Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Mission President Week

Hey Mom!
This week has been crazy.  It's the week of the new mission president seminar where all of the new mission presidents get trained, so that means that all of the general authorities are here. I haven't seen any of them yet, but the MTC has been super busy with all the sections roped off for them. We only have half of the lunch room to use and the line for it is always enormous. Tonight we will have our devotional and we are all sure that it will be a general authority; it's scheduled to be an hour longer than usual, and the apostles are all here, so I'm pretty sure it's one of them. Also, all of the teachers tell us that President Uchtdorf likes visiting the German building and talking with the missionaries going to Germany while he is here. We haven't seen him yet, but the general authorities with be here until Thursday, so hopefully we see him. I've never seen a member of the First Presidency or an apostle up close and personal, so it should be crazy if he shows up.
In terms of our teaching with investigators, we have begun teaching another companionship as role playing investigators as well. Elder Bonzo and I teach Elders Orchard and Root, and vice versa. It's a pretty cool experience and it reassures me that we are all on the same level still in terms of language and teaching. Our last lessons with Karl (Brother Luna) have been crazy. Two lessons ago, we talked about why we go to church, the importance of the sacrament, and how he can be blessed. We were a little short on time, and our commitment for him was kind of last minute, so it wasn't the best lesson; however, our lesson yesterday went amazing. We were able to apply scriptures and the doctrine of the gospel to his life and his kids, and really helped him to see why he needs to be baptized. I invited him to be baptized, not expecting him to say yes, and he paused for a second and said, "Ja, wann?" (yeah, when?). It totally caught me off guard, but we set up a date for him to be baptized on July 17, the day we leave the MTC. That way, we can keep teaching him the rest of the lessons while we are here. It was a really crazy experience and the spirit was really strong.
In terms of the language, everything is going well. I'm getting better at reading quickly and putting verbs in the correct places in sentences. It's weird how many different things can push a verb to the end of a sentence, like another verb, a subordinating conjunction, etc. Sometimes it is really confusing, but I enjoy the challenge. I know it is only going to get better from here. I have started listening to a lot of native speakers during our TALL lab, and it is getting easier to understand them even though they are speaking like lightning.
Anyway, things here are generally really good, and I am getting excited to head to Germany. I hope you have an awesome week and that all is well. Bis Später!

Liebe, Daniel

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All is Well Here

Hey Mom!
This week has been pretty good. We have been playing a bunch of different sports at gym times against another German district. A few days ago we played soccer and within the first 20 seconds Elder Kinghorn hit the ground after somehow hurting his knee. We found out yesterday that he has a torn ACL and some other things and will be delayed at least 6 weeks I think. He might have to go home to recover, but we will see. We didn't end up winning, but I got an assist on a goal which was cool. Anyway, yesterday we played softball and it was a lot of fun. I'm not the best at batting because my golf swing makes me swing under the ball all the time, but I got one decent hit that got us a run from someone who was on 3rd base. Our district has a couple kids that like baseball a lot and are really good, so we ended up winning 8-0.

In terms of the language, this week has gone well. It gets harder every day, and it's always tough to try and teach in the language. In particular, we went over reflexive nouns and pronouns yesterday, which is probably the hardest thing I have learned so far. Basically, when the subject and the direct/indirect object are the same thing, you have to use a reflexive pronoun. For instance, in German, you would say "Sie werden sich taufen lassen" which translates to "you will yourself baptism allow." The hardest thing about it is just knowing when a situation calls for a reflexive verb. Also, we do this thing called TALL lab where we go on computers and learn by listening to native speakers say different words and phrases, and I started listening to some phrases where they didn't slow down so that you could clearly hear what they were saying, and it was so fast that even though I was reading along with it, it didn't make much sense. I feel like I'm going to be like the Elder in The Best Two Years that gets there and says, "that ain't what they taught me at the MTC."

I had planned on using my old green scriptures for all of my mission, but they were starting to get too hashed and the edges of the cover are just getting more and more worn out every day, and there were so many markings in the Book of Mormon from college classes and personal study that it was getting confusing, so I bought myself a new quad here. It's really nice to have new scriptures. I also got this marking pencil with 8 colors all in one that I was considering getting for a week and everyone who had already bought one told me it was totally worth it, and it is. It's really nice to have 8 marking pencils in one so I can mark different types of scriptures in different colors. In terms of teaching, this week has been interesting. Sis. Alder is still in Austria, where she served her mission, with her parents. We have been getting random teachers to fill in her spot, and we were supposed to pick up another teacher as an investigator, but for some reason, he hasn't shown up for over a week. We have still been teaching Bruder Luna as Karl Knoll. We have taught him 2 times this past week. The first time didn't go super well because we weren't super prepared and we have been doing more preaching and less helping, but yesterday our lesson took twice as long as usual because Bruder Luna has started taking pauses while we are teaching to show what we can work on and how we can really apply something to our investigator to make him interested. It was really awesome and helpful, and I know it's going to improve my teaching a ton. Anyway, all is well here. The only thing I'm getting tired of is the food.  I'll keep trying my hardest here so I can be effective when I get to Germany. Love You!

Liebe, Daniel

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Making Progress With the Language

Hey Mom!

