Monday, April 28, 2014

Email - April 28, 2014

Haha Mother! Oh how I love you so. (those are honestly some of the first words that come to my mind whenever I write mother! You should be proud of the job you did in brainwashing me. :) )

 Hey, whaddya know, it's raining here too! For the past few days it had been totally sunny and starting to get hot and humid (I don't recommend the bikes when it's like that), but now it's colder and cloudy and rainy! Spring just needs to give up the fight, and admit that everyone is pumped for my birthday. I guess a little excited for summer too, who knows. I always figured it was my birthday, and that's why they gave us school off so my friends could come to my party. I hope they still celebrate it even though I'm gone!

 I'm glad you all seem to be doing well! We are as well! Super busy, but well nonetheless! This week included a lot of big events including meeting with President and discussing big plans for the Germany YSA Center plans and the Mini-Mission program, also going to IKEA, a couple baptisms in the zone, and other stuffs! We've been doing a lot of planning and thinking and things that aren't that exciting to talk about in emails. But I do want to share a cool experience from this last week!

 I went on a split on Friday with the second University companionship here in Frankfurt. They opened this last transfer, and are having a hard time getting anything going. I was with an elder named Elder Arts from Provo who went to Maeser! (just random facts) anyway, we were having a decent day, we had had some good conversations and gave away a few Buecher Mormon. We just got out of an appointment and had about an hour left to do something before we needed to go home. We decided we would go back to some student dorms that we had been at earlier and see if there was any more success. We had only rung one doorbell, but I had a feeling we needed to be somewhere else, and that prompting was confirmed when Elder Arts said "ya know, I'm just not feeling it here at this building. Let's go to the Zeil." (the Zeil is the huge shopping strip in the middle of town) I agreed and we went to go get on a street tram. It was already on the platform, so we ran to catch it and got in just before the doors closed. We sat down, and not even five seconds later a woman sat down in front of me and smiled. She obviously wanted something or recognized us from somewhere. I introduced myself, and she said "I know!" and pulled a paper out of her purse on which was written the address of the church. She had moved to Frankfurt about a week ago from Romania, and hadn't been able to find the church, and she was desperate to find it, so when we got on, she recognized us immediately. It was a very short conversation before we had to get off, but we got her contact information and set up an appointment for the next day. The other Uni companionship works in the international ward, and this lady spoke better English than German, so we decided that they should visit with this lady the next day.

 Last night as I was doing call ins with the district, I was talking to this companionship, and they told me that not only did she come to church right on time, but she also brought her 15 year old son who wants to learn more, and also a friend who has been searching for the truth! And, coincidentally, it was this friend's birthday that day. After church, she thanked the elders for her birthday present. When they asked what present, she told them that God had let her know this was His church for her birthday present, and she wanted to know more as soon as possible. This companionship was so excited, they were yelling over the phone. They have been struggling for so long, and after hearing that their area might close if it didn't become more successful, they fasted up until this split we had, and now they had two investigators with baptismal dates and a new family in the ward. The Lord has been making them work super hard without any reward, and they haven't slackened up one bit, and the Lord stretched them to see if they were ready for this lady and her prepared friends, and I believe He was pleased with their efforts.

 The Lord is so aware of us. He really is working with us in His Vineyard. It renewed my testimony of the reality of this work, and how important it is that we are, like President Monson said, the same person in the dark as we are in the light. Whether it's good or bad, hard or easy, hot or cold, we don't change who we are. I encourage you all to ask yourselves if you really are the same person in every situation, and see where you can improve. I know we all can. I find a new weakness that I can strengthen every day, and the Lord helps us overcome these weaknesses by providing opportunities to grow and become stronger. It's about progress. Every day, no matter how little. Be better tomorrow than you were today, and if you follow that pattern your life long, you'll look back in fifty years and die of a heart attack you're so amazed. And then you'll be in Heaven, because you made all that good progress, right? :)

 I love this gospel. It's not something I just believe, but rather, it's something that I am. Something I internalize. Something that everyone needs, and we must do all we can to help others find this joy like it says in 1 Nephi 8. This Church is true. I have no doubts, only faith.

 Have the best week ever, and just know that it's raining over here too! My birthday/summer is coming soon enough, don't worry. Brighter days are ahead. :) I love you all, I'll hear from you next week!

 -- Elder McGinn, your favorite

Lots of Pictures - Karlsruhe and Frankfurt

Finally, the Mexican food package arrived

Elder Jensen is ready to eat

Elder McGinn getting some use out of the hippo apron  (it's been on missions to Iowa, Bulgaria, Ecuador and now Germany)

With friends in Karlsruhe

The glorious rainbow trout

My bike that literally exploded

View from apartment

Are You Happy?

