Monday, December 29, 2014

Email - December 29, 2014

The Krazy Krew,

 Long time no see/talk/hear? I can't believe it's already been 4 days since we talked! That was so good to talk to you all! Nothing has changed at all it seems like, except that three babies are coming in July!!!!!!! Holy, I'm so excited. When I left there was 1 grandkid, and now there's going to be five! What in the world! This will be the best summer ever.

 Alright, hold up. Literally none of you told me what you got for Christmas. What's up with that?! I knew Syd would just get rocks and have nothing to report, but I at least expected something from the rest! I expect to know next week! Haha but I'm glad Christmas was a success for you all as well. I loved it this year. Haha Dad, I'm sorry your murder mystery turned out to be a cheery musical. I'll watch something real manly with you eventually to make up for it.

 I'm glad everything went well with Hannah's homecoming talk! Crazy that she's already back. I'm sure she did awesome and is doing well. And come on BYU! I expected a little more out of them this year. But we'll see what happens when March rolls around! Maybe this is the year (Cougar fans have been saying for the last 80 years...)?

 Well, kind of like you guys, I don't have much to report on as well! After skyping we played some cards and had some dessert with the Southalls, and then turned in for the night! That was an awesome day with them up to that point. The beginning of the week went well, I was in Heidelberg on a split with Elder Mayne. We had a number of appointments including Rochelle, the recent convert I worked with and really like, and she gave us all little stress balls that have different facial expressions and each a different hardness, based on the facial expression! Elder Mayne got a yellow smiley one, that felt like a cotton ball, Elder Brown got a really hard one with a snarl face, and I got the one in between! She said they all represent our personalities. Hahaha, Elder Brown wasn't too happy about that. We also had the Christmas Devotional on the 24th at the church, where I got to play all the hymns, and also accompany two members in a musical number! I'm honestly not that good. I just make them look better in comparison to my lack of skill! Haha, but that was fun. We were then at a member's home where we opened our PJ's that I was wearing on the 25th! That was a blast. Then of course on Thursday we were at the Southall's and you all know what went down that day.

 On Friday we had district meeting and a district white elephant, where I got a picture frame and balloons. #lame. Then we had a lunch appointment, and then drove out to Jena for a split with the Zone Leaders! There was literally no one in that whole city. It's almost purely a college town, and 99 percent of the students were gone for the holidays. So with no appointments, we went out contacting, and in four hours of contacting we had 4 conversations with the only 4 people we saw that day. It went well though! No miracles to report just yet, but definitely not a wasted effort. We drove back to Frankfurt on Saturday night and hit a huge snow storm and it took us forever to get home. But the snow stuck, and I got to throw my first snowball since I was in the MTC!! Booyah! Sunday went well, but a lot of people are still out of town, so I'm looking forward to next week when everything gets back to a normal routine.

 I guess the biggest news of the week is that Elder Emery is officially leaving and headed back home for medical reasons. He's leaving next Monday, which a week and a half ago was super unexpected, and everything has unfolded super quickly! That means that we have about a week and a half between us going home, in the meantime, two new AP's have to be trained and caught up to speed in that amount of time! So the first new elder is coming up today from Nürnberg, and we will all be in a trio until Elder Emery goes home. Then me and Elder Allen, the new elder, will be together all of next week until the second new elder is called, and he joins us in two weeks from today. Then we'll be in a trio again and show them both all of the ropes until I go! And then it's good luck, friends! We got basically whitewashed. It's pretty stressful, knowing that we've got to pass on all of our knowledge about things in a very short time period, but Elder Allen and the second new elder are both really sharp, and will pick it up quick. So I would be more worried if it was anyone but them! So I definitely will be running through the tackle! There's a lot to do and not nearly enough time to do it! We have two splits this week, one with Dortmund and one with Düsseldorf, and Elder Allen will be coming along for all of them, so we're getting him right into gear! It's going to be a blast.

 I love you all, and hope you have a happy New Year! We'll be in the apartments by 6 p.m. because it gets a little crazy, so don't do anything too dumb! I love this church and this gospel, and I love letting it change me the more I soak it in. It is all true!

