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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heilbronn: December 17, 2012

Dearest Family,

This letter is going to be WAY short. Sorry, I just wanted to get that out of the way right now. I have to be on a train to go to a zone Pday in about 20 minutes, so I will do my best to write a few things before I go.

Before I forget, a really cool young family invited us to come over and Skype at their house on Christmas, so that will work. What was your Skpye name again? Hopefully I can find it. If not, just have someone on Facebook, and I think that the Costas can work it out somehow through there.

This week was pretty great, you're right, Dad. It really warmed up this week, and it has been raining for the last few days, and that means that pretty much all the snow is now gone.

We found a new investigator this week. His name is J├╝rgen, and he is pretty cool, he also gave us a couple of referrals while we were there, so that was nice.

Also, for the second time of my mission, I had someone come to Church!! It is our investigator, Sven. This guy already knows that the Church is true, and the only reason that he isn't already baptized is because he has some Word of Wisdom problems, but he is working on it, and he has a really strong testimony of the Gospel.

Umm, yeah, we had our Christmas celebration in the ward this week, and that was a ton of fun. Just being able to talk to all the members and everything was great. Sven also came to that. Ok, I really need to go now. I hope though that this short email will help you to see what you could be getting every week, and will help you to apreciate my emails more in the future!

Love you!
Elder Merkley

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Heilbronn: Christmas Time December 10, 2012

Dear Fam-bam,

Another pretty good week here in Heilbronn! Winter really let us have it, there has been snow on the ground for the last few days, and it has been snowing pretty constantly for a while. I have been breaking out all the winter clothes I have to try and stay warm, but since I didn't really bring any with me that doesn't mean that much. I am however very grateful that I bought a scarf and a beanie last week, as I have been wearing them almost every day, and they have been helping me to stay warm.  I think I will answer a couple of questions before I go further, these questions usually help me to direct my emails.

1. The Germans like Christmas a lot. They have a huge Christmas market in essentially every downtown here. I had never even heard about them before, but they are so great. They sell some really typical German stuff there, Bratwurst, and other meats, alcohol (of course), and a lot of just cool Christmasy nick-knacks (I don't think I have ever written that word out, so I don't if that spelling is right, but that is what spell check is telling me...).  All in all I would say that Christmas here is pretty commercialized, pretty similar to America in that way. But the Germans do have like three Christmas days. They have Christmas Eve, Christmas, and then just a second day for Christmas... They like celebrating. The Germans actually make fun of Americans for working so hard some times. They get normally longer vacations, and they have a ton more holidays here. 

2. Now, as for Christmas. We have not yet received an invitation for Christmas day (the first one). We have received an invitation for Christmas Eve, and the second Christmas day, but we are still hoping that we will receive one for the first Christmas day. I hope that we will be able to Skype, I think it will work out. If we don't receive an invitation in the next week I think we can just talk to our Branch President and he can help us to find something.

3. Now Mother, as for Christmas cards. YES. I have received a billion of them! I think I got about 5 of them on one day! I opened our mail box and they literally were just falling out because we don't usually get that much mail, so we never really expect to get too much. Ok, so btw, a billion was very much an exaggeration, but I do think I got between 10-15 this week, which is a ton! And yes, I got the envelope thing this week, and have started to work on the brownies, thanks Katie! Have you received my package yet?

That is fantastic news about Grand!! The Leukemia just went away? Wow, that's a miracle if I have ever heard one! That is definitely a huge blessing. Will he be doing the sealing for Tin and Brock?


Specific needs for prayer? I would just ask that you would pray to help me to be able to learn to be happier. I am happy, but I think I could be happier, you know, just get to the next level. I wrote a little bit about this to Tin, but at the beginning of my mission I concentrated more at strenthening my testimony, I feel that it is a lot stronger now. Now I want to concentrate on learning to be happier.

Sometimes I feel like I forget to talk about missionary work in my emails...anyway, we have been meeting with this less active, Bruder Reisinger, a couple times for the last couple of weeks, and we are going through the lessons with him and helping him to remember everything that he once knew. He has been coming to church the last few weeks, but he does have a problem with smoking, so we will have to address that with him. Umm, but it is really great to teach him, he gets way excited because he is just experiencing again the joy of learning the Gospel.

