Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Effective District Meeting

Hey Mom!

Well, we had a pretty good week here in Hagen. It started off with P-day, after which we had a Family Home Evening with a family in the ward, the Clemens. We watched a Mormon Message with them, and it was really good.

On Tuesday, we headed out to a smaller city to drop off some birthday candy to some members in the ward. Later on, after also planning what we wanted to discuss in Ward Council Meeting the next day, we had our English class at the church. I wasn't a part of it though; Elder Norman and I did a split with Priesthood holders, and I went with a member of the bishopric to help him with his home teaching. It was a good appointment. When he drove me back to the church, we had a lesson there with our investigator, Bernd. That also went well. We talked with him about the necessity of the Atonement. We compared it to a Father asking all of his kids to make a perfect table, patterned after the table of a master table maker. We talked about how some would do better than others, but without the help of the master table maker, nobody would be able to make a table as good as him. It really helped him understand that concept, so hopefully we answered all of Bernd's questions there. We also talked about the role of the Holy Ghost and how you can recognize the Spirit.

We had district meeting on Wednesday, which went really well. We planned a game together as a district, based on something a different district in our zone did. We call it the "Hagen Games." It is basically a way to help us get out of our comfort zones and do the things that a lot of missionaries know they should do but sometimes don't because it is uncomfortable or foreign to them. For example, some of the things for Elder Norman and I include talking with people in buses and trains, calling at least one member everyday to build trust, updating our records daily, doing at least one role play a day during companion study, etc. There is a points system associated with all of these things, and each area in the district has different things they are doing as part of the games. The winner at the end of the transfer gets a free tie from Primark (which only costs a couple bucks) from both of the other companionships. We were careful not to do things that directly effect the key indicators of the mission, like lessons with a member present, new investigators, and so forth because doing so would probably take away the spirit of missionary work and cause us to do things to get points instead of to help people. So the things we do are all things that only effect our own agency and help us grow. The Paderborn Elders have already seen a lot of progress in their area and in themselves because of the things they have undertaken to do, which is awesome. Anyway, after that district meeting, I went on a split in Paderborn with Elder Richards. We talked a lot about the area and what things could be done to improve the situation there, and we also tried to contact a couple of less-active members/former investigators at the university there. It was a good split.

On Thursday, I went back to Hagen, and Elder Norman and I visited some more members who had birthdays in a little town called Werdohl. It took most of the day since Werdohl is quite a ways out there, but missionaries hadn't made it out there in a while, so we thought it was a good use of time.
After weekly planning on Friday, we had a lunch appointment with a member family. The husband is not a member and also didn't want to be a part of the visit, so he wasn't there. The rest of the family is girls (the mom and three daughters), so we had to have somebody else there. The oldest daughter, Anne, brought her boyfriend there who is 18. We had lunch and then watched a Mormon Message about the Book of Mormon and finding out that it is true. At the end of the appointment, we were able to give the boyfriend a Book of Mormon, and it was awesome. We didn't want to be too pushy, but we hope that he reads in it and asks us or Anne some questions about it. Later in the evening, we had a dinner appointment with a different member family. It also went well, and we invited them to watch a video from "Hastening the Work of Salvation" since they were running low on time and we didn't get a chance to watch it with them.

Saturday was a good, busy day. We had first a fallen-out appointment at the church, which was unfortunate. A former investigator had randomly sent us a text, asking us how we were doing, and through that we set up an appointment. Like I said, he didn't show up, and he later said he couldn't make it but wanted to come to church the next day. After that, we took a train out to Werdohl again, and got picked up there by a YSA in the ward to help him go home teaching in Lüdenscheid. That appointment was followed by a lesson with Manuella, one of our investigators, and that same YSA was our joint teach. We talked about prayer and how it is a commandment that we pray, and we hope she can eventually gain the courage to pray with us. She gets nervous and scared doing new things in front of people, and I guess she still needs a little bit of time. We ended the night by going to Bru. Kramer's, and we ate with him and watched a super old church film as well as a short Mormon Message. It was a good day.

