Monday, January 27, 2014

Email - January 27, 2014

Hä Hä Hä!

 Most exciting news of the week: I learned to pray in Spanish! "Padre Celestiale, gracias por la dia...". I never ever thought I'd be using that on my mission, but all the Ecuadorians decided otherwise! You'd honestly be surprised how many there are.

 Just kidding! Okay, I did indeed learn how to say a three year old prayer in Spanish, but that isn't the week's highlight. Herr Döschner, or should I say Bruder Döschner's baptism! It was amazing. It's hard to really explain all the feelings and emotions at a baptism, but this one may be one of the most memorable of my life. About two weeks ago he decided he was never smoking again, and to admit it, I was a little concerned. He came to church the next day and looked very white and frail, and I could tell he was battling with it, and I didn't want him to cave. He slowly got a little more color to his face as he continued to hold off, but the baptism was a week away and I wasn't sure if he'd make it. Then on Saturday at the baptism, he looked good, but still a little frail. He hadn't smoked, but he said it wasn't easy. But after the baptism, with wet gray hair still slicked back, his face was as red rosy and colorful as ever. I asked him how he felt, and he said "I have NEVER been better, Elder McGinn. Never " with the biggest smile and light in his eyes. His long investigation progress has now come to an end, and it felt good to change his name from "U Döschner" (U=Untersucher) to "M Döschner." :)

 But as we all know, there must be opposition in all things, and there were a few rough spots as well. 1. I had to play the piano for a musical number, and wasn't informed until the day before. 2. Our investigator, Saidu, said he was gonna come. So we waited and waited for him, because he said he was almost there. While we were waiting, Döschner changed and we missed our opportunity to get a picture with him!!! :( gosh dang it. And then literally five seconds after Döschner was baptized in the water, Saidu walked in. He missed it. But he still wants to be baptized, so it's okay. :)

 Hahahahaha I honestly don't think I can think of a funnier image than Dad with gauze shoved in his mouth, sucking on a potato chip in a desperate effort to draw the flavor from its crispy frame. I hope someone has a picture. :) Remember Syd, hands off the radio while driving, unless you're me. :)

 Thanks for the update on missionary work around the extended fam! It's always good to hear that they're doing alright! In fact, Hannah and I send each other a quick email every 2 or 3 weeks or so! Her old companion knows a Sister in my district. So it's cool to keep in touch!

 Seattle Seahawks, baby. 27-23, final score. If I guess it, you all owe me kinder eggs.

 It's really good to hear that you're all doing well! I actually had a dream the other night that we were at the Orem City Center baseball fields, and the teams playing for the championship were the McGinn family, and the Karlsruhe Ward, and I felt like a traitor going to either team and couldn't decide. But in real life, you all know I'd come to your side. :)

 Things are going great over here! We met our newest investigator yesterday in church, one of our YSA's brought him to church and was explaining and teaching everything to him! His name is Mohsen, and we're meeting with him later this week! The work is cruising, we're super busy, and there's hardly ever a dull moment, and I like it that way!

 Keep doing yo thang, everybody, and we'll hear from us soon. (Is that correct in English? In German they say, "wir hören uns bald.") I love you all!

 grüß von dem Schwarzwald!

 --Elder McGinn

Monday, January 20, 2014

Email - January 20, 2014

Well, well, well, back again! Coming live from the Black Forest!

 I realized just barely that I always ask how you all are doing, but you can't answer, and you just barely told me anyway! So I'll just assume that you all are doing well, yeah? :)

 Wow, you should have let me know that it was National Popcorn Day, and we would have celebrated as well! Maybe that's why I saw a crowd of people dressed up in cat, dog, and cow costumes the other day walking around the streets. But that's pretty typical.

 Ah, German, the mother tongue. I bet Houston did awesome, I wish I could have been there to listen to his Austrian drawl on his Deutsch! It's all one language, but it sounds TOTALLY different depending on where you are. All three of my areas have been totally different!

 I try to forget that Syd can drive in only a short little while, I'll find some kind of arm cast to send for her birthday, just in preparation for when she runs into the basketball pole!

 This week has been going good! The best news of all is that Herr Döschner passed his baptismal interview, and will be baptized this Saturday at 3 o'clock! After 8 months of investigating and making progress, he has finally made it, and he couldn't be happier! We're way excited, and we'll let you know how it went! Saidu and Wojtek are also making serious progress, and we hope to set another baptismal date this week, to replace Döschner! The work is rolling along, and we're doing all we can to keep it going. It's been a busy week including two splits, and Zone Training Meeting in Heidelberg where I was asked the NIGHT BEFORE to give a 15 minute presentation on Finding with Confidence! I put something together in the time I had, and it went solid! At least another day of notice would have been nice though, not gonna lie!

