Monday, June 25, 2012

Week of June 25 from Braunschweig

Moin moin!

Man this week was super emotional for me.  I think it had a little bit of everything in it.  I don't really even know where to begin....

The week started out pretty good.  My golden had his first JW confrontation and that was a lot of fun for him... not really haha but we´ve decided everything we do with a good attitude can be fun, so ya. But it was a good meeting and we got to bear some good testimony before things went off the deep end. Those are always fun appointments. The next day though we bounced back strong and had an awesome day and found a new family. It´s a single mother and 3 kids from Angola.  They speak German and Portugese and are pretty cool. We taught them twice this week and I´m anxious to see what kind of progress they make.

Wednesday was one of the absolute hardest days of my life. We had zone conference in Hannover and it was time to say goodbye to the Pimentels. Overall it was a great meeting with lots of inspiring lessons to be learned, but at the end of the day it was dominated for me by the pains of transition. It´s something you learn to cope with on your mission and I thought that I had grown used to it, but I was wrong. I remember shedding lots of tears having to say goodbye to my first companion and I remember shedding tears having to say goodbye to my first city.  I´ve had to lose lots of comps and change lots of city since, and each time it got better and better, but losing your mission president rocks your world haha. Their son came all the way over to Braunschweig with the train and stayed the night with me to say goodbye, so that was awesome to see him again, but then morning came and we all met with president and his wife our last time. I choked up a bit just at the beginning, but then we split up into districts and President and Sister P came by to spend just a few moments with each missionary personally and say an official goodbye and that´s when I lost it. I broke down weeping in President´s arms, and it was hard to let go. He left some great words of wisdom though and it´s good to know that I´ll see him again soon in the States. I have no doubt in my mind that one of the reasons I felt so strongly to come immediately out on my mission instead of go to a semester of school was so that I could serve with President and his wife. Life goes on though, and I´m excited to meet the new president next week.

Well after I had somewhat composed myself it was back to the streets and missionary work. The rest of the week was filled with appointments and finding. We got back in contact with a lost investigator who we met in a bakery on P-day (miracle) and worked through a lot of problems with other investigators. We also had the baptismal interview for our baptismal canidate and everything went well. Haha my golden had his first interesting eating appointment. A member asked him if he´d rather have German rouladen (an amazing dish of meat wrapped up in herbs) or salted herring with onions and he, not understanding fully the question, choose the latter haha so that´s what we had. I had heard some pretty bad things about the dish, but it turned out not to be so bad actually... not sure my comp felt the same way.:) Sometimes it´s a lesson you have to learn though- understand before saying yes. :) The next day though we had an eating appointment with a new member and an investigator poorly planned with 2 hours space in between. The first one stuffed us full of amazing Chinese food and then the next one made a spicy rice chicken dish and I have probably never come so close to popping from overeating in my life! It was so good, but soooo much. Could have used some alka-seltzer... but my mom and dad could tell you that we don't mix too well sometimes. ;)

Sunday was the baptism, it was amazing. And we FINALLY got one of our investigators to come to church on that day so it was great. Over 60 members were at the service and there wasn't enough room in the font room to watch the baptism. He has so many good relationships and is going to fit right in and be a fabulous member in the ward! I love baptism. :)

Well I can't think of too much more to report on. If anyone has any questions, feel free to write. I´ve only got 8 more weeks, and hopefully my mail fast doesn't last the remainder of my time haha. Have a great week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week of June 18 from Braunschweig

Hey everyone!

Wow, this last week was a long one filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats- just a little bit of everything. Training is hard work, but it´s super fun and my son and I are making lots of great memories together! It´s weird how in the mission field every week has a lifetime´s worth of memories but when you sit down to write about it you just have no idea where to begin...

