Monday, March 31, 2014

Email - March 31, 2014

Meine Liebe Eltern! Ich freue mich dass ihr da seid!

 I don't have a ton of time, but there's really only one thing you wanna hear in the first place so I'll get right to it! But before that, Dad, I know EXACTLY where Lizststrasse is! I walk by it almost every day! It's still there. :)

 Well, the news is in, and Elder McGinn didn't get through the weekend without receiving a call from President Schwartz! Elder McGinn will unfortunately be leaving the wonderful city of Karlsruhe and his companions, the K-Ruhe Krew, behind after 3 transfers. But it is okay, because I'm SUPER stoked on where I'm headed. It's called Frankfurt? I don't know if you guys have heard about it, but it's a really big city with a lot of people and some of the biggest wards in Germany. I was released as District Leader in Karlsruhe, and called as District Leader in my new area, and also as Head University Coordinator. In my new area, there is a really big university with a ton of success, and people call it the University Zone Leaders. We're over all the Uni areas across the mission, and help set up and get activities going. I'm super excited. My new companion is named Elder Chicky. He finishes his mission in 2 cycles, and has some of the best German in the mission. He was a zone leader for 7 cycles, and is an AWESOME missionary. So I'm pumped to learn and suck as much information and experience from him as possible in the next couple months before he goes home. It's gonna be fun!

 It's been a good last few weeks here in Karlsruhe! We are sending off a Sister missionary from our ward next week to Uruguay, and she's really excited! Other than that, we've been finding a LOT of potential investigators by playing sports and chalking stuff out on the sidewalk in a big park behind our church! I hope the success really keeps up. This is such a beautiful area, and I was so blessed to work here. I know that it is in great hands here with Elder Jensen, who was called as District Leader in my place, and there is success just waiting to boom. I love this ward and these people, and am so excited to have another opportunity to meet and love even more new people in my two new wards. Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you guys that. My area covers two wards, because we are the Uni guys and deal with mainly just YSA's. The Frankfurt International Ward, and the German Ward. We also get to pick up new goldens from the airport. SICK!

Well, I gotta go, but you guys sound like you're having fun, and you have to let me know how Disneyland goes! Mom, don't scare any more of your children to death, or at least get a video so I can see, okay? :) I love you all, have the best week, buy some Segways and I'll ride with ya Dad, and I'll hear from y'all next week in Frankfurt! MACH'S GUT!!!

 -- Elder McGinn, your favorite. :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Email - March 24, 2014

 I'm back, and I'm healthy! That's the best part. Four elders are back on the streets of Karlsruhe instead of two, and it's good to be back.

  This March Madness situation is outta control. 10 vs. 11 seed?? Since when! Don't tell me Ash is in the lead again because she picked her favorite jerseys out again...haha I can't believe March Madness is already coming to a close and I've missed it for the second year in a row! I love that time of year, and the Germans don't care. But to keep the spirit of March Madness alive, we did play a random pickup game against four Germans in a park, surrounded by people, while wearing shirts and ties. They laughed when we asked if we could play against them because of what we looked like, and we LIT THEM UP. They'll think twice next time they laugh at those Mormons who trashed them in church clothes in a park.

 This week was good! And very busy. We had Zone Conference on Thursday, and a split in Heidelberg on Wednesday, so we didn't come back to our apartment in Karlsruhe from Tuesday night until Thursday night! It was worth it though. Elder Dyches is an awesome man. He spoke a lot on Obedience, on Team Work, and on overcoming fears, three things that could unfortunately be a little better with some people in this mission! He still remembers picking up Elder Bednar in the airport when he arrived and Elder Dyches was one of the assistants! He has a deep love for Germany, and his thoughts were very inspired. I received a lot of impressions and thoughts on how to help the district, and myself from his comments. Some points weren't even what he said, but what the Spirit brought to my mind and heart as I sat in that room that was so filled with the Spirit. I love these meetings, and these opportunities to hear from amazing general authorities with so much love and knowledge and experience, and even better, in a room with 130 other missionaries. I would dare say that on Thursday there was hardly a place, other than the temples, where the Spirit was so strong. I love being on a mission!

