It sounds and looks like you and Valerie had an awesome time in New York. I would love to go back or even live there one day. I like that big city feel, which is funny since all of the cities I have served in on the missions are some of the smallest. Kind of ironic in a way.
Well, this week was really great. On Monday, we went to the Christmas market in Darmstadt to do some Christmas shopping. I was the only one who bought anything really big (out of all 9 missionaries that were there, I was the only one who was celebrating his second Christmas on the mission. I am old!). It was really fun and I hope things get to America safely. After P-day was over, we went back to Langen for a YSA family home evening. It was all the YSAs from Langen and Darmstadt, and two of the Darmstadt Elders were there as well. It was pretty fun.
On Tuesday, we did our service at the Tafel again. Some of the ladies who serve there started asking us about the church and we responded to their questions, but they did not agree with what we had to say. One lady talked about how there are so many different religions and they all have parts of the truth and in their own way lead you to God, so we explained that thanks to Joseph Smith, all truth is to be found in one church, but they couldn´t comprehend that there could only be one way to return to God. It was kind of one of those situations where people just want to state their opinion without trying to understand why we believe the things we do. I was kind of frustrated. Even one of the women supported the other one and said that the truth radiates from her while what we say is not true, but they are just confused and didn´t really open their ears or hearts to what we had to say. We did end up giving one of them a Book of Mormon though, so hopefully she reads in there and sees what we were talking about. Anyway, after coming home, showering, and studying, we had a lesson with Schwester Sonn for the first time in about two months. It went well; we talked about 2 Nephi 31:20-21, and it seems to have helped her. She still says she is not ready to come to church, and she has said that for years now, so hopefully one day things will change. To end the night, we went to an appointment with our older, German investigator, Michael. Bruder Jungheim came and helped us teach. Michael is still trying to find out if he even wants to start finding out if there is a God. He is kind of comfortable where he is at and doesn´t fully comprehend the importance of our message yet, so we will see if he comes around some time. He had trouble reading the Book of Mormon because his eyes aren´t that good anymore, so we said that we would stop by on Saturday to drop off an audio version of the Book of Mormon in German.
On Wednesday, I went to Michelstadt for a split with Elder Phelps. It went okay. We were going to have a lesson with an older, active member, but we got to his house and he wasn´t there. We got back in the car to map out a path to get to some potential investigators, and the man we were supposed to have the appointment with walked up to the car and said we would have to repark somewhere where it was legal. We thought he understood we were going to have an appointment still after we moved the car, but when we closed the door, he just walked down the road and disappeared. It was kind of strange. So after that, we hit up some potential investigators, but no one was home/no one had interest. The last appointment for the evening was with a member and her nonmember husband. We talked about family history and how it helps us do work for our dead ancestors, and it seemed to go well.
I drove up with Elder Phelps to Offenbach on Thursday for zone conference, where we split back to our normal comps. We had a really good meeting, talking about asking inspired questions and listening with empathy, as well as extending and following up on meaningful commitments. Afterwards, we took the subway to Frankfurt and sang Christmas songs on the Zeil while giving out a ton of "Joy to the World" DVDs. It was a lot of fun.
The next day, we went and helped at the Tafel again. We didn´t have as many conversations about the church this time, but that was okay. One of the things we do at the Tafel is sort out old fruits and vegetables and throw away the rotten stuff (which there is a lot of, it smells awful). For some reason, on this day there seemed to be an endless supply of bananas, and they had Elder Overall and I sort them. I didn´t like bananas in the first place, but now I really don´t like them. Rotten bananas stink. When the Tafel was over and we showered and studied, we had our Bibelkreis. We talked about Exodus 1-2 and how Moses´ early life played out. It went okay, but once again, not many people were there. We talked with our ward mission leader and the other members about how we can get more people to come because the branch presidency will not let the Bibelkreis die out (they said very specifically it was going to be a long-term activity). Hopefully we start having better attendance there.
Saturday was a really cool day. The beginning of the day was really boring and slow. After our studies, we went and got some blank CDs so we could download the audio to the Book of Mormon onto one and give it to Michael. It took a little while, and just sitting down all morning and early afternoon made my tiredness catch up to me. We eventually got onto the train to head out to a town called Rödermark. There is an old media referral out there from 2011 we wanted to get in touch with. Our plan was to go first to Rödermark, contact the guy, and then on the way back, get off the train in Dreieichenhain where Michael lives to drop off the CD and a Restoration pamphlet. Michael had told us beforehand the he would most likely not be home, so we could just leave the stuff in the mailbox. We wanted to see him another time within the week, so we hoped we could, through a miracle, find him at home. As we were on the train to Rödermark, we started pulling into the Dreieichenhain train station. As the train was stopping, I had a thought come into my head that we should get off. I shrugged it off a little at first since I was tired and not too l pleased with how the day was going so far, but then it came more urgently: "get off the train now." I told Elder Overall and we got off the train before it started moving. We walked in the direction of Michael´s apartment, and I prayed in my heart that we would find out why we needed to get off and do this plan first. We didn´t have many good opportunities to talk to people on the way there, but between Michael´s apartment and the train station is the Fußgängerzone, which is decked out as a Christmas market right now in Dreieichenhain. Right when we set foot on the market, Elder Overall said, "Hey, isn´t that Michael?" Sure enough, Michael was standing at the first booth on the Christmas market. We approached him and spoke with him for probably half an hour. He told us how he still struggles to know if he wants to learn about the message but he enjoys our company. He said he had trouble reading in the Book of Mormon because of his eyes, and he also didn´t understand some of what he read, so we were able to give him the CD and comfirm our appointment for the coming week. Right after we parted ways, we saw some members at the market and told them what had just happened, and they thought it was great. They bought us some crepes after that. It was an awesome day, and Elder Overall and I were both really thankful for that prompting we received and that we followed it.
Sunday was just as good if not better than Saturday. Actually, it started off really stressful though. We got a call from a YSA who had forgotten to tell us we were supposed to give the lesson in Priesthood, so we had maybe 30 minutes to prepare a lesson out of the "Teachings of Lorenzo Snow" in German and then give it to the collective Priesthood in the ward. It turned out alright, though. Our other investigator, Carlos, showed up near the end of the class. For the second hour of church, we had a sort of investigator class where we watched the Restoration in Spanish. At the end, we talked about it and talked about how he felt. He said he felt good about it. We invited him right there to be baptized on Jan. 4, 2014, and he said yes! It is going to be a struggle getting everything in place for that and teaching him all of the lesson because our translator is going to be gone until the 27th, so we are searching out other opportunities to make up the difference (members who speak Spanish in other wards, Spanish friends of Carlos´ aunt, who is a member, etc.). We are praying that God will help us find a way to accomplish this great feat if the time is right. After church, in the evening, we went to the Kempeners and had dinner with them, as well as watching the new Mormon Message about Christmas. They also had us watch Mr. Krueger´s Christmas with them. It was an awesome day.
Well, we are about to head to Darmstadt for a board game P-day as well as to hit up the Christmas market for one last time, and we have to leave now to catch the train. I hope you have a great week!