 See you in a week!

 -- Elder McGinn

Monday, December 22, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 22, 2014


 Fam! I hope you had an awesome week, because the best week of the year is here! We had a really great, really busy, kinda tiring week over here! Dortmund to Nürnberg to Offenbach, back to back to back! All of the Zone Conferences went really well! It was good to be able to literally see the entire mission within three days! The meetings were very powerful and spiritual, with a lot of humor as well. One of our guest speakers was Elder Axel Leimer, our Area Seventy here, who is also in the Frankfurt German Ward! Great man and an amazing family. He addressed obedience quite directly, and had a big impact on the missionaries! He also shared a 30 second clip from the movie Nacho Libre with Jack Black, to make a point! Haha all the missionaries loved having a Seventy let them watch 30 seconds of Nacho Libre!

 Elder Emery and I drove Santa's sleigh around the mission as we delivered over 80 packages to all of the ZoKos, our car was packed. We also had a little bit of time after the Nürnberg ZoKo to go to the Nürnberg city center and see the Christmas Market! That was a blast, I couldn't believe how big and gorgeous it was! That's something you all will have to witness with your own eyes one day, because pictures just don't do it justice. You can kinda see what it looks like, but you don't get the smells, sounds, tastes, or feel of it! It's a five sense experience, and sadly my pictures only give you one. One day!

 We also had a great MLC meeting on Friday, which Elder Leimer attended as well! We talked about "Becoming the Message", and the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders told us how this was the best MLC they had ever been to! So it sounded like a success! After MLC we headed back to the Frankfurt Chapel for Daniel's baptismal interview, which he rocked! The Wiesbaden Elders successfully came through and supplied me with some root beer, so that after his interview we had lasagna and root beer floats ready and waiting. They loved it! Daniel was so nervous before his interview, and when he was gone getting interviewed, Jessica told me that the whole week he was studying so hard and always calling or texting her saying "hey, where are the 10 commandments in the Bible? I need to memorize them!" or "when was the Word of Wisdom given? Should I memorize the date? What are the blessings we get from that, exactly?" and so many other questions, just trying so hard to feel ready to pass his interview and join the Church. Haha I love that guy. But it all went well, and he felt much better afterwards!

 And then came his baptism, on Saturday Evening!

 That was an experience for the books. Haha CLASSIC baptism, no one but the missionaries ever know what really goes down the whole time! I'll start from the beginning. Daniel and Jessica show up at the church an hour before, so we can all get ready. I have my white clothes, but he doesn't have any, so we grab him a white shirt, pants, and tie from the closet. As we're changing he's like "shoot, these pants are WAY too tight! I can't zip them up!" and walks out, looking hopeless. Haha. We're like the exact same size, and he was starting to stress out a little bit, so I was like "here, take my pants." which fit him perfect. So now I don't have pants. Elder Emery searches around, but ends up not being able to find any pants that will fit. They're all too tight. Then we see some pants hanging over a changing stall. There was a baptism earlier that day, and they were still drying out from that. But they were the closest we were gonna get with 10 minutes until we needed to start, so I took them and literally squeezed in. Could not get the zipper up for the life of me, so there's just a gaping hole in my wet pants. To cover it up, I just loosened my shirt and let it kinda hang over. Then I tied my tie really long, so that it would cover the hole when I sat down. So Daniel and I go out, me looking like I'm wearing wet spandex. Okay, not that bad, but that's what it felt like. Ends up no one there can play the piano... so guess who also played that? Daniel is looking awesome in white, but super super nervous, as people are giving talks. Then it's baptism time. I walk first into the water, turn around to make sure he's following, and don't realize that there's one more step, so I kinda stumble into the font, and Elder Emery tries not to laugh. Everything goes way smooth except for the fact that my pants almost ripped when I baptized him. But Daniel came up beaming, with his hand over his face. He couldn't believe it. He gave me the biggest hug of my life, dripping wet, and I'll never forget it. He could not stop smiling, and was trying to explain how he felt, until he was like "Elder McGinn, I feel like I've been wearing a 100 lb. backpack full of rocks my entire life, and that I just barely took it off and dropped it. That moment and comment made my mission completely worth it.

