Monday, December 23, 2013

Email & Pictures - December 23, 2013

Fruilöchte Greäletchen!

Hahaha I could have told you all that means Merry Christmas, and you all would have believed me. :)

Fröhliche Weihnachten! There we go. :)

K, let's be real and just get started with all you are even reading this email for anyway. Wednesday! Also known as Christmas, is the day when I will be seeing all of your charming faces for the first time in 7...actually, almost 11 months! Seeing that things didn't work out so hot on Mother's Day. But it should this year! The only downside. We will be at a member's house to eat and skype starting at 1 o’clock, our time. So the plan is, we will eat and quatsch for 2 hours, and then Elder Shively will skype for 40 minutes, and then I will skype for 40 minutes. Which means that I will be skyping you guys around 7:30 or 8-ish. A.M. Ouch. I understand if you just call pass on this year and we'll just see us on Mother's Day, but it's your call!

I'm super stoked, just so you all know. :) So Syd, put a cork in your tear ducts (just kidding, your brain might explode) and get your questions ready! Plus I'll introduce you to some real, live Germans! That's awesome to hear that this has been and will be another way good week! I'm way excited for you guys, and especially Ho-Ho and the Giddy-Ups first live performance! I'm still so jealous that you have snow.

I'm sad to say that Herr Döschner didn't go through this Saturday. He pushed the date back himself, despite how excited he is, because he wants to be absolutely positive that when he is baptized, he is DONE with cigarettes, and will never go back. So we still meet twice to three times a week, including FHE with him tonight where I destroy him at Trouble, and a Christmas appointment on the 26th! He's doing great, and his spirits are high, we're just really working with him to be totally done. Thank you for all of your prayers, he really is feeling them and making progress!

Other than him, two of our Investigators left for the holidays, and they were two of our most promising. One is in Italy until January 8th, and the other will be back next week! But luckily we found a VERY promising investigator last week named Saidu Sowa, who has time every day after 6 because he "wants to get every ounce of information about this wonderful church out of our heads before we leave Germany." Haha that you will do, my friend, that you will do.

So we're way excited. It will be a little bit slower of a week because we can't go proselyting on Christmas or Heilige Abend or the 26th, which is also a holiday, so we'll find something to keep ourselves entertained and busy! I'll tell you everything else you all wanna know on Wednesday when I see you all, so until then, enjoy the pictures!

Tschau!!

-- Elder McGinn
Elder McGinn and Elder Boyd rockin the socks!

Definitely enjoying the Christmas season and ugly sweaters!

Elder McGinn and Elder Shively


Cam's presents (surprisingly still wrapped)

Outside his apartment today...no snow.




Frankenstein Castle ruins

Monday, December 16, 2013

Email - December 16, 2013

Ho Ho Ho! (what a cheesy opening line, right?)

What’s up, fam?? How were your weeks? They sounded way good to me! The Moor Lane Christmas Party, what a legendary event. I miss being stashed up in your guys' room, listening to Dave Parker laugh his pants off downstairs, and coming out to eat the leftovers when you all left to play your foolish games! I love that it's still going strong.

I'm also glad that everyone is home and safe for Christmas! Are you all getting stoked like I am? Mother, I look at those packages everyday with temptation, but I'm a missionary, and missionaries don't give in to temptation, so I will be strong. I'm excited though!

We had a way good week! Very busy. I went on two splits, including one with the Zone Leaders, and time just flies when you're on splits! We had the opportunity to teach a boy who is being baptized, but the entire family speaks only Spanish, except for the dad who speaks very broken English. We teach him, and then he translates it to his son. I had never realized how powerful communication is before. It seriously felt like Tower of Babel at the beginning, as we all stared at each other and said things, but no one understood anyone else. I also noticed how important a smile is. I could not understand a single one of them, and they couldn’t understand us, but their smiles said everything they needed to. You don't need to talk to someone to see the impact the gospel and Jesus Christ have on someone's, especially an entire family's, life. It physically changes something that people notice, and it gives light to others.

I get to go on another Zone Leader split to Heidelberg this weekend to interview 3 baptismal candidates all on the same night! If all of their investigators go according to schedule and if our Herr Döschner goes according to schedule, there will be five baptisms this week! One on Saturday and four in Heidelberg on Sunday!

The work is seriously picking up so fast, I don't think you guys understand. Elder Shively and I literally have almost every hour slot in our planners planned out with appointments this next week, and it's gonna be crazy. These are the weeks you live for in the mission. We're way excited. We're just praying every day for Herr Döschner. When I was in Heidelberg, Elder Shively and the Zone Leader went through the baptismal questions with Döschner in an appointment, and he blew them away in every single one. He's just trying so hard to quit smoking, and he's making progress, but he needs to STOP. It's so hard for him, and he wants to quit so bad, and so we are just praying for a miracle every day. So if you guys could just add him to your prayers that he can quit and be baptized this coming week, I know the Lord will show forth miracles.

We are so stressed, but so happy. Funny how that works on the mission. The more you're running to catch trains and squeezing people into every slot possible and making calls on the way, the better you feel, and the more peace you feel in your heart. I can't help but think Heavenly Father smiles or even laughs as he sees a 19 and 18 year old running around trying to get from appointment to appointment, trying to help people come closer to Christ. We're gonna need his help with catching some connections this week!

Haha, we gotta go, but I hope you know I love you all so much! Mase and Al, I'm a terrible brother, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I sent off something for you guys, but forgot to write it in my email! I love you guys! I promise! This church is true. I renew my testimony of it every single day. I could not be busier, or happier. I hope you all have the best week!

tschicka tschau!!

-- Elder McGinn

P.S. I'm sending a million pictures next week, so be ready!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Email - December 9, 2013

Meine Familie liebe ich, sie bedeutet viel für mich, ich will für alle ewigkeit mit ihr zusammen seeeeeiiiiinnnnnn, immer und ewig woll'n wir vereint sein, der Herr verheißt uns das, mit die familie mein kann ich für immer seeeeiiiiinnnnn, wenn ich lebe nach dem Vaters plan. Ich leeeeeebe nach dem Vaters plaaaaann.

 I just sang Families Can Be Together Forever for you all, and thought I'd type it out too, cause it's true.

 Hey fam! Sorry about the craziness, (what's new, right?) but we had a flop of a P-Day that we had to travel forever to get to, and now we're just shooting out some emails to show we're still alive! Definitely not going out to Frankenstein (it's seriously called that) again. It was the ruins of an old castle from 1146, but since it was about a thousand years ago, there's not much left! Oh well.

 It sounds like you guys have had some crazy weather this week! and SNOW! It has not snowed here once yet. It is colder than a yak's beard, but not one flake of snow, and I am not a fan. If it's gonna be cold, there at least has to be snow, so you can hit your companion in the back of the head, and if there's no snow, it should just be warm so you can enjoy things! But no. Germany doesn't approve. So I definitely wouldn't mind borrowing some of yours!

 Mother, the packages have arrived, and they are safe and sound in my possession here in Karlsruhe. They sit on the couch and stare me in the face, tempting me to peek inside, but I refuse, so I have now wrapped them up in wrapping paper as to increase my will power and motivation to not make it on the naughty list. It's a daily battle.

 The most frustrating part is just not being able to get really that much for you guys because of all the regulations at the post office, and you guys can't be here and see it yourselves, so I'll see what I can do. It is getting prettier and prettier and the streets more packed and packed, so I'll find something to capture the feel of it all for you guys!

 Dad, sounds like you delivered another killer Stake Conference with the help of your little crew who bakes you breakfast each morning at Stake meetings, und das freut mich! I love big meetings. As a missionary it just feels so good to meet up with so many people who believe in the same thing as you and be able to talk about it, which sometimes doesn't happen for a while if the work is going a little slower that week. It is such a blessing to have such big stakes and wards back home, members out here ask about what it's like all the time, because they can't even fathom it being like that. Count your blessings!

 Well, life is better than ever here in Karlsruhe. We're working hard with four people in particular, Herr Döschner, who has a baptismal date if he can quit smoking, David, a 22 year old college student from Columbia, Wojtek, the Polish student, and Erk Kobisch, a 70 year old catholic man who loves meeting with us. We are hoping to set two more baptismal dates this week with David and Wojtek, and if that were to go through, this district alone would have 8 baptisms in the month of December! Miracles have been happening all across the mission, and I think that currently there are over 50 or 60 baptismal dates set throughout the mission for the month of December, something that has not happened in years out here in Germany. The work is thriving, and the Christmas Spirit only helps move it along. It really is such an amazing time!

