Monday, October 28, 2013

A Lot of Good Things Happening

Hey Mom! 

I got the package you sent. Thanks a bunch! It is a huge sugar overload, so I have been sharing it with the elders in my district haha. Elder Ryser in Michelstadt is from Switzerland, so he got to taste some American candy for the first time, and wanted me to tell you thanks from him. 

This week was an interesting one. We had a lot of good things happen, but it was also pretty slow. On Monday, we got our first new investigator for the transfer (for me it was the first new investigator for over 3 months). We went to Bruder von Stauß´s apartment and his wife became a little more interested in learning about the gospel. She said at the end, "I will try my best to learn and love Mormon." That was pretty cool to hear, and I hope she makes real progress. We got a Book of Mormon for her in Cebuano (she is from the Phillipines), and we have another lesson with her tonight. It might be a challenge though because she doesn´t like the cold and goes every winter to the Phillipines for a few months, and she leaves in November. We will have to wait and see how that goes. 

On Tuesday, we went by on an older couple in Mörfelden-Walldorf who were an old referral from an area seventy apparently. President Schwartz told us that the seventy wanted to know how things were going and wanted us to try again. We went over and tried to invite them to do genealogy work, but they were not too excited about it. Later on, we headed to Götzenhain and stopped by on Frank, the man who was at Sister Mühlmann´s birthday a while ago. He let us in and we answered questions and taught a bit about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. He told us that he would like to learn more but can guarantee that he will never convert. Hopefully the gospel will soften his heart. We weren´t able to make a return appointment; he said he was too busy to set one. 

I traveled down to Heidelberg with Elder Standring on Wednesday. We had interviews with President and then had a leadership training meeting for a few hours. We learned a lot about setting inspired goals and priorities, and making covenants with the Lord to achieve those goals. When I got back to Langen, Elder Brown and I went to the Grassman´s for an appointment. Their little baby chewed up some apple, spit it out, and threw it across the table, landing on my tie. It was kind of funny, and I wasn´t upset about it since it is a machine washable tie haha. We talked with them about the Book of Mormon and the church´s media efforts. 

On Thursday, we had district meeting in Langen. I gave a theme about setting inspired priorities and goals, and Elder Phelps (one of the Michelstadt Elders) gave one about the importance of finding with the Spirit. It was really good. At first, I was a little apprehensive about having only a 4-man district, but I actually kind of like it. It is easier to council together that way. After district meeting, I went on a split with Elder Ryser in Michelstadt. We met with their new ward mission leader and helped get the planning of a fireside underway. It was pretty cool. I also tried to learn a little bit of Swiss-German from Elder Ryser, but that stuff is crazy. 

Friday and Saturday mostly consisted of helping people move. On Friday, the Piotrowskis in our ward moved from one city to another within our boundaries, and on Saturday, a new family from Wetterau moved in. We also tried to go by on a potential investigator on Saturday evening, but we couldn´t find his apartment. 

We got to drive down to Kaiserslautern for stake conference yesterday. It was awesome. I got to see some of the Idar-Oberstein members for the first time in about a year, and that was really fun. President Schwartz gave a really good talk as well as President Cziesla, the stake president. He talked about how we need to take all of our old mindsets (for example, "I have tried that before and nothing came of it" or "it´s Germany and missionary work is just too hard"), pack them up in a box, and forget about them. There is so much emphasis lately on missionary work, I just hope these things also get applied. 

Well, that was about how the week went. I know I said I was going to write a letter last week and never did; we were just relaxing last Pday and had about enough time left for me to write a letter when I remembered that I forgot to send my email to Pres. Schwartz, so we had to race to the church so I could send that off. I will try to write one this week. 

Also, next week, we might be going to the temple, which isn´t open on Mondays, so we will probably push our Pday to Tuesday or Wednesday. That means that it is possible that I won´t send my email on Monday, but on Tuesday or Wednesday. Just thought I would let you know. 

I hope you have a great week and a great Halloween!

