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!


 -- Elder McGinn