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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heilbronn: January 28, 2013


Note: I have posted three weeks of emails at one time here, so be sure to look down and read all of them.

Dearest Fam-bam,
Well you have probably noticed that it is a little later than usual, but don't worry, I can explain. We went to Stuttgart today to play basketball with a few other areas in the Zone, which was a lot of fun. Literally the first time I have played basketball in about 8 months, haha. We played for about 2 and a half hours, and we had to ride trains for about an hour and a half, but I still think it was worth it. Anyway, but after we played the Elder Buck started to feel really sick and dizzy, so we went home and he slept for a while. Our mission president is really adamant that we email every week, and so we are emailing, although it is already 8!
Anyway, YES. I RECEIVED THE LETTER WITH THE PICTURES. THEY WERE GREAT: I SHOWED THEM TO MY WHOLE DISTRICT THE NEXT DAY. AND TO EVERY MEMBER THAT WE HAVE GONE TOO SINCE THEN. NO: I DON'T HAVE ANY RECIPES TO ADD YET. I WILL TRY TO FIND SOME, BUT I CAN'T GUARRANTEE ANYTHING.
We had a really good week though. We had just a ton of appointments the whole week, and we almost broke my record for 6 lessons in one week, haha. I hope that sometime during my mission I can break that record, it's been following me for too long. We had an appointment with Sven this week, and it was really great, just like normal. He told us that before he goes into his therapy program, he wants us to give him a blessing. Not 'the missionaries', rather us. It's great, he was also telling us how it would be great if we can be here for his baptism. I'm so stoked for him! I think his two daughters will be eventually baptized too. Sven reads in the scriptures every night with the one daughter who lives with him. I heard him telling a member on Sunday how he just loves the Book of Mormon, he said, I just think it's great, such a great book. I could only agree! Yeah, Sven is just the greatest, he makes me so happy. It is just great to see someone really coming closer to Jesus Christ and to be priviliged to be a part of that change is just amazing.
But yeah, we have been trying to work more with the less actives in our ward, and so we had quite a few more lessons with them, and we were always able to bring another member with us, and so we hope to be able to help some of them come back to Church.
This branch is so great. I love them so much! We still go almost ever Monday to this family, Rukasz, to eat and have Family Night, and besides that we sometimes have one more eating appointment during the week. But the ward loves us, and I really feel like I'm a part of the ward. This last week, (or was it the week before?) we went to an appointment with this guy, Brother Lichner, who is the High Councilor for Missionary Work, and after he told us that we should call his wife, and tell her that he wasn't actually there. Brother Lichner is hilarious, he's like 6'8, and he just loves bothering his wife, and telling jokes and stuff. And so we called her, and she was super worried, and then we felt really bad, and told her that her husband had made us do it, and when we talked to him on Sunday, he told us that she was really mad at him when he got home. Which of course made him happy, haha.
This week you can pray for the Janotta, specifically Phillip Janotta. He's like 25, a hipster, and his wife is a member. They invited us over on Tuesday night, and we are going to invite him to learn more about the Church, and we really hope he will become an investigator.
We met with Sargon again, but we haven't felt there has been real progress. We just got him a Book of Mormon in Arabic, and we should be meeting with him next week again. Ok, my time is up, I love you all and yeah, the Gospel is true!
Love,
Elder Merkley

Heilbronn: January 21, 2013


Dearest Fam-bam,

 
So this week was pretty good, although it was really cold... What wasn't so much fun was that just like most of these other weeks where we have had a ton of appointments, the most of them fell out.

