Monday, December 26, 2011

On the run from La Migra....

Received December 19, 2011

So this week was pretty cool. We had the interesting opportunity to help out at a Young Adult dance at the Linz meeting house. We prepared tons of food and it took a lot of work, but it was fun to see a dance in Austria. Just so you all know, Austrians dance WAAAAAAAAAAY better than Americans (in general). They actually dance "standard" to all songs. That was interesting to see. On Friday we went and passed out invitations in Haid for the Vocalis concert. Vocalis is an LDS chamber choir from the German-speaking realm and consists of all young adults. They sang Christmas songs and we handed out the invitations. Then, we went back to Linz where we helped prepare food again. After they were done eating they left for Haid again and we stayed and made more food for them. That night we went to Haid and watched the concert. They sang an O Magnum Mysterium for the opening number. The acoustics of the church that we were in (non-LDS) were wonderful and that song was amazing. It was just a little too cold in that church. We were all freezing. They sang a really good program and it was really fun. Now I can make it through the next year of my mission having recharged my concert attendance battery. It was getting a little low as it applied to good choirs. Yesterday we were privileged to hear from them again in our Sacrament Meeting. They sang well there too and it was a nice meeting for our two investigators and the visitors that came with members. The Spirit was nice and strong, especially when they sang I Believe in Christ (Mac Ws version). It was followed up by the Ward watching the Christmas devotional from the First Presidency. It was wonderful. Those of us who speak English were banished to the stage of the cultural hall where we tried to watch it steaming online on a computer screen, but after a little too much server fail-age we resorted to watching it on someone's iPad. We're hi tech. The messages of the devotional were all wonderful and helped to really set the stage for this coming Christmas week. We've got lots of stuff going on and we're looking forward to it.
So the subject line.....yeah about that. Ingolstadt never sent my police report (after several attempts) to my former abode. Soooooo, we have to take another route ordering it from the government of Germany's Justizamt in Bonn (the city of Haribo gummy bears). Everything should work out, but if not, I become illegal in Austria on the 17th of January. Yay! That might fall under the category of "things mothers don't want to hear" but I figured it's happening anyway. Everything will work out and if they have to, I'll just get transfered out of Austria. That wouldn't be my first choice, but I'll do whatever I have to in order to stay legal. I'll be going later today and getting the application notarized (pretty official huh?) so that will be fun.
Now about that phone call later this week. I will be able to talk to both of y'all. I'll figure it out with dad. I will call at 3 p.m. my time. Whenever that may be for you. It's going to be fun. We will have to keep it a little short 30-40 minutes, but that will be fine as long as I get to talk to you.
I hope that everyone has a lovely week and that everything is nice and bright and sunny on Christmas day. Just like always. Till next time Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

It's Cold...and getting Colder!!!!!

Received December 12, 2011

Es is a bissl kalt, sag i mol. Don't put that in a translator, it won't bring you anything. Anyway, Herzlichen Grüß aus dem Vaterland. The weather just keeps getting colder and sometimes it ever rains/snows on top of that. It's just lots of fun. Everything is just kinda going along like always. Rene dropped us again, but we will see what happens. He is the kind of person who has a really big problem with peer pressure. This week is going to be crazy. We have a host of eating appointments, which is wonderful news for us. Later this week the choir Vocalis will be coming to Haid and singing in a church there. They are like the German version of MoTab, just way lower budget. Everyone in the church loves them. On Sunday they will be singing in our Sacrament Meeting and it will be a great opportunity for members to bring their friends. We're excited.....well I'm excited for the singing mostly, but that's just me. We also have Zone Conference on Thursday and that means another wonderful trip to the Salty Castle (Salzburg). I just love when we have action packed weeks because that makes it infinitely less boring everyday.
Unfortunately mother, it is unforeseeable that I will be making the trip out to Tustin to choose the Christmas tree this year. It doesn't look too promising for next year either, but I'll at least be able to observe it next year, as long as you don't take it down before January 3rd. By the way, I think that is the actual date that I come home, maybe. Not like that's close or anything, but just so you know. The whole Christmas day call thing is a little weird. I think the way it's going to run is so: Elder Gruse will be calling his parents whenever he wants to on the 25th, because it's really not that big of a deal to call Germany. Elder Chandler is going to ask if he can do it on the 24th so that he can call his family before they leave for their annual Christmas day drive to California. That means that I can probably call at any time that I want to. I'm not exactly sure how it works from America to Austria. I'll probably just call you really fast before and then you can call me back. I'm going to ask if it's ok for me to call dad just at a different time. If not I'll tell you next week. I'll probably call before your meeting on the 25th. I'll need to call around 5 pm my time, so that means about 8 am for you. That will give you time to talk to me and, hopefully be ready in time to leave. Tell me if that will work. If I call after the meeting, it will be way late at night here, but I'm willing to do that too.
Just so you know, I already bought my suit. The story behind it is kinda funny. We saw an advertisement in our mail that said that Trachtenwelt was having a sale for half off everything. We just decided to go and see what kind of Trachten stuff we could find for cheap. We walked in and saw a rack of suits and I thought, "Why not?" I went over and discovered that they were wool suits in lots of sizes and only 99€. That was the price on the tag. That meant that the whole thing was only 49€ with the 1/2 off sale. You didn't have to tell me twice. A wool suit for 49€ is crazy. So I bought it. I am having the Sister in the Senior couple in our district hem the legs, which she does free of charge. Aren't you just so proud of your cheap son? Yeah, so that's out of the way.
I hope you have a great week and that everything is fun and dandy with the Christmas tree. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

I Hate Internet Cafes!!!

Received December 5, 2011

So today we got kicked out of our regular place in the library because it was "reserved" for some other group. Dumb. We had to go to a nasty internet cafe and do our emails there. So, like before I am sitting in a nice smoky, dirty, internet cafe where the signs to keep the place clean are written in some of the worst German you can imagine. Oh well. This week was a little scary. On Wednesday we went to a normal meeting with Rene and just Klaus was there. Klaus tried calling him a few times and he never answered. We finally called him and he pretty much just said that he didn't have any interest. After that lovely farewell, we were pretty sad and confused that he would just so abruptly stop investigating. A few days later we got a call from Klaus and he said that he talked to Rene and everything was fine and we could start teaching him again. Apparently there was some kind of misunderstanding and Rene in a hasty move just decided to cut off all contact. After Klaus talked to him everything was better. That was scary. We are going to move his date to the 31st and we hope that he will make it by then. He's still as awesome as ever. We are going to Mauthausen again today so the new Elder in Wels can see it. My camera won't die this time, so I should have a lot more pictures this time. We found out yesterday that we have a ton of eating appointments this month. We have probably 20 I think. That's a lot for this part of the world. I hope you guys are having a good time in California where it isn't so cold. It finally started raining, which is good for the ski industry here, because without snow there is no ski industry and they were afraid because there wasn't any yet on the mountains. My companions did like all the stuff that was in the packages, so you can definitely send more of that stuff. I promise at some point I will get that package off to you. I'm just not quite sure what I need to claim on the customs form. I'll figure it all out. I hope you have a wonderful week and that those palm trees keep swayin'. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

O Du Frohliche!

November 28, 2011

Servus y'all! Wie geht's eich? Yeah, so this week was pretty awesome. We began teaching Rene-Michael (Mike) Strassmair this week. He is really one of those people that you hope for on your mission. So meet Rene: He's a 48 year old Austrian man who was referred to us by his friend Klaus Haindl (one of the most active member missionaries in the world). Rene grew up in Florida and speaks really good English. He makes tons of jokes and likes to say stuff like "Dude" and "Dynamite". At one point in high school he had a desk mate who he really admired because he was so straight forward and honest. He just loved how good of a kid he was. It came out at some point that this kid was a Mormon. Rene kept that in the back of his head as he continued through life. Back in Austria he left the Roman Catholic church because he felt like it was too cold between the members. He went on the search for the true religion and converted to Islam. Shortly thereafter however, he left for the same reasons as before. He continued his search. One day he was invited to the Mormon church by his friend and "hausmeister" (like a landlord) Klaus. Rene took up the invitation and after seeing the primary program, he wanted to set up meetings with us (the missionaries) and said that he wants to be baptized. Now normally, we are pretty suspicious of anyone that comes up to us and says that they want to be baptized. This is a different case though. We began meeting with him this week and were surprised to find out that he is totally willing to meet as much as we want to during the week. With Klaus as our joint-teach, everything goes really well. Rene is scheduled to be baptized on the 10th of December. We will work really hard to reach this date for him. This week in church we also were surprised to receive a lady named Flor and her two sons Mario and Gabriel. This lady is the wife of a member but she is not baptized. Her husband doesn't come to church either, but she happened to ask Schw. Hager where the church was and came to two hours. She made out an appointment to meet with us this week and we hope that it will result in her becoming a member along with her son who is of age to be baptized and we hope that the father will also have interest in meeting with us. There's just all kinds of stuff going on right now in Linz.
The package was really cool. We really enjoyed the first of the four nacho cheese dips. There's something magical about nacho cheese because it doesn't exist at all in Austria, nor do tortilla chips really. With regards to transfers, they will be on the 29th of December (my year mark) so you have a little bit of time before you need to send it. If you are really afraid then just wait until after the transfer, but I don't really care when it gets here. But you know me, flexible as a V7-I resolution. You may need to ask your nearest music theory student to explain the inherent joke in that last comment.
By the way, the Best Two Years is a lot more comfortable than the living circumstances that we had with 4 Elders. Our sleeping room is about 6 ft wide and 13 ft deep. It also had two desks in it and some shelves. I don't know, it wasn't horrible.
A little request, if you could find a way of putting all of the songs from the two CDs of Thomas Hampson singing American folk songs on CDs and sending them to me, that would be cool. There are a lot of songs, so it may turn out to be something like 4 CDs. It's all on my iTunes and might even be in their own playlists.
Well, I think that's enough for this week. Handküsse zuhause. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Etwas wirklich g'scheits

