Monday, December 31, 2012

A Golden, Familial Ties, and a Drummer

Hey Mom!
 
Well, I won´t keep you waiting in suspense in terms of our transfer calls. Elder Fowler is getting transferred to Essen, and I have been called as a trainer!! We head to Frankfurt on Wednesday and we overnight there, and I will pick up my golden on Thursday morning at the golden-trainer meeting. Elder Hutchings and his companion are remaining together in Duisburg, and Elder Proffitt is getting transferred to Aachen, which is in my zone so I will see him at transfers and throughout the next two transfers at least, which I am super happy about. It is a kind of funny situation: Elder Ripplinger, one of my current zone leaders, is getting transferred, and Elder Hall from Aachen is replacing him. Elder Hall trained Elder Proffitt and was training another new missionary this last transfer, but now Elder Proffitt will be taking his place and finishing the second half of training Elder Ellsworth. I don´t know how it was in Mat´s or Ryan´s missions, but in our mission, when someone trains you, you become their "son" and they are your "father," and when you only do the second half of training someone, they are your "adopted son," and if your trainer trains someone else they become your "brother." That means that Elder Ellsworth was Elder Proffitt´s brother and now is becoming his adopted son, so there are some weird familial ties going on there haha.

There is not a whole ton more to report just since it was so recent since the last email. We lost contact with that 17 year old girl during the holidays, but we are meeting with her tomorrow, so hopefully there will be some progress there. We also met with the Maaßs, who are an older couple. Bruder Maaß is a professional drummer and has played with drummers from the Police, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. I am sure Mat would be excited to meet him one day. Anyway, we were having a dinner appointment with him and his wife yesterday. We expected it just to be a dinner appointment, but he brought along his musician friend, who plays the harp in the musical group they are both in, and Bruder Maaß went beast mode testifying of Christ and the Book of Mormon, and then we shared the quote from Joseph Smith about how he said the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the face of the earth, and the Spirit was there. I hope she at some point decides to meet with us because she is really cool and already has a super strong support system in the church with the Maaßs. The only problem was that at the end of the appointment when we were about to leave something was said about her getting baptized in another church this coming Sunday, which is too bad, but hopefully something will still work out in the end.

Besides that, there is not much to report this week. I will tell you how legit my son is next week on Monday. Have a great week! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Missionary Christmas

Hey Mom!

I am glad I got to skype with all of you and it looks like everyone had a really fun Christmas with all of the pictures you sent. Hopefully the rest of the holidays are as much fun.

Well, this will likely be a short email since I will have P-day again on Monday and we just talked the other day. After we finished skyping, the bishop made us finish off some cake that we had begun eating before we skyped, and it was way too much cake hah. Afterwards, we went to meet with Bruder Köster, where we shared a spiritual thought and just talked with him. Then he drove us home. The next day (yesterday), we met with the Helzers for a lot of the day. We played foosball in their basement, which is obviously awesome since all the boys in the family play it a lot. We then had dinner, which was really good. Then we played some games with the family, one of them called Ligretto, which is a super fast and stressful card game, and then we played Trivial Pursuit, church style. It was the same game board and everything, but someone had made a bunch of different cards with various church topics, which was fun. Elder Fowler and I did really bad because every time we were up, we got some ridiculous question that we didn´t know and then everyone else kept getting questions that were easy to answer. Oh well, it was still fun. We then shared a spiritual message with them and they drove us home afterwards. They also gave us each a really cool tie for Christmas, just one more in the collection!

Well, today, the zone is meeting in Düsseldorf to have a sport P-day, which will be fun. The rest of the week will be spent trying to work with less-actives and also working on setting up everything with our GPS. It takes a lot of time, but when it is done, it is going to make the work a lot more efficient and practical with transportation and everything.

I hope everything is good at home, and I look forward to hear from you again on Monday!
 
Liebe, Daniel

It was great to skype with Daniel!  He looks great and sounds great and he is really happy!  His German is awesome.  He loves his mission and we are really proud of him.  Now we have Mother's Day to look forward to talking to him again!


 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Such is the Life of a Missionary Sometimes

Hey Mom!

I am happy to hear that everything is ready for Mat and Libby´s wedding and that it is only in a few days! I did get your Christmas package this last week.  They made me pay 52 Euro to pick it up, which is like 80 or so dollars! But it was worth it since there are so many goodies in there. I sent a Christmas package home to you guys last week, and I hope it gets home before Christmas Day.

Well, this week was really a downer in terms of missionary work. We didn´t have any lessons with anyone besides members, and even those were few and far between. It was a slow week, and we also got a GPS and a new white board for the apartment, so we have spent some time getting all of that set up and figured out. We had our zone training on Friday and I was asked to prepare a 30 minute Thema for it about obedience, which went really well. In the beginning I had an object lesson and had Elder Fowler get blindfolded while Elder Hathaway (who was holding a sign that said the First Presidency and the Apostles) guided him, telling him to reach out and grab what was in front of him (a bottle of Fanta) and pour it into a cup and then drink it. It was really funny and everyone was laughing, and it also showed them how without the guidelines and commandments given by the prophets and apostles, they wouldn´t receive the blessings that come from obeying their counsel (in other words, taking the drink of Fanta). I also got to talk a lot with Elder Hutchings there, and he and Elder Hathaway are coming from Duisburg to Solingen today for Pday, which will be a lot of fun.

I also went on a split with the Elders in Wuppertal this week, and in Wuppertal they have what is called the Schwebebahn, which is basically their public transport system. Instead of streetcars on the ground, they are suspended in the air and go over the river in Wuppertal and it sways as you ride it. It is a really cool city. 

We met a 17 year old girl on the street about a week ago who said she would come to our Weinachtsfeier.  I wasn´t 100% sure what was going to happen there. It turned out to be the ward putting on a Christmas play, which was all fine and dandy, but not the kind of thing that a 17 year old German girl would be interested in. The youth in our ward all said hi to her and introduced themselves, but most of the time we were just kind of standing there with her and it was definitely awkward for her. The worst part was at the end the guy who was playing the role of Santa called me and Elder Fowler up to the front and made us say a few words and sing a Christmas song. Apparently it is a tradition, and they were supposed to warn us before hand, but no one ever did and it was super embarrassing. Oh well, such is the life of a missionary sometimes. 

We have a lot of people we want to meet with and we are going to try really hard to get back into contact with our what-we-thought-were-golden investigators. All of them pretty much fell off the face of the earth and won´t answer calls or texts, so there´s that. I think they still have a lot of potential, as soon as we find out what is going on with them. Well, that is it for the week! Have a good week, and enjoy the wedding! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snow Pretty Much Every Day

Hey Mom!
 
Well, this week was kind of a bummer. Most of our appointments fell out and we didn´t have a lot to do other than clean up our area book. This week was kind of bad for our whole zone. I think a big reason is because it is starting to snow pretty much every day now and people are having problems getting around or don´t want to go outside because of the weather. The buses also fall out sometimes or come late, so this is just the start of what could be a long winter.

On Monday, we met with a less-active member and talked with him about answering life´s questions through the Book of Mormon. We spent the rest of the day getting groceries and cleaning the apartment, and then getting some peace and rest. Tuesday we met with Bruder Olbert again in the old people´s home like we do every week, and that was good. We also had a really good district meeting, which was great. On Wednesday, we met with an older sister in our ward at a Chinese buffet, which was good, and later on, we met with one of our investigators in the Auslanderheim. He is the only one who lives there that can speak decent German, so when we were about to start teaching him, he got a call from another guy in the Auslanderheim and went to go help him clean up some legal stuff. He told us to wait for him, which we did for about 20 minutes until we went to check what was taking so long. We found the room where our investigator was and the guy in there likes us but doesn´t speak a lick of German, but made us sit down and listen to what was going on. There were two older German ladies there who worked for the government who were telling him he would have to leave the country since he didn´t have any documents, and our investigator was translating for him and we ended up not being able to go for about another hour.