Well on Tuesday I had to go to a leadership meeting in Hannover with a lot of other good friends in the zone. It´s so weird to look around and see the new leadership in the mission... I remember when some of my good mission friends were training a lot of these guys. The mission is in super good hands though for the transition coming up in the next 2 weeks.  I´m grieved to the depths of my soul to have to say goodbye to president Pimentel, but it´s kind of exciting to get to see a new president come at the same time. Anyways, after that meeting, one of my best friends on the mission came back to Braunschweig with me and we had an awesome exchange together and learned a lot from each other. He lived in the same apartment as me in Berlin for a few months, so it was fun to work with him closely and reflect on good times. Haha can´t say the exchange was as edifying for my golden however.  In Hannover a crazy lady came into the church saying she was possessed by demons, and one of the missionaries tried to cast them out only to have her scream and freak out even more... haha definitely not the best experience for a brand new missionary to have to witness, but he´s doing a lot better now. There´s always a bit of a learning curve you have to get over when you first get to Germany.  The MTC just pumps you up out of your mind, but you realize very quickly that the word "elect few" is very literal here in this mission.  Very very very few people are willing to even give you the time of day, but once you get used to it, you realise that there still are people to be found and it keeps you going. I think the hardest transition for him, I think though, is not ever eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom. I forgot how much we don't eat in the mission sometimes. We haven't had hardly any eating apps lately and when members don't invite us... well then it´s just a bowl of cereal in the morning, noodles for lunch, and no dinner haha and it kills him. I just always tell him though, "Elder, man shall not live by bread alone..." I don't think he´s a big fan of this mentality, haha but he will learn. ;)

Wednesday we met with an old investigator and talked about the Restoration. He absolutely loved the message and we instantly invited him to be baptised. His dad is a pastor and says the scriptures say you can't be baptised again, but after explaining to him what a real baptism is, and reading Acts 19 with him, he understood and accepted so we got a sweet new baptismal date. I really hope it goes through too.  It would just kinda be extra cool because that means I could start my mission with the baptism of a Nigerian and end with one haha, but he´s got a long way to go. Also one of our coolest long time investigators said her first prayer out loud in a lesson! It was beautiful and I don't know if she recognized how beautiful it was and how much it meant to us.  She is really so awesome! The rest of the week though was mostly filled with finding lots of little concerns and trying to settle them with our other investigators... ugh there´s just so many problems in the world and the more people you teach the more you are exposed to it... why can't they see that the gospel answers all problems!!? Oh well, patience and perfect love can do anything with anybody.

On a very bright note though, our first baptism is all set up to go through this Sunday. He is sooooo ready and just one of the coolest people ever! I´m really excited for it, it´s hard when you go a very long time working hard without  baptism and it´s just going to be nice to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. He´s going to be baptised by a member and everything is just set up like a dream! I´m super excited!

Well not much else more that I can think about for this week. It was just spent like most other weeks. Working as if everything depended on you, praying as if everything depended on the Lord and just teaching the good word. We spend a LOT of time just traveling, but I like it though because we have a clear purpose in mind and it helps time pass when you know exactly what you´re doing.  We are super blessed to be teaching so many different people and to be in such a great city! Oh, tomorrow president´s son is going to come up with a train and spend the night with us so I can say goodbye to him.  Man I´m gonna miss him and them so much! Hopefully I'm not too much of an emotional wreck this week! Anyways, hope you all have a great week back home.  Love you all so much!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week of June 11 from Braunschweig

Well the long awaited day has come and on Thursday morning at roughly noon my mission posterity was secured for another 2 years! I picked up my Golden from Berlin and he´s an awesome young elder from the San Fran Cali area and I´m excited to see what we can do! We jumped right into it this week meeting with investigators and having activities with the ward and he got a good taste of everything. The highlight of my week was probably when a member approached him and talked to him in a thick German accent and very quickly, and after he walked away my Golden looked at me with the picture perfect face and said "... was he speaking Russian?" Haha, it was great and brought back so many feelings of my first moments in Deutschland as well.  It will be a good couple of transfers.

So Tuesday we sent my old comp back up to the north DDR to his new city and then I took a train to Hannover to meet up with another elder who is also training this transfer and we spent the rest of the day and most of Wednesday here in Braunschweig. It was nice to not have to totally leave the area without missionaries for a few days! We had a good time and got to know each other a bit better. At night I put on my BYU shirt to go to bed and he pulled out his red Ute shirt and then the trash talking began.  It was a good couple days.

Wednesday we met with some more of our investigators at the refugee camp on the outskirts of Braunschweig and that was nice. It´s kind of a sad situation.  The houses are super ghetto and it´s a fenced, guarded compound. You have to surrender ID to get in and declare who you´re visiting and stuff and it´s just a sad place. Apparently after WWII germany was made to have to take in all refugees who try to claim assylum, so that´s why they have so many people here and why the country is getting more and more diverse. But ya, later that evening we headed on a night train down to Berlin where I got to stay the night with one of my good high school friends here in the mission.  It was SO good to get to see him again and talk to him!  He´s an awesome elder.

