(Since I was away on vacation)This is last week's letter followed by this week's letter...It makes more sense to read them together...albeit might feel long but for me...I can't ever get enough.
Hallo hallo! Seien sie gegrüsst!
Welcome to an expected letter from the far realms of Germany. I will be your entertainment for these short few minutes. I am sure I have talked about it before. But oh goodness how doing exchanges just tires me out. They just never end and the traveling that one has to do in order to see to it that one of these things happens just has time management and frustration written all over it. Let us just say that having an erasable pen does wonders for a missionary in Germany. ;) It's okay though it was my companion not I who got stuck for several hours in different train-stations because either trains fell out or they arrived too late in order to take the connecting train. I would say that our exchange was productive but for the 4th time in the past two months I had to take the car into the dealership to get some work done. And before you go thinking that it has been I who has done damage to this car over the past couple months, you are wrong. This time the office told us to take it in to get the brakes replaced. At least this time it was nice because just about everyone in the dealership knows who I am now. And also if you by some crazy coincidence happen to be in Germany and need to take your car into the shop then I got you covered. Because I now have plenty experience and know just about all the German terms that one would need to know in that type of situation.
The next exciting event that occurred was on Thursday when we had our street display in the middle of the city center. And I have to say that I love doing street-displays they are just fun and you really feel like you are working as a team. Although not really because we are talking to the people on our own, of course within view of our companions and other missionaries. So basically i am that guy you see in malls and in town centers who come up to you and try and get you to talk to them about their product or their organization. Now when you think of it that way it seems pretty lame. But actually it is pretty exciting and I have had lots of missionary experiences doing it. In that although I haven't always gotten an appointment out of it. I have still had lots of experiences where I got to teach someone an eternal truth and leave them with a Book of Mormon. However that being said we still found someone this week from the street-display. So woot! That is exciting. I will have to inform you more about it later.
Okay now here comes the crazy news. This last Friday in the morning we got a text out of nowhere that we would be having a mission-wide conference call in about an hour. And so after much deliberation with my companion and a very long roll from the assistant-presidents. We finally began the call conference and guess what?! We found out that Elder M. Russell Ballard was in the area and he wanted to take a little bit of time out to come and talk to some missionaries. So in not even two days time the entire mission made preparations to see Elder Ballard in Berlin. Woo that was crazy and eventful to say the least. I am pretty surprised that we managed to plan something out so quickly and have it go so smoothly. While we were there we even had the opportunity to shake his hand along with a couple other seventies and their wives. Haha okay so here is my first impression of Elder Ballard. He sees my companion and I and says. "Hey look at these handsome missionaries, you must be baptizing up a storm." And even gives me a little backhand shoulder tap. Haha Elder Ballard is actually a really funny guy, despite what I thought his personality was like when he gives talks or other miscellaneous things for the church that I have seen him do. But it was truly an awesome little meeting we had with him. He honestly talked about a lot of simple things that just suddenly made so much more sense. It is truly awe-inspiring to have been taught by an apostle. You can really tell that what he is saying has power and authority and that it is not from himself or even for his own benefit but for the Heavenly Father and for others. He also talked a lot about how we need to be great teachers in order to have success in this part of the world. So I will really buckle down and try to become a better teacher, in every single way that I can.
I remember when I had my first mission conference when Elder Bednar came and President Kosak and other missionaries said that it was a once in a lifetime experience. Well now I am on my third mission conference so we will see what lies next in the future. Haha anyways unfortunately I don't have too much time to write this week. But hopefully I will have some more exciting news for you next week. That is if everything goes right.
Have a lovely week and I love you and I pray for you all.
From: Seth Foster [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 6:25 AM
To: Angela Knudson
Subject: Der Weg zum Wahnsinn!
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 6:25 AM
To: Angela Knudson
Subject: Der Weg zum Wahnsinn!
Seien sie gegrüsst! Mein treuer Leserkreis!
