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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Klagenfurt: December 16, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Ok, so I'm going to jump straight into Christmas preperations, so that I don't forget. Well, there actually is an offer to skype from our Bishop's house, and that would be on the 24th of December. If we were to do that then we would Skype around 7 or 8 o'clock our time, which would put it around 10 or 11 in the morning your time. The other option is that I could potentially Skype at the Casellas' house on the 25th, it would probably be a little earlier though, maybe around 6-8 o'clock. I don't know if you have a preference. It could be that the internet at the Casellas' house would be a little slower, but I'm not really sure. Ok, so let me know next week what you prefer, and I'll make it happen.

Mom, that's really cool that you were able to help out at the Conference for the Arcadia missionaries. That's so crazy to me that they are all close enough together that they can all get to one place. That would be impossible for us. We didn't even do anything as a Zone last year for Christmas, we just had a Zone Conference a month or so before, and didn't even really focus it on Christmas.

It's also crazy that your companion just randomly texted you, I hope that I'm able to keep such good contact with my companions after the mission. I also hope the people that I've trained will be able to say that they had a good trainer too. I can definitely say that about my trainer.

Scotty's emails are HILARIOUS. I love reading them! Can you actually give me a more exact description of what he does? It sounds like he is really enjoying his work, which is obviously centered around Family History, but I am still kind of confused about all the mechanics. By that I mean what kind of rules and restrictions he has, what his responsibilities are, and things like that. I also didn't really notice, but did Ben use to count the months in his emails? Did he really not like it at first?

The ward here is AWESOME. Really, I love them so much. I think I mentioned last week how I feel like the work is going really well here, and I can only reiterate that today. Elder Krieger has said that he hasn't seen Klagenfurt having such success the whole time he's been here. Between our two companionships we have three investigators with baptismal dates, and we are finding a ton of people. Last week we found a total of 28 potential investigators between the two of us, and we have about 4 or five appointments with new people set up, most of them for tomorrow. I metion that in conjunction with the ward, because up to now we have never had a difficulty finding a joint teach. Every time we have wanted one we have been able to get one. The Bishop's wife saw us standing around kind of forlornly yesterday, because we hadn't been invited anywhere, and as soon as she found that out she invited us to her house, even though we'll be going there next week anyway for Christmas Eve. I have already made some good friends with some members, and I know almost everybody's name now.

We had our Christmas party this week, and it was so cool. There were over thirty non-members there! Most of them were people whom members had invited, and some were people whom we had invited. We are working on the members to help them each develop their own family mission plan, and we are making sure we know who brought whom, so that we can help them to do more work with these people. We even saw a little success through email. We had met with this woman last week, and she is super nice, so we sent her an email on Thursday with a link to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir webpage, and an invitation to our Christmas Party. And she came! And brought us a pineapple, tangerines, and socks! It was so nice of her.

As for the language, I am adjusting pretty fast. I mean, if someone speaks real Kärtnerisch I have no chance, but Germans wouldn't have a chance either, so I don't feel bad about that. I translated again at Church again, and it was a lot easier this time, I was able to translate really fluently. I also know though, that my ability to speak the language, and translate aren't from my own abilities. I had such a hard time learning German before my mission, I've only been able to learn it out here because the Lord has blessed me with understanding. I'm convinced about that.

Our best investigator remains Francesco, who has come to church four weeks in a row. We meet with him around twice a week, and our lessons have been going pretty well. I really think he will be baptized on the nineteenth of next month. We are going to try to teach some commandments soon, so pray that he will be able to give up his coffee when we teach him the Word of Wisdom! He already has a great relationship with some of the members, in fact, some of the members even invited him over for Christmas day! We're going to work on expanding his base of friends though.

I figured something really cool out this week! So far on my mission I haven't done a ton of bus contacting, mainly because the buses haven't been ideal for contacting up to this point, either too full or too empty, and it hasn't really worked out well. The buses in Klagenfurt are awesome! I've been really focusing on starting a conversation in every bus, and I even found two potentials this week through it! It's been so cool to see how easy, and how normal it is. I'm trying to focus on making sure that I bring every conversation back to the Gospel, so that I can bear my testimony and fulfill my purpose as a missionary. It's been a good week in terms of contacting.

Other then that I don't know what to write about. The holidays are right around the corner, and I am a little worried because this will be the last week where people will really want to meet with us for two weeks or so, because of all the holidays, so the work will probably slow down considerably.

Well, I don't really know what else to write, except that I am really excited to talk to you next week!

I love you so much!

Elder Merkley

Monday, December 9, 2013

Klagenfurt: December 9, 2013



Dearest Fam-bam,

 Well, this week has been a lot of fun.  I don't even know where to start. I feel like I have been settling into the area pretty well, but I have been getting a little frustrated with myself, because I feel like I'm learning the area a lot slower than I want to, and I haven't been able to contribute to planning as much as I have wanted to. I'm working on getting to know what the area looks like, where people live, and the buses though, and I hope that during this next week I will be able to get to know the area a lot better. I feel like we have been filling up our time with a lot of good things this week, but I think that we can be using our time even more effectively, and I hope that we will be able to do that this week.

Things with Elder Krieger are still going well. He's already been in the area for two transfers with two different companions, so we think that we will stay 2 together, but of course there is no guarantee.  I wouldn't say that we have a perfect companionship, however I am really enjoying the time together, and I think that we communicate and teach really well together.  It was actually really cool, because we had a good amount of opportunities to teach this week. On Monday we found an investigator together, his name is Valentine, and is from Nigeria. We met with him twice this week, and gave him a Book of Mormon on Saturday. A lot of time it is tough to teach people coming from an African culture, just because they aren't always super reliable, but Valentine is really solid, so I hope that we will be able to see him a time or two this week, and I'll let you know as things develop.

Someone else whom we were able to teach a couple times is named Francesco and is from Italy. I don't know if you know, but we are really close to the Italian border here. In our last lesson with him, we actually set a baptismal date with him for  the 19th of January. He doesn't have a testimony quite yet, however he has been reading in the Book of Mormon, and has come to Church the last three weeks, so I think it is only a matter of time. What is really cool is that he and a member, Danelle (who is a man. I just wanted to clarify, because that name doesn't necessarily answer the question), have become friends. They are both Italian, and Danelle has been at almost every appointment, and they sit next to each other at Church, and it is great. We should be meeting with him again on Wednesday, and we are really excited for him.

We found one other investigator this week, his wife is Schwester Karner, a member of our ward. He has apparently already looked into the Church a while ago, but I guess due to a couple of badly timed transfers and a couple of missionaries whom he didn't like things didn't really work out. We met with him on Saturday and invited him to read the Book of Mormon, because although he and his wife have been married for 46 years, he has never read the Book of Mormon. I'll let you know how things go there as well.