Sunday was also nice. We had a good church service, and Bernd and Manuella both were at church. After church ended, we gathered up all of the YSAs in the ward and planned out a YSA council between just them and us every second Sunday in the month after Sacrament Meeting. We feel strongly that the growth in Hagen will come through the YSAs, and they have a lot of good ideas and tools to do missionary work that other members don't always have. We are excited to work more closely with them, and it seems like they are pumped as well. After that, we went to the Janßens, another member family in the ward, for lunch. We watched a video from "Hastening the Work" with them, and they really liked it. We finished the day with our studies and call-ins with the members of my district.

Well, we should have another good and busy week this week. We are heading to Dortmund for P-day today. We are going to hit up Primark and see what is up there. It is a sweet store where everything is super, super cheap but still good quality. We later on have a FHE appointment with our ward mission leader.
I hope you have a great week! Love you!

LG, Daniel

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Busy Week in Hagen

Hey Mom!

This week in Hagen was probably one of the busiest weeks of my mission, if not the busiest. There are so many things to do here. It is interesting how my whole mission I was in areas where there was not much going on, and now that I am at the end, I am just constantly super busy, and I know this time is going to fly by.

We had a pretty sweet week here. On Monday, we did a lot of shopping for Pday. I got myself some BVB fan stuff as well as some new clothes that I have been needing. After we were done with our Pday activities, we went to our ward mission leader (Bruder Kleinert)'s house for FHE. There was a former investigator that came, and we all read and talked about 3 Nephi together. It went well, but the woman who was there doesn't really seem like the committal type. Bruder Kleinert said she has been the same way for years, so we probably won't get her as a progressing investigator any time soon.

Tuesday was really full of small miracles. We went first by a member whose birthday was that day, and it took a while to get out there. We weren't exactly sure where they lived, and we saw them on the street as we were going toward where we thought their house was. We had baked brownies for them, and they invited us in for a short time. They said it was the first time missionaries had ever dropped by on their birthday, so I think they enjoyed that. Later on, we wanted to have a lesson with an investigator, Abraham, but we didn't have enough time to reach him. We just ended up running into him on the street as we were trying to get a hold of him, and were able to make out a new appointment. When we were all finished there, we went to the church to talk with the bishop about missionary work and the ward. When we were done discussing those things, we had our English class with a member and a nonmember that another member had invited. We were going to then have a lesson with another investigator, Bernd, but he didn't show up. We gave him a call, and we were able to schedule a new appointment.

On Wednesday, we went by on an older couple who is semi-active right now. They were happy to let us in. They told us about their experiences living in the DDR and then we shared a message with them about holding to the Iron Rod. When we returned to the main city, we went to have our lesson with Abraham. He wants to stop drinking and change his life, but he doesn't have a lot of willpower and gives in easily to temptation. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom and also offered him a Priesthood blessing, which he accepted. We ended the evening by planning out how we were going to work more effectively with the members and who we wanted to meet with in the coming week.

Thursday was also a busy day. The members of my district came to Hagen and we had a district planning session. There are various goals and initiatives for our mission from now until June when President Schwartz gets released, and we were asked to plan out some area goals in relation to them. After doing that, we all got some lunch together. There was another member with a birthday, so Elder Norman and I visited her briefly and gave her some birthday treats. We topped off the night with institute in Dortmund, which was good. I got to meet a couple more YSAs from our ward, and also our investigator, Frau Carvahlo was there.
On Friday, we went to Dortmund again for zone training meeting. It went really well and I learned a lot of things that I want to apply in my district meetings. When we got back to Hagen, we had that lesson with Bernd. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation. We may have taken it a little too fast, so we will probably go over some of the points again when we meet with him tomorrow. We ended the night by helping a less-active member move some cabinets in his apartment.

We headed to Dortmund for the third day in a row on Saturday. We had a district leader council where we discussed things that need to be applied in our districts as well as some good ideas to boost effectiveness in missionary work. Upon returning and after eating lunch, we had a lesson in Iserlohn with Frau Carvahlo about putting our trust in God like the stripling warriors, and it went relatively well. There was a member that helped us teach who is from Mexico, and he has been in Germany for about a year studying. He goes back to Mexico this week, so we all drove over to a member's work place after the lesson and had a surprise party for him. It was fun, and there were some nonmembers there we got to talk to as well as strengthen the relationship with other members.