 Christmas is different out here in Germany. It isn't so commercial. It still IS commercial, but not as much. A lot of really old traditions still go on here, and a LOT more is focused on Christ and his birth. It's actually the Christ Child who brings presents on Heilige Abend (Christmas Eve) and not Santa! Santa came on the 6th and dropped off some candy and toys (we happened to be at a member appointment that night, and when we went to grab our shoes to leave, Santa had filled our shoes with candy and packages of after shave and the like. That sneak.), and now people look forward to the coming of Christ. Another thing I found really interesting out here is Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and each week you light another candle. So right now in Germany we are on the second. It wasn't until we had an investigator appointment last week where he explained it to me why they do that. According to the Bible, the time between when Adam was placed on the Earth and Christ's coming were 4000 years apart, and there were always prophets and scriptures and signs that testified of and looked forward to His coming. The four candles represent those 4000 years of anticipation of Christ being born, and you light them up until Christmas, when he comes. It's a sign of hope, and you will not walk into a single German house without finding an Advent wreath somewhere around the house, usually on the kitchen table.

 Well, time is short, but I hope you know I love you all! I love Christmas, you all know that, Mariah Carey knows that. But it means something more as a missionary. You don't have all the lights and shopping and music like you did before, which you THOUGHT brings that exciting feel in the air. But without all that, only focusing on Christ, you realize that THAT is where that feeling comes from during the Christmas season. Not the toys and music and new movies coming out, even though those are all good! It's the light of Christ. Like it says in the Bible Dictionary, the Light of Christ naturally draws all men unto it. Christmas is such an effective time for missionary work. I took Elder Ballard's proposition to heart, and I hope you all did too, that if we all reach out to someone we know and love this Christmas season, millions around the world will feel the love of Christ and come closer to him. That's what missionary work is, bringing others unto Christ. I hope you guys get a chance to really think about that this year between all the craziness of usual holiday jazz, but nevertheless, don't miss parties. :)

 I love you all, and I'll see you next week!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, December 2, 2013

Email - December 2, 2013

Elder McGinn, coming in live from Karlsruhe!!

 Hey fam! Sounds like Thanksgiving was killer this year! Mom, I never doubted you for a second. I just try not to think about it because Dad has free reign and no competition for the pies. I'm also glad to hear that no one died, and that you are not a visionary woman!

Catching Fire...everyone has been talking about that lately! It came out this last week here in Germany, and it's all anyone talks about in Church! It was funny, because then all of their noses started to bleed. Guess it happens out here in Germany too, Dad. :) and even though they rub it in our faces that we haven’t and can’t go see it, I know that my arm will always be longer than their brains.

Tell Brother Tidwell hi for me! He has always been such a role model to me, ever since he moved into the ward forever ago. I pray for their family often, and just hope that things turn out fine. They’re in my prayers, I love that family!

Well, on my side of the world: Karlsruhe is amazing. I've been here less than a week and I already love it. We live not too far from the hauptbahnhof (main train station) right across the street from a big catholic church that always klingles its bells. Karlsruhe is a lot bigger than Erlangen, the main shopping strip is 10 times bigger at least. The other companionship here lives in our same building, just two floors below us, and we're both all in to get things going here. There haven't been the most diligent missionaries here in the past, and we're working hard to change that. In the short time I've already been here, we've met with three of our progressing investigators! One is a 22 year old Columbian named David, another is a 27 year old-ish from Poland named Wojtek (Voytek), and the third is a 60-something-year old man who looks identical to an older version of Dave Parker, who has a baptismal date, but is just working to quit his smoking habit before he can be baptized. They all look VERY promising from the first impression I got, and I can't wait to really set in and work with them.

The district got me busy right away and on Saturday I did my first baptismal interview for a girl who will be baptized next Sunday here in Karlsruhe! She's an investigator from a less-active family in our ward who has been taught by the other companionship. It's the first in a while here, and it's gonna be a huge opportunity to get the ward fired up!

My companions name is Elder Shively, from Salem, Utah! He went to Salem Hills High school, and is the first elder I have met who is younger than me! He graduated this last year, 2013, and came out right after graduation. He just got finished being trained, so I'm "golden busting" him just like Elder Hobson.

I really hope Elder Hobson is keeping up back in Erlangen with three new elders and he being the only one who knows his way around and the investigators! I hope the investigators keep progressing and he gets to see three baptisms there, and really change the mindset over in that side of the mission. I miss Erlangen, but I'm excited for the potential Karlsruhe holds, and I can't wait to get to work.

We gotta go meet up with the other elders, so we gotta go, but I love you all! I love the opportunity I have to be a missionary in this exciting time, where you can literally see the work speed up and advance. Miracles are happening every day, and I know it's because of your guys' prayers and faith! Thank you all so much for your support and help and prayers, I can't wait to get started out here and really make a difference in advancing the Lord's work. I hope you all have the best week ever and that you get my little package I sent off soon, and I'll hear from you soon!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, November 25, 2013

Email & Pictures - November 25, 2013

Servus!

 Hey all, we'll be back on later, we're actually on our way right now to do something with the district for our last p day here, and we're gonna email after, but we figured we'd drop in and send off some pictures real quick to get those out of the way, and email after! These are all pictures I took yesterday with people in the ward because......I've been transferred! Where, you may ask? I guess you'll just have to wait a few hours to find out. :) See ya soon!



 Well well well, I'm back! Did ya miss me? Who am I kidding, you all probably haven't even woken up yet, sloths. But I hope you're all dreaming of where on earth I could be headed next...but before we get to that...

Talk about a crazy week! Mom, you continue to surprise me every day with your burglary skills, and I haven't decided yet if those are good skills to have, or if they concern me. But keep it up, there would be a lot of homeless people around if it wasn't for you breaking in. Thanks for keeping me in the loop though with your "snapchen" of the St. George Temple!  One of the prettiest and oldest there are.  Temples make any city a hundred times prettier!
 
BYU, Utah Jazz, Utah Utes...does anything from Utah have a better than .500 record this season in any sport?? This is a joke! Oh well, looks like the number 1 spot in the draft next year will be ours! That's something to look forward to. How far along is the college football season?

 I'm kinda jealous of your guys' Thanksgiving set up this year, too! Luckily enough, transfer day, where we are all riding trains to our areas happens to be on Thursday, Thanksgiving. So anyone being transferred doesn't have a shot at having a legit Thankgiving dinner, but maybe the day after! Who knows. All I know is while I'm travelling on a train, Elder Hobson will be with the elders in Grafenwöhr on the American base, having a true Thanksgiving feast without me. That loser. I hope he knows I hated my two transfers with him. Haha just kidding, I actually love that kid. I have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve with such a dilligent, committed elder. Too many elders out here are convinced that Germany is too hard, and there is no success, but he is one of the few with the mindset that since Germany is 60 or 70% without religion, (how would you say that in English?) that gives us a huge area to work with! He is going to be a stud back here in Erlangen. Of the 4 elders here, three of us got transferred out and only Hobson is staying! He's pretty stressed with the responsibility on his shoulders now, but I know it will just transform him into a champ.

 So. Where am I headed? If any of you somehow in someway. that would kind of creep me out if you got it right, guessed Aachen as my new area...you're wrong! Haha I'm going to Karlsruhe! In the Heidelberg zone and the Heidelberg Stake. And I'm not just being transferred, Präsident Schwartz called me on Friday as a District Leader there! I am SO excited. I have only heard amazing things about Karlsruhe and the people and ward there. There are four elders in Karlsruhe, (me and my comp will be the University elders there), and the other companionship includes an elder named Elder Boyd from Canada, who has been here in the Nürnberg Zone with me and we've gotten way tight! So we're both stoked to be working so close to each other in such a pretty area, not to mention that next cycle includes WEIHNACHTEN, and Heidelberg is famous for one of the prettiest Christmas Markets ever!

So the work is amazing, the people, the area, and the timing, and I am so excited. A little nervous for the responsibility I now have, but I trust in Präsident's decision, and I know the Lord will help me through whatever challenges and changes it may require.

 I am very sad to leave Erlangen, this is literally my home in Germany. When I came here, I had just been trained, and was barely three months out in the field. In two weeks I will be close to ten. My entire mission has been here, and me and the members and investigators have come so close. Brother Buchmiller, the uncle of Katia, made sure that I knew if I was ever in Erlangen again after the mission, I could stay in their home with anyone I wanted for as long as I want. Haha I love them all so much, and I know that together with Elder Hobson they will be able to see miracles with Verena, Zhang, and Bernd that I had only seen the beginning of. They are definitely in good hands.