 Now as we're getting out of the font, I realize that I hadn't brought a change of clothes, and now everything is soaked. Crap. So I'm like "Elder Emery, I saw some clothes in the closet by bishop's office, go grab me those!" So he comes back with this snazzy looking suit and white shirt, all belonging to Bishop. (Bishop is leading the meeting and I knew he would notice) So we change and go back out, and I try to sit as conservatively as possible, holding a hymn book against my chest so that I don't attract more attention than necessary. But then Jessica bore the most powerful, sincerest testimony I've ever heard, and she and Danny were basically in tears, so happy, still smiling as big as ever. As soon as the meeting was over, I switched back out of the suit and into my coat, and then we had dinner out in the cultural hall. Hahaha goodness. Most stressful, relaxing, spiritual, funniest meeting of my entire life. And only Elder Emery and I knew all that went down. By far the highlight of the week.

 Yesterday we confirmed him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he gave us all the biggest hugs after the blessing. So many people came up to him afterwards, congratulating and hugging him and welcoming him, it was amazing to see the fellowshipping from the ward. And then after Church we went that night to the Leimers (wow, we saw Elder Leimer a lot this week) and went caroling to their neighbors with all the missionaries, Jessica and Daniel, and a few other members in the ward! Then we had hot chocolate, soup, cupcakes, and a spiritual thought at their house afterwards. IT WAS AN AWESOME WEEK.

 This week is going to be just as amazing. Tomorrow we will be in Heidelberg, Wednesday is Christmas Eve with Dinner at President's and at a member's home, Thursday is CHRISTMAS and I get to see all of your charming faces, Friday is the second Christmas Holiday, and we'll be spending that in Jena, and then it's Saturday, Sunday, and I'm back again! Time is flying by, I tell you what.

 It sounds like you all have a fun week planned! I hope the gifts add a little bit of German flavor to your holidays! I really hope nothing was broken! Also, the chocolate is all for you guys, so dig in!  I I look forward to seeing you all soon! Have the best holiday week ever! And don't damage that Gingerbread house...that belongs in the Louvre!

 The Church is true! Scripture of the week: Helaman 3:27. I am really impressed from that scripture lately, I don't know why. But never underestimate the power of prayer. Be grateful, be happy, be smart, be warm, and we'll see you soon!

 Merry Christmas!

 -- Elder McGinn
Nurnberg Weihnachtsmarkt with the Gublers (office couple) and Sister Stoddard.

HUGE Sausages!

1/2 meter each.  Yeah baby!

Office Crew

Teaching Danny how to tie a tie.


Santa's Sleigh Drivers

Packages galore.

Nurnberg Christmas Market!

Me and Elder Emery!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Email - December 15, 2014

Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy!! Thought I forgot about ya, huh??

 I love hearing everything that happened this last week! Sadly, I don't have enough time to address it all, but it sounds like you had a great week. No, mom, I'm not disobedient. We're writing late because this day has been crazy! We take off tomorrow morning at 5:30, headed up to Dortmund for Zone Conference 1 of 3! And this whole day has been making the last preparations! So Elder Emery and I are typing away, spreading the love as quick as we can, and trying to get everything organized at the same time! It's gonna be great. Tuesday = driving to Dortmund, having an awesome ZoKo, and then leaving straight away to Nürnberg, a 4.5 hour drive. Yay! Overnight in Nürnberg, then it's ZoKo round 2 with the Nürnberg and Erfurt, then a big caroling activity with 60 something missionaries at the Nürnberg Christmas Market! Then right away back to Frankfurt, get some sleep, and then ZoKo III in Offenbach on Thursday. Then on Friday, it's the Mission Leadership Council for half of the day in Offenbach, where we'll be talking about not just sharing the message, but becoming the message that we share. We've already assigned some speakers and topics, and it should be really good!