 Other than that, the week was filled with member appointments and street activities and displays! A lot of our investigators have vanished and won’t respond to calls or texts, so we have been rebuilding our teaching pool with completely new people, and it's looking very promising! I hope I don't have to leave it all when we find out what will be happening with transfer calls this Saturday! I guess we'll see. Other than that, the only other news of the week is that Brother Döschner's dad passed away this week. He looked really down at church, and he came up to me and made sure that we would be coming over Monday night to bring the spirit to his house for Family Home Evening, because he needs something to comfort him and get his mind off the matter. I'm keeping him in my prayers. It's a sad experience, but it's also really beautiful that now Brother Döschner is REALLY finding his testimony in the 2nd lesson that we were teaching him not too long ago!

 The Church is true. I know it with all my heart. No, Germany isn't like South America. We haven't been getting millions of baptisms. Not everyone wants to listen to our testimony. But I've realized that it's not just by someone listening and accepting your testimony that it grows. If that were the case, my testimony would not be as unshakable as it is. It grows from simply sharing it. Bear your testimony and it will grow. If you have the opportunity, let your testimony grow. Don't keep it where it is because you think it's enough. Keep growing it! President Monson still grows his testimony every day, and look how much further ahead he is than us! I promise you all that there is someone in your family/your circle of friends/whatever who could benefit from hearing your testimony if they heard it. Maybe you've noticed someone who you feel could use it. I encourage you to seek out those people, member or non-member. Everyone is a child of God. Everyone here on Earth accepted His plan, and sometimes they just need to be reminded of that. Because it's all true. And I bear my testimony of that. :)

 I love you all, have the best week ever, and I'll be back in a week! Be good, be safe, be happy, and do what you all know you should do! Because you know I will, Mom. :)

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, March 17, 2014

Email - March 17, 2014

 In case you wanted to know, me, Elder Jensen, Elder Blanchard, and Elder Boyd just spent the last five minutes pinching each other because we all totally forgot that today was St. Patrick's Day! Thank you for the painful reminder, Mother. :)

 Happy St. Patty's Day! As you can see, we had no idea that was today, so no one really does anything about it. But then again, I have also been holed up in my apartment for the last three and a half days, (I'll get to that later) so I wouldn't really know anyway. Mom, that's a great quote! I just barely copied it down, I love it! I have to agree, my favorite Mormon Message is probably Der Wille Gottes (the current bush one). I don't remember what it is exactly in English. I think we can all relate perfectly to that one. It also reminds me of a story we sometimes take around to member families as our lesson. It's called "die Vase" (the vase) and it is similar to the current bush story. It talks all about how before the vase was a hard, colorful, beautiful vase, it was just clay. It had to be painfully rolled, fired, painted, fired again even hotter, just to become the beautiful vase it was supposed to be, and if any of those processes would have been skipped, it wouldn't have been able to handle the next steps toward reaching its potential. As humans, we complain way too much. We are way too near-sighted, and forget to look at the big picture. The quicker and more deeply we learn to trust God and the plan of Salvation, the quicker and more deep happiness we will find and enjoy in this life. It just takes some people longer than others. And that's why some people like to meet with the "Latter Day boys", cause we help them get there. :)

  I'm being happy and busy, but healthy is coming! On Thursday I went on a split with Elder Boyd, and he was starting to feel sick. The next morning, we were both sick. Bad headaches, achy all over, really sore scratchy throats, and a scratchy cough. We took medicine and took it easy that day, and when we woke up the next day, it was the same. And the next day. So we were down and out Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday, and had a solid three day quarantined split. We're both doing a little better now, but I refuse to spend another day in the apartment, so I'm working this week. Don't worry Mom, the Lord will bless me for it :) and you know I'm right!

Well, since you all know it was a slow, uneventful week for us, (even Döschner was sick), not too much exciting stuff happened this week. But even though it was slow, the Lord always throws a few tender mercies our way, to keep us going! This week it came from a guy named Walter. We were walking down the street when two guys on a smoking break yelled out to us in English. They recognized us as "Latter Day Boys", which was a relief, because 90% of the people out here think we're Zeugen Jehovas (Jehovah Witnesses). We talked for a while, and although they didn't have too much interest, one thing he said impressed me. He said that he was with his daughter one day when some Mormon missionaries walked by, and she asked him who they were. He told her "those are the Latter Day boys. If you are ever in trouble or have a question or need help with anything at all, you run straight to those boys. Nobody else. All those boys do is help." Not everybody is interested in our message, but I think how we treat people who don't have interest is just as important if not more important than how we treat those who do have interest. We don't pick favorites. This gospel is for everyone. And it's not just the doctrine that matters, but our actions. Walter isn't interested in the message, but because of how he's been treated by us and how he sees us treat others, he knows that what we do is honest and true. And who knows when, but one day, that impression he has of us will pay off, either with him, or someone else he lets know about us.

