Monday, February 24, 2014

Email & Pictures - February 24, 2014

Guess who's back! Unfortunately, right? :)

 What a sick week you guys had! The only downside being Syd's birthday, but at least you all got cake out of it, right? :) Don't worry Syd, your letter is unterwegs as we speak, and will be in your shaky, not-worthy-to-drive-the-silver-bullet hands in a mere couple of days!

 Knox! I gotta say, that is one of the coolest names I've ever heard. Al and Jeff, you guys have good taste. I approve, if my opinion mattered at all in the first place. :) Congrats! The long 9 months is up, and I bet it feels good, huh Al? I love the pic with Cohen holding the next heir to the throne. I can't wait to see those hood rats again! I hope you're doing better, Al, and that you can enjoy some solid meals for yourself, and not for the growth inside of you taking it all.

 BYU! Not gonna lie, I doubted them! But I've come to a conclusion with BYU that always keeps me satisfied. If I simply assume that they'll lose all the big games, either 1. I'm right, or 2. I'm pleasantly surprised. In this case, #2 was the case! That's so sick. I remember when we watched BYU drop SDSU in the loudest night of my life! Obviously Elder Emery is pumped too. He's in our zone, and we've gotten to be good homies. Does that make me famous too?

Tell Houston and Braden hi for me! Dang, I can't believe they're already home. Time is going by way too fast. I love those kids, and know they rocked it out in the field. We miss them out here, that's for sure. And Bryson wrote me and email the other week and told me that he's in Rome, I'm jealous! Me, Cade and Bryson keep in pretty steady contact, no worries. The 9th Ward Knuckleheads will never be divided. :)

 I'm glad you all had a solid week! I thought about you guys, and you especially Dad, yesterday and Saturday at our Stake Conference! We had a great meeting on Saturday in Heidelberg and our Stake Presidency really emphasized missionary work, and the members getting into shape and working and spending more time with us missionaries. Things are really quickening out here! And then on Sunday, we had a satellite broadcast from Salt Lake City with a member of the Seventy, Elder Schwitzer, Sister....oops, forgot the first counselors name in the relief society presidency, but her, Elder Hales, and Elder Bednar. Every one of their talks was translated into German, except Elder Bednar's. He gave it in German himself. :) It was so cool to see him using the language of his mission to speak to the members he still loves so much. And they were all so impressed, even though we're all positive that President Uchtdorf went over his grammar and pronunciation with him before this. :) The lessons and experiences he learned and had on his mission in southern Germany are still applicable in his life today, and made him who he is! And I know it's the same for all of us.

This last week was kinda rough, appointment wise. We had plenty of member appointments, which is good, but three of our investigator appointments fell out because they stood us up, and either never came, or weren't home. Marianna is out of town, and the younger ones are taking tests or at home for the break. But we got three new solid referrals from the mission office this week, and we're excited to go by and get to know these people!

The work is good, and it's gonna be rocking with my new companion. His name is Elder Blake Jensen, from Seattle, Washington. He's two transfers younger than me, but a champ. He served two cycles with a Swiss elder, so he's got some pretty solid German as well. He's cool, and we know and have served around a lot of the same elders out here, so we're off to a pretty good start. It was a way good week, and we're looking to make this next one even better! We've got some pretty big plans for setting up a street display in Heidelberg with a projector, and we'll be projecting Mormon Messages onto the side of a building and passing out QR codes, getting people to look up online. It's gonna be sweet!

Well, I gotta wrap it up, but I hope you all know that I love you all, and love this church! I wouldn't trade these experiences for all the money in the world, because you can't take money or material possessions into the next life, but you get to take all the spiritual and intellectual knowledge you want. :) So read books! Especially das Buch Mormon. Because I support what Joseph Smith said, that there is no other book on earth that will bring you closer to Heavenly Father, and that's exactly what brings happiness and peace in this life. :)

I love you all, and I'll hear from you next wekk! Tschau!

I love you the most, Mom! :)

-- Elder McGinn
Weird horse/dragon statue in Heidelberg.  We can't figure out what it is...way artsy city though!

The old bridge that crosses under the Heidelberg Tor and leads up to the castle on the mountainside.

The Heidelberger Tor

The fuB

Elder Boyd, Elder Blanchard and me, scouting out the mountainsides on an ancient watchtower!

