Monday, November 24, 2014

Email & Pictures - November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!! Are you all ready to gain 10 pounds? I am!

 Elder Emery and I are better just in time for an awesome week! With Thanksgiving coming up, we are going to be eating Thanksgiving four different times. Once tomorrow with the missionaries in the Zone after our Zone Training Meeting, once with President and Sister Stoddard in the Mission home on Thursday after Transfer Planning, Friday night with some of the best families around, and then again on Saturday in Heidelberg on our split! Our split this last week with Heidelberg fell out because of crazy traffic and a crazy schedule that would have made the split not worth it, so we rescheduled to this Friday and Saturday, which coincidentally happens to be the day that they are having Thanksgiving Dinner with one of the coolest member families in the whole city. So I'm pumped. And my stomach will need to be pumped by Sunday.

 Our week was solid. It was a bummer that the Heidelberg split fell out, but we made up for it by being in Ramstein for the next day and a half with the Zone Leaders down there! It was really interesting to spend a day and a half preparing for everything in English! And when we went out on the streets to door and contact people, it was all in English! It felt really weird, and kinda uncomfortable at first, but I got over that quick. Every American down there is a soldier, and while we were out contacting, there were planes and helicopters constantly flying overhead, either taking off to somewhere else or landing in Ramstein. Little did I know it's the biggest US military base outside of the US! They call it the "Hub", because anything that has to do with the Middle East, Europe, or Africa, comes through Ramstein.

 We had a number of appointments, including teaching German, and were able to find two new investigators for them and a couple of potentials. Don't get me wrong, those were all awesome highlights, but what really blew me away was one of our assignments from Sister Stoddard when she knew we were going there: buy Thanksgiving supplies on the commissary! And that we did, folks, that we did. How much did we buy? 150 dollars worth. About 110 of that was for President and Sister Stoddard for holiday baking, and the other 40 was because of us..... c'mon, you all know I can't just walk by a bag of Cap'n Crunch!! Or Lucky Charms. Or Mini Wheats. Or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Or Gatorade. Or Cream Soda IBC's. Or Mint Oreos. Or Cheezits. Yeah, we went to town. But all in good reason! It was a good time.

 After our split in Ramstein, we came back with them to Frankfurt, because the following day was Mission Leadership Council in Offenbach, with all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders! That went very well, and at that meeting we talked about the new initiative coming from the Church, which I hope you all already know about called "He is the Gift". If you don't, go to, and hold tight. It's gonna be big, and we, as 88,000 missionaries, are pumped.

 Anyway, after MLC we had a split with the Nürnberg Zone Leaders! One of which is Elder Hobson, who I served with in Erlangen. They are great elders, and we had a great time. We attended a baptism in the international ward to which none of our investigators showed who said they would, but it was still good! We then had a street display with all of the Frankfurt missionaries, and I had to carry a TV out there for us to show Mormon Messages on, and after carrying that piece of plastic for 2 miles, my arms are dead. Still. Morning Sport just doesn't cut it.

 We had a couple more appointments, and then had Church and the Primary program, which was hilarious and spiritual all at the same time. J & D were both there, and thought it was awesome. I was so happy that it was the Primary program, because all of the kids said their little phrase, and being just little kids, they were short, simple statements of pure doctrine, with some humor here and there. That's exactly what the Gospel is. Nothing big and complex. Simple truth that makes us understand our purpose, and ultimately makes us happy. And I think they really understood the doctrine from yesterday more than anything else they have learned to this point. Aside from that, there were other meetings and pretty boring things we had to take care of in the mission office and with President that I don't think any of you would find entertaining, so I won't post about it.

 But this next week should be good! We have a few Zone meetings that we are visiting and speaking at, Transfer Planning with President since this is the last week of the transfer, a lot of giving Thanks, and a split with Heidelberg this weekend! That sounds like an awesome week to me. Super busy, and that's just what we're looking for. Isn't it funny how at home sometimes that's the exact opposite of what we're looking for? So we're hoping all goes well. The time in between meetings and transfer planning that we have we're packing with whatever appointments we can squeeze in and we're looking forward really to our appointment on Wednesday morning with J & D. We're hoping to be able to set a baptismal date with him on Wednesday! Keep them in your prayers! I have the same goal as you, Dad. At least one more before I have to go home. It will happen.