Other than that the weather here has been way cold. It was in the low 20s for a couple of days, and hasn't really reached above freezing consistently for the whole time I've been here. The people I've talked to have said that it has been pretty normal here, but that in the winter it isn't uncommon for the weather to reach up to -20 °C for a couple of weeks. That would be super super cold. It sounds like we get a lot of snow here, but typically the sun is out between the storms. That is one thing that I have noticed this last week. I swear we have had more sun in this one week than I had the entire last winter. I know I told you, but last winter was the least amount of sunshine in about 55 years or so. I hope this winter is different. I really don't like the cold though. My hands and feet have already been way cold, but I survived last winter, so I know I'll be able to deal with it.

The mountains nearby are part of the Alps. I really don't know how to describe it though. Just beautiful. There is this really pretty lake in Klagenfurt too, and everything is just super beautiful. 

Yeah, I am way far away from Munich. I have no idea exactly how far, but I think it typcially takes around 5 -6 hours with a train to get there, so we are definitely pretty far away. Yeah, Dad, I've noticed as well that President Miles likes to send me to the outskirts of the mission. Right now, I'm more isolated than I have ever been, because our District is the four Elders, and the Senior couple, who are leaving next Tuesday. So for the next six weeks or so we will literally be a District of four Elders, all of whom live in the same apartment.

This last week with the members was a lot of fun. We actually had a few eating appointments this week. We actually had three on Saturday... It was very painful. We went and served with a member in the morning, and then they fed us lunch, then we went to Valentine, who also gave us lunch, and then we went to the Karners' house, and they gave us dinner. I literally gained four pounds in one day, and was in a very real pain. Yesterday we were also invited over by Danelle and his wife, and we had some delicious Italian food. It looks like the missionaries typically get invited every Sunday here. I won't say for sure, because Elder Krieger told me that last transfer that didn't happen every week, but I hope that it keeps up this transfer. We also got invitations for Christmas Eve, and one for the first Christmas day. I'm not sure how skyping is going to work, but I'll let you know. I think I should be able to skype on Christmas day itself, but there is also a possibility it would be Christmas Eve. I'll try to figure it out in the next couple of weeks.

I have not received any Christmas cards yet, and I haven't received the packages yet either. There is a special Christmas Conference a week from this Saturday where we will be able to receive those, I believe.

I've been understanding a lot better this week, it's not like I really had a ton of problems to start, but I'm starting to get used to how they pronounce things. In fact, it's been really funny, but there have been a couple people who have been able to know that I've spent my whole mission in Germany so far, because they say that I speak German like a German, and not like an Austrian.

Overall life has been good this week. I feel like there is a lot of work to be done here, and I have been inspired more and more by the other missionaries whom I live with. I have become friends with all of them, and that has been really helping me to enjoy life a lot more. Although I will reiterate, journal writing has suffered. I'm getting better and more consistent, but it's nothing that awesome.

I love you so much!

Elder Merkley

Monday, December 2, 2013

Klagenfurt: December 2, 2013



Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, things are going to be a lot different this transfer. I don't even know where to start, life is a lot different right now. 

First off: new companion. He's really cool. Like I said last week, his name is Elder Krieger, and he is from Salt Lake City, and has been on his mission for about 10 months. He went to BYU before his mission, which makes him the first companion I've had who has gone to BYU. We get along really well, and I feel like we are actually friends, so I think this transfer is going to be a lot of fun, as long as our relationship keeps developing like it has been.

The four-man apartment is also going to be a lot of fun. I'm just going to say this right off the bat though, my journal writing is going to suffer. I've had some major problems getting my journal written in, there's been too much socializing. One of the other Elders is a little bit interesting, which is one of the things that I was concerned about, but I don't foresee any problems.

Oh my word. There were so many people at church yesterday!! Ok, well it is all relative, but for realsies, there had to be more than 60 people there. We were sitting in Priesthood, and I counted the brethren there, and I realized that there were more men than there were members in Passau. I was feeling really overwhelmed trying to remember all the names of the members, but I think I learned at least 20 names or so, so I think within a couple of weeks I will know the members pretty well. We even were invited to eat somewhere yesterday!! That's the first eating appointment I've had on a Sunday in six months! It was so awesome. I think that there should be another eating appointment this week too, so I'm way excited.

Something else that is super crazy about this ward, they have youth! They have a seminary class to which four kids come. I think there is a second class in another town that is pretty far away, to which a few other kids go. Every Monday the missionaries come to this class too, so I woke up at 5 this morning, so that we could come to seminary. It was awesome! I had forgotten how much I liked seminary, it was really nice to start the day with a spiritual boost.

Relating to weather. Oh my word. It has been cold. Winter has definitely arrived, and we saw some snow this week. We have had temperatures under freezing, and I have not been super happy about it. I don't like the cold, because my feet and hands are always ridiculously cold. I feel like anything above 25 degrees or so is ok, but once it starts getting colder then life just stinks, and no matter what you wear you are just cold. Well, the winter has only just begun.

So Thanksgiving was not anything special for me. We had to get a train at 9:00 in the morning, and I didn't get in to Klagenfurt until 7:30 or so. We didn't have any sort of celebration or rememberance of it. I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving until around 5 or so that evening. My Thanksgiving lunch consisted of a sandwich that I had packed with me, it wasn't very American, I even used delicious thick German bread to make it.

Klagenfurt is about the same size that Heilbronn was. I think that there are around 100,000 people that live here. I don't have a great feel of what the city is like, because I haven't spent much time walking around. Elder Krieger and I had to go to a meeting on Satruday, and it is over three hours to get there with the train, so most of our day on Saturday was dedicated to traveling to Salzburg and back.  I've heard though that this city and area does have a lot of history, so I'll let you know as I find out more. What I do know is that there are actually mountains here, which is really awesome. The countryside here is very pretty.

The Austrian German is definitely different. One of the first days I was talking to this kid on the street, and I had to tell him that he needed to speak High German, because I had just moved there. When they try to speak High German I can usually understand them, though. Yesterday at church was interesting though. I had to translate for about four American who were in our ward, and there were a couple of times where I just had to say, sorry I don't know what they're saying right now. I could usually still keep up with what they were saying, but sometimes my understanding just wasn't as effortless as it normally is, and so I was having a hard time translating what they were saying. I think within a week or two though most of the major understanding problems will be gone as I get used to how they pronounce things differently.

The teaching pool isn't awesome, we haven't had a lesson with any investigators yet. but there were still two investigators in Church yesterday. Their names were Walter and Francesco. Like I said, I haven't met with them yet, so I don't know them, but we're hoping to see them both over the next few days. Francesco is from Italy, and Walter is a very old Austrian man. I hope that we will be able to find some new people this week though.