Received November 21, 2011

How's it goin' everybody? Once again, another week has passed in the great city of Linz an der Donau. Here it has been unbelieveably cold for November (for this Californian anyway). It sure is a lot nicer to have investigators now. Since we have been moved down to a "Dritt" (German for trio), Elder Chandler and I inherited the investigators that Elder Schulzke and Elder Gruse were teaching last transfer. Elder Blodgett, who I knew when I was in the Stuttgart Zone, came to Linz to do a little lecture on the scattering of the lost tribes of Israel. Before he and his wife came on their mission together, he was a professor of ancient studies at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. He discovered, essentially, when and where the lost tribes left and ended up. By looking at certain words in Hebrew, he came up with a seemingly easy equation which deals with the changing of letters/sounds which results in common words in many languages both modern and antiquated. Did you know that Sanskrit had anything to do with Hebrew? Neither did I, until Thursday. It was a lot to take in a two hour lecture, but it was pretty cool.
We went to a Christmas market here in Linz a few days ago. We happened to be passing through the area later at night on the way to contact a potential investigator and when we didn't find him there we decided to take a little gander through the market. There was all kinds of stuff to buy, most of it a little on the expensive side, but it was all cool. There was a whole little house set up where you could buy hand crafted nativity sets. Now this isn't just your normal box set or something thats all made of one piece. This is your hard core, made of wood, individual exchangebable pieces, painted by an old lady, Nativity set. They had everything you could possibly want to make a little manger scene. They had the traditional Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, Shepherds contingent, then they had (more or less Bethlehem-time-frame-consitent) farm tools, buckets, angels of all shapes and sizes, animals out the yin yang, and a host of other visitors to greet the baby Jesus. And all of this for sale and set up in the quiet of your own home. Now don't think that this stuff doesn't cost a pretty penny (or should I say Euro), I didn't even want to look at some things that they were selling in the fear that I might look to long and break it with my stare. It was all way cool though. I'm sure it would all be way more enjoyable when you're not on a mission, but na ja.
On Friday we had a Thanksgiving feast with the Young Adults. The Hopkins (the senior missionary couple) got probably the biggest bird I've ever seen for this meal. No joke this turkey was probably 23 or 24 pounds. When they uncovered it all I could think was "Woah! That's a big bird!" It was a lovely meal and there was even pie. Sis. Hopkin made two apple pies and Bethany (who's from Utah) baked two pumpkin pies. It was marvelous.
Speaking of Bethany, we sang together in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. It's weird setting up practice times and getting an accompanist to play when you are a missionary. Luckily, we got Louise Erlacher, who is British (Darrell...) to play for us. It is soooooo much easier to work on stuff when people can speak your language since all of the terminology is different auf Deutsch. Of course there is still some different terminology in British english (Darrell...) but it is better than German. We sang "Jesus the very thought of thee" and "Come, come ye Saints". It went pretty well and we had a fun time doing it. The weird part is at the end when you have to just shake hands with your singing partner. Of course I don't have my official singing partner with me, but what can you do.
I'll be going "shopping" this week to see what kind of price I'll be looking at for a suit and then we'll see what happens afterward. I don't need any other clothing for Christmas since everything is pretty much doing ok. Little snacks that I can't get here (Chesters Hot Fries) would be nice.
So I hope you have a great week and that all is well in Tustin, California where it's probably still at least 50 Deesgrees. Until next time, Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

No mother I am not starving or running around in rags...

Received November 14, 2011

Per the subject line of this email, I would like to share a little bit of what it's like being where I am in my mission. I realized on Friday when we got transfer calls in the early morning that the end of this next transfer constitutes my year mark. Erstens, wollte ich sagen, Deutsch geht eigentlich ganz gut bei mir. Es ist weder schwierig andere Leute zu verstehen noch meine Gedanken zum Ausdruck zu bringen. If I know what it means "sich über die Häuser zu hauen", I think I'm doing ok. I'll always continue working at the language though, since as they say, "Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache." So lets go on a little tour of the mission life as it doesn't apply to "teaching".
Food: No mother, as I said, I am not starving. Although yesterday was a little on the tight side since we had some unexpected house guests during the week (otherwise known as the Zone Leaders) and we had only very little left to really eat. So the good the bad and the ugly. I'll start with the ugly. We receive a lot of food from the members in the ward. Courtesy of Klaus Haindl, we get a lot of stuff that is way close to or beyond the expiration date and if we get stuff from him we know that it has to be eaten within a day or it needs to go. The bad (but sometimes ok) constitutes our older single ladies in the ward, namely the Schws. Hager and Wegrath who will randomly call us and say that they bought stuff for us. We go and pick it up and find out that once again they have bought nothing that we REALLY need (except for milk) including the four bags of potato chips that we got yesterday. The missionaries have tried to tell them before to get things like bread or cereal or something, but they just buy the same stuff as always. And finally the good (which can sometimes end up bad later that day). We get eating appointments at some of the nicest peoples' houses. Most of the time they make so much food it's a wonder that we can even finish, and don't even talk about the little forks or spoons placed above the plate to announce the presence of a looming dessert in our future. Who can even do anything at the end of an eating appointment at an Austrian's house besides just going home and dying? It's crazy.
Temporal things: Since leaving home, going to BYU, and going on a mission I have lost over 30 pounds. I don't know how anything will still fit when I get home, but it still works here. My suit situation is interesting, but it works. A long time ago (actually in the MTC), one of the pants for my black suit started to separate at a seam. I put those aside and never actually fixed them. Instead I wore the other pants until they got a hole and I finally threw them away. I then switched to just using my grey suit for everything and bought a pair of pants to supplement and have been wearing them on the off days. One of the hems on the pants came out recently and it is being held together with some strategically placed safety pins until I can get them to Sis. Hopkin who is a senior missionary with her husband in our District. She does repairs for the missionaries if they need them and I will probably be able to just have her repair the things that need repairing. Otherwise, no socks have holes (surprisingly) and the pair of shoes that I bought in Heilbronn are still functional. I despise transfers because of packing and the fact that the stuff pretty much barely fits and the suitcases are sooooooooooooo heavy. If I send anyone letters and they don't get there, I'm sorry but it's not too uncommon for the Austrian post to fail epically. I will be sending out some stuff in the near future and no I haven't sent the package yet that I have been saying I would send since back in oh....August. This coming transfer I will be staying in Linz and we are going to be serving in a trio. Elders Chandler and Gruse will be staying here with me and Elder Schulzke will be going off to Switzerland.
So that's a little about the life of a missionary in Austria nearing his year mark. It's pretty much insane to think about. Well, I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and that it's not as cold as it is here. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

What do we do, President? Oh, just go contact some people...

Received November 7, 2011

Little exchanges like that are just lovely. So the story that goes along with this is thus:
We went to Salzburg on Wednesday. We got up at the regular time 6:30 but had to be at the train station at 8 for a train to Salzburg. Elder Chandler and I got there and took the hour-ish ride to the great Salt Castle (Salzburg in English). When we arrived at the stake center we found out that only the District leaders were allowed to be in the meeting. Sooooo, that's when the conversation in the subject line occured. So Elder Moulton (Elder Bullock's companion) and I were sent out. All we had was our stuff and a bunch of unstamped pass along cards. We didn't even have a phone with us. It's just lovely to be dropped out in the middle of a city like Salzburg and to be told to just go find somebody. So we did. We talked to one kid sitting on a bench who may or may not have interest, but we gave him a card. We found another man though who seemed to be a lot more interested. We were over in the area of the Mozarteum (for all my music fans out there, holla) and we talked to this man. He had a lot of problems with the church being so changed from what existed in the original church and so we explained how the church was restored and he sounded very interested and agreed with what we were saying. We got his number and later gave it on to the Zone Leaders who work there in the city. After three hours of that we went back to join up with our companions. Elder Chandler was hungry so we went down to the big shopping street to go find something to eat. Along the way we passed Mozart's birth house. We finally decided upon good ole McDonalds. After leaving we were walking down the street toward the busses and randomly Elder Chandler stops and I see a man talking on a phone who I very quickly recognized as President Miles. I suddenly thought "Maybe we should be contacting..." But then I realized that this is President Miles. He quickly shook our hands and then finished his phone call. Not so interested in whether we were contacting or not, he wanted to know if this was our first time being on that street and seeing all the shops. Then Sis. Miles came out of one of the shops and jokingly said, "Oh are you guys shopping?" I love how awesome she is. It turns out that their daughter Rachel who is on a mission in Rome is having a birthday this week and they were shopping for her. I think that was so awesome. They were just happy to see us again and we hurried off to catch the bus back to the train station. It was just so awesome. They are a really great pair to have as our surrogate parents for the next little while.
On Monday we went to Mauthausen which was a concentration/work camp. The sad thing is that it has a really wonderful view from the top of the hill on which it sits. The memory of what occured there still haunts the place to a certain extent. It wasn't as huge of a camp as say, Dachau or Auschwitz but it did serve a horrible purpose. It was an experience. We made our own little mark on the camp, so to speak. We went to the cremation ovens and people had placed lots of little trinkets, money, or cards in the front of the oven. We put the pass along card that talks about seeing our loved ones again right in the middle with the hope that someone will find the message and be moved to investigate this wonderful message.
Today we will be going to IL TROVATORE!!!! I'm soooooooooooooooooo excited and I hope it's good. It sounds like it should be and looks really cool.
I hope you have a great week and that everything is just hunky-dory. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why did it have to start raining???

