April 2, 2012
Wow what a week! I think I finally understand what they really mean by a mission being the hardest thing you'll ever do. But at the same time, I am so happy that I am here! Elder Field has been keeping us very busy; there hasn't been a moment where we haven't been doing something. I realize already how critical P-Days are to give you a rest. I have however, never felt so good about doing so much work. It's definitely a rewarding feeling when Elder Field and I can come home completely drained, with no energy left, but completely and spiritually edified. I can honestly say that so far I have given my best everyday.
I'll start off with explaining about some of our investigators:
Mohammed and his brother Ali (Yes probably the two most common Middle Eastern names there are):
They are super awesome. They come from Syria and they speak a little bit of English, but hardly any German so our lessons are in English with them. They are 16 and 17 respectively. They are Muslim by the book, but as they put it they don't practice really. The missionaries before us found them and started teaching them a little before we got there. They have in three weeks read from the beginning of the Book of Mormon (in Arabic) to Alma 13 and they love it. They started meeting with the Missionaries because they wanted to learn more about Christ and now they completely believe in him. They pray in his name and look up to him. They are really nice whenever we come over and we actually played soccer with them on Saturday for an hour (by the way, I know I'm in Europe. I stink really badly compared to everyone at Soccer or Füßball as they call it). It takes a little longer to go through all the lessons just because all these principles are new to them, but they accept them with a lot of enthusiasm. The hardest thing for them was coming to church because when they lived in Syria, Muslims were not allowed in Christian churches so they are getting over that. But, they have now come to church twice and one of those being General Conference. We told them they only had to come for one hour, but they stayed the whole time and enjoyed it. We have another appointment with them tonight.
Their last name is not really Bobby but that's what the father (Bobby) told us to call them because their last name is something like JHNior234iqiawevuzg43vbqweruo and no one can pronounce it. The dad is born and raised in Rosenheim but him and his wife are of Serbish decent. They speak both German and Serbish in their family so we gave them a BoM in both languages. They are super enthusiastic about the Church. They are Greek Orthodox by trait, but believe more in the Christian faith than in what their Church says. They formally met with the Jehovah Witnesses, but dropped them because they were "too different", and didn't feel right with them. We street contacted the mother on Thrusday, and had our first appointment on Saturday. Before we even had the chance, they asked if they could come to church. Wow. They came to a session of conference. They have three kids and were impressed with how they could tell from our church that it was so family oriented. They are going to Serbia for 14 days on Tuesday, but they said that they want to read the BoM and come to church when they return. I am so excited for them. They seem ready for the gospel.
Jacky doesn't speak too much German but her husband (who is a member) speaks both very good German and Portugese. They are from Angola. She was taught by the last missionaries, but we're probably going to have to go over a few points with her because they seemed to brush over them rather quickly. We are way excited for her though. She really likes what she learns. Her and her husband have two kids and there is a great spirit felt when we go to their house.
You would guess by his name that he is German, but he is actually Uruguayian. But he did grow up in a German speaking town in Argentina, and moved to Germany when he was 18. He is catholic, but doesn't agree with everything they say. The older missionaries found him and gave a brief overview of the gospel and it really made sense to him. He can't meet too often because he is super busy throughout the week, but he wants to meet with us at least once every week and more if he can work it out.
These are the investigators we have that seem most excited about the gospel and we have high hopes for them. They are such great people and I love them. I'll keep you updated on their progress.
Real quick before I forget, Dad you'd never believe what's playing here in this email-cafe-mail place. Bon Jovi. I guess Germans have good taste in music. It is really weird whenever we hear music from the radio playing. There was none of that in the MTC and not in our apartment, so it just feels almost out of place. Oh, and then a few minutes later they started playing Coldplay. What is this music? It's so foreign!
So, there is a reason we are one of the only areas in the mission that gets bikes. I think I've biked more in the last week than I have in the last 5 years. Saturday alone we biked (Elder Field told me in kilometers and then we translated it to miles) 40 miles. I know that's nothing to what Amber and Uncle Robert are doing, but for me with a shirt and slacks it's alot. We usually average about 20 miles a day.
So every week I want to share something cool and interesting about the German people or the country itself. apple juice is completely different. It's hard to find apple juice similar to what we drink. What they have here is super fizzy mineral water tinted brown with a little apple taste. Drinks here in general are different because they never use ice, but they are still good. On our first week Elder Andrew Terry (one of my good friends who went to Timpanogos who is a grade older than me) sent me, as a welcoming gift, a liter of a drink called Uludag. I was scared at first because it smells like toothpaste. However, it tastes like a refined version of Mountain Dew without caffeine. Seeing as I already loved Mountain Dew, I quickly fell in love. Also they have a drink called Zitrine which is kind of like Sprite but better. I might have been disappointed in Germany's apple juice, but they easily made up for it.