 Dad, I agree with your words that it's easier, and more comfortable, to serve than to be served, and I'm glad that that is all I do out here! But the course of the Lord is one eternal round, so it's gotta come back somehow, right? :) Stay happy and healthy, you guys! The Church is true, and making huge strides right now as many many hearts are being softened and becoming more receptive to the message of Jesus Christ at this time of year. The Europe Area has a goal to double the numbers in the church by 2019, which seemed huge and daunting until they said "that simply means that everyone needs to bring just one person in the next 5 years." Piece of cake”.

 I love every single moment of being a missionary, and hope you all can feel that. :) And I love you all and can't wait to hear from you soon!

 Tschau tschau!

 -- Elder McGinn
Going to the Konigstein Fortress!

Look at all the color in that shopping cart!  Healthiest elders you've ever met.

The Heidelberg Castle!

The Heidelberg Zone Leaders definitely don't have personal space bubbles.

I'm proud to be an American :).  The aisles of the commissary!

IBC toast with Elder Allen in Nurnberg!


We have that kind of a relationship.

Elder Boam in Ramstein and I just doing our thang.

TV carrying shenanigans with Nurnberg!

Found this surprise on our window sill!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Email & Pictures - November 17, 2014

Yeah, talk about the weirdest text ever! I'm sitting in church in Frankfurt, listening to the YSA teacher talk about a story from the Bible when I get a text that says "Hey, Uncle Tom Macdonald says hi! ha" and I was like, what the heck??? I love Tom! I hope Elder Bruneel and Elder Nelson took good care of him up there! Elder Emery and I were on a split with those two literally two days ago! It was so strange, but feels so good to have family here in the land of beer, pretzels, sausage, and dreams.

 I'm glad Ken gave you a call as well! I started talking to him at Stake Conference in Darmstadt, and then he took down all of our home numbers so that he could give our parents a call to pass along a message and let them know that we are doing well. It was super nice of him, and I'm glad he came through! Just in case you forget sometimes that I actually am a living person, and not just some computer program that sends you a weekly email. :)

 Haha yes, Mom, splits were awesome this week! There was just one little mishap. So after our dinner appointment on Monday, I didn't feel right when I went to bed that night. At about midnight, I got up and went into the bathroom and threw up. Then again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. 8 times. Every time I tried to get back in bed I was just freezing cold, and got back up 30 minutes later to do the same thing over again. So I finally just filled up the tub with hot water and got in at like 3 a.m. I woke up around 5:30 in the tub, prunier than a 90 year old! I got back in bed, and then spent some hours trying to sleep it off, but we had some meetings and things to go to, so I got ready and we went. But then I had a pounding headache all day, including when we went to a sealing of a couple that Elder Emery worked with in Darmstadt, and we showed up 6 minutes late because of traffic, and had to wait in the waiting area until they came out.

 The next morning I was feeling pretty okay, and we were planning on leaving to Wiesbaden that night. We were about five minutes on the road when I offered Elder Emery a Pop tart, and he said no thanks. 30 seconds later he opened up the door and threw up all over the road like three times. Disgusting. If he would have thrown up my Pop tart, I would have been ticked. But we couldn't push the split back later, so we just had to go to Wiesbaden with a sick Elder Emery. The next day we had Düsseldorf coming to Frankfurt that night for a split, so Elder Emery took it easy until they got there. We had a TON of things to do in the office, so as Elder Nelson (from Maple Mountain!) and I went around to appointments, Elder Emery and Elder Bruneel took care of a bunch of reports and things in the office. Then we took off that night to drive Düsseldorf back home, and then went from there to Dortmund for our next split with the Zone Leaders there!

 It was a great split. There was a baptism, we played soccer with a bunch of really good, really hard-kicking Germans and investigators, and we helped out at a soup kitchen for a few hours, which was a super super humbling experience for me. To see so many people, some with only the best intentions and others who have and continue to make poor choices, who are desperate for food, just to keep going. I can't imagine life like that. I have been so blessed my entire life, and sometimes I didn't even realize it. And now with Thanksgiving coming up, I can't help but think about all of the people who don't have as much as we do. It makes me really want to do better, not take my blessings for granted, and to give what I can to help others. It was a really eye opening split, and we had a great time as well! Then we drove back to Frankfurt on Saturday night and spent a couple of hours finishing CCM reports for President Stoddard the next morning.