Received October 31,2011

That's what I was thinking to myself when we started off to the train station on Wednesday. After District Meeting on Tuesday in Wels, I stayed and worked with Elder Solt while Elder Sever (who used to be in my district in Wien) went to work with Elder Chandler in Linz. So I got to be in my first ever bike area. That was kinda cool and kinda dumb. I had to ride around on the bike with my backpack and a nice thick and long coat. That was not very easy. However, the best part was the next day when, as stated in the subject line, it started to rain. That was way dumb. Anyway, it all worked out, I just had completely soaked pants by the time we got to the train station. Yesterday, Horst Wagner, an investigator of the other Linz Elders (mostly to avoid problems with the District Leader as the teacher and needing an interview with the Zone Leaders) got baptized. It was a really great service. His step daughter played a few songs on violin and I sang "Come follow me". He was baptized by his brother in law. This was a really cool week, I just don't really have a lot to report. Today we are going to a concentration camp in a place called Mauthausen. It will be cool. I'll take some pictures.

We haven't gone to the opera yet. It's next Monday and I hope it's not too modern. You can go ahead and send me whatever will make it through customs. I will appreciate anything you send me.

Hopefully next week will be more exciting. Till then, Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Most Beautiful City in the World? Quite Possibly!

Received October 24, 2011

The subject line is pretty much what I thought upon traveling from the train station to the great city of Salzburg. It could possibly be the most amazing thing I've seen in all my time here. Despite having been through the city on trains several times, I had never actually been in the city itself. Salzburg is like a musician's dream city. Everywhere you turn there is something about Mozart and there are just oodles of old buildings along little tiny streets. There are a few too many tourists, but what can you do? We actually went there for the purpose of having interviews with President Miles and we actually had a really great time coming together with everyone else in the zone. This zone is actually REALLY small people-wise because there are only us four in Linz, two in Wels, two in Klagenfurt, two in Innsbruck, the Sisters in Neumarkt am Wallersee, and the Zone Leaders in Salzburg. That's the whole zone. So, for anybody that knows Austrian geography, that means that the states of Salzburg, Oberösterreich, Tirol, Kärnten, and some of Niederösterreich only have 14 missionaries to cover them. How we get anything done here is a mystery. This week was a little on the slow side since Elder Chandler and I both were feeling pretty sick, and we still only have one investigator. We really need to start picking up the work here and finding some new people. However, the other Elders have an investigator who is the father of a family of members who is going to be baptized this week. His name is Horst Wagner and he is way cool. As a little joke/rememberance of our time here in Linz, we all bought an apartment tie together. We went to C&A where we found four ties that were all the same. The best part was that they only cost 2,50€ which is a steal. Next week is Halloween and who knows what we are going to do for it. It should be pretty cool with the four of us. The week after that we are going to Il Trovatore (probably depending on the cost of the tickets) at the Landes Theater Linz. It should be pretty cool and hopefully it won't be a repeat of Wien. I don't think I'll be needing anything in particular for sickness since you can pretty much get everything here. However, if you could find a way on smuggling Nyquil in to Austria, that would be cool because it doesn't exist here. Make sure that it's legal though.
Well, that's all folks, for this week anyway. I hope everyone has a great week and goes on lots of joint teaches with the missionaries, cause they want them. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Get up at 4:30 am?

Received October 17, 2011

I'm sure that's what everyone else was saying on Saturday evening when we had to decide when to get up on Sunday to get to Wels on time for Stake Conference. I'll tell you why. But first a little about the week. It was Elder Schulzke's birthday on Wednesday. So naturally we burned the apartment just kidding, but we did have a little celebration. Elder Chandler bought him a Magic the Gathering deck so that he could learn how to play. It's a big game here in the German-speaking nations and it was interesting seeing the cards written in German. That night we had a big dinner and all played Magic together. It's been a long time since I played, but Elder Chandler's deck was really good and I held out pretty long, until the vampire cards started coming was all over then. On Friday we had a lesson with a lady named Regina in the morning and she became a new investigator. Only problem is, she only has time then on Friday morning at 10 when she can meet with us. We'll see how that works out, but she is from Camaroon and a very nice lady who liked the idea of the Book of Mormon (I mean, who wouldn't? But na ja). On Saturday we began all the Stake Conference insanity. The Innsbruck Elders said that they were going to come and do some work with us that day. The Salzburg Elders were coming to spend the night. We got a series of phone calls that ended up with those four Elders, three senior couples, Sis. Miles, and us four Elders from Linz all going out to eat at a place behind the church where we partook in delicious Wienerschnitzl and engaged in much conversation. It was a little party for sure. We then went to Conference, which was held in Linz instead of Salzburg and I sang in the choir for two songs. President Miles was the final speaker. Sis. Miles actually gave a talk in German which was actually written perfectly. I admire her for her courage to give a talk in German after having been here only 5 months or so. We had a great time and it was nice seeing everybody in the stake, especially some people that I knew from Wien who actually live in this Stake when they aren't studying. That evening we went home to our apartment and, as planned, the Salzburg Elders stayed the night. I don't think that anyone can really fathom the kind of craziness that ensued both on the funny and the logistical side of things when six Elders are all in the same little Austrian apartment. There were plenty of stories to go around and everyone loves Elder Patchett and Elder Graff. It was amazing and we baked pizza for dinner. The logistical problems really began the next morning when, as already stated, we had to wake up at 4:30 in order to get everyone ready, walk to the train station, catch a train to Wels, and then walk to the Stadt Messe to get there before choir practice at 8:30. We had a good time with it all and we even got there on time. During the practice, they decided to have The Spirit of God be sung with four soloists, which was a really cool idea and it turned out really well. I still had the last verse which I believe is a little different than the English version and it was a really good fit for a missionary to sing:
O könnten wir's sagen wie tief wir's empfinden
Vom Heiligen Geiste erfüllet zu sein
Ach, allen, ja allen wir wollten's verkünden
Und laden sie alle zum Mitgenuß ein
Now before y'all throw that into Googletranslator, I'll just translate it for you:
Oh that we could express how much we enjoy being filled with the Holy Spirit. We want to preach to all people and invite them enjoy this Spirit with us.
More or less, but the message is perfect for a missionary. Besides that though, I was sick that morning. I guess Heavenly Father thought it necessary to spare the real onset of the stuffy nose and achy throat for after the conference and I was spared from utter embarassment. I recieved a really nice complement from a man who said, "I'm sure you get told this enough, but your voice is really something. It's really easy to listen to." That's the kind of compliment that I like to hear. The rest of the conference was a little hard to pay attention to. It was all in a very quick Oberösterreichisches (had to put on the correct adjective ending) dialect. It was also really stuffy in that building and I had a view of every single distraction that there was to see, so not much was learned.
This was a lovely week though and I'm still loving every minute of being back in the Fatherland and preaching the message of the everlasting gospel and how it was restored through Joseph Smith. It's pretty cool. I hope everyone has a lovely day, week, whatever and that everything is going well. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Herzlichen Grüß von Linz....

Received October 10, 2011

So for the first time ever, I am actually coming to you from a library! No more smoky internet cafes...for now anyway. So guess what. I am working with Elder Chandler, that's not changed. However, I am in an apartment with two other Elders also. So it's me, Elder Chandler, Elder Schulzke, and Elder Gruse. We're all packed into the Linz apartment and getting to work. Linz is a big area and I guess it required two more Elders, that and there are way too many missionaries in the mission right now. Every area is open and full. We have had an interesting time this week getting to know each other and living very closely together. We have gotten rid of everything that was cluttering up the apartment because we barely fit in there when it's clean. Elder Chandler and Elder Schulzke are from Utah and Elder Gruse is from the area outside Berlin. So, a real German. They're all cool in their own ways. We listen to a lot of Lord of the Rings soundtracks. Why? Don't ask me, I think movie soundtracks are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay boring, but whatever. Linz is a cool city and I hope I get to stay here at least for a little while to get to know it better. The ward here is HUGE! It's probably as big as all of my other areas combined. There are lots of children and younger people. On Sunday we all bore testimonies and introduced ourselves in the Sacrament meeting. You could see the people in the ward become physically more active after I said that I sing opera...I should have taken that as my first clue. Afterward came all the people talking to me about me singing in the ward and in the choir and stuff, so it will be fun. The choir director invited me to sing in the stake choir for Stake Conference next week. I went to the one practice at night and we went over the songs. It won't be that hard (except that I have to sing tenor....) and the songs are pretty good. We will be singing The Spirit of God (auf Deutsch) and we are singing it out of the hymn book. We got to the last verse and the director wanted it to be quieter. We sang it and it went well...then, Sis. Till got up and started talking to the director (first mistake), then they both turned and looked at me (second mistake), then they said, "Elder Neumayer, why don't you sing the last verse as a solo?" and I said (hesitantly), "Sure" (last mistake). So now I will be sharing my lovely voice with the whole Salzburg Stake next Sunday at 10 in the morning. Oh boy! So yeah, that's what I get. That's Being a Baritone on a Mission (for those of you who read my blog).
The new address is:
Kirche Jesu Christi
Hasner Str. 36/6/21
4020 Linz

Sunday, October 9, 2011

More to Come....Next Week...

Received October 3, 2011

So I don't have a ton of time this week seeing as how we took that really long ride today. The trip was awesome, but I will tell you more later. I'm also not at a place where I can upload pictures, so you'll have to wait. Sorry. Thanks for all the birthday presents. The wave of Japaneseyness was overwhelming. I shared the rice candy with some of the other Elders in my district and they really liked it. Oh, but surprise! I'm NOT staying in Ingolstadt. Seven weeks are already up and, like a bomb, President Miles called us on Friday to tell me that I'm going! Yes, I'm going back to Austria, namely Linz, Österreich to work with Elder Chandler. That means that I have to once again pack everything up and take a nice long train ride to another area. I'm excited and I have heard good things about the area. So, don't send me anything until you get the new address, unless you send it to the mission home, which never changes address....wink wink...nudge nudge. So yeah, I don't have a ton of time today to write, but I hope that everything is going well and I will write a much longer letter next week.

