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Monday, July 30, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,
     I enjoyed this week. I feel like Elder Bangerter and I are figuring out how to work best with each other, which is making the work go really well here. One of the days that really stood out to me was Tuesday. While my companion did the District Leader training, I went on a quick split with a brand new Elder in Dresden, and we did some street contacting. It is my third time doing this in Dresden because I did it while I was a Golden twice, but it was my first time as the more experienced missionary. It was somewhat difficult to talk to people without any back-up from a more experienced Elder, but we had a few really good conversations, and I was able to personally see all of the growth that I have made in just 3 short months of being here.
    We also decided to go to Zittau on Thursday, a smaller city a good 40 minute train ride south. I have been there a few times since serving in Görlitz, and the city has a lot of potential to hear the gospel. We made out a few apps as well as plan on meeting with a referral there in 2 weeks when we come back. Also, one of the most exciting things that happened this week was what I would describe as the "wettest lesson I have ever given". We started teaching someone about happiness and why God loves us, and at the same time the Heavens opened and we were drenched by rain. I am just glad that I was wearing a tie that I didn't really care for.
     Our baptismal dates are not doing the best right now. We are really concerned for one investigator named Franziska, a lady that we have been meeting with for the past few weeks. When we finished giving our lesson in priesthood the first hour, we were informed that she had run out of the church thinking that we were Jehovah's Witnesses because she found the name "Jehovah" in our Hymnal! The other ladies in the Branch tried to explain to her what the name meant, but she took her son out of Primary and they both left. We were able to finally talk about it with her that night, in which she explained that she had talked to some people in her church that claimed that we are a cult. We cleared it up with her, but as we were leaving her apartment house we ran into her mother, who it seems is really the one that has been telling her all of the false information about us. The other baptismal date is Enrico, whom is on vacation right now, so we are frankly not quite sure how he is doing. But we are really excited to meet with him again in August, and hopefully he can go a bit smoother than the investigator is.
     I hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful week, and that you can make this one better than the last.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Word of the Week: Ferien (FAIR-een) Germany's summer break. We have been able to contact tons of people in their 20's due to this event going on right now.

     So my new companion's name is Elder Bangerter (yes, just like the road in Utah, he is descended from the governor it was named after), and he comes from American Fork, just like my last companion. He has been out for about a year, and he is a really hard worker. The first day he was here we started getting rid of all of the old and useless junk in the Wohnung, which if anyone knows me garnished no complaint. Now, we have a really nice and clean apartment that we can come back to at nights. I am not complaining about how it was before, but it was really nice to have it totally clean, which is something that I have been working on since I've moved in to Görlitz.
     As far as our week went. On Monday, Elder James and I had a great joint-teach with the brother of a member. He said he would show up to the activity on Saturday, so he is starting to make some progress. The next day was both "the best of times, and the worst of times (Charles Dickens)" because Elder James left to move on and become a zone leader in the West, and then my new companion came in. We were late picking him up because someone stopped us on the street and we were able to teach a lesson. Then, on Wednesday, we were able to be a Dritt (the Elder from Bautzin was still waiting to receive his new companion), so that was really fun, but not as efficacious as the usual two. The next few days, my new comp. and I worked out tails off trying to get our new goal of two baptismal commitments for this transfer. Then, on Saturday, we had the investigator show up plus a few more people that are not members, and it was a blast to play around with a lot of the members. Finally, today we were able to teach our first lesson to a guy in a city that is a good 30 minute train ride from Görlitz. We talked with him a bit about life after death, the spirit, and then were able to get him to commit to a baptismal date. It is good to see the miracles working here. Sorry that it is such a short e-mail, but we had a pretty busy day with the lesson forever away and all, so we are on a bit of a time crunch. I love everyone and best wishes!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eichhörnchen- [EYE-KCH-HURN-KCHEN] Make all of the underlined KCH's like you would begin saying couch. But it actually means squirrel, if anyone was trying to fill out a German word search and just couldn't figure out 17-across. Don't worry, it took me a while to get as well...

