Monday, July 29, 2013

Hey Mom!
This week was not too bad. We had our typical P-day on Monday, but this time our whole district came to Gera to play games and such. On Tuesday, we had our weekly visit with Schw. Doerlitz, and then later on we had an appointment with our investigator, Thomas. Unfortunately, he hadn't kept his commitments, so he is still not progressing, but we had a pretty good lesson. We brought Bernd, the recent convert, as a joint-teach. He was kind of drilling Thomas, and we thought it was going to turn out really bad, but at the end of the lesson Thomas said that he liked Bernd's teaching style and hopes that he comes to our next appointment. We got pretty lucky with that one.
We later on went to Gemeindeabend, and then we had a split with Jena. I went to Jena to work with Elder Ludlow. We had a pretty good split, in spite of the heat. We had a couple of appointments that went pretty well, but the second one was late in the evening and we got out of there later than we wanted. In order to catch the train to get back to Gera, we had to ride the bikes as fast as we could in the pouring rain back to the apartment so I could pick up all of my split stuff and then ride the bikes again through the rain to the train station. We made it by about one minute. It was pretty intense, and we were soaked. I learned a lot on the split, and Elder Watts learned a lot from Elder Bonzo, and we have a lot more faith now and are also planning more effectively, so it was a productive split. The next day, I was back with Elder Watts in Gera. We had an appointment with Bernd, and then we had another appointment with the Meckels fall out. We also found a pretty cool potential investigator we are hoping to get in contact with, but he hasn't answered the phone or our text yet.
On Friday, we had our weekly planning and then a bunch of finding activities, which weren't too successful until the very end of the day, when we found a potential investigator from Poessneck, a small town we have been trying to get the Kempes to take us to since there are is an inactive, part-member family over there. Now we finally have a good reason to go out that far, so I hope it works out with this guy. On Saturday, we had a zone finding day in Weimar, and I went contacting with Elder Ludlow. We found a really cool girl from California who was here for a choir thing, and we gave her a Book of Mormon after talking to her about the importance of going to church. She said she has LDS friends and has seen missionaries around California before. The fact that she was concerned with her recent attendance at her church and that she has ties to the LDS church makes me think that she will be pretty interested when she gets back to the states in a few days. Talking with an American girl just reminds me how much more open people are in America. After we got back from the finding day, we had another appointment with Bernd, and then did some go-bys on a couple people.
Sunday was a miserable day. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this was pretty much the hottest, most humid week of all time, and Sunday was the worst. German buildings are too cool for air conditioning, so we just died for 2 hours in our awesome rented-out space. We then went to lunch at Schw. Kretschmar's after church, which is always really good. Elder Watts and I decided we would fast since things aren't going super great, and it is hard to get a 24-hour fast in here anyways since the members always feed us right after church on fast Sunday. We didn't take into account that all we had planned for the whole day was go-bys, and we were just dying, and started to get a little dehydrated, so we came in a little early to do some studies. We ended our fast today, and we hope that the work starts picking up. Our goal is to have Gera teaching 15 lessons a week by the end of the transfer, and this last week was 6 lessons, so we have a lot of work to do and a few people to find.

Well, this week is going to include a lot of finding, and I hope that we can find a new investigator who will keep his commitments, something I haven't been able to experience on my mission yet. Gera needs to grow or it is going to die in the next 5-10 years. We just lost 2 members and no one in the branch is getting any younger. Pray for us that we can be guided not only to the people who need the Gospel, but also to the people who actually want to accept it and can make progress. I hope that all goes well this week! Love you!

LG, Daniel

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Staying in Gera for a Fourth Transfer

Hey Mom!
I will just cut straight to the chase. I am staying in Gera with Elder Watts for this next transfer, so I will be in Gera at least until September.  There is apparently still something for me to do here. The only change that is happening in our whole district is Elder Hunter is going to work in the office with Elder Waterboehr and he will be replaced by Elder Markham.
This last week we had a lesson with Sister Sorge in her garden where we showed her a member pamphlet we made, and then after that we visited the Meckels and did the same thing. We also had a good lesson with out investigator, Thomas, but it wasn't as smooth as last time because it was the first half of the plan of salvation, and he is an atheist. He had a lot of concerns, but if he actually prays about it, it should clear itself up.
We also had an appointment with Lutz this week, which went ok. He still won't come to church even after he promises to come again and again and then doesn't even make an effort. Other than that, we were supposed to have a lot of time to find new investigators this week, but every time we were going to go finding, something came up and someone needed help moving or other stuff like that. I am not saying that those are bad things, but this week the whole zone was asked to make inspired goals for how many lessons we were going to achieve in the last week of the transfer, and every time we would have had an opportunity to reach an inspired goal, other things got in the way, so instead of having 9 lessons, we had 4, and only one of those was with a non-member. Oh well.
Anyways, I don't have much time but I will write a better email next week, hopefully with some news that we have found some new investigators. Elder Watts and I have made it a goal this week to plan by the Spirit better, so we will see what happens. Have a good week, love you!
LG Daniel 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Some Small Miracles

