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