 We've been getting a lot of tedious (aka Area Book Work/etc.) work done , and this week we're hoping to have a lot more time for other things now that those things are out of the way! It's looking like a busy week, with Döschner's baptism to top it off, to which he said he'll be inviting family, friends, and neighbors, so hopefully we find some more interested people as well! What better place to contact than at a baptism where they are already in the church, around members, feeling the spirit, right?? I thought so too. :)

 Dad, that's our new mission president?!?! I didn't even know there was one already called! I may be the only elder aside from the AP's who is now aware of that fact. :) How is he? I want you to tell me what you know, because I'm excited to work with him for the next little while of my mish! I'm sad to see President Schwartz preparing to go. All of our goals are til June, when he is finished, and none of us want him to leave. He's the most loving, understanding, inspired person I've ever met, and I have come to love him incredibly. But it's always exciting for change too!

 We have a really short p-day today because of a member appointment down in Baden-Baden, so we gotta go. But I love you all! You all are always in my prayers. I know this Church is true, and I'm so blessed to be able to share that every single day! I'm happy, I'm healthy, and I'm being good, Mom, don't worry. :)

 Ich hab euch alle liebe. I love you all.

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, January 13, 2014

Email - January 13, 2014

Die Familie McGinn!

 Welcome back, Dad! It's good to hear you didn't give up the fight to a little erkältung, and are back in business. I was getting a little worried there for a second!

 Indeed, the unfortunate news is true. Good old Elder Shively who you met on Christmas Day is now serving his local sheriff in Kaiserslautern, in the German Branch! K-town is where tons of Americans are, and one of the most productive zones in the mission, so I'm way excited for him! He's a solid elder with tons of potential, and I wish I had had more than just one transfer with him. The new companion is Elder Colson! He's originally from Connecticut (a soft place in Dad's heart) and then moved to Hurricane, Utah for two years before the mission! He's two cycles older than me, and we were in the Düsseldorf Zone at the same time. He's a super funny kid, and has a ton of good, creative ideas, so I'm excited to see where this heads! In the other companionship, Elder Boyd stayed, Elder Minert left, and Elder Blanchard, from California, came to work with Boyd! We're stoked.

 The work with our investigators is going very well right now. Herr Döschner was at church, like always, on Sunday, and for the first time since I've been here, I smelled (smelt?) no smoke on him! We'll be going by tonight for our usual FHE at his house, to see if he's on track for the end of next week! We also set another baptismal date! Saidu, our rock solid investigator, committed to the 8th of February! Week 5 of this transfer. We set it so far in the future because he's working on getting his work schedule rearranged so that he can come consistently to church before he gets baptized, because he lives and has committed to everything else! We attempted to also committ Wojtek, but he wouldn't say for sure. He says he has absolutely nothing against it, and believes it is good and necessary, but just won't commit yet. He's a little intimidated by the idea of coming to church, but luckily ("luck"= the Lord's tender mercies) the YSA's are having a FHE on Tuesday that he said he'll come to, because it's not so serious as church, but still coming to the church building! We have some way solid YSA's in this ward, so I am so confident that this is a huge step for Wojtek in getting to know them all, being friendshipped, and developing a desire to come without the missionaries just asking him. We're way hopeful for this week!

 Also, a member in our ward, Bruder Wiese, got a Book of Mormon from me yesterday because he said he's been chatting with a coworker of his who just had a recent death in the family, and he feels like it's time to give them a Book of Mormon, and maybe introduce them to the missionaries! It would be one of the first complete families I've taught on my mission, and that would be a huge miracle. Member referral, teaching in members home, and a family. So we're keeping them in our prayers and hope it works out! We just are being blessed in every way imaginable right now, and just trying to keep track of it all is the hardest part!

 If you're reading this right now, Grandma and Grandpa Mangum, YOU FIGURED OUT HOW TO WORK YOUR IPAD AND I'M PROUD OF YOU. I LOVE YOU. Hope they got it. :) I love you too, Grandma McGinn!

 No way is Houston already back, are you serious? One of the AP's, Elder Andrew Bratsman actually knows Houston and Sharissa Nielsen from BYU, and he says hi! Tell Houston hi for me too, and the mission field misses him.

 Mother, Baden Baden was on in this program? That's my area!! In fact, I was in Baden Baden last night! Our area is the only part of the Frankfurt mission that has the Black Forest, and it starts just a little under the city of Karlsruhe and just spreads southward past the end of our area. It is unbelievably pretty, even in the winter without snow, so I can't even imagine how it must look during the summer or spring!

 Well, we're excited for this next week, and I hope you guys are too! The work is just cruising out here right now, and I love it. I can't see myself being anywhere else doing anything else and being any happier than where I am, what I'm doing, and how happy I am right now. I love you all, and hope you guys have the best week ever! Don't worry Mom, I'm being good, kind, happy, and I'm being haved. :) The Church is true! I know, you know it, and so does our Primary President who gave a talk on "The Living Prophet: Spencer V. Monson." Close. Bis auf wiedersehen!

 Ich hab euch lieb!

 -- Elder McGinn

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Email - January 6, 2014

Schon wieder? Menschenskinder, Montag kommt schnell. Frodo, you.....

Hey! It's good to see you're all still alive and well (except you, Dad, but you'll overcome it, just like every other hindrance in your life that you have passed with flawless grace.) I honestly wasn't sure if we were gonna live through New Year's Eve over here, the city exploded at midnight, and didn't die down for a solid three hours. The city was just littered with fireworks like I've never seen. Alcohol, fireworks, cigarettes. Good combination. It sounds like you guys had fun! And now life is back, and Mom's vacation begins. :)

 In regards to the package, I apologize, it just costs so bloody much to send a package sometimes, so I had to keep it really light and scarce, but I thought I'd tried to show you kinda what Germany has to offer in a tiny sample. The sock-ties are for whomever, every elder out here has like 10. I'll get around to sending better gifts later, when it isn't so expensive around the holiday season!

 Transfers happened! But this time, I'm not leaving, Elder Shively is, and someone new, Elder Colson, is coming to me. I hate to see Elder Shively go, we only had one cycle together, and it was way too short. But the success in Karlsruhe is taking off right now, so I'm excited to get a new companion and get him right into the action!

 Things are going swimmingly..? That just jumped in my head, but I don't know if we really say that in English...? But they are! Elder Shively and I have seen miracles happen this last cycle, and they're continuing! Herr Döschner is progressing towards his taufdatum on the 25th, and we're meeting with him tonight to see how he is doing. We have three other investigators with whom we want to set baptismal dates this week, if everything goes according to plan! One, David, has been on vacation the last three weeks, so we're excited and just waiting to finally meet with him again, because he was making really solid progress. The other two, Saidu and Wojtek, are also looking very promising, and we feel good about them.

 We also found a way solid new investigator this last week! She was an old referral on our referral manager website that hadn't ever been contacted, so we gave it a try, called her up, and right away set up an appointment in a cafe! We met her this last week, and had a way good discussion, and then found out she really wants to learn English! She is Hungarian, and she teaches school here in Germany, and always hears the kids speaking it, and when she heard we teach English, she wanted to pay us and bring us to her house to meet and teach her husband and kid too! We told her we do it for free, which made her even happier. And the best part is, is our Ward Mission Leader is also Hungarian, and speaks fluent English, and so we will be bringing him along to speak Hungarian with her, also teach English, AND help introduce the Church a little more! We're really stoked to see where this is headed. :)

 We also had another super cool "Erfahrung" this week with Saidu. He was way busy over the Christmas break, but was excited to meet with us again. So we got to his apartment and asked him how his reading assignment went (2 Nephi 2 and Alma 42, because we were going to teach the Plan of Salvation this time). He began giving us a perfect summary of the chapters, and told us that he had read them both multiple times, just because they were so rich and deep. He then said that while he was reading about God being a God of Justice, he thought about past mistakes he has made in his life, and knew that if he wanted to be happier, he had to start being better. He then had a very strong impression to stop drinking alcohol. He doesn't drink hardcore, but he drinks every now and then nonetheless. We hadn't even mentioned the Word of Wisdom up to this point, and he has already quit his bad substance habits. We then had a really solid 2nd lesson about the Plan of Salvation, and at the end I asked him if he had any questions for us. He said, "Yes, actually. How did you do that..?" I thought Shively was doing a magic trick or something that I couldn't see, but he looked just as confused back at me as I did at him. I asked him what he meant, and he went on to explain that the night before, there was a documentary on the TV about people who had had "death" experiences, and saw the other side. They all talked about this place they referred to as " a kind of paradise", "peaceful", "so wonderful", and so on. He thought it was a way interesting documentary, and it really got his mind going about it. Then we came the next day, and suddenly started talking about the exact things and answering the questions that this documentary had had. He told us he knew this was a sign of the Lord's hand in his life, and that the Lord was showing him that what we were teaching was true. Shively and I could barely believe it! It was such an incredible experience, and he is progressing so fast.

 Well, I think that's enough about myself! We have to catch a train to Döschner's pretty soon, so I better start wrapping up. But I hope you all know that I love you! I'm so excited for this new year. Everyone needs the chance every once in a while to get a fresh start, or go at things from a new angle. I recommend you guys look up President Uchtdorf's "The Best Time to Plant a Tree" talk on, about the new year. There are so many opportunities before every single one of you, you just need to go out and get them. Make this the year you accomplish whatever you had in mind! Like it says in the scriptures, we were made to either act or be acted upon. To act is much better, I think. :) The Church is true! Always was, always is, always will be. I love it, and I love this time as a missionary.

 I hope you guys are having the best new year already! Dad, you get better and keep cheering for the Y, even though they're...the Y, Syd, keep going hard on the homework, and take the occasional The Chocolate breaks when your head might explode, and don't wreck my car. Mutti, just know I love you, and enjoy getting back to the usual schedule. :) I love you all, and I'll see you all soon!

 -- Elder McGinn

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Email - December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas! I guess that is worn out by now, sadly, but eine gute Rutsch still goes!

 It was sooo good to actually see what you guys look like on Wednesday! For a while I was starting to get the feeling that you didn't really exist, but that some elders in the MTC are assigned to act like each elder's family and write us emails so we feel loved. But now I know you really are there and do love me. :) okay, at least the first one.

 It really was so good to skype it up! The Küchler family loved letting us skype over there, and they especially loved bringing me in a pint of beer (rootbeer) to drink in front of you guys. They kept laughing at the face Allie was apparently making. I don't know why, but 5 minutes of skype time equals 45 minutes of real life time, so it just disappeared before I felt like we could even get a big conversation going, but I hope it sufficed for you all. If not, too bad. See ya on Mother's Day. :)

 I hope you guys had a way good Christmas too! I never gotta hear what you guys opened, so hit me up with the highlights next week! I'm curious. Christmas was so good here. There really is something so different about it. You realize that the excitement and the feeling in the air doesn't come from the newest whatever that is on TV, or the toys or shopping or anything. We aren't allowed to do that, and that feeling is still there. And that's when you realize that people are mistaking what exactly the Christmas Spirit is! Like Thomas S. Monson said, to capture the true spirit of Christmas, just drop the last syllable. Spirit of Christ. It is a time when we can literally feel the Savior's love and light and comfort in our lives, and I hope you all got a chance to extend that out to someone else this year. Just because Christmas is behind us according to the calendar, don't let the love stay behind too! Carry that throughout the rest of the year. We are how the Lord answers other peoples' prayers, so don't resist a temptation to be the Lord's instrument. I hope you guys have a good rest of the break too! It sounds like everyone is pretty much planned out with what they wanna do before it ends! Don't get sick like some elders are starting to out here!

 I like the Trilogy this year, Dad and Syd, even if it isn't the classic. That sounds like a solid one though! Do we own Dark Knight Rising....? I miss the Marathon, so I hope you live it up! Crazy socks and fast food. Like champs. By the way, way to give a killer talk in Sacrament, Syd! Did I tell you guys that I had to give a 10 minute talk on the 22nd? It went 20 minutes. Oops. Too much truth, too little time. :)

 Mother, they do have Chinese food. Gefährlich. Translate that. Not like Zuhause. And New Years is a pretty big deal here! Enough that we have to be inside at 6 p.m., to get out of the way of the rukuss (how in the heavens do you spell that word...?). So not quite like you, Mase, at 3, but still a change in schedule! It should be interesting though.

 2014 is looking to be a good year! Herr Döschner (who we just met with an hour ago) said he is quitting for sure tomorrow. He does not want to smoke once in 2014, so that he can go through the temple in 2015 and receive the Melchezidek Priesthood. We're so hopeful for him. This next year is gonna be a big one, we can feel it.

 Well, sorry this was short, but it's late, and we've been running all over! But we talked on Wednesday, and there isn't too much new material to cover! I just hope you all have a great week, I love you all (especially you, Mom) and I'll hear from those charming faces of yours next week! Tschau!!

 -- Elder McGinn