Monday, December 29, 2014

Email - December 29, 2014

The Krazy Krew,

 Long time no see/talk/hear? I can't believe it's already been 4 days since we talked! That was so good to talk to you all! Nothing has changed at all it seems like, except that three babies are coming in July!!!!!!! Holy, I'm so excited. When I left there was 1 grandkid, and now there's going to be five! What in the world! This will be the best summer ever.

 Alright, hold up. Literally none of you told me what you got for Christmas. What's up with that?! I knew Syd would just get rocks and have nothing to report, but I at least expected something from the rest! I expect to know next week! Haha but I'm glad Christmas was a success for you all as well. I loved it this year. Haha Dad, I'm sorry your murder mystery turned out to be a cheery musical. I'll watch something real manly with you eventually to make up for it.

 I'm glad everything went well with Hannah's homecoming talk! Crazy that she's already back. I'm sure she did awesome and is doing well. And come on BYU! I expected a little more out of them this year. But we'll see what happens when March rolls around! Maybe this is the year (Cougar fans have been saying for the last 80 years...)?

 Well, kind of like you guys, I don't have much to report on as well! After skyping we played some cards and had some dessert with the Southalls, and then turned in for the night! That was an awesome day with them up to that point. The beginning of the week went well, I was in Heidelberg on a split with Elder Mayne. We had a number of appointments including Rochelle, the recent convert I worked with and really like, and she gave us all little stress balls that have different facial expressions and each a different hardness, based on the facial expression! Elder Mayne got a yellow smiley one, that felt like a cotton ball, Elder Brown got a really hard one with a snarl face, and I got the one in between! She said they all represent our personalities. Hahaha, Elder Brown wasn't too happy about that. We also had the Christmas Devotional on the 24th at the church, where I got to play all the hymns, and also accompany two members in a musical number! I'm honestly not that good. I just make them look better in comparison to my lack of skill! Haha, but that was fun. We were then at a member's home where we opened our PJ's that I was wearing on the 25th! That was a blast. Then of course on Thursday we were at the Southall's and you all know what went down that day.

 On Friday we had district meeting and a district white elephant, where I got a picture frame and balloons. #lame. Then we had a lunch appointment, and then drove out to Jena for a split with the Zone Leaders! There was literally no one in that whole city. It's almost purely a college town, and 99 percent of the students were gone for the holidays. So with no appointments, we went out contacting, and in four hours of contacting we had 4 conversations with the only 4 people we saw that day. It went well though! No miracles to report just yet, but definitely not a wasted effort. We drove back to Frankfurt on Saturday night and hit a huge snow storm and it took us forever to get home. But the snow stuck, and I got to throw my first snowball since I was in the MTC!! Booyah! Sunday went well, but a lot of people are still out of town, so I'm looking forward to next week when everything gets back to a normal routine.

 I guess the biggest news of the week is that Elder Emery is officially leaving and headed back home for medical reasons. He's leaving next Monday, which a week and a half ago was super unexpected, and everything has unfolded super quickly! That means that we have about a week and a half between us going home, in the meantime, two new AP's have to be trained and caught up to speed in that amount of time! So the first new elder is coming up today from Nürnberg, and we will all be in a trio until Elder Emery goes home. Then me and Elder Allen, the new elder, will be together all of next week until the second new elder is called, and he joins us in two weeks from today. Then we'll be in a trio again and show them both all of the ropes until I go! And then it's good luck, friends! We got basically whitewashed. It's pretty stressful, knowing that we've got to pass on all of our knowledge about things in a very short time period, but Elder Allen and the second new elder are both really sharp, and will pick it up quick. So I would be more worried if it was anyone but them! So I definitely will be running through the tackle! There's a lot to do and not nearly enough time to do it! We have two splits this week, one with Dortmund and one with Düsseldorf, and Elder Allen will be coming along for all of them, so we're getting him right into gear! It's going to be a blast.

 I love you all, and hope you have a happy New Year! We'll be in the apartments by 6 p.m. because it gets a little crazy, so don't do anything too dumb! I love this church and this gospel, and I love letting it change me the more I soak it in. It is all true!

 See you in a week!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, December 22, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 22, 2014


 Fam! I hope you had an awesome week, because the best week of the year is here! We had a really great, really busy, kinda tiring week over here! Dortmund to Nürnberg to Offenbach, back to back to back! All of the Zone Conferences went really well! It was good to be able to literally see the entire mission within three days! The meetings were very powerful and spiritual, with a lot of humor as well. One of our guest speakers was Elder Axel Leimer, our Area Seventy here, who is also in the Frankfurt German Ward! Great man and an amazing family. He addressed obedience quite directly, and had a big impact on the missionaries! He also shared a 30 second clip from the movie Nacho Libre with Jack Black, to make a point! Haha all the missionaries loved having a Seventy let them watch 30 seconds of Nacho Libre!

 Elder Emery and I drove Santa's sleigh around the mission as we delivered over 80 packages to all of the ZoKos, our car was packed. We also had a little bit of time after the Nürnberg ZoKo to go to the Nürnberg city center and see the Christmas Market! That was a blast, I couldn't believe how big and gorgeous it was! That's something you all will have to witness with your own eyes one day, because pictures just don't do it justice. You can kinda see what it looks like, but you don't get the smells, sounds, tastes, or feel of it! It's a five sense experience, and sadly my pictures only give you one. One day!

