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Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, what a week! Let's start with the good news first I guess. I am staying in Görlitz for another transfer! I am pretty excited about that because it means I can still tell the ward members that this has been the best city that I've worked in my entire mission. Elder Bangerter is also staying, so we get another six weeks together. I feel so lucky that I have had the blessing of having awesome companions so far. But I have no address changes for another month and a half. This week was full of service and finding. Last P-day, we went all the way up to the top of the highest "mountain" (term used very loosely because I come from the Rocky Mountains) in Görlitz. I got some really good pictures of the city, and we were able to see a really cool mansion/hotel at the top. On the way down, we broke one of the bikes again, but that how life goes I guess. We have been trying to get more people in our teaching pool, and so that usually entails us being on the street doing some contacting. The most exciting day was Friday, in which I was on Splits with a missionary from Forst. We ended up talking to a lady about God, and she said that she had left the Lutheran church because they wanted her money, which means that God doesn't exist; but that she believes in guardian angels because she has one that has protected her in multiple situations. We tried to understand where she thought the angels came from, but she said it was impossible to know. It was a very unique conversation. Later that day, and unfortunately for the companion I was with, one of the less active members in the ward answered her door with only pants and a hand towel on- no shirt, no bra, just a hand towel that did not cover anything close to what it should have. Suddenly, the wall of the entrance became very interesting to me, we decided to come back in a few hours. That was definitely something I won't forget. Then, on the same Split, we had about a 10 Kilometer walk all the way to the other end of town for an appointment with some Jahovah's Witnesses that fell through. We got plenty of time to talk about the very, very interesting day that we had experienced. So that was the crazy part of the week, but the real highlight was yesterday. We printed out over 4000 English lesson advertisements last week, and so we decided to take advantage of the Altstadtfest (like a Renascence Fair) here in Görlitz and just start handing out the cards. We handed out over 200 cards, got over ten people that said that they might come to English class on Saturday, and had a few really good lessons on the street. There are miracles going on around us here in Germany. I love the quote from D&C 4, in which it explains that the field is white and all ready to harvest. The part that really matters is that we thrust in our sickle with all of our might, and with our focus only on the glory of God, and we are promised blessings more than we can bear. I love you all and hope that you have a great week.

Monday, August 20, 2012

 This transfer went by so quickly. It feels like the last 5 weeks just flew by in a blur. We have transfer calls this Saturday, so we will see if I have the opportunity to stay in Goerlitz or if I will be moved to another part of the mission, which I guess would also be an opportunity, but not what I'm really hopping for since I love this city so much. So if anyone has been wanting to send me a letter, they might want to hold off another week or try to get it in the mail soon to make sure that I get it before monday. But I also do not assume that I will be leaving either- the new mission president has been keeping us on our toes about pretty much everything, especially transfer calls.
     But as far as our week goes, here's the report. We had a great family home evening with the Lehmann and Mai families last Monday on the shore of a huge lake that is fairly close to Goerlitz. After the lesson we made some sandcastles and then played a game of Botchiball. The next few days consisted of lessons and plenty of hours of tracting  in the richer part of town where people actually have their own personal homes, which is really weird to me now that I have gotten used to Mittel- and Alt- stadt, where  everyone lives in rented apartments. We haven't seen any success there yet, but we are going faithfully every week until we do. I think that we can be the new definition of "obstinate," but we will see what Webster says about it. We are also getting into our new English course that we are doing at the church on Saturdays. We went to an advertisement shop printed off over 4500 cards for us to give to people and drop in mailboxes. Even if just 3 people decide to come it will be worth it; if not, we just supported the death of a few trees. It was kind of interesting how cheap we were able to do it for though. If we had chosen to go and buy just blank paper, it would have costed more than what we did at the store. At least we got to save one kind of green! (Yes, that was very cheesy, I know.)
     We had Zone Conference on Friday, and both the mission president and his wife gave really great talks. The main theme was "living our lives in crescendo," and we talked about how to make sure that we are constantly improving ourselves in every aspect of our lives. He then told us the story of a pioneer family that had just lost a daughter, and in response to their tragedy, one of the nearby members of the family started singing a hymn that ended up being joined by the entire Martin- Willie Handcart Company. We did the same thing in the little chapel in Leipzing: one missionary started singing the beginning to a hymn and then we slowly joined him until the entire building was filled with our voices and the spirit. My companion and I also did a duet, which also turned out really well. In the American hymnbook the song we did is called "brightly beams our father's mercy." Sister Kosak gave her talk on Psalms 23 (which is a literary masterpiece of itself and I would recommend looking it up) and talked about how it relates to missionary work.
     We also had an efficacious use-of-time-miracle combo whenever my companion was able to talk with someone on the train on the way back, and gave the first lesson, the Restoration. I came up to eve's drop and was surprised that they were speaking in English. I was quickly reminded of just how hard it is to teach in English, especially once you get a hold on how to question and answer in another language, and so I had to do a double-translation type of thing where I wanted to say something in German and had to make sure to translate it back into English before I actually said it. The guy was actually on a type of Christian mission trip himself, and so he was really open and respected what we are doing.
     I am super excited for all of the people that are going to be headed out on their missions pretty soon; namely my Aunt Sheron and Uncle Rick, Jordan T. Boyd in September, and now I just found out that my cousin Alyssa is also going to be heading out into the field! I am so proud of all of you and am excited to know that you will be working along-side me.

