Monday, August 25, 2014

Email - August 25, 2014

That confusing moment when you wake up not knowing where you are, and finally remember that you had to spend the night in the church on the couch? Hate that.

 Das ist aber eine Nebensache.

 Mom, I like your weeks! They are so relaxed and chill, who can complain with that?? If you notice the places in the Book of Mormon where it talks about the people being extremely happy or living in times of peace, not much else is written and time flies, because it´s just typical, classic living! The Good Life. You´ve found it, madre. :) I´m glad! And sad I missed out on the Sunday party, but that hoop in the background is just begging to be jammed on, as I jump over Dad. Yep, you heard me. See you on the pavement next summer, pa. It´s way weird to see the neighborhood in those pictures, and realize how it still looks mostly like I remember it! I feel like there is something missing from the neighborhood in the picture of the rainbow, but I think I just haven’t seen it in a long time.

Now that mom wants to know why her son was sleeping on the church couch last night, I´ll tell ya.

 We´re not homeless bums. We were actually at an awesome appointment last night, watching our most recent convert´s son get baptized in D.C.! I don´t know if I already told you this story, but her name is Rochelle. She is an American from Seattle, but has been all over and is currently living here because of the army. She got re-married about a year ago, and as a present, her friend wanted to send her a church video called "together forever". Long story short, it never came, so she called Church HQ requesting the DVD. She talked for two hours on the phone, became best friends with the secretary, and had them send elders over with the DVD. The elders came. One looked just like her son in D.C. She was taught and baptized. One of the elders who taught her, his best friend was serving in D.C., where her son lives. They went over, met him, taught him, and he got baptized yesterday. So they skyped us in, and we got to watch the service from her house on the couch. :) But ANYWAY, she lives far away, so Elder Henderson and I had to send in numbers and data and other stuff to the mission office, like we do every Sunday night. So while Elder Henderson was pretty much completely done with the excel spread sheet and the email, it all froze and we lost it all. Like 2 hours worth of work. And the office wanted the numbers that night. So we tried, and couldn´t get her computer working. Train and bus connections are awful and seldom on Sunday nights, so we finally got a train and got to the church, but by the time we were finished, it was past midnight, and the trains only come once an hour, if that. So president just told us to sleep on the couches in the YSA center, instead of try to get home before 3 a.m. And that is why I woke up so confused this morning, wondering where I was. But it was a good Sunday, aside from that! It was an all around pretty solid week.

 We had a lot of appointments and were staying real busy, and then on Thursday we had Zone Konferenz in Frankfurt, where Elder Kearon of the Seventy spoke to us. It was a powerful, awesome meeting, filled with revelation and the Spirit. We then stayed the night in Frankfurt in a Hostile (is that how you spell it?) for a leadership meeting the next day with president and Elder Kearon. They were great meetings. Unfortunately they completely took up two whole days by the time we could get back to Heidelberg, but it was worth it. We talked all about increasing the positive attitude of missionaries in the mission, and simply baptizing. And since then, 4 baptismal dates have been set in the Zone, just in a matter of days! So it obviously had a solid effect on a number of missionaries, and we´re hoping it just continues to build! We also helped two inactive families move, one being the Stake President´s son, and he invited us back over for dinner this week so it will be solid! I hope so at least, because carrying a 400 pound dresser down 4 flights of stairs in an apartment building isn´t my definition of fun! I was happy to do it though, of course. :)

 Of the biggest things I learned this week, it would be what Elder Kearon talked about with being happy and having a positive attitude. He talked about being a creator of circumstance, and not a creature of circumstance. God made this world for His children, that we might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25) by living and acting upon it! Not letting it simply act upon us and reacting. He talked about how if there is something you want in life, go get it! We were given brains and the ability to act so that we can go do things, and not just be lazy and wait for them to come to us. And that includes happiness. If you want to be happy, go be happy. Express more thanks. Help more people. Do more. And after all of that action or doing, you´ll feel better. Neal A. Maxwell said that "God is very serious when it comes to joy in the lives of His children." and I agree. Become who you should be, do what you should do, and live how you should live, and you´ll get there. But notice how those were all verbs. You gotta do something. The harder I work on my mission, the happier and better I feel. It´s a direct relationship. So I challenge you all to be a little happier this week. You may already be super happy, then heck, just add to it! Who doesn´t want more? And I think you may find that a lot of your personal happiness will come through assisting others to become happy. But shoot, find that out for yourselves. :)

