Monday, June 30, 2014

Email - June 30, 2014

The American "store" last week was literally a shelf inside of a small store next to the U.S. consulate...BUT, that shelf was packed with Aunt Jemima's syrup, hot pockets, Totinos pizza rolls (I bought some in memory of Griff), Poptarts, club crackers, chunky beef soup, cream soda, Old Spice deodorant (a rare, precious find in Europe), and so much more I can't even begin to describe. It was herrlich. (wonderful)

 Mom, I feel ya on that one. The one sporting event I get to watch on TV in the last year and a half was barely worthy to be called a sport ("for those who can't")..and America lost. But it's all good, I'm not missing much. Every time someone scores a goal in the World Cup, the country goes nuts. So I’m up to date on all the latest happenings. :)

 I remember running into Elder Peatross, because I remember thinking "hey, I wonder if he's related to Jenny!" I'll have to say something next time I see him! Elder Kitchen says he totally knows Sister Mangum and he says hi! He also knew Lennon! By the way, I hope she's still doing well and loving it!

 Hahahaha Mom, that was a good one about the 4th! :) That brings back waaaayy too many memories! We'll be with an English family that night named the we'll definitely make a statement and make them sing the national anthem by the end of the night.

 And I drive the mission van now!!! My license came! 16 months without touching a steering wheel, and I could probably still land a solid 100% on my driving test with Mrs. Freestone. But as I'm sure Mase would agree, European roads are TINY.

 The Mini Mission went awesome this last week! There were two mini missionary sisters out here in Frankfurt, and I got the chance to talk with them and see how it all went and how they felt and get a feel for their whole experience. They loved it. This last Tuesday we had a street display which the mini missionaries were going to come to. They can only speak English, but there were going to be another 5 missionaries there who could speak German, so it was okay. But randomly, we were called and asked if we could take over for someone else back at the church and grill for the Relief Society, so we had to leave the two mini missionaries with two other sisters. Not gonna lie, I was pretty concerned what was gonna happen after we left. But when we came back, the result was totally different than I thought. In one and a half hours, they had given away 13 Books of Mormon, and they were PUMPED. And I heard stories like that from all the other companionships all week. So I'm thinking week one was a pretty big success. :) and week two starts this next Sunday!!

 We said goodbye to President Schwartz this week, and it was really bitter sweet. The change is exciting, but our last meeting, including singing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" was pretty hard. But the sad feelings were replaced with happiness and excitement as soon as we met Pres. Stoddard. We were walking into the mission office when Pres. Schwartz's car pulled up, but someone else got out! "Hey Elders!" It was Pres. Stoddard. We all introduced ourselves, and Dad, he's very fond of you. He told me to tell you hi, and told me how great and inspirational of a man you are and were. That was news to me! Hahah I'm kidding.

 I don't have a ton of time left, but I want you all to know that I know that Christ lives, and did live. This week I was reading in third Nephi when Nephi prays asking the Lord what he should do, because all the believers are going to be killed if the sign of Christ's birth isn't given soon. Immediately after, the Lord says to him "13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets."

 As I read Christ's word as he says that he's coming into the world, I felt the Spirit so strong. So strong that I couldn't deny that feeling. I know that Christ lives, that he did live, and that he showed himself to the Nephites after his resurrection. He is there, waiting for us to come to him. We just need to take the first steps.

 Have a great week, and I'll see y'all soon!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, June 23, 2014

Email & Picture - June 23, 2014

Thursday, June 26th. Deutschland gegen USA. Tune in. It's gonna be big.

 This week has been verrückt. It's felt like it's flown, but also it’s felt like a month long because of everything we've done! But it's super refreshing to have that week behind us! Elder Chicky, or should I say Matthew Chicky, found his family successfully at the train station, and is now somewhere in the middle of Switzerland looking for the Matterhorn. But really. That was a super fast 3 months with him, and super weird that not only is he out of Frankfurt, but his time is done as a missionary! He was an incredible missionary, and helped me and this mission so much. I'll miss the guy!