 We also had a great MLC meeting on Friday, which Elder Leimer attended as well! We talked about "Becoming the Message", and the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders told us how this was the best MLC they had ever been to! So it sounded like a success! After MLC we headed back to the Frankfurt Chapel for Daniel's baptismal interview, which he rocked! The Wiesbaden Elders successfully came through and supplied me with some root beer, so that after his interview we had lasagna and root beer floats ready and waiting. They loved it! Daniel was so nervous before his interview, and when he was gone getting interviewed, Jessica told me that the whole week he was studying so hard and always calling or texting her saying "hey, where are the 10 commandments in the Bible? I need to memorize them!" or "when was the Word of Wisdom given? Should I memorize the date? What are the blessings we get from that, exactly?" and so many other questions, just trying so hard to feel ready to pass his interview and join the Church. Haha I love that guy. But it all went well, and he felt much better afterwards!

 And then came his baptism, on Saturday Evening!

 That was an experience for the books. Haha CLASSIC baptism, no one but the missionaries ever know what really goes down the whole time! I'll start from the beginning. Daniel and Jessica show up at the church an hour before, so we can all get ready. I have my white clothes, but he doesn't have any, so we grab him a white shirt, pants, and tie from the closet. As we're changing he's like "shoot, these pants are WAY too tight! I can't zip them up!" and walks out, looking hopeless. Haha. We're like the exact same size, and he was starting to stress out a little bit, so I was like "here, take my pants." which fit him perfect. So now I don't have pants. Elder Emery searches around, but ends up not being able to find any pants that will fit. They're all too tight. Then we see some pants hanging over a changing stall. There was a baptism earlier that day, and they were still drying out from that. But they were the closest we were gonna get with 10 minutes until we needed to start, so I took them and literally squeezed in. Could not get the zipper up for the life of me, so there's just a gaping hole in my wet pants. To cover it up, I just loosened my shirt and let it kinda hang over. Then I tied my tie really long, so that it would cover the hole when I sat down. So Daniel and I go out, me looking like I'm wearing wet spandex. Okay, not that bad, but that's what it felt like. Ends up no one there can play the piano... so guess who also played that? Daniel is looking awesome in white, but super super nervous, as people are giving talks. Then it's baptism time. I walk first into the water, turn around to make sure he's following, and don't realize that there's one more step, so I kinda stumble into the font, and Elder Emery tries not to laugh. Everything goes way smooth except for the fact that my pants almost ripped when I baptized him. But Daniel came up beaming, with his hand over his face. He couldn't believe it. He gave me the biggest hug of my life, dripping wet, and I'll never forget it. He could not stop smiling, and was trying to explain how he felt, until he was like "Elder McGinn, I feel like I've been wearing a 100 lb. backpack full of rocks my entire life, and that I just barely took it off and dropped it. That moment and comment made my mission completely worth it.

 Now as we're getting out of the font, I realize that I hadn't brought a change of clothes, and now everything is soaked. Crap. So I'm like "Elder Emery, I saw some clothes in the closet by bishop's office, go grab me those!" So he comes back with this snazzy looking suit and white shirt, all belonging to Bishop. (Bishop is leading the meeting and I knew he would notice) So we change and go back out, and I try to sit as conservatively as possible, holding a hymn book against my chest so that I don't attract more attention than necessary. But then Jessica bore the most powerful, sincerest testimony I've ever heard, and she and Danny were basically in tears, so happy, still smiling as big as ever. As soon as the meeting was over, I switched back out of the suit and into my coat, and then we had dinner out in the cultural hall. Hahaha goodness. Most stressful, relaxing, spiritual, funniest meeting of my entire life. And only Elder Emery and I knew all that went down. By far the highlight of the week.

 Yesterday we confirmed him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he gave us all the biggest hugs after the blessing. So many people came up to him afterwards, congratulating and hugging him and welcoming him, it was amazing to see the fellowshipping from the ward. And then after Church we went that night to the Leimers (wow, we saw Elder Leimer a lot this week) and went caroling to their neighbors with all the missionaries, Jessica and Daniel, and a few other members in the ward! Then we had hot chocolate, soup, cupcakes, and a spiritual thought at their house afterwards. IT WAS AN AWESOME WEEK.

 This week is going to be just as amazing. Tomorrow we will be in Heidelberg, Wednesday is Christmas Eve with Dinner at President's and at a member's home, Thursday is CHRISTMAS and I get to see all of your charming faces, Friday is the second Christmas Holiday, and we'll be spending that in Jena, and then it's Saturday, Sunday, and I'm back again! Time is flying by, I tell you what.

 It sounds like you all have a fun week planned! I hope the gifts add a little bit of German flavor to your holidays! I really hope nothing was broken! Also, the chocolate is all for you guys, so dig in!  I I look forward to seeing you all soon! Have the best holiday week ever! And don't damage that Gingerbread house...that belongs in the Louvre!

 The Church is true! Scripture of the week: Helaman 3:27. I am really impressed from that scripture lately, I don't know why. But never underestimate the power of prayer. Be grateful, be happy, be smart, be warm, and we'll see you soon!

 Merry Christmas!

 -- Elder McGinn
Nurnberg Weihnachtsmarkt with the Gublers (office couple) and Sister Stoddard.

HUGE Sausages!

1/2 meter each.  Yeah baby!

Office Crew

Teaching Danny how to tie a tie.


Santa's Sleigh Drivers

Packages galore.

Nurnberg Christmas Market!

Me and Elder Emery!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Email - December 15, 2014

Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy!! Thought I forgot about ya, huh??