I will be writing David Hinkley in the nearish future. I wrote him last when I was in the MTC and then when I was in the field, I realized that I never gave him a forwarding address to send me a reply. So I will be doing that in the future. I just hope that the letters that I send will get to their destinations. Austria is a bit notorious for not getting their mail out very efficiently. I will still be attempting to send a package home in the near future so that you can see some of the little things that I have collected on my mission and some presents for people. Please write a message for the people that wrote Happy Birthday to me that I'm grateful for their wishes and that I did have a great day.

Anyway, I have to go and write some other things to the President. I hope you have a wonderful week and that the missionary work in Tustin is going great. Roses, unicorns, etc.


Volkfest breaks out in Ingolstadt!!

Received September 29, 2011

Oh Volksfest...oh how you hinder missionary work. In case anyone was wondering, it's not very effective to go around contacting people that either are drunk or are going to Volksfest with the intent to do so. It looks like a really fun festival otherwise, with it's rides and fireworks and such.
So can I just express the difficulty of finding joint teaches for lessons with investigators? We cannot teach Rosa without another man there...I repeat, we CANNOT teach her. So what do we do? We call people all day long (the 5 or so people that are even possible) and hope that someone has time. Most of them want a few days notice, well she doesn't really know too far ahead of time if she can meet with us in the first place. And on top of that, the week after she sets her date for baptism, she goes out and accidentally walks to the point that she can't walk anymore and has been recovering from that and can't get to church because she needs to ride her bike there. Sometimes there are just no words to describe the frustration (well there are, but no Christian should say such things). Oh well, we just keep pushing forward and try to find people that want the gospel. For example, a lady who lives in a city right on the border of our mission who lives in a city so small that the houses just have numbers and there are no streets. Yeah...that's the region between Nieder- and Oberbayern for you.
We gave 4 people Books of Mormon this week and none of them became new investigators. We will be calling them in a few weeks to ask them how it's going, but until then we just have to wait and hope and pray.
I purchase Lederhose(no -n on the end because that would make it plural) today and next week there will be a surprise picture with me wearing them. You'll have to guess where. Let's just say that it will take at least 3 hours in the train, but it is still in our district, so we are allowed to go. Unfortunately, I will have to move my email day to another day, probably Tuesday in order to do that, so don't expect an email on Monday. I'm way excited. We also will be getting transfer calls soon and we'll see what happens. I could leave, I could stay, I could train, nobody knows. We'll see what happens.

I got the package and all the presents are sitting in my apartment waiting for me to open them on Sunday morning. I'm excited. I looked at the pictures. They are great. I like the one of Kiku putting her nose in the camera with the caption on the back, "Where's my boy?" I can see her doing that. By the way, WTFreak with Brother Bauer? What happened to the man?
So yeah, that was the week here in Ingolstadt. I hope everyone has a lovely week wherever they may be and that alles Einhörnchen, Rosen, und Regenbogen ist. Ich wunsch euch was! Gäh?!

Do I Ever to Work in My Own Area?

Received September 19, 2011

Such a question has floated through my mind in recent weeks. This transfer (7 weeks) has been full of just going all over the place for all kinds of different things. Zone Conference, Elder Bednar meetings, 3 exchanges, a baptismal interview (since Elder Daybell in the district leader), District Meetings, and special training meetings. All of that put together adds up to us (or mostly me) not being in our area very often. I feel like we're always going somewhere. One day we were in a train for 5 hours just in our own district. Sometimes things are just plain crazy. We've been finding a lot of old German people. They don't mind talking to us, they don't want to change, but they do enjoy the company.

Our investigator Rosa has a baptismal date for October 23 and we are now preparing her even more to be ready to be baptized on that date. She needs to start coming to church though....she's only been once. It's so amazing to actually see people progressing toward baptism and not just staying in the same place that they have been forever (spiritually speaking). We are here to help them to make real progress in their lives and find something that will really make them happier in the long run.

Let's consider two circumstances (seeing as how the beer flows out of the taps around this time of year in Germany):

1. I went to Oktoberfest on Sunday. In a matter of about 3 hours or so I was so destroyed that I couldn't even straight and my friend got punched in the face for aggravating a homeless man in Munich. We returned home just to end up going to one of the local Biergartens and hanging with some girls that we know and to show off Sven's black eye. We went home with those girls and the rest is history. I woke up on Monday wondering why I did what I did and trying to remember what even happened in the past 24 hours.

2. I went to church on Sunday. I saw a bunch of really good friends there. We learned about what happens after we die and how we can be with our families forever. Then we learned about setting goals that are good and well focused and that are accomplishable through reliance on our Heavenly Father and His help. We are all really excited for the General Conference of the Church where the prophet and the apostles of the Lord will speak to us and tell us the will of God in these days. I was able to partake of the Sacrament and renew my covenant with God made at baptism that I will always remember Christ and where God promises me to always send His Spirit to me. I then went to the home of a lovely family and spent time with them playing fun games and enjoying their company. Today I woke up rested and ready for the next week.

Which of these sounds like a more pleasant experience? Without doubt, the second. We are here as missionaries to tell those who will hear, that there is a much better way to live and it can make one happier in life. It's their choice whether they want to accept that or not.

I'm convinced that if people even give the Gospel a chance in their lives, they will see that the blessings just come rolling in.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful puppy-dog-full week. Tshüüüüüüüüüüüüüßli

How come I have never heard of this book before?

Received September 12, 2011

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that sentence. The Book of Mormon is an amazing book and it really is amazing that so many people have never heard of it. Mostly because a lot of them never open their doors when we come to speak with them. It is further holy scripture and contains the fullness of the gospel. Why wouldn't you read it? This week was kinda crazy. It seems like every day goes by so fast and at the end of the week we look back and think, "What did we do? It's already Sunday again?"

We took the opportunity this week of having quite a few hours of time open for contacting to go and do an area that we have for sure never done before. In our last zone conference we talked a little about the demographic of the people that are getting baptized. Pretty much, they're all "ausländers" (people that are not from German-speaking countries). Nothing racist, everyone is a child of God. However, these people are the ones really looking for the truth and will find us anyway. We need to go out and find the Germans, Austrians, and Swiss. They are out there and usually they don't know that they are looking for something. So, we went out to a really rather rich area of Ingolstadt and started pounding the pavement and ringing doorbells. I will admit that there were a lot of decidedly atheist people, but on a much more amazing note, there were also a few people that were believing enough to say, "Sure, I'll take the pamphlet and read it." We also got phone numbers from people. Sometimes you just need to do a whole neighborhood before someone comes out of the woodwork.

I got to go on an exchange down in Kaufbeuren. This area is very large and they have a car. We saw huge, amazing alps and I was happy to go there if only for that one reason. I got to work with Elder Rosenvall who was in the MTC group that was 6 weeks younger than me. It was really fun and we got to do some good work.

This work always goes forward and no one can stop it. We have a great time in this land. I don't know if people even realize the kind of work that we do here, certainly not the Germans. I hope that I am able to leave my own little footprint in the work here.

Yes, Elder Bednar does speak a little German still. He actually wrote a little intro to his address in German before he came here. He sent it to President Uchtdorf for a little spell check and he wrote back, "Sehr gut, Dieter" He does admit that his "Wortschatz ist klein geworden" and that his "Aussprache ist nicht so gut wie vor siebenunddreisig Jahren." It was wonderful.

As it applies to things that I "need", there aren't really a lot. I pretty much have everything that I need. I could use a new short sleeve shirt because one of them has a weird stain on it right underneath the pocket that I can't get out for some reason, it might be ink. I hope you send me some good pictures in my birthday present.

I hope everybody has a wonderful time wherever they are in the world and that everything is just peachy. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Zone Conferences, Exchanges in Munchen and Apostles of the Lord...

Received September 6, 2011

Yeah, so this past week has been about the craziest thing ever. We had a regular P-day on Monday, but from Wednesday on we had a whole slew of not so regular days. There was a lovely opportunity to go up to the great city of Munich for Zone Conference. Most of the instruction there focused on working with people who are less active in the church. As part of the Europe Area Plan for the church between 2000 and 2020 they want to double the active members of the church in Europe. We intend on doing this by placing a prominence on work with less active members and bringing them back to church and then asking them to refer us to their friends to teach them. If we did this in our branch (for example) and even half of the less active members (most of whom are men) came back to the church and referred their friends, we would become a ward and almost double the attendance at church. It's no wonder that they are putting such an emphasis on this facet of the work. It was wonderful to spend some time there at the conference with all of the wonderful Elders and Sisters that I have met in my time in the Mission Field. At the end we had a testimony meeting in the chapel and Sis. Anderson out of nowhere asked me to sing Be Still My Soul with her. With about 10 min to prepare and a bannana in my mouth (of course) I said yes and we came up with something simple and it turned out lovely.

