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Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 37- Wilkommen in Göppingen!

Liebe Familie,
Well, guess whos writing to you from DEUTSCHLAND! This guy! And let me be the first to tell you that it is surprisingly different from Austria! The branch here is AMAZING! I am loving it so let me just catch up the last weeks events!
Monday through wednesday was a lot of goodbyes. Its was REALLY emotional trying to leave St. Pölten- a lot of packing, and lot of nerves, a few tears shed. But I felt like i got in my proper goodbyes to all those who truly matter. The hardest was saying goodbyes to bruder Bauer, Wolfgang, and the Brunnsteiners. We all exchanged information and so we will keep in contact. But its still hard! Sorry thats a lame recap of 3 three really important days, but i have no time!
Thursday i was in trains ALL DAY going from east Austria up to west Germany! In Munich i met my new golden, Elder Dickson! He is from Buckley, Washington, and he is a stud! We rode together to Stuttgart with the other 2 elders who are opening up Göppingen with us- Elder Thompson and Elder Caldwell. They are both on the quiet side, but they are ready to work!
Thursday night we all attended ward council, and it was a blast to get to know everyone. It was so different to see younger looking faces! In St. Pölten everyone is basically 45+. here, the average age is probably 12! More than half the ward is kids, and the adults are all pretty young and really strong members! Its so cool!
Friday was interesting. We spent the morning splitting the Sisters old area book- and trying to get in contact with their old investigators. No real luck there, so we made a battle plan and just got to work talking to everyone we could see! We gotta find those gems somewhere! Luckily Elder Dickson is a boss at talking to people on the street! He has NO FEARS. unfortunatley the german is still coming, so i usually step in a translate, but its been fun and we saw a HUGE miracle. We talked to a guy right next to city hall named Thomas. We ended up sitting down on the steps and talking for over an hour! We taught he whole first lesson and he seemed decently interested, and more than anything just a really nice guy. He is a native german too! He even missed his bus home because he wanted to stay longer with us, but we set up a return appointment. so cool!
Saturday we had a big meeting in Stuttgart for all the trainers. It was pretty good- really cool to see Elder Horlacher again! He is the ZL there! We went right after that to the baptism of an 8 year old in our ward- there we got to meet a few more members of the ward! 
Sunday at church- we called someone from the area book and he came to church! Imad Jud is his name! He came and we taught him a little lesson before the meetings started and he seemed really interested! Church was AWESOME! The ward is so nice and so cool! There are so many young kids- and they all adore the missionaries! So many little faces all fighting for our attention- especially the little gang of 14 year old girls. They remind me a lot of nickelle- its kinda fun!
that evening we went out for a couple hours, and talked to A MILLION people, because we didnt want to come home for dinner or anything until we found someone we could teach! and of course, late at night, the LAST person we talked to was actually pretty interested and we're meeting up tuesday! Miracles!
The work is true. The Lord protects us. How else would two clueless guys survive in a brand new city?! Thanks for your prayers! I love you!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Woche 36- Transfer Calls!