 I love hearing everything that happened this last week! Sadly, I don't have enough time to address it all, but it sounds like you had a great week. No, mom, I'm not disobedient. We're writing late because this day has been crazy! We take off tomorrow morning at 5:30, headed up to Dortmund for Zone Conference 1 of 3! And this whole day has been making the last preparations! So Elder Emery and I are typing away, spreading the love as quick as we can, and trying to get everything organized at the same time! It's gonna be great. Tuesday = driving to Dortmund, having an awesome ZoKo, and then leaving straight away to Nürnberg, a 4.5 hour drive. Yay! Overnight in Nürnberg, then it's ZoKo round 2 with the Nürnberg and Erfurt, then a big caroling activity with 60 something missionaries at the Nürnberg Christmas Market! Then right away back to Frankfurt, get some sleep, and then ZoKo III in Offenbach on Thursday. Then on Friday, it's the Mission Leadership Council for half of the day in Offenbach, where we'll be talking about not just sharing the message, but becoming the message that we share. We've already assigned some speakers and topics, and it should be really good!

 But to top it all off, Saturday, at 5 p.m., Daniel will be baptized, and I could not possibly be more excited. We organized everything this last week, after we taught them the big three: the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and Tithing. Smooth sailing, not a problem. Jessica even bore really strong testimony about the importance of tithing, which I think was a strong witness for Daniel. And top it all off, she was sick, and asked us if we could give her a blessing before we left. At this lesson was also her inactive sister, and her younger nephew, Gabriel, who we found out also wants to be baptized (date to come). So these four people, Jessica, Daniel, Gabriel, and Brenda all had a really spiritual experience as we gave Jessica a priesthood blessing. You've got shoes to fill, Danny! But he will, I'm sure. After the baptismal interview this week, we promised Daniel and Jessica that we would provide root beer, because they haven't even heard of it before! So we're going to have root beer floats, and blow their minds. We're stoked. :)

 Overall, a really really good, really really busy week coming up! And then it's the fourth Advent on Sunday, and then it's Christmas just like that. :)

 This last week was also really good! We had a split with the Wiesbaden Zone Leaders, a split with the Nürnberg Zone Leaders (and we even got to go visit someone in Erlangen! I haven't been back there since I left over a year ago!!), an awesome Ward Christmas party to which Daniel showed up wearing a sharp new suit that he bought just for the special occasion, and we got to eat dinner on Thursday night at the top of the VIP lounge in the Frankfurt Marriott hotel! That was an experience, talk about high rollers! There is a senior couple in our mission who are "Platinum for Life" members at the Marriott, because over his years of extensive international business traveling, he always stayed at Marriott's. And as soon as you have spent over 1000 nights in a Marriott, you become Platinum for Life, which means the best rooms and services are automatically given to you as soon as you stop in. So Elder Emery and I lived the high life for about an hour and a half, with an incredible view of Frankfurt at night, before we took off to Nürnberg. Not bad, right?

 Well, I know I haven't got much time, but I wanted to share something that I learned this week!

 "The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent." - Boyd K. Packer "The Reason for our Hope"

 I love this quote. Christ's Atonement was and is literally infinite. Not only can it heal and forgive every sin we commit, it is also designed to bring healing to those of us who feel hurt or discouraged because of something that happened to us, for which we aren't even responsible. Most of the time we simply think of the Atonement in terms of helping us receive forgiveness for our mistakes, but we don't use the complete Atonement enough, to also help heal us when we are discouraged because of others. It makes me think of Moroni 9:25. Christ came so that we can lift our heads and rejoice. So that we can be healed. So that we can actually be happy. Whether you are sinful or sinless, the Atonement still applies to you. I encourage you all to use it, because we all need it, whether because of our mistakes, or because of the mistakes of others. It has carried me through my entire mission, and continues to do so.

 I love you all, and hope you have an amazing week. We'll hear from you soon!!

 Love you, Mom!

 -- Elder McGinn
Elder Diederich, Elder Emery, me and Elder Simpson after church in the Frankfurt chapel.

The Messe Turm and Frankfurt from the top of the Frankfurt Marriott!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 8, 2014

It's 59 degrees there?? Shoot. It's freezing here. Like sometimes I feel like if I got my ear flicked, it would shatter into a million little pieces. We've got the cold and the Weihnachtsmärkte, now all we need out here is the snow! I'm dying to see some snow right now. It's been waaaaayy too long!

 This week was overall a success though! It was crazy crazy crazy busy! It's gone by super fast, but also feels as if I haven't written emails in three weeks. Last Monday after emails, we went to the "Römer" down in downtown Frankfurt to the heart of the Weihnachtsmarkt, and window shopped for hours! Some missionaries were buying, but I wanted to check out what they had to offer before I dropped any cash. Needless to say, we're probably headed back this week. :) and then on Monday night, we had Familie Heim Abend (FHE) at the Area Authority's home, with J & D! It went awesome, they were able to develop way good friendships, and D talked all about how excited he is for his upcoming baptism! It was an all around solid night.

 Tuesday we had way more office time than I like. We met with President Stoddard, then had District Meeting all about "Er ist das Geschenk" (He is the Gift), and then spent most of the night in the office, getting things ready for Wednesday and Thursday! That night I realized that we had an appointment with J&D on Wednesday, and they could only meet between 11 and 12. Well we had to pick up the new goldens from the airport, and their flight was supposed to come in at 9:35, which means they'd be out around 10:35, and then we had to load up their bags, then drive to pick up our Joint Teach, and THEN drive out to the appointment, which is about 20 minutes away. Things were not looking like they were going to work out, but I refused to cancel the appointment with J&D, and just prayed my heart out the night before that we could somehow make it. The next day, we all arrived at the airport around 9:40, and found out that the golden's plane had landed 30 minutes earlier, which gave us EXACTLY enough time to load them up, drive to pick up our Joint Teach, and we pulled up at the house at 11:01. Which was then followed by the best lesson with them yet, in which D asked me if I'd baptize him. I couldn't believe it the whole day. I don't know how I'll ever be able to pay Heavenly Father back for all of that!