 This is a gospel of happiness. Christ suffered and died so that we can get rid of pain, suffering, and weakness. Don´t take His atoning sacrifice for granted. So many people gave their lives to preserve this knowledge and truth. It must be worth something, right? Use it to produce the effects and person it was created to help you become. Mosiah 2:41. So that´s my message for you all this week. Just be happy. Can you do that? :)

 I love you all! Keep doin yo thang, and I´ll hear from you soon! Heidelberg is the best! The Church is true!

 mit schoenen Gruessen,

 -- Elder McGinn
Me at Rochelle's house on her horribly comfy couch in her Hello Kitty blanket.  It'll get ya!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Email - August 18, 2014

 This week was straight up rockin. Like if you could take the looks of Heidelberg, and turn that into a week, that was this week.  You guys, this week was solid. And we got to see a lot of the fruits of it at the end of the week as well. Yesterday in church we had 10 investigators at sacrament meeting! 10! We were seriously blown away! Especially considering that we were one of only three areas in the whole zone who had any investigators at church! It has been such a solid week.

 We had Jason Kuechler with us all week again, and he went home Sunday morning, and it´s so weird to have it just back to Elder Henderson and me. We have only had like 5 days together, just us two. We´ve always either been on splits, or had Jason always with us! But it was great. We had a lot of awesome experiences with Jason, (and not so awesome, which he loved) and he is so excited for missionary work. He is actually texting me right now about how our last lesson went that we taught an hour ago! He wants to help out any way he can, and wants to come back out with us for another 2 weeks after he gets back from youth conference in Austria! If his mom lets him go again, we´ll gladly take him. :)

 On Saturday we had 9 appointments, and it was insane. We had to pull up Elder Jensen (the beatboxer) from Karlsruhe so that we had four missionaries in total and could split so that we could schaff them all! Elder Jensen was with us the day before as well, when we had our Spanish finding day! I sadly wasn´t there for the whole thing, because I was teaching an investigator, Jerry, at a member´s home, but I joined in later! For the first little while, the companionships split up and all went with Spanish speaking members to visit less actives, inactives, potential investigators, and former investigators. Through that, we found 3 new investigators and an inactive family to work with, and the sisters found 2 new investigators! After that was a street display, where we had to signs up saying ¨Habla Espanol? Nosotros tambien!¨ and another sign that said ¨Donde hay fe, hay amor. Donde hay amor, hay paz. Donde hay paz está Dios y donde está Dios no falta nada.¨ Don´t think I did all of that! That was a recently returned missionary from Spain! But it was great. All in all, a big success. There´s a lot we could have done better to make it run more smoothly, but we´re planning on making this a monthly activity for the Spanish branch, so we´ve got time to practice!

 The Spanish craze kinda led me astray the other day though. Jason and I were coming home from an appointment, and we drove by a corn maze that said ¨Spanish Night! 20:00-02:00¨ and we thought, sick! Awesome place to find Spanish speakers. So we got out at the next stop and walked back, but absolutely no one was there, and it was 8 o´clock. But we thought we heard voices through the maze, so we started to walked through it! But we found no one, and eventually just got lost in the maze, so we cheated and walked through the corn until we found the road again and walked home. Haha, darn. We were sure there were people to be found there, maybe next time!

 There were so many highlights to this week, but because of time, I´ll just pick one. We´re teaching a young single adult named Kristine. She always had a belief in God, and then a few years ago she decided she needed to find out which ¨God¨ she should be believing in. Through some amazing experiences, she came to know that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are who she is looking for in her life. And since then, she has been on an extensive search to find them and where they are, and through her friends who are here in this ward, we have met her and started teaching her. She´s who we met with today, not too long ago. After our last lesson, we gave her 2 Nephi 29 to read. And she did. And she showed up today really impressed with it. So impressed, that we spent the whole lesson time just talking about what she read. She loves it. And today, she was telling us how a verse of scripture in there couldn´t have been written by Joseph Smith, because that problem didn´t apply back then. Only today, in the "last days" that it was talking about. And as she said that, the spirit was so strong, and all of us felt it, and you could see it physically affect her when she realized she had just given testimony and the spirit had borne record of it. It took her aback, and then she said "so that´s what a testimony feels like…" and now she´s realized something different here. Something "in our eyes" that makes her feel like she can achieve her dreams and become better. She loves it, and is so excited to keep meeting in the future. She told us today that her search in this church needs to become more extensive and deeper, like Enos, so that she can feel that testimony experience again. It was such an amazing feeling to have an investigator bearing testimony to ME for once. The work is real. Don´t underestimate the power of your testimony.

