Thursday, April 25, 2013

Email - April 25, 2013

I'm still alive, barely. I don't know how many more splits I can take… it's just not right sleeping in someone elses’ bed. Haha, it's good to be almost finished for now. Tomorrow morning calls come in from Frankfurt, and we all get told what happens next, if something is going to change. Elder Divver is going on 7 and a half months as district leader, which is eternal, so we are completely expecting a call tomorrow morning saying that he's being released, but ya never know! Missionary work is 110% inspired, I realize that more every single day! A lot of people are starting to freak out though, in this next shift we get SEVENTEEN new sisters. We only have like 20 something in our entire mission, so almost everyone is expected to train, and a lot of the golden sisters are not ready for that assignment. I am definitely hoping that Elder Divver and I stay together at least one more if not two more cycles here in Euskirchen!

 Life could not get any better right now (yes, I did just knock on some wood). This last week we got 50 telephone numbers for potential investigators, just through street contacting. Fifty!! It is unreal, we have no idea what is going on. Everyone here is unnaturally friendly and open to everything we have to share, and our ward and even Stake Presidency are beyond excited and keep checking up on us all the time to see how the work is going and if there's anything they can do to help. If it keeps rolling like this, they are expecting to set up a new branch here in Euskirchen sometime soon because we already have so many members near this area and the success is just taking off. The Lord knows when people are ready… all we can do is harvest as fast as possible.

So as you are probably thinking, this is a really weird time to be receiving (who knows how to spell that stupid word anymore) an email from a missionary, and it truly is. We were given just a little bit of time to kind of fill you guys in, but because it is so close to just the next P Day and then Mother's Day where I actually get to see all of your wunderschön gesichten, they told us to keep it kind of short until it's an actual P Day! So hold on, and if you don't want to email me again before then, then FINE. But I'll email you all back in just a few days.

 But before I sign off, I wanna leave you guys with a cute little story that made my whole week. So last Sunday was Stake Conference up in Dusseldorf, and with meetings like that, not even Elder Divver could understand everything that was going on. But in my frustration, I noticed a little six year old girl in front of me who was making/copying all of the faces I was making. So after playing this game for a few minutes, I pulled out a little notebook and started drawing pictures on it for her to guess what it was. After a cat, a bow, a bicycle, a dress, and a butterfly, I was running out of girly ideas. But just then, more excited than ever she said "draw a temple!!" And I was shocked. This six year old only wanted to see a temple because she told me it's the prettiest picture of all. And she's right. I hope you all go to the temple as much as you can, because I sure do miss it out here. Especially in Utah, we are so spoiled, fifteen minutes is never too far. Like President Thomas S. Monson said in the October 2010 Liahona, 'how far is heaven? I say to you that in the Temple it is not far at all.' It's the gateway to our ultimate goal, and I could go off forever but I gotta go, but I hope you all realize how lucky we are to have temples today, and to never take them for granted, because people out here absolutely don’t.

 I love you all so much, and I'll hear from you again (or you from me) in about three days where I don't feel terribly guilty about being on the computer. Haha! I'll hear from you all then! Sorry about the terrible email! I'm alive, I'm happy, and I'm doing all that I can. That's all you need to know anyway. Machts gut!

 -- Elder Cameron McGinn

Email - April 22, 2013

Hey! Super super quick. Me and Elder Divver are in Köln right now, and we have been doing some ridiculous amounts of traveling this week, including three more splits, so we only put in 50 cents into the computers so we could tell you all that we're still alive (at the moment), and we've been given more time later in the week to email! So hold on, I know you can do it. Haha if you all forgot about me, I can forget about you for an extra two days! Haha don't worry, you'll all hear from me in a couple days!!

 -- Elder There Needs to be 36 Hours in a Day McGinn

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Email - April 15, 2013

What is this I hear about bets being placed on me being fat when I come home?!? I see what happens when I leave. And I hope you know, just to prove you all wrong, I carried a 50 pound weight all the way back from Bonn to our apartment in E-town just to get some quality morning sport in. :) Anybody want to change their guesses?

