Saturday, September 28, 2013

Parable of the Bowl of Soup

Hey Mom!
This week was pretty awesome. First of all, we got to go to the IAA in Frankfurt, the biggest car show in the world. It happens only once every 2 years. Looks like I got transferred just at the right time. It was awesome. I think I took over 250 pics. The cars there were incredible, and I am sure there were several that I saw that will never go into production and stay just concept cars, so not many people will probably ever get to see some of those cars again. The coolest part of the show was the Audi display. It was like an upside-down city and the whole middle section of the ceiling was a giant screen with videos of cars driving on it, it was crazy. We later on went to our branch president´s house to be there for his 20-year-old son, Robin´s, birthday. It was good. We sang some church songs and had dinner. 

Tuesday was probably the slowest day of the week. We had a meeting with our ward mission leader that evening, and wanted to prepare for that because we had a lot to discuss. We also had some go-bys on a few people, but we mostly had that appointment with him, after which we had ward council meeting. There wasn´t a whole lot of time for appointments that day.

Wednesday was interesting. We had a member lunch appointment with Gary Hess, who is originally from America. He served in Germany when he was younger, and he served in Solingen, so that was fun to talk about with him. We also taught him the Restoration as if he were an investigator to gain his trust in us as teachers and to sharpen our teaching skills. Later on, we went to an appointment with an eternal investigator named Erika, who has been kind of investigating  for 12 years or something. It was one of the weirder appointments I have had on the mission. Every time we wanted to discuss something, she just went off on the most random tangents. Eventually, I asked her if she knew what our purpose was as missionaries. She said something about God having an eye out for us, and then promptly began to talk about her neighbor for a few minutes. It was a little frustrating. We set up another appointment with her for this week, and if it goes about the same, we will probably not go by there often anymore. Right after that, we had a much better, more focused lesson with a less-active sister. We talked about the armor of God, and she enjoyed it. 

On Thursday, I had a split with Elder Standring in Langen. We went and did some service in the Mühlmann´s garden. While we were there, their 14-year-old daughter, Zinnah, brought one of her friends over to meet us, and then went back to school. They were on a lunch break. The parents later told us that Zinnah had been talking about wishing there were more youth her age in the ward, and they told her to find some herself because they don´t hang out with 14-year-olds. Zinnah watched the "Hastening the Work of Salvation" broadcast by herself and decided to start introducing her friend to us. Next time, she might invite her friend to a family home evening that we will be a part of as well. It was an awesome thing to see the principles learned in the broadcast actually put into action. And that was just the beginning of the awesomeness.

Friday was just as amazing. We had Zone Training in Heidelberg, which was great, and then afterwards went to the Mühlmann´s again for Sister Mühlmann´s birthday. She had invited a non-member man named Frank, and we sat by him and talked to him the whole time we were there. She told us before we sat down that he was against religion, but he was actually very nice and asked us quite a few questions. At the end of the night, we asked Bruder Mühlmann if he could give us a ride home (about a 15 minute ride), and Frank´s car was in the way, so he volunteered himself to drive us home. We talked about the church and us as missionaries the whole way back and he opened up to us why he had left his old church. Apparently a pastor had told him that anyone who is not baptized is not Christ´s friend, and we told him that was not true. He seemed to be glad we told him that. We invited him to church as he dropped us off, and asked the Mühlmanns the next day if they would invite him as well. 

Saturday consisted of weekly planning and going by on some people. One of the families we went by on was one of the families we met at Zinnah´s violin concert last Sunday. We made them cookies, and to our surprise, they were home and let us in. We talked for about an hour or so and didn´t get to teach much, but we invited them to church as well and they said they would try to make it the next Sunday (there was a castle show they were going to that Sunday). All of those things that we experienced in those three days were just because of simple efforts of members to have us conveniently where their nonmember friends were. I think too often, the members of the church want to explain everything at once to their friends. While they should answer questions, they sometimes don´t realize that the missionaries are trained and set apart to do that job. I kind of came up with a parable that makes sense in my mind at least, which I call the bowl of soup:

Once someone finds a soup he really likes, he wants to share it with his friends. He doesn´t realize that the soup might be a little hot for most people at first, and they can´t eat it all at once. He sometimes ends up spilling the soup all over his friend or trying to force feed it to him all at once, and the friend gets burned and never wants to eat the soup again. To avoid this problem, he should show the soup to his friend, maybe let him smell it, but then let it cool and let him eat it at his own pace. 

