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!