Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Email - March 25, 2013

I don't even know where to start. So we took off from New York, and the rest is a painful blur. I sat in the dark for a long time in an awkward fetal position trying to fit my face on the bean bag sized pillow they gave me to catch any sleep, and I definitely didn’t. After a thing of airplane pasta and a roll and some Sprite, we finally landed in Frankfurt, and it was pouring rain. The second you stepped out of the plane you could smell you were somewhere different. A LOT of smoking, that's one of the first things I noticed. We came out of baggage claim where Pres. and Sister Schwartz were waiting for us and instantly hugged us (I have no idea if that's a normal European thing, but I'm scared to try. Plus I can't with the opposite gender) and the second they started speaking German to us, I thought I learned Spanish or something in the MTC. NOT the same language. After a few minutes, I recognized "komm mit", the only thing I needed and just followed them everywhere.

 They sent our stuff to a hotel, and then led us on a 30 minute journey out of the small metropolis that they call the Frankfurt Airport, got on a train, and headed out to the Middle of Frankfurt. We all knew what was coming and were scared to death. They paired us all up with an older missionary and sent us out to street preach. I went with an elder named Elder Jardine, one of the zone leaders in Frankfurt, and we took off to do something they never taught us to do in the MTC. To make a long story short, I got good at stopping people, and Elder Jardine would take over from there and give out little flyers and explain what was going on. Anytime they looked at me I would smile and nod like I knew exactly what he was saying when I was clueless. It was a much needed reality check. I think Pres. does it on purpose to make us goldens study our brains out! That lasted a while, but then they took us back to the Stake Center where we had a 2 minute interview with President because we have the biggest group that ever has or for the foreseeable future ever will come to Frankfurt, and then we had our first German Dinner in the cultural hall: pizza! We ate half awake, took some pictures that I believe you have all now seen, and drove out to the hotel where they let us all go to bed at 6:30 to sleep off as much jet lag as possible. It took me and my companion 30 minutes just to figure out how the lights turn on. (you put your card in the light switch, just so any of you European travelers will now know). I was tempted to sleep in my suit cause I was so tired, but we finally got in bed and crashed.

 The next morning we went downstairs and had a meeting where we were assigned our companions and area. AND NOW THE NEWS YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. They brought up a picture of my face on the screen, and then my trainer's face. Elder Steven Divver from Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the district leader, and therefore I am what they call the "district Frau", I have to go everywhere and do everything with him... a little crazy! Anyway, then they brought up our city. Got Google Earth out? It took five hours of hauling ours and sisters' luggage out there. We are not only serving in, but OPENING a city called Euskirchen. It's about a 50 minute Zug (train) ride from Bonn, our second city we are serving in. Bonn is being opened to sisters, and Elder Divver was there before, so we're supposed to spend 4 days a week in Bonn helping the sisters out and showing them (and me) where everything is.

 It is absolutely gorgeous out here. No one can explain it until they see it. Just know that I am in one of the prettiest places I have ever been. Imagine New York City, combined with.....somewhere in the country that's super green and pretty? It's a combination of both and I love it, although the bus and train schedules are madness. I never knew I could run so fast in a suit trying to catch a train, but Elder Divver has taught me otherwise.

 Also, our apartment in Euskirchen is brand new, so we literally have nothing there, except a few apples because we work so hard and so long in Bonn every day, where I am at the moment, and we are starving to death. So some of the money will go there eventually too, so we don’t eat dry cereal and apples. My carry-on treats have been sustaining life out here, I love you mom!

 So that's my assignment for the next 12 weeks. I love it. My companion is awesome, we teach with this sister companionship literally every time so far, and it's beautiful. It took and is still taking a lot of work getting used to everything about the people out here, their accents and everything, but it's coming actually amazingly fast, and I can hold a conversation on the bus and give out cards fairly easily! We have so many appointments this next week it is crazy.

 The ward is giant and loves us, and we eat all the time. The only downfall is for all of my "with real Germans" meals, I have had pizza, canned soup, McDonald's (because that's the closest word the Germans have to my last name and thought it was hilarious), and Mexican?! I don't know either. So I'll let you know what German food tastes like when I get the chance.

 We haven't met with any investigators yet while we're so busy, but that will change this week. I learned that the cellphone is very frightening when speaking with someone who you can't completely understand and they can't completely understand you either, but we set up appointments!

 I feel like I have said way too much, and if I sound a little overwhelmed and stressed out, it's a good guess I am right now. I'm still adjusting and gawking at everything I walk by, like the house that was built in 1378 we walked next to, but I AM adjusting and I love it. Don't worry about me! I'm safe, happy, excited, and not wasting all my money, it will come back eventually! And next week you will hear all about our appointments and activities in more depth, I promise. I love you all, and hope school and all was good because I just realized the time difference we have, and I'll hear from you soon!

 -Bis Dann!

 - THE Elder McDonalds

 P.S. Mase! Quick story. We were in McDonalds and the cashier was wearing a red and white bracelet, and in German I asked if that was a martinitsi. She was shocked and said "how did you know?!" and I told her how I had a brother who did the same thing that I'm doing but out in Bulgaria. She was thrilled to know someone knew about her home. Just thought I'd let you know the Bulgarians are alive and well out here in Europe!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In Germany

He made it!  Below are two pictures sent to us by the mission secretary.  We were happy to see them.

Cameron in the largest group of new missionaries to arrive in the Germany Frankfurt Mission in a single transfer.

Cameron with his trainer, Elder Divver, and President Schwartz, Germany Frankfurt Mission

In Flight

Thanks to the Delta iPhone app, we tracked Cameron's flight to Germany as long as we could (note the time on the phone!).  When we realized there was no daylight saving time change in Germany, we decided to go to sleep and assume he landed at 3:00 am Utah time.  Here is a screenshot of when we gave in.  This is his plane approaching Europe after a long trip over the Atlantic.

Pictures From the MTC

Before Cameron left the MTC he sent home his SD card full of pictures.  We've had fun looking at them.  Here are a few:

Cameron with McKay Taylor (Portugal, Lisbon)

Proud German missionaries

Cameron with Joel Gassman (Taiwan, Taichung)

Cameron with his MTC district

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Last Ones: Elder McGinn With Bart and Renae

We were afraid Bart and Renae wouldn't see Cameron in the MTC.  Cameron told Lori where his classroom was and Bart and Renae went on the hunt.  Renae sent the pictures below.  Now all our family members serving in branch presidencies in the MTC have seen Cameron.  We're so grateful for their reports that he's happy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Elder McGinn and Sister Borup

We received this picture from our friend Cory Borup. This is his daughter Madison who is on her way to the Argentina Rosario Mission. We learned from Cory that Madison has now left the MTC and is serving in the Salt Lake City South Mission while she waits to go to Argentina. She is a great young woman and will be a fantastic missionary.

Last MTC Email - March 12, 2013

I'm back! I know you've all been waiting on the edge of your seats, iPhones (is that what they call those magical black rectangles that speak to you..? Voodoo if you ask me.) in hand. I leave from the Salt Lake Airport on Delta Air Lines flight 106 at 11:25 a.m. (everyone hates us, that's unheard of that we leave so late in the day) and that's it. ONE. STRAIGHT. SIXTEEN. HOUR. FLIGHT. TO. FRANKFURT. Where we land at 10:05 a.m. their time, 2:05 a.m. yours. :) that's Guatanamo Bay worthy torture. I cannot fall asleep in moving vehicles to save my life, and we're taking a straight flight from the here in the west to Germany. They might land with one less missionary than they left with.

 You cannot even fathom how excited I am right now! It's finally here, NOW my mission is about to begin. I've done my part here in the MTC, and now I can't revert back to English when I don't know the words, it's rely on the Spirit and swim or drown. If someone ever truly wants to understand the concept of faith, I suggest they serve a mission. You don't have the comforts of home, or anyone who knows or maybe not even likes you. How true is the message you carry? Is this going to be possible, a group of kids who has had a mere six weeks learning an entire culture and language, and able to touch people’s hearts? You will never know until you try

 I can't even express how thankful I am that everyone speaks the language of the Spirit. Not everyone realizes they can speak it, but they understand it when they feel it. Speaking of, I had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life this past week. Last Tuesday at the end of our devotional, before Pres. Nally closed he asked the ASL missionaries to come up and bear their testimonies. Those of you who know what devotionals are like, it's a room filled with 3000+ missionaries, and is quite large. But every single one of us sat in complete silence watching these missionaries bear their testimonies, and I have never been touched so much. Language and hearing is a privilege, we don't realize that. I have to learn a difficult language? So what. Some people can't even hear any language. But is that going to stop the Lord from spreading his message and his Gospel? Absolutely not. He promised that every person will have the opportunity to RECEIVE the gospel, not hear it. The Lord has no limitations, and that's why Alma 26:12 is my favorite scripture, especially auf Deutsch. Through him I can do all things.

