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 J├╝rgen, 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

Monday, July 23, 2012

First Area, Idar-Oberstein

Hey Mom!

How is everything going?  When we were on the plane, Elder Proffitt and I actually talked to a German guy (mostly in English because that's what he was using) and we gave him a Book of Mormon as well. His name was Johannes Berger, and he was a champ.
Elder Squires, Johannes Berger, Elder Proffitt

Elder Squires with his travel group and President and Sister Schwartz at the Frankfurt Airport
Well, Germany is so cool. The area I am assigned to right now is called Idar-Oberstein (pronounced Eeder Obershtine), and it is very beautiful. The accent here is a little different, and it is really hard to understand everyone right now. My companion's name is Elder Gautreaux (pronounced GoTro), and he is from Texas. He is a real stud. It is great having a companion that I really like and have a lot in common with. He also is a psychology major, and he is a good missionary. He has been out for about 20 months and he loves his mission. I have learned a lot from him thus far, and I am super excited to be working with him. We have set really ambitious goals so everything is very busy right now and we are getting a lot of work done.
Elder Gautreaux, President Schwartz, Elder Squires
  The funny thing about my area is that I haven't spoken a lot of German yet; Baumholder, a city within our area, is the home of America's largest military base in Germany, and we do a lot of work in there. We can't proselyte, but we do work with less-actives and people who have been referred to us. I walked into two baptisms already because one lady in the military base whose husband is a member already had a baptism date before I got here, and there is an eight year old German boy who is about to be baptized as well. Most of the time, I have been speaking English and haven't had a ton of time to practice German. That's not to say that we haven't had our share of German people to meet with. Everyone here drinks a ton and smokes a lot, so it is kind of a distraction with some people. One lesson we went to a couple days ago was with an older lady, Sch. Rausch, and a potential investigator called Sabrina, but Sch. Rausch's nonmember son who is against religion was there, and he and Sabrina were smoking a bunch and Sch. Rausch was talking a lot to us, so we really didn't teach anything before we had to leave.
Our apartment isn't too bad; it's on the 4th floor of a building. The best part of our apartment is the view. Idar-Oberstein is one of the greenest places in Germany, and it is just hills covered in trees as far as you can see. Since we have to commute between Idar-Oberstein and Baumholder, we drive a car. It takes probably 15-20 minutes to get between the two. In terms of German, even though I don't use it as often as I'd like yet, I am doing pretty good. I made some calls yesterday, and one was to set up an appointment with the Schulers, an active couple, and they asked me how the new missionary was doing a little later on in the conversation, and I told them I was the new missionary and they told me my German was very good and they thought I was Elder Gautreaux, even though his German is much better than mine and he is really good with the accent as well. It was probably just because it was over the phone that they couldn't tell I have an American accent still.

Views from their apartment in Idar-Oberstein
My mission president is amazing. He is a total champion. He told me in an interview that I need to expect to train someone right after I am finished being trained.  I hope I can learn good enough German by then to get around. Since we are with Americans a lot, I am definitely getting too much to eat, by the way. Well, everything here is amazing and I am really happy about what I am doing here. Yesterday, we talked to an ex-POW called Herr Becker, and he had been through concentration camps and was shot in the leg by an SS officer. He showed us his scars and also the tattoo he got in America, from when he was sent there to get healthy again. He had already read the Book of Mormon and is now really old, and said he believes in nature, not God. We will probably stop by and meet with him more and talk about his life while also trying to warm him up to the gospel.

Elder Squires and Herr Becker
Well, I'll update you more later, but we are very busy right now. We are about to visit the Felsenkirche (rock church, at least that is what I think it is called), which is this church literally built in the side of the mountain. Look it up on google, it really is something else. Well, that's all for now. Have a good week, Love You!!

Liebe, Daniel

Monday, July 16, 2012

Last Day in the MTC!

