Monday, January 12, 2015

Email - January 12, 2015

Yo tango un testimonio en el Dios y tambien en el Libro de Mormon. El libro de Mormon es mi libro favorito.

Well, family, this is it! This is so weird, I really don't like it. I've been trying to ignore the fact for so long, but now I'm seeing some people for literally the last time, and I have to force myself to face the fact that I'm leaving and saying goodbye. It's been really, really hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be. I had a good, long interview with President Stoddard last week, which was the best preparation I could ever have for going home. We talked about everything, and he helped me really to feel that the Lord is pleased with me and my efforts, even when I haven't been able to receive that witness and confirmation on my own. I hope that He is. I hope that I did enough. But I can't change that now, I can only give everything that's left in me to these last few days, and then submit my work to Him! This could be the longest email ever, but I'm not going to do that, because you'll all hear it from me a million times over as soon as I'm home. You're going to very quickly ask me to stop sharing stories and talking about my mission. My mission has changed my life. It has saved me. It has given me my own testimony, and made it as solid as steel. This Church is true and is the only living church on the earth.

 Das weiß ich von ganzem Herzen. Ich könnte mein Zeugnis nie verleugnen. Es, und die Erfahrungen die ich gesammelt habe bedeuten mir viel zu viel, um sowas je zu machen. Ich liebe meinen Herrn, und weiß dass er mir in allem beisteht. Er versteht mich mit einem vollkommenen Verständnis, und freut sich jedes mal wenn ich zu ihm komme, egal aus welchem Grund. Ich werde nie der selbe Mensch sein der ich vor meiner Mission war. Das Evangelium ist ein Evangelium und Lebensweise der Änderungen. Das Evangelium verlangt dass wir uns ändern mussen. Uns zu ändern heißt das wir das Evangelium gelebt und beherzigt haben. Ich werde immer würdig dafür leben, die Beziehungen und Freundschaften, die ich entwickelt habe, zu pflegen und behalten. Jesus Christus steht im Mittelpunkt in meinem Leben, und wird da stehen bleiben. Ich bin froh dass ich diese Chance hatte, ihm dienen zu dürfen und mich wachsen zu lassen.

 (I know with all my heart. I could never deny my testimony . It, and the experience I have gained important to me too much to make something ever. I love my master, and knows that he stands by me in everything. He understands me with a perfect understanding, and looks forward to every time I come to him, for whatever reason . I'll never be the same person I was before my mission. The gospel is a gospel and lifestyle changes. The Gospel demands that we must change ourselves. To change us, that means we have the gospel lived and heeded. I will always live worthy of it, to maintain and keep the relationships and friendships I've developed . Jesus Christ is at the center of my life, and will remain there. I'm glad that I had the chance to be able to serve him, and to let me grow.)

 This last week was filled with transfer planning, the transfer call, and driving to Nürnberg to be present at an amazing baptism that President couldn't be at, so he sent us in his place. Also, after church yesterday, we ordained Daniel to the Aaronic Priesthood as a Priest. Couldn't be happier right now. :)

 This next week is simply filled with appointments to say goodbye and hand over the teaching to Elder Allen and Elder Lovelace, who will be taking my spot, and then spending the day with the new goldens, then the leavers' temple session and testimony meeting, and then at 8:05 a.m. my time the plane lifts off!

 I love you all. Unfortunately I can't sum up everything I want to in this email, but I hope that you will be able to see in me everything I wish I could say. I'll be seeing you all soon, so don't go anywhere anytime soon and don't have too much fun without me!

 zum letzten Mal... (for the last time…)

 Bis Freitag! (Until Friday!)

 Elder McGinn

Monday, January 5, 2015

Email - January 5, 2015

Fam! Happy New Year! Frohes Neues!

 I hope you all had a great week this week with New Year's! All missionaries had to be back in the apartments by 6 p.m. because it gets a little crazy, and before I knew it I woke up at 6:30. Didn't hear a single firework. Elder Allen, on the other hand, was exhausted because he couldn't sleep from the ruckus that was going on outside our window. Best night of sleep I've had my whole mission!

 It's official, Elder Emery is out of the country. Elder Allen and I dropped him off this morning at President's so that they could drive to the airport, and it was sad to see him go.  It wasn't too hard saying goodbye though, knowing that I'm just over a week behind him and I'll see him soon! Right now it's just chaos getting Elder Allen up to speed! Okay, it's not chaos, but it is a lot. Haha he's definitely the man for the job though, I like him a lot! He's as obedient and diligent as they come, and picks things up really fast. He is already doing and will continue to do an awesome job, I'm excited for him, and pumped that he is my last and 13th companion for the last two weeks that I have!