I don't know what else to tell you... I was really sad to be transferred though. We ended up having three eating appointments over the course of those three days, and I really was sad to have to say bye to those members. They really want us to come visit them when you pick me up, so we should keep that in mind. In fact, as I was on the train, a member found me in the train and gave me some stuff from a bakery, and said bye. I'm going to really miss that branch.

Other then all of that the week has been pretty uneventful. Like I was saying at the beginning, I'm really hoping that Elder Krieger and I will be good friends. We're both pretty good at communicating, and I feel like that is going to be one of our biggest strengths. Our companionship has a really good feel to it after three days. Oh yeah, Mom, Elder Krieger was telling me that his mom doess all those kind of wacky Missionary Mom things that you do, so you could probably find her and be friends if you want.

Before I close I don't know how much I'm going to be able to tell you about Andrej. We weren't able to meet before I left, so I don't know how he is doing, but I hope that Elder Nicoll and his new companion stay on him. I won't be able to return for his baptism. My mission president changed the rules so that nobody could return for baptisms outside of a zone anymore. I will be able to find out if he does get baptized, but I just won't be able to be present at the actual ordinance.

Sorry that I'm not writing more, but I am just really overwhelmed right now. New area, new companion, new dialect, and a huge new ward. I'm trying to process it all myself, so hopefully next week I'll be able to give you a little bit more information. I love you all so much! I am very grateful for all that you do. Thanks for sharing that scripture with me, Mom!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Some of Andy's Mission Buddies

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Passau: November 25, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

This week has been really crazy, full of ups and downs, and just crazy stuff altogether. I think the craziest thing that happened was that we set a baptismal date with Andrej!!

Ok, so before I tell the story of how that happened, I need to give a little bit of background so that you can understand fully how insane it was. This year as a mission we have this goal to baptize 290 people. That is kind of crazy because last year we only baptized around 130-140. Well, we are sitting around 120 right now, and we only have a little bit of time left, so we fasted as a mission last week, and will do it again next Sunday, asking for miracles so that we can accomplish this goal. This week our Zone set like 6 baptismal dates. It was crazy! In the space of two days there were about five new dates set, and it was in the midst of all this that we had our appointment with Andrej. We actually didn't plan on setting a baptismal date with him, but we were in this lesson, and I just had the thought that unless he really sets a goal that nothing will ever change. He has met with missionaries a lot before, but has never made real progress. So we invited him to set a date for baptism so that he could test the Lord, and really show his faith. At first he was hesitant, but after a couple minutes of pretty intense testifying from both us and the Spirit, he agreed to set a goal for the 22nd of December. We were so stoked! We then set up a plan with him that we were going to have contact with him every day, meet with him at least twice a week, and he needs to come to Church. Guess what? He came to church!! I've been really praying that as he puts in his effort he will come to know that the Church is true.

Church was actually really stressful this week, but kind of in a good way. We had a total of five investigators come! We had invited a couple of the Nigerians in our lesson with them this week, and four of them ended up coming. Our lesson with them was actually really good, and we ended up using technology in it! I never dreamed that I would see the day when I was allowed to do things like this, but Elder Nicoll and I found a good Mormon Message during our internet time this week, and we brought it up for them on their iPad, and showed them it. I think we're going to try to download some onto a flashdrive next time, because the internet connection wasn't great, so we couldn't watch the whole video. Other then that though, the lesson went pretty well. They just have problems accepting anything that doesn't come from the Bible.  The Sisters also had someone in Church, so there were a total of six nonmembers, nine members, and four full-time missionaries at Church this week. The Sisters and Elder Nicoll taught an investigator class for the Africans, and I stayed in the Priesthood class with Andrej, and this guy Bernard, for whom I had to translate (he's from Africa too).

At Church I was privileged to give a talk, which went pretty well. I didn't feel super prepared, as in I didn't have my thoughts as well organized as I normally like to, but I think I was able to get my point across well enough. We actually had three different people translating during sacrament meeting, so it was a little disconcerting hearing the missionaries translate everything right after I said it. Today was actually a little bitter-sweet, because as I found out on Thursday, this will be my last Sunday here in Passau.

Yup. I'm being transferred. I got the call on Thursday morning, and the Assistant with whom I talked was being super obnoxious. He plays this game with every companionship where he beats around the bush profusely thanking you for your service in the area, taking the time to testify about how he's sure you have effected many lives there, and all this kind of crud. It's no wonder we had to sit around for three hours waiting if he does that with every companionship in the mission! Anyway, so I'm getting transferred to Austria! I'm going to an area called Klagenfurt, which is probably the biggest area, in geographical terms, in the mission. My new companion's name is Elder Krieger, and I think he is a little less than a year on his mission, and is from Salt Lake City. There are a couple more things I'm excited about. 1. It's a ward!!!! It's about sixty members, so it's not huge, but this is the first time that I have served in a ward, and I think it will be a big difference to Passau. 2. There are two other Elders in that area, and we will share an apartment! I have always wanted to be in a four-man apartment. There is also a senior couple in that area, so I'm pretty excited. There are some things that I am worried about, but I can't tell how it will be until I actually go there on Thursday, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.  This is the first time in over thirteen months where I won't be either training, District Leader, or both, so I'm looking forward to not having to have any of those kind of responsibilities, though, I'm really going to miss it if I'm honest.

Because of this transfer my week is going to be pretty crazy. There is a lot that I want to get done, and not a ton of time in which to do it. Today we are going to the Müller's house to cook together one last time, which I am way excited about. She is going to teach me how to make a incredibly tasty soup, I think. We also have Family Night tonight, which should be a lot of fun. Tomorrow we have my last District Meeting here, and then we are going to be meeting with Sogo, who is the guy who was baptized a couple months ago. Tuesday night we will be meeting with the Heumoses, with whom we will go to a Chinese Place (did I tell you that I like Chinese food now? I do. But still not raisins), and maybe ice cream, Sister Heumos knows that I love eating ice cream, haha. Then Wednesday there was a less active member whom I wanted to visit, and we have English Class. Then Thursday morning I'm gone into the unknown, into Austria. I had hoped to be able to meet with the Sagmiesters one last time as well, but they didn't come to Church this week, and I haven't actually been to their house in about five weeks, we only went once this transfer, which is pretty sad.

I will be really sad to leave Passau, because I really feel like I have had friends here. The members, the other missionaries, investigators, and just random people we see all the time walking around. I feel like I have friends here, and so it will be sad to have to leave them. I have enjoyed this transfer with Elder Nicoll, and will also be sad to leave him. I still wouldn't say that we are best friends, as in I don't feel like our personalities click to that level. But we are definitely friends, which is a feeling that I really like, and something that I really want to keep with my next companion.