 So this week has been all over the place! A lot of hustle and bustle, and I'm glad it's all done now! Church was great, and relaxing to be able to take things at a more chill pace for a few hours. The member girl and her boyfriend were there AGAIN, and they are doing awesome. We're really getting such a good relationship as well, and it was actually the non-member boyfriend who came up to us after church on his was out and was like "so we'll see you this week when you come over, right, boys?" The fact that they’re expecting and looking forward to it gives us a lot of hope and faith in the upcoming lessons with these two. :)

 This next week should be good! We're super busy once again. Tuesday to Wednesday is a split with Heidelberg, Wednesday to Thursday is with Kaiserslautern, and Friday to Saturday is with Nürnberg. Friday we also have MLC, Missionary Leadership Council, and a slew of appointments scattered in the mix to keep things busy and entertaining! It should be fun. And, Mom, I hope that we'll be having Thanksgiving dinner! If not, I know there's a member who has threatened to kidnap me and Elder Henderson to have Thanksgiving at their house down there. So I best pray that I don't go missing, Saratov Approach style.

 It's getting kinda cold, but not bad yet! Still haven't seen the sun yet though, and that sucks. But Germany is gearing up for Christmas, and by the start of next week, most of the Christmas markets should be up and running here in Germany! I'm pumped. Anybody want anything? :)

 I like your thoughts this week! I was thinking about Job as well this week as we gave blessings to two sisters last night here in Frankfurt who just opened up a new area, and are having a really hard time. It's a trainer and a golden, and the trainer was seeing a lot of success in her last area, and now she got transferred to Frankfurt, to the English ward, for the last 2 months of her mission, and she feels cheated. She's angry, upset, and doubtful. But it was a good opportunity to be able to bear testimony not to a non-member, but rather to a fellow missionary who is struggling. Paul told us that we are to strengthen our brethren. Being a member of the church isn't easy, let alone serving a mission. But as Elder Holland said, it's because "Salvation is not a cheap experience!" If we believe this to be the true church, and that Christ is its living head, then we, as his disciples, should be ready and willing to understand some of the pain and discouragement he felt. Not forever. Absolutely not. But for a moment or two, it is necessary that we come to understand his trials, and we are promised so many times in the scriptures that if we endure well, we will be exalted on high. I know that's true. If life is hard right now, hold on. Keep smiling. First we obey, then we understand.

 I love you all! Have a great week, and I'll hear from you soon!

 -- Elder McGinn
My Pop tart stash!

Splits with the Dusseldorf Zone Leaders!

I got blitzed a few months ago, and this is the joyful picture of me that the cameras caught.

Our house key broke in half

Another day in the office elevator

Temple sealing at night!

Elder Lovelace

President Stoddard came in clutch with the anti-flu meds!  Thank goodness he's a doctor.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Email - November 10, 2014

Breaking out the Christmas lights, is it already that close??

 I'm kinda jealous that you all are still having perfect weather like that! The clouds have officially settled in over Germany, and they disappear only like once a month until April! So the number of times I get to see the sun in Germany may be down to the fingers on one hand. But enjoy the warm weather! Cause it's really getting chilly over here.

 We have seemingly little time, a new elder just got here from Hannover! His name is Elder Sievers, and he's huge! Haha he's like 6'7'', and he's waiting for his Visa to go to the Denver Colorado Mission! Awesome dude. He used to be inactive, but then members from the ward really starting reaching out to him, he became active again, and then he baptized his girlfriend a month ago! He has such a fire for missionary work, and he's gonna be a big boost to our mission and to Colorado when he gets there.

 But anyway, this week went well! A lot of splits! We had a split with the Frankfurt Zone Leaders at the beginning of the week, a split with the Tech Elders from Wednesday to Thursday, and then we left Friday evening for Jena! The cursed land of forgotten passports. But they all went well! A lot of office work here in Frankfurt, and some good lessons out in Jena! I went on a split with the just recently called Zone Leader, and he is one of the best college debators in the nation! He has won tournaments all over! And it was super interesting and cool to see how he used that in missionary work! Like in the scriptures, where it talks about the learned people who try to catch others in their words, that's what I feel like he is! He makes such a good, convincing point, and doesn't take weak excuses, so when he finds people to teach, they are people who really get what they're getting themselves into and take it seriously. We found a new investigator in the University dorms named Nick, and had a chance to teach a quick lesson about the restoration ,and then set up a return appointment for the following day, which they said went very well. After the split, when we were about halfway back to Frankfurt, we realized that I had forgotten my toothbrush and razor back in Jena. The curse of Jena continues.