Mom and Dad: Mom I hope everything is going ok. Mom you are such a trooper with your sinus surgery. There are not many who are as tough as you with everything you go through, (reading dad's email the surgery didn't sound fun, with passages only 18% open, aspirating blood into the lung, and the doctor even doing a lot more than he already thought he was), but I'm glad you'll be ok and that you'll be better than ever afterwards. Dad, Elder Field's dad lived in the boundaries of the Sutton Coldfield ward. He would have been there when you were there. The only problems we realized is that yes, he wasn't baptized till after you left and he is about 6 years younger than you, but it's likely you could have seen him. Tell Brother Parker that if I ever get the chance to serve in Italy to send me some of the names of the people he knew well in that area in case I run into them. Thanks for keeping me updated on the sporting world. It doesn't matter to me either who wins the basketball championship. Good job for Jimmer though against the Jazz. More importantly thank you for keeping me updated with the family and ward. I hope all is going well for the Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, and Cousins; I really love the support, it means so much. I hope that all goes well for them and that they know I am so grateful for everything they've done for me in my life. I am also very grateful for the support of the ward. Tell Bishop Rife thank you so much for the leadership notes he sent me and for his book on Divine Virtues. I have been reading a little from it every night after I finish writing in my journal. He has been such an incredible example to me, one of the most important in my life. Him and his family mean a lot to me and I'm appreciative of everything they've done for us. I really love our ward we have some incredible individuals living so close to us, it's such a blessing. So Dad as far as your questions go, one of Elder Field's great loves is cooking. His other great love is cleanliness. This works for me because I would go crazy if he was a slob and since I'm not much of cook, I always help with what I can, but he knows exactly what to do so our meals are always taken care. Mom I still haven't had a day since January 18th where I didn't make my bed. Thank you both for your emails they are so comforting and uplifting.
Brittney, Brandon, Bekah, and Buddy: Again I am so happy for Buddy and his baptism this last week. Brittney and Brandon you've been such great parents to both him and Rebekah. I hope all is going well with your business Brandon. I think you have a really good boss; I would know, she was basically one of my three moms. I had the epiphany this week that I may not have written you a thank you letter for the care package you sent me for Valentine's day. I hope I did, but if not I'm sorry and I really appreciated it. I don't know why that popped up, but I thought I'd let you know I appreciated it. Brittney and Bekah, from what Dad says you're coming along quite well on the guitar. You two should keep it up because that's really awesome. Buddy, keep playing hard for me. I know you will. Just remember always that you are my favorite nephew.
Amber: I think it would have been funny if Sadie actually did pee on the letter I sent saying she should pay rent. Silly mutt. Anyways, way to give your bishop cookies on Fast Sunday. I can't count the number of times Mom has come down and reminded me it's Fast Sunday when I'm halfway through a cookie. We went to a family's house for dinner last Monday and they lived in the mountains. I'm pretty sure it was "Lord of the Rings" land. You would have loved it. I couldn't help but think that it was a strange coincidence that it was David S BAXTER who gave a talk in conference about single mothers. Amber I know you might not have kids, but you have many of the same hardships and struggles as many of those single mothers who had to go through the hardship of divorce. What I do know is that like Brother Baxter said: the Lord is there for you. You might not be able to leave the hardships you have and go to him, but I do know he will come to you and give you the comfort, love, hope, and help that you always need. I love you and I know that Heavenly Father is looking after you through all of this and has something great in store for you.
Thank you everyone for all of your support. I wouldn't be here with out your influence. Today Elder Field and I have a lot of time to write emails so they won't all be this long, but I want to close with this before I go (Mom you can decide whether to share this on the blog or not):
This last week was the hardest week of my life. I have never been so overwhelmed in my life. I came into the mission field expecting to work hard, to be making a huge personal impact, and being on top of everything. What I found out is that it's not so simple. I'm working hard, but even more than I could imagine. With all of the biking, studying, teaching, language speaking, planning, contacting I am completely mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Elder Field is incredible; he is an energizer bunny and goes none stop. I am so glad he is my companion, but it took everything I had to keep up with him. This week I realized that I don't know nearly as much as I thought about the scriptures, about interacting with people, and about really what to do. It hit me really hard finally how long two years is going to be. What was the biggest downer more than all was the language. I wanted to come and start talking with people, start making a difference, and start helping. However, I got here and found I couldn't understand anything the people were saying. I wanted to really start being a great missionary but I just didn't know what to say. I'd get so lost in the conversations and just felt like a stray puppy following Elder Field around. On Wednesday Elder Field and I had Deutsch Study and I just broke down right in front of him and cried so hard. I really had never felt so far off from where I wanted to be and so overwhelmed. The thing that I felt has made the difference from this is what has come from inside. In the midst of all of this I still had faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I knew that there was a purpose for all things. And I knew that I wanted to give my best for our Savior everyday. Despite all of this overwhelming struggle, I did my best to remain positive, hopeful, and prayerful (I don't think I've ever prayed so sincerely in my life). The first real turn around for me was Thursday and Friday night. Those were the nights we had our first great appointments with investigators. That helped me understand the great joy that comes when we lose ourselves in the service of others. It was very edifying for me. What made I think the greatest impact is Saturday night and Sunday. General conference what was one of the greatest blessings the Lord could ever give me. If I had a testimony before of Jesus Christ, and this Gospel, and his love and care for us (which I know I had great testimony) it is nothing compared to how I feel now. This weekend has been one of the most Holy experiences I have ever had. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is our savior. I know that he is guiding me every step I take. I know that the atonement was performed and by it that we may have salvation. So I may not know German, I may not be able to understand the people, I may have been overwhelmed, but it doesn't matter anymore for I know that the Lord is my guide. I know that I am here to represent him here in Germany. Though I may be weak, with him I can have strength. I have felt his immense love and care for me, and it's indescribable. In the Sunday morning session (my sunday afternoon) of conference the choir sang "Come thou Fount" my favorite hymn. There is a line that goes "Prone to wander Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, nay here's my heart oh take and seal it, seal it in thy courts above." To the Lord belongs my heart now and forever. My job at this time is to serve a mission here in Germany. I am a loved child of God, a brother of Jesus Christ, and because of that, none of these trials concern me anymore. I know my Savior lives and because of that I am completely happy. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Gott sei mit euch bis auf wiedersehen.