Thursday was supposed to be our day where we met with our two main investigators, even though we had only met with them once up to this point. Both appointments fell out for various reasons. Then later that day, we had a split with Düsseldorf, where I went to Düsseldorf to work with Elder Sommerville for a day. Most of what we did on the split consisted of contacting people and making sure the new apartment was ready for the new Senior Couple who will be joining the district, which I am really excited about. We also thought we were going to be getting GPSs for our area, as well as a white board, which we need pretty badly, and they didn´t get brought up so we now won´t get them until Friday this week. On Saturday, we did our weekly planning and met with Bruder Köster, which is always good.  After church on Sunday we had to wait for 2 hours for a ride from the bishop to Remscheid. The ward has been practicing their Christmas program after church, and it takes forever and ever every time. Once we finally got there, we met with The Glosnickis, who are recently married and have a new baby, and they told us about their lives. They are cool people, and had really interesting stories. Besides all of that stuff for the week, we spent a lot of time rewriting the records in our area book because the previous missionaries wrote it really poorly and it is pretty hard to read. We will have to do a lot of that this week, as well as entering a ton of information into the GPS, which will take quite a bit of time.

Anyway, that is all for this week. I hope you guys have a good week and that everything runs smooth for the holiday/wedding season! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Super Awesome Week

Hey Mom!
 
I am really liking serving here in Solingen. I am getting used to the surroundings and am starting to get familiar with the bus schedules and where people live. Our apartment is kind of small, but it is fine for two missionaries. There is not much of a view from the windows like there was in Idar-Oberstein since we are pretty much right next to the Füsgängerzone, but it is still ok. Elder Fowler and I get along really, really well. It took a while for us to get accustomed to each others´ personalities, but now we are really comfortable with each other. He is super funny, and I really enjoy working with him. Being a district leader is also going really well, and I enjoy the responsibility and the opportunity to stay in close contact with a handful of missionaries.

Well, this last week was super awesome. On Monday, a bunch of companionships from the zone got together and went to the Dom in Köln, which was fun. Elder Hutchings was there, so we spent a lot of time talking and chilling, which was really great. The Dom is huge and we walked up a ton of stairs. I don´t remember how many there were, but it had to be at least 300 in this tiny, stone spiral staircase. After that, we hit up the Christmas markets in Köln and I got a cool nativity to send to you, and today/next Monday hopefully I can get all the things I need to to send home for Christmas. When we got back to Solingen, we met with a guy from Macedonia, and then had a lesson with a guy on the street about the Restoration. We gave him a Book of Mormon and got his address, and hopefully we can meet with him again this week.

On Tuesday, we met with Bruder Olbert, a really old member in a senior home, and then afterwards had lesson with a person we met on the street. On Wednesday we had our District Meeting in Düsseldorf, and later had a really cool lesson on the Füß with a guy we found.

Thursday was an incredible day. We met with this guy from Pogo, Africa called Charles. He was super interested in the Book of Mormon, and asked a ton of questions. Every time we answered a question, he was like, "das wollte ich hören" (that is what I wanted to hear)! We then asked him if he would be baptized if he found out the Book of Mormon was true, and he said yes! Later on, we met with a 19 year old kid that found the church through YouTube, which eventually led him to the church´s website, where he watched the Restoration movie and read the first chapter of 1 Nephi, and he said he already believes the story of Joseph Smith. We asked him if he wanted to be baptized, and he said yes as well! The best part is that he also has a friend in the ward, Thaddäus Hoppe, and he was there at the lesson and bore awesome testimony of the Book of Mormon, and it was just the best. That was a really good day.

On Friday, we travelled out to Monheim to contact a referral, but the street was false. Then we visited a fallen-out baptismal candidate from earlier this year. Later on that night, we met with Bruder Köster again and had a really good lesson. On Saturday, we met with a guy who is a member of the ward. We talked with him about the importance of the Restoration, which was cool. Yesterday, two of our investigators didn´t come to church, which was a bummer, but one of them got a ride with some members and came. After church, we went to Bishop Pauly´s house and had dinner and taught a lesson. That pretty much was the end of the week for us.

Well, that is all to report for now. I hope you have a good week and that everyone is excited for the holidays!! Love you!
 
Liebe, Daniel

Elder Squires and Elder Hutchings (Elder Hutchings is one of Daniel's best friends from high school and was also his roommate at BYU).  Great reunion in Germany!

Inside the Koln Dom (Cologne Cathedral)


Elder Squires and Elder Hutchings (and Santa)

Brother Koster and Elder Squires

View of snow from the apartment in Solingen

Elder Squires and Elder Fowler
 

Monday, November 26, 2012

First Week in Solingen

Hey Mom!

It sounds like everyone had a lot of fun for Thanksgiving. I was on trains for most of the day on Thursday. It is really hard to remember a lot of American holidays here since we are just working away and also they don't celebrate a lot of those holidays here. I am glad that you all had an awesome holiday though and can now start preparing for Christmas.

Well, this last week was nothing short of hectic. There were a lot of missionaries in my last zone getting transferred or training, so there was a huge confusion on how everyone was going to make all of the connections on trains, and that made transfers really stressful. In the end though, I finally made it to Solingen. The area is much, much bigger than Idar-Oberstein, and I still feel pretty disoriented, especially without a car. I am really loving being a district leader so far. Our district is really awesome and really hard workers. We got to go to zone training on Saturday and I got to see Elder Hutchings finally, and it was pretty much just like old times. I get to see him again today because some of the companionships in the zone are going to Köln to check out the huge cathedral there. I also got to see some of the elders from my MTC district on transfer day and in zone training, which was really fun.

We have had some pretty good appointments since I got here in Solingen. First we met with Nicolai Hansen and his family, who are active members. Then the next day we met with Bruder Köster. He is a really interesting guy, and we have really atypical appointments with him. We ate first, and then we taught him lessons as if he is an investigator, while he corrected our German and helped us find better ways to say things. After that, he gave us haircuts while the other read from the Book of Mormon in German.
 
Yesterday in church, we had a full 3 hour block. It was strange coming back to a ward with the regular schedule instead of just a branch with 2 hours. The ward is probably about 50 members strong of active members, and there are a lot of less-actives. During sacrament meeting, I was invited to bear my testimony and then it was the Primary program. After church we met with the Helzer family and shared a message about being examples of the believers like it talks about in 1 Timothy 4:12.

I have the responsibility of doing call-ins now for all of the companionships in my district. It is really fun and I like talking to all of the missionaries. The sisters in Düsseldorf are really funny and are also really hard workers. The zone leaders in Düsseldorf are spiritual studs and are really nice guys. The Wuppertal elders are quiet guys and don't talk much at all, but they are good missionaries. My new companion, Elder Fowler, is really cool. He looks really young, and is a little shorter than I am, so I am pretty sure we are the shortest companionship in the zone, maybe the whole mission. Hopefully we can pick up this area because right now we don't have any investigators and there are not a ton of appointments filling up the days. It is a lot like Idar-Oberstein in that way, and hopefully we can pick it up and get some investigators and maybe a baptism or two.