Thank you for the quote Dad, it is something that I am going to print out when I have the chance, because it really is true.
"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed.  The fact is that most putts don't drop.  Most beef is tough.  Most children grow up to be just ordinary people.  Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration.  Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

Life is like an old-time rail journey - delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.  The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

The world is focused on showing people what they could have, how amazing life COULD be, all the places they COULD go, and all the things they COULD do, and that their life isn't good enough yet, and they could always have more. And through that half-truth, Satan blinds people of realizing everything they already have and how far they have already come, instead of focusing on how much farther they still have to go.

One of the biggest secrets of life and happiness in my eyes is Gratitude. Not enough people actually count their blessings, like the hymn encourages us to do. I am so grateful that Thanksgiving is this week, because it gives us a chance to really realize what we do have. A family, a home and shelter, food, and friends. Some people don't have most, if not all of those four things, and sometimes we aren't even grateful for them. I really encourage you all to "count your blessings" this week. Realize what you have. Not what you want to have, or what you could have, but what you have right now. And don't just realize, give thanks. There is no quicker way to find happiness. When it's freezing cold, we're getting rejected by everyone, and we are hungry out here, I have learned that the quickest way to find an open heart and a prepared person, warmth, and to forget about our growling stomachs, is simply by thanking the Lord for the chance we have to be his servants and to help others find what we have and enjoy every day. It works, everytime. I promise you that. :)

 I hope you all have the best weeks ever, and I'll email you somewhere from Karlsruhe, Germany next week, hopefully with some pictures! I love you!

Tschau tschau for now!

 -- Elder McGinn
Fish on a stick for 5 euro (Elder Goodrich)
Too much dunk ball on our investigators!
Transfer call morning, making "raklette" including 14 eggs! 

Allyson Pobanz, the nine year old who wouldn't let me go until she got a picture with me.
Me and Adam Pobanz
From left to right:  Leon Buchmiller, Me, Joshi and Jasmin Molnar, Jannick Dettmer
I don't have a tie because I promised Allyson Pobanz she could have my red one.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Email & Pictures - November 19, 2013

I'm back!! Sorry about that, you can never rely on public transportation, especially here. You could be an 80 year old lady in a walker and try running down a bus, but they won't stop for you because you were 15 seconds late.

 After all these "things are just the same" emails, this week sounds like it's insane! Everybody is playing musical houses, BYU is doing work on everyone they play, and Dad is still putting Michelangelo to shame with his insta shots. (don't let any haters get to you dad, I liked it!)

 Mother, Christmas here is almost old news! The "fuß" (the main outdoor shopping area where everyone walks) has had enormous Christmas lights up and a giant, yet undecorated, Christmas tree in the main square since the first week of Oktober! They don't really have Halloween, and of course Thanksgiving doesn't exist, so it's Christmas time as soon as they get Oktoberfest outta the way! It is getting crazier and crazier, and I can't wait until festivities actually officially start to begin on the 29th.

 And it is colder than Mason's head in a blizzard out here. Haha but we are keeping very toasty, don't you fret! I bought some Nike spandex leg thermals yesterday, and now I'm totally covered! Plus we have some killer marzipan tea back at home, for the coldest of nights. :)

 Thanksgiving sounds like a blast for you guys this year! Big parties are always a blast, but I bet it's nice to keep it a little smaller and orderly. I wish I could eat some of your food Mom, I miss your rolls and pretty much everything else you make, but we'll make do! Speaking of Thanksgiving...I honestly have no idea when it is. Is it this Thursday, or next?

 Well, so you know how I told you we set a baptismal date last week...? Since then, we have set two more! Erlangen now has three baptismal dates set for the 14th of December! Zhang, 24, (Dad, he speaks very little English, and his German makes me laugh, but it's good and the only method we have really to communicate, aside from basketball) Verena, 18, and Bernd, 61. Things have been taking off lately, and we are so excited. It's almost too much to handle! We're way busy, and we love it. I just hope and pray every day that they will all be able to stay strong and go through with it. So many people flake out just before. So we just wanna thank you guys for all the prayers in our and their behalf, the Lord is answering them with miracles, and we're amazed every day. We're hoping we can set even one more this week, so we'll see how that goes, and we'll let you all know next week!

 This week is very busy and booked. It's week 6 of the transfer, so transfer calls are on Saturday and we'll find out what's up! I'm pretty convinced that I'm out. Six months is a long time in one place out here in a mission of 300 missionaries. I am very grateful though for the time I have had here, and hope that I can stay one more. I love this area, the members, the investigators, and the companions I've had! Elder Hobson is a stud. He works hard no matter the challenges, and always has a positive attitude, and has had such an impact on me. I hope we stay one more, but I guess only Präsident Schwartz knows!

 Other than that, we have district meeting tomorrow in a city called Grafenwöhr, an American army base, and that should be a party! I'm kinda nervous to be around an overwhelming amount of Americans again...it's been a while! We also have a lot of appointments set up, and this last week, 17 new names popped up in the computer of members who have recently moved into our ward boundaries, so me and Hobson are plenty busy traveling all over trying to find these people!

 Gotta keep it kinda short this week since it's not Monday today, but have fun this week! Give Michael Buble a hug for me, and keep DVR'ing all the good shows! But no matter what kind of shenanigans you guys are up to, just know that I'm happy, I'm safe, I'm warm, and I know that the Church is true, and that the fullness of the gospel is restored on the earth once more. I love you all, and I'll hear from you soon!

 -- Elder McGinn







Monday, November 18, 2013

Email & Picture - November 18, 2013

Grüss euch, Familie!

 Hey, real quick, we had a rough day with the public transport connections today, and don't have a chance to write emails, so we got permission to write a little update tomorrow, but for now we gotta run! So I'll see you all in just a little bit, but to give you all a weekly present, I present you with the picture of the transfer....

 It was FREEZING outside after District Meeting, and I forgot to bring my coat along, so I borrowed a coat from the Nürnberg Ward House that proudly says "Hooligan Fighters" on the front. You know it, baby. I've been keepin' Hooligans off the Streets since 1994. Elder Haskell from St. George on the left, and Goodrich on my right!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Email & Pictures - November 11, 2013

Grüss Euch Wieder!

 What's up! Welcome back to this week’s episode of Elder McGinn is in a rush! Haha just kidding, I'm always in a rush, so it's nothing new!

It sounds like you all had some pretty solid, typical weeks! I'm way excited for Necia and Lyle and Kirt and Marcia! It's crazy how fast that time vanishes from the time you get the call and the time you realize you're walking out the front door to the MTC! I know they'll love it, and the people and missionaries in their areas will love them even more!

 I hope Grandpa is doing okay! Tell him I love him. I miss Grandma and Grandpa Mangum and Grandma McGinn very much. I hope they know how much I think about them and their examples to me!

Well, as you probably all suspected, the temple trip was better than I could have imagined. Every temple is gorgeous, but there's something about going to "your" temple that belongs to where you served that makes it even more special. I'll send pictures next week, I didn't bring my cord, but it's beautiful. We went through a whole session in German, and then did confirmations by the baptismal font! I forgot just how much I love the temple. It was so unbelievably good to be back. I felt some burden and weariness just vanish when we walked through the doors. I truly know that the temple is das Haus des Herrn, and nothing less. There is nowhere else on earth where we can be closer to our Father in Heaven, and we should never take it for granted.

 Also in news this week…Hobson and I set a baptismal date yesterday! Two weeks ago we met a Chinese guy names Zhang Xu on the Uni campus. We started talking to him and invited him to our sport night to play some basketball or soccer or ping pong or something. He agreed, and showed up! While there, he asked us questions about our church building and religion, and we had a chance to teach him the first and second lesson in the church gym! We got him a Book of Mormon, one in German and one in Chinese, and invited him to church! So he came yesterday, and while we were teaching him again, we both had the feeling to invite him to baptism. The mission is having a "white Christmas" day on the 14th of December, and they said that if possible, invite them to be baptized on that day so that there can be as many baptisms as possible on that day throughout the whole mission! So we asked Zhang if he would be willing to be baptized on the 14th of December. He paused, pulled out his phone, looked at his calendar, and said "I don't have any class that day. That works perfectly." Indeed it does, Zhang. We are so excited. We finally feel like all the work and time and effort we have been putting into the Uni is paying off, and the 14th can't come fast enough. I sure hope I'm not transferred in two weeks, because I want to see this to the end, but if I am, the new elder is coming to one of the coolest investigators ever.