 There we go, now I feel like I'm in the loop! Sounds like a good Christmas after all. :) Haha I'm excited to see what you all have got waiting for me when I'm back! We had dinner at President's last night, and he was telling me that Geneva Steel has been completely taken down and that now there's some kind of UVU practice facility out there and new housing! That's crazy, if so! He also said that a lot of stakes might be being reorganized to cover those areas down to the lake! Will that call for any changes in our stake?

 Ah, you lucky punks, you've seen Ben already! I'm so happy that he's doing well! I can't wait to see him and the other guys. Uh oh, you're scaring me, Mom! I wanna know what my calling is! I'll co-teach the 11 year olds with you. :) C'mon, you know that'd be fun!

 This last week went well! It flew. Elder Allen came on Monday and we got right away breaking him in. On Tuesday we had Zone Training and a bunch of appointments, and the Dortmund Zone Leaders came down that afternoon for a split! I was with Elder James, who is in my group, and we had a blast. They took off on Wednesday afternoon in order to get back in time because we had to be in doors pretty early! On New Year’s day we had a bunch of appointments, many of which were goodbye appointments for Elder Emery! And then Friday and Saturday Elder Allen and I took off for Düsseldorf to split with the Zone Leaders there and to be at their Zone Training meeting! Everything went really well, including setting a baptismal date with one of their investigators! His name is Joseph, and he was really hesitant in accepting a baptismal date, so we took time to explain to him that setting a baptismal date does not mean that we are ready at that moment for baptism. Goals or dates are things that we work towards! I explained it in how I learned how to mow lawns from you, Mom! When I would get frustrated because I couldn't go in straight lines, and you told me that instead of looking right in front of the mower I should look down at the end of the yard, and walk towards that point. When I did that, my lines were straighter, the lawn looked better, and I got there quicker because I wasn't going back and forth! I tried to explain that that is how goals should be in our lives, and that is what setting a baptismal date will help him do with his progression in the gospel. He seemed to accept that idea, and then committed to setting a date for the 31st of January for his baptism. So let's hope he pulls through!

 This next week is the classic transfer planning week! And this transfer is going to be reaaaaaaally big, so we're going to be spending a lot of time in the mission home with President Stoddard! That's basically going to suck up most of our time this week except for a few appointments that we can squeeze in here and there! It's going to be good. Unfortunately, Jessica's nephew, Gabriel, wasn't at church this week, but Jessica's inactive sister, Brenda, was! Daniel was the one who let me know and made sure that I found and talked to her. Haha he's awesome. We were able to establish a really good relationship, and hopefully she'll keep coming! We're going over sometime this week to teach them. It will be good though, and before we know it it will be next week already! Shoot, don't wanna think about that.

 Well, I love you all! I have a testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only constant in our lives. Everything else will change. That's one of the biggest lessons I've learned on my mission, everything will change. Family, kids, friends, school, work, where you live, your favorite milkshake at Iceberg, literally everything! Everything EXCEPT the gospel. That will never change. No matter where you are, what situation, how old, the gospel will be the same. And that's why we need it so much, so that we have an anchor to hold on to, that will never budge. I love the gospel, and am grateful for that strong role it plays in my life. Build upon that foundation, and you will never be able to fall! I love the Lord and His work, which I'm blessed enough to be able to participate in.

 Bis nächste Woche!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, December 29, 2014

Email - December 29, 2014

The Krazy Krew,

 Long time no see/talk/hear? I can't believe it's already been 4 days since we talked! That was so good to talk to you all! Nothing has changed at all it seems like, except that three babies are coming in July!!!!!!! Holy, I'm so excited. When I left there was 1 grandkid, and now there's going to be five! What in the world! This will be the best summer ever.

 Alright, hold up. Literally none of you told me what you got for Christmas. What's up with that?! I knew Syd would just get rocks and have nothing to report, but I at least expected something from the rest! I expect to know next week! Haha but I'm glad Christmas was a success for you all as well. I loved it this year. Haha Dad, I'm sorry your murder mystery turned out to be a cheery musical. I'll watch something real manly with you eventually to make up for it.

 I'm glad everything went well with Hannah's homecoming talk! Crazy that she's already back. I'm sure she did awesome and is doing well. And come on BYU! I expected a little more out of them this year. But we'll see what happens when March rolls around! Maybe this is the year (Cougar fans have been saying for the last 80 years...)?