We did find one new investigator however, his name is Sargon and is from Iraq. Still not sure how much real potential he has. He is in Germany because he is Christian, and being Christian in Iraq is not the best thing that you can do... But yeah, we gave him a soft baptismal commitment, so if he finds out that this is true then he will be baptized.
Sven did come to Church again, and yeah, this guy is just so cool. We actually went by on him earlier in this week, because we were in the area, it was like 27 degrees or something like that, and we had been dooring for like an hour and a half. Those three things together combined and we swung by on him to just see how he was doing. He loves it when we come by, and he just said, Ahh, you guys have perfect timing, I was just about to cook! And then he made us dinner, which was great. Sven has actually owned a restaurant at one point, and he was also the cook there, and so he cooks really well. But yeah, on Sunday he was kind of grumbling, because he has to bring a bag with him to church now. He has so many books that he can't just carry them with him anymore, haha. He has his Book of Mormon, Bible, small pamphlet about the Doctrine and Covenants, and then one of the Teaching of the Prophets books. He is just one of the regulars in Church now, and he is really already a p of the ward.
Our appointment with Bashir was cancelled this week, because he had to go into Stuttgart on the day where we were supposed to meet with him. He didn't come to Church this Sunday, but we are hoping to be able to meet with him during this week and hopefully he will be able to come next week.
I got a...card from the Chicago Merkleys. I am a little hesitant to call it a Christmas card, seeing as I got it today, the 21st of January. Maybe calling it New Years is better? I don't know, but it was a nice little card, and I really enjoyed the very well written poem, haha. I didn't even know that Cameron and Lucy got engaged, maybe someone had told me that at some point, but if I had heard it I definitely forgot.
This week it snowed for two days straight, and has been pretty cold. Well, I think it has been pretty cold, although it is still unseasonably warm for this time of year, with temperatures averaging in the high 20s. I actually will buy boots today I think, because with my bad circulation and the hours we spend dooring, my feet have almost frozen. And I found out last year when I was at BYU, I hate cold feet, and I didn't even have to walk around outside all the time, haha.

I don't think I need anything from home, but I'll let you know if I think of anything.

Anyway, I love you all, thanks for all your prayers
Love you!
Elder Andy Merkley

Heilbronn: January 14, 2013


Dearest Fam-bam,
Greetings from Heilbronn! Winter has started to enter its worst phase, and should only be getting colder for the next few weeks, which is not always as much fun as you would think. Nobody is on the street when it is so cold, nobody that is, except for the two crazy missionaries who don't have anything better to do! Yeah, I complain, but it was really only about 28 degrees or so, so that wasn't that bad. I hear it should get to around 10 or so in the next week, so yeah, time to man up!
But yeah, for realsies this week was actually pretty great! We found one new investigator, actually through Ralph Jäger who we found a week or two ago. When we went over this week for our second appointment, he said that two more people would be coming, and we were pretty surprised. I mean, we had expected one extra person, Bruno, but not a second. And so yeah, that was pretty great. And then they asked us if we would be willing to come speak to their circle of friends, and to do a little presentation about our church. We were lik, '...uhhh, Yes!' So that will be our next appointment, but it isn't for a few weeks, so don't expect any updates on that for a little while.
I really felt the Lord leading us this week though. There were three specific incidences that I can think of where I know the Lord put us in the right place at the right time. 1. During our finding day in Heilbronn this week, Elder Thompson and I were doing an exchange, and dooring in an area Elder Buck and I had picked out the night before. As we were dooring, this one guy came to the door, and I thought he looked a little familar, but I talk to so many people now, I wasn't even sure. And then he just said, 'No no no, we have our appointment for tomorrow! I don't have time right now!' And I just stuttered out, 'Oh yeah, that's right'. It was Bruno! Our investigator who we met through Herr Jäger! The Lord just helped us to find where he lived I guess. It was also great, because we hadn't confirmed the appointment, and then, boom, confirmed. These stories are kind of long. The other two were just really similar, running into potential investigators. I just really felt that right when we push ourself the hardest, the Lord will bless us with a cool experience.

We also just made out a ton of appointments for next week. I know I have said that a lot, and a lot of the time a lot of them just fall out, but I mean, we have around 8 or 9 already made out. That is more than I have had in a long time. So that is really exciting.  Also...we had two investigators come to church yesterday!!! But before I talk about that, I will answer your questions, because I think in the course of answering these questions I will talk about these two investigators.
1. So Nadine cancelled our appointment...So we didn't get to teach her about the Restoration. She also said that we could call in like 2 months to try and make out another appointment with her...so yeah, haha, not much progress on that front.