 I love this gospel. I know I say that every time, but hey, that's what I'm called for two years to do. To tell people how much it means to me, how much it blesses me, and how happy it makes me, and it really does. I hope you can see it through me. The light of the gospel is something you can literally almost see through the light on someone's face or in someone's eyes. I know people you pass by every day see it and notice it, and I encourage you all to keep it as bright as ever.

 I'm short on time, so I won't have the opportunity to write everyone back, but just know that I love you all! The work is accelerating, and we're just trying to keep up! I'll write you all back next week, they come so fast at this point! Have the best weeks ever! No more being sick! It's bloody cold here!

 Tschüss!!!!

-- Elder McGinn








Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Email - November 4, 2013

Mamacita, Papacita and Famacita. That's the extent of my Spanish, and it's ALL WRONG. Sorry Griff and Jeff, I'm still working on the Adamic language out here.

 Sounds like you guys had a pretty solid Halloween! Dad, don't let anyone try to tell you who you are, be your own spirit and fly. (I apologize to all of you in advance for the beast I may have just unleashed.) I loved the pumpkin! We actually got to carve pumpkins this year too with an investigator who bought them for us before we came over and wanted us to show him how "a real Halloween pumpkin is carved". Halloween is still kinda new over here. Apparently Germans started integrating it a few years back because of the number of American Army bases they have over here, and it just caught on! It's still not huge and not considered a national holiday, but more people every year are carving pumpkins or decorating their houses and trick or treating! We had a lot of people sincerely tell us they liked our Jehovah's Witness costumes... ouch.

 Dad, the university, (the big one at least) out here that we spend all of our time on is called FAU, I believe! I don't have any idea what it stands for, but it's pretty nice and has a lot of majors!

That's awesome that you had the elders over! How's the language coming for them?...oh wait. Haha sometimes I'm jealous they can preach the gospel in their own language so easily, but it's not the words we say that brings someone to the gospel, it's the Spirit, and I'm thankful every single day for his help. :) Besides, at nine months out, it's been a while since I haven't felt totally comfortable with the language. The Lord has blessed me EXTREMELY with the language, and it has never been really a hindrance. (is that a word..? or is it just German?)

 Things with Max and Daisy: we'll have to see what happens this next week! Yesterday was Pfahl Konferenz (Stake Conference), and we were in Fürth which is like a thirty minute drive, so we didn't/couldn't bring any investigators with us! It was really cool though! Elder Proffit and I were informed the morning of that we were both part of a quartet of elders who were singing hymns as people walked into the building…yikes! It went well though! Mr. Durtschi, wherever you are, you deserve the credit for that one.

 We then had the conference, and at first I thought it was going to be a presidential debate. Two podiums were set up on the stage, and two people got up at once! For a second I thought things were about to get weird and partially apostate, but I forgot that we have three American bases in our stake, so whoever would speak, whether they were German or American, someone would stand at the other podium and translate their talk into the other language! It was really cool to watch how the gospel was being preached side by side, in two languages, both telling the truth and bearing testimony of Jesus Christ and his Atonement. And no matter who was standing and in what language they were speaking, you could most importantly feel the spirit. It was a great meeting! Then the choir (all 38 of us missionaries in this zone) sang the closing hymn wearing Mormon Helping Hands vests over our suits and ties… kinda weird, but we do what we're told. I love big meetings like that where you get to see so many elders and sisters you know that you haven't seen in months, and in that little amount of time, it's obvious the changes and progress they've made. The gospel is all about progress; about becoming more like Christ every day. Every one goes at different paces, but that's not what matters. It's not about who you were or are, it's about who you can become, which the scriptures tell us is perfect, even like unto our Father in Heaven, who is perfect.

 We're stoked out of our minds for this next week, and this is why: WE GET TO GO TO THE TEMPLE ON SATURDAY!!! I am so excited, I can barely stand it. I have not had the opportunity to go to the temple since I was back in Provo, and I can feel the difference too. For those of you who have the opportunity to go the temple even just once a month, please go. Coming from someone who had temples so close to me my entire life, and now not having the opportunity really at all, I can feel such a difference. The temple is literally the house of the Lord. His Spirits resides there, stronger and in more abundance than anywhere else on earth. The purpose of this gospel is happiness, and therefore what could bring you more peace and happiness than being closer to the Lord and His spirit than anywhere else? I love it so much, people ask us probably about as much as they ask us how many wives we have "what are those beautiful white buildings called temples, and what do they do?" People all over the world are amazed just by looking and standing near them, and they haven't even been inside yet. If you have the opportunity this week, I challenge you to go to the temple. It will bless you in ways you need and may not even realize.

 Well, it was a pretty slow week success-wise this last week, and hopefully this next one will be a little better! I love the hard times just as much as the easy times, if not more, and I am so grateful every day for this opportunity I have. I haven't spoken to you all in German for a while, so I feel like I'll take the opportunity. :)

 Wörter können einfach kein gefühle ausdrucken, die meine Gefühle vergleichbar sind wenn ich über Dankbarkeit rede. Unser Herr ist uns so barmherzig, jeden tag. Er ist vollkommen, ohne fehler, aber er ist jeden tag gedüldig als wir versuchen, ihm näher zu kommen. Dass ist mir wirklich ein Zeugnis dass er buchstäblich unserem Vater in Himmel ist. Kein Vater gibt seine Kinder eine Straffe wenn sie einen fehler machen, sondern er gibt uns rat und unterstützt uns als wir lernen und probieren, was uns glücklich macht. Das Leben ist wie einen Prüfung. Bei jedes Prüfung bleibt der Lehrer leise und still, als die Schülern durch die Fragen gehen. Wir haben studiert, unseren Hausaufgabe schon gemacht, und er vertraut uns, richtig zu antworten. Aber es gibt etwas besonderes bei deisem Prüfung den wir jetzt machen. Wir können der Lehrer fragen stellen als wir das Prüfung machen, und er wird uns helfen. Es ist seltsam dass jemand einen Prüfung ohne fehler schafft, aber dass ist egal. Er weißt dass manchmal werden unseren Bleistiften kaput gehen, und wir werden das falsche antwort markieren. Aber wenn wir unseres bestes geben und wirklich, AUFRICHTIG, das Prüfung machen, wird er uns einen "A" geben. Dass weiß ich. Ich weiß dass das Evangelium Jesu Christi alle die Antworten hat, und dass nur durch das Sühnopfer Jesu Christi, können wir diesem Prüfung schaffen um alle die segnungen zu emfangen dass der Herr uns verheißen hat. Ich habe euch lieb, und ich bin so dankbar dass ich bei euch für die Ewigkeit bleiben kann. Und dass sage ich euch im Namen Jesu Christi, Amen.

 **Google Translate: Words can simply not feeling print that my feelings are similar to when I talk about gratitude. Our Lord is so merciful to us , every day . He is completely without fault , but he is every day gedüldig as we try to get closer to him . That to me is really a testimony that he is literally our Father in Heaven. No father gives his children a taut when they make a mistake, but he gives us advice and support us as we try and learn what makes us happy. Life is like a test. In each test , the teacher remains silent and still, as the students go through the questions. We have studied already done our homework , and he trusted us to respond properly . But there is something special that we make at deise testing now . We can ask the teachers make when we make the examination , and he will help us. It is strange that someone creates a test without errors , but that does not matter. He will know that sometimes go kaput our pencils, and we will mark the wrong answer . But if we give our best and really , TRULY , make the test , he will give us an "A " . That I know. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ has all the answers , and that only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ , we can test this by creating emfangen all the blessings that the Lord has promised to us . I have loved you, and I am so grateful that I can stay with you for eternity. And I tell you in the name of Jesus Christ , Amen.

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, October 28, 2013

Email - October 28, 2013

Hey all! We're really pressed on time right now, so it's gonna be pretty rushed!

This week has been killer. I have loved every second of it, and I'm so excited for this next one because of it! I hope the miracles and success continues!