Me and Sister Teeples (in our district)

Your favorite son :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Email - February 17, 2014

This may have arguably been one of the best news-filled emails that you all have ever sent! Menschenskinder! I knew you guys had entertaining lives, not just the boring ones you all profess to have every week! :)

 That is so good to hear about my Germans in the Olympics. Dad, we have about 100-110 active a week in sacrament meeting. It's not huge, but it is quite large for a ward in Germany. It's probably the biggest I've been in so far, and elders who serve in the East in branches of 6-15 members would kill for it. So I consider myself very blessed. :)

 Transfer calls were on Saturday, and the news is in! Elder Colson, who came last transfer, is being transferred back out to the East to Gotha! He's not super excited, but he'll do well there. I'm getting an elder named Elder Jensen, who I've met before at Zone Conferences, and I'm stoked to work with him! I'll fill you in more on him later, but he's the best beat boxer I've ever seen in my life! We'll find some way to turn that into a finding technique!

 Sadly we don't have a ton of time today, because today is the big Zone P-Day before everyone gets transferred, and they want to go on a way pretty hike in Heidelberg up around some castles! So we're racing the clock. Just FYI. I still love you all though.

 This week was pretty solid. A little slow, and not so many appointments as in weeks past, but the appointments that we had were killer! We've been working with Döschner still, getting him ready for the next temple trip the first week of May! Step by step he's getting through everything. After that, it's Melchezidek Priesthood in 2015! We've also been meeting a lot with teilmitgliedfamilien (part member families) and analyzing the different situations, because we have quite a few part member families in our ward, and the non member spouses are always at church, and even singing in the ward choir! So we're on the investigation of what's up with these "trocken mitglieder"s (dry members).

 Other than that, we had an eye-opening experience this week at Marianna Kocsis's house, our Hungarian investigator. When we came over, she had just gotten back from shopping, and she told us that she was so stressed out and tired because she has so much to do and clean, and all before her husband and very strict mother-in-law came that evening. We asked her if it would be alright if we helped, and she laughed. So we said, no we're serious, can we clean your house for you, to help it go faster? And she looked at us really confused. She said "no, you guys shouldn't do that, it's my problem! Plus, guys don't clean." So we told her we helped clean at our homes and we're here as missionaries to fix problems, so we'll take that as our invitation. :)  Elder Colson started to dust and I started to vacuum. We had been cleaning for about 15 minutes when I started vacuuming in her living room, and she was crying. That definitely wasn't what we were going for! So I asked what was up, and she told me she couldn't believe it. She had been married for 20 years, she has two kids, one 18, one 16, and no one had EVER helped her clean. Ever. Not her kids, her husband, anyone. That was always her problem that she took care of alone. And now that two men, especially young men, were helping her clean without her asking just overwhelmed her and she started to cry because she was so thankful. I realized sometimes that is all someone needs, just some help. She was amazed by such a little amount of service that someone showed her, and I couldn't believe how much service she hadn't been shown in her life!

 Sometimes, especially as missionaries, we look for and try to make life changing differences by doing something amazing and spectacular. Something that took planning and time and effort just to amaze someone. But by thinking like that, we miss all the tiny, so simple opportunities around us to build someone up and comfort them, the things that probably mean just as much if not more to them as some huge, extravagant thing. Christ lived like that. He lived for the small moments where he could serve. Yes, he performed miracles, but he also washed feet. If you haven't read or sung it in a while, I encourage you guys to go listen to or read the lyrics of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". That's the trick of life, in my 19-year-old opinion, to not be distracted by the big things in life, and being sensitive enough to notice the little things that almost everyone needs.

 Go help someone this week! Don't throw them a birthday party, but go make their bed or something, to show them that you love them, and that you love Christ. He really was and still is the perfect example, and in his footsteps is where we find lasting happiness. I know that, because I've lived it.

 I love you guys! Have the best week! I'll hear from you soon and get back to all of you ASAP! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SNARK!! You've got a letter comin your way. :)

 Bis nächstes mal!

 -- Elder McGinn

 P.S. Oh Mother, I do look forward quite intently to opening this next package. It's always a highlight of my weeks out here. You're the best mother ever. :) and I'm serious!

 P.P.S. Go Hawkeyes! Are my Miami Hurricanes or UNC Tarheels in it this year?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Email - February 10, 2014

Robbbbinnnnnn....eggggggggggggg! Hahaha I haven't thought of that phrase in eons, but for some reason Dad's email brought that classic gem back to life.