2. Sven did come to church this week! With his two daughters too! He told us during our lesson today that he really enjoys Church. Also, he has given up coffee! He still has other problems, but he is making promise. I don't know if I told you, but he actually only gave up coffee because I made a deal with him. I don't drink any more caffeine, so Dr Pepper, Coke, anything, and he will give up coffee. He drank the rest that he had, and now he's done with it! It was so cool!
3. I got a  couple letters today. One from Alicia Myers, and one from Sister Miller, I haven't even read them yet, but I am pretty excited to!
Anyway, so the other investigator who came to church was Bashir. He is from Pakistan. We had lost contact with him for about a month, after he had tried to drop us, but now we are meeting again. This was the second time he said he would come, and so to be honest, I was really surprised that he did come. But he said that he liked it, even though he can't speak German. So guess who ended up translating for him? Yep, this kid. But yeah, he really asked some good questions, and really showed his desire to learn and make correct decisions. I'm pretty excited for him. Yeah, so he is now a progressing investigator too!
Wow, this email was ridiculously long! I love you all, you should do missionary work too, because the missionaries can't do everything. Of that I have a very strong testimony!
Love,
Elder Andy Merkley

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Heilbronn: January 6, 2012

This is Andy wearing his "Hochzeitskrawatte" (Wedding tie), in recognition of Kimmie getting married!

**I messed up the posts! I posted Jan 14 then Jan 6, so don't forget to read the  post below this one!

Dearest Fam-bam,

So first off, I wanted to ask Mom, did I miss the Dear John? I don't think I've gotten a real letter from you in like a month or so. I mean, I know I'm not the perfect son, but I thought that was a little much. Once a week to nothing is a pretty big change... Mom, I actually don't want you to freak out that you forgot to write me, haha, I just wanted to guilt trip you a little bit. Merkleys (At least our branch) do that really well. Do you remember that time I guilt tripped Kimmie into buying an All Sports-Pass? The Ultimate Guilt Trip! Before I forget, I got a letter from the Whitworths last week, with a little letter from Tanner in there. It made me so happy! The first time I've heard from my best friend in 7 months! But yeah, so now my bulletin board has a picture from my second family, although it is missing Scott, and Erin's new husband, who I don't think I've ever met...

Anyway, the wedding sounded great! I'm so glad that it all worked out, especially with the last minute change of venue and everything. That's great that Grand was able to do the sealing too. I look forward to him being able to perform that same ordinance for me sometime in the future. And yes, I definitely remembered to wear my tie, and I even wore my whole suit during the day to look the part! I was telling everyone, my whole district (we had district meeting on that day), some random people on the street, and some investigators, that this was my 'Hochzeit Krawatte', which means (I hope...), wedding tie. It was a pretty good day too.

Wait, Rafe's mission is delayed? When was he supposed to go? I thought he was already gone! I had never heard a specific date, I think, just that he was going to Rome. I hope they get him out there quick, two to three weeks can feel like forever when you are waiting for a huge change like a mission.

So we found one new investigator this week. Her name is Nadine, and she is a little bit crazy... When we sat down to talk to her, she just said that she had just one question for us, and that it had been lying on her heart for a long time. And then she asked, 'Did the dinosaurs exist?', and Elder Buck and I just kind of looked at each other really confused... But yeah, that was an interesting appointment. We found her through the area book, and we have another appointment with her on Saturday. She has trouble believing that God can speak with his children, she says that he is silent, so we will be teaching the Restoration and try to show her that God is not silent, that he still speaks with his children.

Other than that we didn't find a lot of new investigators this week, we had quite a few appointments with people who didn't become new investigators, and we made out a few new appointments for next week, but in the ways of investigators, this week wasn't the best.

Sven couldn't come to church yesterday, because he had a cold, but we have another appointment with him on Thursday. I don't know if I had already mentioned it, but he does have an 11 year old daughter who also isn't baptized, but she comes regularly to Church too. He doesn't want her to baptized yet, because he says she doesn't really believe it yet. But we will try to talk to him more about that on Thursday.

This week we have been trying to work more with the less active members and with the Part Member families. We have made out a few more appointments and we hope to be able to meet with these people and help them on their way back.

That's so cool that Elisabeth will be coming to stay with you! Anna should work on her German and try to practice it a little bit with her. German is such a great language, I just love it.

Anyway, sorry that I don't have a ton of cool stories to tell you. Neat things do happen to me, I just forget to tell you all about them, haha. I'll try to write down in my planner the really awesome things that happen, and then next week I can tell you all about them.

Ok, I love you all!
Elder Andy Merkley



Here Andy is celebrating the New Year with Johann and some others!