Sunday was another busy day. We had church, and Elder Norman gave a great talk about the new ward mission plan in Hagen and how we can work together to reach our goals. Right after church, we went to an older couples' apartment for lunch, the Langners (related to the Langners in Langen). When that was all said and done, we met with a family, the Gens family, who is returning to activity right now. It was an awesome appointment. They have a 9-year-old daughter who suddenly said she would like to be baptized that day at church, so we are going to work on getting her taught and ready for that as well as helping the family return to activity. It is difficult for them; the wife is from Brazil and apparently the church is much more relaxed and fun over there, and here in Germany it is still good, but it is a lot more strict and down to business, but they still have testimonies which is awesome. It is a large family as well, so it will be really good for the ward here. We had a short lesson about the Restoration, and afterwards, they talked about wanting us over there every 2 weeks, which is a lot of progress. We are really excited to work with this family more closely.

As you can see, there is a lot to do in Hagen. I am super glad to be in this area. It is just awesome. We are going to have an even more busy week this week, so next week's email might be even longer than this one if everything works out okay.

Anyway, I hope you have a great week! Love you!

LG, Daniel

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Good Start in Hagen

Hey Mom!

Well, things are going well here in Hagen. The city itself is really awesome, and I like the ward. I would say there are about 60-70 active members. We have a large concentration of YSAs here, and they are all really cool. We have a good apartment, a large church building, and lots and lots of people. It is definitely the busiest city that I have ever served in. I also like serving with Elder Norman. He is a really good missionary, a hard worker, and he is really charitable. By the way, did you know that Tyler Jaramillo served in Hagen? It used to be a part of the Hamburg Mission.

Elder Overall and I had a good few last days together. We went to the Wagners after P-day for family home evening, which is always awesome. After we ate and had a little lesson, we went upstairs and played Foosball on their new table they got for Christmas. I was a little rusty, but I did pretty well for myself. It was a really fun night.

On Tuesday, we got to do service at the Tafel again, and I got to say goodbye to all the people who work there. In the evening, we had one last short appointment with the Grassmans, who are a really great family. I spent most of the rest of the night packing my things.

Wednesday was our last district meeting in Darmstadt. We did a joint meeting with the Elders and Sisters in Darmstadt, and it was probably one of the best district meetings we have ever had. We talked a lot about having a Christlike relationship with our new companions in the new transfer, and it was great. When we returned, and after we finished our studies, we visited Bruder Jungheim, one of my homies in the ward, and then had a dinner appointment with the Mühlmanns. It was a really fun night, and a good last night in Langen.
Thursday was the big transfer. I finished my packing and then we headed off to Frankfurt around 11 a.m. We were there for quite a while, seeing as our train didn't leave until around 2 p.m. The train ride was about three-and-a-half hours to Dortmund, where I paired up with Elder Norman. We took a train to Hagen, and when we got there, it was already dark outside, so I didn't really get to see much of the city. We spent most of the night talking about the members and investigators there, as well as unpacking.

On Friday, we almost didn't leave the apartment before it got dark outside again in the evening. We spent a huge chunk of time talking about all of the members and the people we are working with, as well as making our plan for the next week. We did luckily get out while there was still a little light outside, and I really enjoyed seeing the city for the first time. It is big and has a ton of shops and people all over the place. As we were walking around contacting, we stopped a guy who was smoking and asked him if he would like to stop. He said yes, and we traded phone numbers. Hopefully we will be able to get in touch with him soon. We also had a sort of lesson with an investigator from Cuba, Abraham. I actually talked more to his friend who was there, teaching him about what the Book of Mormon is for. He was interested and said he wanted to read the book, but didn't want to meet right now. Oh well, maybe later then.