     So, we had transfer calls on Saturday, and my official new location is in.... Görlitz! Yep, I get to stay, and train my new comp, Elder Bangeter, in the town. We were actually not sure what was going to happen because of how hard the Branch President worked to keep Elder James here. The branch has been having a hard time, so he got the Stake President to call our new Mission President to try to get him to stay. It didn't work out that way of course, but the new missionary is going to be called as the 1st councilor in the Branch, so we are going to be more busy doing some extra work for the branch. We also might get an adult missionary couple next transfer. I have yet to meet my new companion, but he will be coming tomorrow, so I will let you guys know a little bit more about him. He was actually with Elder James (my companion until tomorrow) a few transfers ago. I will be sad to see my trainer move on to his new town all the way over in the west of the mission. He is going to be a Zone Leader in Oldenburg. When the mission president called he told him that it was going to be his last city. He has about 3 more transfers before he is going home to back to start his life up in American Fork.
     As far as Görlitz goes, not too much news. We had a good week with plenty of appointments, but the work is unfortunately very slow in the East. We have 2 progressing investigators and plenty of contacts that we can't seem to get into our teaching pool. We are working really hard and trying to do tons of Joint-teaches with the ward to help them get the social aspect of the conversion process better, so hopefully we can start to see some headway soon. The highlight of the week was definitely on Sunday. One of the old missionaries (R.M. would probably be the best term) came back with his family to show them his mission, and combined with one of the members having a birthday and lots of visiting family, we were able to double our usual numbers and get 68 people in the chapel at once! Usually we are anywhere from 30-40, so our Branch President was really happy to see it full. The members were really sad to see my companion give his good-bye testimony, but they have to do it for every set of Elders eventually, so it is a happy-sad occasion. Sometimes I wish that our wards at home were as close to the elders and each other as this Branch is all the way over in East Germany. It is amazing to see the love they have for each other.
     But it is pretty late here and my companion needs to finish up packing for his 12 or so hour long train ride. Warmest wishes to everyone and keep praying for the missionaries, we need all the miracles we can get in order to do the work the Lord wants us to do. Also, remember to write letters to Elder Jacob Gibson in the Iowa Des Moines Mission, it seems like he's been needing some =D

Monday, July 9, 2012

     So this week I had some of my biggest disappointments. The lady that finally decided to get baptized last week has pulled out of her decision and is another step or two back. She is holding really strongly to her Lutheran beliefs, and has a particular friend (mentioned a bit more later in my story) that  we think is influencing her to not go through with it. It is really sad for us because she seemed so excited about it just a week before and now she it totally against doing anything, including ever going to church again. We also had a hard week with our other investigators, including one deciding that he is going to leave town for vacation for 2-3 weeks, one that has a six-year-old that is at least as crazy as Jacob was when he was a kid.
     Also, we were able to meet the new mission president, Präsident Kosak. He is not even close to the same as Präsident Pimentel, but he is also really strong with the spirit, so I'm not worried about him being a great guy, but all he told me when he met me was that I need to talk louder and that my hair is too short "but looks good," whatever he means by that. I will admit that I cut it a bit shorter than I usually would, but it grew back pretty fast last time, so I wanted a bit of time between cuts. He can speak English really well, but you can also tell that he is a lot more comfortable in German.
     Fortunately, we also had some pretty cool miracles this week as well. As far as this "friend" of our baptismal date goes, here's the story:
     "Once upon a time there were two missionaries. One was super handsome, dashing, and experienced; the other came from the mountain-covered landscapes of Colorado (now burned to ashes from weeks of fires). They both had an appointment with an investigator that had been meeting with the missionaries for many-a-year, each set bringing her closer to her decision to change her life for the eternities. Unfortunately, the night before, these particular missionaries had received an inauspiciously distressing phone call from their beloved investigator- she was having second thoughts. They planned out their lesson of how to support her and keep her commitment, but then it all fell through when the more experienced missionary realized he had made a fatal error- the Sraßenbahn times. To their disappointment, they had forgotten that it came every 30, not 20, minutes, and that they were going to be late to this very important date. They ran down the steep hill, past all of the old people that look like zombies, through the woods and prairies, and managed to get to her house on-time-if-5-minutes-late-is-okay. Covered in sweat, they ringed the door-bell, and in response came the very unsure but familiar voice of their beloved investigator, 'bitte?' They quickly said their names, said the routine excuse for if being on-time-if-5-minutes-late-is-okay, and made sure that she was available for the appointment. She was not only forgiving, but was very distressed because she had forgotten to write down the fact that her two missionaries were coming. She invited them in, and they went through the door and up the steps to her very well kept home. Inside, they found her and her friend were playing a card game. Then, the truth of everything was discovered... They taught a seemingly awkward, but very testimony-building lesson with her friend, in which the missionaries asked point-blank if their request to have her baptized was too much in regards to their personal religious beliefs. She responded that it was not, but that it was her friend's decision. Immediately afterwards, although, the two women turned to anger as the elders once again brought up the topic of priesthood authority. They haughtily refused the claim that the authority of the priesthood could be restored, and that their leaders did not have this authority. And thus the two elders were finally able to discover the true reason for their inversitgator's turn from her commitment, and her hesitancy in answering all of the Elder's questions." (Excerpted from History of the Elders of Görlitz Pg. 219-220)