Well, there were other small things that happened this week, but it was all so much at once that I can't really remember anything else big that happened. I will keep you all updated weekly, like usual, and I hope your week is awesome!! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big Changes

Hey Mom!
That is really awesome that Kiffyn got her mission call to San Jose, she is going to be a really awesome missionary, and tell her I say congrats!

Well, I have some exciting news for this next transfer: I have been called to be a District Leader! I am getting transferred to Solingen, which is in the same zone as Elder Hutchings, so I will see him on Saturday, which I am pumped about. My district consists of Solingen, Wuppertal, and the Düsseldorf Elders and Sisters, so four companionships ins gesamt. The Düsseldorf Elders, Elder Riplinger and Elder Sommerville, are the zone leaders, so I will be able to work pretty closely with them to help out the district and zone. One of the sisters in Düsseldorf, Sister Nelson, is going to train this transfer, so I will also have a brand new sister missionary, Sister Smith in the district, so all in all, I will have quite a bit of weight on my shoulders, so I hope I do ok. The Wuppertal Elders are Elder Kearl and Elder Brown, and they have a baptism coming up so I am going to have to do a baptismal interview pretty soon here, which is pretty intimidating. My new companion is named Elder Fowler. He is one transfer younger than I am, so I will be the older elder in the companionship. I will be his "golden buster," which is what we call missionaries in our mission that are companions with an elder who just finished getting trained. So Elder Fausnaught golden busted me and now I am golden busting Elder Fowler. His MTC companion is in K-town Zone, which I have been in since I got here, and he said he is really funny and a good elder so I am excited. Either way, we are going to be a really young companionship because I am going into transfer 4 and he is going into transfer 3. Elder Bonzo, my MTC comp, also has been called as a District Leader, and he is going to Unna. It was really cool to hear on the transfer call that we were both going to be District Leaders.

This week was pretty good. It went by pretty quickly, and I don't have my planner on me to remember everything that we did since this week was the start of a new planner, so it probably won't be super detailed. We met with a few less-actives this week, and also with a handful of members. On Tuesday, we met with an active member in Gemeinde Idar-Oberstein. He has a couple of issues and is always kind of bobbing up and down in his seat, and he told us why when we visited him. He said apparently he used to be a life guard back in the day and was normal, but he got poisoning from the chlorine and now he can't control all of his movement and kind of twitches and bobs a lot. I feel really bad because there were times during the lesson where he would stop and think about something for a second and stop twitching, and I could totally see how he probably used to be since he just looked normal, and then he would start twitching again. He is a really nice guy though, and has a lot of potential investigators for the missionaries.

Wednesday consisted of going and getting our summer tires from the tire shop because we were supposed to get a new car on that day, which is awesome because the Opel Corsas that we drive are garbage. Then we found out on the way to get the tires that we were going to have to wait until Monday (today) to pick it up, which was a bummer. I have been the driver of the car this whole transfer since Elder Fausnaught doesn't have a German license, and I was really pumped to get rid of the Corsa and get a new Toyota Yaris.

We also did some work with our investigators. We finally met with David again; he had gotten a new job and it has been hard for us to meet with him for the last 2 weeks. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation, and he took everything in well. I hope he gets baptized sometime soon after I leave here.
We met with our German investigator a bunch of times this week. She has been doing better with not smoking, but it is still hard for her. We did get another potential investigator which is really cool. She is in pretty much the same situation as our other investigator, so hopefully they can both be helped.
We spent a lot of time hanging up posters and giving out fliers for the Vocalis Choir, a German LDS youth choir that tours around Europe, and they are coming to Idar-Oberstein on December 1st. It is kind of a bummer because I am doing all of this work to advertise for them but I don't get to see the concert, but oh well.

On Thursday, we went to those farmers we found a couple weeks ago and did about 3 hours of service for them, which meant 3 hours of shoveling up horse crap from the ranch. It was pretty sweet because it is really hard to find service opportunities in Germany. Everyone thinks we are either selling something or have hidden motives or something, but these farmers said we can come by any day to do service for them.

Yesterday, we went to the Idar-Oberstein Branch for church, and I got a picture with almost the whole branch, but I forgot my camera at the apartment, so I will send that picture next week. Afterwards, we met with the Schülers for one last time. Bruder Schüler is my favorite guy in the ward. He is just a little boy stuck in an old man's body, and always cracks hilarious jokes.

Today, we finally got to drive up to Frankfurt and pick up our new car. The new Toyota Yaris is a million times nicer than the Opel and we literally drove off the lot with 0 kilometers on the car. I am really disappointed that I get to only drive it for 2 days though. After that, Elder Fausnaught's new golden is going to get to drive it (he is training this transfer in Idar-Oberstein), and I will be walking and taking public transportation in Solingen. The Yaris is kind of ugly on the outside but the inside is really nice and it drives really smooth, so I will miss it.

Other than that, it has just been the same old. I am excited to be leaving Idar-Oberstein, even though the area is really starting to pick up and I loved serving with Elder Fausnaught. It is about time for a change of scenery. I don't know what Solingen looks like yet, but in Düsseldorf I know they will have some pretty big Weihnachtsmärkte so I bet I could find a pretty sweet Nativity set there. I also heard that Solingen makes the best knives in Germany, so I will have to take a look into those when I get there!

That is all for this week. Pretty crazy, and I hope I can fulfill my calling this coming transfer. I hope everything is well, Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Sketchy Situation

Hey Mom!

This last week was nothing short of crazy. Our one progressing investigator is doing really well. We taught her the Word of Wisdom this last week, and she had actually expressed the desire to quit smoking that same morning with Sister Rausch, a lady in our branch who lives right below and who is good friends with her. She is doing really well with it as far as we know. She has a really strong desire to give up smoking, and she has been following the steps in the stop smoking workshop that we show people in our mission. We haven't heard from her in a couple of days though, but we have an appointment with her later tonight and will see how she is doing with all of it.

We had a sketchy situation with that guy that I talked about from last week. He had said that he wanted us to help him be a better person, which was really cool. Then all of a sudden, we got a text from him a few days later that said, "Pray for us all. Pray that we are good men for what we must do." We were a little concerned with what ever that meant, so we called him up and he told us he didn't want to talk about it, but he saved six girls' lives and that he had found his purpose thanks to us. It was really weird, and we were hoping that he hadn't done anything weird or illegal that he thought was our advice to come closer to God since he said he was doing everything he did "according to God's will." We wanted some clarity, so we met with him a couple days later out on the Fuß in public. At that point, he told us that he had single-handedly gotten rid of a Turkish gang in Idar-Oberstein after he broke some guy's nose off and told the rest of them to leave. It was pretty unsettling knowing that he thought he was acting after the will of God when he did it, but we tried to steer the conversation more onto gospel topics, specifically scripture. He said he didn't need the bible since it has been translated so many times and that a bunch of stuff was incorrect inside of it. I was about to show him the article of faith that talks about the bible being translated correctly, when this girl came up to him and told him "they're coming." He turned around and walked away from us, so we followed him from a distance to make sure nothing sketchy was going on. He turned around and started walking back in our direction, and when he got to us, he told us to walk with him. He started walking around saying that "they" were just trying to scare him and that he wasn't afraid anymore. When we got back to the Fuß, there was a random guy there who he gave a handshake to, and then out of nowhere, these three Turkish guys showed up and started yelling at him. We realized right away that this must be that Turkish gang that he was talking about, so Elder Fausnaught and I got out of there as fast as we could. We watched from a distance to make sure nothing bad happened and could be witnesses in case something did happen. After a bunch of threats and cussing back and forth, and after a couple more Turks showed up with some beers, the guy and all the people from this gang started drinking with each other and stopped yelling. At this point, we left and haven't heard from him since except for a text where he said he hoped to see us at church on Sunday and that he hoped we didn't think he was a gangster or something. Either way, he didn't come to church and we haven't had contact with him since Thursday, when it all went down.