Liebe Familie!
grüß euch!!
I guess i should probably start with the big news right?? Well... this week we recieved the transfer call. and it seems as if my time here in St. Pölten has come to an end!
Ready for the big announcment?!
Im going to Göppingen, Germany!!! There are currently 2 sisters serving there, but they are both getting pulled out, and 4 elders are being "white washed" in!! The other 2 elders will take over the sisters program, and i and ANOTHER GOLDEN will be opening up a brand new area! Craß!!! I guess that means ill be training my 3rd golden! This time in germany! Youll have to pray a lot that the two of us dont get terribly lost wandering around a brand new city!!
Now for the update on the week- it was one of the best EVER!!!
Monday we went to go do service for Schwester Sindl- the sister who always cooks for us- and she asked us for a blessing because she is going into the hospital to have shoulder surgery. She asked me to speak the blessing, it was my first actually in german! It was real powerful to feel the words come through me that i wasnt personally speaking- it was truly from heavenly father to one of his choice daughters.
Tuesday was Zone Training- and they introduced a new "member family plan" program to us that is seriously going to CHANGE this mission! I am so excited about bringing it to the members! It is going to really increase the work and bring the gospel to so many people! I am beyond excited for this program! I really feel like the lord has been preparing the ward to recieve this program too- 5 months ago it would not have worked. But the members have really warmed up to the missionaries, and are so excited for the work now! There will be some serious miracles in this area!
Wednesday was the funeral of the mother of sister Schildböck in Wilhelmsburg. We took a bus down there, and were able to take part in the funeral. It was a very somber event, but good. The ward choir sang at the graveside, and they asked me to sing in the quartet- it was a very traditional catholic ceremony (the mother was catholic) so it was interesting to see. Afterwards the whole family drove up into a little dorf to have lunch at a real medival tavern. it was pretty awesome!
Thursday we taught andreas in the morning- and we had to drop him. He is certainly not ready for baptism, and he told us there was no point in meeting anymore because he doesnt want to change. In the evening, we taught Wolfgang with President Sztraceny (the branch president) and he gave a special presentation on the first vision- a very powerful experience!
Friday we got the call- needless to say, we were pretty excited about the news! The other elders are all staying in St. Pölten, and Elder Parkinson is getting Elder Phillips as a companion- hes a little younger than i am in mission age, so they will be two young pups together! Then we met with a man named Jabagji- he is from Syria. and he is a serious seeker of the truth- we found him last week on the street. He told us on friday "when my small daughters ask me who god is... i dont know what to tell them. I need to know!" we told him about the first vision- he asked us "do you really believe that? is that true?" when we answered yes, the spirit was SO STRONG. There is a pretty hefty language barrier because he only speaks a little english, but he is determined to read the book of mormon now to find out if it is true. SO COOL!
Saturday was SO GREAT! We did a lot of tracting during the day, but in the evening we finally got to visit Birgit, and stephan again! She was so nice to us and we talked for FOREVER. she had some super questions about the book of mormon, and it was a sweet visit. Im pumped for the elders to keep visiting with her family. What happened after was the best part. Bruder Bauer picked us up to take us to our joint teach with wolfgang, and in the car he told us about an AWESOME missionary experience he had! Before General Konferenz we committed him to pray about a missionary experience he could have- he had been praying really hard, and so had we. And last week, on of the people he works for (someone he said he would have NEVER guessed would have interest) just randomly told him he was discontent with the catholic church and was visiting other churches. Bruder Bauer simply told him to come visit us and he committed to meet the missionaries! IT WAS AN ANSWER TO OUR PRAYERS! I know that when we pray for chances to share, the Lord will put the people in our paths. we dont need to do crazy things, just to be ready to open our mouths! Sunday, my last sunday in the church, was pretty hard. they asked me to bear my last testimony, and i broke down and cried at the pulpit. These members, these investigators, this area... it all means so much to me. this truly is my home! I love this place with all my heart- it will always be special to me. Luckily the members all rushed us to invite us to dinner before i go... i just wish they had always been so eager for us to come! ;)
After church was one of the best experiences of my mission. We had lunch with the Hirschmanns- and they invited a lady named Doris over. She is one of the people we helped with the flood clean up- about 4 months ago. she told us all during dinner how grateful she was for our help and how she will never forget it. Afterwards, we were singing primary songs all together from the primary book, and we sang "a childs prayer" (in german obviously) and during the song- the spirit was so strong, and Doris just broke down and wept. It was one of the most powerful moments of my mission. I had the chance to bear a simple testimony afterwards and talk with Doris. She didnt agree immediately to meet with the missionaries or anything, but i recieved the witness that her heart was softened and that she will someday remember that day and accept the gospel. so powerful!
The mission is so powerful! I love it!
Please wish me luck as i move on to this new adventure! Im going to need it! I love you all and i love St. Pölten!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew

Woche 35- General Konferenz in der schönsten Stadt dieser Welt!

Liebe Familie,
What an amazing weekend it has been! I hope you all received as much inspiration from conference as i did! It was truly an amazing to hear the words of the prophets DIRECTLY to us. I know that those men are inspired and that the words, when we let them, can burn our souls and inspire change. I love it!
A quick recap on my week, for lack of real time...
Tuesday, we had distrikt meeting, then, according to tradition, we went to get Schnitzel at Herbs! That was my 5th time eating that BEAST of a schnitzel... i cant believe it! that afternoon,we had Deutsch class with Korherr and afterwards we had ward council- it was a really great evening!
Wednesday morning, we rode the bikes to Unterradlberg again! those massive hills didnt seem quite so hard this time... :) Unfortunately the family wasnt home. BUT while we were standing under the porch roof, some creature landed on the roof and scared the jitters out of us- we were too afraid to see what it was, cause it sounded HUGE- then it jumped off and ran into the forest. Bigfoot?
That afternoon we started something that was our ward mission leaders idea- praying, and then going through the phone book, finding addresses, and going to visit them. aparently a lot of places around the mission are having great success with that kind of thing. So we prayed and found some names, but we didnt have time to go by on the them yet because we had some lessons in the evening with Wolfgang and Erich Scharner. Wolfgang got in a mini argument with Bruder Hirschmann during our lesson- i did my best to calm it down and bring the spirit back. After the lesson, i was afraid Wolfgang would be upset- but he said it didnt bother him at all. dodged a bullet there!
Thursday, Elder Mongia and i had an exchange! I just love that little italian guy. Its been way fun having him here the last 4 transfers... even if he does get really uptight sometimes, he is such a boss. We got asked to come help with a service project to a non-member family in desperate need. The frost and snow is coming really soon, and this family owns a grape vinyard, and they needed help harvesting! so we spent 5 hours or so harvesting these grapes. it was FREEEZING cold, but the people we worked with were so nice and very faithful people. I love spending time with them! Friday we had a mini miracle- we went into the city and found a guy named Jabagji- from Syria. He couldnt speak very good german at all, but he really wanted a book of mormon! that evening, we went to take Bruder Bauer a spiritual lesson- he put us in his car to drive us to his house- and took some detors to show us some beautiful castles that he grew up around. Way cool! Then we committed him to pray during conference that he could have a missionary experience. Im super excited to hear the outcome!
Saturday morning, we brought the arabic book of mormon to Jabagji, and he introduced us to his family, and was so excited that we set up a return appointment for next week right after we stepped in the door! Im so excited to go back with our arabic material and see how it can help him! We taught Wolfgang and Erich Scharner one more time, and then we left for Wien for the weekend, for GENERAL KONFERENZ!
General Konferenz was just amazing. I loved every second and it was over too fast!
My testimony was renewed 10 fold, and i know that this church is led by prophets!
Oh... im probably getting transfered this week. So DO NOT SEND ANY MAIL! if you were planning on sending paper letters... send them to the mission home! Ill tell you next week where i am going!
I love you!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew

Woche 34- Did someone call the service crew?

Liebe Familie!!
Grüß euch!
One crazy announcement- this morning, whilst i was enjoying the fresh morning chill, twas a SNOWFLAKE that did gently caress my face as it drifted slowly earthward bound. WHAT?!? I remember last time it snowed here. it was march and it was freezing. Now it seems as if i have liveed through a spring, summer, and now we are back to fall/winter. oh snap.
This week was an excitingly fast one if i do say so. Let me tell yall a tale of how we managed to do 1000000000 service projects in one week!
So, last monday, in the evening, we waited at the church for Andreas (the one with the baptismal date) for the first of MANY falled out appointments. Lets just get that out of the way now, and say that MANY lessons with him fell out this week, which really hindered his progress. Anyways, Bruder Bauer came and picked us up and we went and visited a few elderly sisters in the ward. Funny story- one lady- Sister Bauer (not related to Bruder Bauer)- when we got there, she didnt answer her door, so i called her. As I talked to her, she told me "es geht nicht, ich bin schon ausgezogen!"- which translated means "it doesnt work, im moved out!" so i turn to bruder bauer in confusion and say "she doesnt live her anymore! she moved!". Bruder Bauer got REALLY confused because she is about 90 and blind, so he couldnt imagine that she had moved anywhere. Well, turns out i made a few translation errors. "ausgezogen" CAN mean moved out, but it ALSO means "changed into pajamas"- so silly me confused the two definitions. Bruder Bauer had a good laugh. Silly German double meanings.
Tuesday we had distrikt meeting, and then German class with Bruder Korherr again- i got an "F" on my homework for having 9 mistakes in my grammar (mostly punctuation). i surely forgot how much i hate being in school! That night though, we had an awesome ward council where we talked about missionary work, and Bruder Hirschmann had some way cool ideas that we are going to try out soon. We also recieved a huge box of Zwetschkin (plums)- and elder Herzog and i almost ate the whole box... they are quite effective, i must say.
That night we took some cookies to a less active sister who just had surgery- she is from Burkina Fasso- shes black and SUPER cool!
Wednesday morning Elder Herzog and i had an exchange so he was my companion for the day! We started off with our first service project of the week- with Bruder Seitz down in his garden. We had to hurry really fast, because we had a really busy day- or so we thought. The other two went to do ANOTHER project- we had 5 lessons planned... only 2 actually went through. BUT one that worked out was with Wolfgang! we taught him about the Tithing at the schildböcks home! It was PERFECT! They gave great testimony of the blessings they recieved from tithing, and he accepted it just fine. He is really big on stuff in the Bible, so when we showed him the bible verses, he told accepted it. super cool!
Thursday, we went back to Seitz to finish the service project we started the day before- moving wood piles from his garden to his house. There was quite a lot of wood. We spent the rest of the day doing planning (oh and another falled out appointment with Andreas :( )
Friday we did ANOTHER huge service project with Sister Brunnsteiner- we helped these guys build a balcony on the back of her house! We ended up having an awesome gospel discussion with them. super cool! In the evening we had Deustch again with Korherr- it was his birthday, so we sang for him. That night we taught Wolfgang again- we told him we had finished all the lessons, and invited him to be baptised again- he turned us down. it was a little dissappointing, but he wants to keep meeting for sure- he just hasnt got his answer yet.
Saturday was the missionwide cleaning day, so we had to stay inside all day and clean the apartment, and it definitely took the whole day. that place was gross. Cool story though- bruder bauer (who was with us at the lesson with wolfgang the day before) called and just asked how we were doing, because he knew we were a little sad about the lesson. I told we were ok- MAN he is like my best friend! I love that guy. im gonna miss him.
Church was way cool, and so was lunch with hirschmanns- nuff said i think.
Its getting really cold here! Things are awesome!
Im outa time. so i guess this is the end!
I love you all!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew