be meeting with him this week. Now that´s what we call a Plan A miracle. Plan A being praying and hoping for miracles and success where people are led to us. Plan B being working hard to lead ourselves to them. When you work on Plan B as hard as you can, then Plan A miracles still come along as well. I love Plan A AND Plan B miracles. :)

I had my last interview with President as well this week. That was kinda sad. It was great to share a few last moments of one on one time with him.  I´m really going to miss him when he leaves here soon!

Well that´s all that comes to mind right now. The Work is super hard, but I wouldn't want or expect it to be any other way! Have a great week back home, love you all sooooo much!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week of May 7 from Braunschweig

Hey hey hey ya´ll!

Well another week of miracles back out in the mission field. The Lord is blessing us like crazy right now, and I don't exaggerate at all when I say I´ve never seen anything like this before at the mission. It´s just like it says in Corinthians- we plant, we water, but God gives the increase.  All success and glory comes from him! We taught a record 35 lessons this week and lead the mission in teaching. Doors were just opening left and right. We have 28 names we´re working with right now who are inviting us back to teach them again as well as now 8 people with baptismal dates.  The work just keeps going forward. We´re finding most of our success as we stick to college dorms and work with younger people and immigrants.  They are really receptive to the message, and all we need to do is bring the Spirit and teach with power and bam- the new investigators keep coming. Our big focus is to get the members coming out with us to teach now and to get all these people to church. The church has kind of a weird location, so it´s a struggle to get a bunch of college students up early and coming, but we´ll get 'em there!

One of the coolest baptismal dates I´ve ever seen set happened this week though.  Well, actually two. The first was a way cool guy from Iran.  It´s illegal for him to become Christian, but he´s wanted to all his life. He eats up everything we teach him and when we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism we felt like asking him to be baptised, and I think I got to the words, "Would you be..." before he just yelled "YES!!!" haha. He has a visa that keeps him safe from having to go back though, so he´s a valid candidate now. The other was a way cool Chinese guy, total boss, he said yes before we even extended the date and then when I said, "Okay, we´ll work hard and when you´re ready..." which he then interrupted by saying, "I´ll be ready!" It was soooo coool!

All the success hasn't come without great opposition though. We´ve had some hostile encounters with some free Christians, Muslims, and a couple JW´s this week. It was pretty intense. We walked in to the dorms to see one of our investigators almost in tears with a BOM in one hand and New World Translation in the other asking a German man, "Which one is right?" The German answered back in Chinese and then turned and saw us, and, well, it wasn't a good experience. Then while doing doors a huge black guy from Cameroon let us in and within 10 minutes was demanding us to burn our BOM´s and not blaspheme against God while yelling and pounding his Bible. Normally I´m pretty calm in those situations, but for some reason I felt I should stand up and I said very seriously, "By asking me to burn this book you are asking me to blaspheme against that which God has already made known to me through the Holy Spirit.  Think twice before you say another word" He backed down and as we left he said, "I know you´ll never come back and face me.  You don't have the courage." haha It was epic.  We´ll see though. Bleh, I have about as many of these stories from the week as the good ones haha, so I won't ramble on.  It´s been intense though, seriously a battle for the souls of the penitent.

Things continue to be hard, but I´m working on being more optimstic about everything, and at the end of the day, even though I´m dead, I love to get down on my knees and thank God for everything. It´s frustrating how quick we are to forget the miracles we see every day and His goodness, and how easy it is to let yourself get discouraged, but perfect love caseth out fear so I know if we keep working and develop love, everything will work out! Love all of you so much! Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week of April 30 from Braunschweig

Hey fam and friends! My first week in the beatiful city of Braunschweig is in the books. It was totally insane! I´ll try and recap it all a bit.

Braunschweig is a very beautiful city with about 250,000 inhabitants. It´s famous for its university and science. I don't know too much about it really, but it´s super similar to Kiel in lots of respects. I´m working on getting the bus system down and stuff and trying to figure out where I am. It´s been pretty hot outside lately and there are just people all over the place. There´s definitely lots of work to do here and we dove in head first this week!

So the transition from the office to the field is not as hard as I had pictured it, but definitely not as easy as I had hoped. The rust knocked off pretty quickly though and we got things rolling off to a blazing start. Basically there was already a lot going on here, but this week we found 10 new investigators made out almost 20 new appointments, made out 2 new baptismal dates, had about 7 walk-ins and taught close to 30 lessons. It was literally INSANE. The Lord blessed us in ways I had never seen before. People just opened their doors and asked us to come in before we had even said anything. The hard part is trying to keep all of the names straight and plan for all of these people at this point. We focused a lot on student housing here at the universtiy and have so many new Chinese investigators I hardly know what to do. We´ve got a great ward with about 120 there most Sundays, and I think the big next step to take is going to be getting them involved in missionary work.

The new district is pretty fun as well. I forgot what it´s like to be a District Leader. We have the "sisters district" here in the mission, so it consists of my companion and I with 4 sisters. It´s kind of fun to have a little district where you can be every week. It´s a lot more fun to take numbers from 2 areas instead of 78 as well. :) It will be a good transfer.

Today we were in the neighboring city of Wolfsburg at a huge VW factory/museum like place. It was pretty cool to see the ways the car industry has effected this are. We were there with our ward mission leader and it was good to get to know him better as well. There are lots of really cool members here. West Germany is just still so different from East Germany. It really has got this feel to it that I haven't felt since I was a golden, so it´s kind of refreshing in a way.

Well the work is really hard, and every day I´m getting closer to my goal of wanting to not hate sweating in missionary clothes, but it´s good experience. My testimony grows every single day. I really miss my last area, companion, and the office staff sometimes, but I know this is where I need to be so I'm more than happy to lift where I stand! Hope you all have a great week back home- love you all lots!