When you replace the soup with the gospel, it is no wonder that members lose friends sometimes when they introduce them to the church. They have to go about it the right way to see a positive result.

Sunday was a good day. None of those people came to church, unfortunately, but that is ok. According to the Mühlmanns, Frank couldn´t make it to church this week, but is going to talk about it with his wife for next week. We got a lot of assignments from the Elder´s quorum, which we will be doing this week. We also went by on some people, but none of them were home. And that was about the extent of this week.

I hope that you have a great week! Love you!

LG, Daniel


Monday, September 16, 2013

P-day With Elder Hutchings, Productive Meetings, and a Concert

Hey Mom!
This week was another hard one. Monday was probably the best day since we had P-day in Darmstadt and I got to chill with Elder Hutchings for a while. I still can´t believe we are in the same district.  Later that evening, we met with the Mühlmann family, probably the coolest members in our ward. We had a great night with them and invited them to have an activity where they invited Bru. Mühlmann´s less-active brother to, and they we pretty excited about it. 

We headed back to Darmstadt on Tuesday for district meeting, which went well. Our district leader, Elder Standring, is way cool. He trained Elder Hawker in Köln and then just got sent to Darmstadt this transfer, so he has now served with or been in the same district as everyone in our mission that went to Palo Verde HS. Later on that day, we had a bit of time to do some finding, which didn´t bring much. We then got to teach our English class to Mike, the guy from Ukraine. He was preparing for an interview, so we were helping him with that. We then had our ward mission correlation meeting with Bruder Sauer, our ward mission leader, and that went surprisingly well. We got a ton accomplished and now have a bunch of plans to get some new activities in place that can bring the ward closer together and create a nice environment for members´ non-member friends. 

Wednesday was a slow day. We made up some flyers for these new activities for a while, went out for some contacting in a different, nearby city, and made a bunch of calls. 
Thursday was a bit better. We have started taking an extra 15 minutes in the morning after our studies to get a testimony of our goals and plans for the day, and I was praying and just had this feeling that there was going to be a guy in a red shirt that we needed to talk to that day. We went by on some members, the Wagners, and taught them a lesson about faith. We asked them to pray for us that we could go contacting for an hour and find people. We left their house, and for the entire hour, we couldn´t get anyone to stop and listen to us except for this probably 20 year old guy in a red shirt. He ended up not having a ton of interest, but we at least got to talk to him. We told the Wagners about that later and they thought it was cool. Later that night, we met with our branch president, Präs. Kempener, and discussed missionary work and all of these new activities and plans we have. It went really well, and he really wants the church to be more well-known in Langen. He is a beast and hopefully we can help him turn his desires into reality. He also likes and trusts me even though I am new here because he used to be the branch president in Idar-Oberstein years ago. 

On Friday, we had our weekly planning session, as usual, and later on had English class with Mike and Bruder Schwarz. We got to teach a lesson there about patience. Normally Elder Young said Mike doesn´t really participate in the spiritual thought, but he was even reading scriptures this time. I think it helped that we talked about something more general and not about the Restoration or anything. Maybe one day his heart will be open to the gospel. 

Saturday was kind of another slow day here. We rode our bikes out to this guy's house to drop off directions to the church so he could find it (he still didn´t come, though). We later went to Neu Isenburg, a city in our area, and tried to drop off cookies at some members´ houses, but we couldn´t get to one of them and the other one´s gate was locked and we couldn´t get in. It was kind of lame, and it rained a bit. 