LG, Daniel

Monday, October 21, 2013

Visa Extension and Transfers

Hey Mom!
Well, this week was pretty good. On Monday, Elder Young and I went to Darmstadt to play soccer in the chapel with the rest of our district. It was really fun, but we couldn´t stay for very long. Once we got back, we headed to the Mühlmann´s for FHE.  Tuesday was kind of ridiculous. When I was new on the mission, and got my visa, I was supposed to get it for 2 years, but the people in Idar-Oberstein only gave me a one-year visa. I did all of the paperwork while I was in Gera to get it extended, but got transferred before they had it in to pick up. I accidentally forgot about it after I got to Langen and we tried calling the visa place, which wasn´t open at the time. We got a letter in the mail saying I had to come in during last week, and that I had to pay an 80 Euro fine and also I had to bring more biometric photos. I didn´t have anymore, so we had to go get some made that morning, and then we had to do all of the visa stuff in Dietzenbach, a city that isn´t even in our area. It was quite a long bus ride to get out there and back, so it took out a huge chunk of the day. When we finally got back, we trimmed some trees for an elderly sister in our ward. We finished up the day with some studies, and also had time to go to an appointment with a less-active woman. She either wasn´t home or didn´t open up when we went over, so that was kind of disappointing.

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to do a bit of contacting, and gave a Book of Mormon to an old lady from Italy. We had a decent conversation for a while, but then she kept just nodding when we told her a truth of the restored gospel and then would twist it to fit her own  opinion. It was kind of a frustrating experience, but it was a good lesson in patience. We later had a lesson in Neu-Isenburg with Boubacar, the investigator. Some people he knew passed away this last week and he also had a lot of stress with work, so he wasn´t super focused, but we promised him that he could find comfort reading about the Plan of Salvation, and invited him to read the brochure we have for that. Once we got back from there, we had an appointment with some members, the Piotrowskis. We showed them a Mormon Message and discussed how we could work with the YSAs in the ward to spread more church media.

Thursday was transfer day. Elder Young and I headed up to Frankfurt (a 9-minute train ride) in the late morning. There were a lot of missionaries there that I hadn´t seen in a long time, including Elder Colson (who just got transferred to Gera!), which was a lot of fun. I picked up Elder Brown and we headed back down to Langen. Elder Brown is a cool guy. He is from Texas and we get along pretty well. I bet that we will be together for at least two transfers here, which means Christmas as well. When we were on the train back to Langen, a guy who works for the Deustche Bahn (the train company in Germany) came up to us and asked if we spoke English. He took us over to some Americans who were on the train without tickets and had no idea what was going on. We translated the message for them that they had to have a ticket to ride the train down to Langen, and helped them get everything sorted out. It was a man and a woman with a little baby, and they both turned out to be professional basketball players that were going to be playing for teams here in Langen. We talked and invited them to learn a little more about the church and also offered them some help learning German. They were really nice and hopefully we hear from them soon. Later that night, we met with the Jungheims (some really cool members) and then had English class. We ended the night with our correlation meeting with Bruder Sauer (the ward mission leader), which went really well. Last Sunday, Bru. Stübe was called as an assistant to the ward mission leader, and he had been ward mission leader years before, so he is a great addition to the team here. He is very organized and passionate in fulfilling his callings, so we are really excited to see what he will add to our efforts here.

On Friday, we went to Heidelberg for our zone training meeting. We talked a lot about genealogy and doing that which we can do "today" to achieve our long-term goals. When we got back from that, we went to our bible study group we started. A member taught the class this week. We talked about Genesis 3. Bru. Mohr, the teacher, pointed out at the end of the lesson something which really strengthened my testimony of the Atonement. Before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they were in the presence of God and could not die physically or spiritually, but they also could not have children or know the difference between good and evil. When they were cast out of the garden, those things all flipped: they were now able to die physically and spiritually and were not in the presence of God, but they could know good from evil and have children. Only through the Atonement are all of these things fulfilled, instead of just two of these conditions. Because of the Atonement, we can all be brought back into the presence of God, we can overcome physical and spiritual death, and we can still know good from evil and have children. It is good to know that the Atonement fulfilled all things in that sense.