Thursday we had trainer training.  It was kind of fun to be on the other end of the stick and watch the assistants (absolutely destroyed from fatigue) try to stay awake and teach haha. Apparently the Goldens' flights were delayed, so they had all been up til 3 am trying to figure everything out so they were just way confused and tired haha. But I got one of the 17 Goldens and we hopped on a train back ot Braunschweig where we had 3 appointments scheduled for the evening.

Friday was also filled with appointments and a service project. We helped a member remodel her kitchen and got to visit the massive IKEA here to pick up everything. She´s awesome because she has a thick Leipzig accent and talks like a lot of people I knew in Dresden, so I always enjoy getting to talk to her. Her language brings back found memories of my time back east.

Saturday we had a massive ward activity/party. Not as many non-members came as we had hoped, but we were still able to offer tours of the church and had a display stand all set up. The night before a water pipe broke under the church and the electricity went out, so that wasn't the best, but it was fun to be with the ward and see them interact with my Golden. The bishop, one of the coolest people I know, had him bless the food in German and made sure he was right in the thick of things.  It was fun. The rest of the day we met with students and did a couple hours of doors.

Sunday was a good day as well. Church was wonderful, and I was especially touched by the music. We sang almost all of my favorite hymns, and while singing I was overwhelmed by the Spirit and realized how much I´m going to miss singing in German! I love the language and songs so much.  I don't know why that thought hit me so strongly, but it was just a good Sunday.

Well not much going on today.  We are going to go help a member out and just see the city a little bit. Going to go take my son to get his first Döner, so he´s pretty excited for that haha.  Training brings back soooo many good memories. I just hope he can love this city at least half as much as I love Kiel! Have a great week back home!  Love you all!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week of June 4 from Braunschweig

Hello everyone!

Well, transfer calls came on Saturday as expected and... I WILL FINALLY GET A GOLDEN!! The long awaited day has finally arrived and my mission family line will finally continue! :) I´m pretty excited if you haven't been able to tell already. Training was like the one thing I wanted to do on my mission, but it´s somehow eluded me the past 21 months, so it will be great to finally finish my mission with a golden. Wednesday I will head off to Berlin to spend the night with a good friend from high school in the mission who is currently serving in Berlin, and then Thursday morning I will pick him up and we´ll get back in the afternoon. It will be a new challenge, but one I´m anxious to take on.

This last week was a good week. We got invited over by lots and lots of members, and the food is just so good and they just keep on stuffing us... haha I have no idea what to do. I hope my next companion likes running because we are going to have to step it up these next two transfers if we don't want to explode from all the food. It´s great to get to know all of the members here a little better though. Yesterday we were by this amazing family with a bunch of little girls who are just the cutest little girls I´ve ever seen, anyway, they were asking us what our favorite animals were, and since I don't really know how to say platypus in german, I just said it was a unicorn. Haha they all freaked out and the gave me a toy unicorn when I left... it is now a paper weight on my desk at home. So many wonderful strong members though. This month is "The Month of Invitation" and so we´ve been encouraging people to invite friends to come out to church and yesterday we filled almost the entire chapel.  It was really awesome. The members here are just so full of faith and such great examples.

Most all of our baptismal dates are coming out to church regularly now. We´re hoping to get 2 down before June 24.  One of them is struggling with some visa stuff, but the other is super strong and is going to be a great member! I´m excited to really cash in this transfer and see a lot of miracles. No one else in the district was transfered, which was a big surprise, so we´ll see if we can all get our baptismal dates down in the next two transfers. It should be great!

So one of the highlights this week was getting together with some Chinese investigators and friends and playing some basketball. The Chinese are pretty good! A little bit unorthodox at times, but effective nonetheless. It was pretty enjoyable. It´s a great way to pick up contact with some new people too, and hopefully it adds a few more people to our pool. I was looking back on this transfer's numbers, and we´ve really just been super blessed. We taught about 140 lessons, and found 23 new investigators.  It´s pretty unheard of and I just hope we can continiue to work hard and see the blessings!

Well sorry this email is a bit shorter.  I don't have a whole lot of time to write today.  We need to head to Hannover here soon.  We´re going to go play some basketball and I´ll get to say goodbye to one ex-companion and some other friends who will be going home this transfer. ;( Have a great week back home though.  Love ya lots!