Yesterday was a great Sunday. We just had our normal church services in thr morning, and I got to know people in the ward a little better. During all of priesthood, I was answering questions and reading scriptures, and the teacher, Bru. Wagner, kept calling me Elder Squirrel, so eventually I just stopped answering questions haha. Germans have a pretty hard time saying Squires. After church, we had lunch with the Stübe family, some more members in our ward. It was great, but we were kind of in a rush and didn´t have time to share a lesson with them unfortunately. We had been invited by the Mühlmanns to their daughter´s violin concert, so we had to get there on time. We had called Präs. Schwartz to see if it was ok if we went, and he said as long as it was productive to missionary work. So we asked Sister Mühlmann if she would introduce us to people there, and she did a great job. We got to know a bunch of people and had more good conversations there in a couple hours than we had for the rest of the entire week. There was one particular woman who was really nice and seemed pretty open. Sister Mühlmann found out the area she lived in and told us to look for her there, so we are going to do that this week. We want to invite her to one of these acitivities we are planning.

Well, that is about it for the week. I might not be able to send pictures as often as I want here; the internet shop we go to has locks on the cabinets with the computers in them, so I have no access to the USB ports. Next time we are at the church on a P-day, I will see what I can do. 

This P-day should be pretty awesome. There is a car fair in Frankfurt, and we got permission to go. Apparently it is the biggest car convention in the whole world, so I am pretty excited. I´ll tell you how it was next week. I hope you have a great week! Love you!

LG, Daniel

Monday, September 9, 2013


Hey Mom!
Well, I am in Langen now. The apartment is not bad, even though it was pretty gross when I first came in. I have been cleaning it up little by little throughout the week. My new companion, Elder Young, is good as well. He is in his 5th transfer and is a hard worker. He is really tall, which must be a big change for him. He just trained an Elder who was even taller than he was. The branch here is awesome. The members are really nice and apparently very supportive of the missionaries. We are hoping to get more activities in place with them so that they can have relaxed environments where they could invite their friends as well. In terms of the area, is isn´t anything I am not used to. Small, not a lot of people out and about. I don´t know what I would do if I were to get sent to a huge city. We actually have a church building here, and it is in a great location with some decent foot traffiic. I am enjoying it here, but it will also take some time getting used to biking places. Both of the bikes are quite large so they aren´t the most fun to ride. 
This week was ok but hectic. On Monday, we had our P-day in Gera and then played soccer with our English student, Ali. Tuesday was a typical day of district meeting and Gemeindeabend. Bernd left early at Gemeindeabend and told Elder Norman that he wasn't getting a lot of support as a new convert, and we realized we needed to meet with him ASAP. We had a lunch appointment with Sister Dörlitz the next day, and then raced off to Bernd´s. We read D&C 121 with him and also a story in PMG 13 about a new convert who felt alone in the church. He had told us that he had made his decision to leave the church, but after our lesson, he said he would reconsider. We gave him 1 Nephi 17 to read, and then we left. We had to race off to the train station, and then I got transferred. 
AWe took the train to Jena, and met the Weimar Elders there. I went first to Erfurt with Elder Jordan from Weimar to drop off my bags, then we had to take a train back to Weimar to teach their German class to some guys from Bangladesh, and then took the train back to Erfurt to overnight there since the train for transfers left from Erfurt early the next morning. 

We got to Frankfurt a little before all of the other missionaries from other zones, and while we were waiting, I traded one of my ties for a tie from a Deutsche Bahn worker (the German train company), which is a goal most missionaries never achieve. I was pretty pumped about that. We then were all ready to go to our new areas, and a tree hit the tracks going out to Darmstadt, so we had to wait for a while. The Ward Mission Leader from Darmstadt took us and the missionaries from Darmstadt to lunch and ice cream while we waited. When we finally got to leave, we travelled to Darmstadt and I met Elder Young there. We headed back to Langen and had an English class with a guy from Ukraine I think. We then had an appointment with a less active member about genealogy. His family are all non-members, and we hope that they can get interested in the church through family history. The next day, we had our weekly planning session and an old couple from the ward, the Schwarzes, after which we had an English lesson with Bruder Schwarz. 

