Monday, December 23, 2013

Email & Pictures - December 23, 2013

Fruilöchte Greäletchen!

Hahaha I could have told you all that means Merry Christmas, and you all would have believed me. :)

Fröhliche Weihnachten! There we go. :)

K, let's be real and just get started with all you are even reading this email for anyway. Wednesday! Also known as Christmas, is the day when I will be seeing all of your charming faces for the first time in 7...actually, almost 11 months! Seeing that things didn't work out so hot on Mother's Day. But it should this year! The only downside. We will be at a member's house to eat and skype starting at 1 o’clock, our time. So the plan is, we will eat and quatsch for 2 hours, and then Elder Shively will skype for 40 minutes, and then I will skype for 40 minutes. Which means that I will be skyping you guys around 7:30 or 8-ish. A.M. Ouch. I understand if you just call pass on this year and we'll just see us on Mother's Day, but it's your call!

I'm super stoked, just so you all know. :) So Syd, put a cork in your tear ducts (just kidding, your brain might explode) and get your questions ready! Plus I'll introduce you to some real, live Germans! That's awesome to hear that this has been and will be another way good week! I'm way excited for you guys, and especially Ho-Ho and the Giddy-Ups first live performance! I'm still so jealous that you have snow.

I'm sad to say that Herr Döschner didn't go through this Saturday. He pushed the date back himself, despite how excited he is, because he wants to be absolutely positive that when he is baptized, he is DONE with cigarettes, and will never go back. So we still meet twice to three times a week, including FHE with him tonight where I destroy him at Trouble, and a Christmas appointment on the 26th! He's doing great, and his spirits are high, we're just really working with him to be totally done. Thank you for all of your prayers, he really is feeling them and making progress!

Other than him, two of our Investigators left for the holidays, and they were two of our most promising. One is in Italy until January 8th, and the other will be back next week! But luckily we found a VERY promising investigator last week named Saidu Sowa, who has time every day after 6 because he "wants to get every ounce of information about this wonderful church out of our heads before we leave Germany." Haha that you will do, my friend, that you will do.

So we're way excited. It will be a little bit slower of a week because we can't go proselyting on Christmas or Heilige Abend or the 26th, which is also a holiday, so we'll find something to keep ourselves entertained and busy! I'll tell you everything else you all wanna know on Wednesday when I see you all, so until then, enjoy the pictures!


-- Elder McGinn
Elder McGinn and Elder Boyd rockin the socks!

Definitely enjoying the Christmas season and ugly sweaters!

Elder McGinn and Elder Shively

Cam's presents (surprisingly still wrapped)

Outside his apartment snow.

Frankenstein Castle ruins

Monday, December 16, 2013

Email - December 16, 2013

Ho Ho Ho! (what a cheesy opening line, right?)

What’s up, fam?? How were your weeks? They sounded way good to me! The Moor Lane Christmas Party, what a legendary event. I miss being stashed up in your guys' room, listening to Dave Parker laugh his pants off downstairs, and coming out to eat the leftovers when you all left to play your foolish games! I love that it's still going strong.

I'm also glad that everyone is home and safe for Christmas! Are you all getting stoked like I am? Mother, I look at those packages everyday with temptation, but I'm a missionary, and missionaries don't give in to temptation, so I will be strong. I'm excited though!

We had a way good week! Very busy. I went on two splits, including one with the Zone Leaders, and time just flies when you're on splits! We had the opportunity to teach a boy who is being baptized, but the entire family speaks only Spanish, except for the dad who speaks very broken English. We teach him, and then he translates it to his son. I had never realized how powerful communication is before. It seriously felt like Tower of Babel at the beginning, as we all stared at each other and said things, but no one understood anyone else. I also noticed how important a smile is. I could not understand a single one of them, and they couldn’t understand us, but their smiles said everything they needed to. You don't need to talk to someone to see the impact the gospel and Jesus Christ have on someone's, especially an entire family's, life. It physically changes something that people notice, and it gives light to others.

I get to go on another Zone Leader split to Heidelberg this weekend to interview 3 baptismal candidates all on the same night! If all of their investigators go according to schedule and if our Herr Döschner goes according to schedule, there will be five baptisms this week! One on Saturday and four in Heidelberg on Sunday!