 Well, kind of like you guys, I don't have much to report on as well! After skyping we played some cards and had some dessert with the Southalls, and then turned in for the night! That was an awesome day with them up to that point. The beginning of the week went well, I was in Heidelberg on a split with Elder Mayne. We had a number of appointments including Rochelle, the recent convert I worked with and really like, and she gave us all little stress balls that have different facial expressions and each a different hardness, based on the facial expression! Elder Mayne got a yellow smiley one, that felt like a cotton ball, Elder Brown got a really hard one with a snarl face, and I got the one in between! She said they all represent our personalities. Hahaha, Elder Brown wasn't too happy about that. We also had the Christmas Devotional on the 24th at the church, where I got to play all the hymns, and also accompany two members in a musical number! I'm honestly not that good. I just make them look better in comparison to my lack of skill! Haha, but that was fun. We were then at a member's home where we opened our PJ's that I was wearing on the 25th! That was a blast. Then of course on Thursday we were at the Southall's and you all know what went down that day.

 On Friday we had district meeting and a district white elephant, where I got a picture frame and balloons. #lame. Then we had a lunch appointment, and then drove out to Jena for a split with the Zone Leaders! There was literally no one in that whole city. It's almost purely a college town, and 99 percent of the students were gone for the holidays. So with no appointments, we went out contacting, and in four hours of contacting we had 4 conversations with the only 4 people we saw that day. It went well though! No miracles to report just yet, but definitely not a wasted effort. We drove back to Frankfurt on Saturday night and hit a huge snow storm and it took us forever to get home. But the snow stuck, and I got to throw my first snowball since I was in the MTC!! Booyah! Sunday went well, but a lot of people are still out of town, so I'm looking forward to next week when everything gets back to a normal routine.

 I guess the biggest news of the week is that Elder Emery is officially leaving and headed back home for medical reasons. He's leaving next Monday, which a week and a half ago was super unexpected, and everything has unfolded super quickly! That means that we have about a week and a half between us going home, in the meantime, two new AP's have to be trained and caught up to speed in that amount of time! So the first new elder is coming up today from Nürnberg, and we will all be in a trio until Elder Emery goes home. Then me and Elder Allen, the new elder, will be together all of next week until the second new elder is called, and he joins us in two weeks from today. Then we'll be in a trio again and show them both all of the ropes until I go! And then it's good luck, friends! We got basically whitewashed. It's pretty stressful, knowing that we've got to pass on all of our knowledge about things in a very short time period, but Elder Allen and the second new elder are both really sharp, and will pick it up quick. So I would be more worried if it was anyone but them! So I definitely will be running through the tackle! There's a lot to do and not nearly enough time to do it! We have two splits this week, one with Dortmund and one with Düsseldorf, and Elder Allen will be coming along for all of them, so we're getting him right into gear! It's going to be a blast.

 I love you all, and hope you have a happy New Year! We'll be in the apartments by 6 p.m. because it gets a little crazy, so don't do anything too dumb! I love this church and this gospel, and I love letting it change me the more I soak it in. It is all true!

 See you in a week!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, December 22, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 22, 2014


 Fam! I hope you had an awesome week, because the best week of the year is here! We had a really great, really busy, kinda tiring week over here! Dortmund to Nürnberg to Offenbach, back to back to back! All of the Zone Conferences went really well! It was good to be able to literally see the entire mission within three days! The meetings were very powerful and spiritual, with a lot of humor as well. One of our guest speakers was Elder Axel Leimer, our Area Seventy here, who is also in the Frankfurt German Ward! Great man and an amazing family. He addressed obedience quite directly, and had a big impact on the missionaries! He also shared a 30 second clip from the movie Nacho Libre with Jack Black, to make a point! Haha all the missionaries loved having a Seventy let them watch 30 seconds of Nacho Libre!

 Elder Emery and I drove Santa's sleigh around the mission as we delivered over 80 packages to all of the ZoKos, our car was packed. We also had a little bit of time after the Nürnberg ZoKo to go to the Nürnberg city center and see the Christmas Market! That was a blast, I couldn't believe how big and gorgeous it was! That's something you all will have to witness with your own eyes one day, because pictures just don't do it justice. You can kinda see what it looks like, but you don't get the smells, sounds, tastes, or feel of it! It's a five sense experience, and sadly my pictures only give you one. One day!

 We also had a great MLC meeting on Friday, which Elder Leimer attended as well! We talked about "Becoming the Message", and the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders told us how this was the best MLC they had ever been to! So it sounded like a success! After MLC we headed back to the Frankfurt Chapel for Daniel's baptismal interview, which he rocked! The Wiesbaden Elders successfully came through and supplied me with some root beer, so that after his interview we had lasagna and root beer floats ready and waiting. They loved it! Daniel was so nervous before his interview, and when he was gone getting interviewed, Jessica told me that the whole week he was studying so hard and always calling or texting her saying "hey, where are the 10 commandments in the Bible? I need to memorize them!" or "when was the Word of Wisdom given? Should I memorize the date? What are the blessings we get from that, exactly?" and so many other questions, just trying so hard to feel ready to pass his interview and join the Church. Haha I love that guy. But it all went well, and he felt much better afterwards!