 I really can't spend a lot of time, Elder Divver just set up an appointment with a member in about an hour, and we have to take a long train ride, so I guess I can't complain but I am so sorry! I'm so glad everything is going well at home, it is absolutely amazing here! This week we had our first split, my first ever, and guess who my new companion was… Elder Penfold, the AP. The Zone Leaders set up a split with us the same day the APs set up a split with them, so it just worked out nice and dandy, and I was terrified. Haha it was amazing though. Nice to get a fresh break, but also with the four of us we got about 35 new numbers on the street and me and Penfold placed E-town’s first ever Book of Mormon!! It was such a great day, and the people are opening up more and more every day.

 I absolutely love the way things are headed right now. It's also starting to get super warm too! No more getting weird looks while two weird Americans walk around with blue faces stopping in every block in another store to get warm. It's almost 70 degrees right now, and we can't wait to get back on the court with some of those punks and show them how we play in America! The kids especially really are starting to like us, and that has been President Schwartz’s biggest emphasis, the young kids. So many Germans are set in the ways they have had for centuries, and don't care in the least for what these two American’s have to say, but the kids are completely different. So many are sick of their parents’ traditions and want to blaze their own path, so Pres. has encouraged us to get to know as many young people we can and invite them to activities to build a strong friendship basis within the church, and it will just take off.

 That’s the way things are headed right now in Euskirchen, and me and Elder Divver couldn't be more stoked. Plus, it gives us hookups. President asked me and Elder Divver if we would want to go to a German professional basketball game. What do you think we said?! So now we are going to a game with one of the coolest member families ever, the Grunkes, whose daughter actually put her mission papers in yesterday! We are going with this family, three kids who are investigating, and we're encouraged to really friendship these kids through "our talents." It is going to be so fun, as this team, Telecom Bonn, is just about to go into the playoffs! Brother Grunke told us yesterday, with an absolutely dead serious face, and in English so that we would really understand. "Elders, this isn't an opera. This isn't a musical. This is Rome, where men behave as they should behave." Sounds like home to me. :) Haha we're a little freaked out about what we might see with all these people in their natural habitats, but it's going to be an awesome way to really break the ice with these three investigators: David (dahveed, not like yours, dad. :)), Ingma, and Max (very German, huh?).

 Also, real quick story: while me and Elder Divver were out street contacting one night, we saw a man in a park sitting alone on a bench. Elder Divver said "hey, should we buy him and bring him a Kinder Egg?" I love kinder eggs, and so does he, so we both thought nahhh...that's probably our selfish thoughts. But we both felt like it would be a cool idea, so off we went. While we were there, we couldn't just buy one, so we bought twelve. Same diff. (jealous Al?) While we were paying, the lady in front of us was laughing because she thought we were so crazy, typical Americans. We explained that we don't have them back home, so we had to get as many as we could while we had the time! She then asked why two Americans were all the way out here in this little dorf, looking for Kinder Eggs. That gave us the opportunity to start talking to her about what we REALLY do here, besides eat kinder eggs by the dozens, and to make a long story short, we now have Euskirchen's first family that wants to be taught about our message that would bring us this far just to share. It's about time we got inside and actually get to teach.

 Sorry that this is all so rushed and probably makes no sense, but I can't wait to teach in about thirty minutes with the Stein family (remind me about the word "stein" later, I have an embarrassing story about that) and we gotta roll! But I love you all so much. If it wasn't for all of you, I couldn't show everyone here how happy the gospel makes me. I can't teach people something I don't believe in, and because of all of you, I can show and testify with all my heart that I absolutely love my family and know that we can be together forever, and they can too. Through me and you all, the Lord gets to touch his children out here in Germany. They have the opportunity to know and have everything we do too. I love you all and will hear from you all soon! Tschüüüüüssssss!

 --- Elder McGinn

 P.S. Dad, I saw shirts with QR scanner codes on them, and when you scan them, the phrase pops up on your phone of what the T-shirt says. Your foolish ways are spreading over the globe.