Besides all of that craziness, we had some really good member appointments this week as well. Our branches are doing pretty well, and we are getting better relationships with some of the members that we haven't had a ton of chances to meet with yet. We got some good news from our mission office as well: we are getting brand new cars in the mission, so on Wednesday, we drive to Frankfurt to exchange our Opel Corsa for a new Toyota Yaris. I'm excited for it since our car is really lame.

That sums up the week. Have a good week, and I hope everyone is happy!!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Successful Week

Hey Mom!

So this email is going to be very short, we have to catch a train to Saarbrücken for Pday with some of the Elders in the zone, so I will try and write letters later tonight with more info about the week.

Long story short, we have had a really successful week this week. We taught 10 lessons, which for this area is really good progress. Our appointment for today with one of our investigators fell out but is now on Wednesday, so it should still go ok. One of our American investigators is making slow but sure progress. We met an American guy on the Fuß who called us yesterday and told us he had had four really bad days in a row and he has basically hit rock bottom. There is more to the story, but we have an appointment with him tomorrow. He is looking for something to help him in his life, and he is really open to a lot of things. There is also a young man about 8 or 9 years old who said he wants to be baptized. He is a friend of one of the younger kids in our German branch, and wanted to pass the sacrament, and was told that he had to be baptized and receive the priesthood first, so now we will hopefully start teaching him and his mom, who are both from Armenia.

There was a lot more that happened this week, but we have to catch this Bahn! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, October 29, 2012

Investigators

Hey Mom!

This last week was pretty good. Unfortunately, we had to drop an investigator. I went on a split in Ramstein on the day that they had a lesson with him so I called Elder Fausnaught and Elder Jongejan afterward to see how it went. Apparently he had even more doubts than last time, and was just super against anything that they tried to teach him. At the end of what I guess you could call a lesson though, he gave us a referral to one of his friends. We ended up teaching her a couple of days ago, and even though she is moving to a different part of Germany this week so other missionaries will pick her up, she was really interested and seemed a lot more likely to make progress. Our other investigator had just applied for a second job working at Burger King, and we are pretty sure he got it because he doesn't answer our calls anymore and is just kind of never there. We are hoping he still wants to meet with us and just got busy, and didn't become disinterested for some reason.

We started teaching another girl who is not married but has two kids, and her boyfriend is semi-interested in the gospel, but our last lesson he got up and left after 15 minutes. We have been considering picking her up as an investigator since I came to Germany, but the problem was that she was just kind of there every time we went to meet with one of the older sisters in our ward, who can talk and talk and talk and never let you get a word in, so it was kind of hard getting her interested in the gospel; however, they finally picked her up as an investigator while I was on the split, and we taught her yesterday and committed her to be baptized on December 1st!

When I was on that split in Ramstein, we had two appointments with American families since that is where the largest military base is in all of Europe and is basically an American area. It was so weird to see American families again and how well behaved the children are. German families tend to have a lot of kids who go inactive or take their names off the records of the church because the parents just let them do whatever they want, justifying it as everyone is their own person and you need to let them do what they think they should do. It is really sad seeing how loud and all over the place German kids are, especially in church. That is probably one of the things I have missed most about home since I came to Germany; reverent sacrament meetings and at least semi-well-behaved children.

We had our zone conference on Wednesday, which was really cool. Elder Schütze of the Seventy came and gave a couple of awesome talks and stories, as well as some really good counsel for the missionaries in our zone. It was also really nice seeing a bunch of missionaries I had not seen in a while.

Well, that was pretty much all we did this week besides more finding time and a lot of traveling between places for meetings and splits. I hope everyone has a good week! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Elder Fausnaught and Elder Squires

Tanks on the Baumholder army base, the largest American military base in Europe. 
Baumholder is only a few miles (about 10 km) from Idar-Oberstein.
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unicorns and Other Experiences

Hey Mom!

Well, this week was pretty good in a lot of ways and not so good in a couple of ways. We have two investigators now, one American and one German. They are completely different from each other in every way, not just their nationality. Our German investigator doubts everything that we teach him and compares everything to unicorns and how the scriptures are no different than a book about finding unicorns. When we tell him that it is different because it is the word of God and was written by prophets through inspiration, he just says that is no different than someone who was told to write a book from what a unicorn told him to say and it is really hard to teach him. Every time we bear testimony, read scriptures, or do anything to help him understand, the first word that comes out of his mouth without fail is "but" and then there is surely something about unicorns that follows. He doesn't make a ton of progress, but he really wants to know if it is true. He just thinks about things way too much from a worldly, scientific "I need evidence" perspective, and it is really hard to know where to go or what to say to help him.
 
Our other investigator is an American who was recently divorced from an Italian-German lady and has a four year old son. The only reason he is still in Germany is to let his son grow up with a father and not be without a father figure in his life, which is really cool. We have gotten to know him a little better and what his religious background is, and have taught him the Restoration. He accepts pretty much everything we teach. We asked him if he would be baptized on November 17th, and he said he didn't know, but we asked him if he knew it was true if he would be baptized at all, and he said definitely. His big concern is that he is not sure if he can commit that soon since he will have to change his behavior and it will be really hard for him to do. We have faith in him though, and will teach him the doctrine of Christ next time to clear up his concerns as much as we can.

We have had a couple cool finding experiences this week. We planned to go out on the Füß for an hour to do contacting a few days ago. Instead of the normal rejection from everyone, a bunch of people were stopping to listen to us and we actually made out four appointments (which unfortunately all fell through because of fake numbers and no one showing up, but oh well). Then some guy called out to us at a table where he and two guys and two other girls were smoking and drinking, and in a manner of heckling shouted out, "hey is that a bible?" Then we went over and talked to them and gave them a Book of Mormon and five pass along cards. They all seemed to kind of take it as a joke but one of the girls, who was listening intently and looked really interested but didn't want to speak up and embarrass herself in front of her friends. Hopefully she will have enough interest to call us. At the end of the hour, which had turned into an hour and fifteen minutes, when we were near the end of the Fuß, Elder Fausnaught held out a card to give to a lady who rejected us and then out of nowhere this other lady said, "I'll take it." We asked her why she had taken it and she said she saw us getting constantly rejected and felt like taking it. Our church building is right next to the Fuß, so we invited her and her husband to take a tour of it, which they did. It was really cool, and they both seemed really interested, especially the wife. They wouldn't give us their contact info, but said they would no doubt visit the church on the first Sunday of November and give us their info if they liked it since we had President Monson yesterday and have stake conference this coming Sunday. It was a really cool experience, and there was a lot of promise there.

Speaking of President. Monson, we got to hear him speak yesterday in Frankfurt. It was really cool seeing him, but it was in a huge auditorium and he left before anyone could leave the building so no one got to meet him. He spoke about love and faith in Christ. One of my favorite things he said was something to the effect of "love is the catalyst that causes change." It was a good talk, and we got to see a lot of missionaries from a few zones who were there.

