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Monday, February 17, 2014

Woche 54- Zone Conference=Stress=Prays=Good.

Schönen guten Morgen!!
Grüß euch!
Wow, this week was one of the more stressful ones of my mission. But through many prayers and much focus, we made it through. So- lets recap how it all went down, shall we!
Tuesday, we had a meeting once again in Winterthur, Switzerland. We decided to defy all rules of society and wear our "Frump" suits to the meeting- quick explanation: In Europe (especially switzerland), any and all cloths that are not tight and fitted are immediatley deemed culturally unacceptable- hence our made up missionary term: Frumpy. That essentially means all missionaries from America are frumpy- seeing as this principle is not so strictly observed in the states, and missions are not a fashion show anyways! Well, we do our best to oblige the cultures demands (i.e. skinny ties, tighter slacks, fitted shirts)- while still maintaining missionary standards. BUT Elder Garrett and I both own suits that are deemed ultimate Frump status (my brown one)- he has a matching black one. Well, in our defiance of the swiss culture, we wore these suits, combo'd with ties so fat, i believe they could serve a dual purpose as a sleeping bag. Needless to say- the europeans were speechless at our downright "Americaness". It was quite the meeting.
Thursday was a MIRACULOUS day- Holy smokes. In the morning, we invited a man named Henry to come have a church tour (he had previously approached us on the street and given us his card)- he walked through and absolutely LOVED the church. He got hung up on the geneology room and demanded an explanation of why we do family work. We finally explained baptisms for the dead, and after a thought pause he says "ok... ich bin dabei"- translated: im on board. We showed him the baptismal font- and before we could even invite him he says "ich bin SOFORT dabei!" translated: Im IMMEDIATELY on board! He has the goal of being baptised on the 15th of march! We are way excited for him and will be meeting with him again this afternoon!
Later that day, we had an appointment with an italian family that we met on the street- the Lomanacos! When i spoke with them, i used the limited italian i learned from elder mongia (i can say: hello! Im a missionary of the church of jesus christ. Im sorry, but i only speak german and english, im from america. I have a friend you can speak with!) Thats when i call elder mongia on the phone and hand the phone to the person. It works suprising well! They invited us over- the husband actually speaks great german, but the wife has only been here for 3 weeks, so she speaks none. They live about 10 minutes from the church, and on the walk over, all the powers of satan combined against us. Out of nowhere- the HUGEST rain storm came out and winds were blowing so hard, and then it randomly started hailing like crazy! we almost turned back it was so bad, but we just buckled our heads and ran- and the appointment was AMAZING! They had so many questions about our church and the book of mormon- and they really were excited to start reading the book of mormon! It was a super miracle. To top off the day- we met with Frederic in the evening, and he committed to live the word of wisdom, and tithing- and before he was living with his girlfriend- but we had taught the law of chastity, and he kicked her out! Yahoo! What a great day. We had to take a train to spend the night in Offenburg for zone conference the next day, but it was such a super day.
Friday was Zone Conference. Lots of administrational things needed to take place, so that was stressful, but overall it was a really spiritual day. Oh yeah- elder garrett and i also performed the musical number! He played an amazing arangement of "i need thee every hour" and i accompanied on the piano. The piece was pretty difficult, but i shook off my rust and it sounded amazing. The Lord works miracles sometimes! I think ive somehow gotten better on the piano on my mission- hmmm. blessings come in mysterious ways!
Saturday was also WAY stressful. We made transfer call (im staying here :) ) and then we met with this man, Wolfgang. Lets just say he is just as cool as Wolfgang in Sankt Pölten. I had met him right in front of the church about a week previous- and he told me he lived right across the street, and had always been curious, but had never had the courage to come inside. We met on saturday, and gave him the church tour too. He realized half way through the tour that he had met mormons before 30 YEARS AGO and had gone to church every sunday for two years, before losing contact with the church. He never knew that same church was built across the street from him 30 years later. He doesnt really remember any of the doctrine of the church, he just remembers "the blue book" and the it felt good. We confirmed the address of the old church, and it was the same! We watched the joseph smith movie, and he told us "i just feel like that boy- ive been searching for the truth!" WOW. It was mind blowing how prepared this man was. He wants to be baptised on the 29th of march. Wolfgang Maxel is his name. he is 57, and within the last two years he has given up drinking and smoking, become vegitarian, and has been actively searching answers for a long time. It is humbling to teach him.
Also on saturday we had a finding day and a talent show in the evening- it was very well attended and Julia even performed with her flute- she stole the show she was so good!
Well, another transfer down! im entering my 9th of 16 transfers- crazy! i will likey stay zone leader the next two- (so the next 12 weeks) before moving on to the next adventure. Oh how time flies!
Well, I love you all. thanks for all your letters and support. Life is good! Church is true!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew

Woche 53- Feldkirch!

Sali zämmä!
Well, this week was the week! I passed the year mark! it really wasnt that exciting other than i read my journal entries from the MTC a year ago- weird!
I dont have that much time (what else is new!) because we are going to celebrate elder garretts birthday as a district! But ill just give the quick recap...
tuesday was a Zone Training- i feel like it went really well. Elder Garrett and i prepared really well, and it was super spiritual. After it was done, i hopped on a train and rode straight to Dornbirn, Austria for an exchange! It was AWESOME! I some on the most beautful pictures- ill send them next time. The exchange was amazing! We found 9 potential investigators together in 24 hours- it was so much fun! Thursday through saturday were a little bit slower- but saturday we played soccer with some members, and then "showered" and changed clothes in a bathroom on a train so we could get to a concert in Konstanz on time- it was Julia, our investigators, concert- AMAZING. Sunday was fun- Frederic made it to church again! Thats twice in a row- that is serious progress for him.
Just a quick status update on the investigators- Frederic answered all the baptismal interview questions correctly, and is seriously progressing! I am slightly surprised to say i really feel like he is going to make it!
Maria gave us a scare- she call us monday night and told us never to call her again. Two days later she called back and asked to meet to talk about her baptism. She admitted that her sister was pressuring her to stay at the catholic church, so she wanted to cancel her baptism. She still wants to meet, because she knows the church is true, and loves the spirit she feels. so thats just postponed for now...
thats really all! This week is Zone Konferenz- my first one as Zone leader! So well be traveling up to Freiburg again for that later this week...
Well, thats all folks!
I love you all!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew
P.s. Happy Birthday this week to the greatest, sweetest, most amazing mother in the whole world! love you mom!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Woche 52... Half way there