 Back to your email, I apologize for that segway/segue/seggwhey/who knows, I did see Uncle Kevin! I totally recognized him and stared at him trying to figure out if it really was, and he gave me a weird look and looked back down. Five minutes later I was convinced that was him and it was! He didn't see me I guess but we talked for a sec and I sat back down. I love seeing so many people here! It never fails to make my day. Maybe that's why I'm being sent across the world, so I stop seeing people and my companions like me. Haha!

 Of course I miss some things, but there's nowhere else I would rather be in the world, except Germany, and I'll be there soon! Alright, so here's the plan. With my flight schedule, I think I'm going to call you all at 2 a.m. because none of you will be doing anything. Deal? Haha no way,  Because I have just one flight, I will for sure be calling from SLC after I've gotten through security and everything. We have a group of 35 Frankfurters in our travel group, so calling time may be super short! I still can't wait to hear all of your voices anyway. And after that will be a straight shot to die Mutterland! So definitely no email next week, enjoy this last MTC one. :)

 It has been so awesome here...especially on Sunday. Since I'm in a dritt and it makes a lot of things awkward, at the devotional we took all but one seat on the end right next to me. So the ushers split up another dritt to take the last three seats remaining around there (including the one next to me) and guess who it is. Elder Joel Gassman. He set his books down, looks over to introduce himself, and we almost screamed like little girls. I got one solid hour with one of my best homies, and it was a dream come true. He loves it, a little overwhelmed, but the two lines he knows in Mandarin sounds cooler than my entire testimony in German. Obviously we took a picture, and you'll be seeing that soon! He's going to be incredible.

 But as good as the MTC is I can't wait to get out. I don't know what's real anymore outside, the mountains are a sticker on the outside of our snow globe. And as much as I like eating cardboard for three meals a day, I wonder what real food tastes like. I apologize if anyone reading this works at the MTC cafeteria, but we are all convinced that every meal is made from the same globular substance in the back and simply formed and colored to make "different" meals. Haha I'm just ready for a change, we all are. I'm definitely gonna miss my district. Me and Elder Penrod (he'll be the tallest, brown haired one in the pictures) are the only Elders going to Frankfurt. The other 5 are headed to Alpine and have a completely different flight schedule than us. I'm sorry they weren't righteous enough to come to Frankfurt, but they'll love it. :)

 I gotta go, so I best start wrapping up my last MTC email, but just know that I absolutely love what I'm doing. It only makes it better than very soon all of my homies will be doing the same thing, giving it everything we've got. I already loved the Church, but German has only made it better. German words are not as elaborate as English in the sense of what they mean, they are a lot more literal, and it has made the gospel so much more real and personal. I love the word "Sühnopfer", which of course means the Atonement, but "Suhn" and "opfer" literally means "a willingly paid for sacrifice." What would you die for? Not just die for, but suffer the most excruciating physical, emotional, and mental pain for, especially when you have no blame whatsoever. And would you do it over and over and over, for literally every single person that ever lived, lives, or will live? Think about that. Our minds cannot even grasp that suffering, and we tend to put it aside as just a part of the Gospel. Christ loves us so much. So much. He did that so He would know exactly how we felt. Never suffer something alone, let Him help you. He already did it once, why would you not accept his gift? Bruce R. McConkie said "The Atonement is the most important and critical event in the history of all things created." and it really was. I love my Eretter so much.

 Sorry for the English testimony, but soon I'll be German 24/7, so I had to take advantage while I could. :) I love you all! And I'll be hearing from you, literally, soon.

 -- Elder McGinn the IV. (fourth, not that cursed medical instrument.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Email - March 5, 2013

Well, well, well, you're all still alive and the house hasn't been burned down and I'm still alive and the MTC hasn't had a prison break…yet.

 Um, we did in fact just end RBWII (Rubber Band War II) about thirty minutes ago, because Elder Conteh got shot in the eye, ran into the fort, and brought it all down. So it had a dramatic, fitting ending. Haha, I love gym time though, don't get me wrong! I can stand at the windows and see BYU out one corner and the general region of our neighborhood out the other. I feel so far away in here when I'm really not, it's crazy.