 Well, I´ve gotta run, but I hope that you all have a great great great week! It´s starting to get colder over here, but the work is just getting hotter and hotter. Keep doing what you all do, and I can´t wait to hear about it next week!  You all are wonderful, and let that light shine that´s in your eyes! I always thought that was the cheesiest thing in the world, but so many investigators tell me it´s a real thing, so it must be! I love you all, and can´t wait to hear from you soon!

 Alles Liebe,

 - Elder McGinn

 P.S. there was a hands-up, stands-up competition this past week at FHE, and I'm still the king. So don´t feel bad for all those times you all lost. :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Email & Lots of Pictures - August 11, 2014

You guys, Heidelberg is unreal. I'll send you guys some pictures of just walking through regular, every day streets, because we haven't even visited the castles or anything yet. But I honestly feel like I'm living in Disneyland sometimes, when we walk down certain streets. And everybody knows it here, too. There's just a feeling in the air the makes people happy and friendly, and it puts a spin on the work that is so nice and easy to work with. The work in all of Germany is way solid, of course, but Heidelberg is even more solid. :)

 Last Monday, we got a 16 year old from Karlsruhe named Jason Küchler as our mini missionary for 2 weeks! (I skyped from his house on Christmas!) He's already a great kid, and he's just been eating up the missionary experience out here. He tells us over and over that he doesn't want to go back, but I don't blame him because the week that he has been with us has been one of the most solid weeks ever!

 Heidelberg works like a machine. The missionaries and the ward. It's a ward of probably like 200 active, and in that is Germans, Americans, and Spanish speakers, so that means that there are a lot of different friends and cultures, and we're constantly going in and out. Some days I feel like I'm serving in Texas, and then that same night I feel like I got transferred to Spain. It’s the greatest, and definitely always keeps you on your toes!

 Elder Henderson and I have been working real hard on learning the Spanish, and it's coming! The Church has got to be true, because otherwise it would just be a miserable fail trying to learn a third language. I have only two settings in my brain, "English", and "Other", and "Other" only has one open seat. So when German takes a seat, Spanish just has to wait. But lately they've been starting to learn to share a little bit, and I hope they start to become better friends. The only problem with learning Spanish is the second I say "Yo soy Elder McGinn", the Spanish speaking members who can only speak either very broken English or German, go off a million miles an hour, and I have no idea where one word starts and the other ends. German has a ton of hard consonants, so it makes sense and you can pick up individual words, but Spanish is totally the opposite. German: kztuie kktzyx sketysw wsd gtle sw wei wes. Spanish: aeuiyldwuiaoeraolykdceiaousdioaueofoauegf. That’s how my brain takes it. But I'm getting better, and the Spanish members absolutely love that we're trying our best to help them out. Because they're a part of Heidelberg! And they deserve as much help with their branch as we can offer. And they are honestly the nicest people in the world. They want to help any way they can, they just feel so outside of the box because they can't speak much German or English. They're from all over, including Italy, Spain, Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia and so on.

 There's actually a really cool YSA in the ward, who returned about 9 months ago from Spain, who can speak Spanish and English, named Damien. He's from Spain, and our lethal weapon when it comes to working with Spanish people. And we set apart this Friday to be a day of pure finding, no appointments, and just for Spanish people. We're going to go around with Damien and find only Spanish speakers, and we're determined to find a Spanish speaking family who will join the church. That's the goal. So you Spanish speakers, we'd appreciate you asking padre celestial to assist us on Friday. :)

 Aside from that, the work is great. We found two investigators this week, who both have committed to baptism! The first is Jerry, and the second is Charles. They're both students here, who are just ready to change and make the necessary steps to earn a testimonio. Jerry was atheist, but is now starting to change his opinion because of what he has felt and personally experienced through prayer, and Charles was going to become a professional soccer player, but feels that something is missing, that only God can fill,and he doesn’t want the money and offers and teams anymore. It's amazing, and the ward is treating them great, and we're excited to see where it goes.

 Also, there's a woman in the ward who we love who is helping out a ton. She's an American, and her talent is baking. She's literally a Europe-reknown baker, and is constantly baking insanely creative and beautiful cakes and cupcakes, and of course baked goods don't last forever, so whatever doesn't get sold or gifted or if she was just experimenting with a recipe, we come over and she fills us up a box, and we take them contacting, and CUPCAKES SOFTEN HEARTS, people. Jerry, who I talked about above, was found through cupcake contacting. It's way fun, and we never leave without having some crazy good, crazy creative baked good.