Well, that about sums up the week. It was pretty good, and things are looking up a lot in Idar-Oberstein. I hope you have a great week and that everyone stay happy! LoveYou!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, October 15, 2012

Things Are Going To Change

Hey Mom!

Transfers were really crazy this last week. One of the Elders coming into our district from Frankfurt missed his train. He had to take a train by himself that did not leave until much later, and it caused a lot of confusion and extra stress for everyone. After everything got worked out though, it was fine.

I was really disappointed because on a closer review of the train ticket we got in the mail, only the Elders and Sister that were getting transferred away from our zone got to go to Frankfurt for transfers. That means I didn't get to see Matt, but he called me from one of the Assistant's phones for about a minute, and then I called him today for about 10 minutes or so after getting permission from the Assistants. He is serving with Elder Hathaway, an Elder from my MTC district, and he is in Duisburg. It is a little north of where we are here in Idar-Oberstein, but he is in a different zone. I probably won't get to see him for at least the next two transfers since he will be staying there to be trained for those transfers for sure. Oh well, talking to him on the phone every once in a while is still really awesome. It will be interesting to see how things go for him in Duisburg; it has been ranked the dirtiest city in Germany for the last few years, and is nicknamed the Dirty D, so he will be seeing a lot of smokestacks and smoking people for a while.

My new companion, Elder Fausnaught, is really cool. He is one of the zone leaders for the K-town zone and is also our district leader for Idar-Oberstein, Saarbrücken, and Bitburg. We are going to be really busy.  He is legit and we get along really well, and he has done choirs his whole life so the choirs will continue.  We had some cool experiences this week in our finding time. We found an old woman on the Fuß whose husband had died only a week before. She wasn't sad though since she believes in life after death. We actually set up an appointment with her for the same day and got a member to come with us.

After our choir practice on Thursday night, we got a call from President Girra, our branch president for the German branch, saying that he had come into contact with a guy and girl who had been investigating the church through email for about a year, and that he was bringing them to church this Sunday. They came, and we taught them what is called a "zero lesson," where we get to know how they came into contact with the church, what they are interested in, and what our expectations are as missionaries. We set up another appointment with them for tomorrow. Hopefully it goes well, but they live in Trier which takes a ton of kilometers to drive to, so I don't know how regularly we will be able to meet with them.

Well, President Monson is in Germany right now and is speaking on Sunday. We get to go to Frankfurt and go see him speak. Präsident Schwartz said he his here to bless this land so that the prophecies can start being fulfilled that have been made about Germany. It will be really cool seeing him here. We had a conference call last night about it with the whole mission, and were invited as a whole mission to pray for the prophet and for the country, which was really awesome.

Aside from all that, we have set up a bunch of appointments for next week, and have plans to get this area moving since it has been really unproductive for the last two transfers. There will be a lot of finding time going on, and things are going to change.  I hope all is well and that everyone has a good week! Love You!!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, October 8, 2012

Transfers

Hey Mom!
 
Sounds like everyone had a good time watching general conference. It is really crazy to think that in probably 6 months or so there could be 18 year old elders and 19 year old sisters in my mission. That is cool that Libby came down with Mat to watch conference at home, and that Ryan got to go to two sessions in person. My favorite talks were from President Eyring and Elder Holland.

This last week was crazy with a bunch of stuff, including transfer calls. I guess I'll start off spilling the beans on what is happening this transfer. Elder Gautreaux is getting transferred to Offenbach up by Frankfurt for his last six weeks, and I will be staying in Idar-Oberstein. My new companion, who I will be picking up on Thursday, is named Elder Fausnaught. I have met him once before, and he seems really cool. I have heard from a bunch of missionaries that he is a really hard worker and that they had a blast serving with him, so I am excited. He just finished training one of the elders from my MTC group. He has just been called to be the second zone leader in K-town zone which is the zone I am in, so this next period of time I serve with him will surely be busy.
 
This week began with a split with Elder Johnson from Saarbrücken. He was really cool, and I am glad I got to be with him for a few days. We found a few potential investigators, who hopefully we can follow up on and then turn into actual investigators.

We have been singing with these choirs still every week. We had an early practice with the one in Kirschweiler on Tuesday, and then we had our concert with them on Saturday night. It was really cool because a bunch of choirs performed and it was all old people except for our choir because of us two. Everyone was talking about us and a ton of people were staring at our name badges forever. The choir that we perform with loves us and basically treats us like celebrities, which is really cool. Elder Fausnaught can sing, I heard him at a mission leader conference during my first transfer, so hopefully he will be cool with going to all of these choirs.

Well, I will get to see Matt (Hutchings) on Thursday when he is here. I am looking forward to seeing him, and there are quite a few elders from my MTC group who are training that are all legit. Elder Proffitt and Elder Ludlow are training, and I hope one of them gets to train Matt, Elder Proffitt because he is a beast missionary and my best mission bud, and Elder Ludlow because he loves and plays baseball and is also really funny.

On Friday, we got to spend the day with one of Elder Gautreaux's friends from back home that is not a member. Präsident Schwartz gave Elder Gautreaux permission to see him and talk to him, and it was really cool. He invited his friend at the end of our meet to meet with the missionaries in Heidelberg, where he is going to college. He said he would think about it and took the Elders' email addresses so he could contact them and meet with them.

Besides all of that, this week was just more doors, sleeping, and studying. I can't believe that I have almost been out for 5 months now. Sometimes when I'm thinking about it I come to the realization that this is my mission, what I have been waiting for for 19 years. It is really amazing to think that I am actually out here doing this and that this is the only time I will get to do this, at least in the same way I am now.

I hope that all is well! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel


Monday, October 1, 2012

Four Choirs

Hey Mom!

This week was pretty cool. We are now part of four choirs that all meet at 8 pm on four different days (Monday in Nahbollenbach, Tuesday in Tiefenstein, Wednesday in Heimweiler, and Thursday in Kirschweiler). The choirs we meet with on Wednesday and Thursday are legit. The leader of the choir in Nahbollenbach told us about his other choir he leads in Kirschweiler, which we went to for the first time last week. When we sat down with everyone, he said "Jetzt könnt ihr Missionsarbeit hier machen!" which was really cool because he is Evangelisch and it is an Evangelisch choir, but he straight up told us that we are doing missionary work there. All of the people love us there too. We are kind of like celebrities since we are young and American among all of these old German people. It is really cool, and there was a guy who sat down next to me and told me that his family lives in Mesa, Arizona and that he had seen our temple there and that it was really pretty.

For part of the week, I was on a split with a missionary who goes home in a week. It was his last split ever, and his body was in Germany but his mind was in America. I don't want to ever become like that because he seriously didn't care about studying or anything, he was just kind of dead. Later on in the week I finally went on a split with our zone leader, Elder Jongejan. It was probably the most fun split I have had. I went to Ramstein for the split, and we had some really good dooring time, a little time on their massive Fußgängerzone, and met with an American Polynesian guy called Tui. He was really cool, and had served a mission, half in Salt Lake and half in Washington. He got "super-transferred" to that mission because a lot of his family lived in Salt Lake, and his cousin was his bishop in one of his wards. He had too much interference with missionary work from his family, so they transferred him where he could get work done. He was really awesome.

We had to deep clean our apartment this last week for a mission-wide apartment inspection, so now our apartment is in tiptop shape. I also got to give a talk in our German branch yesterday about receiving revelation from the Book of Mormon. It was really cool.