 But to top it all off, Saturday, at 5 p.m., Daniel will be baptized, and I could not possibly be more excited. We organized everything this last week, after we taught them the big three: the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and Tithing. Smooth sailing, not a problem. Jessica even bore really strong testimony about the importance of tithing, which I think was a strong witness for Daniel. And top it all off, she was sick, and asked us if we could give her a blessing before we left. At this lesson was also her inactive sister, and her younger nephew, Gabriel, who we found out also wants to be baptized (date to come). So these four people, Jessica, Daniel, Gabriel, and Brenda all had a really spiritual experience as we gave Jessica a priesthood blessing. You've got shoes to fill, Danny! But he will, I'm sure. After the baptismal interview this week, we promised Daniel and Jessica that we would provide root beer, because they haven't even heard of it before! So we're going to have root beer floats, and blow their minds. We're stoked. :)

 Overall, a really really good, really really busy week coming up! And then it's the fourth Advent on Sunday, and then it's Christmas just like that. :)

 This last week was also really good! We had a split with the Wiesbaden Zone Leaders, a split with the Nürnberg Zone Leaders (and we even got to go visit someone in Erlangen! I haven't been back there since I left over a year ago!!), an awesome Ward Christmas party to which Daniel showed up wearing a sharp new suit that he bought just for the special occasion, and we got to eat dinner on Thursday night at the top of the VIP lounge in the Frankfurt Marriott hotel! That was an experience, talk about high rollers! There is a senior couple in our mission who are "Platinum for Life" members at the Marriott, because over his years of extensive international business traveling, he always stayed at Marriott's. And as soon as you have spent over 1000 nights in a Marriott, you become Platinum for Life, which means the best rooms and services are automatically given to you as soon as you stop in. So Elder Emery and I lived the high life for about an hour and a half, with an incredible view of Frankfurt at night, before we took off to Nürnberg. Not bad, right?

 Well, I know I haven't got much time, but I wanted to share something that I learned this week!

 "The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent." - Boyd K. Packer "The Reason for our Hope"

 I love this quote. Christ's Atonement was and is literally infinite. Not only can it heal and forgive every sin we commit, it is also designed to bring healing to those of us who feel hurt or discouraged because of something that happened to us, for which we aren't even responsible. Most of the time we simply think of the Atonement in terms of helping us receive forgiveness for our mistakes, but we don't use the complete Atonement enough, to also help heal us when we are discouraged because of others. It makes me think of Moroni 9:25. Christ came so that we can lift our heads and rejoice. So that we can be healed. So that we can actually be happy. Whether you are sinful or sinless, the Atonement still applies to you. I encourage you all to use it, because we all need it, whether because of our mistakes, or because of the mistakes of others. It has carried me through my entire mission, and continues to do so.

 I love you all, and hope you have an amazing week. We'll hear from you soon!!

 Love you, Mom!

 -- Elder McGinn
Elder Diederich, Elder Emery, me and Elder Simpson after church in the Frankfurt chapel.

The Messe Turm and Frankfurt from the top of the Frankfurt Marriott!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 8, 2014

It's 59 degrees there?? Shoot. It's freezing here. Like sometimes I feel like if I got my ear flicked, it would shatter into a million little pieces. We've got the cold and the Weihnachtsmärkte, now all we need out here is the snow! I'm dying to see some snow right now. It's been waaaaayy too long!

 This week was overall a success though! It was crazy crazy crazy busy! It's gone by super fast, but also feels as if I haven't written emails in three weeks. Last Monday after emails, we went to the "Römer" down in downtown Frankfurt to the heart of the Weihnachtsmarkt, and window shopped for hours! Some missionaries were buying, but I wanted to check out what they had to offer before I dropped any cash. Needless to say, we're probably headed back this week. :) and then on Monday night, we had Familie Heim Abend (FHE) at the Area Authority's home, with J & D! It went awesome, they were able to develop way good friendships, and D talked all about how excited he is for his upcoming baptism! It was an all around solid night.