 With Elder Chicky being gone, the missionaries here in Frankfurt are all relatively fresh to the area, so there is some potential big change coming up with new ideas and styles! It's gonna be interesting to see what happens!

 But with my new companions, it's gonna be great! :) Dad, it is true, I have two companions instead of one! Normally that can be super frustrating to be in a trio, but with these two, it's awesome.

 Companion #1! Elder David Kitchen, Provo, UT. 18 years old, graduated from Timpview in 2013. Awesome kid. Very willing to work and throw out ideas, despite the language barrier. Incredible faith, that will carry him so far here on his mission. He knows Lennon from high school!

 Companion #2! Elder Jared Lovelace, Houston, TX. 20 years old, did a little bit with the Army before his mission. Also awesome, super hard working and faithful. Fearless when it comes to acting on a prompting. I love working with these guys! They're both super easy to get along with, funny, and ready to work. They're also both 6'3'' and 6'4'', and make me look like a midget at 6' even. Take a look at the blog picture of us at and you'll see what I mean! Poor President, he looks like a little boy. Things are going to be great with these guys. It's also super nice because with all the things I have to do for the mini mission, they can take me to the office, drop me off with the tech elders, and they can go work while I get things done that I need to! The Trifecta is running great. :)

 The Mini Mission is underway! The Kaiserslautern Stake started yesterday! So far so good, a few difficulties with supplies and things, but it's running super smooth right now, and we're all excited about it, and so are the mini missionaries! With President leaving this week and Elder Chicky being gone, I've definitely felt all the weight on my shoulders, but it'll be good. The weights make you stronger, right? I'm having a blast with it.

 This week on Thursday is the goodbye Zone Conference for Pres. Schwartz, and next Thursday is the welcome Zone Conference for Pres. Stoddard! Back to back. It's super busy right now, and there's so much change. It's really sad to see Pres. Schwartz go. Everyone always told me how much I'd come to love my mission president, but I didn't really believe it too much because I didn't understand how I could love somebody as much as they all said, who I didn't even know! But everyone was right, and Pres. Schwartz will always be one of my heroes and examples throughout my whole life for what he does for me and this entire mission. I look forward to meeting Pres. Stoddard here in Frankfurt, and wish that I could be with him as long as I was with and got to know Pres. Schwartz, but you can't have everything your way!

 I still don't have my license, but I wish I did! It's kinda awkward trying to be a companionship of three! Everything is designed for two. Two beds, two bikes, two train tickets, two desks. So we've been figuring it out, and if I had my license, we could take the car instead of playing the whole train ticket tango or having a little duck trail on the bikes! I just haven't had time to go pick it up, so hopefully I'll get to that this week.

 Alright, y'all. Germany versus America on Thursday. President texting the whole mission on Friday, informing us that we are allowed to watch just one World Cup game, either with members or investigators. And it's perfect, because we met with an inactive YSA named Gesa for the first time this week who went on a student exchange to Alta High School, and she and her family invited us over for the game just hours before we got the text! We turned them down, but called them right after we got the text to say we could still make it! So we get to cheer for the US against the Deutschers and also develop a great relationship with this YSA as we try to bring her back to the Church. :)

 We've got two big street displays coming up this week with the tent and everything, and the mini missionaries are going to come to it! We use the mission van here in Frankfurt to load everything up, and there's a part of the Zeil where we can drive up onto it, set up, and leave and find a parking spot. Works like clockwork here in Frankfurt. :)

 Well we're outta here. We gotta meet the other missionaries to go check out some little American Goods Store that someone stumbled across. Unfortunately I don't think it will have any otter pops, but we'll see! Thanks for thinking of me, Mom. :)

 You guys are great, and I love being able to hear from you all every week. I'm so grateful for families, and that I get to eat otter pops with you all for eternity! Imagine how much better they taste up there. We have so many blessings that we take for granted as members of the Church. I hope we'll all be a little more aware of the tender mercies of the Lord in our everyday lives, and work a little harder on being a little more thankful every day. That's where happiness comes, and that's the whole reason the Book of Mormon was written. To remind us how merciful the Lord has been to our fathers. I love you all, life is great, I'm happy, healthy, and trying to give my all out here, and I'll hear from you soon. :)

 mit schwitzigen Grüßen,

 -- Elder McGinn
Elder Kitchen, Elder Lovelace and Elder McGinn

Monday, June 16, 2014

Email & Pictures - June 16, 2014

Hey all! I'm back, and life is even crazier and busier than ever!

