Monday, October 27, 2014

Email - October 27, 2014

 Speaking of your nose starting to bleed, I just wanted to share with you all my three nose-bleed-worthy events of the week:

 The first has to do with the worst decision humans ever made. Daylight Saving is the worst. I'm gonna live in Arizona where you don't have to worry about it. Every Sunday here in Frankfurt there is a meeting in the morning right before church where all us missionaries in the ward get together and get on the same page. We're usually five or so minutes late, and they always are on our case, but it's only because we don't live next door to the church like the rest of those hooligans. So yesterday we decided to be on time. We sprinted through our morning routine, sprinted out to the car, and made it to the church five minutes early, waiting with smug little grins for the rest to come in. 10 minutes. Nobody. 20 minutes. Still no one. We call to check where they all are, so proud of our accomplishment. That's when we realize that we never switched our clocks, and LOST our extra hour of sleep, and hauled to the church to be there an HOUR early. Still a little upset about that. Do you get blessings for getting up at 5:30?

 The next: We had an great appointment with a member from Japan, and we came home with a bag full of left overs for the next day. We got home late, so we all just wanted to get to bed, and Elder Emery just set the bag of food down on the couch and turned the lights off. The next morning I got up, went into the other room, jumped on the couch, and landed in something wet. Just thinking it's water, I turn on the lights and realize that that weird smell and liquid is SOY SAUCE. We came home with a jar of soy sauce which tipped over in the bag during the night, and spilled out all over the couch. And then onto my face in the morning.

 And last but not least: Saturday morning we're in the Mission Home with President Stoddard, doing the mission-wide transfer call. It's toward the end, and Sister Stoddard has just finished giving her advice about "the winter flu season preparation", and now it's time for Pres. to wrap it up with his closing remarks. So we (meaning I), turn the phone around so President can talk more clearly into it, but what we don't realize is that when I turned the phone around, the cord underneath it came unplugged, and the phone turned off. Did we realize that? Sure didn't. So President proceeds to give his closing remarks for 10 minutes, and then we closed with a prayer. No one but us heard any of that. We didn't realize what happened until afterwards, so we had to send out a mass text to tell everyone to sign back onto the call so President could give his closing remarks one more time. But they all signed back on, President got his practice round out and shared some amazing comments, and everything ran smoothly. Just a minor technical difficulty.

 But it's all okay, because the Frankfurt Germany Mission is still up and running, AND this guy got to drive President's really nice Opel. I don't even know what kind it is, but it's black with chrome accents, a really really nice interior, and it's diesel. Just an all around beast. Plus President and Sister Stoddard had an awesome time in Portugal and learned a lot that they're excited to integrate into the mission. And they said that different Zones came and sang to them from the Portugal Lisbon Mission, so they probably gotta see Mckay! #jealous.

 I know I started off on a negative note, so of course I have to end with a positive note, so listen up! We had an appointment with a family this week named the Roas. They are from Columbia, but moved here when the oldest 18 year old boy was about 7 or 6. They are incredible. They used to be completely inactive, and I honestly can't blame them, because they had gone through hell. The ex-step dad here in Germany is a drug addict who would abuse the family verbally and physically, who only causes problems. So many I can't name, and Camillo, the 18 year old, is the man of the house, and does all he can to protect his family, but sometimes he doesn't stand a chance. Well, Elder Lindsey started working with them when he first got to Frankfurt and ever since then, and then one of the sons got baptized, and he and now we, have met with them about every week since then. We were there for Elder Lindsey's last appointment with them, and Camillo and his mom started crying. After about a 2 minute pause, he got his emotions under control for just long enough to tell us "Thank you for serving a mission." and then how if we hadn't, his family would maybe not be here anymore, and anytime he wants to slack off, he thinks of how much we give every day for two years, and knows he has no excuse. I wish you all knew Camillo. He has defended and taken care of his family as a brother, son, and father with everything he has, at 18 years old, and now he is working towards getting the Melchezidek Priesthood. His words "thank you for serving a mission" were the most touching words I've heard in my entire 2 years, because of how sincere it really was from him. That made all the rejection in the world absolutely worth it, just to hear him say that.

 It was a very emotional appointment, but now just like Camillo does, I know the Church is true. I'm grateful for my mission. I can't imagine how "unchanged" I would be without it. There is absolutely nothing more worthwhile you can do between the ages of 18-24, whenever you decide to serve. Nothing more worthwhile. I love it and will always love it. The Gospel mends broken hearts, glues broken families together, and enhances every positive emotion life has to offer. I love it and I live it. And I hope you all do too.