Hallo Mutti!   Everything here is going really well. I cannot wait to get to the airport tomorrow morning and then be in Germany on Wednesday! It's going to be so much fun. The number one thing I'm looking forward to is actually getting there and teaching real people, and also learning the finer parts of the language. I was reading das Buch Mormon today for personal study and I usually can't understand a lot of it but I've begun to realize how things are structured in the scriptures and how narrative past works more, and I actually could understand the introduction and almost all of the 1st chapter of Nephi, aside from a couple words and phrases that I looked up in the dictionary. I'm glad we are leaving the MTC when we are; there are going to be so many new missionaries here within the next few weeks. It's going to be a madhouse. I think the week that Matt H. comes in will have 47 new German missionaries alone. In our exit fireside last night, President Brown, the president of the MTC, had all of the groups of missionaries going to different places stand up individually, and the biggest group was ours, going to Germany (at least in terms of going foreign). The largest in-state group was the group going to Nevada believe it or not. They just opened up the Reno Mission, so now there are 3 missions in Nevada and there are plenty of missionaries going there and to Vegas this week. After that, we had another fireside where Jenny Oaks Baker, a world renowned violinist (and I think Elder Dallin H. Oaks' daughter) played a variety of uplifting pieces. It was really incredible, you should look up her music. On Friday we had our In-field Orientation where we went over how to plan, how to watch out for key indicators, how to find people, and how to function within the ward. It was really informative and it looks like a lot of work that will start right when we get to Germany. Today is our last Vorbereitungstag. I'm doing some laundry right now and afterwards I'll get everything packed and then to finish off the day we have a couple of cultural classes from Bruder Luna and Schwester Alder. In our teaching appointments last week, we finally got Frau Zeidler (Schw. Alder) to commit to baptism, and we committed Karl (Br. Luna) to live the Doctrine of Christ with his family. It was really exciting, and I feel like my teaching is about as good as it can become in the MTC. I know it will all change when I get out there and I will have to deal with a lot more lessons and various situations. I'm sure it will be very humbling. Tonight when we have those culture classes, we will see the pictures of the real people who we are teaching because the personas that Schwester Alder and Bruder Luna have adapted are based off of real people they taught on their missions. I'm super excited, but it's going to be hard saying goodbye to these teachers. They have helped me so much and I know I wouldn't even be close to where I am now in terms of the language and teaching without them. I will most likely give them the blogspot information so they can see how I'm doing in Deutschland. Well, I don't want to say everything and not have any news left to give tomorrow when I get to call. I can't wait to talk to everyone and let people know how things are going! Bis Morgen!   Liebe, Daniel

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More Pictures From the MTC

Daniel leaves the MTC next week!  He sent me a photo card before he leaves with just a few more pictures on it.
Daniel with his friend Michael Crabtree.  Daniel and Michael have been friends since attending elementary school together when we lived in Sandy, Utah.  It was fun for them to see each other again in the MTC!

Daniel had some vision problems while in the MTC so he had to get glasses.  Here he is with his new look!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One More Week in the MTC!

Hey Mom!

How's everything going? It sounds like you have been having a fun week and that you and Dad had a good 4th of July. The 4th of July here was pretty cool. We had a program first with some different musical numbers and such, one of them being an elder from my zone playing the fiddle which was pretty sweet. We got to go outside afterwards and watch fireworks, but they were'nt spectacular and they were kind of far away.
This week has been pretty good. We got our flight plans! We leave on Monday morning early and fly to Dallas, and then from there to Frankfurt. I think we have 3 or 4 hours in the airport in Dallas, and we are allowed to call whoever we want which is pretty cool. I'll buy a phone card or two so I can talk to people for a while.  Saturday is like a second Pday this week since we leave on Monday so we can do last minute laundry, pack, and write last emails and letters. I am so excited to leave the MTC. It's an awesome place here, but I'm ready to be in Frankfurt. Some of the missionaries that I really like are going to Alpine; after our missions though, a lot of us will be going back to BYU so I'll probably get to hang with a lot of them then. I also hope that in Germany I will get to play soccer on Pdays. I know soccer is huge there, so I bet there will be members' games and stuff that I could hit up. I also printed off a few good conference talks in English and in German so when I'm on the plane I can learn some more and see how they translate things like talks. The only thing I'm really nervous about is getting there and not being able to understand what they are saying because they talk so fast and have some different dialect. It probably won't end up being a huge deal though.
Well, we are pretty much finished teaching our teachers as progressing investigators. Elder Bonzo and I taught Bruder Luna and Schwester Alder yesterday, so I don't know if we will have another time to teach them. Two companionships teach everyday, and since we taught last, tomorrow and the day after that the other four companionships in our district will teach them. I think they told us that after that we will not be teaching more lessons because Friday is in-field orientation all day, Saturday is kind of another Pday, Sunday is Sunday, and we leave on Monday. I'm going to miss my teachers; they have done a super great job preparing me and teaching me how to help others. I hope when Matt H. comes into the MTC, he gets Bruder Luna as a teacher. If not, the other teachers are really awesome as well. I have met Elder Jex, who you brought up in your last letters. He's a really awesome elder. A lot of the new elders are pretty cool.
I got the tiebars you sent, they're really awesome. Thanks! Well, nothing else has really been different or spectacular this week; everyone is just super ansty to get to Germany. I hope all is well, and I'll email again on Saturday with my exact flight plans and anymore news that I have.  Love you!