So a while back I told you all about Max and Daisy. Well we lost contact for a while. They had our number, but we didn't have theirs, so we had no way to find them. Hobson and I prayed every day for some way to come back into contact with them, so that we could progress with them even further. Finally this week on Thursday we were having a District activity here in Erlangen with all eight elders. Elder Hobson, Goodrich, Proffitt, and I were together, and as we were walking down the street, Goodrich said, I think we should go down this street to talk to people! We didn’t feel anything against it, so we thought, what the heck, why not.

We weren't seeing much success until we got to the very end of the street, and right around the corner, Max was helping Daisy fix her bike tire. Hobson and I almost screamed their names in excitement and they looked happy but kind of startled to see us because we were so happy to see them! We had a good talk, and we ended up making a deal. They have a church they attend that they really like here in Erlangen, and don't really want to separate from, so they said that if we came to their church, they would come to ours the next week.

So yesterday, Hobson and I met Max and Daisy at their Baptist church and attended their one hour service. It was very interesting, a lot of interesting insights, and the people were very friendly to us. So friendly, in fact, that we found EIGHT other people, four married couples from 23-26 years old who are friends of Max and Daisy. They invited us to come to lunch with them after the service, but we had appointments we had to get to, but we invited the rest of them also to church next week and to our sport day this week!! We may or may not have 11 investigators in church next week...it’s totally possible.

I have never been so thankful for the Lord and his hand and blessings in our lives! We have put so much effort into Daisy and Max, and if things work out, they could be the means of bringing literally dozens of others to the gospel. We can only hope and pray, and the Lord will do the rest, right?

I'm seriously so sorry that this is so short, but we gotta run! I just wanted to let you all know that things are going better than ever, I'm happier than ever, and that it's prettier than ever over here! I brought my camera, but forgot my cord, so I'll send more pictures next week! I've taken over 150 in the last week....I'm making up for those lost cycles, hardcore.

Tell everyone hi for me, and I'll hear from you all next week, where I promise we'll bring more money so we can write longer! Haha everything is better than ever!!

 I love you all! -- Elder McGinn

Monday, October 21, 2013

Email & Pictures - October 21, 2013

THE CAMERA HAS ARRIVED!!!! CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY THIS YEAR.

 Yes, Mom, it is true. And look, I practiced patience like you always taught me and it finally came. The long lost cycles are wieder gefunden. And you guys have no idea how many pictures are coming your way. This email may be a little short word-wise, but I have quite a few pictures to send that will make up for it!

 Haha I'm still so jealous of New York, that sounded so fun and I'm looking forward to my second trip when I get back... :) and you guys owe me because of Wicked! I still remember that being sold out for months when we went! Ah, I totally remember shooting hoops in the Manhattan Chapel, that was one of my favorite memories from the whole trip! And good thinking about the note to Liza! I miss that girl, and I hope she's just living her dreams out there in the big apple!

 I'm sad to hear about the garden at Gma's and Gpa's. That was something I always loved, especially their corn! Oh well, you don't realize how much you had and loved until it's gone, right? It will just make me appreciate them even more than I do! By the way, random thought, I totally ate pumpkin shell this week.......yep. That's all I have to say about that.

 Mensch, it sounds like a lot of change is going on back home! Why'd ya all wait til I left?! I need to see some pics! Is home looking as pretty in the Fall weather as Erlangen is?? I love it here. I'm excited to hear how everyone is doing out on their missions in a little while! Those missionaries are getting some awesome help with the Mangum clan on their way out there. I wish someone would come out here to Germany, but noooo.

 This week was good and busy, it was transfer week and we also had Zone Training Meeting and it was just busy all the week long! We haven't had lots of time to be on the University this last week, but we're looking forward to it this week! This last week there was also a stake dance in our Gemeinde house, and it was a huge success! The missionaries were only invited if they brought investigators with them, and we brought 7! One of which is a 16 year old boy named Tom, who I may have talked about before, who always turns down the invitation to come to church. But at the dance, he got asked to dance by four different "cute Mormonen girls" and then came to church the next day! Haha girls, (Sydney), you may be the key for getting some people in the ward buildings and accepting the gospel, I hope you realize that! Wiley temptresses.

 It was a really good week. Sorry that this is so short, but it takes forever to upload pictures, and I want to send you all a bunch, so I hope it makes up for it! Glad you are all in good strenth and lenth, and I'll hear from you all soon! I love you all (especially you mother :) )!

 -- Elder McGinn
Cameron finally has a working camera! These first pictures are from summer with Elder Anderson.




These next two pictures are more recent. Playing some chess with Elder Heston Goodrich.

Cameron's District.  He's in the back holding the candle.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Email - October 14, 2013

Well, well, well, if it isn`t the spoiled ones of the household...

 It sounds like the Big Apple was a blast! Looking at the pictures, I totally feel like I was there just a few days ago! I love that big city life and rush and feel. The picture of Syd in the Subway station looks just like the U-Bahn stations we ride all the time! It looks a little like home to me :) and what`s up with the Ghost Busters?!? No one told me what`s going down in that picture! And Wicked! Geez, I have so many fragen, entschuldigung! Was it good? Had you guys seen it before? Everyone I know of that has seen it just loves it! I`m jelly, to say the least.

 That`s so cool about the Elders you met! Ah, it just looks so familiar to me to see them, I love it. What`s funnier, is that this Elder Richards they know, that was Elder Hobson's last District Leader! Small world, right? We`ve only run into people once who were Mormons from across the world that recognized us, but just that second of appreciation felt better than ever, so trust me, you don`t realize how much you probably boosted those guys’ spirits!

 Mother, that actually gives me hope...despite the fact that we have a song from Pocahontas (savages) that we have dedicated to the office…that means it should be here on Friday for Zone Training! I don't wanna waste more money if it's somewhere here in this country....besides, I gotta make sure I have enough for Lederhosen. :)

 Well, life is going good out here. Transfer calls were on Saturday, (yep, another cycle down) and Hobson and I and Proffitt and Haskell are all staying again! No changes and we love it. Our district is really getting tight. I don't know if I already told you guys, but the other elders in our district include Elders Collins, Ellsworth, Wright, and GOODRICH! From the Heatheridge Stake, baby. I just love that kid, there might not be an elder closer to me in this mish than that kid is, and I have a lot of good friends out here. He is the happiest elder I have ever met, and if I could be half the kid he is, I'd be a happy camper.

 Aside from staying the same, Elder Hobson and I are now the university elders, and this week the new semester starts, so it's go time. We have a ton of plans, and we just can't wait to get them running! We actually found a way legit family this week who is interested in the church! I was sitting on a bench, writing my testimony in a Book of Mormon so that I could put it in the book drops that we have here, and while I was writing a young guy contacted Elder Hobson! I finished writing and jumped in the conversation, and he was asking Hobson about if every member of the church has to do this, or if we were just doing something special. We talked to him about missions, and then he recognized the Book of Mormon in my hand and said that his wife found one of those in that Book Drop a few days ago, and they were planning on reading it that night!

 Ends up he's 24, moved to Erlangen about a year ago, and he and his wife have been exploring and searching all the churches here in Erlangen, looking for the one that feels right. He has taken a lot of gospel classes, and he feels like there is truth that was lost from the bible and that it`s out there somewhere else. He says he gets made fun of sometimes that he's married so young and has clean Christian morals, but he knows that happiness and peace that comes from it. We basically taught him two lessons on the street and he kept asking us for passages from the Book of Mormon that he and his wife, Daisy, could read later that night together as they continued studying different scriptural texts looking for the truth. He and his wife are 24, both attend the University, and are PERFECT for this ward here, we can already see them as members here in Erlangen. They need the church so much, and the ward needs them so much, I can already see it, and we can't wait to teach them again and see where it goes.

 Sorry, that was way rambled, but there's a lot going on right now in this room, haha, but I gotta sign off so the next elder can log on! But I love you all, and I'll see you soon! I was also studying in Alma and read those scriptures, Dad, and I too have never seen such joy, but I think I have come close, and each experience has been out here in the mission field.

 I am so happy, I love this place, this work, you all, and the Lord. I could not be safer, happier, and more excited. I'll hear from you guys soon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Email - October 7, 2013

Grüss euch! Another week dead and gone, it just feels like one day since last time!

 Indeed, the situation with Katia was rough, but every time I pray for her, something tells me that it's all okay. In interviews this week, President also told me that I may not hear anything about it until twenty years from now, and discover the story it evolved into. I sure hope he's right!