On Saturday, we had our first go at church tours, but nobody came, so we ended up just doing our weekly planning during that time. Afterwards, we spent pretty much the rest of the evening helping put together furniture for some members who are moving from one city in our area to another. It made me grateful for all of the legos I put together in my life because it was basically just a really complex, huge set of legos.

Sunday was good as well. We had church, and during the meetings had a talk with the rest of the ward mission team to bring Bru. Stübe up to speed on the ward mission. After church, we went to the Langners for lunch and talked about the talks given by Elder Ballard and Gifford Nielsen from conference. We later went to the church, where the birthday of Bru. Sauer´s son, Valentin, was being celebrated. Bru. Sauer´s mother was there, who is not a member. We talked to her for probably about an hour. She said she wasn´t at peace with her current church, and that she might come by to our bible study group some time. She also asked about genealogy, and we were able to show here our fan charts that you can make online with the church´s websites. She was very interested, and might try to start her own. She was astounded that we could go back so far, assuming we had maybe 3 or 4 generations of ancestors. I was also able to show her which of our ancestors came from Denmark, and she thought that was great. 

Anyways, today is just a chill P-day with nothing crazy going on for once. I will have time to write a letter, so you can expect to get one from me this week. I hope you have a great week!

LG, Daniel

Monday, October 14, 2013

Deep Cleaning and Transfer Calls

Hey Mom!
Well, you were correct, we had transfer calls this week. I am staying here and have been called as district leader again; the district is us and the Michelstadt Elders.  I am also getting a new companion, an Elder Brown. He will be in his 5th transfer, and he has been his whole mission in Solingen so far, so at least we have that in common. I hope he can help us move on the work here. Elder Young is going east to Nordhausen. Another interesting thing from transfers: Elder Watts, my last comp, got called as a zone leader in a brand new zone, the Wiesbaden Zone. It used to be part of Frankfurt Zone, but I guess that zone got too many missionaries and had to be split.

We had an alright week this week. We had to spend about the first three days of the week cleaning our apartment. The mission wants us to do deep cleaning once a transfer, and you can imagine with a bunch of 20-year-old missionaries, not much cleaning ever gets done. We had to clean the apartment super thoroughly, and it was really disgusting. Years of nastiness just built up all over the place. We got time to do other things on those days, but for the most part, it was just cleaning. 

I had a split with Elder Parkinson in Darmstadt on Thursday. We gave a blessing to a member who was getting an operation the next day. After that, we took a bus out to some members and ate dinner with them. We shared a lesson about sharing our favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon and invited them to pray for opportunities to share those scriptures with others in need.

Friday was great. We have been trying to start this Bible study course since I got here, and we finally had our first one this week. There were 5 members there, which is a pretty good start in my opinion. We should have even more this week, and one of the members already said he could give the lesson next week. We are trying to make it so the members eventually take it over so they are more committed and excited about it. 

Saturday was transfer calls and weekly planning. We were going to have an appointment with a less-active sister after that, but it fell out. 

Sunday was good as well. We got to give a short lesson about sharing the gospel in primary and also had a Q&A kind of thing about missionary work in Relief Society. After church, we went to our branch president´s for lunch. Sister Kempener made some beef casserole and after that some crepes. It was a good appointment. We shared a lesson about going forward and praying for missionary opportunities, kind of referring to Edward Dube´s counsel to look forward with faith. 

Well, that is about it for this week. I am sure there will be a lot to tell you next week about the new companionship and everything. Elder Young and I are meeting up with the district for the last time today to play soccer, so we have to get going to that. I hope you have a great week!

LG, Daniel

Monday, October 7, 2013

Member Missionary Work

Hey Mom! 

This general conference was so great. There were a ton of over-arching themes that I really liked, like doing the things that Christ asks us to do, rising up, and especially being equally yoked in the work. I think two of my favorite talks were from Edward Dube and also from M. Russell Ballard. Those talks were great and opened my eyes to what we need to do here in Langen to see success. I have kind of had this mindset of focusing primarily on member work since I got here since the ward is so supportive. We didn´t have that as much in Gera just because there weren´t a ton of members who could help with a bunch of things. While I was there, we tried to do member work but focused primarily on our personal activities as missionaries. I now have a respect for balancing these things equally in order to see success. 