 Hey! I'm back, still alive, still healthy, still happy, still smart...? Maybe. So no worries Mom, we got all of those checked off from the start. :)

 You had a crazy Sunday, Mom! It actually sounds like a pretty normal Sunday to me when I think about it, and I'm glad we could be unified in our crazy Sundays. One of the many reasons I wish I had you always around, Bahama Mama, is because of exactly what you mentioned, you're always the musical substitute! This week in Priesthood, Bishop pointed to me and the piano because the regular piano player wasn't there, and Bishop discovered my ability when I played at Döschner's baptism, so my cover was blown and I had to play. Luckily I got to choose what to play, so I picked "Kommt, Heilge kommt" (Come, Come ye Saints) which wasn't too bad. :) Oh, and I forgot to tell you last week, but our investigator, Marianna, wanted me to tell you good job for being such a good mother! She said she's been trying to convince her boy to play piano, but he doesn't want to, and I told her how we all had to play until at least 8th grade, and the fact that you got us all to do it was amazing to her. And now that I can see the fruits of your labors (us :)) I can agree. :) So multiple sources have all confirmed that you're the best mom around.

 I'm sorry to hear about the Roberts. You can see it coming for so long, but you're still never ready to say goodbye when it comes. They're in my prayers. I'm just so thankful we have the gospel which is there to comfort us during the very hardest times of life.

 Hahahahahaha Faja, thanks for getting those punks in the Eve's Pears for me, I can't do it myself! I cannot not deny the truth and facts that I am on the downhill slope, but that doesn't mean that I have to talk about it. Therefore I won’t. So there.

 Thanks for the random news, Mom! I appreciate it! Tell Lennon congrats! I'll make sure to hit her up with an email when she enters the MTC and joins the force. :) I also got Al's pictures from Cohen's birthday! I wish I could have been there, but I'll try to catch the next one. Has he moved on from his train stage to cars now or what? In my mind, Cohen is still the little babbler who dances in front of the TV to Thomas's theme song and yells choo choo! at me each time I come down the stairs. I liked him that way. :) Oh yeah! You gotta keep me updated on my Deutschers in the Olympics! Where are the Olympics this year? Ahh yeah baby. Tell Grandpa and Grandma "welcome to the club." They're hooked, and they'll never be free again! I'd kill for an Icee right now, but I also don't want a sloshy, sugary package in the mail, so don't stress it. :)

 I'm glad you all had such a good week it sounds like! We had a good week as well. A pretty slow week, but a good one nonetheless. On Saturday we got to go to the temple! Very spontaneously. A girl from our ward is leaving on a mission soon, and we were invited to tag along for the two hour drive. Luckily the week wasn't busy, so we didn't have to cancel any appointments. It was incredible. But, it also took place of our p-day time, so today is cut short. But also, it's time for Mid-terms right now on the KIT University here, so most of our investigators are very busy and very stressed, and reading assignments from das Buch Mormon don't help too much with their stress. So we've been meeting a lot more with members while waiting on our investigators.

 But the highlight of my week was definitely Sunday. On Sunday, two deacons, me, and Bruder Döschner got to pass the Sacrament together. He was already nervous and had been studying the passing routes hardcore, and it didn't help his nerves that Sunday was Ward Conference! He was super nervous and made me explain his spot over and over, and it was exactly like explaining the routes to brand new deacons at home right as they turn twelve, just this deacon is in his 60's. But he did awesome and kept saying "thank the heavens that's over!" when people told him good job! Hahaha he's a classic. I'm so grateful for the progress we all have made, are making, and are able to make in the church. Like the scriptures say, old and young, male and female, bond and free, we all are here to learn and gain experience, some of us are unfortunately too stubborn or prideful to learn or accept what we need to learn. I've learned a lot from Bruder Döschner. He could be embarrassed by the fact that he is passing the sacrament with three 14 year olds. But he doesn't care, in fact, he loves it. He loves that there is still so much for him to learn, and so am I.

 I am a different person than I was one year ago. Not physically or mentally, maybe a little intellectually haha, but spiritually I am completely different. I still laugh at the same jokes and have the same interests, but my spiritual knowledge and confidence has become stronger than I ever pictured before my mission. I thought that a mission would be a breeze and that I was already strong enough and competent enough spiritually to take on any challenge, but now I know there is still so much more to learn and so much more room to grow. And I love it. On my mission, I have learned one of life's most important skills, and that is the ability to bear my testimony confidently and openly. I'm not timid of who I am or what I believe. People laugh at us every day because of that out here. And when people laugh, you can either let it make your confidence weaker, or grow off of it, and I have decided to grow.