After the meeting I was hustled into singing with the Munich District in their special musical number that they were preparing. We sang a lovely arrangement of I Need Thee Every Hour by none other that the woman, the legend, (the free) Sally De Ford. It was a fun little thing with Sis. Miles on the flute. I finished that day and the next with an awesome exchange that found me working in Munich with Elder Phelan, one of the Zone Leaders. Munich is preparing for the one and only Oktoberfest and it was interesting to see all the work that goes into putting up that huge festival in the Theresienwiese. The next morning we woke up and after studies walked all the way to the main train station because the monthly cards had expired and could only be bought from one of the ticket machines there. We had a great time working together and I came back to Ingolstadt at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. We went straight to teaching our investigator family the Wilczoks. It was a great lesson but they really can't find a way to pay tithing. We are going to have to try to get a member to tell them about the blessings of paying tithing.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to have a special meeting with Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was one of the coolest experiences to just sit there with him less than ten feet away conversing with us. He spoke very fankly with us and he really doesn't beat around the bush on anything. He was just really blunt and told us how we can help people to act as agents and not as objects. Shortly explained, agents act and objects are acted upon. Which one are you when it comes to the gospel? Do you pray and then wait for the blessings expecting that God will give them to you, or do you explain that to God and then go out and work for it? We all had a wonderful time there learning. In the evening we had the opportunity to stay for a special fireside for the members in which he asked them to pose questions which he would then answer. Some were more awkward than others like, "Since John the Beloved is still on the earth and working among us, does he have contact with the church?" Some, however, were amazing like, "What does it mean to be a special witness of Christ?" (posed by an 11 year old boy) and "What can I do to prepare myself for baptism?" (by a 7 year old boy) It was a great evening and, despite how hot it was in that building, we all learned a lot. We ended up getting back home and in bed by about midnight last night (with permission of our mission president) and fell right asleep. It has been an awesome week.

Happy news, Lederhosen will probably be a little cheaper and more in the range of 200€-250€ for the whole deal: lederhosen, shirt, socks, and shoes. I will keep looking for deals.....he he he. Anyway, it won't be quite as bad as it may have seemed. I bought a Franzl Lang CD the other day and we have listened to a good amount of yodeling. It's fun.

I hope you have a great week and that you have fun in your new job and everything. Tschüüüüüüüüüüß!


Received August 29, 2011

So I got to see the effects of the first Volksfest during my time in Ingolstadt. There was one in a city just south of here and everyone was going to it dressed up in their Tracht (lederhosen and dirndls). It was pretty cool to see that it's still ok to wear those kind of things here. All the northern Germans think that it's weird, but everyone here just thinks that it's a normal part of life. Somewhere along the line they must have just decided that they wouldn't be ashamed of their heritage. It's cool.

As requested (and so that my mother will not kill me) here is my new address:

Elder Andrew Neumayer
Kirche Jesu Christi HLT
Dollstrasse 10
85049 Ingolstadt

Let the mailing begin.

This was a fun week. We had a good amount of lessons with people. We are getting a lot closer to baptism with a lot of people. They just have to make the leap and set a date as a goal and God will help them the rest of the way. We also teach a man named Bruder Saboory who is a less active member of the church because it is hard for him to get to church. He is nearly blind and he has some mental issues because he was tortured back in Iran. He is one of the most amazing and believing members of the church. He said that he used to read the Book of Mormon all the time when he had breaks at work and he would read it all day long because he was just amazed at the book and all the truths that it had in it. He also loves the hope that the book brings and the wonderful message that it contains about Christ and his mission on earth and in eternity.

Sometimes we meet some "fun" people on the street. There was a Herr Grunnert who we met once and then came back to see if we could teach him. He is a wirey little old man that is 84 years old and he just talks and talks and talks. It was hard to get him to not talk because inevitably he would end up changing the subject before we could answer a question that he had. It was interesting to talk to him and he really liked talking to us and hearing our opinion on everything, but we can't really teach him. These kinds of people just seem to flock to us though. It's crazy.

Some of the members in Ingolstadt are crazy fast speakers and they speak such thick Bairisch that it's often hard to understand them, but one learns to deal with these kinds of situations.

Our apartment is right above an Italian restaurant and they play music by lots of "operatic" singers. It's fun and it always smells like garlic bread.......yes. It's also gotten a lot cooler in the past couple of days. We bought a fan this week because we couldn't deal with it anymore. It was over 30 Celsius for most of the beginning of the week. It was not cool....haha cool.....get it......

Elder Daybell reached his year mark the other day and he kinda tripped out but he's better now. I wonder what I will be like at that point.

I really don't have all that many pictures. I only really have the one of the family at the beach, of Karen in her costume for Butterfly, you at Disneyland, and a couple of Emily. That's it. So I really don't care what you send me.

I have given it a lot of thought and I have come to the conclusion that my birthday present wish is for enough money to buy lederhosen. A good pair and the appropriate accessories. This wish is not too cheap, so it will cost somewhere in the area of 250€-300€ so that will be something to work for. We'll have to see since that is such a big number.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week and that there is love, peace, and visions of Elder Neumayer running across big German valleys in his very own pair of lederhosen. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

So Humid, Can't Breathe.....

Received August 22, 2011

What the freak happened to the whole "now it's Fall" thing. It was pretty bad this week. I've been dying since we got off the train in Ingolstadt on Wednesday. Like the subject line says, it's been pretty horrible and we have been doing so much contacting. Sometimes I don't want to leave apartment buildings in the interest of just standing in the dark hallways. It also requires a ton of water drinking, which isn't a huge problem since I have a full liter with me almost all the time. Ingolstadt is a fun little city. Our apartment is definitely the smallest one I've been in so far and I've heard that it's the smallest one in the mission. Elder Foremaster was here quite a while ago and he trained my "brother" Elder Anderson here who was in the Stuttgart International Ward while I was in Heilbronn. Now Elder Anderson is the Zone Leader here in Munich. On transfer day we got up at 4 in the morning so that we could catch a train at 5:59 to Stuttgart and then subsequently an ICE (a very nice and fast train) to Munich. I got to ride with the missionaries that are training which include Elder Pexton, Elder James Kirk Hawker (yes that is his name), Elder Graff (one of the coolest guys you're ever likely to meet, and the Sisters from Pforzheim. Upon arrival at the Munich train station, we were greeted by many old friends. While waiting there I saw Sis. Dye who was in the MTC with me, Sis. McGuire who was is Wien and is also a singer, and a big surprise Sis. Downs. I also saw Elder Dilg from my MTC district. He will be a District Leader in Neuötting and he said that Elder Clark will also be in the Munich Zone in Passau. It will be fun to meet up at Zone Conferences. With the past two transfers all of the companionships in the mission have been changed and every area has been handed over to the person that was there for less time. Lots of changes going on under the leadership of President Miles.

We found out last week that Elder Bednar is going to be coming to this area and we will have the chance to speak with him on Sep. 5 in a special mission tour. That will be awesome.

My new companion Elder Daybell is cool. He is from Springville, Utah. He is only 3 transfers older than me on his mission. We are learning a lot from each other. Ingolstadt is doing pretty well. We have more investigators here than in Heilbronn and so we get to teach more. Teaching is way better than Finding. I've been trying to adapt to Bayrisch and it's coming along, but it is a very interesting intonation of the German language. We are one of the only missions in the world with so many seemingly similar yet very different dialects, and that's just in Germany. We won't even talk about Switzerland. Everyone was really happy in the branch on Sunday to meet the new Elder Neumayer since Neum(-eier, -eyer, -ayer) is a very popular name here in Niederbayern. They were also happy to have someone that can sing well and lead the music in Sacrament meeting.

Next week I'll write a little more about the investigators in this area and how the work is going forward. Until then, I hope that everyone has a lovely week and that everything is rainbows, puppy dogs, and bunny rabbits. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Auf Wiedersehn Heilbronn!

Received August 16, 2011

Yes, it's true. I have been transferred. It has been a lovely time here in Heilbronn and I have enjoyed everything that I was able to do. I have been called to serve in Ingolstadt in Bayern (Bavaria). For all of you out there who don't know anything about Germany, Bayern is where Lederhosen comes from. Granted, I'm not in the mountains, but these are the people that I get to work with in this wonderful mission. I won't lie, they don't wear lederhosen all the time, but we are reaching the time of Oktoberfest and I will be only about an hour away from München (Munich) where the world renowned Oktoberfest is held every year. We'll see what happens between now and then. For all you car lovers out there, I have been serving for the past few months a few minutes south of Neckarsulm which is a city known for it's giant Audi production plant. For anyone who knows car history, it was the place where the car company NSU (stands for Neckarsulm) was founded way back in the day. In Ingolstadt, I will be blessed to work in another city known for Audi where they have their headquarters. Some people want me to make a deal with the company so that we can get Audis for the mission cars instead of Opels. I kinda doubt the reality of that happening, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, back in Heilbronn, Elder Pexton will be training a missionary fresh out of the MTC and he is glad to have that opportunity. Although, that means that he really does have to wake up in the morning and do some exercise to set a good example for the new kid.

We had a street display this week on Saturday and it went alright and we got a few numbers. However, we got in a little "scuff" with the Fuzz 'cause somebody felt like we were being "aggressive" (codeword for standing in front of them so that they actually look at us and don't just get stuck in their little German world). So we had to just stand there and hope that someone took a card from one of our outstretched hands.

We taught our Nigerian investigator Arisa this week. He's heard everything multiple times and we just try to help him by giving him more things to think about and hoping that at some point he decides that he is ready to stop smoking (which he knows is a sin, by the way). We shared Alma Chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon with him. He really enjoyed verse 40 for how forward it is, "For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil." Later in the chapter it asks, if you are not one of the sheep of the Good Shepherd, then whose sheep are you? Hopefully that will be something that will help Arisa to decide to give up the few things that are preventing him from being baptized.

The work is moving forward in Heilbronn and I'm sad to have to leave it, but nothing will stop the work of God as it rolls forward.

Yes, I will be sending a package. I don't really know when that time will come but hopefully soon since I'm kinda running out of places to put stuff. We'll see.

I hope everyone has a wonderful time in California, or wherever you hail from. Have a good week. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß

Can It Really Rain Almost Everyday?????