 P.P.S: I tried to send pictures, but I have no idea what it says to do since it's in German. But next week, I pinky promise!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Email - April 8, 2013

What a conference it was!  Meine Gute. We had to take a three hour train ride up to Köln, and we watch the morning sessions live at 6 oclock p.m. our time over here, and the rest we watch recorded because we´re all lights out! Confession… Elder McGinn didn´t bring very much note taking materials with him on Saturday because he thought he´d be watching it all in German and wouldn't be able to pick out very much. But to his unfortunate/lovely surprise, they had a tiny English translation room. The only people in that room: eight missionaries. Our district. Haha! So all my pass along cards that I had on me are covered in notes that have now been transferred to my notes. :)

 As I walked into the Köln stake center and heard the German translation over the voice of the Apostles and Prophet, I felt so lucky for my ability to know English. Hearing their actual voices is such a huge part of conference for me, and it must be hard for the Germans to know that the voice they´re hearing isn´t the original. (As good as your voice sounds, Mase, I bet the Bulgars felt the same way :)) I hope you all loved conference as much as I did and found the answers that I was flooded with, even though I still haven´t seen the Sunday afternoon session! And I heard Elder Holland spoke in it! I need to look that up online when I get the chance. Stupid time difference. (P.S. they do have daylight savings over here Dad, so I´m actually eight hours ahead right now!) There is no question that this gospel can´t answer. That defines living revelation, which is the basis of our beliefs today.

Did any of you see that paparazzi camera that day?! Cause I didn't!! They couldn´t have caught any better moment though, two best friends about to give Europe everything they´ve got. I couldn´t wait to tell all of you how I freaked out when I saw Mr. Durtschi´s face on the screen while the MoTab was singing and I almost scared our investigator away, and then on the other side of the globe you all were seeing ME!

 Sometimes I wonder if the Lord just laughs at the things we do. If he does, he would definitely be laughing at Elder "Divvea and Mc Gann" (as our mailbox now reads) as we went door to door for FOUR hours straight this week. I am now a real missionary, mom. Are you proud?! Euskirchen has literally nothing, and so we were forced to ´start from scratch. We kept a tally mark and finished the day with 197 doors knocked, and not one lasted over 30 seconds. No one wanted anything to do with us, but we weren´t gonna let that stop us. When we finally gave up and decided to stop for a break at McDonalds, we saw some kids playing basketball and asked if we could play. Bam. Four numbers, four potential investigators. President Schwarz always stresses us using our talents to find, and I think we found one method that works. :) The Lord really does know us. This proved it and it's all I could think of in conference when they talked about how we all have different talents and personalities that we were given to bless others.

We chose a pretty lame Internet Cafe with nothing to send pictures from, and I was totally prepared too! So I promise next week when I have more time and a computer that was built after 1980, you will all finally get to see the land of promise. :)

 einfach wissen, daß ich es liebe, mit mein ganzem Herz. Der Herr wirklich hat eine grund für die Leute daß hier in Deutschland sind. Die Arbeit geht schneller jeden tag, und alle uns Missionare versuchen mit es zu laufen! Ich liebe meine Berufung, ein Missionar zu sein. Ich kann wirklich die beten spürren jeden tag, wenn ich auf die straße gehen, um Leute zu finden. Ich bin SO glücklich, es ist ungläublich! Zeit geht schon zuschnell. Ich habe bemerked, daß die Heilige Schriften wirklich wahr sind, wenn sie steht daß wir unser selbst verlassen müssen, um unser selbst zu finden. Ich weiß meine Zweck. Weist du? Wir alle haben Zweck hier auf die Erde. Jeden Tag ich frage Leute, "Was ist das Sinn des Lebens?", und viele Leute hat keine annung. Fühlen Sie sich nie, wie du hast keine Zweck. Hilf einen ander, und Ich verheiße daß du mehr glück und friede haben werden, und der Herr wird naher zu dir kommen. Ich liebe dich alles. So viel. Ich bin so begeistert für die gelegenheit in eine Monat mit euch zu Skypen! Schätzen deiner familie, der Propheten hat gesagt daß deiner familie die wichtigest dinge in unser Leben ist. Es ist die wahrheit. Ich weiß daß wir ein lebendige Propheten heute haben, und er wirklich spricht mit Gott. Joseph Smith hat Gott und sein Sohn, Jesus Christus, wirklich gesehen. Ich weiß mit mein ganzem Sinn daß das Buch Mormon irgend etwas frage antworten können. Probieren es, du wirdst sehen. Haben sie alles eine wunderbar woche diese woche! Sei glücklich bis nächsten mal.