 I am so grateful for my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is true. I know He lives. Like Elder Aidukaidus in the MTC told us "Yes, he was crucified and killed, and buried in the tomb. But he was resurrected. He did not die twice!" He lives today and loves us just the same. I love you all and hope you have the best week ever, and I'll hear from you all soon!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, February 3, 2014

Email & Pictures - February 3, 2014

Hey Hey Hey, it's faaaaaaat Elder McGinn!

 JK LOL, I'm not fat. I do love me some German Milka chocolate bars, but not enough to grow a second chin. :)

 The baptism was indeed wonderful, and I have a picture of him and me rockin' some 3D specs at his house, so I'll attach that! Yesterday, actually, I was lucky enough to be asked to stand in the circle in the High Council room as we ordained Bruder Döschner to the Aaronic Priesthood as a Priest, and that was so powerful I can't even describe. Our bishop, Bishop Pavel, gave him an amazing blessing, and after it was all over, Bruder Döschner just wanted to stay in the room after we all left and just soak up the feeling and Spirit that was in the room, so we left him with tears in his eyes. He made it. And I've never been more proud of someone in my life. I must admit, up until this point I may have taken the power of the Priesthood a lot lighter than I should have. Sometimes people don't realize that this is a literal POWER, something that heals, spiritually and temporally. The same power through which the earth was created. It wasn't until I saw Claus Döschner feeling the effects of it that that realization truly clicked in my head. If I hadn't learned a single other thing from my mission, that ordination would have been enough.

 SEAHAWKS, baby! I told you all! I got a text from a ward member this morning at about 6 a.m. telling me that they won. This family stayed up to watch the game that started at 2 a.m. or so. True fans!

 Cohen probably can't read, but if he can, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COHEN! You’re my favorite nephew. :) but competition is coming up fast, so watch those sticky fingers and my money.

 Time is a scary thing. He's growing up so fast, and everyone has been telling me about hitting my year mark on Thursday....that just freaks me out. Waaaaayyy too fast. I don't like the thought that I've almost been out longer than I have left, and I'll never get that time back. But on the positive side, it motivates me to work harder, faster, and smarter than ever. I just love this country so much, I don't know if I'll leave!

 This last week was full of a lot of member appointments and service, and not too much time with investigators, unfortunately! But we've really been setting the groundwork with the members, and things are starting to roll. President Schwartz gave an awesome presentation in our Heidelberg Leadership Meeting where he talked about what characteristics or attributes make a successful person successful. Is it IQ? No. Is it Social Q? No. Emotional Q? Nope! The people who are successful are the ones who see the world as a world of possibilities, ideas waiting to be formed, molded, shaped, found, and whatever else you want to put there. The ones who aren’t successful are the ones who see it as a place that has already been defined for them, and they'll just live within what has already been created. The same applies to missionary work. If you come into a slow ward, just thinking that this is how the ward is and always will be, then it will always be slow and in-effective. But if you come in seeing it as a giant chunk of play dough, waiting to be sculpted into what you envision, then it will become what you want it to be. And that is what we're trying to do here right now, and it's going well. :)

 We hope things go just as well this week, and I can't wait to tell you all about it next Monday! Things are going better than ever, and Elder Colson and I rearranged our apartment to get a new fresh feeling, and it feels good! Fung shway (however the heck you spell that Asian word) better than ever.

 And I found a funny story this last week that I want you guys to look up if you ever are bored and have time, and want to understand how a lot of us missionaries here in Germany feel sometimes about the language. It's by Mark Twain, at

 I love you all! I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy, and I can't wait to hear from you guys next week! I still haven't seen snow. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

 Die Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage ist wahr! Und auch das Buch Mormon. Wenn ihr Zweifeln habt, lese mal darin. Ich bin so dankbar jeden Tag für die Gelegenheit und Möglichkeit ich habe, ein Missionar und Diener des Herrn zu sein. :)   **(The church Jesus Christ of the saints of the last days is true! And also the Book Mormon. If you doubts have, reads sometimes in it. I am so thankful every day for the opportunity and possibility I have to be a missionary and servant of man.:)

 Bis nächste woche!

 -- Elder Lieblings

The K-Ruhe crew
(Elders Boyd, Colson, McGinn and Blanchard)

Bruder Doschner and Elder McGinn