Anyway, Mom, that's awesome about the Cook book, will I get one when I come home? I hope so. By the way, you never answered my questions about Christmas Presents. I'm going to assume that I won't have any time today, but what do you guys all want. I've already taken care of Daniel's, but other then that I'm kind of unsure what to get.

Well, fam-bam, I will hopefully be able to send you one more quick email before family night tonight, so that I can send you my new address, but because of time constraints I think I will close this email now. Know that I love you, and am very conscious of your support for me. Thank you!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Elder Andy Merkley
Marian Platzer str 2/1
A-9020 Klagenfurt 3

Austria

Monday, November 18, 2013

Passua: November 18, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Sorry that I am writing a little bit later, but I am actually in Munich right now, and my whole Pday has just been kind of thrown off. We had to come into Munich today, because we have Zone Conference tomorrow, and there is a meeting for the District Leaders that starts at 9.30. In order to get there in time, we would have had to take a train at 6:45 AM, so that wasn't really an option. So I am actually writing in the Mission Office right now, which is kind of distracting me, because I am really good friends with the Mission Secretary, and so we keep taking breaks at intervals to talk with each other. It doesn't help that I know that he found out today what is going on with transfers, and that is what he is working on right now. I tried to get him to give me a hint, but he has a really good poker face, so I've got no hints for you guys, sorry!

This week has been pretty fun. I think the coolest thing that happened was a meeting we had in the Church on Thursday night. Bruder Sagmeister participates in some sort of Religious group which meets every five months or so, and this time they met in our church. It was really good that we had taken the day on Saturday to clean, because the Church really needed it. Anyway, so there were 23 people that came to this event, 8 of those people were members of our Church, and it was really great. There were people from the New Apostolic Church, the Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses, Catholics, the Muslims, and Protestants. Brother Sagmeister gave an hour long presentation about our Church and our basic beliefs, and then there was an hour where people just asked questions about our Church. After this meeting everyone was invited to look around our Church and just kind of explore. It was so awesome! We had a ton of really nice conversations with people, and Brother Sagmeister actually gave everyone who came a CD from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I saw at least three people walk away with copies of the Book of Mormon in their hand, and a ton asked if they were allowed to come to our meetings. It was a really nice event, and I was really grateful to be able to be a part of it.

We didn't really use our emailing time this week. I think it is a great idea, but we are going to need some time in order to get it rolling. We first need to get some people to give us their emails, and I think that is just going to be a big attitude change. I think there will be a ton of people who are willing to give us emails, we just need to make this change and ask. I'll let you know if we start seeing success with it in the future. Also, just a side-note, the spell-check on this computer is in German, so if I am misspelling a ton of words, that's my excuse. Every word right now is coming up in red.

The drama in the branch has not improved at all. This sister has still not come to church, and some of the other members in the branch have been doing a lot of back-biting recently. I'm a little bit worried. I hope it will all straighten itself out, but I don't think I will be here to see it. I'll let you know if anything changes. I really love this branch, and I know they love me too. A couple of the members came up and were asking me about transfer calls, and they were getting scared when I told them that they are happening this week. If I do get transferred, I really will miss this branch, with all their funny idiosyncrasies (Did I spell that word right? Without spell check I am lost).

Now onto business. Yeah, we get 188 Euros every single month for food and all that kind of stuff. Normally people in Bayern just get 150, but we need to buy bus passes for Passau every month, and that costs 38 Euros. From that money we should buy our groceries, hair cuts, and that kind of stuff. We are actually allowed to order at least three tickets through the office every single week, and those cost a lot of money. Luckily the office pays for that, but I really do believe that we are one of the most expensive missions in the world, because there are some weeks, like this week, where we are probably using at least 70 Euro of traveling costs. Probably more actually. If we buy a ticket ourselves we can send it into the office to get it reimbursed so that we don't starve, haha.

We met with the Nigerians again this week, which was pretty good. The best lesson was actually when we met with this one guy, Vincent, alone. When a big group of people were there it was hard to concentrate and address the concerns of every individual person, but when Elder Nicoll and I were able to concentrate on just Vincent the lesson went really well. We taught him about keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. We wanted to help him understand the importance of going to Church. He said that he will go to Church this next week, and I feel like he is really planning on going, we already looked up all the Bus times and what not, so I hope that he will come.

Elder Nicoll is doing better again. We have been able to really work full-time again this week, which has been nice. We actually had a finding day this last Saturday, which was actually super exhausting. We doored for around 5 hours or something, and it was just a really long day. Elder Nicoll and I were both super tired and sore after it. I was on an exchange during it, and we hiked up this mountain to go visit some former investigators, and I am still feeling it in my calfs (PLEASE HELP ME, is that how you spell it when you are talking about your leg?). I was really walking around in pain today, not fun at all. We did find some potential investigators, but I don't know how much real potential they have, they were a little sketch when I tried to get a specific time we could come back on.

Other then that, there is not too much new... except that this guy whom we taught together with the Sisters one time came to Family Night on Monday, which was awesome, and then he called the Sisters on Tuesday and told one of them that he was in love with them, which wasn't as much fun. Yeah, the Sisters went and met him the next day, and had a DTR with him essentially, where they pulled the nun card, and he respected that, but said he can still love her in his heart. It was kind of creepy. Don't worry, he is still going to keep coming to Family Night though, and he is even going to bring dessert next week!

I can't believe that Christmas is coming already. It's been coming really fast. All the stores are starting to sell the traditional Christmas treats, whcih is awesome, because Christmas treats in Germany are so tasty!

I don't know what else to tell you, and like I mentioned earlier, I'm kind of distracted right now, so I think I will close this email here, sorry that it is a little bit shorter than normal, but I love you guys!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Monday, November 11, 2013

Passau: November 11, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, this week has been different than almost every week so far on my mission. The biggest thing that was different was that Elder Nicoll almost died on Friday. Ok, I can just imagine how you gasped, Mom. He didn't really almost die, he just got really sick and we had to stay in the apartment all day. We had an exchange on Wednesday with the Zone Leaders, and on Thursday we were switching back, and since the train was kind of full Elder Nicoll and I didn't get to talk until we got back into Passau, which is about two and a half hours of travel time. Anywho, so we get there, and then I ask Elder Nicoll how he's doing...and he wasn't doing well.