 Tuesday we had way more office time than I like. We met with President Stoddard, then had District Meeting all about "Er ist das Geschenk" (He is the Gift), and then spent most of the night in the office, getting things ready for Wednesday and Thursday! That night I realized that we had an appointment with J&D on Wednesday, and they could only meet between 11 and 12. Well we had to pick up the new goldens from the airport, and their flight was supposed to come in at 9:35, which means they'd be out around 10:35, and then we had to load up their bags, then drive to pick up our Joint Teach, and THEN drive out to the appointment, which is about 20 minutes away. Things were not looking like they were going to work out, but I refused to cancel the appointment with J&D, and just prayed my heart out the night before that we could somehow make it. The next day, we all arrived at the airport around 9:40, and found out that the golden's plane had landed 30 minutes earlier, which gave us EXACTLY enough time to load them up, drive to pick up our Joint Teach, and we pulled up at the house at 11:01. Which was then followed by the best lesson with them yet, in which D asked me if I'd baptize him. I couldn't believe it the whole day. I don't know how I'll ever be able to pay Heavenly Father back for all of that!

 But after the lesson, the six goldens from the US had interviews and orientation, and we then picked up the three missionaries coming from England! Two Swiss elders and one German. They are awesome and their accents are hilarious (they probably are writing their families saying the same about us...). But then they also got interviewed and oriented. We then had dinner, they left to the hotel, and then all the trainers came and we met with them, and then took them to the hotel. It was an awesome day.

 Thursday was transfer day! A pretty small transfer this time, only 36 changes. Everything went really smooth, aside from the fact that of the four missionaries going home, two missed their trains, and came an hour and a half later than planned, so we had to change up all of our reservations. But things still went well, and because it was a small group we were able to have their Leavers Testimony Meeting in the Mission Home.

 Friday we were on a split with the Frankfurt Zone Leaders. I worked in their area and we had fun teaching a handful of appointments and preparing some Christmas finding materials. And then on Saturday we were on a second split with our District Leader here in Frankfurt. I went with the District Leader's companion, who has been out about 3 months, and we had a blast. It reminded me of how it was to be so new and young on the mission, and really grateful for the progress I've been able to make! He did awesome though, and we had a good day again. That night I had to sing in a barbershop quartet in the International Ward singing O Come O Come Emmanuel, because one of the other guys dropped out and they needed someone last minute. Guess who is playing the piano for the party this weekend and also on the 24th in the German ward? Yep, this guy. Mom, I'm really grateful I can play the piano, but also I get asked literally ALL the time, and sometimes I wish nobody knew.

 Sunday was also good, we had a good time at church, J&D were there of course, and we made out a bunch of appointments for the upcoming week. Sunday night we were invited over by a member so that we could also teach her non-member boyfriend about the gospel. So we had a good time, and then shared “He is the Gift” for our message, and I think it left a powerful impression on this dude. He was pretty shut off, I guess you could say, at the beginning of the appointment, but by the end he was sharing his insights and feelings, and he really warmed and opened up. So we're hoping that turns into something as well!

 This week is gonna be a little crazy as well! We have an appointment tonight with a part member family, and the 19 year old daughter named Lina wants to take the lessons! So we're hoping she becomes a promising investigator. We have a split on Wednesday, and then on Thursday we'll be in Nürnberg, and then on Friday in Jena, and then Saturday it is the Ward Party, and then it's Sunday and the Christmas Broadcast for Germany, and then it's Monday again for the week of Zone Conferences! So big things coming up real fast. We're excited though, it's good to be busy. :)

 Well, there's my week, folks! I hope yours has been a little more relaxed, unless it was just busy and jam packed with the Gospel. Enjoy this next week and all the Christmas lights for me, and I'll send some snow if we get some! No one get sick, stay happy, stay healthy, watch Christmas movies, don't be snarky, and we'll hear from you all soon. :)

 The Church is true! I love you all!

 -- Elder McGinn
Winter Wonderland!

Buy food for the fridge or buy random stuff at the markets...enough said!

Such a German breakfast.  Cinnamon toast and a bratwurst.