We also started meeting with this other guy, Sven Peters, about a week and a half ago. He already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but he has a lot of problems witht he branch here, and he has a smoking and drinking problem. He actually has already had a baptisimal date, so we hope to be able to help him to see past his problems with the branch and overcome his problems.

We also found another new investigator this week, Ismael, this young Muslim guy. We don't know how much potential he has, because he believes really strongly on the Qu'ran, but he said that he would pray about the Book of Mormon, so we'll see what happens there.

Anyway, I love you all, hopefully everything works out for Christmas!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Heilbronn: December 3, 2012

Dearest Family,

This week in Heilbronn was pretty normal...oh wait, except winter finally came!! I was just talking about how it was still pretty warm, and that I have been enjoying the last remnants of fall. I take everything back. It is cold. Ok, well, I think it's cold. It is now definitely below freezing, and it  snowed most of the day yesterday! When we went to Church we had to help clean the sidewalks so that members could come safely to the building. (Does one 'shovel snow' in English? How do you say to clean up snow? I'm not sure if this problem is because I haven't been speaking enough English, or because I'm from Southern California, and we just don't talk about these kind of things. Probably a combination of the two.) Awww, man. It just started snowing. No, it's really beautiful, it's just not as much fun to spend the whole day outside when it is freezing!

Anyway, before I whine too much, I think I'll just answer some questions (Also, I am probably not going to write as much today, we wanted to be done a little quicker today...)

1. So, unfortunately, no one became progressing investigators this week. Barney and Nikol are unreachable still, and Kirstin was sick this week, so our appointment with her fell out. We met with one new person this week, but this was probably one of the weirdest appointments of my mission, and she didn't invite us to come another time. No one came to church this week, but this American member showed up, and I had to translate for him, which is way harder than I thought it was.

2. I received only a little grief for wearing my Christmas ties last Sunday. There was more of a scandal when I suggested Christmas songs for Priesthood meeting. I almost started a fight. I had no idea there were such strong opinions on the proper time for starting to sing Christmas songs. 

3.We don't have a Christmas tree yet, but we were planning on checking out basement to see if maybe some missionaries have thrown one down there. The last time I was down there I definitely saw a Santa costume, so there could definitely be a tree somewhere down there.

4.I actually have met this one American missionary who doesn't have an accent. He had done some foreign exchange program for a while, but wow, when i started to talk to him, I thought I was talking with a German, and then I asked where he came from, and he said, 'Ich komme aus Virginia', so the first part sounded like perfect German, and then he just said Virginia, like an American, and I was just so impressed. But yes, missionaries only pray in German, out loud at least. Whether or not a meeting is in English, we always pray in German, I've never heard anyone say anything about it, it's like some sort of unwritten rule.

5. I have received two Christmas cards! One from the Bishops, and one from the Buellers. It was great to get them, and there were nice little notes in there. Besides that I got the other package this week, a letter from my trainer (who is now home and has a girlfriend...), but I haven't gotten your envelopey thing yet. OH! But I sent my package today, but I didn't wrap the things...sorry. Also, don't expect anything spectacular, or even a long note inside. I really just sent you a key with who gets what.

6. With calling home I don't know how we should do it. We can only skype if we are at a member's house, but I am hoping that we will receive an invitation for Christmas, up to now, we only have one for Christmas Eve. But I would personally love to Skype, I think it would be a lot more fun.

Anyway, I love you a ton, thanks for all the support and prayers, they really help me to work hard here!

Love,
Elder Merkley



Monday, December 3, 2012

Heilbronn: November 26, 2012

ROOT BEER!!!!

Dearest Family!!

Thanks for all the emails, I love being able to hear from the fam bam every week. Oh wait, while I'm thinking about it, Mom, could you maybe send me Spencer's email? I would love to be able to hear what that kid is up to. Anywho, this was a pretty good week, but I think I will answer questions,  if it wasn't for that I would have no idea how to structure these emails...