Heilbronn: January 14, 2013


Dearest Fam-bam,
Greetings from Heilbronn! Winter has started to enter its worst phase, and should only be getting colder for the next few weeks, which is not always as much fun as you would think. Nobody is on the street when it is so cold, nobody that is, except for the two crazy missionaries who don't have anything better to do! Yeah, I complain, but it was really only about 28 degrees or so, so that wasn't that bad. I hear it should get to around 10 or so in the next week, so yeah, time to man up!
But yeah, for realsies this week was actually pretty great! We found one new investigator, actually through Ralph Jäger who we found a week or two ago. When we went over this week for our second appointment, he said that two more people would be coming, and we were pretty surprised. I mean, we had expected one extra person, Bruno, but not a second. And so yeah, that was pretty great. And then they asked us if we would be willing to come speak to their circle of friends, and to do a little presentation about our church. We were lik, '...uhhh, Yes!' So that will be our next appointment, but it isn't for a few weeks, so don't expect any updates on that for a little while.
I really felt the Lord leading us this week though. There were three specific incidences that I can think of where I know the Lord put us in the right place at the right time. 1. During our finding day in Heilbronn this week, Elder Thompson and I were doing an exchange, and dooring in an area Elder Buck and I had picked out the night before. As we were dooring, this one guy came to the door, and I thought he looked a little familar, but I talk to so many people now, I wasn't even sure. And then he just said, 'No no no, we have our appointment for tomorrow! I don't have time right now!' And I just stuttered out, 'Oh yeah, that's right'. It was Bruno! Our investigator who we met through Herr Jäger! The Lord just helped us to find where he lived I guess. It was also great, because we hadn't confirmed the appointment, and then, boom, confirmed. These stories are kind of long. The other two were just really similar, running into potential investigators. I just really felt that right when we push ourself the hardest, the Lord will bless us with a cool experience.

We also just made out a ton of appointments for next week. I know I have said that a lot, and a lot of the time a lot of them just fall out, but I mean, we have around 8 or 9 already made out. That is more than I have had in a long time. So that is really exciting.  Also...we had two investigators come to church yesterday!!! But before I talk about that, I will answer your questions, because I think in the course of answering these questions I will talk about these two investigators.
1. So Nadine cancelled our appointment...So we didn't get to teach her about the Restoration. She also said that we could call in like 2 months to try and make out another appointment with her...so yeah, haha, not much progress on that front.

2. Sven did come to church this week! With his two daughters too! He told us during our lesson today that he really enjoys Church. Also, he has given up coffee! He still has other problems, but he is making promise. I don't know if I told you, but he actually only gave up coffee because I made a deal with him. I don't drink any more caffeine, so Dr Pepper, Coke, anything, and he will give up coffee. He drank the rest that he had, and now he's done with it! It was so cool!
3. I got a  couple letters today. One from Alicia Myers, and one from Sister Miller, I haven't even read them yet, but I am pretty excited to!
Anyway, so the other investigator who came to church was Bashir. He is from Pakistan. We had lost contact with him for about a month, after he had tried to drop us, but now we are meeting again. This was the second time he said he would come, and so to be honest, I was really surprised that he did come. But he said that he liked it, even though he can't speak German. So guess who ended up translating for him? Yep, this kid. I think I was a little liberal with the translation. I would think, 'No, that's a little crazy, he doesn't need to know that', and I would just change it a little to fit his level of understanding of the gospel. I hope that's not that bad. I just liked being able to screen some of the crazy things members sometimes say. But yeah, he really asked some good questions, and really showed his desire to learn and make correct decidions. I'm pretty excited for him. Yeah, so he is now a progressing investigator too!
Wow, this email was ridiculously long! I love you all, you should do missionary work too, because the missionaries can't do everything. Of that I have a very strong testimony!
Love,
Elder Andy Merkley

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Heilbronn: New Year's Eve (December 31, 2012)

This is Andy with Anke Lehnart (his German teacher from BYU)



Dearest Fam-Bam,

Well, I really enjoyed talking to you on Christmas, and thankfully, I was able to avoid  trunky feelings for the next couple of days! This whole week was pretty weird though, let me tell you about it...(But I don't have a lot of time, because this member, a guy who actually knew Daniel while he was on his mission, from Ludwigsburg invited us and the Ludwigsburg Elders over for New Year's Eve tonight)

So after I talked to you on Christmas, we had some really great Chicken Enchiladas made by the Costas (they're the Spanish-Brazilian family who studied at BYU). No, that is not normal German Christmas food, but it was my special request. And it was delicious, a little Spanishized, but it was still quite tasty. So our mission president told us that we could watch movies with the members if they wanted too, or if it was a tradition or something like that, and so we ended up watching a couple movies with them before we left, and it was really quite weird. The combination between talking with you guys, and then watching normal movies was just quite strange, haha.