Elder Gautreaux has to get his wisdom teeth out this week. It is going to be kind of a rough week, but it's ok. By the way, he said to tell you that he said "hey." This is the last week of the transfer, so I don't know if I will stay here or not. From what we have heard, we think that most likely I will stay here and Elder Gautreaux will be transferred, but we are not sure.

Well, that is all for this week. I hope everyone has a really good week and that alles gute! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, September 24, 2012

We Press On

Hey Mom!

Things are starting to cool off here, but it doesn't look like fall yet. I think it might be kind of like Vegas here where it just turns from summer to winter. Our apartment gets really cold at night, and the Hausmeister told us that they don't turn the heaters on until October, so we have another week of cold nights ahead.

This week was interesting. We first had a split in Saarbruecken, so I went there and Elder Gautreaux was in Idar-Oberstein. It was interesting being in a huge city instead of a town. The ward was really big and they had a legit church building as opposed to our rented out, second floor building space. I am still focused on Idar-Oberstein, but it will be nice someday if I get to serve in a big city at some point. We visited this one guy who has been smoking for about 40 years and now has to smoke 40 cigarettes a day. He is starting the addiction recovery program there, but doesn't know if he can quit. We also met with a guy who has a disability I think. He has met with the missionaries a lot before but doesn't remember anything that they have taught him. We talked to him about the purpose of the Book of Mormon and then he asked us about the resurrection. We read 2 Nephi 9:10-15 with him, and he pumped his fist with excitement when he read verse 13. Hopefully he remembers it because it was a legit lesson.

When we finished our split, the next day we helped Sgt. Welker clean up his apartment in Baumholder military post. We will probably help him with it a few more times this week since he has no one else to help him. We are trying to coordinate with him and with our branch president in Baumholder to get the young men to come help out. He flies out of Germany in a couple weeks and still has a lot of work to do, so we will probably be there a lot to help him finish up before he goes. We also did service for another member. We helped him move a bunch of big rocks in his yard and then dug up some old patio concrete. We will be helping him again some time this week as well.

Well, today is Elder Gautreaux's birthday (he turned 21). We celebrated in the Kaiserslautern stake center by playing some basketball and other games, and then eating some brownies. It was fun, and Elder Gautreaux is really happy today and pumped to be 21.

Other than that, we are still just on the search for someone to teach. Finding here is really hard without referrals, but we press on. We have quite a few member lessons planned this week and hopefully one of them will have someone that we can teach. Well, I hope everything is going well and that everyone is doing great. Have a good week, love you!
 
Liebe, Daniel


Four Months Out

Hi Mom!

I have been on my mission for over four months now, and it is really weird to think about. The days just kind of blend together, which is kind of good and bad at the same time. Good because I know we are staying busy as much as it is possible, and bad because it is just also endless rejection. We visited with our Ward Mission Leader, Bruder Holzmann, who lives an hour away from us, and he even told us that there is not much potential in Idar-Oberstein and that missionary work would be much more effective and purposeful if we were in Trier instead. There are more members there that have to travel to Bitburg or other wards, there is a university (meaning a lot of YSAs), a really big Fußgängerzone, and just a lot more opportunities to do things. Unfortunately, there are no missionaries or a branch in Trier at this point in time. There used to be a few years ago, and I don't know why they are not there anymore. We have pretty much tried doing everything we can here, but all of our creative finding ideas don't work; when we try to do service, people think that we are trying to sell them something and don't accept free service. When we try to ask the ward for referrals, they say that no one they can refer is new to missionary visits and will not accept us anyway. We can't find YSAs through anything because there are not any in our ward that will meet with us and there are basically no YSAs in I-O anyway.  We met with a woman with our WML and she said that people don't receive us probably because we look like bankers. The other day there was a couple people riding past on their bikes and we could hear one tell the other, "Zeugen Jehovas," (Jehova's witnesses). We are basically down to streets and doors.

Well, on a positive note, we had our concert with the Evangelisch choir like I said last time. It was really cool, and we even were in the newspaper. We also are in another choir in Heimweiler, and we got to sing the other day for this guy's 80th birthday.

We had zone conference on Tuesday this last week, which was really cool. Afterwards though, everything went haywire. Our zone was altogether on the same train back, and when we got out to change trains, we learned that lightning had struck the tracks and the trains were not coming. I don't even know where we were aside from the fact that it was about an hour outside of Kaiserslautern. We ended up having to have some members from the Kaiserslautern ward come pick us all up, and we split up our 10 elders between Ramstein and Kaiserslautern for the night. The next day we had zone training in Kaiserslautern, then headed home.

I hope everything is going well and that everyone is happy. I know that me being on a mission is blessing you guys a ton, and I can see all these cool things happening every week. Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, September 10, 2012

Travel and Two Day Splits

Hey Mom!

It has been busy with travel here this last week. We had two splits, both of which were two day splits. Normally, splits are supposed to be for only one day, but since the travel is so expensive and since Präsident Schwartz wants everything to start going better in our zone, he has allowed two day splits. The first split I was on was after District Meeting on Tuesday. Elder Baum, one of the Elders from Bittburg, and I went from Saarbrücken back to Idar-Oberstein. We had a decent split, signing up at the hospital as life crisis clergy if anyone wants to call us. It is not likely though; the hospitals here are owned by the churches, and it is an Evangelisch hospital, so they are most likely going to call Evanglisch ministers. My next split was with Elder Motto, Elder Jongejan's golden. He was super pumped to find and was really excited to be on a split since Elder Jongejan is a zone leader and they don't have as much time for finding. We had some pretty good days and we found a potential investigator lady while dooring in a dorf called Hammerstein, which is about five minutes from Idar-Oberstein. I also helped him learn some German terms and things around town like what some street signs meant and such. He is really motivated to find.

We also had our concert with the Evangelisch choir we were singing with, and it went really well. Afterward when everyone was in the next room eating and drinking, Elder Gautreaux and I got to sing them a couple hymns which was really cool. I will include pictures next week.

Yesterday we had stake conference in the American Stake, and it was really awesome. Elder Patrick Kearon was there, the one who gave the talk  in Priesthood session about wearing flipflops in the desert and getting stung by a scorpion when he was a kid. We got to hear him speak three times, once in stake priesthood training and then twice in the normal meetings. His talks were really good and I took a bunch of notes.  After the stake priesthood training meeting, Elder Gautreaux and I got to meet him and shake his hand. It was the first time I have ever shaken some one's hand that I had seen in general conference, and it was really cool.

Today, I got the chance to go golfing since it is P-day. We went to a golf course in Baumholder where the military people and some Germans also like to play. I was playing really, really awful and was hitting the ball very poorly and I didn't know why other than the fact that I was using Titleist AP2s, which are really nice clubs but I have never liked them at all. Then I realized that I had my glasses on and I had never played a round of golf wearing them before. I took them off and starting hitting the ball much better. It was still really hard to play though, since the course was all in meters instead of yards, and I had no idea how far to hit the ball. But I guess I cannot complain too much because now I can say I played golf in Germany.

Well, that is pretty much it for this week.  We are about to stop by a potential investigator who is a professional singer that tours all over the world but lives here in Germany.  Hopefully he is there; the last times we have tried to meet with him, he has not answered his phone and he did not pick up the last time we called to make sure we could still meet, so we will see. Anyway, hope all is well and that everyone is having a good week.
 
Liebe, Daniel

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rejection

Hey Mom!
This week went by pretty quickly. The new missionaries just arrived, and our zone leader, Elder Jongejan, is training an Elder named Elder Motto. I didn't remember him from his name, but we saw him today when we went to play basketball with some other elders and I recognized his face.  It is kind of cool not being the youngest missionary in my zone anymore.