 Before this conversation goes anywhere... Dad. You are the man. THE man. You don't understand, ever since I have been here in Frankfurt and we take rennräder ("run bikes"/street bikes) everywhere, they are the best things in the world. And your bike, and yourself, looks like a stallion of a rennrad. Let me know how it rides! I'll have to give it a go when I get back. You can trust me, we dodge cars and trains and people and pigeons on those bad boys all day. :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY/FATHERS/DAVES DAY!

 Alright, sorry y'all. I just had to show Dad that I'm proud of his decision. Also, the barbershop quartet went well! We were definitely practiced up, the only problem was that we were up as soon as Elder Chicky and I pulled up to the church on our road bikes after biking at the speed of light back home after back to back eating appointments. So we figured it was better to sing a little quieter and softer than to try to belt it and cover the first row in potatoes and sauerkraut.

 I'm glad you guys are busy with the cabin and family reunions and farewells and everything! I know how it feels to feel a little crammed and rushed, like right now! I'll tell ya why:

 Not only does Elder Chicky go home this week, and we're super busy making sure he gets everything done and packed that he needs to so he can leave legally, transfer calls happened this week, and it wasn't just some simple news of who my new, experienced companion will be, but instead I was informed that as soon as I drop Elder Chicky off at the train station on Thursday, I gotta fly over to the hotel and pick up my new golden! Yes, I am sending one of the most experienced and oldest missionaries home, and in his place I'm getting a fresh, jet lagged 18/19 year old, straight out of the MTC. I'm way excited!! But also a wee bit stressed, because as of Sunday, the first official week of the Mini Mission starts in Kaiserslautern, and this morning I had 50 emails in my inbox with applications and information and everything else relating to that. It was super nice to have Elder Chicky help share the load, and now this new Golden has absolutely no idea what he signed up for. :) Let's pray his head doesn't explode.

 So it's going to be a crazy week, because Elder Chicky and I are also in charge of picking up goldens from the airport on Wednesday, and taking them around the city to different activities and interviews and dinner and everything else that is planned out for them as soon as they arrive. So I've got a comp going home, a new one coming from Provo, the Mini Mission starting, and we're in Frankfurt, so we're in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly. And I love it. Haha Frankfurt is seriously so great. If it seems likes I don't like it right now, that's not true. My brain is just so scrambled with everything that I've gotta do right now that it comes out this way! But it's gonna be great.

 This week wasn't the most effective weeks when it comes to legitimate missionary work. We spent a ton of time preparing to send Elder Chicky home, and worked a lot on the Mini Mission. He was also sick for two days, and that killed some of our time. But in that time, I made a giant sign with 2 Nephi 2: 25 on it, and we're going to use it on the Zeil for street displays to talk to people about joy! We're pretty pumped. We had some great other appointments with members who wanted to wish Elder Chicky well before he leaves. It's all in all just been a scattered, busy week, and this next one should be about the same, but we're loving it!