Well, this last week was pretty good. On Monday, we had FHE with the Mühlmanns, and Zinnah (the 14-year-old daughter) brought her friend just like she said. She enjoyed the thought we shared and said she would be interested in coming to FHE more often. It went really well. 

Tuesday was zone conference in Heidelberg, which took the entire day. It was really good. President Schwartz talked a ton about chapter 9 in PMG and about having faith. At one point he said something like, "People are being prepared in your area. Many are waiting to accept the gospel. Can we please believe that?" It was really cool. I hope I can improve my faith to find. 

We had a good day on Wednesday. We went to Neu-Isenburg where a less-active and an investigator live. We brought cookies to the less-active for his birthday, and he seemed to appreciate it. We dropped off a brochure at the investigator´s apartment. As we were on our way back to the train station, we were talking to various people, and at one point we passed an older turkish woman struggling to carry her groceries. We asked if we could help her, and she let us. We talked about religion the whole way and she was really happy to see people like us still around since most youth our age are ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol (her words). She said she would try to make it to conference, but she didn´t end up showing because she gave us a bad telephone number. She has our card though, and hopefully she will call one day because she seemed really sincere and quite interested. Later on, we had a correlation meeting with our ward mission leader, Bruder Sauer. After that, we had a good conference-preparation lesson with Eva Sonn, a ward member. 

Thursday was also a pretty good day. We biked out to the Grassmans, who are a family in our ward, and had lunch there. We shared that same video from "Hastening the Work" and they liked it. They had a really long discussion about it and a lot of other things. When we finished that appointment, we went to Neu-Isenburg to have a lesson with that investigator whose name is Boubacar. We had a really good lesson with him. It is the first time I have met with him. He had met with the missionaries before a little bit, but he works for the German airline company as a plane mechanic and he has really crazy shifts he has to work, and therefor rarely has time to meet. We helped him understand the importance of the Restoration, and he now has a desire to know the Bible and the Book of Mormon a little better. When we got back from that appointment, we went to the Branch President´s house for dinner. We didn´t get to discuss much with him about missionary work because they had other visitors coming. 

On Friday, we did some service with the Noack family, helping replace a rotten, wooden beam on a car covering in their driveway. We had lunch with them after that and shared a lesson about conference. When we returned home, we did our weekly planning, and went to a primary activity in the evening. On Saturday, we went to the Mühlmanns to meet with Peter Rojas, a member from Spain who is living in their basement. We had an intro to family history lesson with them using the videos the church has out now. It went well, and he wants to do more research on his family now. After the appointment, we rushed to the train so we could get back to the chapel in time to watch the Saturday morning session of conference. 

All of Sunday was basically spent in Darmstadt, watching the Priesthood, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning sessions of conference. We barely caught all of our trains and it was kind of hectic getting home, but we made it. 

Well, that was about the week. This week is going to be pretty cool. Elder Young and I have been planning some activities with the ward council that will take place weekly (a bible study class, church tours, etc.). We made some fliers for these activities and designed a big paper to be on the front of the church door so that passersby can see the activities we will be having. We sent these to the bishopric about 3 weeks ago, and I thought all of the projects had just kind of been forgotten and died, and I was kind of bummed because we had worked hard to convince people to take part in these activities, but then we got a call from a member in charge of printing out the fliers and he asked how many we wanted. He printed them out the same day and also the big shield with all of the activity information on the church. According to the fliers, these activities start this week, so I am now really excited. We have ward council tomorrow, so I hope we can get everyone pumped about taking part in these activities. 

Anyways, that´s the news. I hope you have a good week!