 Conference, right?! Amazing. Yes, I will admit it, I fell asleep a few times back at home when I would watch it, especially the Saturday Morning session, but now I just can't get enough! I seriously have the feeling you get on December 26th, after all the Christmas excitement is over, and you know it won't come back for awhile. I loved it. So here, we watch the morning sessions live, from 6-8 pm our time, but the afternoon sessions are too late for us, so we have to watch those recorded the next day or just some other time. So we watched Saturday Morning on Saturday night for us, and then yesterday we watched Priesthood at 11-1, then Saturday Afternoon from 2-4, and then Sunday Morning from 6-8. That's a lot of conference in one day, let me tell ya. But it was so good, and I had so many new insights and ideas come to me and to missionary work that I was searching for.

 I hope you all paid REAL GOOD ATTENTION to all the talks and emphasis on Member Missionary Work. WE NEED IT. I hope you guys are helping your elders out, because in some areas of Germany, there is no such thing as Member Missionary work, and it makes it hard for everyone. Love your elders, love your friends, love this gospel, and love the Lord enough to share this message and help the work move forward. I promise you, you have no idea the amount of blessings that are in store. Prophecies are being fulfilled, and the Lord wants us to help. Sorry, that's kinda a touchy subject out here. I know you're all doing great. :)

 This week was pretty uneventful, because it was!...if that makes any sense? On Wednesday we had Zo-Ko with the Nürnberg and Erfurt zones, and it was great! I love seeing President and Sister Schwartz every chance I get, the love they have literally radiates out of them. He's a guy you just want to hug, kinda like Cade. Hahaha but really, it was great! We then had interviews with President on Friday for the Erlangen Elders, and we got a new calling! We being Elder Hobson and I. President has called us as Erlangen University Elders. We are to only proselyte among young people on the campus' of the two or three universities we have here. He wants us eating in their cafeteria's every day because they're cheap (uh oh) and talking with every one we can. Last transfer he called the first pair of Frankfurt Uni Elders, and they already have three baptismal dates! So he's WAY stoked for us, and so are we! After that we had service for 8 hours for a city wide service day, and me and Hobson were confined to a small park to pick up trash and it had none, so it was a pretty long eight hours to say the least. A lot of hands up stands up contests and the like. And then the rest of our weekend was taken up by appointments and conference!

 I am so thankful for conference. We had an appointment between the showings of the Saturday Afternoon session and the Sunday Morning session with a new investigator we found, and he ended up just railing on the church and kinda making fun of us and our "prophets" when we invited him to come, and it just was an all around rough appointment, but we came right back to conference and immediately my anger and frustration was changed into love for this man who rejected us, and sadness that he has no idea what he is missing out on. But that's all we can do, extend the invitation and welcome, and they decide what to do for themselves.

 Well sorry for the scrambled email and random thoughts, but we gotta run! I lobe you all (not love, lobe you) and I'll hear from you soon! Have a good week, tear it up in NYC, (buy me something? :)) and don't eat any more sugar cinnamon tortilla chips, cause that's just disgusting. And save my room!! Did it ruin anything?! Not my shoes…please not any of those...Bis nächstes mal, tschüssss!!

 -- Elder McGinn

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Email - October 1, 2013

Oktoberfest is here! Well...kinda. It is indeed the season for Oktoberfest, but the HUGE parties are celebrated in Munich, and that's still kinda far from us! Other towns don't really celebrate it, everyone, and seriously everyone, just goes down to Munich to celebrate! So I am still safe and sober. :)

 I'm glad the Geburtstag was a success, Mom! You have one more present coming your way from Germany! It's just a small one, but it's a little piece of Germany nonetheless! (don't worry, I'll get all the rest of you at Christmas! I've already got it planned out)

 I don't believe any of you. We do NOT have Direct TV, now that I am gone. Who are you and where are meine eltern, die ich so gern liebe? I really don't know what to say to that. Now poor Elder Hobson has to take my rage because of your decisions. I hope you feel good about yourselves. And I also hope you record all of the best football games and march madness games for me to watch when I finally get to see it with my own eyes! And whoa, hey, hold on now! Since when are you painting the family room, and what color??? What the heck is going on here, have you guys moved to Nebraska as well?? Mensch, families these days.

Well, here's the scoop, fam dam. This was a pretty rough week, I'm not gonna lie. We're not sure why, but the frustration and disappointment just pounded down this week, starting with Katia. The Wednesday night before Katia's baptism, Elder Hobson and I were coming back from an activity at the church, where we had also begun to plan out the baptismal service. On the walk home, we got a call that just crushed us. Katia had talked with her parents and told them all about what was about to happen and how excited she was, and they...weren't. Apparently they were quite anti-church, chewed her out, and forbade her to do anything else before she came home and they talked about it and what was going on. So the baptism didn't happen, and now she's back in Kazakhstan. All we can do now is pray and hope that things will go well. Who knows, maybe this is a huge blessing in disguise in some way, but it still hit us pretty hard.

 To top that all off, the other two elders in this area, Elders Proffitt and Haskell, lost their phone. And how does that affect Elder McGinn, and Elder Hobson, you might ask. It doesn't. BUT. When a phone is lost, it is reported to the tech elders so that they can lock the phone to prevent it from being used and whatever else someone might do. So when the tech elders went in to lock the lost phone, they locked the wrong one and locked OURS. And they can't "unlock" phones. So now Erlangen, once again, has no phones for the next little while, and we're a little bit peeved. I know there has to be something that the Lord is trying to teach us from all of this, and we just haven't figured it out yet.

 I would tell you all about the bike tires popping and buying new ones and those popping again, but I don't like to be a Debbie Downer, so I won't. :)   Life is good, and lessons are being learned, right?

 One thing that did stand out to me this week though was in my personal study one morning. I was reading about the story of Lot, and when Lot is commanded to leave with his family and possessions and flee, he is counseled in Genesis 19:17, "look not behind thee." I thought a lot about that, how we shouldn't look back and focus on the past. Of course we need to learn from the past, but the past is past, don't dwell there. What lies in the future is even more bright and brilliant than the past ever was, whether the past was good or bad. That doesn't mean forget the past or let it go, it just means keep moving forward, and look forward now to what is coming up. Learn from what you did wrong, or learn from what you did right, and keep going. I love how counsel that a man received 6000 years ago still applies to us today.

 Well, aside from the rough week last week, this week should be a blast! Tomorrow is Zone Konferenz, Friday we have interviews AGAIN with President, and then Saturday and Sunday are General Conference! I cannot wait. I seriously feel like it's the week before Christmas, it's kinda weird. But we are so lucky for this weekend. I hope you all have questions or concerns in mind that you would like to find answers to. The Lord will do his part as long as we do ours, so if you need help, do what you need to do to be able to get these answers. I'm sad I won't be taking up my place in the Rio Grande for the second time in a row now, but I know you all will do me proud!

 Dad, I agree with what you said, and it brings to mind one of my favorite scriptures to share, Alma 26:35. Read it for yourself and you'll see why!

 Well I hope you all have a wunderbar week! Keep doing work at tennis, watching your direct TV, and getting prepped for NYC! I'm so jealous. But then again, I'm in Europe, hah! :) I love you all, and I hope you have the best conference weekend ever! Smile, make your beds, and be safe! Oh wait, mom is supposed to say that. I pray for you all! Til next time! Tschicka-tschau!!!!

 -- Älteste McGinn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Email - September 23, 2013

 I can't believe tennis season is already over! I swear it is the shortest sport season of them all. Two games and everyone decides that no one likes tennis and they all go home. Just kidding Syd, some people like tennis...haha! And hey, at least it was a totally defeated season! Remember my freshman year of football, Mutti? Talk about rough. Syd will just be rocking it the next two years, I already know it!

 Speaking of sports, I've decided I'm not returning to BYU to go to school when I get home. I can't handle them anymore. They have officially earned the nation's biggest choker award. How can they go from destroying a team with so much experience and history like Texas, with Hill almost breaking the national record, and then be held to 13 points and a loss to Utah?? Good heavens. A kid in our ward used to show me the score from the BYU games every week, but now he knows that that isn't a good idea anymore.

 That's such an awesome lesson you guys had, Mom! I love the articles of faith! In the last week I decided that I wanted to memorize them auf Deutsch, and now I have all 13 in German! I don't know why, but it is SO much easier to memorize things in German. I still don’t have them all memorized in English....shhh!