 After transfer calls on Saturday, all the missionaries in Frankfurt were invited to brunch at Pres. Schwartz's home, and that was great. I've really come to love that man so much, and it breaks our hearts to see him go. But he understands that Pres. Stoddard has been called of God to lead this mission now, and I know that we are all excited to meet him and get that same feeling too. There's just so much ridiculous amounts of change in this mission right now that I can't keep it all straight. But the work of the Lord goes on, and won't be stopped. :)

 I've gotta go, but I just want you all to know how important joy and happiness really are. 2 Nephi 2:25 tells us that that is why we are here on the earth. If God's plan and purpose is to help us be happy, and his Gospel is the way back to him, that has to mean that by living and following the gospel and commandments, we find joy and happiness. And there's no need to speculate about that, because in Mosiah 2:41 it confirms that. I'm so happy, and I know it's because I spend all day every day focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's such a simple pattern. Follow the Gospel, and be happy. I know that's true, and I know that you all know that too. :)

 Have a great week, know that I love you all, especially Mom, and I'll hear from you soon and let you know how all the craziness is going!

 -- Elder McGinn
Giant tent we got and are going to set up on the Zeil for street displays.  This summer is gonna be big!

2 Nephi 2:25!  Yeah, it's a massive sign.  When it's not being used for street displays, we hang it up in our apartment as art work. :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Email & Pictures - June 9, 2014

Hahaha Mom, can I just tell ya, you never disappoint! Today as we were on a hike for P-Day, we were talking about different little things our parents would do, or names they would call us (nicknames and offensive, good thing you only belong to that first category) and the first two I thought of were "sir" and "charlie brown". And then lookie here, you open with "Hello Sir". I called it! :)

 Well, your hopes came true, Mom! We did meet someone this week who smiled and thanked us for our message. Multiple, actually. The two I can remember were #1:  As we were having a street display on the Zeil. There weren't too many people interested in stopping and talking to us in the hot afternoon sun, so I started looking around at the people who were sitting on benches under the shade from the trees. After sitting down next to a few people and trying to talk to them without any luck, I spotted a smaller, older man who seemed to be enjoying the afternoon. I sat down next to him and started up a regular conversation about the heat (what all Germans talk about). Ends up he's from Italy, and can't speak awesome German, but was super happy and pleasantly surprised that I was having a conversation with him and listening to him. It went on for a while, he showed me pictures of his family on his phone, and I showed him pictures of my family, and we had a good conversation. Because of the language barrier we couldn't discuss the gospel too well, but he understood who I was and got the idea of what my purpose was, and he appreciated it. He especially lit up when I told him that Elder was Anziano in Italian (shout out to BRYSON NICKLE!), and that made a lot more sense to him. I had to go help with something else, but before we left, I grabbed an Italian Book of Mormon and gave it to him, and told him I wanted him to have it because it means a lot to me, and now that he was my friend, he meant a lot to me. His eyes watered up and he thanked me so much, and said that one day, whether in this life or the next, we will see each other again. And I definitely agree. As I walked away, he was reading the introduction. :) I may never know how that story ends, but I have a good feeling about it.

 The second story was on Sunday! A cool YSA that we're working with named Kevin brought a friend from work to church! He seemed to enjoy the meetings, but they left before we had a chance to talk and see if he had any interest in learning more. When we got back in the apartment, a little bummed about missing that opportunity, we got a call from Kevin. He said they were all eating dinner at their house, and wanted us to bring a "Finding Happiness" DVD with us and to come by! We put together a quick lesson plan and headed over. His friend, Sebastian, is an awesome kid, 21 years old, and we built a good friendship right off the bat. After we ate, we showed the film, and then talked about what happiness really is, and how we find it. It was a great lesson, and at the end, we asked Sebastian if he had interest in learning more, and he said absolutely! He has questions that he wants answers to. So we made out an appointment for the end of this week! It sounds probably like a lame, no-duh story, but it's not. Elder Chicky and I have been working our tails off for the last two transfers, and now finally, after a lot of disappointment and frustration, things are starting to click, and we are finding awesome, solid investigators fairly simply. I think the Lord is blessing us for showing him these last 12 weeks that even though we weren't finding any investigators, we weren't gonna give up. We're pretty pumped, so yes, Mom, people were appreciative of our little "botschaft" this week. :)

 Germany is blazing hot and humid right now. It feels a lot better than freezing and ice cold, but it presents a problem. Our investigator, Henryk was supposed to be at church yesterday, but he never showed. So when we called him after the meetings and asked what was up, he said that it was too hot, and he didn't want to leave the apartment. And that's kinda how Germans are. If it's hot, they stay in their dark apartments where it's cool and don't leave, because they don't have air conditioning and want to keep and enjoy all the coolness that they can. So we're getting tan, and the Germans are staying cool inside. We've gotta find a way to bridge that gap somehow.

