FROHE WEIHNACHTE, FAMILIE!
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!
-- Elder McGinn