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