 (An imperfect translation from google translate: Just know that I love with my whole heart. The Lord really is a reason for the people that did this are in Germany. The work goes faster every day, and all of us missionaries try to run with it! I love my calling to be a missionary. I really pray that spürren every day when I go to the street to find people. I am SO glad it's ungläublich! Time has been going quickly. I bemerked that the Scriptures are really true when it says that we have to leave our own to find our own. I know my purpose. Tells you? We all have purpose here on earth. Every day I ask people, "What is the meaning of life?", And many people have no idea. Feel never know how you have no purpose. Help one another, and I promise that you will have more luck and quietude, and the Lord is near to come to you. I love you all. So much. I am so excited for the opportunity in one month with you at Skype! Appreciate your family, the Prophet has said that your family is the dearest things in our lives. It's the truth. I know that we have a living prophet today, and it really speaks to God. Joseph Smith God and His Son, Jesus Christ, really seen. I know with my mind, that the Book of Mormon can answer anything asked. Try it, you see wirdst. Have a wonderful week all this week! Be happy until next time.)

 I´ll have more time next time, I promise… WITH pictures. Don´t give up on me, I promise I read every last word you write. :) Shoot, I gotta run. Tschuuuuussss!!!

 --- Elder McGinn the IV.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Email - April 1, 2013

 Well it's a jolly holiday with Maaaaarrryyyyy. I have no idea where that came from, but it fits the context! It's nice to be back in this Internet Cafe again, where the person before me's half empty beer bottle is sitting next to the computer. Gotta love Germans.

 I am in an absolutely gorgeous city, but it is definitely not hopping right now! Everyone hopped right on out for the Osterhaase to hop in! As you probably guessed, Easter is a pretty legit holiday out here in Deutschland, and when it's a holiday out here, it is a HOLIDAY. Not only does everyone/everything/every store/ you name it, take the Holiday DAY off, but they also take the day before it off, and the last school day before it off, and the day after the holiday they take off too, AND they all leave town, just to make sure they had a good time. And then it happens all again in like another week and a half for whatever crazy day it is next. And as much as I love walking for two hours on P-Day to find an open supermarket because everything is shut down, I want my Cocoa Crispies NOW.

 We have a ward here in Bonn of about 120-ish members, and this last week we had something like 25 members show up who hadn't left town. We had to pass the sacrament, and I almost had to play the sacrament meeting music.  It was a crazy day though, even though no one was there! Right after church, we took an hour and a half bus ride to take the sacrament to a lady who is too old to make it out to the church anymore, with a member who always accompanies us named Hamid. Not a German name, I know, and let me explain why. Initially, I completely thought he was an investigator who had just walked into church, and Elder Divver grabbed me at the last second before I did the whole spiel and told me who he was. He was baptized 8 years ago when he first came to Germany from Iran, after he had quit the military service. It came to the point where he had to either join the Taliban or leave, and he chose to leave. And we got the good end of the deal, because he is literally our body guard. He has darker olive skin, black hair greased back into about a three foot ponytail, a tattoo on the front of his neck that he always does his best to hide, and he is RIPPED. Completely trained in more martial arts than I have songs on my iPod, and is not anyone you would ever want to mess with. He is also the "ewigkeit" missionary, as we call him, because he loves hitting the streets with us when we go contacting, and no one brushes him aside like they do to us, because they probably want to live. I'll have to send you a picture sometime!

 But anyway, after that appointment, we caught a quick bus out to a family named the Grunke's, where they set up a complete Easter Egg hunt for JUST me and Elder Divver, because they felt so bad that we weren't having one this year with our families. So after they fed us a huge meal, they got out their cameras and let us loose in their backyard to find all the eggs and bags of candy that they stashed in the tree for us. To make a long story short, I think I'll be making trips back out to Germany every year for Easter if it is always like this. They are so ridiculously nice to us, and sent us home with two bags of food so we didn't have to buy groceries for ourselves. OH YEAH, and gave us two coats to use to stay warm until we bring them back next time they have us over for dinner.

 Oh, don't even get me started on Conference. I am so stoked. I really do miss the MTC devotionals every couple of days, and I'm pumped for some more spiritual rejuvenation up in here in Euskirchen! I don't know exactly how it works, but what I do know is that we take an hour and a half train ride sometime on Saturday afternoon up to Köln (that's Cologne to us out here :)) for it, and we go back and forth a little for all of the sessions. Whether they are recorded or not, I have no idea. Köln and Bonn are the two majors cities in our Area actually, so I see it quite frequently! I should be out there for a day or two when we start making splits next week!