We ended up having to cancel an appointment that night, and then he threw up that night, and I guess he threw up on a pretty regular basis during that entire night. So he ended up sleeping the entire day Friday, waking up at intervals to throw up or go to the bathroom. I barricaded myself in the kitchen and had personal study, and essentially killed time. It didn't take me long to go through our Area Book and try to contact people. I made a fancy lunch, read in the Book of Mormon, made No-Bake cookies, ate two or three dinners, and started making transfer predictions for the entire mission. (Speaking of No-Bake cookies. Mom, of course I know how No-Bake cookies are made. I have that recipe memorized. You skip the cocoa, and after you boil it you add 1 cup of peanut butter instead of half) Oh yeah, I also sewed up a pair of pants that were broken. I had a very full day. I was kind of looking forward to the day at the beginning, because I thought, sweet, I can just kind of relax today, and take it easy, but after like three or four hours of silence, and just sitting there I started to get a little antsy. Elder Nicoll decided to crash on our couch for some reason, where the music is... He also had a bowl of throw up sitting next to him for most of the day, and actually spilled that on the floor at one point. It was a little pathetic. Sorry, I know this is probably too much information.

The Sisters figured that I was freaking out, and so they got permission from President Miles to meet us in the Church on Saturday and clean. And that we did. We literally spent like 9 hours or so just cleaning the Church. We threw away bags and bags of trash, and really did a very good job of cleaning it up. It was fun, and yet by the end of the day I was really quite tired. 

Add to that Tuesday, where we had an eating appointment at the Müllers' house, and then spent most of the rest of the day helping them out, and we didn't get much traditional missionary work done this week. We still managed to give out a couple of copies of the Book of Mormon, and get some lessons in though.

Actually, something cool that I just found out today, is that we are finally going to be allowed to start using emailing as a way of contacting! They just sent us a list of new rules for internet use outside of Pday, and it looks like we are going to be able to spend an hour on the computer outside of Pday every week. It is not a huge amount of time, but considering that we haven't been able to do anything with internet up to this point I think it may be really nice. A lot of people don't want to give us a number or their address, and now we can at least get their emails and contact them that way.

Things with Elder Nicoll are still going pretty well. We're tight, I wouldn't say we're best friends or anything, but we get along fine. I feel like we are friends though, if not besties, we at least can have fun with each other, and so I'm happy about that. I really want to use these last few weeks of this transfer to really learn how to always look at my companion as a friend, so that I can apply that from the very beginning next time. I think that Bishop Whitworth's advice is really true, loving everyone is really the key to having an awesome mission, in terms of success and general enjoyment.

This transfer has actually gone really fast, and transfer calls will be next Friday. So I won't know what's happening when I write you next week, rather the week after. The actual transfer will be in two weeks from Thursday. Elder Nicoll and I both kind of think that I will get transferred, but I would love to stay another transfer here. I really feel like I have learned a ton here, and would love to stay.

You asked about the branch, and there has actually been a lot of drama going on recently, which is really too bad. I won't explain it exactly, but it could potentially result in the inactivity of a sister here. She hasn't come for two weeks in a row, and I was told she doesn't plan on coming for the next month, after which she will be gone on a trip for another couple of months. I'm really worried about it. The branch president's wife was talking to me a lot at church yesterday, she has been affected by it a lot. She looked really tired and not super happy. I don't know what is going to happen. It makes me super sad, because I have really learned to love this branch during the last couple of months. All the members here are so awesome, and I worry that this little spat will have far-reaching effects.

So on to lighter subjects, No. I have not purchased shoes yet. I think I am going to skip it. I tried some on today, and they were just super expensive. I am going to want to buy shoes before I go home, but I think I will do that right before I go, so that I don't have to worry about them being super comfortable or anything. I think I'll just deal with wearing the ones with holes in them when there is no snow on the ground, and when there is snow we could I can wear those boots that I bought last winter.

We actually had some teaching experiences yesterday, which was awesome. We had two appointments yesterday night, with the Nigerians, and with Andrej. The one with the Nigerians was actually a little frustrating. One of the guys, Joseph Peter, was having a really hard time accepting the Book of Mormon, and he eventually refused the commitment to read and pray about it. He explained to us that we need to teach from the Bible, not from the Book of Mormon. I think it was at that point that I pulled out my soap box, and climbed on up. There were about four or five guys in the room besides us, and I just gave some real testimony. I had been just praying to be able to speak with power, and I feel like my prayers were answered, because I just told them how I knew that both of these books contained the words of God. I promised them that if they really read in the book and prayed before we came again, they would know. Then I also told them that if they didn't I would wash my hands of any responsibility that I had to their eternal salvation, and would meet them at the Judgement Bar of Christ and tell them that I had tried to help them. I was really worked up, and really dug deep. At that point there were only two other people besides Joseph Peter (They were filtering in and out a little bit) in the room, and we committed them both to read in and pray about the Book of Mormon. We set up another appointment on Wednesday. The two main ones from this group are Frank and Vincent.

Our appointment with Andrej also went well, we actually got there soaking wet, because it started raining out of nowhere, and we didn't have our umbrellas with us. It was a little dangerous, because it was also pretty cold, but we didn't get sick, so I think we'll be fine.  Anyway, we talked with Andrej about the power of doing, and really helped him understand that he needs to do things. We're going to try to stay on him this week, keep more regular contact, and help him to really read and pray about the Book of Mormon.

Mom, I don't mention this enough, but thank you so much for your letters. Sometimes they do get a little bit rambly, but I love them regardless. It is great to just get a little something from home every week.

I love you all! Thank you for all your prayers and support!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Monday, November 4, 2013

Passau: November 4, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

This week has been a really good week. To answer your first question: yes, the Andersons got off ok. The Elders in Landshut helped them get onto the train on Wednesday, and they flew home on Thursday morning. As far as I know they are back in Utah. There will be about a month until the new couple arrives, because of the unexpected departure of the Andersons.

The weather has been starting to get a little bit colder. I have had to break out my winter jacket, which has been kind of annoying, because it's been at that kind of in-between temperature where you don't need the big jacket, but anything else wouldn't really be enough. Whatevs, I'll get through it. As for winter clothes, no I haven't bought any. I probably should buy a new pair of shoes because both of my pairs have holes/cracks in them, which wouldn't be very enjoyable if I was to walk through snow, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. As for jackets or anything like that, I think I am just going to use the same jacket I did last winter. It doesn't look super big, but it was warm enough to get me through last winter, and so I hope it will get me through this winter too. I bought a couple of scarves in the last couple of months, so I now have a little bit more variety in that area. I don't really want to buy new clothes until right before I go home, because I want them to still be nice. Some/most of my white shirts are starting to get yellow armpits, but I kind of have the same feelings. It's winter anyway, and I don't really want to buy new shirts again. I think I will be able to make it through.