Then the day after Christmas, aka second Christmas here in Germany, we spent some time doing streeting, and then we went to lunch at our Branch President's house, which was pretty fun. Then we visited an investigator who we knew would be alone, and we spent about an hour with him too, which he really appreciated. Yeah, it was a good day too.

So we actually managed to find three investigators during this week. So we actually found this guy through dooring. We had taken the wrong bus (whitewashing still plays a part some time, but we declared the area 'gewhitewashed', which would just be the past tense of whitewashing, about a whole transfer ago. Oh whoops, before I forget, Elder Buck and I will be staying a third transfer together here.), and so we had about 15 minutes or so before the next bus came to take us to the area we had really wanted to go, and so we decided to just knock on some doors for a while, the very last door was this guy, Ralph Jäger, who said that we could come back. When we came back on Thursday, he let us in, and then like 30 seconds later his friend came by, and so he let him in too. It was just perfect timing, because if we had come after this friend, he wouldn't have let us at all! But yeah, so we just had an introduction lesson with them, and we should be seeing them both again not this week, but the week after.

Then on Sunday we went by on a former investigator, and while we were walking there we talked to this guy on the street, and it turned out to be this guy we were looking for. He invited us in and we had a little lesson about the Book of Mormon. He believes it is Holy Scripture, but for some reason can't understand why it is important that he changes. Reading the introduction in the Book of Mormon didn't really help, but yeah, we'll see where that goes. His name was Johann Ott, btw.

So one of our investigators is now a progressing investigator. It's always just hard for me to count our investigators as progressing, because sometimes I feel like progressing investigators should already have a baptisimal date and everything. But yeah, his name is Sven Peters, I've already written about him before, I think. He was the guy we visited on 2 Christmas day, and he has been coming to church pretty regularly the last month and a half or so.

There is also this young part member family that we are going to try and start working on this week. They're way cool, and they both are coming pretty regularly in the Church. This guy had these really long dreadlocks, but he was blonde, I mean, he's not an Afrikan, but yeah, it looked so cool, but now he got a hair cut, he's still cool and everything, just not as impressive as with the dreadlocks, haha. But yeah, on the serious side, I think there could be some real potential with this family, we're just trying to handle it well so we don't create an awkward situation.

Haha, yeah, Mom, Dad actually showed me that TV while I was talking with somebody else. He was like a little kid, snuck out of the garage, brought it over and just put it over Katie while she was in the middle of a sentence. Then he just said, 'Shh, Mom doesn't know yet', and snuck it back to the garage. It was hilarious!

Anyway, but another reason that this week was weird was because yesterday, I saw my German teacher, Anke Lehnert, in my ward. I am almost positive that I have already told you that she was baptized in this ward before whe went to BYU. Anyway, it was so weird to see her. We talked a bunch about BYU, and on of my best friends, Alicia, because she was in that same class too. It was way cool, because we were talking mostly in German, and yeah, I could just feel my improvement in that moment. 

But yeah, the German is coming along nicely. I can still hear my American accent pretry easily, and almost everyone on the street can tell that I am American. I have been asked three of four times if I am from Austria, but then again, usually on the same day I'll approach someone in German, and then after I talk to them they say to me, 'Sorry, I can't English', which is how you would literally translate the phrase from German. Yeah, so I am not so certain what my accent is like, I get both extremes!

There still is no snow right now. In fact, on that day where I talked to you, I didn't even where my jacket, because I decided it was warm enough to just wear a long sleeve shirt, and I wanted to enjoy that as long as I had the oppurtunity. But if you could maybe send me a couple pairs of normal drilux garments, that could be nice, I only have six normal drilux ones, and it gets annoying to have to wear one of the other pairs once every week.

That's so sad about Milo!! I definitely said a prayer for him right now, I hope that he is not in too much pain.

Anyway, we have a ton of appointments set up for next week. Actually we have around five in one day! I don't even know how that happened, or if we are going to be able to get to all of them, I hope it happens! I love you, but I need to get moving, my train comes in about ten minutes!

Love,
Elder Merkley