Received August 8, 2011

Can it really rain almost everyday. can. We have been having a lot of rain, but it is never really a ton of rain. Usually it is in the morning or evening sometime and then the rest of the day is warmer. One interesting thing is that the rain in the evening almost always causes a rainbow as the sun sets and it is almost always in the same place. We decided to start going to some places in the past week that probably haven't heard the gospel in a while. We went off to Gundelsheim which has a really awesome castle, but that wasn't the point. We were actually way on the south end of the city far away from the castle when we doored into a lady that really had some interest in finding out about what we believed. She is the kind of person that really wants proof if she is going to believe in something. She said that it was hard for her to believe in God, but we showed her the Book of Mormon and how it was another evidence that God is there and that he loves his children and wants them to know that he is there and that he lives. She was very interested in all the things that separate us from the other churches that everyone knows in Germany. It is always great to testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the restored priesthood of God to act in his name and that our church is the same one that Jesus Christ founded, not as the Jehovah's Witnesses say which implies that it just simply has existed since the beginning of time, but that the Church was restored by Jesus Christ (Jehovah) himself and his messengers by calling a prophet to restore all the things that went wrong because of the ignorance of man. We met an older couple the other day who believe in Kabbalah. As great of an idea as it seems, it pretty much makes you God and just assumes that everyone is right about everything and there is no eternal law that holds everything together and points out right and wrong. When I told them that I thought that it was interesting, they asked me how old I was. Upon my response that I am 19, they said that no one could possibly begin to understand it until they are at least 40 years old. What kind spirituality excludes people that are younger from understanding the world and why we are here? We are the only ones holding ourselves back from knowing what is and what is not. The true gospel of Jesus Christ is something that everyone including little children can understand. We learn by making mistakes and then we have the opportunity to repent and make up for what we did and when we do that we can become stronger than we were before.

I have come to the realization that most of the time, we are mistaken for some kind of religious radicals. In reality, that is most of the churches that do proselyting in Germany. I am also so horribly disappointed in the churches of Germany that have made so many people absolutely Godless. Most conversations with people go something like this: "Do you believe in God?" (Shrug of shoulders followed by a grunt that means something like "I don't know") "What does that mean?" "I'm not sure if I believe in God." "Because?" "I was born Catholic (or Protestant Evangelical) and eventually I decided that it wasn't for me." "How did you come to that decision?" Then follow the varied responses that really just kill me: "When our son died we didn't get any sympathy or help from our church." "I was just constantly disappointed with God's servants." "I won't pay tax anymore for an institution that is like the Catholic church." (Or the worst) "I really don't want to talk about it." What kind of responses are those? There is a God and it doesn't matter who is representing Him, he has never changed. The people just expect that whatever church they grew up in had to be the only church that could have been right and then when they get disappointed in the leaders of that church, they don't go in search of a church that doesn't disappoint them, they just close off their life from all religion whatsoever and say that everyone is the same. As missionaries, we are out here to explain to people that there is a true church and that God calls people by revelation (not by how good of a preacher they might be) to lead his church. The principles of the gospel are still the same even if the leaders let you down in one way or another, because in all honesty they are humans too with all the same failings you have. Usually the people who have problems with the way something is going should look at themselves first and see what they could change first before being critical of God and his servants and if you don't know if your church is the right one, then pray about it and study the scriptures and you will know which church is right.

God is there. Anyone that is looking for direction, or even if they think that they are found, should look into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you really ask God in prayer which church is correct, He will lead you to discover the Church because it is (despite anything that anyone may spread about the church in articles, internet, or books) quite literally the ONLY church that can be true. I ask someone to find me a reason why the church isn't true, because if it isn't then I don't want to spend one more minute of my time on something that isn't from God. However, I know that no one can tell me that this church isn't true. There is no reasonable argument against it. It is just awesome knowing that and I wish that I could tell everyone that in the 3 minutes or so that I have to talk to them (and in German). I'll keep working on that.

As regarding things that I need my mother to know, everything is fine. You should probably wait until after transfer calls which should be at the end of this week. If I leave, I will be leaving next Wednesday. We'll see. I hope you have a good week and that everything is great with your new job. Tschüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Running in the rain...again

Received August 1, 2011

So, as the subject line would suggest, we had another little run in with the weather of Deutschland. We were riding on a bus to go out to a less active member and it had begun to rain pretty badly. As we arrived at our stop it had not let up at all. We got out and amid thunder and sheets of rain we ran off in the direction we thought would be best to stay dry. Of course, we went in the wrong direction and ended up without any covering at all except for just underneath the overhang of someone's garage. That wasn't that great either but it was enough. Elder Pexton had forgotten his umbrella and we had been just running around aimlessly in the rain. Needless to say, we were pretty soaked. However, the rain let up a little bit and we ran for cover under another bus stop where we waited another 10 minutes or so for a little more let up in the rain. Still raining, the clouds did not seem to get much better but at least it wasn't hailing. We started down the street looking for the house in which this less active member lives. As we walked down the street we saw a man standing just outside his door. We said hello and he said something back to us in Greek. Turns out, he is Greek but knows how to speak German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. It was interesting. He even went in and came back out with two bottles of juice for us to drink. It was very nice of him and he even took a Restoration pamphlet. As we went on our way, Elder Pexton said "Wasn't it just raining a few minutes ago?" As it turns out, we weren't even on the street we were supposed to be on anymore. Sometimes things like that just happen. Sometimes you also talk to three different people that all approach you on the same 10 minute bus ride. That happens too. People are just placed in your way. This week we also went to the German Red Cross to talk to people in the assisted living home. The people were all really nice and with the help of our friend from the Red Cross, we were able to go down into the garden and sit and talk with some of the people in the closed off area who can't go out alone. The man that I talked to was actually Czech, but when he was 9 years old he moved to Wien and was there during the occupation by the Americans, Russians and the French. He told lots of stories about what it was like. It was really a fun time and we will probably go there every week to do that.

It has been rather strange here as it applies to the weather. It has rained a lot and we ahve had a lot of really cold days. It feels more like November but it's actually August. It's CRAZY! It's weird to think that I have been out for 7 months now. Time passes crazy fast and it is interesting to see what has happened. It also makes me a little disappointed in the people of Heilbronn seeing as how there is really not a lot to count for our daily work. I guess we'll have to work harder but it really is a hard area. When we do find people to teach, we talk to them for a few minutes on the street and set up an appointment and then they aren't even there the next day when we come. Nobody takes their own word seriously anymore. However I may yet have another opportunity to sing in our ward in a coming Sunday. That will be fun. I hope you have a great week and that fun opportunities show up. Tschusss.....

The Things A Missionary Wishes He Could Do or Have

Received July 25, 2011

I've done some thinking this week about what some of the things are that I find myself wishing that I could do or have. It's an interesting list of things, most of which I can't really do anything about. But a guy can hope right?

1) Why can't there just be a sign on someone's door when they are not home to tell us not to sit there waiting at their door for 3 minutes.
2) If I could speak Turkish, that would be great!
3) Just get that one appointment with people (before they close the door in your face) in which they would be able to feel the spirit and decide to be baptized.
4) Have power over the government to just grant people visas or citizenship so that they could get work and pay for their own trip to church on Sunday instead of requiring the Branch President to go out of his way to pick up someone at 8:15 in the morning.
5) To just have our own computer so that we didn't have to use the nasty ones at the internet cafes.
6) Have unlimited supplies of all languages of the Book of Mormon at hand when we promise someone, "Yeah, we have it in Croatian (or Albanian, Urdu, Arabic, Greek, etc.) and we can bring that over tomorrow".
7) Have a lie detector to tell us if they are actually going to be there at such and such a time and at such and such a place.
8) A full map that actually covers our whole area.
9) For those in the Alpine German Speaking Mission, Lederhosen!
10) Free haircuts from people that speak English.
11) A big huge list of other things that just show up during the day.

So, yeah, what can you do? Just hope that the point and the purpose of the message makes it's way into their ears and doesn't find the way out too fast. Sometimes you have situations like what's happening right now where a member of the church just comes up to you and starts talking to you about how he has been in Thailand for the past while and produces a Book of Mormon in English, Thai and Hindi. Sometimes crazy stuff like that just happens. This place is awesome and the people are sooooo cool. Ich liebe das Vaterland! I hope that everyone has a great week and a good timing doing whatever it is that they are doing. Tschusss....

Half an hour of something about William...What?

Received July 18, 2011

Why was it necessary that I listen to a man talk unendingly about a false prophet? I have no idea but watch out Los Angeles. Apparently he was caught up in a pillar of fire...maybe I understood that part wrong. Maybe someone can explain to me what really happened there. Otherwise, hello family on the other (comfier) side of the world. In our apartment we have taken to using the pull code on the fans since the dumb lightswitch is broken. I have already fixed it once and it's not worth electrocution just to fix a dumb light. Also, only about half of the bulbs in our apartment still function normally. We should probably do something about that.

This week we went to three eating appointments in two days. The first two were on Monday. We essentially went straight from our morning activities to the Henkels in Bretzfeld and then left there to get on a train to Ohringen. We walked a little bit in Ohringen but that was pretty much it. The food was great as always, but it is just too much sometimes. The next day we went to the Zander family in Waldenburg way on the edge of our area where the Prince of Waldenburg still lives. The Zanders are always so awesome and Bru. Zander and I engaged in a 20 minute conversation about modern opera literature which pretty much went way over the head of Elder Sills and the two grandsons that were there. On Wednesday, Elder Sills left Offenburg and I met my new companion Elder Pexton. He is from Colorado and was a swimmer, wrestler and gymnast. He's really cool and has a guitar. So far he has endured the onslaught of my music and unending talk of musical things. We decided on Thursday to go and see if we could come in contact with Schw. Soare. She is from Romania and was baptized in Tubingen. She went inactive because of some problems with the members and one day after moving to Heilbronn she saw the Elders and said that she was a member. The Elders got her records transferred to Heilbronn and since then we have tried to get her to come back to church. She had talked to Elder Sills a few times on the phone but usually we would have long periods of not hearing from her at all. We also tried coming to her house many times but she was never there. Finally I decided to go again on Thursday and Elder Pexton and I pushed her klingel (call box). Just when I was about to give up and turn to go home, she poked her head out of the window and seeing that it was us she let us in. Having no other adult male around, we went outside to talk with her. Lots of things have happened in her life and she is just not too trusting of people anymore but she does trust the Elders (since they are American). We talked for a long time and we finally convinced her to come to church. We then committed her to become active and prepare to go to the temple so that she can find some of the purpose that she has been looking for in her life. On Saturday we had the opportunity to go to Pforzheim for a street display. Sister Chappel got transferred to Wien with Sister Lind who speaks wonderful German and will be a great influence for her and we got Sister Carroll from Wien. It was a happy reunion for us since she was actually on the train to Wien when I was first sent there. She has a lovely voice too and when we sant as a group as part of the display it was really awesome sounding. We talked to tons of people and I almost got an Italian man to take a Book of Mormon in Italian. He wasn't willing to meet though since it has caused trouble in his family before since his family is very Sicilian and very Catholic. He said that he would look at the website and the pamphlets though. One Sunday we got on our first bus to Allee Post which is where we take our bus to church. Upon arriving at the stop we saw Schw. Soare sitting there dressed for church and ready to go. We were so happy that someone finally kept their promise and came. She really was cautious at first because she doesn't like Schwabisch (Swabian) people. As the church started to fill up a member family from Switzerland came in and added about 9 people to our congregation. Brian, Michelle and Jessica came and they actually stayed for the whole three hours. It was an awesome time in church. Schw. Soare even had a really good time in Relief Society talking about eternal marriage and the other members really liked her. We were invited afterward to the Lichners house where they got to know Elder Pexton a little better. Christoph Lichner got his mission call and will be serving in the Berlin Mission. That will be good for him and I think he is excited. It was a whirlwind of a week and way wet since it pretty much rained almost every day. I hope you have a nice week and that it doesn't rain as much as it has here (actually I really like the rain). Tschusss!!!

Seid ihr Polener? Nein...Amerikaner...

Received July 11, 2011

Sometimes people just ask you some weird questions. Who would honestly think that we were from Poland and all we said was hello. Anyway, this week was pretty good. We did a lot but I can't even remember half of it. The highlight was going to Stuttgart on Thursday to meet President and Sister Miles. It was a really good time. When they said that one of their daughters is currently a BYU flute performance major, I had to try to think whether I knew her or not. As far as I can remember, I don't know her but who knows? They are really great and because of their newness they are doing almost everything in English. That's a nice language to hear. After the interviews with the President, Elder Hebbert (one of the zone leaders) and I went off back to Heilbronn where we promptly found several people who were interested in receiving a copy of the Book of Mormon. That was fun. I love going on exchanges when I don't have to go to their area. It was a really good exchange. The next morning came the call to tell me that I am staying in Heilbronn and that Elder Sills is going to Offenburg. I will be receiving an Elder Pexton who was actually Elder Sills' companion in the MTC. That will be pretty funny. Someday I will put some pictures up for everyone to see but today is not that day. It is rather hot here in Heilbronn, but sometimes it will suddenly start raining. Curious...very curious. Anyway, the work moves on.

Yes, I did get your package. It came with a bitter price though. I received a message from the Zollamt (Customs) that they had my package and that I had to pick it up myself from their office, which NO buses go to BY THE WAY! Upon arrival there they had me open the package and pull the contents out. Apparently meat is not allowed to be send to Germany. I think they should bring that up with the USPS and let me have my beef jerky but anyway he said that he would "dispose of it" (customs code for: enjoy eating it myself). I then had to walk back in their very curious rain with my package under my arm empty of it's former deliciousness. I have been enjoying the rest of it though, especially the CDs. I have also enjoyed the contents of another package from the Young Women. I will be sending them a letter in the very near future. I hope y'all are having a great time in the OC or wherever people are reading this. Have a nice week. Tschuss!

Chiesa Gesu Christo, hier spricht Elder Neumayer...o Hallo Elder Hawker

Received July 4, 2011

So this was an interesting week. Not too much happened but it was good anyway. Was kama sagen? We found out that our investigator Jessica cannot be baptized because her parents won't allow her, but she can still keep learning from us so we will continue doing what we can. We did a lot of traveling this week. One day we accidentally took a wrong bus that ended up taking 3 hours to turn around. Yep, that's the Heilbronn area for you. We went to a few cool little towns that just randomly have big castles up on the hills. I've decided that pretty much all of the cool things, besides castles, are just out of reach of our area. Especially all the things that are just barely maybe 5-10 miles outside the boundaries of the mission. We did have one cool day this week when we went to Pforzheim where the Sisters in our District were having a street display. We talked with a lot of people and they actually got a lot of members to show up. We were kinda fighting for attention down on a little side street because on the main street there were three other displays. One was for Islam (that was a big surprise), another for a "Jesus loves you" kind of group, and another one for (of all things) Scientology. It was a productive day for Elder Patchett who was successful in procuring for himself both a Qu'ran and a Dianetics book. We got quite a few referrals and appointments for Pforzheim so it was successful. That took pretty much the whole day. Some Sunday in the near future I will be signing "Where Love Is" for our Branch. It will be fun...probably. Today we are going to Neuenstein where there is a really cool inner city and a big palace. There's not much we can do to celebrate the 4th of July but we'll do our best. Eat a nice big slice of apple pie and a couple of dozen hot dogs for me. I'm a whole quarter way through my mission and it's crazy. I hope everyone has a great week and that everything is roses, unicorns, bunnies, American flags and fireworks! Tschussss!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A drinking fountain? Naaaaaaaa, I'm just imagining things.

Received June 27, 2011

But there it was. In all it's resplendent glory, a drinking fountain in the middle of the city on Neckarsulm. Elder Sills and I, of course, had to test it out and it was one of the biggest novelties. Elder Sills actually wanted a picture of himself drinking from it so I took it for him. Another highlight from this week includes going on one of the few ferries in the mission. Yes, we got to ride on a boat! That's something that almost nobody gets to say but we happened to require passage on a ferry to get to the lovely city of Hassmersheim. There aren't a ton of people living there but the city was interesting to look at. We also went to Bad Wimpfen which has the honor of the world's longest tradition of a watchman. So yes, someone sits up on top of the tower through the night to make sure that nothing bad happens or to sound the cal in case any invading armies approach the city. Anyway it was pretty cool and they have an awesome tower there that looks over the whole valley. Yeah, there are just some cool things in this mission!

It is getting really hot in Germany. I hope it doesn't stay like this for too long. I hope that this week is great and everyone has fun together! I will send pictures when I actually have a USB port on the computer I am able to use. Tschuuuuuuuuuusssssss!!!!!!!

Elder Sills hat mit einen Teddybar gerungen. Und deswegen sieht er so aus

Received June 20, 2011

There is a pretty cool story to go along with this email's subject line. However, it's all false. While I was in Waiblingen on exchange, Elder Sills decided that his nose must be really dirty and that he needed to scrub it...bad idea. I saw him the next day and he had a nasty burn on his nose because he had rubbed all the skin off the top. Then it got even stranger looking as it began to leak some sort of orangy liquid. After that stopped, then began the lies. the story took on many forms including me biting him, bar fights, wrestling a real bear, wrestling a teddy bear, the list goes on. Anyway we told the story about a million times and eventually Elder Sills had to tell everyone the truth. Sister Hartig gave him some sort of cream that did some miracle and he is almost back to normal now. Not a ton happened this week. Last Monday we went to Schwabisch Hall where there is a really well preserved old part of the town. It sits in a little valley between the hills and has a quaint little river flowing through it. We happened to have the luck of going there on a day when the town was having a huge festival and lost of people were wearing Tracht and shooting black powder rifles and drinking lots of beer. It was cool. There are a few pictures to along with this email that show some of the stuff that we saw but I will send them next week.

We had a lesson with our African investigator Arisa. He came to church and instead of taking him to the regular Sunday School class where lots of big words would be used or the Temple Prep class, we decided that it would be in his best interest to just have a lesson with him. We got Christof Lichner who is going on a mission soon and Kevin Hartig who might not be going on a mission (?) and had them help us in the lesson by giving testimony. It was really great for everyone. We talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and we invited Arisa to be baptized. He really wants to and we set a date for him but he doesn't know if he'll be able to quit smoking by then. We will call him this week and see what he thinks after having some time to think about it.

After church we had two eating appointments in a row. People just love us I guess. We went to the Branch President's house and had home made cherry juice. It was good and the food was awesome. Then we left just in time to get on a Stadt Bahn where we rode an our to our next appointment at the Lichner's. They are just too cool! Right now their coolness is even higher because they are hosting an American college student named Caitlin. She is doing some sort of study abroad program where she is just the "caretaker" for a bunch of other American students that are studying at the Hochschule Heilbronn. She gets to chill out in Germany for a couple of weeks making sure the kids don't do anything dumb. That sounds like a cool job. she was actually once a vocal performance major at BYU but then she switched to German as her major. She's way cool to talk to because she's American and as missionaries we love to talk to Americans. So that was pretty much all the excitement this week. I hope everything is great at home. Until next time, Tschuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusssss!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guten Taaaaaaaggggggggg!!!!!!!!!!

Received June 13, 2011

Happy Pfingst Monday everybody! Otherwise known as Pentacost Monday. I never thought that you could possibly have a day as dead as this. There wasn't anybody outside when we went to do emails. It's also sprinkling which is nice because that means that it's not hot. Just to be clear, that baptism we went to that I talked about in last week's email was the Pforzheim Sister's, not one of my investigators. I wish it was mine, it would mean that someone was actually progessing in Heilbronn. That's a little harsh sounding but it's kinda true. Nobody has time to meet with us. Anamul is going down to Ulm to be with his kids for the week so we might not meet this week at all. We met him by chance yesterday on the bus and he said that he had the 1st lesson pamphlet with him. We suggested that he read it on his way to Ulm since it's something like a 2 hour train ride away. Jessica would be doing a lot better if we could meet with her more but a lot of meeting with her depends on us having her boyfriend Brian there and he's not always too reliable. She is scheduled to be baptized on the 25th but we might have to move that back a few weeks if we don't start meeting with her a lot more. We have decided to end out pause with Arisa because he decided to come to church last week of his own accord. So we had a lesson appointment and we came to the asylum (political not insane) where he lives and we went to his room. Two of his friends who also live there were there and said that he was gone for the day and we couldn't call him because his cell phone was off. They said that we could wait there to see if he came back. After introducing ourselves, one of them, Franky from Gambia, asked us to share a message with him! That never happens! So we shared with the both of the the Einfuhrungs Lektion which is like a lesson 0 of sorts. We introduce the basic points of the message of the restoration without getting too much in depth and then present the Book of Mormon to them and invite them to read it. It is a great way of keeping the message simple to people who many times have not even heard of the church. Both of the guys said that they would read the book and Franky even said the closing prayer. He thanked the Lord that we came to them and that we share the message with them. He also prayed that he would be able to understand every word in the book through the Holy Spirit. He's just too cool for school!

Yesterday, we had a fun little experience with two drunk men at church. They came into the foyer during our Sacrament meeting and started talking really loud at which a couple of our members went outside to discuss this with them. The drunk guys said that they just wanted to observe our church services and that they pay the church tax. The church tax by the way doesn't apply to the LDS church since we are a private church and his tax does not pay us. Anyway, they had a nice little discussion until they needed to go smoke. They stood outside the gate and smoked and then came back at which point a member of Ludwigsburg Ward invited them in to their sacrament meeting which was just starting then. They went in and all was well until suddenly one of them dropped the "F" bomb and started yelling something about YouTube. They were pretty well out of it. Upon that, the (larger) Ludwigsburg members threw them out and they went away saying something about us being a sect. That was fun.

We went to the Henkel family's house for lunch. It was amazing. There was a lot of asparagus, of the white variety, and it actually wasn't too bad steam cooked with a hollandaise on top. There were amazing german potatoes and other vegetables. There was also really tender chicken. It was so good. We ended up staying there a really long time which was probably fine since nobody would have wanted to be disturbed on Pentacost Sunday. When it is a holiday, IT IS A HOLIDAY and people don't care what you have to say. Anyway, it was a great Sunday despite the drunk people.

I will probably be staying here for another transfer but Elder Sills will likely go somewhere else since he has been here 7 months already. I may make a package of stuff to send to you including some things that I have obtained in my travels here. I am running out of room in my suitcases and they are just too heavy!

Have a great week and I hope everything is sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. As always, Tschuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuussssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 times to Stuttgart in one week!

Received June 6, 2011

Like the subject line say, we went to Stuttgart 3 times this week. That's an hour long train ride each way by the way. It was all for good reasons though. First, we went to a District meeting like always and it was fun there like usual. The second time was to go to the Stake Center so that Elder Sills could give a baptismal interview to the investigator of the Pforzheim Sisters. That was fun because we don't usually get to meet the investigators of other companionships. The investigator is really nice and cool and does slack lining which is kinda like tight rope walking. She is actually from further north but she's studying in Pforzheim. After the interview Sister Anderson wanted to sing Be Still My Soul and I accompanied her on the piano...yea, me. It wasn't too bad. The third time to Stuttgart was the baptism itself on Saturday. This was by far the most interesting trip. As the train pulled up, we could tell something was up by the chanting and the fact that the back car was bouncing. The doors opened and we stuffed ourselves in with an entire train full of loud and very drunk soccer fans from Mannheim who were going down to Reutlingen for a game. They don't like Schwabs very much as evidenced by the songs they were singing which I will NOT write here. We stood in the part of the train with the police and felt pretty safe in their midst. That was the longest, loudest and stinkiest ride ever. When we got out in Stuttgart we walked really fast as the rest of the train poured out and the drums and chanting began to ring out. Crazy? Yeah.

The baptism though was amazing. It went really well and there was food afterward. After everyone cleared out of the rooms Elder Hawker wanted me to sing something for him since has never heard me sing before. We started with All Creatures of Our God and King and he was just smiling the whole time. We also sang God of Our Fathers in all its resplendent glory and it was really fun. Everyone out in the hall was taking a peek in now and then from the doorway. One of the men there came and "Wow, that's a voice Elder Neumayer! Satan just trembled!" A younger married girl out in the hallway told Elder Sills that she wished her husband sang like that. I just love singing when there's someone to play the piano for me. It's so cool. Things are always just better with music.

I got your package. Thanks. It had a lot of goodies in it. By the way, Sister Condie has put a ban on all salads for the time being due to the e.coli thing. And yes, your little calendar thing is correct, it has been raining today and a lot. It's a fun place this Heilbronn. I just wish it was moving a little more missionary-wise. Have a fun week and as always, Tschuuuuuuuuuuusssssssssssssssssssss!

Wos sagt er? Der Donau er Moperle? Das is ja Blodsinn!

Received May 30, 2011

Another week in Heilbronn! This week was filled with a whole lot of nothing. People and their appointments feel out quite a few times. It was insanity! But, we had some good conversations with some fun people, We got a new sim card in our phone and for the first couple of days we were having trouble calling people, which was something we HAD to do since the sim card came with a new phone number. That was not cool. We have to go and change all of our numbers on the cards that we had already stamped and call everybody that we actually have contact with to tell them about the new number. It's a good thing that those cards that we had already given out still have the internet address on them. We went to a part member family this week where the husband, who is not a member, is an avid bonsai tree grower. I never thought I would meet a German that grew bonsai trees. The wife is also an avid gardener and they have an olive tree in their back yard! Another thing I never thought I would see in Germany. They also have a very sweet Afghan hound that just walks around and looks pretty.

We finally got invited to an after church lunch at a member's house thus breaking the three week long famine in the land. The Lichners are an awesome family and it is always amazing to spend time with them. Wolfgang Lichner, the husband, is like the German version of Jared Thomas, the other Sarastro in the BYU Magic Flute. He's just as tall if not taller and speaks just as low and is just as awesome and nice. In the entire Stuttgart Zone, there are three people with baptism dates. One is from us, another from the Pforzheim Sisters and the other is in the Stuttgart International. That means our district is leading in baptismal dates right not. It's cool and we expect the work to continue to expand as people get to know the missionaries and see the blessings of accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope you have a wonderful week and that the sun shines and isn't as hot there as it is here! Until next week, Tschuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuss!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Captain's Log

Received May 23, 2011

THIS is THE 3rd WEEK in a row...that MEMBERS have not FED the MISSIONARIES on Sunday...We WILL soon NEED to go out in SEARCH of NOURISHMENT ourselves...WHO knows WHAT we MAY encounter...WILL send out the RED SHIRT guy first to SEE if EVERYTHING is clear and then travel out INTO the UNKNOWNNNNNN.....

But seriously, this week has been one of the best. It all started on Monday with our opportunity to go on exchanges with the Assistants to the President. They came later in the day and Elder Baird and I went off to Ohringen while Elders Adams and Sills stayed in Heilbronn. We talked to quite a few people on our way to the Dieterle family. One of the most interesting people was a kid at the train station who was just sitting on top of a bench smoking. Elder Baird approached him and asked him if he had ever thought about some of the questions of life, "Where did I come from?", "What happens after this life?". He said that he hadn't really thought about any of those kinds of things. He accepted the invitation to talk a little more about the gospel later. We ended up having another meeting with him later in the week where he took a Book of Mormon. We continued from the train station to the Dieterles and talked to quite a few people on the way. Arriving there just on time, we came up and ate dinner. As usual, Michelle Dieterle's friend Kathrine and Brian Dieterle's girlfriend Jessica were both there. Neither are members and Elder Baird took the opportunity to teach them the message of the Restoration of the Gospel. At the end he committed both to read the Book of Mormon and Jessica even committed to be baptized on June 25th. We taught her one other time last week and she even came to church on Sunday. She's a little hard to get comments out of but she pays attention to the messages. We will be teaching her tonight. We also had Zone Conference this week and lots of fun things were learned there. Transfer calls were this week and Elder Sill and I are both staying for another transfer. Lots of fun stuff going on here. I hope everyone has a great week. Tschuuuuuusssss!

Friday, May 20, 2011

"That Looks Pretty Bad, Elder Sills." "Na, We'll Be Fine."

Received May 16, 2011

So this was a pretty good week. We got to go to Das Rheingold. It was really well sung but the production was really weird. But like I said though the most important part was that the singers were good. Oh and there was FIRE! It was a P-day well spent. On Sunday we didn't get invited over for lunch so we went back home to eat. As we left it started sprinkling a little but it looked fine. It was just a little cold. We took an S-bahn out to Leingarten to go to a former investigator. As we got out I looked to the east and there were enormous and ominous storm clouds. The conversation in the subject line occurred and then we started off. We got about halfway there when it was essentially a downpour with hail and lightning to boot! When the lightning started we were like "Let's go back"! The we ran all the way back to the station running through the huge puddles that had just showed up in the past minute or two getting pelted by hail all the way. It didn't really make much difference that I had brought my umbrella because we were soaked anyway. We just went back home and dried off for half an hour or so (my shoes are still not dry) and then we went back out, just to a different place where we ended up having some good conversations and gave someone a Book of Mormon. Maybe we just weren't supposed to go to Leingarten? Anyway, it's been a great week and today we are going on splits with the Assistants to the President. It will be awesome. It sounds like everything is awesome at home. I hope that everything is sunshine, rose, puppy dogs and unicorns! Until next week, Tschuuuuuuuuuuusssssss!