Well things this week have gone pretty well. Elder Bonzo and I have two investigators: Karl Knoll and Frau Zeidler. Our lessons with Frau Zeidler are going better than with Karl; he's tough to teach because he already believes in God and eternal families, he just thinks that it doesn't really matter which church someone goes to.  I had an interview with my teacher Bruder Luna yesterday, and he told me that I am doing really well and that he likes how much I have learned and am learning about the language because if someone in the district has a question about Deutsch, they can ask me and I usually can tell them. It's great that I have reassurance that I'm not behind in the language or anything. The only thing that is hard for me is forming sentences in my mind and being able to keep eye contact while I'm thinking about it. I can't wait for the moment that it all clicks and I can start speaking faster. I can say most of the things I want to say, it just comes out very slow; so slow sometimes that I forget what verb I had planned on using second in a sentence so that by the end of the sentence I can't even remember the verb (since any verb aside from the first verb, or after a subordinating conjunction, gets kicked to the end of the sentence). I'm still having a blast learning the language though.

I saw Elder Crabtree a couple days ago at lunch. It's really cool seeing him again and talking to him. I barely recognized him when he called out my name but then when he stood up I realized who it was. We have both changed a lot since we were little kids and I'm surprised he noticed me just walking by. The new mission president conference is in two weeks.  That means that all of the general authorities, including the First Presidency, will be here. We probably won't get to see them since they close off the building to missionaries during the meeting, but typically this means that one of the apostles or one of the First Presidency will speak at our Sunday devotional, which is going to be awesome.  I'll send home more info about the week in my letters home.

Ich weiß, dass das Buch Mormon wahr ist. wir können viele Segnungen empfangen, wenn wir in das Buch Mormon lesen und studieren. Ich habe viele geistig Erfahrungen, wann ich habe in das Buch Mormon lesen und darüber beten. Ich liebe das wiederhergestellt Evangelium Jesu Christi, und ich weiß das wir durch die Grundsatze des Evangliums zur Himmlischer Vater zurückzukehren. Ich bin sehr dankbar für meine Familie. Ich liebe Deustch, aber es ist sehr schwer.

I would write more auf Deustch but I don't have the time to. I really love you!!!!

Liebe, Daniel

Friday, June 8, 2012

First Pictures from the MTC!

Elder Squires and his companion, Elder Bonzo.

District Elders.

Elders in Daniel's district from left to right:  Hathaway, Proffitt, Bonzo, Squires,
 Givens, Ludlow, Orchard, Root, Kinghorn, George.

Seeing the first pictures from the MTC always reminds me that my missionary son is enjoying his experience.  Just look at that pose.  Seriously?  Typical Dan--I'm going to stop worrying that he is happy.  This is his happy pose!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Adversity and Faith

Hey Mom!
How is everything going?  This week has been alright here. We have stopped teaching Sis. Alder, who was pretending to be Anita, and now we are teaching Bro Luna as Karl Knoll and Sis. Alder as Frau Zeidler. It's pretty cool because these were real people they taught while they were on their missions. Yesterday we watched videos and learned about how important it is to get investigators to pray with you so that they have something to think about and a motivation to pray alone. When we taught Frau Zeidler, we were running out of time and we started trying to invite her to pray. She kept saying she would pray alone, and I didn't want to quit because they taught us to never give up because the Spirit will help them have the courage and the faith to pray then and there. The only problem is I didn't know what words to say in German and I couldn't convey the importance of praying with us. I knew that, as Sis. Alder, she was trying to get us to the point where Frau Zeidler would feel comfortable praying, but we were running out of time and Elder Bonzo kind of gave up and let her off the hook saying she could pray later alone. It made me pretty mad inside, but mostly at myself because I couldn't say what I wanted to say. I started to feel super inadequate and like the other companionships were way better at teaching with the Spirit and the gift of tongues. I felt bad about it for hours.

Then later on that night when Brother Luna was teaching us as a class we read 1 Nephi 17, where Nephi is commanded to build the ship and Laman and Lemuel are being huge jerks to him, saying he couldn't do it. I started to realize that although I may not be able to do or say everything I want now, I will be able to in the future and the feelings of inadequacy are coming from Satan and are things I need to forget about. I don't have my scriptures with me, but I remember there is a verse that says something to the effect of how Nephi can do all things through the Lord, even turn the waters into earth. I feel like I am doing everything I can in terms of keeping the commandments, studying, and learning German and I'm not seeing any fruits from my labor; however, if Nephi can build a huge boat with the power of the Lord in the face of adversity, I'm pretty sure he can help me with my German. I've heard from other Elders that the 3 week mark for learning a language is the hardest and that after that things will just start to come naturally. I'm trying to exercise faith that I can do this work, even though it is harder and harder everytime we teach and practice. My biggest weakness is that I can pretty much write out sentences quickly and correctly on paper, but when I am trying to think of how to say a sentence while looking into someone's eyes, I can't speak quickly at all and I probably mess up a ton of all of the random grammar principles there are in German. Anyway, enough about that.

As a district we have started playing sand volleyball and my old volleyball skills are coming in handy. It's a lot of fun playing when it's not competitive like it was in high school. I also go to the gym and run every other gym day with Elder Proffitt and sometimes Elder Kinghorn. Well, the language is tough, the days are busy, and now we are the senior missionaries in our zone. All of the older elders left early this morning for Germany, which is more than half of our zone of 37 missionaries. Hopefully we get more in our zone tomorrow so that sacrament meeting isn't virtually empty. It was really nice though because we had a TON of Japanese Elders on our floor that left today as well, and they were really loud all night and disobedient to the hours we are supposed to be quiet and go to bed. Anyway, Elder Proffitt and I are total buds here. Well there is nothing more to report; everything else will be in my letters home. Aufwiedersehen!

Love, Daniel