 Well, as you can see, things are rocking right now, and the Lord is blessing us so much. I'm so grateful for the experiences I have every single day. I've grown so much I can't even believe it.

  I'm glad you all had a good week, and I can't believe the summer is already over! Soak it up! And then back to the grind. I, on the other hand, will just keep at it, but lovin' it. I love and miss you all, especially mamacita, and hope you have an incredible week!

 Read your scriptures and say your prayers! We can't be reminded too many times. :)

 -- Elder McGinn
Some of the Zone playing soccer and frisbee

Our Mini Missionary!

I threw an apple from across the room and it landed perfectly on my hot chocolate. #baller

Just some of Heidelberg and the river

Walking through the Alstadt! (historic "old city")

One of those crazy cakes!  It's a beehive, for the Beehive president's birthday.

And the view of the castle outside of her window

More pictures of Heidelberg

Monday, August 4, 2014

Email - August 4, 2014

Mi Familie!

 Yes, that was my best attempt at Spanish. And you wanna know why? Elder McGinn is going trilingual, folks. I even bore my testimony in Spanish yesterday at church, not in the German ward, obviously!

 Heidelberg is fantastic. It has the biggest ward in the stake by far, and it´s pumped full of German-speakers, English-speakers, and Spanish-speakers! And not only is it big, but it has some of the most solid, hardworking members I´ve ever met. It´s seriously such a blessing to be around such hard working members, it makes me want to do anything I can for them! It is also home to the Heidelberg 2 Branch, the only recognized Spanish speaking branch in the country. Like Spanish is literally a focus of ours right now, and the mission has supplied us with Spanish learning books to work on our Spanish! It´s great, and kind of identity confusing.

 This is what I´ve got so far: Hola Hermanos y Hermanas. Mi nombre es Elder McGinn. Ey crayo (I spell how it sounds) en Dios y tambien en el Libro de Mormon. En el nombre Jesucristo, Amen. I know, way simple. But it´s a start! And the Spanish members love that we try to speak to them in their language. It´s a ton of fun! So Griff and Jeff, you both thought you could keep secrets from the rest of us, but not anymore. :)

 Yes, Heidelberg is stellar. But we´ll get to that later. I was surprised to leave too, Mom! So Elders Kitchen and Lovelace and I ate all the American food we could as fast as we could, and got through almost all of it. I left them with some Froot Loops and a couple of Otterpops in the freezer. It killed me a little inside to do that, I won´t lie. Haha. But it was great.

 It´s weird no longer being in a trio out here. It´s a lot quieter. But it´s alright, because the new city makes up for it. Heidelberg is amazing. I told you a little before about the ward, but even the city itself is unreal! I was told by a member that in WWII, the Americans were specifically ordered NOT to damage Heidelberg, because it was so pretty, and I´m glad they didn´t! From so many members´ homes, you can look up onto the hillside and see the massive Heidelberg Castle, and the Alte Bruecke (old bridge) that leads to it, through the historic old part of town. Everywhere you go there are cafes and little diners, with little shops and souvenir stores all over. Most of the city, at least the old part, is cobblestone streets, and on every other corner there is someone playing some kind of instrument like a pro. It´s really so pretty that it´s impossible to describe, so I´ll just have to take a million pictures and send them your guys´ way!

 My companion is Elder Dallin Henderson from Rancho Cucamonga, California. He´s been out just about the exact same time as I have, and he´s a great elder. Super easy to get along with, and a hard worker. It´s gonna be great. The district I'm in has barely changed since I left Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe and us are a district, and Elder Jensen is still in Karlsruhe, as is Elder Blanchard, and Elder Henderson was here too when I left from Karlsruhe so I already know a bunch of the people, and it will be a quick start to everything!

 We´re headed off to a city in the zone called Mannheim (Mannheim Steamroller) in just a little while to play soccer with the zone, so I gotta sign off pretty soon, but I want you all to know that I believe in God and the Book of Mormon, and that this church is true. When a Spanish member taught me how to say my testimony in Spanish, I learned just a few simple phrases of what I knew absolutely was true. It was extremely short and simple, but I think that´s what made it powerful. We don't have to have testimonies right now about how vast and incredible the universe and the stars are, as long as we DO have testimonies of the little things, like reading in the scriptures, saying our prayers, and going to church. When we have a testimony of those simple, little things, the rest follows. So find out what your simplest, most converted gospel truth testimony is, and build off of that. Alma 32: 27.

 Es ist alles wahr. :)

 Ich liebe euch sehr! Ins besondere dich, Mutter. Passt auf euch gut auf, und bis das naechste Mal!

 -- Elder McGinn