 Have an amazing week, I'm looking forward to hearing from you next week after this crazy week of transfers and goldens and leavers and all! You're all the best. Especially you, Mom!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, October 20, 2014

Email & Pictures - October 20, 2014

Hahahaha. Oh my heck SYDNEY YOU ARE THE LUCKIEST PERSON ON THE PLANET. Get an iPhone 6 and then start dinkin' around at Lagoon and look what happens. Thank your lucky stars, my friend, because you wouldn't have been the only one ticked off about your new scrambled iPhone 6. You best say your prayers every night for the rest of your life.

 Assistants still have an area in Frankfurt, but some weeks we're rarely in it! When you have to split with the Elders in Nürnberg or Jena or Dortmund or Düsseldorf, they're all like a minimum of 3 hours one way! A lot of car time. But it's good, we still try to make up for the time we don't get in our area by always being on the phone and calling members and investigators and other people to set up appointments to stay in touch and stay productive. It's an interesting balance, but it's a blast and we make it work! Plus working with President is awesome. He says hi! President Stoddard takes off actually tomorrow morning to spend the week in Portugal on vacation! Just kidding, it's for a Europe Mission Presidents' Seminar, but being with apostles is about just as good as vacation! So maybe he'll spot Elder McKay Taylor over there. But all we know is that for a week, we're in charge, and he said if I'm nice, I'll even get to drive his car. I'm being real nice :) and as soon as he gets back it is Transfer Calls and then Transfer Week, with new goldens coming and old missionaries leaving!

 We spent a good chunk of this last week doing Transfer Planning, which is six hour chunks of being with President in the office, looking at the giant mission transfer board with all of the missionaries pictures and areas, and deciding what we feel the next step is! A lot of trainers, a lot of companionships staying together, a lot changing. It's actually a lot of fun, I feel like I know the missionaries way more than they think I do, and way more than they know me! It's also amazing to see how inspired President Stoddard is throughout the whole Transfer Planning process as he thinks about and considers every missionary, every companionship, every district, and every zone. He puts his heart into it, and the Spirit is definitely present as well. Sometimes you think you are just getting punished and put with a punk of a companion until you repent or bake the mission president's wife some cookies, but there is a reason for everything, and each day and each week of each transfer is exactly what we need to become the missionaries and people that the Lord wants us to be.

 Elder Emery and I are gearing up for next transfer too, because Elder Lindsey goes home at the end of next week, and the next transfer is only a 5-weeker, which is going to be crazy because the first week of every transfer is taken up by the actual transfers and everything, and the last week is normally taken up by transfer planning. That means that we have 3 weeks to do 10 splits. Thank goodness Zone Conferences aren't this transfer, we would never see home! It's gonna be a blast though, we're excited.

 So like I mentioned, this last week was mostly prepping for President being gone and for transfers, and a couple of appointments scattered here and there, which included the best prayer where an 8 year old prayed that none of us would get mosquito bites that night. The best part? Not a single mosquito bite. :) The church is true!

 This next week we have a whole slew of appointments for people who want to say goodbye to Elder Lindsey and then the rest of the splits we haven't finished yet! So this week we'll be splitting with Heidelberg (yeah baby), Dortmund, and the Tech Elders! It's gonna be great.  We also have an appointment later this week with two English families, the Southalls and the Robertsons, who are inviting their really cool and interested friend and her daughter for a big dinner appointment and lesson from yours truly! So pray for Patina. That's the friend. She's honestly so cool and would be such an awesome member.

 I apologize for all of the scrambled thoughts, but my mind is burned out today! But the good news? Picture taking abilities are back in Frankfurt, baby! The Tech Elders got my camera back from the Düsseldorf Zone Leaders (not without taking a few pictures of their own, though), and we're back in business! So hopefully those make up for the jumbled email!

 I love you all! I love hearing that you had a good week, and I hope that this next one is even better. I want you all to know how much I believe in the power of prayer. We have the privilege of calling the most powerful being in the universe "Father", so take advantage of that, and develop a relationship as such! We live in an amazing time, with the restored knowledge we have, and like Pres. Uchtdorf said, too often we live underneath our privileges. Take advantage of the blessings we are lucky enough to have, and make life what it should be through the gospel.

