Monday, March 25, 2013

Gera: Miracles Needed

Hey Mom!

I did get your birthday package on transfer day, thanks! I have been going through a lot of experiences developing patience on my mission, so I gave myself a break and already opened it and wore two of the ties and ate a bunch of the treats haha.

Anyway, I am now in Gera. My new golden missionary is named Elder Goodrich, from Orem, Utah. He is 23 years old, and is a pretty quiet guy. It will take me a while to get used to him since Elder Colson talked all the time and was kind of like a crazy little kid that liked to press peoples´ buttons, and Elder Goodrich is very quiet. He does like to be obedient, and knows why he is out here.

Gera is an interesting town. There is not much to do here, not only as a missionary, but just for anyone. In the last ten years or so, the population here has dropped from about 120,000 to 80,000 or 85,000 because there is no work and no university. It is the ideal situation here to be in a city with a university because there are tons of people in that stage of life where they are trying to figure things out, but here it is very much the opposite for the most part. Everyone was raised in a communist society and for the most part everyone is atheist. We do have a pretty cool branch, even though it is very small and almost everyone is related somehow, like almost anywhere else in Germany where the church is small. The accent here is pretty bad, almost as bad as it was in Idar-Oberstein, maybe a little worse. We have not found anyone to teach yet. It has been extremely cold and people really don´t want to talk to us for the most part, even in good weather, so there is that. We have also had to spend time getting things for the new apartment (which is HUGE by the way), like food and laundry detergent and other necessities. We did get contact information from two people so far, so that was good. Hopefully a miracle will happen with those people and we will start having lessons. We are also two buildings down from a senior couple, the Kempes, who are the greatest. Elder Kempe is the ward mission leader and counselor in the branch presidency, and Sister Kempe is really nice and teaches primary (which is a total of one kid). We ate with them yesterday, and we do emails at their apartment. Elder Kempe likes chess, so after this email, I am going to try to play against him, and he will probably destroy me haha.

Anyways, that is kind of the state of things here in Gera. I hope that things pick up quickly. Just keep praying for me so that we can get the work off the ground here and start seeing some miracles.

Hope you have a good week and a good Easter! Love You!

LG, Elder Squires

Monday, March 18, 2013

Going Behind the Iron Curtain

Hey Mom! 

Well, I am sure that the news you will want to hear first is in regard to transfers, and I have some pretty big news this time. I have been called to train again, but not in Solingen. I am opening a new area in the city of Gera, which is very far in the East, behind the Iron Curtain. There are already two missionaries there, but they will now have four, me and my golden being the new Elders. We will be in an apartment that I think only the Senior couple who are in Gera have seen. So it is going to be a very interesting transfer. From what I have heard so far, the branch there is about 20 or 25 active members and the church building is a rented-out space above what is the German equivalent of a Home Depot. I am really excited for it, but I am also really nervous. The East is pretty much completely different from the West, and for a long time there has not been much success in that area of the country. Hopefully things start to change soon. 

Anyways, I don´t have a ton of time (like always) because today we are going to a Chinese buffet with some of the YSAs in the ward as a kind of going-away party, and that is in about 30 minutes. 

We had a pretty good week though. I went on a split with Elder Hall on Tuesday, and we ate with Bru. Phong at his bakery, and then we had an appointment with some investigators. Wednesday was also good. We did some contacting and met with Domingo, like we normally do every week. On Thursday, we met with Stan the Man, and later had a really good lesson with Fabian. He has started to make quite a bit of progress and really wants to stop smoking We gave him a blessing to help him give it up, too. We also had dinner with the Helzer Family in Remscheid. By the way, one of the girls in the ward told us that Remscheid is the second rainiest city in Europe.. You should look it up and let me know if it is. We had an appointment with Bru. Olbert on Friday, and also it was our dedicated finding day throughout the mission. We found a handful of potential investigators, which was really cool. On Saturday, we had another appointment with Fabian, and it was really cool. Elder Colson promised Fabian that if he were to give up smoking, come to church, and read the Book of Mormon, that he would receive an answer to his prayers that the Book of Mormon was true. The Spirit was really strong. For Sunday, we met with the Wüstehube family, and then did some work on our member book, which is something going through the whole mission right now where we get the information from the members in our ward so we can get to know them faster when we get transferred and also find people to bring to lessons who match the personality and age of our investigators. 