 But after the lesson, the six goldens from the US had interviews and orientation, and we then picked up the three missionaries coming from England! Two Swiss elders and one German. They are awesome and their accents are hilarious (they probably are writing their families saying the same about us...). But then they also got interviewed and oriented. We then had dinner, they left to the hotel, and then all the trainers came and we met with them, and then took them to the hotel. It was an awesome day.

 Thursday was transfer day! A pretty small transfer this time, only 36 changes. Everything went really smooth, aside from the fact that of the four missionaries going home, two missed their trains, and came an hour and a half later than planned, so we had to change up all of our reservations. But things still went well, and because it was a small group we were able to have their Leavers Testimony Meeting in the Mission Home.

 Friday we were on a split with the Frankfurt Zone Leaders. I worked in their area and we had fun teaching a handful of appointments and preparing some Christmas finding materials. And then on Saturday we were on a second split with our District Leader here in Frankfurt. I went with the District Leader's companion, who has been out about 3 months, and we had a blast. It reminded me of how it was to be so new and young on the mission, and really grateful for the progress I've been able to make! He did awesome though, and we had a good day again. That night I had to sing in a barbershop quartet in the International Ward singing O Come O Come Emmanuel, because one of the other guys dropped out and they needed someone last minute. Guess who is playing the piano for the party this weekend and also on the 24th in the German ward? Yep, this guy. Mom, I'm really grateful I can play the piano, but also I get asked literally ALL the time, and sometimes I wish nobody knew.

 Sunday was also good, we had a good time at church, J&D were there of course, and we made out a bunch of appointments for the upcoming week. Sunday night we were invited over by a member so that we could also teach her non-member boyfriend about the gospel. So we had a good time, and then shared “He is the Gift” for our message, and I think it left a powerful impression on this dude. He was pretty shut off, I guess you could say, at the beginning of the appointment, but by the end he was sharing his insights and feelings, and he really warmed and opened up. So we're hoping that turns into something as well!

 This week is gonna be a little crazy as well! We have an appointment tonight with a part member family, and the 19 year old daughter named Lina wants to take the lessons! So we're hoping she becomes a promising investigator. We have a split on Wednesday, and then on Thursday we'll be in Nürnberg, and then on Friday in Jena, and then Saturday it is the Ward Party, and then it's Sunday and the Christmas Broadcast for Germany, and then it's Monday again for the week of Zone Conferences! So big things coming up real fast. We're excited though, it's good to be busy. :)

 Well, there's my week, folks! I hope yours has been a little more relaxed, unless it was just busy and jam packed with the Gospel. Enjoy this next week and all the Christmas lights for me, and I'll send some snow if we get some! No one get sick, stay happy, stay healthy, watch Christmas movies, don't be snarky, and we'll hear from you all soon. :)

 The Church is true! I love you all!

 -- Elder McGinn
Winter Wonderland!

Buy food for the fridge or buy random stuff at the markets...enough said!

Such a German breakfast.  Cinnamon toast and a bratwurst.

Transfers at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof with Elder Bruneel!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 1, 2014

Family, this week was awesome for so many reasons. I'm glad you all had an awesome week! I knew you all would, who doesn't when Tanksgiving rolls around? (that's how the Germans pronounce it)

 Our week has been all over the place! It started off with a TON of time in the office, getting things ready for transfers! A lot of information to find, flight plans to figure out, things to print out, all to get ready for the changes! Luckily this next transfer is a pretty small one. First off, we're only getting nine new goldens this next transfer, three of which are Germans and are coming in from the Preston MTC! That's a big difference compared to last transfer and next transfer in January when it's another 20+ group! Also, President didn't want to make too many changes before Christmas except where absolutely necessary so that missionaries can enjoy the relationships they've established and have an enjoyable Christmas, and not have to be a complete stranger in their new area when Christmas rolls around! I think that's a great idea, because I got transferred from Erlangen to Karlsruhe right before Christmas last year, and it was kind of hard leaving all of the relationships behind that meant so much to me, especially only a few weeks away from Christmas! So all in all, out of about 260 missionaries, I think there are 36 changes. So not too bad! It's a good breath of fresh air before the craziness of the transfer!

 This week Elder Emery and I have to plan out all of our splits and then start gearing up for Zone Conferences! Yeah, life is crazy busy, but I'm lovin every last second of it right now. Is there a better cause to be busy for? I don't think so. :)

 Because of the transfer planning, we didn't have too much proselyting time this week, but the time we did have, we made it count! On Wednesday we met with J&D, and...

 He accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 20th of December! Looks like Elder Emery and I are going to be lucky enough to have a white Christmas this year, and we could not be more excited. :) We were teaching both of them, and when the topic started to come up, J picked up on what was coming and I could tell she was getting really nervous, and then when we invited D to be baptized, he smiled, kinda laughed, and said "of course! I'd absolutely love to." and then that classic moment comes around where the missionaries are so pumped and jittery that we wanna jump over the coffee table and hug them both, but we do our best to keep it contained and continue on in the lesson! We are SO excited! As are J&D! They were in church yesterday, and we're going over to a members house with them this evening, and also again on Wednesday. Things could not be running smoother, and I'm so thankful, this has been such a huge week of thanks. Thank you all for your prayers, and please don't stop. Miracles are happening and lives are changing as a result, I can tell you all that as a first hand witness. D is also probably the coolest/best investigator I've ever had. If I knew him at home, we'd be best friends. He's such an outgoing, positive, sharp guy, and he and J really help each other become so much better than they were. And who knows, give them a year and they could be a temple marriage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for it. :)

 That was definitely the highlight of the week. Other than that, we had some great meetings where Elder Emery and I introduced the "He is the Gift" world-wide initiative for missionaries, that you mentioned, Dad! It's huge, it's awesome, and it needs to be shared. or for those of you who speak German! Spread it. share it. Remember why we actually have Christmas in the first place. :)

 We also had three Thanksgivings! One on Tuesday with the Zone, one on Thursday with a member family, and then one on Saturday with these members down in Heidelberg! We also were going to go to the Jensen's (in your Stake) for Thanksgiving, but we had to be on our split in Heidelberg, so it didn't work out. :( I wish we could have, though! Man, we should have Thanksgiving every week! American holidays are the best, just saying!