Last Monday, we rearranged all of the furniture in our apartment, and turned our study room into the bedroom and vice versa. The next day, we went by one of our members and had an eating appointment. She is really cool, and she speaks perfect English which is awesome. I try to speak as much German with her as I can so that I can keep practicing.

We went dooring in a little town that I think was called Regulhausen, or at least something similar to that. We went there because there was a potential we were trying to go by on that previous missionaries had met. She didn't answer the door, but the next guy we doored let us in. At first, he had said that he had no interest before we even said anything, but then Elder Gautreaux told him that we had not even shared our message yet. He let us in after that, and actually was very interested. He said that he would read Moroni's promise, and that he would come to church. We waited until Sunday, and he never showed up. We tried calling him, and he didn't answer. I don't understand what has been going on; we have met 5 or 6 potential investigators, and the same thing has been happening with every single one of them. They show interest at first, and then they don't answer their phones or their doors. It is extremely disappointing because nothing is happening with all of these promising people. Hopefully we can eventually get someone who will finally answer their phone or set a return appointment. The other day we went dooring in that same town and this old guy basically chewed us out and told us to get off of his porch before we had even opened our mouths. Some of the rejections here are pretty harsh.

We met this guy a week or two ago, and he actually let us come by his car dealership to give him a Book of Mormon and the Restoration pamphlet. He said he would call us this week to set up an appointment, but we are just hoping that he was serious. We are really praying that he has an interest.

Today for P-day, we played basketball in Ramstein and celebrated a member's birthday at Chili's. They have restaraunts and stuff like that in the military bases. It was pretty cool, and it was nice eating ribs again.  We also had District Meeting in Saarbrücken, afterwhich we had to wait for an hour or so for our train back to I-O. We went to this store called Primark, which is pretty much the best place ever. They have awesome ties for 2 or 3 dollars a piece, so you can get 10 to 15 ties for the price of one nice tie in the states. It is awesome, and I got a few really cool ties.

Well, that's about it for this week. I hope all is going awesome and that everyone is enjoying life. Bis nächste Woche!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Transfer

Hey mom!

This last week was nothing short of crazy. We basically lost all of our potential investigators that we had found, and everything seemed to be going really bad. We have not had anyone to teach besides members, and it has been very very hard. No one is progressing or anything, and everything in our area kind of fell apart very abruptly. I was pretty down and discouraged, and I think Elder Gautreaux probably was as well. Everyone we seemed to call would hang up on us, everyone we contacted on the Fuß said they were not interested, except for one guy who we are going to call again today. It is strange how many fallouts we have had because we are literally doing everything we can to be obedient and to find.

We had Zone Training on Saturday, and Präsident Schwartz and Elder Goldsmith, one of the APs, came too. We got to all have interviews with him and let him know how we were doing. He gave me a lot of really good counsel and some ideas on how to jumpstart our area and get things back on track. It was really comforting, and he is the coolest, most spiritual and revelatory man I have ever met. Elder Gautreaux felt the same way, and we are very excited to start this new transfer.

Speaking of the new transfer, we are remaining in Idar-Oberstein, but our area is now part of the Saarbrücken district instead of the Kaiserslautern district. It is going to make travel a real pain since the areas now in our district are I-O, Saarbrücken, and Bitburg, which are all a pretty good distance away from each other.
 
Also, Präsident wants me to basically be in charge of Idar-Oberstein and for Elder Gautreaux to act as though he were a golden in order for me to get a better feel for how to lead and how to know how to do everything a missionary needs to do here to work effectively instead of just kind of following the leader. I am excited, but it will be tough and I am sure there will be a lot of mistakes made that I will learn from.

We had a really cool experience two nights ago when we got back from Zone Training. We were walking from the Bahnhof back through the Fuß and then to our apartment. We were about 100 or 150 feet away from our apartment and this car pulls up beside us, stops, and a guy gets out. It was late and dark, and I was kind of worried for a second that something weird was going to happen. He asked us if we were missionaries, and we told him we were. He went on to relate that he had met with missionaries 10 years ago and one of his friends from Köln, another German city, had given him a Book of Mormon. He said he had read it, and that he knows it is true. We exchanged contact info, and are going to see him this evening. It was a really cool experience, and hopefully it sets the tone for this new transfer.

One of the APs just finished his mission, so we will be getting another AP to be with Elder Goldsmith. I think his name is Elder Holzer, and I have heard he is the man.

Well, this is the first Pday where I will have time to write to you guys, so I won't make this email too long. I hope everything is awesome and the everyone is having fun with life. Bis nächste Woche!

Liebe, Daniel
 One of the American YSAs interviewed the missionaries from my old district and made a video, and then this picture is from when we went to the temple with Storms, Elder Gautreaux's recent convert, and her friend Loveland. The guy on my left is Adam, the guy who made the video.
YouTube video of an interview with Elder Daniel Squires and other missionaries.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Pictures From Idar-Oberstein

I was in Utah for a couple of weeks helping my daughter with her two children while they moved into their new house.  Here are more Idar-Oberstein pictures from Daniel that I wanted to share now that I am home and have time to post them on this blog.

 
This is an overhead view of Daniel's area.  I think this picture was taken from the Idar-Oberstein Schloss.  The road running in the front of the picture is also the road that Daniel lives on.  You can't see his building, but it is off to the left of the pictures, not far from the Felsenkirche.

Elder Squires at the Idar-Oberstein Schloss (castle).

Idar-Oberstein Schloss

Inside the Felsenkirche

Very typical random picture compliments of Elder Squires

The Felsenkirche.  If you haven't already heard about them, you should google the Felsenkirche and the Idar-Oberstein Schloss.  The history is very interesting  I would love to go there and see them for myself someday.

View of the Idar-Oberstein Schloss


Baptism of Sara Davis.



Another random picture.

Diese Woche

Hey Mom!

This week was very busy and really cool. It started off kind of crazy though. On Sunday I had split with Elder Gautreaux with some different branch members since we cover two branches that start at the same time. I was in the German branch and I set up appointments for the next day after P day ended. When we met back up together after church, Elder Gautreaux told me that there were two potentials that would be attending a YSA activity in the Baumholder Branch, our American branch, and they were at the same time as the meetings I had set up for the upcoming day, so we planned a split with our zone leaders, Elders Nuila and Jongejan because all of the appointments we had set were important. The next day, we took a train to Kaiserslautern where the Stake Center is and where the Zone leaders are near to, and in order to get back in time with Elder Nuila, we needed to leave as soon as possible to make the train back. When we got there, Elder Nuila didn't have his missionary clothes on or anything because it was still P day, and so I had to call up our first appointment and cancel since we would not have made it. We could have taken a later train to get to the other appointment, but when we got to Elder Nuila's apartment, a 15 minute drive from the church, he had forgotten the key to his apartment and so slowed us down too. I had to call the other appointment and cancel, and I felt bad because she had already started cooking. Every plan we had fell apart, and our only reasonable option was to go to the YSA activity and stay in K-town. That ended up not even being that useful because the two potentials did not show up so every plan we had made in Idar-Oberstein and in K-town fell through. The YSA activity was still pretty cool; we got to go to a castle and cook bratwurst and smores with American YSAs.