Saturday was an eventful day. We met with this guy Steffan after lunch for a little while. He had an accident in the past and now is a little handicapped, and he kind of just talked a lot. We didn't get to share much with him. He turned on this German gospel singer woman's music super loud and we could barely talk with him. It was a sort of strange appointment, and I don't know what the future holds for our appointments with him. After that, we headed off to Iserlohn, a city in our area, and had a lesson with one of the investigators here, Manuella. She is from Portugal, and she is really cool. She doesn't like meeting new people, so at first she was a little apprehensive towards me, but she started to warm up to me by the end. We talked to her about receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon, and she told us some of her concerns about being baptized. Hopefully in the next appointment we can help her resolve those concerns more. To end the night, we went to the Kramers. Bruder Kramer is a member that absolutely loves the missionaries. Apparently we have a weekly appointment with him every Saturday evening, and it was a lot of fun going over there. We ate dinner, talked a lot just about random stuff, and watched a Mormon Message with him. It was a lot of fun.

We went to church on Sunday, beginning with a quick correlation with our ward mission leader, Bru. Kleinert. He is an older man and seems pretty passionate about the gospel. Hopefully we can work with him to bring the work up to a quicker speed. After talking with him and meeting the bishop as well as a few other members, we went to Elder's Quorum. When that was over, we had the YSA Sunday school in the same room. The last hour was sacrament meeting, and it went well. Manuella was at church, and she seemed to enjoy it. I got to give my testimony at the end of the meeting, and it was good. After church, we had more time to just talk with the members and get to know them a little better. I talked a lot with some of the YSAs, and they are all really fun to be around. Elder Norman and I want to start working closely with them so we can help them get pumped for missionary work and going on missions. It should be awesome.

Well, that is about all for the week. There are a lot of differences I have to get used to being in Hagen (like the fact that there are people on the streets and that we have investigators), and I still need some time to learn my way around and also to learn the needs and concerns of my district. The district seems pretty cool so far, and there is some good work going on. Anyway, Elder Norman and I are going to hit up some shops for P-day, and I am planning on getting a BVB jersey if I can find one. It should be a good P-day. We have zone training this coming week as well as some more appointments with investigators, appointments with members, and institute on Thursday in Dortmund. It should be a sweet week!

I hope you have a good week as well! Love you!

LG, Daniel

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Area Transfer

Hey Mom!

I was really excited to hear that Dad got a hole in one! It´s about time someone in our family made one. I think we have all gotten really, really close from time to time, but until now, we have never seemed to be able to make it happen. It sounds like all in all it was a good New Year´s celebration. 

Well, I will cut straight to the chase considering I know you are anxiously awaiting the news about transfers. I am getting transferred to Hagen (pronounced "Haw-gin" kind of), a city just south of Dortmund! I am excited because it is not a huge city, but I think it is still relatively big and will likely be the biggest city I will have served in on the mission. Hagen is kind of close to Solingen, so I guess at the end of my mission we could see both cities in one day if necessary. So far as I have heard, the ward is around 100 active members, which some people would consider small, but for my mission so far, that is really big. My new companion will be Elder Norman. I already know him; he was trained by Elder Hunter in Gera at the same time that I was there with Elder Watts. He is a cool guy and a hard worker. He will be going into his 6th transfer. I am excited to head up north for what will probably be my last area. I can finally choose a side between BVB Dortmund and Bayern-München, which are the two biggest soccer teams in Germany as far as I know. Until now I hadn´t served too close to either one of them, but now it looks like I am going to have to root for BVB. I will remain a district leader there, and the other Elders in the district will be Elder Monson and Elder Haskell in Unna, as well as Elder Waterböhr (another missionary from Gera I knew) and Elder Richards in Paderborn. It should be a lot of fun, and I have heard that the work in Hagen is going quite well right now. I hope I can keep it up. Elder Overall will still be here in Langen and will be working with another one of the Elder Browns in our mission.

We had a really good week packed with member lessons. Monday started off with a pause in our Pday to have a lesson with Carlos. We basically just went over everything once again that we had talked about when we had the nonmember guy translating for us, just to make sure he understood everything and that he didn´t have any false ideas taught to him. It went well, and we think he will keep moving forward in his learning the gospel. After that, we finished up our Pday, and then went to the Dietsches for dinner, which is always great. We talked about the year 2013 and what we could do to make 2014 better and to make progress in the gospel and in missionary work.