 We then helped out a member cut down a Christmas tree in his back yard to put in the ward building in Frankfurt, and it is probably the ugliest, most Dr. Seuss looking tree I have ever seen, but it looks at least decent when it's loaded with Christmas decorations!

 We've got a big week coming up with new goldens coming, meeting with J&D and other members and investigators, who hopefully also make such awesome progress like D, and then transfers and leavers and the whole shebang! It's gonna be crazy, and I'll be back next week before ya know it!

 I'm so happy that my mission comes to a close during this time of the year. The time where missionary work moves the fastest and the smoothest, where it's so easy to talk about Christ with complete strangers, and where we all grow a little closer to our Savior. I love Him, and everything He does for me. I encourage you all to do something for Christ this year. I'm gonna memorize the Living Christ in German, I think! But just do your best to be the kind of person He would have you be, and I promise you'll be happier that way. His way is happiness, and His way is the gospel.

 I love you all, have a great week! I'll hear from you soon!!

-- Elder McGinn
Thanksgiving decor!

The Transfer board in President's office!

New car!
Decorating our Christmas tree!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Email & Pictures - November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!! Are you all ready to gain 10 pounds? I am!

 Elder Emery and I are better just in time for an awesome week! With Thanksgiving coming up, we are going to be eating Thanksgiving four different times. Once tomorrow with the missionaries in the Zone after our Zone Training Meeting, once with President and Sister Stoddard in the Mission home on Thursday after Transfer Planning, Friday night with some of the best families around, and then again on Saturday in Heidelberg on our split! Our split this last week with Heidelberg fell out because of crazy traffic and a crazy schedule that would have made the split not worth it, so we rescheduled to this Friday and Saturday, which coincidentally happens to be the day that they are having Thanksgiving Dinner with one of the coolest member families in the whole city. So I'm pumped. And my stomach will need to be pumped by Sunday.

 Our week was solid. It was a bummer that the Heidelberg split fell out, but we made up for it by being in Ramstein for the next day and a half with the Zone Leaders down there! It was really interesting to spend a day and a half preparing for everything in English! And when we went out on the streets to door and contact people, it was all in English! It felt really weird, and kinda uncomfortable at first, but I got over that quick. Every American down there is a soldier, and while we were out contacting, there were planes and helicopters constantly flying overhead, either taking off to somewhere else or landing in Ramstein. Little did I know it's the biggest US military base outside of the US! They call it the "Hub", because anything that has to do with the Middle East, Europe, or Africa, comes through Ramstein.

 We had a number of appointments, including teaching German, and were able to find two new investigators for them and a couple of potentials. Don't get me wrong, those were all awesome highlights, but what really blew me away was one of our assignments from Sister Stoddard when she knew we were going there: buy Thanksgiving supplies on the commissary! And that we did, folks, that we did. How much did we buy? 150 dollars worth. About 110 of that was for President and Sister Stoddard for holiday baking, and the other 40 was because of us..... c'mon, you all know I can't just walk by a bag of Cap'n Crunch!! Or Lucky Charms. Or Mini Wheats. Or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Or Gatorade. Or Cream Soda IBC's. Or Mint Oreos. Or Cheezits. Yeah, we went to town. But all in good reason! It was a good time.

 After our split in Ramstein, we came back with them to Frankfurt, because the following day was Mission Leadership Council in Offenbach, with all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders! That went very well, and at that meeting we talked about the new initiative coming from the Church, which I hope you all already know about called "He is the Gift". If you don't, go to, and hold tight. It's gonna be big, and we, as 88,000 missionaries, are pumped.

 Anyway, after MLC we had a split with the Nürnberg Zone Leaders! One of which is Elder Hobson, who I served with in Erlangen. They are great elders, and we had a great time. We attended a baptism in the international ward to which none of our investigators showed who said they would, but it was still good! We then had a street display with all of the Frankfurt missionaries, and I had to carry a TV out there for us to show Mormon Messages on, and after carrying that piece of plastic for 2 miles, my arms are dead. Still. Morning Sport just doesn't cut it.

 We had a couple more appointments, and then had Church and the Primary program, which was hilarious and spiritual all at the same time. J & D were both there, and thought it was awesome. I was so happy that it was the Primary program, because all of the kids said their little phrase, and being just little kids, they were short, simple statements of pure doctrine, with some humor here and there. That's exactly what the Gospel is. Nothing big and complex. Simple truth that makes us understand our purpose, and ultimately makes us happy. And I think they really understood the doctrine from yesterday more than anything else they have learned to this point. Aside from that, there were other meetings and pretty boring things we had to take care of in the mission office and with President that I don't think any of you would find entertaining, so I won't post about it.

 But this next week should be good! We have a few Zone meetings that we are visiting and speaking at, Transfer Planning with President since this is the last week of the transfer, a lot of giving Thanks, and a split with Heidelberg this weekend! That sounds like an awesome week to me. Super busy, and that's just what we're looking for. Isn't it funny how at home sometimes that's the exact opposite of what we're looking for? So we're hoping all goes well. The time in between meetings and transfer planning that we have we're packing with whatever appointments we can squeeze in and we're looking forward really to our appointment on Wednesday morning with J & D. We're hoping to be able to set a baptismal date with him on Wednesday! Keep them in your prayers! I have the same goal as you, Dad. At least one more before I have to go home. It will happen.