Konigstein Castle

It was super windy

The Frankfurt skyline

Elder Bratsman and Elder Chicky

Monday, April 21, 2014

Email - April 21, 2014

K, I just gotta make you aware that I have 17 minutes to type this email. So I sincerely apologize, but we have been SOOO busy, and you can't really tell President no when he calls up a meeting!

 I loved the pictures, and I'm happy you all had a great Easter and week! I love Easter so much. And I kinda wish you all hadn't seen the Because of Him video (Dank Ihm as we call it in Deutsch) because I wanted to tell you guys about it! I seriously have seen it over 30 times, and we did a whole street display with a projector and screen where we just showed that video over and over on the shopping strip with Books of Mormon, until the weather got too crazy and we had to pack up and leave. Such an amazing video, with such a powerful, true message.

 This week has been...crazy! We dedicated this entire week to just finding. Not a single appointment, and we have been all over. We have gone to student dorms, done street displays, contacted around the neighborhoods and spent so much time trying to spread the gospel message! We gave out like 15 copies of the Book of Mormon, but no solid investigators yet! That will come. We found a bunch of potentials and just need to follow up, and that takes time. But it's going well!

 Other than that, we are super busy because President Schwartz has called us to set up a YSA Mission plan for the whole mission that we will apply here in Frankfurt, and then send it out as a pattern for the rest of the mission. He has also asked us to set up University Elder trainings, with call ins and helping others know how to be as effective as possible on the universities, and he has ALSO asked us to set up the plan for what is called the Mini Mission. Basically, any youth who has interest has the opportunity to go on a mini mission with the elders for a week, and experience real life mission life. Name badge and all. And we are in charge of setting up EVERYTHING for that mission wide. So we are super busy meeting with President and the AP's and getting plans going, but it's going to be awesome and we're super excited! The only problem is that the whole Mini Mission thing kicks into gear the end of June, after Elder Chicky and one of the AP's are gone, and I'm one of the only other ones who knows exactly what's going on when the new mission president comes. So President laughingly asked me if I'm excited to have it all dumped on my plate in a few months. Oh crap. So I gotta get a solid footing and start studying these plans so I know them inside and out when 3 members of our 4 man committee are gone, and there's a new mission president. No pressure. Haha but everything is so good!

 I love this city, I love this work. I would not be anywhere else if I had any say in it anyway. But I could go for your cooking, Mom. That'd be nice. I'm sick of hard-boiled eggs. That's what every elder knows how to cook, and nothing else.

 I love you all! Sorry it's so rushed, but just know I'm happy, I'm healthy, we're working super hard, and I love it. I hope you all are doing just as well, because you should be! Alma 26:35. Have the best week ever, don't let any more people pass out at the pulpit, get a pic with Magic Johnson, and keep being the flawless fam you are, and I'll hear from you all soon! Ich liebe euch!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, April 14, 2014

Email - April 14, 2014

 Sorry to get y'all excited last night just to say hi and then come back right now! I hope you're all sleeping soundly, dreaming of my beach house in Newport and the hammock out back that Syd sleeps in. :)

"Hollywood, 1939…" that is probably my favorite ride ever. But then again, you all loved Rockin' Rollercoaster at Disney World, and I was too small to ride. One day I'll redeem myself.

 In the last 7 days, I have lost 9 pounds. It's not like I wanted or was trying to, but that just shows how much we bike here! It's the best. I have never had the option of bikes on my mission, and now that I'm in the biggest city with the most forms of transportation possible, we use bikes. They're skinny little road bikes and we dart in and out, ties flapping in the wind. I'm a real missionary, Mom! :) It kinda reminds me of that bike movie we saw with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt? Anyway, it's sweet.

 We have been busy! Unfortunately not with all the things we would like to be. Here in the FFM (Frankfurt am Main) we are kinda like a stage crew, and we need to do some maintenance work. So this last week we bought new bikes for elders, took the mission vehicle into the shop to get fixed, and other things like that. We also had a couple of bomb street displays on the "Zeil", the big shopping strip, with tables and signs and pamphlets and saw some awesome success! The only downside: Elder Chicky and I transport a lot of the materials with this wagon thing we created that Elder Chicky pulls behind his bike, and as we were travelling to the Zeil, he hit a weird bump, and all our stuff, Books of Mormon and all, flew out into the road. The light was luckily red, but we scrambled to pick it all up as fast as we could. A bunch of Books of Mormon were scratched up, but we still went and had awesome contacts. Just not our best moment. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Satan! Just a little excitement to keep things entertaining I guess! We had some good appointments with members this week, but unfortunately the 2 investigators this companionship had before I came have now tschussed us, so it's back to a little more focus on the finding game this week!

Well, sorry it's rushed, but I love you all, and when I have time I'll hook up the camera and send all the sweet pics next week! Keep doing what you do, especially when it comes to being a light and an example to those around you! Never hide your candle under a bushel. Liebe an euch alle!

 -- Elder McGinn

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Email - April 7, 2014

This just in, from Frankfurt!!!

 Hey fam damily! I still am pretty sensitive about the fact that you're in Disneyland without me, but I'll get over it. Hahahaha I can't believe Indiana Jones is closed down AGAIN. Syd, have you ever in your life been on it? It's only the best on there! Mom, I know how ya feel about long drives, but way to take one for the team. Your singing totally reminds me of a story Mr. Saxton told us in his Junior English class about how he and his companion would go on their missions to donate blood, and while they and all the other people were strapped down, they would share what they learned in studies that morning with each other all the way from the other side of the room, so that no one could run and they all had to listen to them talk about the Book of Mormon.

 Dad, you gotta send me a picture of these techno-spire things! They sound pretty crazy. When I picture them I think of the Frankfurt skyline and the huge "Europa Turm" that's not too far from our window!

 Speaking of Frankfurt...I love it. I honestly had no idea missionary work could be like this. We literally live 10 meters from the Headquarters and the Stake Center in a giant apartment complex that has four different elder companionships and like 6 or 7 senior couple companionships in it! The mission office is right around the corner, and every morning for morgen sport we play basketball in the church with us, the Zone Leaders, the Tech Elders, and the International Uni companionship. There is so much going on here! Unlike being in Narnia Karlsruhe where everything has to get shipped to us, we just walk five minutes to the mission office and pick up all the supplies we want. We have resources and plenty of man power, and it's awesome.

 My new companion is Elder Matthew Chicky, from Greenville, South Carolina! He is in transfer 15 out of 16, so we're expecting that I'll "kill" him (he'll finish with me.) He is a VERY experienced missionary who is very dedicated to his mission and has incredible German. He has been in this same ward for a year now, and is well loved and respected by the members and missionaries of this area. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to serve and learn from him! Aside from the Uni Coordinator responsibility, Elder Chicky is the "Mini-Mission Coordinator". In the near future our mission is holding a "Mini-Mission" type deal, where the youth here in Germany can sign up to go on a mission for a week or two with a companionship of real missionaries, just to prepare them and get them excited for their missions! Elder Chicky is in charge of setting all that up, mission wide. So we may or may not be spending quite a while in the near future touring around the mission to get everything set up....we'll see. We're pretty excited. This week has been flying by though. We are committed to working as hard and as fast and as efficiently as possible, because Elder Chicky is aware that he only has 10 weeks left, and we're gonna work so hard that he passes out onto the plane. So wish us luck!

 And how great was conference?! Killer. We all know that our favorite talks were from Priesthood session, like always. :) I especially liked President Uchtdorf's talk on not sleeping through the Restoration, because it's true! So many people in the church are stuck in this awkward situation where they feel like "k, the Church has been restored.....but the Savior hasn't returned yet....sooo....." Yes, the Church has been restored. But that doesn't mean the restoration is complete! In Jacob 5 it talks about laboring with all of our might WITH the master of the vineyard until the end. The harvest is not complete, so come work with the Lord! I can assure you that He is working with us. I have no doubt in my mind, I see evidence of it every day. He leads and guides us as missionaries, in our thoughts, words, and actions, and people are open to the gospel. If you maybe aren't sure how you can help out and work with us, I'll do what almost all missionaries do, and invite you to pray and ask where you can help! Ask to be able to recognize situations in which you could bring someone closer to Christ or the Church. They are all around us. They just need our love. And as President Monson said, "love is the very essence of the Gospel." It's true. The Church has been restored today. President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God who receives revelation to lead His Church in these last days. Follow his counsel. I know the Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world, and that He loves us so much. He is working with us. Help out and you'll see. The Book of Mormon is true. It's comforting and assuring influence is needed in every corner of the world, and also right next door. I love this Church, I love this Gospel. People need it, and I feel so blessed to be able to cherish the blessings it brings to my life every day. Stay happy, stay positive, and stay strong, and rely on the Lord.

 I love you all, and hope you have the best week ever! I'll get some more pictures this week and from later today as we're at K√∂nigstein, a sick castle, and I'll send you them sometime soon! Don't have too much fun in Cali without me!