The next few days were spent in Friederichsdorf, where the Frankfurt Temple is located. All of the Goldens (new missionaries) and their trainers had meetings and such for one day, and then all of the Goldens traveled home and the district and zone leaders came in and had leadership training meetings. I got to stay though since I am the only Golden in my zone and there was no one to split with on the way back, so I stayed for another day and a half and got to experience a bunch of leadership training, met a bunch of older elders, and got to do an endowment session in the temple in German.  It was really awesome because I got to see all of the elders I was in the MTC with again, and Elder Proffitt and I had some more good times like always. He and I are literally as far away from each other as you can get. I am in the very south-western tip of our boundaries and he is the furthest north-east in Werdau.
 
Even though we didn't have a lot of proselyting time this week, it probably turned out to be our most successful week in the end. When we returned to I-O we ran into a former investigator called James Williams who had been in America for a while recording a song for Obama, and we set up an appointment with him for tomorrow. We also did a split with our Ward Mission Leader and Branch President in I-O (I was with the WML, Bru. Holzmann) and we visited a less active named Jenny whose daughter wants to be baptized, and I committed her to come to church yesterday, which she did. We also swung by on a potential we had doored the other day but he wasn't home, so Elder Gautreaux slipped a Book of Mormon in his mailbox on his door with a pass along card in it. When we were driving away, Elder Gautreaux saw a guy in his window just staring out into nothing as we passed by and he had a feeling that we needed to go talk to him. This street was one-way though, like a ton of streets here, and so we had to make a big loop to get there again. When we came back around, we couldn't remember which building it was because the guy was not in his window anymore, and we didn't find anywhere to park so we drove past again and Elder Gautreaux said we could probably door it the next day. When we were almost home, he had a feeling that we needed to go back and talk to this guy, so we went back, found his door, and he opened it when we knocked. Elder Gautreaux told him that he had seen him from his window and that he felt like we needed to talk to him and that we were representatives of Jesus Christ. He said he had seen us drive by as well, and that he wants to know more. He is a YSA, which is awesome because Pres. Schwartz wants us to focus on YSAs and there are practically no YSAs in I-O since it is a retirement and tourist location. He is Indian but he speaks perfect German so we are pretty sure he was raised here. We are going to go by and visit him tonight or tomorrow. It is pretty cool that Elder Gautreaux had that spiritual guidance.

That is all for this week. Everything is awesome and I am enjoying the work. I hope everything is going well and that everyone is happy and doing great. Until next week then! Love You!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, August 6, 2012

Everything Here is Going Well

Hey Mom!!

Everything here is going well too. This week started off with cleaning our apartment, which was kind of nasty from the missionaries who were in it before but it is much better now. On Tuesday we did another split, and this time I stayed in Idar-Oberstein with an Elder named Elder Petersen and he taught me a couple things about how to cook. We talked to Herr Becker again, who apparently is one of 5 or 6 surviving concentration camp prisoners in the world, and he lives just up the street from us. He let us into his house and showed us a Book of Mormon that he had received at least 50 years ago, and he gave it to me. In return, I gave him a new Book of Mormon with my testimony inside and told him that he should read it. He also gave us a copy of his autobiography, but Elder Petersen took it so hopefully there is a way I can get one too. He told us that he only believes in nature now because of the things he saw during the war, which made him think that there couldn't be a God. It's pretty sad, but hopefully in the next life, he will have a change of heart.

After we were finished with the split, Elder Gautreaux and I visited a less-active woman named Jenny, who has a daughter who wanted to be baptized Catholic but now wants to be baptized LDS. Hopefully we can make that happen and in the process reactivate Jenny.  She is pure German but she speaks perfect English with a really good accent and it was hard to tell that she was not German until she started speaking in German. She is really cool  and also really nice.

We met with Hans Jürgen again. Schwester Hones' son, who is less active, was also there, and he was pretty cool. He was 23 or 24 I think, and hopefully we can get to know him better and see if we can get him interested in the church again.

At the Baumholder military base, we met with this guy called West, who was raised in the church and knows all of the doctrine really well and knows it is true, but he just doesn't care and is caught up in all sorts of stuff. He smokes and drinks a bunch and just likes the way he lives. When we went there, he had two buddies that had known some missionaries before, including Elder Gautreaux, and we just gave them both Books of Mormon and told them to read them and they said they would. We shared what it was about briefly, and they actually went to church on Sunday too. After that meeting, we went next door to meet with Sgt. Welker, who has been inactive for years because of terrible experiences he has had with members in the past. He told us about stuff people did to him and said to him, and it shocked me that members of the church could be so ruthless to other people with the knowledge they have of the gospel. He wants his daughter to be baptized in the church, and he even told us that he knows the church is true and he can feel God's love for him every time he is with us and it stays there for a long time after we leave, but he is just afraid of the same things happening to him that have happened in the past. Hopefully we can help him overcome his fears, change how he lives, and get him back in church with some better members.

We went on a split yesterday for church, and I was in the Idar-Oberstein ward while Elder Gautreaux was in the Baumholder American ward. It was the first time I was on my own speaking only German. I didn't understand a ton of what people said to me, but I gave my testimony about missionary work and after that a bunch of members bore their testmonies about how we can do better missionary work and be more excited about it. We also met with the Barth family after church for dinner, and they gave us 4 referrals, which rarely happens; the members  don't typically give many referrals because they say they have already invited everyone in the past. So we will contact those 4 and hopefully get some more success.

Well, that is basically my week. I hope all is going well and that everyone has a great week! Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Baptism and a Guitar

Hey Mom!
This has been a pretty good week. I went on a split with the elders in the city called Kaiserslautern (most people who don't speak German usually just call it K-town because they don't say it right, it is said more like Kizers loutern, but most Americans say kizer slaughtern). I was with an Elder called Elder Nuila, and he is pretty cool. It was kind of a bummer though because I had only packed for a one day split, which it was supposed to be, but it turned into a 2 1/2 day split and we were on bikes and walking the whole time in a very humid heat. Fortunately, I was able to wash my clothes at the other apartment I stayed in, so it turned out alright. 

We do so much work with Americans so even though my German is not terrible, I know mostly only gospel words and I have to get used to real Germans speaking German instead of MTC German. It is really fast and a lot of words that I don't know are used a ton, and I am just not hearing it as often as I need to. It is pretty discouraging at times, especially thinking that I might have to train right after I am trained because I might not be good enough at German yet to get around if we keep working with the Americans so much. We did some good work this week and I pray for help with the language all the time. Sara Davis, an American investigator that Elder Gautreaux and his previous companion had been teaching, was baptized on Saturday and I got to confirm her on Sunday. After she was baptized, Elder Gautreaux, Petersen, and myself sang "Nearer My God to Thee" a capella, which was really cool. I was really nervous on Sunday because that is the first confirmation that I had ever done, but it turned out good.   We have been trying to teach other people that are German, a guy called Hans Jürgen, and a girl Sabrina.

Things are going well with Elder Gautreaux. He is a really good teacher and trainer, and he said he appreciates me trying to keep us always obedient because he has had disobedient comps before that got mad at him when he was obedient. Well, I got a chance to get a guitar today, which is really cool. The zone leaders gave us permission to get one, and last week the store was closed. It was 100€, hopefully that is OK. I just bought kind of a beginner guitar, because it will probably get banged up a lot here and I won't take it home with me later. We are going to use it to find, I'll play and Elder Gautreaux will sing.

Yesterday we did accidentally park in someone's spot for their house because we didn't see the plate that usually identifies that, and they came out and got mad at us and we turned it around and just gave them pass along cards and left. It was pretty cool.  I hope all is well at home, have a good week!
Liebe, Daniel