LG, Daniel

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Lot of Bike Riding

Hey Mom!
This last week was pretty good, all things considered. On Monday, we were with the Wagners for FHE. We watched the video from "Hastening the Work" with the family that does all that missionary work and the missionaries were just kind of there. I don´t know if you know the one I mean. That went well. After asking them what they could apply from what they learned, the 11-year-old son, Jonas, said we should come play ping pong at the young men´s activity where his nonmember friend was going to be. That was cool to see. 
Tuesday was a beast of a day. We rode our bikes about 30 kilometers, most of the time through bumpy forest paths, to try and find a member whose record had been sent to the ward. When we got there, the place where it said he lived turned out to be just an old building where hunters apparently used to stay. There was no one living there. Later on that night, we had an appointment with Mario and Emma Langer from the ward, and we watched the same video as with the Wagners. We invited them to watch the entire broadcast, so we will see what happens there. 
On Wednesday, we rode the bikes probably about another 30 kilometers on a similar path to visit an inactive man living in an old person´s home. When we got there, the guy in the lobby said that this man´s health was not doing well and that we couldn´t speak with him. So another really long bike ride where not much happened in the end. We spent a little more time contacting in that city, but didn´t end up having a ton of luck. When we got back, we had the young men´s activity and got to play ping pong with Jonas, his dad, and his friend. In the middle of that we had a very brief appointment with a member who is hard to get a hold of since he is always traveling. 
We had disrict meeting in Darmstadt on Thursday, and also spent time on that day to make goals and plans for how we are going to contribute to the Frankfurt Mission Goals between now and the end of the year. We ended the night with our English class, where Mike was once again the only student. 
Friday was a good day as well. We did some service at the church, trimming and cleaning the bushes and weeds and everything. After that, we had some studies and also our weekly planning session. Later in the evening, we met with the Voglers, a great family from our ward. We wanted to watch that same video we had watched with other members, but their internet doesn´t work so we had to wing it and talk about the same subject without the video. It actually went really well, and hopefully they can make progress with their friends. 
Saturday was a relatively busy day. We made some cookies and took them to some old people in our ward, active and less-active. We also went by on some former investigators and potential investigators, but no one was home. We were going to have an appointment with this family we had found knocking on doors, but when we went to the scheduled appointment, they were not home. We wrote them a note, saying we would try to come back the next week. As we were leaving, a man pulled up in his car with his family, and only he got out and went into the apartment building. As we rode past the car on our bikes, I could see the YSA age girl we had spoken with and who had invited us to come back, hiding her face in the back seat that we might not see her. Oh well, that kind of stuff isn´t foreign to me or any other missionary. Later that evening, we had a lesson with a less-active woman, Schwester Sonn, and it went well. To end off the night, we worked on cleaning up the area book. It is kind of disorganized and messy, so we are trying to get into good shape. 
Sunday was a good day as well. We had our church meetings, as always, and got some good appointments with some members set up there. Jonas Wagner told us that after playing ping pong, he was able to tell his friend a little about the church, which made us really happy. After church, we went and had lunch with the Dietsch family, some more members in our ward. We watched that same video with them. We invited them to think about what they had seen and how they can apply it. They have a friend that they said they would like to invite to something, so hopefully that all goes well. In the evening, we went by on some former investigators, but they weren´t there. At the second one, there was a group of guys hanging out outside the apartment building, and as we rounded the corner on our bikes, one of them asked us who we are and what we are doing here. We told him, and he said that he thought it was cool, but then said bye. As we rode away, I felt like we had missed an opportunity there, and that we needed to go back and invite them to church. We did, and they at first all said no, but we offered them some cards, and they took those and then started asking questions about us and our church. None of them were interested in the end, but it is at least nice to have a conversation with people who want to know something. 
And that was about the extent of our week. We have a really great opportunity tonight to teach. A 14-year-old girl in our ward, Zinnah Mühlmann, has this friend who she wants to get interested in the gospel, and she invited her over for FHE tonight. We are going over there to give the FHE lesson about Christ. I hope it goes well. Pray that things can turn into something great. This week should be a great week. We have appointments almost everyday this week, and we have zone conference tomorrow in Heidelberg and then general conference on Saturday and Sunday. Gonna be sweet!
I hope you have a great week! Love you!
LG, Daniel