 This last week and also this next week we have been working with a less active family (the Roas) who asked us this last week, "Elders, how does the sealing work in the temple? We've never been inside, and we can't get over this feeling we have to go there every time we see a picture of the temple. Can you teach us about that?" One of those perfect questions that we've been waiting for the whole time! They all laughed at how excited I was to get over there and start getting them ready for the temple. That's true conversion and reactivation right there! Onto the next ordinance and responsibility. So pray for them this week, that all goes well and they continue to make awesome progress!

 We also taught the member girl and her boyfriend this week! (Jessica and Daniel). It was so good. He is so interested, and the member girl, who has only been active for the last three weeks, acts as if she has been active for her entire life! She was such a connection to the lesson, and brought such a powerful aspect to her boyfriend as well. Halfway during the lesson, her little brother (Viktor), who is also inactive, came and joined in on the lesson, and really enjoyed it. We taught them the Restoration of the Gospel, one of the most powerful lessons, and committed them all to read and pray in the Book of Mormon, and they are already reading together multiple times a week! Ah, we're so excited. And on Sunday it was Stake Conference, so we almost weren't planning on them being there, because it wasn't even in Frankfurt and they already live far enough away from Frankfurt, but they were there!! They showed up on their own, together. They are honestly SO awesome. We'll be going by again this week to teach them again, and we're so excited. So pray for them as well!

 And in addition to them, we had two other investigators who showed up to Stake Conference, so it was an amazing weekend. Filled with miracles. thank you all for your prayers, it makes more of a difference in our lives than you all realize. It's the prayers of faithful parents and friends that carry a missionary through the week. So thanks. :)

 We're off to Wiesbaden, Düsseldorf, and Dortmund this week, so it will feel like maybe just a day before I'm back again next week! I'll let you know how that all goes, but we're excited. There is something happening in the mission and in missionary work right now that is hard to describe, but so contagious. For the last few months, the mission has averaged at finding about 40 or so investigators a week, and we were floating at a pretty constant 36-38 baptismal dates. But in this last week, the mission found 72 new investigators, and the baptismal dates jumped up to 47! This year is going to end so strong. I can't wait. If there was ever a time to pitch in and help out, it's now. :)

 Thank you so much for your testimonies and prayers. I love and can feel them all. And thanks for the insights that you shared with PEC, Dad! I loved that analogy with the space station. I may be using that at some later time! Make sure you all have an awesome week, keep rooting for BYU and I'll make sure their future point guard comes home in one piece, enjoy the Primary Program, because that is the best Sunday of the year, and just have fun. :) I miss and love you all!

 I love you, Mom. :)

 euer Lieblings,

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, November 3, 2014

Email & Pictures - November 3, 2014

Mah fam. Hey!!

 A couple of long nights, back to back, so we're kinda tired. But life is good! And it sounds like it is for you as well! I saw all of the Halloween pictures! I love it. I miss it out here, it's barely a thing! But at all of our appointments where the families have little kids, the little kids have all felt bad for us that we didn't get to go trick-or-treating in our cool costumes that we wear for two years, so they always give us some of theirs! So Elder Emery and I have a big bag of Halloween candy. :)

 Hahaha at first I read the part about the cabin and hitch and thought you said that Mom forgot the hitch! But then I thought "that doesn't sound right...", and re-read it, and I was right. :) Haha don't worry, Dad! An elder going home had a similar experience this week as well! After we got out of the temple (he also had forgotten his temple recommend), he let me know that he forgot his passport and ID back in his apartment. Not only does that stink, but this Elder happened to be serving in Jena, which is a four hour drive from Frankfurt, and both the elders AND sisters in Jena were in Frankfurt because of transfers, so no one was there who could get it for us. So we had to let the Frankfurt Zone Leaders know, and they made the drive at about 6 p.m. and got back around 2 a.m. with the passport, so that this elder could fly out the next morning. So it could have been worse, Dad!