 I made a two hour train ride to see a Castle for P-Day, and IT WAS CLOSED. So you wanna know what I did? No, I didn't climb the mountain, but I did think about it. No, I ate a dönner for 3 euro in a little shop before we made the two hour ride back on sweaty seats. (Tell Frau about the doenner! And that it is better than I ever even imagined.)  I never knew I could run so fast and so often in a suit. People give us the weirdest looks as two kids in suit and tie sprint by and dive into the train just as the doors close.

And yes, unfortunately I must admit that Sydney is indeed right, "kirchen" does mean chuch! (Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage) in fact, from my window you can see the local Cathedral towering over the shopping plaza about a mile away. (There are seriously too many Cathedrals out here to count, almost like Chapels in Utah!) One of the most famous German Cathredrals of all, however, is in Cologne, about two hours away and I cross my fingers that I'll get to see that before long during this transfer! It's kinda ironic how many churches Germany has out here, but no one goes. Except on Christmas and Easter. We had a man ask us which day was more important to go on, Christmas or Easter, and we answered with "all of them. :)"

 And I have never really recognized how special of an opportunity I have until we walked the empty streets on Easter yesterday. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ, not the death. While I was at the MTC, Elder Aidukaidus of the Seventy spoke to us and said "Yes, Jesus Christ did die. But He was resurrected. HE DID NOT DIE TWICE.", and I am that literal witness. Every day for two years I wear His name on my chest, and spread the Easter message, that Christ is resurrected, and His church and Gospel are once again on the Earth. He really does live, I am one of the soon to be 100,000 witnesses all over the Earth that want to share that news with everyone who is willing to hear. Sometimes it's a little hard out here.  Sometimes we get laughed at. Sometimes we don't give out a single card in the freezing cold. Sometimes we shave with just the razor blades of our razors because we can't find the actual handle. Sometimes you don't want to go through any of this. But neither did Christ himself want to endure the pain and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. But imagine if He hadn't. No one can imagine the pain and fear and hopelessness that everyone would have because He did not go through with what He knew He had to. Don't look for ways to cheat yourself, because you will ultimately cheat someone else that would have benefited in some way from your sacrifice. This plan is perfect. We are where we are right now this very second, literally and figuratively, for a reason. Trust in Him and His word.

 I was quite flustered last week and didn't tell you all much about my week, so I'll change that this week :) First off, since it is April Fool's, let me tell you a little story. I was set up. Before I was even here. My companion and a member in the ward set up a plan that when the new missionary got here, they would go to a certain place, and this member would act like a regular person on the street. My companion would then encourage me to talk to that person and try to get them to come to church and everything, and would not back me up and force me to struggle through my German skills. To make a long story short, I got this guy to commit to come to church, and I was STOKED. I thought about it all day, and then today at church, he walked in!! I sat next to him immediately, and he asked ridiculous questions that I just assumed any normal, confused person would. I puppy dogged him all day while he talked to people, wondering how in the heck he knew so many of our members when he was just a random contact. After church I asked him how he felt, and he started laughing and said "do you know why I'm laughing?" I was so ready to defend our church from his jokes, you have no idea. He then proceeded to tell me the whole set up about how he's really a member and I almost strangled him I was so embarrassed. I thought about how dumb I probably looked at so many points in time while my companion did nothing to help me! But I guess their plan worked, the ice is now broken with contacting random people, and I will never trust my companion again. Haha!

 Well, on that note, I don't have much time, but all is well here, as you all know! Almost too well with how well they take care of us. I now have three coats from members, so I'm plenty warm. The only downside at all is that in Germany it is proper manners to always eat with utensils, specifically a fork and knife. And so against my own will I am forced to eat pizza like Dad. Hold strong everyone! Don't give in, it is an awkward experience and you feel really feminine. I hope you're happy, Dad.

 I love you all, and I am off to conquer another week in Germany, including mission training in Frankfurt tomorrow (I don't want to talk about having to wake up at 4 to catch a train to it) and Zone Training in Dusseldorf on Thursday! It's going to be a crazy week, but I love it more and more every single day. It's already going by way too fast. Stay happy, keep those braces on Syd, and I'll hear from you again before you know it! And enjoy Conference!  Grüß und kuss meine lieblings leute in den ganzem Welt! Bis nächstes mal. :) Tschauiiii!

 - Elder McGeeern. (the Germans have a really rough time with the name)