 I hope you all have the best week! Don't worry, I'm getting better by the day, and we have an awesome Zone Konferenz this week, so it's gonna be a killer week! I love you all! Soak up the sun, get tan, and enjoy it while you can, because one day I'll be back and get so tan that you all look like you're just white. Right Syd? :) The Church is true! I live it. I love it. I've never been so happy to be in the service of my Lord and Savior. You wanna know what life on a mission is like? 2 Nephi 5:27.

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, March 10, 2014

Email & Pictures - March 10, 2014

Kalooo Kalayy!! That's not German, just Robin Hood-isch.

 Mom, you are right, it was a crazy week of festivities, mostly trying to dodge them, but I escaped without losing a single tie! So I'm pretty proud of myself. :) We did indeed go to the parade last week though, and I'll send some pics right after this!

 I'm glad you watched some Mormon Messages, madre! They are getting huge in the mission field, and we all go nuts every time a new one comes out. ....that's actually kinda lame now that I think about it, huh? See how easily missionaries are entertained? :) But they carry a good message and are way easy to use, so we use them almost every lesson. Do you have a lieblings?

 Oh, we had some super good Essen this last week at the Ammersbachs, and maybe Griff or Jeff know what it is! It's called Arebas..? Arevas..? Something like that? And a thick, cinnamony drink called Chi Cha something something…they talk too fast for my brain to keep up, but I hope that rings a bell. Bottom line: delicious, and Jeff and Griff had awesome missions apparently.

Spring is hitting us here in Germany as well! We are finally through the awkward stage where Germany just died and no snow came, but now the sun is back out and we're almost rocking the short sleeve shirts again! I'm way excited. We'll also be doing some garden work, too! Döschner has a garden and he said that we will be spending plenty of time helping him getting it back up and running, and he'll reward us with a barbeque. Game on.

 This week was really good. It's an awkward time of the year though. Students are still test taking or already done with taking tests, and are going back to their homes to hang out for their breaks. Karlsruhe is a big city during the school year, and during the breaks everyone leaves. I don't know how many true "Karlsruhers" there really are! But we're staying super busy with members, and filling the rest of our time up with finding new people to teach! The best situation is when the first one creates the second one, but not everybody has someone they know who could be taught, so it's okay! Right now we're going around to a lot of members and sharing the Mormon Message "Zeugnis vom Buch Mormon" or "Testimony of the Book of Mormon" by Jeffery R. Holland, and then challenging the families to try to give out a Book of Mormon in the next month!

 We've created what we call the "Wunder Wand" (Miracle Wall) in our apartment, and every day we put up sticky notes of miracles we saw happen that day, and when members have awesome experiences, we add those to the wall and show them pictures of how big the wall is growing! It's exciting, and it really makes us aware of how much the Lord influences us and our lives every single day. When we come up with one or two things to add to the wall, suddenly we remember a million more examples of the Lord's hand in our lives that day, and we go through tons of sticky notes! It makes me so grateful to realize how much the Lord helps His elders. He loves us so much, and does so much for us every day, sometimes we just fail to realize that. If you're upset or frustrated, try to be more grateful, and try to stay angry! I dare you. :)

 Die Kirche ist wahr! Ich bezeuge es ihnen. Der Herr lebt heute, und liebt uns mehr als wir uns vorstellen können. Verlasst euch an ihm. Er kennt uns manchmal besser als wir uns selbst kennen, und deshalb gibt er uns die Erfahrungen und Erlebnisse die wir brauchen, um mehr wie ihn zu werden. Ich hab euch lieb, und wir hören uns bald. :)

 **The Church is true! I testify it to you. The Lord lives and loves us more than we can imagine. Rely on him. He knows us better than we sometimes know ourselves, and that's why he gives us the experience and the experiences we need to be more like him. I love you, and we will hear soon. :)

 -- Elder McGinn
I thought Allie would enjoy the creepy dudes dancing and singing together.

So many different kinds of witches!  They drive out the old, bad winter and bring in spring.

They also disrupt teenagers trying to make phone calls!

He's smearing white confetti all over one is safe!

That witch is MASSIVE!  They set it on fire and burn it to a crisp.