 Elder Hobson and I were actually going to go shopping today to look for official winter gear, since it's starting to get colder, but we had practically no pday today because we helped a member clean all of the ancient junk (including canned bread from 1987...what the heck?) out of her cellar and take it to the dump! So next week we'll get all the stuff we need! There's still time. :) I haven't seen my camera just yet, but we do have district meeting on Wednesday, so we'll see then! How long ago did you send it? I'm so excited to have a camera back! My 3rd and 4th cycles are the lost cycles, and I can't wait to show you guys where I actually am and what is really going on, instead of reading my lame emails! I'll update you next week!

 Well, I have the most amazing news in the world to tell you all this week. So last week I told you the story about Katia, and how she said she'll be baptized in Kazakhstan after she goes back. Well this week, Hobson and I were walking back to the train station from an appointment when we got a call from her uncle. He said, "Elder McGinn, I need your advice. I was thinking about it, and Katia is ready to be baptized, she knows that. And I am scared that if she goes back to Kazakhstan, there's a possibility that she could lose her testimony with the sparsity of the church and members there, and lose this maybe one and only chance she had to be baptized, so if I had it my way, I would want her to be baptized here. Even though I understand the comfortability of it happening back in Kazakhstan, I just can't shake the feeling that it should happen here." So we talked, and said we agree, but it is ultimately her choice. So we both said that we would pray, and we would see what happened the next day (Sunday) when they were at church. So at church we taught her another lesson, and then the Buchmillers invited us over again after church to teach another lesson! Hobson and I both wanted to teach about the Holy Ghost, so we did a little object lesson, bore testimony, and then asked Bruder Buchmiller a question. As he was answering, he turned to Katia, with tears in his eyes, and then explained to Katia his feelings about her baptism, and said that as her uncle, he loves her so much, and would love to be able to be at her baptism, and even baptize her if he had the chance. I have never felt such a literal change take place in the spirit in the room. She paused for a second, then looked at us and said "I want to be baptized here, before I leave next Sunday." We didn't know what to say, we were so blown away! So we said "alright, does Saturday work?" and she said "what about Friday?"

 So to make a long story short, Katia has made the decision to be baptized in Germany before she leaves, because she doesn’t want to lose the chance. This girl is amazing. Literally a spiritual sponge, and I know that she is going to be such a pioneer in Kazakhstan. I just had the feeling as I was writing my testimony in her book of Mormon like she asked me to, that she will be such a miracle worker back home. I am so proud of her, and amazed how the Lord works. We felt like we did everything, and finally just let Katia go to her own feelings and stepped out of the way, and then the Lord touched her heart through the testimony of her uncle, and she recognized the important decision she was about to make.

 I love this gospel. I love this work. I love that I have absolutely nothing to do with it, and that I am simply a tool in the hands of the Lord. He does it all. It doesn't work when YOU try to do it, you have to let him do it, just through you. It's something that takes time and practice to learn, and I am still far from perfect, but the Lord has given us this time on the earth to better ourselves day after day.

 I love you all, and I am so grateful for the testimonies you have. I know you are all such a strong light to so many people, so many more people than you realize. Never forget who you are. Through baptism you take upon you the name of Christ. We all have the ability to make him proud, and I know you all do .

 I love you so much, I love this so much, I love everything so much, and I am so happy! And to make it even better, it's Mom's birthday this week!! Happy Birthday Mutter!! Ich liebe dich!! I hope you all have the best weeks ever, and I can't wait to hear about them next week. Sorry I have to run! Short day. Ahh! I love you!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, September 16, 2013

Email & Pictures - September 16, 2013

I'm glad to hear that you all had a pretty typical week! On the topic of rain...yeah, we're back to how it was when I first came out here! I didn't see the sun or the blue sky for about a month and a half, and it's starting to look like it's already back! I miss the sun already. The Germans keep promising me that it will come back out for like a week in October again, but after that, it's just cold, gray skies until April. Ouch, right? Well, I best start looking for a winter coat!

 Please tell me you guys are getting a crazy roof now to replace the old one. I bet Dad's put in his vote for a mosaic of his face on the roof out of different colored shingles! I second your vote, Dad!

 It sounds like you're doing work, Syd! Don't worry if you aren't winning them all, my freshman football season we lost our first game 68-0 and didn't win a single game. It sucks, but it gives you the best experience ever, and then later on when you're good, if you do lose it doesn't just kill you and get you down cause you know how to take it! Just keep slayin it, listen to McKenna, and the W's will start comin!

 Hahaha your analogies never fail to make me laugh for a solid five minutes, Dad. (I swear, if this large man squeezes between me and Hobson to get out to the bathroom for the 5th time ONE more time...his nose will start to bleed. K sorry about that)

 Katia has now made incredible progress. As of yesterday, she has now been taught, committed, and accepted everything. The only downside… she goes back to Kazakstan in two weeks, and with all of the schedule confusion and time constraint, it isn't possible for her to get baptized here in Germany, like we all wanted. But we looked up the ward in Kazakstan that she would belong to, and she says that she would love to be baptized there as well! I am so excited for her. Over these few weeks I have come to love her and the Buchmiller family so much, it almost makes me want to cry that she is leaving. But in the short time she's been here, she has been introduced to the gospel, been taught the lessons, and now has a desire to be baptized. I bet she never could have imagined that in a million years while she was getting her internship all ready back in Kazakstan! It's amazing how the Lord works. His plan is perfect, and we just work our notes right into the Great Composer's master symphony, playing our own harmony. (In the words of President Uchtdorf, the German, baby!) I'm sad that we won't get to see it and be there, that isn't what matters at all. It's about that she comes closer to our Father in Heaven, just one more step in this critical point in the Plan of Salvation, where all of our little decisions matter so much.

 Speaking of the Buchmillers, they LOVE Löwen Senf, which is why I am going to find out how long it lasts, and if it's long enough, ship a couple of packages over to you guys to share amongst yourselves. (I recommend playing "the Sharing Song" by Jack Johnson whilst you do so). I know you would all freu yourselves, as the Germans would say. Haha, Oktoberfest is indeed coming, starting next week! I don't know whether to be excited or scared, but it's gonna be a riot either way!

 Well, we better sign off, we gotta run meet the zone in Nürnberg to go check out the city and break Hobson into the area, but I love you all! This Church is true. People need it. In fact, they are starving for it. Don't hesitate to share the message that this world so desperately needs with someone around you. They accepted Heavenly Father's plan as well in the pre earth life, that is why they are here. Help them remember why they are here, and where they are going. It changes lives, including ours, when we share it. I love you all, and I'll hear from you all soon! Tell me by how much BYU destroyed Utah next week! Taysom Hill is about to go off again, I know it.

 Until then! Tschicka-tschüss!

 -- Elder McGinn
Elders McGinn and Anderson with Katia and the Buchmiller family.

Elder McGinn, Elder Haskell and Sister Webber getting food.  Elder Hathaway and Anderson are talking in the back.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Email - September 9, 2013

Alright, I'm gonna waste no time getting down to the good stuff, I know it's all you all wanna hear anyway! MY NEW COMP!

 Name: Elder Casey Hobson. Hometown: St. George, Utah. High School: Dixie. Birthday: March 18, 1994. Hair color: brown. Eye color: haven't looked that close yet. I'll get back to you on that. Talents: hilarious, all around athletic, very obedient, piano prodigy. But really, he's better than David Lanz. He's two transfers younger than me, but he wastes no time getting to work. I'm super stoked for this transfer, and hope it's more than just one, cause this kid is a stud.

 The other two elders, Haskell and Proffitt, stayed the same, and I'm happy, cause I really have grown close with those guys. I would love to send you all pictures, but you all need to "HOLD YOUR HORSES!" (hahaha something a drunk Irish man would yell to me and Divver in Bonn whenever we said we had to go), because I haven't got the camera yet, but it'll be here soon, and I'll make up for the two non-existent transfers with Anderson because I have no pictures. But I stole a ton from him before he left, and I'll send those soon!

 I talked to Sister Sutton in church yesterday and she told me all about how she talked to you and said that you were such a nice lady, and she might just call again because of that! I'm glad you guys got the chance to talk, and that she wasn't honest and told you all the bad things I've done. Haha jokes, Mom, just joking. :)

 Pshh, have I gotten the last package you sent? Schon gefressen. Google that and you'll understand how much I enjoyed it. (Translation:  Already eaten)  I did get Grandma's too, and it was gone in a matter of hours. Gosh, I love packages. But that doesn't mean send more, cause every time I see the price tag on them, I want to jump off a bridge.

 HAHAHAH so I gotta throw this in there right now, a member, Bruder Buchmiller just called me randomly and said, "Elder McGinn, we're eating dinner right now, and I LOVE this Lion Mustard (mustard Hobson and I gave to them, unbelievably spicy)!! And that's all I wanted to say! Have a good day, tschuss!!" I love the members here.

 Oh my gosh. I heard a lot about this crazy storm, and I hope everything's okay! Did we lose any trees or anything? It rains here a lot in Germany, but never super hard like that, so I'm glad you're all okay! As for the BYU game, that is ALL I hear about lately. Everyone is going crazy about it, especially the elders over here. I'm so mad I missed it, it kills me to be missing my favorite time of the year, especially when BYU gets it together and does work on someone like Texas! Now watch them lose to Utah State. (I'm still a little pessimistic, BYU has failed us too many times in the past. Knock on wood!) But I'm so stoked, and I can't wait to get back and watch Taysom play as a senior! (By the way, that article...I got really concerned for a moment, until I read that fans had outraged and they changed it. PHEWPH.) PG and Timp....I don't wanna talk about it. Not again.

 Well, we just got a call from an investigator named Isaac who needs help carrying something out of his apartment, so plans just changed and we gotta split! But I just want to fill you in on everything going on here. Things are going amazing. This week we had 4 lessons with Katia, all with the Buchmiller family, and she's making so much progress, we just cannot wait to see where she will be. We pray and study so hard for her, and so far the Lord has blessed us so much in teaching clear, in her understanding, and in her faith and courage to accept these commitments and come closer to Christ. I thank you all for your prayers in her behalf.

 We also have this investigator Isaac, who is making so much progress. I may have already told you, but we found him through the former investigators book, and he immediately set up an appointment. We have now taught him two lessons, a third is set up for tomorrow, and he called us just barely to go help him out. We have such a good relationship, and he can't wait for our next appointments.

 There is so much more, but I don't have time, but just know that we are being blessed so much for our obedience. There is indeed a law irrevocably decreed before the foundations of the world, just like it says in D&C relating to obedience, and I have such a firm testimony of the blessings that come from it. The Lord didn't give us commandments to hinder us, but rather to keep us in bounds, enjoying the game of life, without any pauses or out-of-bounds. We all can be a little more obedient in so many ways, and I challenge you all to think of the ways you can too, and I promise the blessings will follow shortly after.

 I love you all.  I can't wait for this next week, and I'll let you know all about it (AND write my other siblings back that I love just as much, but Mom takes the cake when time is on the line, sorry!) next week!

 Machts gut, und bis nächstes mal! (Translation:  Make it good until next time!)  Tschicka-tschau for now!

 -- Elder McGinn

 P.S. Dominate this week, Syd! I wanna see pictures of you at state in a few weeks, tearing it up!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Email - September 2, 2013

MEINE GUTE. This week. I hope you all are ready for some crazy stuff. But to start: transfers! Gimme a drum roll please....no really. Drum your fingers on the table. Alright! And the dönner goes to....no one! I'll be eating that later. We got the call on Saturday, and I will be staying here in Erlangen, taking on another assignment! My sick companion (the good 'sick') will be traveling cross-country, basically back to my golden city! He has been transferred to an area called Solingen! It's right next to Düsseldorf. It's pretty small, but he's stoked nonetheless, and I am for him too! He's gonna kill it up there.

 I am staying here to 'golden bust'. I'm getting a companion named Elder Hobson, who was also in Elder Anderson's group, and now that he is finished being trained, it's my job to 'golden-bust' this kid! Break him into regular routine, and make sure he's ready to take on the mission and share the weight, instead of following his trainer everywhere! I hear he's a magician on the piano too, so I am stoked. When I get that camera, I'll send you all some pictures. :)

 She really did call! Haha that is so awesome. Sister Sutton is an American lady here who is living with a family in our ward, the Zink's, and is doing Geneology work out here for her ancestors from Germany! She travels around collecting names and talking to people, and is a very nice lady! She asked us last night at a party at the bishop's house if she could have our mother's numbers so that she could call them with her phone that calls the states for free and tell you guys that she sees us often! I hope you do get to talk to her, she's a great lady, and not just some Amway agent who's lying about knowing your son.

 Bahama Mama, answer: indeed they do! I love pfirsiche! But they don't have a very large supply of them. Almost EVERY fruit that you can buy here is imported from somewhere else, so it isn't incredible quality, and I'd kill for another peach pie, but we all gotta make sacrifices, right?

Atta girl, Syd! Just doing work for the tennis team as a sophomore, that's how it's done. I honestly have no idea how the tennis system works, so do you guys have playoffs or anything? And if you do, are you guys gonna make it? Keep killin it out there, and don't take it for granted, cause you'll miss it when it's gone! I can promise you that.

 Dadskies, transfers really are a lot of fun and stress! You're excited for change, but you also don't want anything to change because of how much fun and success you've been having! With transfer calls, we get a text from the AP's the night before with a conference call number and password, then the next morning every companionship in the mission joins into this conference call where President and the AP's give some announcements, release people, call people, and then go through every area on the mission map and read off who will be serving there! I really like how they do it, and it saves Pres a lot of time! And I love the Ehepaars out here (senior couples), they are so funny and helpful. I know that if you guys every get the guts up to go (yeah, that's a challenge) that the missionaries in your area will love you guys!

 Speaking of Katia, that's the story I'd like to hit for this week: So this week was what we call "Focus Week", and as companionships we all decided to focus on one of the key indicators from the Standards of Excellence (if you don't know what that is, just ask Griff or someone, they should know!) this week and see if we could reach it. Elder Anderson and I really wanted to focus on investigators in church. So we set out this week trying to do as much as we possibly could with our investigators. We tried over and over to set something up with Katia, but she was so busy the whole week in Nürnberg, and it never really got together. So we focused on other investigators, and she kinda drifted out of our minds. Then on Sunday, she showed up with her uncle's family, and her uncle, Bru. Buchmiller asked us if we would be holding an investigator class and if he could be a joint teach for that! So we taught her the third lesson, Das Evangelium Jesu Christi, and it was really solid, and she really took it in. Then right after that, Bru. Buchmiller asked us if we wanted to come over to his house right after church for lunch and then teach Katia again! So of course we agreed, and went over after church with them for another appointment. Elder Anderson and I really have had the feeling that we needed to commit her to baptism, so we set up a lesson for after talking about the sacrament, and how that tied in with baptism, and the third lesson, and a lot of different things. I was gracefully trying to work my way into the baptismal commitment, being totally sure that's what we should do, and then Elder Anderson just went for it, and I almost bit my lip off. I was so nervous about what she was going to say, and was getting my thoughts ready to respond when she said no, and then I realized that it was kind of silent, and realized that she had said yes! She agreed to be baptized this month!!! It took me a few seconds to wipe the shocked smile off of my face and continue on with the lesson, but Elder Anderson and I couldn't hold it in after the appointment. We went crazy for a little while in the apartment, and then kneeled down to say a prayer and thank Heavenly Father for the amazing thing that just happened.

 I learned so much just from that one appointment. The Lord cares, and He knows when you're doing all you can, like we were this week. I also learned that sometimes, you just gotta ask, and throw that commitment out there, like Elder Anderson did. We both had the impression, and I was taking too long second guessing it, because baptisms are such a "notoriously rare" thing out here, and he just jumped right to it, following the impression, and she said yes! Our prayers and study and fasting have not been in vain, and we cannot wait to continue working with her up to her date of September 28th, and maybe even sooner! I thank you all for any prayers in her behalf. She has come to recognize her place in our Father's perfect plan, and is eager to take her place.

 I love this Gospel so much. I love the changes it makes in people. I love the opportunity I have, not to teach people, but to be the instrument in the Lord's hands through which He teaches His children. I could not be more happier to be able to stay here in Erlangen, and see the fruit of our labors, because there is so much more going on here than just Katia, even though she is a miracle. The Lord's plan is perfect, and we are all where we are, when we are, for a reason. We learn from the good, successful times, just as much as the bad, unsuccessful times, as long as we stay humble and steadfast in prayer.

 I love you all so much, and I'm glad that you all had such good weeks! I love hearing about how awesome everything is going, even though I'm sad I have to miss it! Keep the good news and crazy stories coming, and I'll try to do my part from over here! We're off to the Volksfest in Nürnberg right now to see Germany at its finest, so I'll let you all know how that went next week! I love you all, especially you Mom! I'll hear from you all soon!

 Tschicka-tschau!

 -- Elder McGinn