My exchange with Elder Sessions was a ton of fun. We gave out a couple of Book of Mormons and had a ton of fun together. I love exchanges, and it was a ton of fun to talk about Offenburg. The church was finally moved from Offenburg to Lahr, a city more in the center of Offenburg's area. I'm glad it got changed after I was there, because the church was really close to where we lived, and it was way convenient. It's funny that you asked about Offenburg, because this week guess who showed up at Church? Two members from Offenburg. They are actually members of the Freiburg ward, their last name is Jung. While I was there they had been called as stake missionaries or something like that, and were asked to go down to Offenburg every week for church. They didn't remember my name, but to be fair, I also didn't really remember their name. They weren't the most personable people in the world, It was a lot of fun to talk to them though, and hear their accent again. I haven't heard that accent since I was in Offenburg, which was over a year ago.

For the cookies Mom, the recipe is the same as regular No-bakes, you just put a cup of peanut butter in after you boil it instead of cocoa. They are super easy, but ridiculously tasty. I think it is really cool that you are doing this cookbook, Mom. For which side of the family was it again? I know you have mentioned it before, but I can't remember, and I don't really want to sift through all your old emails to figure it out.

Oh my word, is Tanner's farewell next week? No one tells me anything! When is he reporting? Why did he wait so long to go on his mission? Now we won't see each other for like three and a half years! That ridiculous! 

Things with Elder Nicoll (note the spelling. Dad, you've been pretty creative with your spelling. Mom, I made the same mistake for the first week or so) have been a lot better recently. One morning during personal study I was taking some time to pray in our bedroom (I feel very blessed that I've had this opportunity in every one of my apartments so far) and I was trying to think about how I could make this day better, because I wasn't feeling very excited about it. I had the thought that I need to treat Elder Nicoll as my friend. For some reason during my mission I have often seen my companion as just that, a companion. I just haven't looked at my companions as my friend as well. Focusing on seeing Elder Nicoll as my friend has really helped me to learn to love and like him more. Our relationship is still not where I would want it to be, but it is definitely getting better. We are having a lot more fun together then we did at the beginning. I'm going to keep focusing on this during this next week, just looking at Elder Nicoll as my friend, not just someone with whom I have to spend time.

We met twice with the Nigerians this week. There was a different group of them each time, but we had pretty good lessons. Ok, let me rephrase that, the first one was good, and the second had potential to be good, but due to the fact that the U17 World Cup game between Mexico and Brazil was going on in the background, I don't think it achieved the spiritual levels it could have. In case you didn't watch the game, it went into shootouts, and from what I picked up from the yelling (they apologized, they were just 'caught away' in the game. I love how Africans speak English, it's hilarious), they actually had to do two different rounds of shootouts. In the end Mexico won the day though. But for realsies, the lesson was pretty good. They're just having time accepting the fact that God would reveal more to us when we already have the Bible. I straight up got out that scripture in 2 Nephi (I think), where it talks about A Bible! A Bible! and I read it to them. They really liked it. I'll let you know how things develop there.

We haven't made any progress with Gogo yet. We're going to try to give him a call this week to see if he wants to meet again. I'll be honest though, I'm not sure if anything else will come out of that. As for Andrej, our last two appointments have fallen through, but we should hopefully be having one this week.

Mom, as for missionary experiences, I don't think it is about how many you have, I think it is more about being ready to do it. If you pray for the opportunities and you are looking for them then I think you are doing just fine. Who knows, maybe your opportunity is just saying a kind word to someone? Or maybe it will just be your example. I think real missionary work is a lot more simple than we make it out to be.

Anyway, I think you are right, Dad. I really have been blessed to be able to serve where I have. I really have learned to enjoy giving talks, and I have gotten a lot better at being able to express myself at the pulpit (even in a foreign language). I am actually kind of sad that I won't be able to give talks as often after my mission.

Well, I think that is all that I have for this week. Like I said, it has been a pretty enjoyable week, in spite of the weather, and the apparent lack of success. We haven't been finding a ton of new investigators or even potentials recently, but we're doing our best, and I feel good about the work we are putting in. I have really been trying to find my own level of work recently, because sometimes I still feel like I try too hard to try to duplicate some of my old companions' level of work, which I feel may have been influencing my happiness.

Alright. I love you all. Thank you for supporting me, and for all your prayers!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Passau: October 28, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Anyway, this week has been pretty good. I actually saw Elder Barker real quick on Tuesday, and I would guess that they are doing pretty well. I think Elder Barker would be able to get along with everyone alright, except someone who is just outright mean, I don't think he could deal with that. Elder Niedens is anything but mean, so I think they should be able to get along alright.  

There has actually been a lot going on in the District this week. The Andersons, who are the Senior Couple, had a tragedy in their family, where their daughter-in-law, who is 33, died. So they decided instead of going home in five weeks, they will be going home this Thursday, so I've been calling them a lot and trying to help them prepare to go so unexpectedly. That has been pretty hard on them, and they have been rushing around trying to get everything taken care of. Beyond that the new Elder in Landshut was actually the one who was trained by Elder Szvoboda last year right when I left Offenburg, so we have been having a lot of fun talking about Elder Szvoboda, and about Offenburg. We actually have an exchange this week, which I am really excited for. The new Sister here in Passau is really cool, too. So all in all the District is doing alright, with the exception of the Andersons' family emergency.

I actually do have an amazing recipe for Carrot cake, that Sister Anderson gave me, Mom. I've made it twice, and it is super delicious.

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups grated carrots (I actually put four, it makes it more moist)
4 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 cups raisins (optional. I would only put raisins in this cake if you want to destroy everything that makes it tasty. So the choice is yours, but if you do it, the cake will taste terribly. Choose wisely (don't do it))

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil. Add eggs one at a time. Add carrots and mix well. Bake at 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Icing

2 tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar (1/2 bag)
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 square butter (no idea how much that means, I've never actually put any in my icing, and it has tasted super good)
chopped pecans (I also haven't tried this out yet, so I don't know if it makes it taste better or not)

NOTE: If you want it to be healthier you can cut the icing in half, but then you don't have as much icing...so do it at your own risk.

Anyway, that one and then the Peanut Butter No-bake cookies would be the two I would like to have in your cookbook, Mom.

Anyway, I am actually really nervous for next transfer calls. I am going to assume that my next area will be my last area, and I also have conflicting desires. I would love to be able to go the area where Elisabeth lives too, do we know which area that is, btdubs? I would also love to have one area in Austria, and I would love to go to one of the areas where Daniel served, none of which were in Austria... so I don't know what I really want. I just want to know what is going to happen. I am also glad that I don't have to make the decision, I know Heavenly Father will show President Miles where I should go.