Doschner, who little did I know was a parade grand master himself once upon a time.  So he's rockin his Grand Master hat!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Email - March 3, 2014

 Narri Narro!

 Apparently when it's "Karneval" time here in Germany, nobody says Hallo anymore, and goes to crazy stuff like Alaaaf! or Helau! or Narri Narro! So I figured I'd share the love. :)

 You guys had a killer week! Birthdays, baptisms, movies, and Mom's regular weekend sleep schedule. :) That's so awesome to hear about Paxton! That made my day. What an example he is. He now has something that so many people in the world don't have, and if they knew what it was, wish they had it as well! That makes me way happy to hear. :)

 I haven't gotten my package yet, but we haven't had a zone meeting in a while! Our next one is a Zone Training Meeting in Heidelberg on the 11th, so I should get it there! I'm looking forward to it more than you realize. :) Thanks Mom!

 No way is a Stockton here in Karlsruhe!? I have to find this team. If that's not a referral, then I don't know what is! Consider it done. :)

 There's only one problem about finding him this week: ever since last Thursday and up through this week, it is Karneval/Fasching/Fastnacht time, it totally depends on where you are to find out what you call it. But it's the same thing everywhere. People dress up in crazy costumes, there are parades, plenty of drinking and smoking and loud music, confetti, and parties everywhere. It's a fun time, but can be pretty sketchy for missionaries! We got a text last Thursday from the AP's telling us that if we have something we could do inside that would be productive, to stay inside and do that, and to be indoors before dark! There's a Karneval tradition of wearing ties, and girls will cut them off with scissors and kiss you...know of anyone who wears ties a lot, every day to be exact..? Uh oh. So we missionaries are the ideal target. So it's recommended that we either always wear really ugly ties, avoid the city, or don't wear proselyting clothes until the parties are over! So it's been a week to remember! Plenty of oompa loompas, lions, tigers, bears, oh my!'s, jack sparrows, and everything else you can imagine. We're actually going to a parade with members right after this, but not in missionary clothes, so that we can blend in. So naturally, it's been a slower week! But it definitely still had its moments.

 This week we met with a part member family named the Ammersbachs. Sister Ammersbach is from Venezuela and is a member, but Bruder Ammersbach, the German, is not. They have two little kids, Veronica and Kevin, who are 6 and 3. Kevin has been really sick lately, so they called us and asked if we could give him a blessing. It was such an incredible experience. I love having opportunities to exercise priesthood power. With Bruder Ammersbach not being a member, it was a powerful experience to have the power of the priesthood in their home, and we all could feel it. Bruder Ammersbach has been coming with his family to church for 10 years, but has never really felt the need to be baptized. But a change has started in him as his daughter gets closer to 8 years old and being baptized, and being able to witness the power of the priesthood on his young boy. He's beginning to notice how important this church may actually be to make his family the happiest, and we are ready and waiting for when he decides to learn more. But until then, we can't force him, and we won't complain about coming over each time to eat a new Venezuelan dish. :)

 I really am so grateful for the priesthood. Sometimes it isn't recognized for the literal power it is, and we as priesthood holders take it for granted. There's a Mormon message I love called "Lightning Strikes" by Jeffrey R. Holland which I'm sure you all have seen or heard, which describes the power of the priesthood amazingly. I hope we all live worthily to be a vessel of the Lord in someone's time of need. The ratio of people who have the priesthood compared to those who don't is quite overwhelming, and shows us how important and rare we are, and how much we are needed in this world. Don't take your priesthood for granted. You never know when you may need it, or especially when someone else might. I love this church. We literally have the authority of God on the earth today which separates us from the world and sets us as a beacon and a lighthouse to wave tossed ships. Don't shy away from your calling and from your covenants, because there is always someone who needs you and watches you.

 Jesus Christus lebt und liebt uns. Er, in alle Wirklichkeit, führt diese Kirche heute. Die Schlüsseln der Reich Gottes sind auf Erde, und der Pfad zurück zu unserem Vater im Himmel ist klar und deutlich. Ich habe euch alle lieb, und wünsche euch eine schöne woche. :) Ich liebe dich, Mutter!

 ** Jesus Christ lives and loves us. He, in all reality, leads this church today. The keys of the kingdom of God are on earth, and the path back to our Father in Heaven is clear. I love you all dearly, and wish you a nice week. :) I love you, Mother!

 -- Elder McGinn