 And then came his baptism, on Saturday Evening!

 That was an experience for the books. Haha CLASSIC baptism, no one but the missionaries ever know what really goes down the whole time! I'll start from the beginning. Daniel and Jessica show up at the church an hour before, so we can all get ready. I have my white clothes, but he doesn't have any, so we grab him a white shirt, pants, and tie from the closet. As we're changing he's like "shoot, these pants are WAY too tight! I can't zip them up!" and walks out, looking hopeless. Haha. We're like the exact same size, and he was starting to stress out a little bit, so I was like "here, take my pants." which fit him perfect. So now I don't have pants. Elder Emery searches around, but ends up not being able to find any pants that will fit. They're all too tight. Then we see some pants hanging over a changing stall. There was a baptism earlier that day, and they were still drying out from that. But they were the closest we were gonna get with 10 minutes until we needed to start, so I took them and literally squeezed in. Could not get the zipper up for the life of me, so there's just a gaping hole in my wet pants. To cover it up, I just loosened my shirt and let it kinda hang over. Then I tied my tie really long, so that it would cover the hole when I sat down. So Daniel and I go out, me looking like I'm wearing wet spandex. Okay, not that bad, but that's what it felt like. Ends up no one there can play the piano... so guess who also played that? Daniel is looking awesome in white, but super super nervous, as people are giving talks. Then it's baptism time. I walk first into the water, turn around to make sure he's following, and don't realize that there's one more step, so I kinda stumble into the font, and Elder Emery tries not to laugh. Everything goes way smooth except for the fact that my pants almost ripped when I baptized him. But Daniel came up beaming, with his hand over his face. He couldn't believe it. He gave me the biggest hug of my life, dripping wet, and I'll never forget it. He could not stop smiling, and was trying to explain how he felt, until he was like "Elder McGinn, I feel like I've been wearing a 100 lb. backpack full of rocks my entire life, and that I just barely took it off and dropped it. That moment and comment made my mission completely worth it.

 Now as we're getting out of the font, I realize that I hadn't brought a change of clothes, and now everything is soaked. Crap. So I'm like "Elder Emery, I saw some clothes in the closet by bishop's office, go grab me those!" So he comes back with this snazzy looking suit and white shirt, all belonging to Bishop. (Bishop is leading the meeting and I knew he would notice) So we change and go back out, and I try to sit as conservatively as possible, holding a hymn book against my chest so that I don't attract more attention than necessary. But then Jessica bore the most powerful, sincerest testimony I've ever heard, and she and Danny were basically in tears, so happy, still smiling as big as ever. As soon as the meeting was over, I switched back out of the suit and into my coat, and then we had dinner out in the cultural hall. Hahaha goodness. Most stressful, relaxing, spiritual, funniest meeting of my entire life. And only Elder Emery and I knew all that went down. By far the highlight of the week.

 Yesterday we confirmed him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he gave us all the biggest hugs after the blessing. So many people came up to him afterwards, congratulating and hugging him and welcoming him, it was amazing to see the fellowshipping from the ward. And then after Church we went that night to the Leimers (wow, we saw Elder Leimer a lot this week) and went caroling to their neighbors with all the missionaries, Jessica and Daniel, and a few other members in the ward! Then we had hot chocolate, soup, cupcakes, and a spiritual thought at their house afterwards. IT WAS AN AWESOME WEEK.

 This week is going to be just as amazing. Tomorrow we will be in Heidelberg, Wednesday is Christmas Eve with Dinner at President's and at a member's home, Thursday is CHRISTMAS and I get to see all of your charming faces, Friday is the second Christmas Holiday, and we'll be spending that in Jena, and then it's Saturday, Sunday, and I'm back again! Time is flying by, I tell you what.

 It sounds like you all have a fun week planned! I hope the gifts add a little bit of German flavor to your holidays! I really hope nothing was broken! Also, the chocolate is all for you guys, so dig in!  I I look forward to seeing you all soon! Have the best holiday week ever! And don't damage that Gingerbread house...that belongs in the Louvre!

 The Church is true! Scripture of the week: Helaman 3:27. I am really impressed from that scripture lately, I don't know why. But never underestimate the power of prayer. Be grateful, be happy, be smart, be warm, and we'll see you soon!