Yeah, on Tuesday we had interviews, which always happen during our District Meeting, the whole thing was super interesting for me. During the meeting, Sister Miles had to take a phone call, and she didn't tell me right then when she came back into the meeting, but afterwards she said, Elder Merkley, I just had a great chat with your dad! It was pretty cool. The whole time we were in Munich I made sure that my District was keeping a look-out, just in case we ended up running into Dad. But yeah, the interviews were really interesting because President Miles really had some interesting insight for me. I was telling him about a lot of the things that have been on my mind recently, and he had good feedback for each one. He interrupted me at one point and said very directly, 'Elder Merkley, you're a perfectionist!' I was really speechless for a second, because I had never thought about it before, but it's true. I think a lot of stress that I have comes from the fear that I'm not doing everything as well as I could be, that I'm not living up to my potential, or that I'm disappointing people. President Miles had a lot of interesting advice on the subject, along with advice on a couple of other subjects that I brought up.  The advice you gave was also really thought provoking, Mom. I think you are right. I think that may be a reason why my excitement is where it's at.

I did get those letters from the Keith Merks, Mom. Oh my word, the letter from Scotty was the funniest thing I have read in a long time! I could just hear him as he would be saying all those things he wrote. It was hilarious. I also got the note from Miss V, which was also a really nice surprise. Thanks for having her write me something! You're the best Mom ever!

Missionary work has been going alright this week. We actually gave out like three or four Book of Mormons in the last few days, which has been really enjoyable. It has been really fulfilling to get some good work done in the last couple of weeks.

As for relationship with Elder Nicoll, it's been alright. Nothing to get really excited about. We get along fine, we haven't really had any problems with arguments or anything, but I don't know. There also hasn't been a real click. We talked about it for an hour or so yesterday, because I don't want this transfer to turn into a waiting game. I don't just want to endure for another few weeks until one of us gets transferred. I have been focusing on praying that God will give me a piece of the love that he has for him, and have been trying to do a lot of service. I think this week that is something that you could pray for. That I can develop a real love for Elder Nicoll. I know Uncle Keith talks about his little PLOW thing all the time, and it is really true, Love is something really important in missionary work, and I really want to develop a real Christlike love for Elder Nicoll this week.

The members here are great. I really love them. I actually had the oppurtunity to give a talk on Sunday, which I think is the fourth time I have given one here in Passau, and I realized how natural it felt to stand up there and talk to them. I mean, the Sagmeisters were gone, as was Brother Müller, so I was only standing in front of about nine people, three of them being other missionaries, but the feeling was still there. I really enjoy giving talks now. Maybe that is why I have been in so many little branches, because I was thinking about it the other day, and I think I have given between 10-15 talks in the last 16 months, which is something I would not have been able to experience if I was in big wards all the time.

Pristhood was a littler interesting though...our Branch President yelled at this crazy member from Austria while we were having the class. The guy was being kind of rude, and was interrupting and drawing us away from the topic, but yeah, Elder Niccol had a weird impression from his first Sunday.

Anyway, I love you all! Thanks for being such a great family!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Monday, October 21, 2013

Passau: October 21, 2013



Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, this week has been really crazy, and has gone by really quickly. I think I will just jump right into it. On Tuesday we actually had two eating appointments, because the members wanted to say goodbye to Elder Barker and Sister Regnier, who was also transferred. Elder Barker stayed in the Munich Zone, and actually went to Ingolstadt with Elder Niedens. You probably don't remember, but Elder Niedens was actually in my District when I was in Offenburg. He is about four months older on his mission than I am, and I think he was a completely inspired choice for Elder Barker's next companion. I can't think of a single other missionary who could do a better job. Sister Regnier was transferred into Graz, in Austria. It was really sad to say bye to both of them, and I feel like my friend group has been torn apart a little bit.

Speaking of which, it's funny that you were hanging out with the Jermans this week, because I was actually hanging out with Elder Jerman! We had Stake Conference this weekend, so I went up to a meeting on Saturday night, and then we all stayed in Munich at the Mission Home, and went to the meeting the next day as well. All the missionaries from our Zone were there, which was a ton of fun. Elder Jerman is actually District Leader in his district as well, so we got to see each other at some district leader training meeting we had before conference. I really enjoyed it. Stake Conference itself was also really great, the entire conference was devoted to missionary work. Our Stake President here is young, and is super motivated to do missionary work. He had three full-time missionaries give talks, in addition to President and Sister Miles. He also had all the missionaries in our Zone stand up and sing in a Choir in the Sunday session of the conference. I really enjoyed the Saturday Evening session, I think it may be one of the most spiritual church meetings I have been to in a long time.

Letters... Hmm, I actually got that one from the Merks a couple of days ago, and I got one from Sheridan that she sent three months ago. Apparently she sent it to the wrong address, so it took a while to find its way to me, haha. I also got a letter from my friend, Madeleine, whom I met at BYU.

So my new companion, Elder Niccol (please note my spelling error, he spells it two cs and one l), is from Lehi, Utah. It's actually kind of funny, because Elder Niedens trained him, and now I'm working with him, and I trained Elder Barker who is now working with Elder Niedens! Elder Niccol can speak pretty darn good German, he's been out on his mission for about a year, and can really communicate pretty well. I had decided that I only wanted to speak German with him, and it has actually been a bigger adjustment than I had thought. I think it is because Elder Barker only spoke English with me, and we usually spoke English in the apartment, and now sometimes I just forget that I want to speak German all the time. I have learned a ton of new words in these last few days though, mostly because I am used to telling stories exactly how I want to, because I can do that perfectly in English, and now I try to do that in German, and I am now learning all the cool words that I had never learned before. Words like Stoffwechsel or vornehm, or bekömmlich. They are really awesome words. We have been getting along pretty well, so far. I don't think that we will be having any problems with that. He seems to also want to work hard, and so I am looking forward to the work that we will be able to get done in the next transfer.

As for staying in Passau for another transfer, I think it is right. Like I said, I feel like there is a lot more that I can get done here, and if nothing else, I love the members here, and so I am happy that I can stay one more and spend a little bit more time with them. However, I will be honest, I hope that I get transferred after this one. Only because I only have four complete transfers left, and if I stay another one in Passau, then I will only have three in my last area, and I don't want to only spend three in the area where I will be able to build up relationships the best, because of the reduction of the language barrier. I actually would love to go somewhere that Daniel was for my last area, so that we could meet some of the same people. They actually just sent two new missionaries into Ulm, so now they have four Elders there.

Anywho, I can't believe that Scotty is going on his mission!! That is so cool that he has the opportunity to serve! I hope he has a great time.

Mom, yes, I got your letter with the talk in it. You actually forgot to put in the entire talk, there were only a couple of the pages in there, but don't worry, I still know the talk, because I have been studying every talk out of that last conference. I love that talk too, and I think it is way inspiring.

