Hahahahaha! Sorry Syd, but school is for fools. :) Just kidding. I am indeed grateful that I can read and write and that I know never to eat plastic cafeteria pizza. I seriously can`t believe that you are already in high school. It feels like I was there just a few days ago, when in reality, in 8 eight days and one year ago, I started my first semester of college! Time HAULS. Live it up every second you have, cause you`ll miss it when it`s gone, I promise!
Mamacita, yes, transfer calls are in a week from Saturday, and auf jeden fall (no matter what), Elder Anderson and I should be parting ways. I`m way bummed, cause I love that kid, but the mish is all about change in so many different aspects, and he`s stoked to hopefully see another part of the mission, because Erlangen is all he knows! I definitely think I`ll be bleiben here in Erlangen. In my interview with President, he told me that he had a vision of me with all of the young people in the ward and in the city having a great time together and really progressing, which I have already seen coming true! I love all the kids in this ward (including Jerome Molnar, who just got his mission call to serve in Rome, Italy! I told him he`s gonna be trained by Bryson) and the success we`ve had getting to know young people on the streets has been overwhelming. So I could happily stay another cycle or two here in Bavaria. Besides, Oktoberfest and Christmas are coming, and Bavaria is world famous for both. :)
Ahh, J Gass! I miss that kid. It`s so good to hear he`s doing work out there. We all used to send emails in a huge group one, but we`ve all gotten so busy that only one or two people write something every week, so we`re all kinda out of contact! Whenever I get frustrated with the Deutsch, I just put on the Restoration DVD in Chinese and laugh because J Gass has to learn that.
David Bruce, oh my goodness, this region I am in right now is WAY prettier than the Sound of Music, I can promise you that! I would show you if my camera didn`t break! (by the way, I just got the news. A lot of the gears that move the camera taking part out when you turn it on are broken, and the repairs would cost up to like 150 Euro, which is more than just buying a new one. So I have the broken one back, which is still in way good condition, but it won`t work. So I`ll probably send it back to you guys this week, and then what should we do?) I am honestly so lucky to be in such a gorgeous place. I`m gonna go right ahead and assume that Elder Bednar did indeed serve in Erlangen, and slept in our apartment too, just to feel a wee bit more special. I`m glad the cabin trip was a success, and you and Syd didn`t die.
I love what you said about Alma`s response to Korihor when he says that All things denote there is a God, because it is so true. The more you really look into the night sky, or stand on top of an ancient hill in Germany and look at the valleys and mountains, or the animals everywhere, or even just the weather, you cannot argue that there is not a higher power that created all of these things. It is so obvious, yet Satan is trying to destroy our realization of all these things by sucking people in with their phones or shows or games or other gadgets.
And that actually brings me to one of the highlights of this week:
Me, Elder Anderson, Elder Proffitt, and Elder Haskell were all headed to a park to play some soccer with a group of German kids. To get there, you walk by a sectioned off Garden where all kinds of plants are growing and it`s sort of a little getaway. We couldn`t see anyone in there, but Elder Anderson said we should just go check it out. So we went in and were looking at all of the different plants when a man with the thickest Bavarian accent I have ever heard came up to us and started talking a million miles an hour. I acted like I could understand by saying "ja" and "echt?" and just keeping him going, but I couldn’t catch a word. In my heart I thought "Heavenly Father, if you want me to help this man, please help me to understand what he is saying, or change the subject, or anything so that I can communicate with him." After I said that prayer, he stopped talking and looked at my name badge, and in perfectly clear German he asked "what does that say?" We proceeded to introduced ourselves and carry on a conversation about what we believed in, and especially the Book of Mormon. We pulled one out and gave it to him, and told him about Moroni`s Challenge. He was confused about how we can talk with God, and I explained to him the concept of prayer. He then said that he wanted me to show him how I could. So in the middle of this garden I said a prayer. When we opened our eyes, Boris (this man) was crying and said that was so easy and so beautiful. He told us he has had a problem with alcohol for years. He used to drink 15 to 16 beers a day, and now he was only drinking 1 or 2, but it was so hard to stop. He said he always comes to this garden to be with nature and to really think and ponder, especially when he has the urge to drink. He said that day he had an almost overpowering urge to drink, but he came to the garden to fight it, and there he met us. He then told us he wanted to learn everything, and that he was going to go sit in the corner of the garden on a bench and read this book, that gives us so much power and happiness, because he wanted it too. It was arguably one of the most spiritual experiences I have had so far on my mission. I learned as much from Boris as he did from us that day. He knew there was a power in getting away from all the worldly distractions and actually spending time alone to think, but he didn`t know why until he met us.
This world is so sucked up in its immediate everything. Everyone and everything is always in such a rush to this and that, and although all things denote that there is a God, no one really takes the time to notice that. The Spirit speaks with a still small voice, and it won`t run to catch up to you if you just blow right by it. Don`t be so sucked up in the things we have, even though they are amazing and help with so much. I take the "there must needs be an opposition in all things" also to mean that there must be a balance in all things as well. Don`t run too fast, but don`t walk to slow. I love this Gospel so much, and the peace, happiness, strength, comfort, hope, endurance, knowledge, and so much more that it brings to us. I treasure it every day, but also give it out at every opportunity I get.
I love you all, and I hope you have another killer week, and I can`t wait to hear about life going back to the new usual! Don`t worry about us, we love it and are being blessed with much success! I`ll hear from you all soon!
-- Elder McGinn