 You all are amazing, I'll hear from you next week!!

 Alles Liebe,

 -- Elder McGinn

 Und vor allem, liebe ich meine Mutter!
Frankfurt Skyline

Caught Elder Lindsey snoozin' during the last ten minutes of personal study.  Haha, he can't deny it now!

Elder Emery's diligent prayers

Elder Emery is a keeper!

Tech Elders got my camera!

Battle for the computers between the tech elders and the APs.  Someone is always left out.

My companions, Elder Emery and Elder Lindsey at a soccer missionary activity.

The Cologne Cathedral is a piece of work...unreal!

The Cologne Cathedral

Back in Heidelberg with Elder Henderson

Charles' baptism in Heidelberg.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Email - October 13, 2014

Guten Morgen, meine schöne Familie! Mutter, du bist besser beim Deutsch als du denkst! Aber wirklich. Es ist beindruckend. Und Vater, tut mir Leid, aber ich glaube es gibt keine Hoffnung für dich. Du bist viel zu rein. :)

Nice! It's officially Halloween season at the McGinn home. I honestly have no idea why I love Halloween so much, I just do. Something in the air. And the leaves. Germany looks like it is on fire right now with all the changing colors. Halloween is slowly getting more popular in this country, but not to the point yet where we would really notice anything out of the ordinary on the 31st. The next big holiday is honestly probably Saint Nicholaus' Day on the 6th of December. So we're on a holiday drought for a while, but as soon as December hits, it's party time. 

 How awesome was conference this time around? Yesterday we had sacrament meeting and then watched the Sunday Afternoon session, where David A. Bednar gave that KILLER talk directed to non-members who wanna know why we are all so eager to share the gospel all the time. I think that may be my favorite talk given, aside from Elder Holland because of the way he pronounces his w-h's as in what and why and where. But I'm looking forward to using  Elder Bednar's talk often in the near future in explaining that exact topic to investigators. 

Well, we had a really great, really busy week this week. This week consisted of four splits and a bunch of appointments in between! First, we had a split with different American areas. The American areas are going through a rough time right now because they can only teach American military people, but they have a hard time getting investigators because they aren't allowed to proselyte on the bases, but those are the only places the members live! So, because there are three of us here now, I got dropped off in Wiesbaden to work with the elders there, and the other two went to Kaiserslautern to work with different companionships there for the day. It was overall a great experience, we pumped the elders up, and we're starting to make progress and find the kinks in the system when it comes to these American areas! 

After that, the Kaiserslautern Zone Leaders came to us in Frankfurt, and spent the night and the next day with us. We had a ton of fun and had a couple of solid appointments before they left that following night, and then we immediately split with the Zone Leaders here in Frankfurt right after that! Elder Emery and I were with Elder Lovelace, my earlier companion and also Elder Emery's earlier companion, so it was a blast. Most of that day was consumed by a group of 60 kids from the Düsseldorf Stake who came down for activities and things as a part of their temple trip! So for 3 or 4 hours we were in charge of a mess of kids between 12 and 18 years old, and managed to keep them entertained and also have an awesome, spiritual time!

 After we split with Frankfurt, the next morning we got in the car and headed 3 hours down to Nürnberg, for the next split! I love that city. We met with a few less actives and a young 22 year old kid who will be baptized in two weeks, and had an awesome time. President Schwartz also lives right around the corner down there, so after we were done with Nürnberg, we stopped by President Schwartz's house on the way back and had lunch, which was awesome. He's back into life, coming up with new big ideas, and Sister Schwartz is still just cooking her heart out. It was fun to be with them for an hour or so one more time.Then we flew back home to be at a baptism of an 8 year old boy, who had a few non-members at his baptism that his family had invited who were awesome! We had some great conversations, and we're hoping they are serious about coming back to church this next week!

 And then yesterday was just stacked full of appointments, one of which included us coming in right after a lady and her boyfriend had just had an argument and weren't on speaking terms, so we had a little marriage counseling session after giving them both blessings, and now they're doing much better. Who would have guessed. Two 20 year olds and a 23 year old, unlicensed, giving marriage counseling that worked. Haha probably because it was all built around the gospel and the power of the Atonement, which are two topics that we ARE certified in. :) They're doing better and are committed to making some big steps in investigating the church more seriously and improving their relationship. We're meeting again with them this week, so we're excited! 