The work is seriously picking up so fast, I don't think you guys understand. Elder Shively and I literally have almost every hour slot in our planners planned out with appointments this next week, and it's gonna be crazy. These are the weeks you live for in the mission. We're way excited. We're just praying every day for Herr Döschner. When I was in Heidelberg, Elder Shively and the Zone Leader went through the baptismal questions with Döschner in an appointment, and he blew them away in every single one. He's just trying so hard to quit smoking, and he's making progress, but he needs to STOP. It's so hard for him, and he wants to quit so bad, and so we are just praying for a miracle every day. So if you guys could just add him to your prayers that he can quit and be baptized this coming week, I know the Lord will show forth miracles.

We are so stressed, but so happy. Funny how that works on the mission. The more you're running to catch trains and squeezing people into every slot possible and making calls on the way, the better you feel, and the more peace you feel in your heart. I can't help but think Heavenly Father smiles or even laughs as he sees a 19 and 18 year old running around trying to get from appointment to appointment, trying to help people come closer to Christ. We're gonna need his help with catching some connections this week!

Haha, we gotta go, but I hope you know I love you all so much! Mase and Al, I'm a terrible brother, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I sent off something for you guys, but forgot to write it in my email! I love you guys! I promise! This church is true. I renew my testimony of it every single day. I could not be busier, or happier. I hope you all have the best week!

tschicka tschau!!

-- Elder McGinn

P.S. I'm sending a million pictures next week, so be ready!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Email - December 9, 2013

Meine Familie liebe ich, sie bedeutet viel für mich, ich will für alle ewigkeit mit ihr zusammen seeeeeiiiiinnnnnn, immer und ewig woll'n wir vereint sein, der Herr verheißt uns das, mit die familie mein kann ich für immer seeeeiiiiinnnnn, wenn ich lebe nach dem Vaters plan. Ich leeeeeebe nach dem Vaters plaaaaann.

 I just sang Families Can Be Together Forever for you all, and thought I'd type it out too, cause it's true.

 Hey fam! Sorry about the craziness, (what's new, right?) but we had a flop of a P-Day that we had to travel forever to get to, and now we're just shooting out some emails to show we're still alive! Definitely not going out to Frankenstein (it's seriously called that) again. It was the ruins of an old castle from 1146, but since it was about a thousand years ago, there's not much left! Oh well.

 It sounds like you guys have had some crazy weather this week! and SNOW! It has not snowed here once yet. It is colder than a yak's beard, but not one flake of snow, and I am not a fan. If it's gonna be cold, there at least has to be snow, so you can hit your companion in the back of the head, and if there's no snow, it should just be warm so you can enjoy things! But no. Germany doesn't approve. So I definitely wouldn't mind borrowing some of yours!

 Mother, the packages have arrived, and they are safe and sound in my possession here in Karlsruhe. They sit on the couch and stare me in the face, tempting me to peek inside, but I refuse, so I have now wrapped them up in wrapping paper as to increase my will power and motivation to not make it on the naughty list. It's a daily battle.

 The most frustrating part is just not being able to get really that much for you guys because of all the regulations at the post office, and you guys can't be here and see it yourselves, so I'll see what I can do. It is getting prettier and prettier and the streets more packed and packed, so I'll find something to capture the feel of it all for you guys!

 Dad, sounds like you delivered another killer Stake Conference with the help of your little crew who bakes you breakfast each morning at Stake meetings, und das freut mich! I love big meetings. As a missionary it just feels so good to meet up with so many people who believe in the same thing as you and be able to talk about it, which sometimes doesn't happen for a while if the work is going a little slower that week. It is such a blessing to have such big stakes and wards back home, members out here ask about what it's like all the time, because they can't even fathom it being like that. Count your blessings!

 Well, life is better than ever here in Karlsruhe. We're working hard with four people in particular, Herr Döschner, who has a baptismal date if he can quit smoking, David, a 22 year old college student from Columbia, Wojtek, the Polish student, and Erk Kobisch, a 70 year old catholic man who loves meeting with us. We are hoping to set two more baptismal dates this week with David and Wojtek, and if that were to go through, this district alone would have 8 baptisms in the month of December! Miracles have been happening all across the mission, and I think that currently there are over 50 or 60 baptismal dates set throughout the mission for the month of December, something that has not happened in years out here in Germany. The work is thriving, and the Christmas Spirit only helps move it along. It really is such an amazing time!