 Dad, I agree with your words that it's easier, and more comfortable, to serve than to be served, and I'm glad that that is all I do out here! But the course of the Lord is one eternal round, so it's gotta come back somehow, right? :) Stay happy and healthy, you guys! The Church is true, and making huge strides right now as many many hearts are being softened and becoming more receptive to the message of Jesus Christ at this time of year. The Europe Area has a goal to double the numbers in the church by 2019, which seemed huge and daunting until they said "that simply means that everyone needs to bring just one person in the next 5 years." Piece of cake”.

 I love every single moment of being a missionary, and hope you all can feel that. :) And I love you all and can't wait to hear from you soon!

 Tschau tschau!

 -- Elder McGinn
Going to the Konigstein Fortress!

Look at all the color in that shopping cart!  Healthiest elders you've ever met.

The Heidelberg Castle!

The Heidelberg Zone Leaders definitely don't have personal space bubbles.

I'm proud to be an American :).  The aisles of the commissary!

IBC toast with Elder Allen in Nurnberg!


We have that kind of a relationship.

Elder Boam in Ramstein and I just doing our thang.

TV carrying shenanigans with Nurnberg!

Found this surprise on our window sill!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Email & Pictures - November 17, 2014

Yeah, talk about the weirdest text ever! I'm sitting in church in Frankfurt, listening to the YSA teacher talk about a story from the Bible when I get a text that says "Hey, Uncle Tom Macdonald says hi! ha" and I was like, what the heck??? I love Tom! I hope Elder Bruneel and Elder Nelson took good care of him up there! Elder Emery and I were on a split with those two literally two days ago! It was so strange, but feels so good to have family here in the land of beer, pretzels, sausage, and dreams.

 I'm glad Ken gave you a call as well! I started talking to him at Stake Conference in Darmstadt, and then he took down all of our home numbers so that he could give our parents a call to pass along a message and let them know that we are doing well. It was super nice of him, and I'm glad he came through! Just in case you forget sometimes that I actually am a living person, and not just some computer program that sends you a weekly email. :)

 Haha yes, Mom, splits were awesome this week! There was just one little mishap. So after our dinner appointment on Monday, I didn't feel right when I went to bed that night. At about midnight, I got up and went into the bathroom and threw up. Then again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. 8 times. Every time I tried to get back in bed I was just freezing cold, and got back up 30 minutes later to do the same thing over again. So I finally just filled up the tub with hot water and got in at like 3 a.m. I woke up around 5:30 in the tub, prunier than a 90 year old! I got back in bed, and then spent some hours trying to sleep it off, but we had some meetings and things to go to, so I got ready and we went. But then I had a pounding headache all day, including when we went to a sealing of a couple that Elder Emery worked with in Darmstadt, and we showed up 6 minutes late because of traffic, and had to wait in the waiting area until they came out.

 The next morning I was feeling pretty okay, and we were planning on leaving to Wiesbaden that night. We were about five minutes on the road when I offered Elder Emery a Pop tart, and he said no thanks. 30 seconds later he opened up the door and threw up all over the road like three times. Disgusting. If he would have thrown up my Pop tart, I would have been ticked. But we couldn't push the split back later, so we just had to go to Wiesbaden with a sick Elder Emery. The next day we had Düsseldorf coming to Frankfurt that night for a split, so Elder Emery took it easy until they got there. We had a TON of things to do in the office, so as Elder Nelson (from Maple Mountain!) and I went around to appointments, Elder Emery and Elder Bruneel took care of a bunch of reports and things in the office. Then we took off that night to drive Düsseldorf back home, and then went from there to Dortmund for our next split with the Zone Leaders there!

 It was a great split. There was a baptism, we played soccer with a bunch of really good, really hard-kicking Germans and investigators, and we helped out at a soup kitchen for a few hours, which was a super super humbling experience for me. To see so many people, some with only the best intentions and others who have and continue to make poor choices, who are desperate for food, just to keep going. I can't imagine life like that. I have been so blessed my entire life, and sometimes I didn't even realize it. And now with Thanksgiving coming up, I can't help but think about all of the people who don't have as much as we do. It makes me really want to do better, not take my blessings for granted, and to give what I can to help others. It was a really eye opening split, and we had a great time as well! Then we drove back to Frankfurt on Saturday night and spent a couple of hours finishing CCM reports for President Stoddard the next morning.

 So this week has been all over the place! A lot of hustle and bustle, and I'm glad it's all done now! Church was great, and relaxing to be able to take things at a more chill pace for a few hours. The member girl and her boyfriend were there AGAIN, and they are doing awesome. We're really getting such a good relationship as well, and it was actually the non-member boyfriend who came up to us after church on his was out and was like "so we'll see you this week when you come over, right, boys?" The fact that they’re expecting and looking forward to it gives us a lot of hope and faith in the upcoming lessons with these two. :)

 This next week should be good! We're super busy once again. Tuesday to Wednesday is a split with Heidelberg, Wednesday to Thursday is with Kaiserslautern, and Friday to Saturday is with Nürnberg. Friday we also have MLC, Missionary Leadership Council, and a slew of appointments scattered in the mix to keep things busy and entertaining! It should be fun. And, Mom, I hope that we'll be having Thanksgiving dinner! If not, I know there's a member who has threatened to kidnap me and Elder Henderson to have Thanksgiving at their house down there. So I best pray that I don't go missing, Saratov Approach style.