Anyway, I just spit out a ton of information at you guys, I hope it all makes sense! Basically we're happy because we're busy and we're busy because we're happy, and the work is flying by. This next week is pretty much all booked out with "Transfer Planning" at President's house! Transfers are in a week and a half, and we need to decide what's going to happen. It should be fun! We're looking forward to having a ton of time with President and Sister Stoddard. They are so great. 

We really gotta run, but I love you all and hope you have the best week ever! Smile, take lots of pictures, say your prayers, read your scriptures, and act on all your promptings! Do that and I promise you'll be happy, no matter what life throws at ya. This Church and gospel are true! I'm a living witness of it every single day. It's changing lives. You are all in my prayers!

I love you, Mom!

-- Elder McGinn 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Email & Pictures - October 6, 2014

 Das stimmt, du bist eine Frau! Und du bist meine Mutter. Die beste Mutter auf der Welt.

 There's your homework, Mom! Translate that without Google Translator! :)   I'm proud of you! Look at you, speaking perfect German, grammatically correct and everything. We'll be able to speak German when I'm home and talk about anyone we want to behind their backs. :) If that isn't motivation to learn German, I don't know what is!

 And yes, make sure to get those pumpkins soon! I keep bugging Elder Lindsey that we need to get pumpkins soon and carve them, and he's about to give in. I want to do it with a less active family we're working with, because that would just be flat out a blast.

 Wow, sounds like it's getting cold at home! That's what Elder Emery has been telling us as well....Oh, that brings me to my first item of business: Elder Emery is back! We picked him up on Saturday morning, and shoot has he gotten skinny and tired! Haha after his surgeries at home he's lost 30 pounds, but he didn't want to wait any longer and wanted to finish his mission, so he came right back out! So for the last 3 days he has been with Elder Lindsey and I.  Elder Emery is honestly a blast. Haha it's gonna be a ton of fun! But he's doing well and we're breaking him in fast, and the three of us are having a fiesta together. We love it!

 This week was great! Kind of a typical week, and unfortunately we didn't have a lot of time in our area, because we had a split in Düsseldorf! That takes a day and a half away from being in Frankfurt. But it was great, we had a great time with the Zone Leaders there, and saw a couple of awesome miracles that the Lord led us to, and found them a bunch of new investigators! And then on the way back, we pulled off of the highway for 5 minutes to take a picture at the Cologne Cathedral, because Elder Lindsey had never been and goes home in three weeks. Pictures to come!

 Aside from that, we helped an awesome recent convert move from his apartment in the slums to a dorm with another member! Prime situation. We also had a Zone meeting this week, and a few meetings with president to prepare for some big things coming up in the near future. Other than that, General Konferenz ate up our entire weekend, but it was totally worth it! How great was conference this time around? The first session we got to watch on Saturday night which was great, and then we got to watch Priesthood, Saturday Afternoon, and Sunday Morning all on Sunday! Actually, we didn't get to see Saturday afternoon, because we went to watch it at a part member family's home, but the internet wasn't working, so we watched the Joseph Smith movie instead. A worthy substitute. But Priesthood, Saturday Morning ,and Sunday Morning were awesome. And we'll watch Sunday Afternoon next week for two hours of church! So it's not over yet! I, like you dad, loved President Uchtdorf's "Is it I?" talk, even though it wasn't delivered in German, that punk. It was really a humbling talk, and I've gone over my notes many times and am really working on taking it seriously what he said and improving myself for the better! And I hope you all are doing the same! Take your favorite talk from Conference, study it, and do what that talk invites you to do, and change for the better. Those men up on that stand have over 900 years of combined wisdom and experience, listen to it!!! We need it.

 We don't have a ton of time, but this next week is looking great with three different splits, an overflow of appointments, and a lot of potential. I hope and pray that we can accomplish it all!

 Well, I love you all. Have an awesome week. I'm grateful to have such amazing parents, siblings, and friends. Your examples are how I know how to help others out here in Germany. So thank you from me, and from all of those I am helping! You're all the best.

 Bis nächste woche. Ich liebe meine Mutter!

 -- Elder McGinn
On a split with former companion Elder Anderson.

With the missionaries leaving for home.

With the new incoming missionaries.

Elder M. Russell Ballard visiting the mission.

In Dusseldorf on splits...a lot of flannel!