 Christmas is different out here in Germany. It isn't so commercial. It still IS commercial, but not as much. A lot of really old traditions still go on here, and a LOT more is focused on Christ and his birth. It's actually the Christ Child who brings presents on Heilige Abend (Christmas Eve) and not Santa! Santa came on the 6th and dropped off some candy and toys (we happened to be at a member appointment that night, and when we went to grab our shoes to leave, Santa had filled our shoes with candy and packages of after shave and the like. That sneak.), and now people look forward to the coming of Christ. Another thing I found really interesting out here is Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and each week you light another candle. So right now in Germany we are on the second. It wasn't until we had an investigator appointment last week where he explained it to me why they do that. According to the Bible, the time between when Adam was placed on the Earth and Christ's coming were 4000 years apart, and there were always prophets and scriptures and signs that testified of and looked forward to His coming. The four candles represent those 4000 years of anticipation of Christ being born, and you light them up until Christmas, when he comes. It's a sign of hope, and you will not walk into a single German house without finding an Advent wreath somewhere around the house, usually on the kitchen table.

 Well, time is short, but I hope you know I love you all! I love Christmas, you all know that, Mariah Carey knows that. But it means something more as a missionary. You don't have all the lights and shopping and music like you did before, which you THOUGHT brings that exciting feel in the air. But without all that, only focusing on Christ, you realize that THAT is where that feeling comes from during the Christmas season. Not the toys and music and new movies coming out, even though those are all good! It's the light of Christ. Like it says in the Bible Dictionary, the Light of Christ naturally draws all men unto it. Christmas is such an effective time for missionary work. I took Elder Ballard's proposition to heart, and I hope you all did too, that if we all reach out to someone we know and love this Christmas season, millions around the world will feel the love of Christ and come closer to him. That's what missionary work is, bringing others unto Christ. I hope you guys get a chance to really think about that this year between all the craziness of usual holiday jazz, but nevertheless, don't miss parties. :)

 I love you all, and I'll see you next week!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, December 2, 2013

Email - December 2, 2013

Elder McGinn, coming in live from Karlsruhe!!

 Hey fam! Sounds like Thanksgiving was killer this year! Mom, I never doubted you for a second. I just try not to think about it because Dad has free reign and no competition for the pies. I'm also glad to hear that no one died, and that you are not a visionary woman!

Catching Fire...everyone has been talking about that lately! It came out this last week here in Germany, and it's all anyone talks about in Church! It was funny, because then all of their noses started to bleed. Guess it happens out here in Germany too, Dad. :) and even though they rub it in our faces that we haven’t and can’t go see it, I know that my arm will always be longer than their brains.

Tell Brother Tidwell hi for me! He has always been such a role model to me, ever since he moved into the ward forever ago. I pray for their family often, and just hope that things turn out fine. They’re in my prayers, I love that family!

Well, on my side of the world: Karlsruhe is amazing. I've been here less than a week and I already love it. We live not too far from the hauptbahnhof (main train station) right across the street from a big catholic church that always klingles its bells. Karlsruhe is a lot bigger than Erlangen, the main shopping strip is 10 times bigger at least. The other companionship here lives in our same building, just two floors below us, and we're both all in to get things going here. There haven't been the most diligent missionaries here in the past, and we're working hard to change that. In the short time I've already been here, we've met with three of our progressing investigators! One is a 22 year old Columbian named David, another is a 27 year old-ish from Poland named Wojtek (Voytek), and the third is a 60-something-year old man who looks identical to an older version of Dave Parker, who has a baptismal date, but is just working to quit his smoking habit before he can be baptized. They all look VERY promising from the first impression I got, and I can't wait to really set in and work with them.

The district got me busy right away and on Saturday I did my first baptismal interview for a girl who will be baptized next Sunday here in Karlsruhe! She's an investigator from a less-active family in our ward who has been taught by the other companionship. It's the first in a while here, and it's gonna be a huge opportunity to get the ward fired up!

My companions name is Elder Shively, from Salem, Utah! He went to Salem Hills High school, and is the first elder I have met who is younger than me! He graduated this last year, 2013, and came out right after graduation. He just got finished being trained, so I'm "golden busting" him just like Elder Hobson.

I really hope Elder Hobson is keeping up back in Erlangen with three new elders and he being the only one who knows his way around and the investigators! I hope the investigators keep progressing and he gets to see three baptisms there, and really change the mindset over in that side of the mission. I miss Erlangen, but I'm excited for the potential Karlsruhe holds, and I can't wait to get to work.

We gotta go meet up with the other elders, so we gotta go, but I love you all! I love the opportunity I have to be a missionary in this exciting time, where you can literally see the work speed up and advance. Miracles are happening every day, and I know it's because of your guys' prayers and faith! Thank you all so much for your support and help and prayers, I can't wait to get started out here and really make a difference in advancing the Lord's work. I hope you all have the best week ever and that you get my little package I sent off soon, and I'll hear from you soon!

 -- Elder McGinn