Liebe, Daniel

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gifts of the Spirit

Hey Mom!

How is everything going this week? Everything has been going well here. Elder Bonzo and I are getting along just fine and our lessons are starting to go really good. I can't remember if I said it in one of my letters, but one of our practice investigators, Karl, has committed to baptism. One of our other investigators, Frau Zeidler, hasn't committed to baptism yet, but we had a great lesson yesterday about the Holy Ghost and the spirit was incredibly strong. She said if she came to know that these things were true then she might get baptized, so hopefully we can keep having good experiences there.
The new missionaries here are pretty cool. There are 37, and half of them are going to Frankfurt. One of them is from Vegas named Elder Jex. He's pretty cool. I can tell most of the missionaries are really intimidated by us and how well we speak German. A lot of elders that I say even just "Wie geht's?" to don't respond just because I think they are nervous. A few of them have pretty good German though. One new sister has had 6 years of German, so she's got a pretty big head start on everyone. When Matt H. gets here the MTC is going to be extremely crowded on the day that he comes in. I think right now we have between 2200-2500 missionaries here, and when he gets here it will be around 2900.
Yesterday I had an interview with Bruder Luna and he told me what a great missionary I'm becoming, and I know that it's not really anything I'm doing. I'm just trying to be obedient and learn and the Lord is doing the rest. I feel kind of like Ammon because these Gifts of the Spirit that I get to enjoy here are just that: gifts, and they come through God's power and love. Anyway, yesterday we got a letter from President Schwartz with a checklist of things to do before we get to Frankfurt and what the schedule is going to be once we get there. We have a couple hours to get oriented and get our bikes and such, and then we go out in downtown Frankfurt and street preach. It's kind of intimidating to think that in two weeks I'll be on the street contacting random people. I hope I get a good trainer once I get there.
On Sunday, we went to our fireside, and instead of someone giving a talk, a member of the Seventy portrayed Willard Richards on the stage and told all the stories of Joseph Smith from his point of view. It was really amazing, and at the end, we sang "Praise to the Man" and during the first verse everyone started to stand up and by the end of the first verse, everyone was standing and singing with a lot of power. It was a crazy experience, and it was a real testimony to the Prophet, Joseph Smith.
Gym time has been a ton of fun lately. A few days ago, I played soccer with a bunch of elders in my zone, and a lot of them are really good, and I scored two goals, which was really sweet. Yesterday we played softball, and my first two at-bats I hit homers, and that was also really fun. I am going to miss gym time once I leave the MTC, but hopefully since I'll be in Germany, I can play some soccer more so than basketball. I'm still no good at that.
In terms of the language, we have learned pretty much all of the basic grammar principles now. The last thing we worked on, and something that I have been trying really hard to get down, is adjective endings. In English, because there are no genders for words, you don't really have to worry about changing adjectives at all. Zum Beispiel, if you call a book, a church, or a man red, it would always just be "red." In German, however, a book is neuter, a church is feminine, and a man is masculine, so it would be ein rotes Buch, ein rote Kirche, oder ein roter Mann. And then all of those would change depending on the case of the noun. Also, if the word has a gender spoiler, like der, die, or das (der words), the adjectives that follow it take a weak ending. The whole concept of it is that you have to declare the gender of a word as early as you can. Anyway, that's everything that is going on here. Everything else is just the same, except for the fact that Germany is so close to being here. Ich hoffe, dass Sie eine gute Woche haben, und, dass Sie viele Segnungen haben werden. Ich liebe dich, aufwiedersehen (auf-wieder-sehen literally means on-again-see, just thought that was interesting)!

Liebe, Daniel