Hey Mom!
Well, this week was probably one of the best weeks we have had in Gera so far. We saw a few really awesome miracles. Monday started off slow because Sister Meckel was sick and we didn't have that appointment like we had planned, so we are hopefully going to be able to go over there today for the first time in 4 weeks. When we were planning that night for Tuesday, we had one hour left to plan for between 1 and 2 pm. I had the feeling that we needed to go by on someone, which at first I was skeptical of because no one is home in the afternoon on weekdays in Germany. But then Elder Watts and I felt we needed to go by on a man named Thomas, who had a lesson or two from the missionaries in 2006 or 2007. We had been by on him once or twice in the last 4 months, and he was always either busy or not there. We went by anyway, and when we rang his bell, he stuck his head out of his window and said he had no time. I called back to him and asked him if he just had 5 minutes for us to come up and talk to him. He kind of thought about it for a second and then let us up. We ended up having a lesson with him for about an hour and he was really interested and willing to learn. We read Alma 32 with him because he is atheist and we wanted to establish how things would happen for him in terms of his faith. He told us that he has a few jobs and is rarely home, and if we had come an hour earlier or an hour later we would have missed him. It was really the first time on my mission where I felt like the Lord knew exactly what one of His children needed and simply used Elder Watts and I to carry out His work in the way He wanted it. It was a huge testimony builder for me that we are on the Lord's errand and that when we are consecrated to the work, we have the opportunity to be led by Him to serve others.

Anyway, later on that evening we had Gemeindeabend (ward evening), which is always fun and relaxing. On Wednesday, we did some sport contacting which turned out to be not too successful, and later on went to Sister Sorge's garden to help her fix the leak in the roof. It was way awesome because the guy who can fix roofs is a pretty big guy and could not get up onto this roof himself, so he just told us how to do everything. It was pretty cool because it basically involved using a kind of flamethrower (we didn't break any rules, no worries) to heat up the roof and put a new sheet of roof on top. After we went home and showered up, we went to a fireside at the Krause's, where we talked about laziness. On Thursday, we had more service, helping Sister Doerlitz move some old furniture out of an old apartment she was trying to sell. After doing that and having lunch with her, we went outside to work and came across this guy Elder Goodrich and I had talked with a few months before. He got pretty interested in Family History because he is not sure how to track down his dad and that line of his family, so he gave us his dad's information, and we are going to try and find the info for him. Friday consisted of weekly planning and another appointment with Thomas, which went really well. Aside from his concern that God took too long to restore His gospel, pretty much everything we went over (in the Restoration brochure) was logical to him. Seriously, every time we would read anything, he would just say "logisch." It was really great.

We then went and had an appointment with Raymond, who we hadn't met with for a while since he was always busy.  Saturday was mostly spent in Jena for zone training meeting. We were also supposed to have our interviews with Pres. Schwartz at that time, but through a miscommunication between the zone leaders and Pres. Schwartz, Pres. Schwartz went to Erfurt instead of Jena for the interviews, and we were then supposed to go there for the interviews, but through another miscommunication, the interviews just got cancelled. It was really unfortunate. I haven't had an interview with Pres. for about 4 months now. But there is always next transfer. Sunday was a really good day though. We had our church meetings, and I taught the Priesthood class about the importance of Relief Society, which turned out better than I thought it would.

Later on went to another one of those church services for that group called "Relationship," and afterwards, this girl named Verena came up and started talking to us about what we were doing there. We were having a really good conversation, and then the guy in charge of this group came up to us and just started bashing on the Book of Mormon right as we started talking to this girl about it. He used all of the typical bashes, talking about how in Revelation it says there shouldn't be more scripture written and everything and how the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible all the time, and we just stood there, told him we were not looking for a fight and just calmly stated our stance on the issue. He kept trying to bash, but we just pretty much ignored it and talked with him about something else. Anyway, this girl was watching us the whole time and seemed really interested to know what was in the Book of Mormon, and we wanted to try and get her contact info, but this guy was hovering around us the whole time, probably trying to prevent us from doing that very thing. Verena then at one point said she was leaving, so we also said we had to leave so we could try and get her number outside, but then some more girls started talking to us and we actually had a really good conversation with them, but we thought we had lost our chance to talk more with Verena. We asked those girls to give her a card with our number on it, but they said they wouldn't see her for 6 weeks, which was disappointing. Then we left, and as we were walking around the corner to go home, Verena drove past us and said bye out of her window, so we flagged her down and got her number. It was miracle timing that we were leaving as she would be driving away. It was a really great way to end the week.
Well, that was it for this week. We hope and pray that the success will continue and not just be a quick spurt like it has been so many times on my mission. Oh yeah, and transfer calls are on Saturday, so I will email you next week to tell you what is happening this next transfer. I love you and hope you have a great week!
LG, Daniel

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Less Trying Week and a Nazi Rock Concert