 ZUM GEBURTSTAG VIEL GLÜCK, Dad! You youngblood. I was thinking about you the other day, and how you're 32 years older than me, and can still shoot my lights out in a game of 1 on 1. I'll see ya on the Elders Ball court when I'm back! I hope you have a killer birthday though, and don't have to put up with any more sassy pants Griff! Tell me what you get! If you fly out here, I'll help ya pick out a pair of lederhosen!

The baptism on Saturday was great! Went smooth and successful. But not so much for Elder Gassman out in Taiwan! Hahaha he sent me this today, and I wanted you guys to check it out:

 “Ok, went to the scariest baptismal service of my life on Saturday. There was a 70 year old man who was a little bit overweight being baptized and a first time baptizer baptizing him.... and the font is pretty small. So to sum things up, the guy says the prayer and then goes to dip him in the water but the old guy just went limp. and pretty much fell into the water! but on the way down he hit his head on the side... and then he was just kinda under the water not moving for a second. I was like "oh crap he's dead!" and the guy baptizing him couldn't lift him out! So if he wasn't dead he was going to drown. So another member like half jumped in and they pulled him out! but it turned out he was completely fine. He just laughed and smiled and said he was so happy that he was baptized... then it went quiet for a second that was when the witness said "his toe came out" So they had to do it again. The second time also wasn't very smooth but they made it. It was the most stressful baptism of my life.” Hahaha only with J Gass.

Well, I love you all! I hope you all have a great week, especially on the 13th, and know that I am singing in a "barbershop quartet" that day for a musical fireside! No idea what exactly that is, but I was asked to do it! Have a good, dry, summer week, be good, tell Mom you love her every single day, and Dad too, and I'll hear von euch bald!

 Lebe wohl, Deutschland!

 mit freundlichen Grüßen,

 -- Elder McGinn
Military stuff from my split in Ramstein

Jet in Ramstein

More military stuff

View outside of the mission van driving through Frankfurt

Elder Emery and I trying to hook a bucket that we dropped from our balconies.

Nightly adventures in Frankfurt

Sick hot rod Elder Chicky and I found coming back from an appointment!

Elder Chicky (Cam's reflection in the light and bumper!)

Frankfurt Skyline from our balcony

Cool/weird space station thing we hiked to today!

Pictures of the hiking crew!

Monday, June 2, 2014

I am exhausted, but I'm back! Elder Chicky and I left first thing this morning to bike to an apple orchard by 8 am so that we could do some service until noon! It was great, and they fed us lunch there, with the freshest apple juice my lips have ever tasted. And now it's back to proselyting time! Almost.

It sounds like summer has officially arrived for you guys! Sounds awesome! Enjoy it, especially the DRY Utah heat. Boy do I miss that. There's nothing like wearing suit pants and a white shirt and tie on a bike in 80 degrees with 85% humidity! The other day we biked a solid twenty minutes to get to a street display, and when I went to pull a pass-along card out of my pocket, it was damp. Yum, right? Mase, I don't know how humid it got in Bulgaria, or in Iowa for you, Dad, but Griff, I know you know for sure where I'm coming from! 

Dad, I love the picture. I still remember visiting the Manhattan Temple perfectly! I remember going to look for it, and we were crossing a busy street in the middle of the city and you said "there it is!" and I thought, is he stupid? We're at an intersection! But then you pointed out "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" on the side of what looked like an apartment building, and my jaw dropped. Definitely one of my favorite looking temples, if I'm allowed to say that. Its location and everything just says so much, as opposed to having a whole plot of its own.