Well, that was the week. It was pretty crazy, and I am pretty pumped to go East. Elder Hall said that Präsident Schwartz and the APs said some really intense prayers for this new transfer and that Präsident Schwartz had a pretty strong feeling that the East has to change. There are several new areas being opened there, and I think it is awesome that I get to take part in what is about to happen there.

Anyway, that is everything in a nutshell. I hope everyone has a good week, and you are in my prayers!

Liebe Grüße, Daniel

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Short Email

Hey Mom!

This will be a short email for the sake of time and also the keyboard I am using is terribly hard to type with. Almost all of the buttons stick and it is really annoying.

This week was pretty slow. We had some really cool experiences and good contacts on the street, but most of our lessons fell out. We met this kid on the street who said he was fresh out of prison and when he was there, he would listen to preachers every two weeks when they would come. He had been looking for a ward or something ever since he got out, and said he wanted to come to church. He gave us his number and we even called him on Saturday to make sure he was coming, and he said he would, and he ended up not showing. We also had really good lessons with another investigator, and he said he would come to church, and didn´t.

For the most part, we just got to meet with members for the rest of the time this week. Our transfer calls are on Saturday, and I think I will probably get transferred. I have been here since November, and 4 months is about how long people stay in an area in our mission. I will keep you posted.

Have a good week!

Liebe Grüße, Daniel

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Pope,The Word of Wisdom, and Kinder Eggs

Hey Mom!

That sounds like you guys had fun with Mat and Libby there for the weekend. That is also really cool about Keaton coming to the Frankfurt Mission, it is crazy how many people are in this mission that I know.  I am super excited for him to get here later in the year; by the time he gets to Germany, I will have been out for about 13 months or so.

I got a phone call last night from Elder Hall, one of my zone leaders, and he told me that in our entire zone, which consists of I think 11 companionships, there was not one new investigator found this last week. The mission is going through a pretty tough time right now, especially in our zone, even though we are all working really hard. I think part of it has to do with the Pope stepping down; a member told us that in Germany alone, 40,000 people took their names off the records of the Catholic church, and another 30,000 from the Protestants. And that was two weeks ago, so it has to have gone up by then. There is an even bigger disbelief in any kind of religion in Germany than there was before, and I would have to think that something has to happen here in Germany soon to get people to remember God again. I was reading in the Book of Helaman this morning where Nephi prays for a famine to come upon the people so that they will stop fighting and remember God, and then they do only after this huge trial where they realized they needed God.

Anyway, this week was pretty low on success for the zone, but we had actually a pretty good week, even if we didn´t find new investigators. On Tuesday, we met with Stan the Man and had a little cake with him. We met with Bruder Olbert as well. Wednesday, we had language study with Bruder Schumacher, and went by on a less-active family (who came to church yesterday) and also our former investigator, Sebastian. Things went good, but he is still just really indecisive. We had district meeting on Thursday, and afterwards had a split with the Wuppertal Elders. I was in Wuppertal with Elder Brown. We did some finding and stuff, and Elder Colson and Elder Minert in the meantime had a lesson with our main investigator, Fabian, and also with Bruder Benten from the ward and with Sebastian again. On Friday, we met with Bruder Phong at his bakery. He gave us a ton of free sandwiches and really likes us. Afterwards, we went to Domingo´s and had cookies, like always. We went to Remscheid after that to meet with Bruder da Silva, who is from Portugal. On Saturday, we had an appointment with an investigator fall out, and then met with Fabian again. We taught him the Word of Wisdom because he smokes and drinks a ton of tea and coffee. He said he understood the alcohol and tobacco, but he said he didn´t understand why tea and coffee would be against the commandments. We invited him to live it and see how he felt about it, and he said he would try. He also said he would come to church, but once again, he didn´t. Sunday was still good, though. After church, we met with the Hansens (Christopher and Miriam) and had tacos. We also made out a ton of appointments for this week, so it should be a busy week.

Today is Elder Sommerville´s birthday, and we are about to go down to Düsseldorf for a sport Pday with the zone. Before we came here to email, though, we all got 24 Kinder eggs (the things I sent everyone for Christmas), meaning Elder Colson, Elder Minert, Elder Brown, and myself. I will send you pictures next week, but needless to say, it was pretty epic. I don´t think missionaries have ever had that many Kinder eggs at one time; we had 96 in one room. It was pretty awesome.

Well, I hope everything is good in Vegas, and I hope it is starting to warm up. Have a great week!

Liebe Grüße, Daniel