First off, responses to questions:
Things are picking up a little. A lot, actually. I hope we can keep the momentum. We’ve been working on talking to everyone we meet, because Elder Draper doesn’t like finding and neither do I, although as my German gets better it’s not so bad. That has blessed us a ton. I have been thinking all week that I know absolutely nothing about your mission! I want at least one story, related to topic or not, funny or spiritual, every week. I’m sure you have plenty. Geez, hundreds in a few months! We have handed out exactly 1 Book of Mormon to a nonmember, and he was a referral. I like the idea of doing Books of Mormon instead of pass-along cards. Investigators! What investigators? I literally taught my first real investigator lesson 2 weeks ago. On the last day of the transfer. Ouch. Actually, that’s part of the reason things are picking up. Germans get 6 weeks of vacation a year, and so during the summer, literally everyone is gone. Now, they are starting to come back. I’ve never even met that lady Sonja who has questions about women and the Priesthood. She’s been on vacation the whole time I’ve been here. But I’ll keep you guys updated. Elder Draper and I eat pretty well, actually. Here, lunch is the big meal, and you usually have bread and butter with maybe cheese and lunch meat for dinner. We usually have homemade pizza, or ravioli, or chili, etc. It’s nice. We were given red current marmalade by a nice lady yesterday. It’s super good. I’m jealous that you get to go to the dunes! I’m excited for Kyle Andrew; that’s awesome. I might wait on a camera because we will get iPads before the end of the year, and I can just use my companion’s. Thanks for the awesome letter.
Congrats on the trial! Lawyers aren’t nearly as competent as I would have guessed. When you get a trainer, you and he stay together for 2 transfers or 6 week periods, and you always stay in the same area too. So we knew exactly what was happening next transfer. Elder Draper, who was trained right before he started training me, will have been in this area for 6 months at the end of this transfer, nad no one NO ONE stays in this area longer 6 months. Other areas, yes. This area? No. That’s just cruel. So he will leave next transfer, and chances are good I will stay. They don’t often take both missionaries out, or whitewash an area. And since chances are high I will train (Oh please please no), I will probably be here for 6 months as well. Even if I don’t train, I will be here between 4.5 and 6 months. So that’s the DL. Haha I can guess the exact pictures you are talking about. I will take those exact pictures. This is NOT considered a pretty area of Germany, but every town has an “Alterstadt” or old part of the city, and that is always really cool for non-Germans. 🙂 The one here is between 800 to 1000 years old, which is about average for Germany. Lüneburg, a bigger city in our area, is very pretty. But Lauenburg is on the Elbe River, so there is one cool picture I want to take. And all the old churches are crazy cool. I love that quote about adventure. I try to think about my mission as an adventure, and that always helps. I know you are praying for “hugs” from you, because I literally (and let me preface this by saying I’m not usually the “visionary” mamby pamby stuff kinda guy) But several times, always after my hardest days, I actually have dreams where you just hug me. And I always feel better the next morning. Kinda dumb, but it helps me.
So this week, BY FAR the best thing that happened was I bought a mechanical pencil that you never have to push a button to dispense lead. I don’t even know how it works, but it just keeps the exact same amount of lead ready to go the whole time you are writing. It’s mystifying. Much less mystifying are my black shoes, which (and I won’t say this is doctrine, but maybe we’ll hear something at General Conference) appear to have been designed by Satan himself for the soul/sole – double pun – purpose of impeding missionary work. I put them on and I’m tired.
“Yay missionary work! I’m gonna go find someo – *finished tying*-I’m ready for bed.”
Also, Elder Bednar came.
So that was cool.
But this PENCIL!
Elder Bednar didn’t have a talk prepared, he just did a question and answer session with us. 1 hour of his questions, 2 hours of ours. It was all about how to teach and how to be guided by the Spirit, and how it is important to let your investigators do most of the talking. At the beginning, he gave us 3 rules: 1. Only write what the Spirit tells us, not what he says. Or in other words, write the small plates, not the large plates. (See Explanation of the Book of Mormon). So basically, don’t write down a secular history of the meeting, but what comes to your heart. 2. Ask a question if you have it. Act, don’t be acted upon. 3. Don’t ask any question with which you came.