Transfers at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof with Elder Bruneel!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Email & Pictures - December 1, 2014

Family, this week was awesome for so many reasons. I'm glad you all had an awesome week! I knew you all would, who doesn't when Tanksgiving rolls around? (that's how the Germans pronounce it)

 Our week has been all over the place! It started off with a TON of time in the office, getting things ready for transfers! A lot of information to find, flight plans to figure out, things to print out, all to get ready for the changes! Luckily this next transfer is a pretty small one. First off, we're only getting nine new goldens this next transfer, three of which are Germans and are coming in from the Preston MTC! That's a big difference compared to last transfer and next transfer in January when it's another 20+ group! Also, President didn't want to make too many changes before Christmas except where absolutely necessary so that missionaries can enjoy the relationships they've established and have an enjoyable Christmas, and not have to be a complete stranger in their new area when Christmas rolls around! I think that's a great idea, because I got transferred from Erlangen to Karlsruhe right before Christmas last year, and it was kind of hard leaving all of the relationships behind that meant so much to me, especially only a few weeks away from Christmas! So all in all, out of about 260 missionaries, I think there are 36 changes. So not too bad! It's a good breath of fresh air before the craziness of the transfer!

 This week Elder Emery and I have to plan out all of our splits and then start gearing up for Zone Conferences! Yeah, life is crazy busy, but I'm lovin every last second of it right now. Is there a better cause to be busy for? I don't think so. :)

 Because of the transfer planning, we didn't have too much proselyting time this week, but the time we did have, we made it count! On Wednesday we met with J&D, and...

 He accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 20th of December! Looks like Elder Emery and I are going to be lucky enough to have a white Christmas this year, and we could not be more excited. :) We were teaching both of them, and when the topic started to come up, J picked up on what was coming and I could tell she was getting really nervous, and then when we invited D to be baptized, he smiled, kinda laughed, and said "of course! I'd absolutely love to." and then that classic moment comes around where the missionaries are so pumped and jittery that we wanna jump over the coffee table and hug them both, but we do our best to keep it contained and continue on in the lesson! We are SO excited! As are J&D! They were in church yesterday, and we're going over to a members house with them this evening, and also again on Wednesday. Things could not be running smoother, and I'm so thankful, this has been such a huge week of thanks. Thank you all for your prayers, and please don't stop. Miracles are happening and lives are changing as a result, I can tell you all that as a first hand witness. D is also probably the coolest/best investigator I've ever had. If I knew him at home, we'd be best friends. He's such an outgoing, positive, sharp guy, and he and J really help each other become so much better than they were. And who knows, give them a year and they could be a temple marriage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for it. :)

 That was definitely the highlight of the week. Other than that, we had some great meetings where Elder Emery and I introduced the "He is the Gift" world-wide initiative for missionaries, that you mentioned, Dad! It's huge, it's awesome, and it needs to be shared. or for those of you who speak German! Spread it. share it. Remember why we actually have Christmas in the first place. :)

 We also had three Thanksgivings! One on Tuesday with the Zone, one on Thursday with a member family, and then one on Saturday with these members down in Heidelberg! We also were going to go to the Jensen's (in your Stake) for Thanksgiving, but we had to be on our split in Heidelberg, so it didn't work out. :( I wish we could have, though! Man, we should have Thanksgiving every week! American holidays are the best, just saying!

 We then helped out a member cut down a Christmas tree in his back yard to put in the ward building in Frankfurt, and it is probably the ugliest, most Dr. Seuss looking tree I have ever seen, but it looks at least decent when it's loaded with Christmas decorations!

 We've got a big week coming up with new goldens coming, meeting with J&D and other members and investigators, who hopefully also make such awesome progress like D, and then transfers and leavers and the whole shebang! It's gonna be crazy, and I'll be back next week before ya know it!

 I'm so happy that my mission comes to a close during this time of the year. The time where missionary work moves the fastest and the smoothest, where it's so easy to talk about Christ with complete strangers, and where we all grow a little closer to our Savior. I love Him, and everything He does for me. I encourage you all to do something for Christ this year. I'm gonna memorize the Living Christ in German, I think! But just do your best to be the kind of person He would have you be, and I promise you'll be happier that way. His way is happiness, and His way is the gospel.

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

-- Elder McGinn
Thanksgiving decor!

The Transfer board in President's office!

New car!
Decorating our Christmas tree!