 Well, this week was crazy and has flown by! Monday and most of Tuesday were spent saying goodbye to people Elder Lindsey had developed good relationships with during his time here in Frankfurt. It's strange that he's gone now! He was here in Frankfurt for so long, and now he isn't, and it's just weird! He will definitely be missed. Elder Emery and I both just felt so weird driving home without him after we had dropped him off at the hotel! But we're also excited to get things started back with a normal sized companionship!

 On Wednesday the new goldens arrived, 26 of them! They all looked exhausted, as usual. Haha but ready to get things started! Three are from Timpanogos! The Awerkamp twins, and Jordan Hansen. All great kids, and excited to get out there and start working! We've had so many good groups of goldens in the last few months, this mission really is in such good hands! But we picked them all up, and then traveled to the church where they had orientation, interviews, food, appointments, and everything else to keep it busy until they had dinner and then went to the hotel! But of course, when we called the pizza company to check on the pizza, the number was dead. So we went by, and the whole store was closed down and out of business! So we had to order 30 new pizzas from Pizza Hut last second, but they came in clutch and made it on time! Then the trainers started filing in, the goldens got on the bus and went to the hotel, and we had a Train the Trainers meeting in the church which went really well!

 The following day was actual transfer day! We met in the hotel at 8:30 to pair the goldens and trainers, and then met back at the main train station to get everything organized, and the elders and sisters going home into cars to head to the temple! The temple was awesome, as was dinner right after, and then we left back to the church for the Leavers Testimony Meeting! Always a highlight, seeing the testimonies of missionaries right about to go home, after their whole mission has come to a close. Afterwards, we all filed in cars and took them to the hotel! It took two cars, and Elder Emery and I were the only ones coming back, so we got permission to drive alone, each in one car, back home! It was awesome. You all may be laughing at that, but that was a big deal to be alone! We made it. :)

 On Friday we had MLC! Mission Leadership Council, in Offenbach! It went great. We talked about working with Stake Leaders, having a positive attitude, raising the bar, and baptizing consistently! This mission is stacked with some awesome leaders in its line-up! Then on Saturday, we met at President Stoddard's that morning to have a conference call with the newly called Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders, which also went well! No phones came unplugged. :) We then had breakfast with a member family! Most of the rest of the day was spent planning 10 splits for the next three weeks of the transfer and giving church tours!

 Sunday was great, as always. A 23 year old less active member who we've been working with also showed up, and brought her aunt, cousin, and her boyfriend!! I spent all three hours with her boyfriend, getting to know him, and we got along great! He's 24, big into sports, and said ever since he met his girlfriend 4 months ago, things have been going well for him. So when she asked if he wanted to come with her to church, he said yes! And the best part? We're going over this weekend to teach him in HER house! Such a miracle and answer to our prayers. Prayer works! It does not get any better than that situation right there. So we're preparing and praying a lot that it will go well! We also dropped by on a less active family that we haven't seen in a while and found him outside working on his four-wheeler! So we helped him out for a second, he invited us in, and we had a good chat and set up a return appointment for this week! So things are lining up well for this next week! We should be pretty busy. Three splits, one with the Frankfurt ZL's, one with the Tech Elders in the office, and one with the Jena ZL's! We should be seeing some awesome things happening this week!

 Sorry, that was a lot. All jumbled into one package. But I hope you all could get a good picture of my week! It was awesome. We're happy, healthy, safe, smiling, working, and doing what we can. Does that meet your requirement, Mom? :) Let me know if it doesn't! I always welcome a little correction!

 The church is truer than ever! Don't believe me, then put some effort into it and find out!

 I hope you all have an amazing week!  I'll hear from ya soon!

 -- Elder McGinn
With Elder Emery on splits in Heidelberg

Heidelberg at night

Long car rides with Elder Emery

Me and the Tech Elders in the Preswagon

The Presmobile!

Frankfurt parking is a nightmare.  You gotta do what you gotta do. (Don't worry, that isn't the President's car!)

Elder Emery and I refuse to get out of the car to unlock the office garage.  Too much energy.

Sunday night numbers in the office!

It was kinda late, if my face didn't tell you already