On Tuesday, we had a lunch appointment with our Elder´s Quorum Pres. and his wife. We talked with them about new goals and things for 2014 as well. We had to be in that night at 6 p.m. since it was Silvester (New Year´s Eve). We live on one of the two busy roads in Langen, so there were a lot of fireworks that went off like gunshots all night. We fell asleep eventually, but were reawakened at midnight when the real fireworks began. We opened the shutters to watch them for a few seconds and then went back to bed. 

We had district meeting in Darmstadt with the zone leaders (Elder Stimpson and Elder Wardrop) in Darmstadt, and that was followed by a split with them. I went to Heidelberg with Elder Stimpson. Last transfer I went on a split to Heidelberg, but we didn´t get to see much of the city, so I didn´t think it was all that great. But this time we went down more into the heart of the city, and it was amazing. After the mission when you pick me up, that definitely is a place we need to go. On the split, we tried to contact a referral, but he wasn´t home. After that, we went to the home of some Hispanic people whose 9-year-old son just was baptized. We watched the Restoration with them in Spanish, and then promptly had to leave seeing as it was going to be tough to get home if we missed our train. 

We split back the next morning on Thursday. After eating lunch and doing some study, we had a great lunch appointment with the Voglers. We talked with them about the new year and about how faith is pointed toward the future. They have a potential referral family they have been trying to invite for over a year, so we decided to fast with them that 2014 would be the year when something positive with them finally happens. Later on, we went to the church to have our first English class again, this time with Steven Langner (one of the YSAs) and his girlfriend. It went well, and hopefully Elder Overall and Elder Brown can keep that going. We ended the night by visiting a referral from a member. The man was very nice and was pleasant to speak with, but he was not interested in our message. We gave him the opportunity though, and that is all we are asked to do. 

Friday morning was when I found out I was going to Hagen. Präs. Schwartz calls missionaries with new leadership positions/who are getting released on Fridays. He called during personal study, which is a little earlier than normal. Needless to say it was really hard to concentrate on studies after that happened. After all of that was said and done, we made our weekly plan. When we finished that, we headed to Neu-Isenburg to try and find some people at home there, but they were all gone unfortunately. We got back in the evening to what we thought was going to be our Bibelkreis, but we had forgotten to get the lesson to the sister who was teaching, and then she forgot to come anyway, so we just ended up watching a Mormon Message with everyone who came. 

Saturday was the official transfer call throughout the mission. There were a lot of weird things that happened this transfer, like Elder Bruneel is training in Darmstadt and Elder Bonzo is also coming down to be in a companionship with them. Elder Hutchings is getting a new comp in Idar-Oberstein, Elder Smith from England. They both were trained by Elder Hathaway, so that means they are brothers (according to missionary family trees). Elder Smith is really cool, and I know they will enjoy serving together. After the call, we went to the Noacks for lunch and talked about the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Later, we walked to Schwester Sonn´s and talked with her about receiving the blessings of the temple. We couldn´t get a priesthood holder to come with on such short notice, so we just talked for ten or fifteen minutes at her apartment door. To end the night, we went to Peter Rojas´ for dinner. It is always fun going over there and hearing about experiences from his mission in Spain. 

On Sunday, we had church and I had to give my last testimony and say my goodbyes. It was kind of sad. I really liked this ward. After church and a lot of pictures, we went to Gary and Yvonne Hess for lunch. They made us steaks, beans, and potatoes (Gary is an American). Sister Hess asked us if we were still hungry, and I said no but Elder Overall said yes. He just wanted a little bit more steak but wasn´t sure how to say it and so Sister Hess ended up giving him all of the remaining steak, an entire tomato, and several toasted pieces of bread, some with cheese on them. After that we had a pumpkin pie, so needless to say, Elder Overall was super full. We then headed to the Kempeners for a light dinner, and we just had a really good time with each other. 

Today has been a good day. We did our shopping and then headed off to Darmstadt to check out an old hunting castle, which actually turned out to be kind of lame, but there was a pond and some forest next to it so we just chilled there for a little while. We have an appointment with the Wagners right after we finish emails, and I am sure it will be great. I can´t wait for you to meet the Wagners and the Kempeners and Mühlmanns and everyone else in the ward when you come and pick me up. It is going to be great.

Well, I hope that you have a really good week, and I will update you with how things are in Hagen with Elder Norman next week! Bis dann! Love you!

LG, Daniel