1. It has still only snowed the one time, which I am so thankful for. That day was really miserable because it was cold, and it wasn't real snow, rather it was more like sleet. Ooh, it wasn't fun. So in answer to your question, no, there is no snow on the sidewalks. In fact, it's an enjoyable 45 or 50 degrees right now, although it is raining.

2. So none of our investigators have reached progressing status, and none of them have been able to come to church yet. We weren't able to meet with a lot of them this week for various reasons, some appointments fell out, some people just didn't have time for us, but we are still hopeful for them. We continue to find a ton of potential investigators through our own efforts. By that I mean spending time going door to door, or going on the street and talking to people. We're trying to stay organized and contact them all so that we can hopefully get some more lessons in the next couple of weeks.

3. I wouldn't say that I have observed any unusual Christmas holidays, though I was impressed by the huge Weihnachtmarkt (Christmas market) here in Heilbronn. It looks pretty cool, and very old fashioned and German. Dad, it's funny how you mentioned that people gave you grief for wearing your Christmas stuff, becuase I may or may not have also gotten grief for wearing my Christmas stuff this Sunday. That reminds me, yes Mother, I did get the package, and thanks a ton!! I was impressed with how many Christmas ties were in there. I'm wearing another one right now actually...

4. Elder Buck and I still get along very well, we usually can talk really well with each other, and we work in general really well together, yeah I really can't complain. We just got an invitation for Christmas Eve from one of the families in our ward, and so we should be able to spend the Holidays with some members, well at least Christmas Eve!

5. So Mother, I think my German is coming along pretty well. I still have an America accent and stuff. I don't really have problems talking with people when we are on the street, because we are talking about religion, and when it comes to the gospel, my German is pretty good. When we go to a member's house, then I feel that my German isn't as good as it could be, because we get on some topic, and I just think, holy crud, I don't know the words to talk about this! I can almost always understand, but I can't always say the things that I want too. It is still getting better, it is pretty easy for me now to talk the entire day in German. I usually talk only in German, regardless of whether or not my companion talks to me in German, and I know it will come. I guess it is just frustrating, because I want to have perfect German now! The other day two people asked me if I was from Holland (That's a nice compliment, because the two languages are pretty similar), and one guy even said he thought I was from Austria, so that was pretty nice.

4. Yeah, letters. So I got the Relief Society note thing you sent, a letter from two of my friends at BYU, Kristin Mauger, and Amy Forbush, which I really enjoyed reading. Some of my friends at BYU are starting to go on missions now! Other than that...I got the package! Which was super great, Elder Buck was so pumped that he got something too.

Do you really want to hear about how we went to a Jehovah's Witness Meeting? It was actually pretty boring, and we had to leave early, because they start pretty late. But yeah, some guy on the street invited us, and I kind of thought, Hmm, how can we expect other people to accept our invitations when we never accept their's? And so we decided to go. While we were there members would come to us, see our name tags, and do a double take. LDS missionaries are pretty well know to JWs. Anyway, it was just like a normal class, where they read out of the Bible, and then talked about it. But their Bible is a lot different than the normal Bible. It is no wonder that they are so confused about so many doctrines.

Anyway, this week we spent a ton of time trying to get a hold of those people who had said that they have interest, while also trying to find new people. We found a lot of new people who said they wanted to talk  another time with us, so I hope that we will start making out some  more appointments in the next few days.

So this first picture is just a picture of the district. I don't know who made the decision that we needed to do piggy backs, or why Elder Buck, who is like 6-4 and 200, ended up on my back, but that's just kind of my life, haha. 

This second picture is a picture during our Zone Pday, the point of the picture was the two huge things of Root Beer that a Senior couple somehow managed to find. All the America Missionaries were psyched about it, and all the Germans didn't really care, because most Germans don't really like Root Beer, and I guess that's why it is not really sold here.

Anyway, I love you all!!

Love,
Elder Merkley



Here is the district, giving each other piggy backs..