 And yes! I have seen both Connor AND Brad AND Zach Jensen. At least twenty times with each of them. There is no feeling like seeing a homie in here, looking scared out of their little rookie minds, noses stuck in their maps. I can't even imagine how langweilig die Welt ist ohne uns, besonders fur die Maedchen. :) (Google translate that, why don't ya?) But I can't wait to catch J Gass :) Speaking of J Gass, Jeff was an investigator this week for my district in TRC! Talk about a small world. The sisters stole him though before we could get to his room to teach, but I got to talk to him after.

 So we have a problem. I like hearing about you, but you want to hear about me! So I'll do my best :)

 This week was incredible. Last Tuesday night, the speaker: M. Russell Ballard. What's even better is we missed choir cause we couldn't get a seat, so we just waited in line to get a good seat, and instead of being way in the back, we were third row when he walked in and we all stood up. The talks here are unbelievable. How could you ever doubt an Apostle when he stands and bears with all his soul that the Lord LIVES. I have never seen someone be so sure of their testimony in my entire life, and it makes me want to carry that same light and conviction in my eyes, with that power.

 Also on Sunday we had the Provo Temple President speak to us, and his was absolutely amazing, so amazing and sacred in fact, that he asked us not to share what was said. Maybe one day, when I go through the temple with you all again here, I'll let you know :) So powerful, so sacred, and so enlightening. I love Sundays here so much, I hate thinking that I only have two left. Two weeks from this exact moment and I will be on a plane, Europe bound. Speaking of! Our travel plans "should" (MTC promises never last) be finalized on Saturday.

 Oh! I almost forgot. This Sunday I was called to be the Distriktleiter. It's just a little taste of what leadership will be like out in the field, if I was ever good enough to lead out there. Luckily, my district is a dream district, and being the District Leader isn't a challenge at all. It just gives me a chance to get to know them all even better! The best leader just means the most diligent servant, like Christ showed us all. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to my district in two weeks when we most likely split up in Dallas or something, they're all such solid missionaries and the German/Austrian/Swiss people have no idea what's coming their way. I just feel bad for them that they have to serve there, and not in Frankfurt. :)

 I gotta start wrapping up, but I absolutely love what I have the opportunity to do every day. The German has suddenly started flowing into our minds, and we're retaining so much. At least we think so, until that first day out in the field where we don't know jack diddly. But I have learned more in 4 weeks than I did in four years. And it's not me, it's the Lord's help, through the Holy Ghost. Like my favorite scripture says, "Ja, ich weiß, das ich nichts bin. Was meine Kraft betrifft, so bin ich Schwach. Darum, will ich nicht mit mir selbst prahlen, sondern ich will mit meinem Gott prahlen, denn in seiner Kraft kann ich alles tun." Alma 26:12 baby, I have it by memory now. It's so true, this is all because of the Lord and His will. I'm no good at German, but the Lord is flawless, and He will help me. And like Elder Bednar said in a talk I watched this week, "It's less of what you say, and more of who you are." People don't come to this church for the words we speak, they come for the feeling they get, and I get to feel that every second of every day. How could anyone not want this?

 Ich liebe der Herr. Er hat die größest segnung in die geschicht des Welts, das Sühnopfer. Ohne seiner opfer, wir können zu Gott zurückkehren nicht, unser größest ziel. Unser Vater im Himmel will uns zu ihm zurückkehren, also wir können ewige leben und ewige glück haben. Ich bin so ganz dankbar für diese Gelegenheit, mein Erlösser zu dienen. Er ist vollkommen, und seine Evangelium ist vollkommen. Alle Menschen, wie die Menschen im Deutschland braucht diese Botschaft. Warum wollen wir kein mehr Glück haben? Es macht keine Sinn. Höffenlich Sie alles wissen, das ich diese Werk leiben. Es bringt mir Freude und Friede, und ich will alle menschen diese segnungen zu haben. Ich habe schütz, immer, wenn ich der Heilige Geist folgen und seiner einflüßen. Ich liebe Sie alles, und meine Liebe wachst jeden tag. Ich weiß das diese Kirche wahr ist, für immer. Nie seiner Zeugnis vergessen. Menschen brauchen alle seiner Zeugnissen. Teil es. Im Namen Jesu Christi, Amen.