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)

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