 It's getting kinda cold, but not bad yet! Still haven't seen the sun yet though, and that sucks. But Germany is gearing up for Christmas, and by the start of next week, most of the Christmas markets should be up and running here in Germany! I'm pumped. Anybody want anything? :)

 I like your thoughts this week! I was thinking about Job as well this week as we gave blessings to two sisters last night here in Frankfurt who just opened up a new area, and are having a really hard time. It's a trainer and a golden, and the trainer was seeing a lot of success in her last area, and now she got transferred to Frankfurt, to the English ward, for the last 2 months of her mission, and she feels cheated. She's angry, upset, and doubtful. But it was a good opportunity to be able to bear testimony not to a non-member, but rather to a fellow missionary who is struggling. Paul told us that we are to strengthen our brethren. Being a member of the church isn't easy, let alone serving a mission. But as Elder Holland said, it's because "Salvation is not a cheap experience!" If we believe this to be the true church, and that Christ is its living head, then we, as his disciples, should be ready and willing to understand some of the pain and discouragement he felt. Not forever. Absolutely not. But for a moment or two, it is necessary that we come to understand his trials, and we are promised so many times in the scriptures that if we endure well, we will be exalted on high. I know that's true. If life is hard right now, hold on. Keep smiling. First we obey, then we understand.

 I love you all! Have a great week, and I'll hear from you soon!

 -- Elder McGinn
My Pop tart stash!

Splits with the Dusseldorf Zone Leaders!

I got blitzed a few months ago, and this is the joyful picture of me that the cameras caught.

Our house key broke in half

Another day in the office elevator

Temple sealing at night!

Elder Lovelace

President Stoddard came in clutch with the anti-flu meds!  Thank goodness he's a doctor.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Email - November 10, 2014

Breaking out the Christmas lights, is it already that close??

 I'm kinda jealous that you all are still having perfect weather like that! The clouds have officially settled in over Germany, and they disappear only like once a month until April! So the number of times I get to see the sun in Germany may be down to the fingers on one hand. But enjoy the warm weather! Cause it's really getting chilly over here.

 We have seemingly little time, a new elder just got here from Hannover! His name is Elder Sievers, and he's huge! Haha he's like 6'7'', and he's waiting for his Visa to go to the Denver Colorado Mission! Awesome dude. He used to be inactive, but then members from the ward really starting reaching out to him, he became active again, and then he baptized his girlfriend a month ago! He has such a fire for missionary work, and he's gonna be a big boost to our mission and to Colorado when he gets there.

 But anyway, this week went well! A lot of splits! We had a split with the Frankfurt Zone Leaders at the beginning of the week, a split with the Tech Elders from Wednesday to Thursday, and then we left Friday evening for Jena! The cursed land of forgotten passports. But they all went well! A lot of office work here in Frankfurt, and some good lessons out in Jena! I went on a split with the just recently called Zone Leader, and he is one of the best college debators in the nation! He has won tournaments all over! And it was super interesting and cool to see how he used that in missionary work! Like in the scriptures, where it talks about the learned people who try to catch others in their words, that's what I feel like he is! He makes such a good, convincing point, and doesn't take weak excuses, so when he finds people to teach, they are people who really get what they're getting themselves into and take it seriously. We found a new investigator in the University dorms named Nick, and had a chance to teach a quick lesson about the restoration ,and then set up a return appointment for the following day, which they said went very well. After the split, when we were about halfway back to Frankfurt, we realized that I had forgotten my toothbrush and razor back in Jena. The curse of Jena continues.

 This last week and also this next week we have been working with a less active family (the Roas) who asked us this last week, "Elders, how does the sealing work in the temple? We've never been inside, and we can't get over this feeling we have to go there every time we see a picture of the temple. Can you teach us about that?" One of those perfect questions that we've been waiting for the whole time! They all laughed at how excited I was to get over there and start getting them ready for the temple. That's true conversion and reactivation right there! Onto the next ordinance and responsibility. So pray for them this week, that all goes well and they continue to make awesome progress!

 We also taught the member girl and her boyfriend this week! (Jessica and Daniel). It was so good. He is so interested, and the member girl, who has only been active for the last three weeks, acts as if she has been active for her entire life! She was such a connection to the lesson, and brought such a powerful aspect to her boyfriend as well. Halfway during the lesson, her little brother (Viktor), who is also inactive, came and joined in on the lesson, and really enjoyed it. We taught them the Restoration of the Gospel, one of the most powerful lessons, and committed them all to read and pray in the Book of Mormon, and they are already reading together multiple times a week! Ah, we're so excited. And on Sunday it was Stake Conference, so we almost weren't planning on them being there, because it wasn't even in Frankfurt and they already live far enough away from Frankfurt, but they were there!! They showed up on their own, together. They are honestly SO awesome. We'll be going by again this week to teach them again, and we're so excited. So pray for them as well!

 And in addition to them, we had two other investigators who showed up to Stake Conference, so it was an amazing weekend. Filled with miracles. thank you all for your prayers, it makes more of a difference in our lives than you all realize. It's the prayers of faithful parents and friends that carry a missionary through the week. So thanks. :)

 We're off to Wiesbaden, Düsseldorf, and Dortmund this week, so it will feel like maybe just a day before I'm back again next week! I'll let you know how that all goes, but we're excited. There is something happening in the mission and in missionary work right now that is hard to describe, but so contagious. For the last few months, the mission has averaged at finding about 40 or so investigators a week, and we were floating at a pretty constant 36-38 baptismal dates. But in this last week, the mission found 72 new investigators, and the baptismal dates jumped up to 47! This year is going to end so strong. I can't wait. If there was ever a time to pitch in and help out, it's now. :)

 Thank you so much for your testimonies and prayers. I love and can feel them all. And thanks for the insights that you shared with PEC, Dad! I loved that analogy with the space station. I may be using that at some later time! Make sure you all have an awesome week, keep rooting for BYU and I'll make sure their future point guard comes home in one piece, enjoy the Primary Program, because that is the best Sunday of the year, and just have fun. :) I miss and love you all!