It is truly becoming an interesting adventure to serve in this area. Haha how shall I begin. Well it actually all started when we met with Elder Ballard the Sunday before last. Because of the lateness of said meeting the Greifswald Elders had to spend the night with us so they didn't have to arrive back home at midnight or some other unpleasant hour. As a result of that they also got to spend their P-Day with us, which of course turned into a whole lot of shenanigans but in the end just a lot of fun. As the day came to a close we of course had to go back to our respective areas. However as I am the district-leader it was the perfect opportunity to go on exchange without the extra travel and hassle. So Elder Anderson and I headed on our way back up to Greifswald that Monday night. That was naturally a long arduous journey. I get to their apartment, I call the district and we go to sleep so nothing out of the ordinary. The next morning we get up and get ready and have our studies. But we have to go get something from the grocery store to get something to eat because the Greifswald Elders weren't there on P-Day to get groceries. We go and get some groceries for lunch and as soon as we are packing everything up and about to head back to the apartment. We get a call and Elder Anderson gives me the phone because he is still busy putting stuff away into his bag. And it is my companion back in Neubrandenburg. And basically he tells me that they are taking Elder Geren to the hospital. Immediately after getting of the phone, Elder Anderson asks what they wanted. And all I say is...."They're taking Elder Geren to the hospital." He laughs a little and says oh you're joking with me. After reassuring him that I was serious, he then became more serious. Haha lange Rede, kurzer Sinn or in other words long story short. In the middle of having an exchange with Elder Anderson and after having to cancel a few appointments and talking to the mission president and the assistants to the president and lots of deliberation. We made our way back down to Neubrandenburg that very day. And by the time we arrived and ran around like chickens with our heads cut off. We eventually went to visit Elder Geren, who by the way is from my group of missionaries that was with me in the MTC, after having surgery and getting his appendix removed. So basically for the next 5 days we had to take care of Elder Geren and Elder Anderson and I had to make sure that he was being visited regularly by someone every day and send reports and plans back to president about how he was doing and making sure that he was being visited and not left alone in the hospital for days on end. So all of that took up most of our time that we had this last week. Not to mention that other problems with the sisters in this area. Who have been extremely frustrating as of late. I have never been around so frustrating of missionaries in my mission as of yet. And I hope and pray i won't have to do it again. That is all I wish to say about that. But going back to the other situation. It truly was a blessing that everything happened when it did. Because if this had happened while he was up in Greifswald then it would have been a much different story. They would have been completely isolated up there in Greifswald and it would have been much harder for us to do what we did for him here. So the Lord truly does watch over his misionaries when things get rough.
Another set of news is that in the near possible future, they will probably be shutting down the Prenzlau branch and they will also probably be taking out the sisters program out of this area. That will cause a whole lot of drama in the near future. I haven't even written down a hundredth of the details about everything that is going on right now. But our mission is just getting cuts right and left. We are already spread thin and now this zone will be even smaller than it already was. It is a dead zone when it comes to missionaries per square mile. Maybe they will be splitting the mission at some point in the future. I am not sure but it seems like the most logic thing to do because our mission is definitely spread thin and looks like it is only going to get smaller.
One last but positive thing to report. At the end of the week when the Greifswald Elders were finally driven back to their area. We had a little bit of time to meet with some of our investigators. And we actually found someone new because one of their friends was their during the lesson and he took quite a bit of interest in the things that we said to him. He is pretty sick and I will talk more about him later if he goes anywhere. Haha but anyways so these investigators that we teach and who always come to church haven't been at church for the past couple weeks because we have been trying to get them to come to church on their own instead of just always getting picked up by the senior couple who won't be here forever. But this time two of them showed up to church! They didn't get a ride, they didn't take the bus, but they rode their bikes in the freezing cold! They were a little bit late but only because they went by everyone and tried to get them to come with them. I was very impressed with their diligence. I have actually never seen investigators go out of their way so much to come to church. They are just some great guys. Unfortunately they weren't baptized this weekend like they were supposed to. However we have asked them to pray about whether they would be ready to be baptized on the 5th of December. They are definitely ready to be baptized and they know this church is true. They just know this is an important decision to make and that it will change their lives and that you can't turn back to your old life and do bad things again. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have had to teach these fine people and I only hope that they will recognize when they Lord answers their prayers.
Well that is about all the attention span I have today to write a letter. haha I hope your week wasn't as crazy as mine has been. And I wish you all a happy first Advent this coming weekend...haha I don't even know if we do that in America. But anyways I love you and pray for you as always.