After that, everyone was asking questions. That was really neat. Sometimes, he was a lot more bold and straightforward than I thought he would be. Sometimes, questions that I thought were dumb turned out to be really good to ask. For example, one Elder stood up and said he had 2 questions. 1. How are you doing? Like, is everything going okay for you? An admittedly confused Elder Bednar responded that yeah, everything was fine, thanks. Is everyone in the quorum doing okay? Um yes. Actually, after that question, Elder Bednar just lit up. He said that Elder Perry is 90, and no one can keep up with him. He’s just a whirlwind. Everyone, the other Apostles, the assistants, just can’t do it. He has too much energy. Others, Elder Packer for example, are feeling their age. But everyone is spiritually strong. 2. What can we do to help you? I’m gonna guess be a missionary. but actually, Elder Bednar said, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m glad to be meeting with you. But I’m in charge of all of Africa. And I should be there right now. He said that the church we saw in Nauvoo, where there was a Temple and a grove of trees, that is what it’s like in Africa. He said that is what the church will be like everywhere. They won’t spend money on church buildings because they aren’t necessary. That’s like way in the future I think. But we’ll see. We learned alot about teaching, and recognizing that the person we are teaching has agency.
This week, a few awesome things happened.
Wednesday, we found someone. The first person I have ever found since being here. We were really happy. After that, we tried an investigator that I had never met becuase they were never home. This was like the 3 or 4th time, and this guy hasn’t progressed in 3 years. He refuses to make appointments. But we wanted to involve his wife. This time, though, a lady was walking past us, and stopped and greeted us. Lo and behold, it was Michael’s wife! She told us Michael was upstairs, but we told her we actually wanted to meet with the whole family, because what we wanted to share would help them all. She was really happy and said she would definitely meet with us this week on Wednesday. She is a very “go-getter” sort of lady, so I think it will turn out really well. Andreas, an inactive member of several years, has come to church 2 weeks in a row now, and we are meeting with him and the Bishop tonight to talk about the Bishop’s role in repentance. We had English class too, and for the first time, people showed up. They are members of our ward, but we hope that they will bring friends. If they don’t, we’ll just make them feel guilty. 🙂 We’ve now handed out Book of Mormons to 4 families in the ward, and asked them to make a list of names of acquaintances and pray about each person by name to see if they are ready. They all accepted, so now we just have to follow up and keep reminding them.
By that I mean threaten to pray with them like we do when investigators promise to pray and don’t. I’m not messing around here, people. I will not let them escape. I think I’ve told the bishop to do that like 4 times now. He’s not progressing anymore. We may have to drop him.
I should probably stop praying for boldness.
For example. We did work for Sister B, a less-active member and mother of former GML, [ward mission leader] Gordon, AKA my hero. He was there too. We sat down to give her a “Geistige Gedank” [Sidenote: hmm…literally translates to “spiritually performing mental”] at the end, in which we had nothing planned, but I’d been thinking about a lot. We sat down and I told her that I would speak English so my German didn’t distract her. (Grammar Nazi). She said that was fine. So i said, “So. How’s your testimony?” She was a just little taken aback. Her son looked at her and said, “Well it’s a fair question”. She said she believed in God and Prayer, but not the Church. So I talked about giving faith a chance like Alma talks about with planting seeds in your heart. I told her she had to try it out before she would know, which means keeping all the commandments, specifically, going to church every Sunday, reading the BOM every day, praying about it nightly, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and meeting with us weekly to have us teach her the lessons (“We need the German practice!”) and keeping all the committments we give her. So I actually invited her to keep all the commandments at once. Which is not advisable. But she accepted hearing the lessons, which was all I wanted. We’ll get her. I’m told Germans like boldness.
Also, we met with a lady named Nancy who wanted us to explain Imagine Dragons lyrics because we are mormon and should know these things. Love ya guys!
Next week I’ll talk about meekness and humility, and how Christ’s example is completely different than what I thought it was. Also the German translations for these words are really cool. But here’s a question to think about. What is humility? It might be different than what you think. It’s definitely different than what I thought.