I love you all and wish you another wonderful week!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hello Friends and Family,
     The work is moving forward here in Deutschland. We were able to have some really good days (you know the kind that you get home and your feet hurt from so much walking? Those are the kind of days that you like because it means you were busy doing work or that you and your companion got lost somewhere.) Our main success this week is from a man named Herr Höbler. I had met him a few times before, and he was always very drunk- both wanting and not wanting to try to give alcohol and his smoking habit up. But this week, we were able to finally get a hold of him. He told us that he wanted to kill himself (I found out he has had these thoughts multiple times before), and that his life was too hard and to destroyed for him to continue. We told him that we would like to come talk with him and get some ice cream, and when we got there we started talking about what he really wanted out of life. He said that he wanted to change, and so we decided to go ahead and start him on his path. First off, we decided to get him a haircut, then we made him take a bath, change into church clothes, and took him down to the ward building. He really enjoyed playing on the organ in the building, and by the end of our talk he had decided that he was going to give up smoking and drinking. As of today, 5 days later, he has not had a lick of either. He is an amazing guy and we are looking forward to helping him. He seems pretty auspicious, but my only fear is that when he was first found by the missionaries earlier this year, he had been dry for 2 months; so we need to secure a way to make sure that he will not slip into his old habits like he did last time. But I also know that if he really wants to change, that the gospel is one of the best ways to help him do it.
     We also had a really amazing miracle on Sunday, in which one of the members brought with her a nephew. He is not a member, but had a lot of really good questions about the church and what we believe. We gave him the first lesson and told him about the restoration, and he seemed really interested in reading the Book of Mormon. We have an appointment with him set up for Wednesday.
     One of the funniest things that happened this week was on our way back from the temple. The Swissters (so named by me because they are both from Switzerland) said that they were bored and wanted us to tell them a good American joke. We couldn't come up with anything good so finally someone said "knock- knock." Both of the Sisters stared at him like he was crazy because they had no idea why in the world an Elder would us a double-onomatopoeia for no apparent reason. We started laughing because we had to explain exactly what a knock-knock joke is and how they work. It is awesome how we sometimes take the ordinary things for granted, and in the end we all got a laugh (except the Swissters, they were just confused about the whole thing.)
     But that was some of the highlights from my week. I hope that everyone is staying healthy and happy, and that everyone is enjoying their summer break. Have a great one!

Monday, August 6, 2012

 I am pretty sure that as long as I have been out in Germany, this is the least amount of time I have spent in my city during the week. We had 2 splits, a street display in a city named Forst (one of the Elders in that city hurt his leg, and so they have to spend the next 3 weeks in their apartment) to keep their program alive, and then we had President Interviews in Dresden, totaling in us having little to no time in Görlitz. Because of that, I don't have too much to report on. Our investigator who ran out of church last week is not answering her phone or her doorbell when we stop by, so we are afraid that she has decided to drop us, which is really sad since we have seen the effect it was having on her life. Other than that, we are hoping to get plenty of finding time to increase our number of investigators. All the ones we normally teach are on vacation or we had to stop teaching because they are not making any progress. Thanks unfortunately all the news from Germany right now. We are definitely struggling being able to find people to teach with everyone on break or vacation, so we are hoping that once people start coming back home that the work can pick up again.
     Oh, and here's everyone's funny story for the week: A few days ago, we were doing some street contacting in old-city on the day of a huge festival in town, and we met this really nice lady who has a relative that is a member. While we were talking with her, a man in his 50's (clearly a bit drunk and very interested in talking with us) came up and joined the conversation, saying how awesome he thought the Lutheran Church is, which kind of turned her away and made her leave pretty quick just because of the way he interrupted. And after she left, he quickly asserted the reason why he wanted to talk to us. He described his homosexual relationship (in more detail as I would have liked to know) and wanted to make sure that we were of the same opinion. We told him that we did not really agree with what he was doing but that it was his decision, which did not really make him happy because he wanted to prove his point, and as we tried to leave, he grabbed my arm and shoved it into his chest, attempting in his drunken state to hold me back. I tried to tell him calmly that we needed to go, and he just grabbed me tighter. Finally, I just wriggled free and we continued down the road. He stomped his feet as he headed in the other direction, but he decided not to yell at us since there were already about 20 people that had seen him try to hold me back and didn't want to make it an even bigger show. There are definitely some really interesting people in the world. It was a great journal entry though, haha.
     But in all honesty, please say some prayers for Germany- we really need it. But even with all of the difficulties in Görlitz right now, we are able to appreiciate the small miracles that happen in our lives, as well as the people that are being touched by this work. But even when we feel like we have done all that we can and have not gotten anything for it, I take into account the promise that the Lord made to Joseph Smith while he was a prisoner in the jail at Liberty. It is Doctrine and Covenants 123:17, and reads "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God..."
     Have a great week!