Andrej has been doing alright. Elder Niccol and I had an appointment with him on Thursday, which is the first night after transfers, and it went pretty well. We focused on what Andrej's part is to be able to receive an answer to his prayers. We were a little disappointed, because he hadn't prayed at all, but he had done his reading, so that was great. We will be meeting again with him in a couple of weeks, and will be following up with his efforts to read every single day.

Gogo... We had an appointment with him about a week and a half ago, where he forced another 50 Euro on us, gave us dinner, and then essentially told us that he doesn't plan on joining our Church. I was really sad, especially since he had read the Book of Mormon all the way until Moroni 6 or so. It was a great time, and I think we will try to stop back there again in a couple of weeks, but it sounded like he is a little closed off to our understanding of God's character. I hope that after he reads the promise in Moroni 10 though, he will come around... we'll see.

We actually had a pretty interesting experience this week. So we talked to this guy and his wife on the street on Friday and got his information. His name is Amaechi, and he is from Nigeria. We went to his place on Sunday to teach him and his wife. When we got there he led us into a room where there were three other guys from Nigeria. So we started teaching all of them, and unfortunately we had only brought one Book of Mormon with us, but we committed them all to read in it and pray about it. They asked a ton of questions and we spent a good amount of time explaining various concepts to them.  It was a lot of fun. We are planning on going back in about a week or so, where we hope to get them all Book of Mormons. I'll let you know as soon as something changes there.

Anyway, but we actually saw a good amount of success this week. We had almost no time to find, and yet we still found people while we were on our way to appointments and stuff, it was fun. I actually have been having fun with Elder Niccol. He actually reminds me a little bit of Elder Buck, in the way he talks and stuff.

Other than that I don't know what else there is to report. Life is good, I'm still having fun, and hopefully I will still learn a lot during this next transfer. I really want to focus on learning to judge myself by my own and the Lord's expectations in the next six weeks. Sometimes I feel like I develop my own opinion of myself based on what other people expect or want of me, and that is something that I am trying to get rid of. So that is potentially something else that you could pray for.

I love you!

Elder Merkley

Monday, October 7, 2013

Passau: October 7, 2013



Dearest Fam-bam, 
This week has been a lot of fun, and has gone by really quick. I guess I should comment on the weather, because Dad remarks on it every week, and I feel obligated to show that I really read his emails. Yes, fall has been setting in, which is making me sad. I don't like waking up when it is dark! It is so much better to wake up to the sun!! Also, I don't think I have ever told you, but both my pairs of Eccos have been worn through. One of them to the point where the bottom is really falling out, and the other only has a crack in it. I thought I could get the second one repaired, but I went by a shoe repair place today, and he told me it was done. I wouldn't care that much, except that when it rains my feet get wet, and I imagine that it won't be that different with the snow. So I might need a new pair of shoes to get me through my mission, which I'm sorry about, because I know how expensive these shoes were... As for other things I need, I hope that my coat will be big enough for this winter. It is more just like a thick jacket, but it got me through my last winter just fine, but if I am in a really cold place I may have to buy a new one. I would rather not though, and I actually just want to wait and maybe buy a cool normal person one before I go home. 
Which brings me to your first question, Father. I think I could maybe use another couple of things of deodorant, and I can't think of anything else right now. You come next week, right? I'll think about it and let you know. Also, just to let you know, next Sunday, as in two weeks from yesterday, is Stake Conference, so if I don't get transferred I will also be in Munich on that Sunday, which is pretty crazy, I know. 
Elder Barker has been doing pretty well, he has been speaking more German with me, which I am really happy about. It is still not to the point where we want it to be, but we are still working on getting better at it. I do feel really good about the time that we have spent together. I think it has been really necessary for my own personal growth. I have been really pleased with my progress in the last few months, I feel like I have learned a ton about myself and about other people in general. It has been a very interesting experience. 
We actually did find an investigator this week. His name is Andrej Schmidt, and is a Russian-German, meaning that he is German originally but was born in Russia and speaks German with a Russian accent. He is about 30 years old, and we actually found him through the Area Book. We talked to him a lot about prayer, and we should be meeting with him again on Friday.  On that same night we should also be meeting with Gogo, whom we talked to a couple of days ago. We set up the appointments one right after the other so that we can hopefully get members to come to both of them. 
This actually reminds me, we had a finding day in Landshut a few months ago, and another Elder and I talked to this guy, who gave us his information. He became an investigator for the Landshut Elders, and actually ended up accepting the invitation to be baptized. He is African and is from Rowanda. Anyway, yesterday when I was in Landshut for General Conference, I had the oppurtunity to interview him for his baptism, which was a really neat experience. It was cool to see how well he knew the gospel, and to really see that he believes in it all too. It was just a way uplifting interview. 
I was also really uplifted by conference this week. I really focused on preparing myself for it during the last six months, and I made sure that I read each talk from the last one, and read a good amount of them more than once. I learn even more being able to read it, and write down my thoughts and feelings without having to worry about missing more wisdom. I would love it if you could send me a copy of the conference Ensign, but you don't necessarily have to, because I could potentially just order myself one from lds.org, and then you don't have to pay the extra money to send it all the way from America. I enjoyed every talk, especially the one from Elder Dube, and Elder Bednar. They spoke such great words of wisdom. President Utchdorf gave one that really made me thoughtful, I can't wait to read that again. Oh, that reminds me, just so that you know, every conference when they do the sustaining of the officers of the Church, the Germans always snicker when they hear how they pronounce President Utchdorf's middle name. They do use a really strong American accent, haha. 
As for your question, Dad, we were able to watch every session but the last. We actually had to miss a portion of President Monson's talk, as we had to leave early in order to get our train back to Passau. Other than that we saw every session. Sunday was a long day though, because that is the day when we watch three sessions, and I don't know about you, but after six hours of trying to concentrate I have a very slow mind. I wasn't getting as much out of the last session, just because I was having trouble focusing. That's why I am really excited to be able to read them, because I always get more the second or third time. 
Another cool thing that happened this week was that I got a package from Aunt Tami!! I swear it was one of the coolest packages I have ever received! She put some of my favorite candy in there, a couple of ties, and two of the coolest games ever. One of them was a Trivial Pursuit game, and I have already been going through and just quizzing myself, I actually need to get some more cards, because I have had the package for about three or four days, and I am already about three-fourths of the way through the cards.
 I had forgotten how much fun Trivial Pursuit it. I have been telling everyone about how Kimmie and I are the Dream Team, and always win. 
Tim and Tam are expecting a baby?! What? That's so cool! I was starting to wonder when they would have their next baby. And it's in May too, that's pretty awesome. 
Mom, you know that when we write letters to our siblings, it's not that we don't want you to read it, rather we want to be able to write super honest letters to a single person, and if we know that someone else is going to be reading it then we can't be quite as honest. Don't fret too much, just be happy that we like each other. 
Love,
Elder Merkley