The American Yard Sports Night didn't go as well as planned, but still great! Everything went great, we just had way more people commit to coming than actually came. But those who were there loved it, and said we should do that every week. So as long as we get a small group pumped, more and more will come each time until three times as many are having a blast! That's the plan in my head, at least. :)

Mini Mission is going well! It's been a little quiet for a while, because we're still waiting for the individual stakes to have summer break from school so that we can pick out a mini mission week, but we're still having skype conferences each week, waiting until it's time! I have to give the Kaiserslautern Stake a call tonight and discuss some things with them. All we're getting is good feedback, so it seems to be making a hit in the different stakes! K-Town (Kaiserslautern) is the next up, followed by Heidelberg and then probably Nürnberg! Elder Chicky only has 2 weeks left, so we're trying to get as much down as a two man team before I'm on my own. We're definitely being kept plenty busy with all that's on our plates, and it will pay off big time in the end. 

We found a new investigator this week! His name is Henryk. We found him as we were going by on some former investigators, and he started to chat with us as we were looking at the names on the mailboxes! He simply invited us right in to sit down and talk, something that has almost never happened to me on my mission. He's a great guy. he's 62, and runs a small business that takes care of senior citizens in nursing homes (plegeheim in German, I don't know if that's the word you'd use in English). When he was younger, he was a "full-out hippy" he says, and even started up a gang. But when things with the gang got too intense and sketchy, he tried to make a change and they chased him out. He has always been trying to find God, and has tried so many things to get there. Marijuana, Church, friends, meditation, scripture, everything, and he feels like at times he has gotten so close, but never had a break through, so he got frustrated and gave up on the active religious scene, but our dedication to the Lord is what sparked his interest back up again. He has strong faith in Christ, and he couldn't help but interrupt a few times and say "this is just unbelievable. Two 20 year old boys sitting here in my house, telling me about their faith and love for Christ. I didn't know that was even possible anymore these days!" or things like "look how normal you two's hair is! No crazy colors and styles and junk all over! Clean, neat, and nice. We need more young men like you. Your church and faith is what did this to you??" Honestly, I'd say a lot of what made me this way was Mom, but I guess the Church plays a big role in that too. :)

 Anyway, we've met with him twice, and will be going by again this next week. He loves to write, so I asked him if he would write down all of the questions he has about God/life that he's never found an answer to, and that he would ask a living prophet if he had the chance. So we'll see what comes out of that! He would be an incredibly strong member and a great addition to this ward, so I keep that image of him in my head every time we go over, and hopefully can help that become a reality! 

Aside from that, we found a bunch more potentials this week through street displays and contacting, and we hope they turn out to be progressing investigators! On Sunday I interviewed one of the Frankfurt Sisters' investigators for baptism, and she passed! So this Saturday there will be a baptism here, and we're gonna get so many people there the ward won't know what to do with themselves. So wish us luck! We haven't had a chance this past week to get a solid weekly planning session in, so we're doing that right after this. So for the rest of the week, I'm not entirely sure what's gonna be happening! But I hope my dang letter comes saying that my drivers license is ready this week. Because if Elder Chicky  leaves before I can get that, my new comp and I are stuck to just bikes! 

Well, I love you all. I'm super grateful for your examples and your commitment to following your Savior. In the Bible Dictionary it says that one's faith is sparked and grows when hearing the testimony of someone else's faith. You all strengthen my testimony every day, and I hope you all can feel the love I have for my Savior as well! The Church is true and grows and spreads every day as more and more people hear the message of the Restoration. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and is the means through which we come closer to Him. Whether you're having a good day, bad day, stressed day, boring day, any kind of day, read in the scriptures and it will only get better. That I can promise you all, backed up with my testimony that Christ lives, loves us, and is waiting with outstretched arms for us to come to Him. But it's ultimately our decision. I pray for you all daily, and I know you all do and will do that which makes your Father in Heaven proud. :)

-- Elder McGinn