 I love you, Mom. :)

 euer Lieblings,

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, November 3, 2014

Email & Pictures - November 3, 2014

Mah fam. Hey!!

 A couple of long nights, back to back, so we're kinda tired. But life is good! And it sounds like it is for you as well! I saw all of the Halloween pictures! I love it. I miss it out here, it's barely a thing! But at all of our appointments where the families have little kids, the little kids have all felt bad for us that we didn't get to go trick-or-treating in our cool costumes that we wear for two years, so they always give us some of theirs! So Elder Emery and I have a big bag of Halloween candy. :)

 Hahaha at first I read the part about the cabin and hitch and thought you said that Mom forgot the hitch! But then I thought "that doesn't sound right...", and re-read it, and I was right. :) Haha don't worry, Dad! An elder going home had a similar experience this week as well! After we got out of the temple (he also had forgotten his temple recommend), he let me know that he forgot his passport and ID back in his apartment. Not only does that stink, but this Elder happened to be serving in Jena, which is a four hour drive from Frankfurt, and both the elders AND sisters in Jena were in Frankfurt because of transfers, so no one was there who could get it for us. So we had to let the Frankfurt Zone Leaders know, and they made the drive at about 6 p.m. and got back around 2 a.m. with the passport, so that this elder could fly out the next morning. So it could have been worse, Dad!

 Well, this week was crazy and has flown by! Monday and most of Tuesday were spent saying goodbye to people Elder Lindsey had developed good relationships with during his time here in Frankfurt. It's strange that he's gone now! He was here in Frankfurt for so long, and now he isn't, and it's just weird! He will definitely be missed. Elder Emery and I both just felt so weird driving home without him after we had dropped him off at the hotel! But we're also excited to get things started back with a normal sized companionship!

 On Wednesday the new goldens arrived, 26 of them! They all looked exhausted, as usual. Haha but ready to get things started! Three are from Timpanogos! The Awerkamp twins, and Jordan Hansen. All great kids, and excited to get out there and start working! We've had so many good groups of goldens in the last few months, this mission really is in such good hands! But we picked them all up, and then traveled to the church where they had orientation, interviews, food, appointments, and everything else to keep it busy until they had dinner and then went to the hotel! But of course, when we called the pizza company to check on the pizza, the number was dead. So we went by, and the whole store was closed down and out of business! So we had to order 30 new pizzas from Pizza Hut last second, but they came in clutch and made it on time! Then the trainers started filing in, the goldens got on the bus and went to the hotel, and we had a Train the Trainers meeting in the church which went really well!

 The following day was actual transfer day! We met in the hotel at 8:30 to pair the goldens and trainers, and then met back at the main train station to get everything organized, and the elders and sisters going home into cars to head to the temple! The temple was awesome, as was dinner right after, and then we left back to the church for the Leavers Testimony Meeting! Always a highlight, seeing the testimonies of missionaries right about to go home, after their whole mission has come to a close. Afterwards, we all filed in cars and took them to the hotel! It took two cars, and Elder Emery and I were the only ones coming back, so we got permission to drive alone, each in one car, back home! It was awesome. You all may be laughing at that, but that was a big deal to be alone! We made it. :)

 On Friday we had MLC! Mission Leadership Council, in Offenbach! It went great. We talked about working with Stake Leaders, having a positive attitude, raising the bar, and baptizing consistently! This mission is stacked with some awesome leaders in its line-up! Then on Saturday, we met at President Stoddard's that morning to have a conference call with the newly called Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders, which also went well! No phones came unplugged. :) We then had breakfast with a member family! Most of the rest of the day was spent planning 10 splits for the next three weeks of the transfer and giving church tours!

 Sunday was great, as always. A 23 year old less active member who we've been working with also showed up, and brought her aunt, cousin, and her boyfriend!! I spent all three hours with her boyfriend, getting to know him, and we got along great! He's 24, big into sports, and said ever since he met his girlfriend 4 months ago, things have been going well for him. So when she asked if he wanted to come with her to church, he said yes! And the best part? We're going over this weekend to teach him in HER house! Such a miracle and answer to our prayers. Prayer works! It does not get any better than that situation right there. So we're preparing and praying a lot that it will go well! We also dropped by on a less active family that we haven't seen in a while and found him outside working on his four-wheeler! So we helped him out for a second, he invited us in, and we had a good chat and set up a return appointment for this week! So things are lining up well for this next week! We should be pretty busy. Three splits, one with the Frankfurt ZL's, one with the Tech Elders in the office, and one with the Jena ZL's! We should be seeing some awesome things happening this week!

 Sorry, that was a lot. All jumbled into one package. But I hope you all could get a good picture of my week! It was awesome. We're happy, healthy, safe, smiling, working, and doing what we can. Does that meet your requirement, Mom? :) Let me know if it doesn't! I always welcome a little correction!

 The church is truer than ever! Don't believe me, then put some effort into it and find out!

 I hope you all have an amazing week!  I'll hear from ya soon!

 -- Elder McGinn
With Elder Emery on splits in Heidelberg

Heidelberg at night

Long car rides with Elder Emery

Me and the Tech Elders in the Preswagon

The Presmobile!

Frankfurt parking is a nightmare.  You gotta do what you gotta do. (Don't worry, that isn't the President's car!)

Elder Emery and I refuse to get out of the car to unlock the office garage.  Too much energy.

Sunday night numbers in the office!

It was kinda late, if my face didn't tell you already