Hey Mom!
It looks like everyone had a really fun time with the 4th. That is also really cool to hear that we have sister missionaries in the ward. I don't know how it is in other missions, but I can imagine that it is similar in the fact that the sisters see a lot more success than the elders usually since they don't have to run around in white shirts and ties, so hopefully we see our home ward grow.
Well, this week was pretty to similar to last week, just without so many trying experiences. We had our appointment with the Meckel family, but it was almost like we weren't even there. We just kind of sat there as their kids went crazy and they had a guest over who was kind of needy. But we have another appointment with them tonight, and they said that this week will be better. On Tuesday, we had district meeting and Gemeindeabend (ward evening), and there wasn't much time to do anything else because we had district meeting in Jena. On Wednesday, we did some service helping a member's step daughter move, and then we worked on this member brochure that we are implementing to help our members work in unity with us. It took a long time to do, but we hope we will see a lot of success with it. We later had our English class, which no one came to again. We are going to try and have our English class once more this week, and if no one comes, we are probably going to have to shut it down.
On Thursday, we had more service, this time with our branch president, President Zaumsegel. We were helping him dig out a stump of a tree in his back yard, and it was really hard work and we didn't make much progress on it since the roots are so deep and he didn't want us to destroy the plants around it. We also had the opportunity to introduce the member brochure to him, and he gave us his support on it and helped us figure out how we are going to get it in motion with the branch.  We had our weekly plan and an appointment with Sister Doerlitz on Friday, and then had an appointment that evening with a woman we found at our last street display. She had visited with sister missionaries 10 or 11 years ago, and then stopped investigating the church. She told us we could come over and meet with her, but that she was not planning on converting or anything. We went over there with all 4 of us elders. She made us dinner and just talked with us about who we were and things like that, and then at the end we read from the bible when Jesus says he is the light of the world in John 8, which is my favorite part of the new testament.  Then on Saturday, I was on a split with Elder Hunter. We did some sport finding in the park and Elder Hunter was talking with this mom as I was playing soccer with her little kid. We later had an interesting lesson with a Muslim man who didn't speak much English or German.
Our last appointment was with Bruder Krause, pretty much our strongest member in terms of ward missionary work, and we shared the member brochure with him and figured out some ways we can be more united in our missionary work. Then Sunday was pretty standard. We had church, had lunch with Schwester Kretschmar, and later on did some finding. At the very end of the day we found a pretty cool guy who has had the Book of Mormon for quite a few years, so we are going to try and meet with him in the near future.
Oh yeah, and on Friday and Saturday, there was a Nazi rock concert going on in the middle of Gera, and there were some groups trying to protest it, and it was pretty nuts. There were hundreds of police patrolling the entire city, and there were groups of Nazis walking around and buying beer and stuff. We kept a good distance, but you could hear the music from pretty far away. It was pretty evil and intense. But that is what you get for serving in a red city in East Germany!
Hope you have a good week! Love you!
LG Daniel
On the market where Daniel lives.

Another picture of the market.

An old part of the city of Gera.
Fun with the Nazis.

All the police because of the Nazis.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Week of Rejection

Hey Mom!
Well, this was probably one of the hardest weeks of the mission so far. We didn't have any appointments with nonmembers, and we only had 2 appointments with less-actives, which were pretty good. We met with the Meckel family on Monday and had a family home evening with them. It went well, and I think we were able to clear up a lot of concerns that might have been keeping them from coming back to church. We are going over there again tonight for another FHE, so hopefully it just keeps getting better. Our other appointment was with Lutz, who is a pretty interesting guy and is tough to get to church, but he has been coming to our branch activity every Tuesday, so hopefully he can keep progressing from there.
Other than those appointments and a member appointment with Sister Doerlitz, we just got rejected all week long. We couldn't get one person to stop and listen to us for more than 15 seconds. We also wanted to have faith to find people, and one of the first people we talked to all week was a lady who had to be at least 70. We just tried showing her a picture of Christ (giving the Sermon on the Mount) and she called me a piece of ____ (you can use your imagination). I tried to imagine any old lady in America being approached by someone with a picture of Christ, and I couldn't for one moment believe that someone like that could be so rude. It is really sad how closed off the people are here. We also went out with a white board with the question "What is Christianity?" on it just to try and get some reactions, and we did, but not the kind we were hoping for. The first guy we talked to was an atheist (no surprise there) and he was kind of being a smart alec, but then he said something that I didn't understand and all I said to him was that I was from America and did not understand what he said so would he repeat himself and he said "That's your problem, not mine," and then walked away. Another guy, after just trying to tell him we were from the church of Jesus Christ was like, "Wow I am really sorry for you guys, but I guess no one is perfect." Shortly after that, we were sitting on a bench and a really old guy and his wife were walking past, and literally all we said to him was "Guten Tag," and he walked about ten feet away, turned around, and said, "Is that all?" and then walked away. That was pretty much how the whole week went, those were just a few of the worst ones that really put a damper on the feel of the week. It was really hard, but I took comfort in the first few verses of D&C 58 during personal study the other day.
On a brighter note, we have been feeling that the coordination between the missionaries and the members really needs to get better, and then with the training meeting broadcast throughout the church being all about the missionaries and the members working together, our feelings were pretty much confirmed. We are kicking into overdrive so that we can get what few members we have to do missionary work the way it works for them, of course with our support. We hope that things begin to turn around here.
Well, that is all I have for this week. Hopefully this week will be a better one. I hope you all have a great one!
LG, Daniel