Im doing this different this week- im going to write this big letter first, to make sure i save time to get everything important in! Plus, ive been thinking a lot about my letters, i decided its probably not that interesting to you guys back home to hear about all the places ive been traveling... it would probably be better if i updated you on the people we have been teaching- because we ACTUALLY have been teaching- like alot! Believe it or not, we have a lot of people on the brink! Ill give you the update:
Maria Rosar- she is from Portugal, she was the miracle story about walking into the church from a couple weeks ago. Her new baptismal date is the 1st of march. She was struggling to make it to appts. (aka she was always an hour late) but she has made some amazing progress this week. This last week she asked us the question "how can i know this church is true?"- something i feel like we explain often- but we committed her to pray about it, and she came back and recieved an answer! The last step is getting her to church on sunday. She attends a church in portugese in the city, and doesnt want to stop attending that church... but we are working on it. She will definitely be baptised!
Frederic Schmid- Hes a younger guy (28 or so) from Germany. He had a major accident a few years back that messed up his brain a little bit. Hes been recovering a lot since then. The elders in the past had taught him, but he had problems with smoking, drinking, and girls- plus he was a little bit crazy in the head. Well, he also walked into a meeting we had at the church, announced he had quit smoking, quit drinking, left his girlfriend, and was ready to change his life. He wants to be baptised on the 1st of march as well. He is still a little... hard to talk to sometimes because he can get way distracted and off topic, but he seems to be understanding the lessons well. Before he was afraid to come to the church meetings, be he came for the first time just yesterday and he LOVED it!
Julia Stocker- She is 31, Austrian (yahoo!) and is a professional flute player. and when i say professional, i mean she is the best i have ever hear. like ever. shes amazing. Shes been investigating continuously for about a year now- Elder Garrett and I are the 7th and 8th missionaries to teach her. SHE IS PERFECT! The nicest girl you would ever meet. She has so many questions about the Book of Mormon- every lessons is like a question and answer fest. This last week we really focused on the doctrine of baptism- she read the verses we gave her so that she was prepared for the discussion, and she knows the church is right. But she doesnt quite FEEL the desire described in Mosiah 18. She wants to help and serve others, but she doesnt feel the desire for baptism. So she also promised to pray for the desire to develop in her. We fasted especially for her yesterday, because she is so close and perfect!
Rohrer Family- This is a family. Elmer and Sabine and their son. They are all germans, and they live in Überlingen. Sabine has had contact with the missionaries for over 30 years- her sister is a member in Idaho, (sealed in the temple) and her mother is a member in another branch in Germany. She has recently given up drinking and has decided with her husband its time to settle down in life a focus on whats really important! They are so humble and sweet- i asked them this last week "whats holding you back from joining the church after all these years?"- and she thought about it a long time, and said "i dont really know!" WOW! She is so prepared, and when she comes, the whole family will come too. She works sundays, which is the only problem really. But we are working on that!
Sandra Schäfer- She is the wife of Christian Schäfer- aka the worlds greatest human being. Christian is the son of Horst Schäfer, an elderly man who converted back in WW2. Christian has been inactive his whole life, married outside the church, and just recently became active 2 years ago. It is absolutely astounding to see. The Light of Christ just beams from his face. When he looks in your eyes, its like you can see the love of the savior. He is the most humble yet noble man i have met, and his story of coming back is incredible. The spirit just resides around his being, and you can just see that he has become pure through the atonement of christ. Anyways, his wife was never a member, but his 14 year old daughter was baptised when he came back to church. Sandra has also observed the change that has taken place, and started to come to church with the family. In the past she would come once every 8-10 weeks maybe, but she hasnt missed a week in 7 weeks, and participates very actively in the discussions. I approached Christian about her, and he said the last thing holding her back is that she smokes. But she approached him of her own free will and is starting a 3 week program this week to stop smoking! So we havent officially taught her anything... but I have been praying and fasting for her, and i just know that it wont be long before they come together as a family in the temple. It is one of the best things ive seen on my mission so far.
We teach many others scattered here and there... but those of the ones who we meet with the most often, who are really making progress in the gospel. This branch is AMAZING for missionary work. they just love it! The Lord has brought together so many pieces of the puzzle together, and we are really living so many miracles. Its just added fun that we travel all over too! I ask myself often how we manage to do it all... truth is i dont really know!
this last week we spent monday in Austria, Tuesday and Wednesday we traveled back and forth from Freiburg (twice haha) and Thursday and Friday we spent the whole days in München for Mission Leadership Council- saturday was the first day we just got to spend in Singen. it was GREAT! I totaled 24 hours and 45 minutes in trains this last week! Talked with a lot of strangers, read a lot of scriptures... and i survived! I guess i could be a commuter someday... only if they install a better train system into Utah!
Life is sweet and good. I mentioned at the top... i guess its been a year. I felt like it would be more dramatic, buts its really just a little sad. I dont like to think its half way gone! Guess its just time to buckle up for the rest of the ride! Year 2 here i come!
I love you all!
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew

Woche 51- Zürich- nochmal

Liebe Familie!
I wish i had time to send a big thing... but i dont. Im going back to Austria again for PDay!!! Wooh! Ill be sure to send some sweet mountain pictures at some point.
Just a breif update- we were in Zürich on Tuesday, and we had a way awesome finding day in Bad Säckingen on Saturday- our district found 30 potential investigators! It was a total success!
This coming week ill be in a train for more that 21 hours. lots of traveling to come!
Well, I love you all. Sorry this is small, but its off to Austria! Its like coming home again :)
Adventure is out there!
Elder Bartholomew