 Merry Christmas!

 -- Elder McGinn
Nurnberg Weihnachtsmarkt with the Gublers (office couple) and Sister Stoddard.

HUGE Sausages!

1/2 meter each.  Yeah baby!

Office Crew

Teaching Danny how to tie a tie.


Santa's Sleigh Drivers

Packages galore.

Nurnberg Christmas Market!

Me and Elder Emery!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Email - December 15, 2014

Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy!! Thought I forgot about ya, huh??

 I love hearing everything that happened this last week! Sadly, I don't have enough time to address it all, but it sounds like you had a great week. No, mom, I'm not disobedient. We're writing late because this day has been crazy! We take off tomorrow morning at 5:30, headed up to Dortmund for Zone Conference 1 of 3! And this whole day has been making the last preparations! So Elder Emery and I are typing away, spreading the love as quick as we can, and trying to get everything organized at the same time! It's gonna be great. Tuesday = driving to Dortmund, having an awesome ZoKo, and then leaving straight away to Nürnberg, a 4.5 hour drive. Yay! Overnight in Nürnberg, then it's ZoKo round 2 with the Nürnberg and Erfurt, then a big caroling activity with 60 something missionaries at the Nürnberg Christmas Market! Then right away back to Frankfurt, get some sleep, and then ZoKo III in Offenbach on Thursday. Then on Friday, it's the Mission Leadership Council for half of the day in Offenbach, where we'll be talking about not just sharing the message, but becoming the message that we share. We've already assigned some speakers and topics, and it should be really good!

 But to top it all off, Saturday, at 5 p.m., Daniel will be baptized, and I could not possibly be more excited. We organized everything this last week, after we taught them the big three: the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and Tithing. Smooth sailing, not a problem. Jessica even bore really strong testimony about the importance of tithing, which I think was a strong witness for Daniel. And top it all off, she was sick, and asked us if we could give her a blessing before we left. At this lesson was also her inactive sister, and her younger nephew, Gabriel, who we found out also wants to be baptized (date to come). So these four people, Jessica, Daniel, Gabriel, and Brenda all had a really spiritual experience as we gave Jessica a priesthood blessing. You've got shoes to fill, Danny! But he will, I'm sure. After the baptismal interview this week, we promised Daniel and Jessica that we would provide root beer, because they haven't even heard of it before! So we're going to have root beer floats, and blow their minds. We're stoked. :)

 Overall, a really really good, really really busy week coming up! And then it's the fourth Advent on Sunday, and then it's Christmas just like that. :)

 This last week was also really good! We had a split with the Wiesbaden Zone Leaders, a split with the Nürnberg Zone Leaders (and we even got to go visit someone in Erlangen! I haven't been back there since I left over a year ago!!), an awesome Ward Christmas party to which Daniel showed up wearing a sharp new suit that he bought just for the special occasion, and we got to eat dinner on Thursday night at the top of the VIP lounge in the Frankfurt Marriott hotel! That was an experience, talk about high rollers! There is a senior couple in our mission who are "Platinum for Life" members at the Marriott, because over his years of extensive international business traveling, he always stayed at Marriott's. And as soon as you have spent over 1000 nights in a Marriott, you become Platinum for Life, which means the best rooms and services are automatically given to you as soon as you stop in. So Elder Emery and I lived the high life for about an hour and a half, with an incredible view of Frankfurt at night, before we took off to Nürnberg. Not bad, right?

 Well, I know I haven't got much time, but I wanted to share something that I learned this week!

 "The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent." - Boyd K. Packer "The Reason for our Hope"

 I love this quote. Christ's Atonement was and is literally infinite. Not only can it heal and forgive every sin we commit, it is also designed to bring healing to those of us who feel hurt or discouraged because of something that happened to us, for which we aren't even responsible. Most of the time we simply think of the Atonement in terms of helping us receive forgiveness for our mistakes, but we don't use the complete Atonement enough, to also help heal us when we are discouraged because of others. It makes me think of Moroni 9:25. Christ came so that we can lift our heads and rejoice. So that we can be healed. So that we can actually be happy. Whether you are sinful or sinless, the Atonement still applies to you. I encourage you all to use it, because we all need it, whether because of our mistakes, or because of the mistakes of others. It has carried me through my entire mission, and continues to do so.

 I love you all, and hope you have an amazing week. We'll hear from you soon!!

 Love you, Mom!

 -- Elder McGinn
Elder Diederich, Elder Emery, me and Elder Simpson after church in the Frankfurt chapel.

The Messe Turm and Frankfurt from the top of the Frankfurt Marriott!