     That may sound kind of disappointing to some, but it was a small miracle because we really needed to allow her friend to see exactly who we are and what we believe. In the end of the lesson, they had no reason to say that the church was not true, save that they were too old and that they had already chosen their own church (just lame excuses from my viewpoint). We will meet with our investigator again Friday, so hopefully we can help her overcome her concerns. But as for another miracle, it occurred yesterday. The spouse of a fairly recently converted member showed up to church, and she was asked to give her testimony. She did it mostly about him and how much she loved him, which was really awesome to see.
     But that is pretty much all the crazy stuff that is going on here in Görlitz. We are going to go to the temple on Saturday, so that is going to be a lot of fun, and then we have transfer calls this week. Most likely I will be staying here because my companion has already been here for 4 transfers, but we will see with the new mission president and depending on what Heavenly Father needs for the town right now. Thank you everyone for supporting me and know that you are all in my prayers. Aufwiedersehen!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I have a new mailing address:

Carl-von-Ossietzky Strasse 26
02826 Gorlitz

Monday, July 2, 2012

German Word of the Week: praktisch (PRACK-tish) It is very similar to English, and you can probably figure out what it means on your own. For those of you not so gifted, it means ''practical''.

     It is crazy to think that we are already into July now. This week we finally accomplished the work that missionaries have been doing for over 4 years now, and committed Frau Däunert to be baptized on the 21st of July. It is still a ways away, so are going to go through the lessons with her again to keep her excited. She also attended church with us on Sunday for the entire 3-hour block, but she was not too fond of Frauenhilfsvereinigung (Relief Society) because she did not feel like she fit in. She called herself a Black Sheep, and said that she still feels like a guest. What she doesn't understand yet is that we are all black sheep, and that we are all guest in the Lord's house. In other words, she is converted spiritually, but not quite yet socially. She is the sweetest old lady and will do amazingly once she becomes a member. 
     Wednesday was also a hard day, especially the first half of the day. I was not able to sleep very well Tuesday night, and it has been crazy hot this week (I am experiencing the blazing sun during the day and monsoons during the night just like my brother in Iowa), so I was dying while in one of our lessons, and then I almost got hit by a car on my bike, and then later I almost got hit by a bike when we were walking to an appointment. During lunch, I just prayed for some strength to make it through the day, and I was somehow able to make it. After that, the week went great. On Thursday, we had a joint-teach with a family that we are hoping will choose to get baptized. It is a single mom and her 6-year-old son, and we have had about three lessons with them so far. 
     Other than that, we are continuing doing our Straßeausstelungs (street displays) about once a week in one of the cities of our district, working with tons of less active- and part-member- families, and moving the work along here on the border of Poland. Also, we got our new mission president on Saturday. I will meet him on Friday at zone conference, so I will let you guys know how awesome he is.
     I hope you guys have an awesome rest of the week and that you can know that God is always there to lift you up.