Well it seems as if the Final Countdown has begun!!
Our district has only gotten more and more anxious as the time passes! We are all desperately awaiting the 19th when we leave for the field!
We recieved our travel plans this past week- Woooo!- and it looks like we'll leave SLC at 9AM on the 19th, land in Minneapolis, then fly to Amersterdam, and then to Munich!! We'll land about 11 AM the next day (their time.) There are 24 of us flying together to Alpine mission, out of 94 German missionaries. The Berlin elders/sisters will fly to Dallas, Amersterdam, Berlin, and the Frankfurt elders/sisters fly direct to Frankfurt! Me and Elder McGinn have already discussed it... we're pretty bummed we wont get to preach the gospel together, but we've decided he'll convert the north, and I'll take the south! I can't wait to speak fluent German with him again someday at a Homie reunion. So, I won't be able to call home from Germany, but if I want, I can call home for about 6 minutes from SLC... Mom, do you want me to or not? I need to know so I can buy a prepaid phone card!
I wish there was more interesting stuff to report... But after your fifth week of the MTC, things just don't really change. Our German has SKYROCKETED this week, and I feel really good about entering the field. I obviously nowhere close to fluent, but I can hold a pretty decent conversation, and when it comes to gospel principles- BOOM. I know them in German. But... if you asked me to pass the salt at the dinner table, I'd probably have no idea what you are talking about. It was really cool in Sacrament meeting on sunday though- they three speakers all gave talks about the Atonement (all in German) and I understood 100% of what they were saying, and I felt the spirit so strong! then... I realized that is was in a different language! So I had a little party (in my heart) and thanked the Lord for allowing my understanding to be enlarged. Its interesting... I was talking with Elder Vitel the other day, and I commented that when I think about church terms in my brain... the first words that come are in German now. When I think about the Atonement, I think of das Sühnopfer Jesu Christi, and when I think of Sacrament Meeting, I think of Abendmal Versammlung. Its almost strange for me to use the English terms, because they stress so much talking in German all the time! I just cant wait to dive in!
This week, we started district "Consecration Week", which means that each day, we speak only German for a few hours (beginning and ending with prayer) and we increase the hours each day. I wanted to try just German all the time, but the sisters thought this would be more reasonable. It was so fun yesterday, and during those few hours, I didn't even struggle to explain my thought hardly at all! By the last 3 days, we'll be doing full days, so we're are PUMPED!
Our lessons are going great still- Elder Vitel and I have worked out a really good teaching pattern, and we're both comfortable teaching pretty much anything, so lessons aren't stressful at all anymore. Our two practice investigators are Michael and Alex (Michael is a 40 yr. old Atheist with a wife but no kids, and Alex is a 20 year old student from Chile) And we've committed Michael to baptism because we had a really powerful lesson where he felt for the first time that God existed, and Alex is still having problems with priesthood authority, but Elder Vitel shared his conversion story and it had such a strong spirit about it! Especially in German. As much as I enjoy teaching these practice investigators though... I CAN'T WAIT FOR REAL PEOPLE. It's moderately eating at my insides, this burning desire to go convert the world.
The reason I am so pumped is because we got the MOST EPIC pep-talk from our teacher on wednesday! We were discussing how the work is in Austria and such when I asked him what a reasonable expectation was for things like, lessons per day, baptisms, etc. and he immediately fired up and pounded on my desk and started this awesome speech! This gist of what he said was this:
"don't let anyone tell you the work isn't going well in Germany. I know people told you when you got your call "oh its beautiful, but don't expect a lot of baptisms. DON'T BELIEVE THEM! Nothing makes me more angry then when people say that. The Lord has been planting seeds in Germany for years now- its time to Harvest. He wouldn't be calling 94 missionaries to Germany if there wasn't a work to be done. It all depends on faith. The elders with the faith and desire to find those who are ready, WILL. THEY DO. Bruder Handley (another teacher) went to Vienna a year ago, and the average missionary was teaching 1-2 lessons at most per day. But Bruder Handley believed and got all the other elders on board, and worked there tails off, and at one point, the average for missionaries in Vienna was 45 lessons per week, 4-5 investigators in church every sunday! One elder hadn't taught a lesson for 6 months, but on his last week after this, his companionship taught 47 lessons, had 7 investigators in church, and a baptism on his last week as a missionary! There is a work to be done for those who believe in the power of God and are willing to thrust in their sickle with all their might."
He said other things too, but the gist of the message: there IS a work to be done! So, I'd appreciate if people would stop trying to rain on my faith by telling me negative things about the german people. God loves them just as much, and we CAN bring the gospel to them. Thanks :)
Since this is my last week here, if you want to mail me something, do it quick because anything you mail after... thursday, I probably wont get unless its dearelder! So make sure you start using my new address after this week!
Well the time is now past, and the next time you'll hear from my by way of mail... I'll be in Germany! (or Austria :) ) So wish my luck!
Thanks again for all the letters and prayers, they mean a lot!
Adventure is out there!