Saturday was an alright day. We had to go out to another town to buy some street chalk. Langen is apparently too small to have an arts and crafts store where there is street chalk. We had planned to draw a line from the train station to the church (about a 3 minute walk or so) with arrows toward the church and questions along the way, such as "What is God´s plan for you?" and things like that. We didn´t end up having any time for it, but we can do it this week still. We went by on a couple of people, who were not home, and that was about it. It was kind of cool though: we were on a bus and there were some people from the Middle East next to us on the bus, but we didn´t talk to them or anything. We then saw them again on the street, but passed them without talking to them. We then passed them later on the street again, and this time realized we were probably supposed to talk with them. The one guy actually said we needed to talk some time to exchange religious beliefs, but wouldn´t give us his number. We invited him to church, and hopefully he comes sometime.
Sunday was a good day. We had church, and I got to know some members of the branch. Even though it is a branch, there are more active members here than there were in Solingen ward. During church, the member who taught Sunday school, Bruder Mühlmann, teared up when he was talking about an experience from his mission, and later on in sacrament meeting I got to bear my testimony and introduce myself to the ward. I referred to Bruder Mühlmann´s story and told everyone that I hoped we could experience the same joy in the work we do together. After church, we had an appointment with some members, the Noacks and the Sauers. Bruder Noack is a cool guy, but it was kind of an awkward appointment. They had just started preparing the food when we got there, and Bruder Noack wanted to sing almost every piece from this oratorio (spelled right?), and had Elder Young sing with him. It took about half an hour or more and was kind of weird. Bruder Sauer, who is our Branch Mission Leader, was kind of just looking up every once in a while, probably as uncomfortable as I was. We did end up having a good lesson with them afterwards though. It was about being an example like Christ was. After that, we went contacting for just a little bit and found a guy whose girlfriend had thrown him out and was looking for someone who could help him. We got his number and said we would talk to our Branch Pres. to see what we could do.
And that was pretty much the whole week. Today we are going to Darmstadt to have P-day with the Elders there (namely Elder Hutchings!). I hope you have a great week! Love you!
LG, Daniel

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Called to Serve in Langen

Hey Mom!
Well, the news I am sure you have been waiting anxiously for, I am getting transferred. I have been called to serve in Langen, which is 15 minutes south of Frankfurt by train. The funny thing is, it is one of the smallest areas in our mission. I was hoping to finally get called to a big city with a large ward, but I never seem to go to those kind of places. The whole city can't be any bigger than about a mile long.  There are two benefits to getting transferred there though. First, it is a branch, but apparently there are around 70 active members so far as I have heard, and it is on the verge of becoming a ward again. It used to be a ward, and now they only need 3 or 4 active, tithe-paying members to turn into a ward once more. The second advantage is that Elder Hutchings is serving in Darmstadt, which is 15 minutes south of Langen, and so we will be in the same district! He was called to train again this transfer, so we will most likely be in the same district for at least two transfers. 

My new companion is named Elder Young. I don't know him at all. I have heard that he is obedient and very tall. He came in at the same time as Elder Goodrich, so he is going into his 5th transfer. He has been in Langen since the beginning of his mission, so he has already been there for a really long time. I will be his third companion in Langen.  Not many Germans even know where Langen is because it is too small and unknown. It will hopefully give me a good chance to work very closely with the members and their friends because there are likely less finding resources in Langen than there are in Gera, which are already slim. Just pray for me that things will go well there.

This week was another slow one. We only had a few lessons, and we weren't able to find any investigators or anything. We found a few potential investigators, but we tried calling one of them and the number was fake (happens a lot). We will see about the other two. We did some fun contacting this week. We got some gummy bears and wrote down a ton of thought-pondering questions, then invited people to answer them and gave them gummy bears in return.We also got a call from a lady we met with a week or two ago that just wanted to talk to us since we are from America. She said that we would be allowed to come in and help her students by just speaking English with them. 
We had a lesson with Schwester Proehl, which went well. We talked about Alma 5 and how we can feel the same way now as at the time of our conversion to the gospel. I had a split with Elder Markham, which was good. We met with Bernd, speaking to him about repentance and the blessings that come from it. Elder Watts and I also got to give the lesson in Priesthood, where we talked about self control from the Brigham Young teachings book.

Hope you have a good week! Love you!

LG, Daniel