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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heilbronn: February 25, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,
The weather here has become very cold in the last few days! Well, I think it is cold at least. There have been a lot of days where the weather was in the 20s, and we didn't have as many appointments as we had wanted, and so we spent a lot of time outside.
But yeah, in spite of the weather this week was pretty good. I have been making a lot more of an effort to talk to Elder Buck, and during our last comp inventory, we talked about how sad it is that we are not really good friends. We are both pretty cool people (Or so we like to think), and yet for some reason we just haven't really clicked that much with each other over the last four and a half months. We then made a goal to become really good friends in our last month. I guess it does really show how comfortable we are with each other, that I could just say to him, 'Elder Buck, we're not super great friends. Let's fix that.` I think that with a lot of people, i wouldn't have been able to really say that. But yeah, and we also made a goal to start going jogging a few times a week, and I made him pinky promise to start today, and so we ran this morning for a little over thirty minutes. There was definitely snow on the ground, and it was really cool for the first 3-4 minutes. I felt super hard-core, and then I just remembered how much I hate running, and the last 25 minutes were just normal. But, I was just frustrated with the 15 pounds or so that I've gained, and I wanted to start losing it a little.
Anyway, I guess I can just answer some questions now...
This week I got one letter I think, from Alicia, whom I am pretty sure you have never met. Which is sad, because she is one of my best friends.
Anyway, this week was great with Phillip. We have a ton to teach him, and we were stressing about that a little bit (Was I a big worrier before my mission? Because I worry about everything now...), but it ended up going fine. It was actually a little weird, I mean, how do you teach someone who already knows and believes everything? I asked him this questions about prophets, about why God would call one again, and he gave this perfect answer, even touching on authority and priestood, and describing their role very well. Then we were just like, 'Yeah, exactly...' So it was a little weird, just because he already understands everything, and already lives essentialy every commandment. But it was pretty great, because we watched the Restoration with him, and he told us afterward that right at the beginning of the movie, he felt this really strong spirit confirming to him that Joseph Smith was a prophet, which he said he had never really thought about that before. Fun stuff, to be able to see how the Spirit works to teach these things to people.
I was on an exchange during our appointment with Sven, and actually met some members who Daniel worked with... It was kind of weird, because I introduced myself, and then the wife said, Elder Merkley? We had an Elder Merkley a few years ago, and then we made the connection, and it was great. We spent like four hours there helping the dad assemble some entertainment center. Anywho, Sven. Yeah, we actually just spent like an hour with him walking around this kind of open air marked that only happens once a year or so. Lots of cool things, and lots of great German treats, haha (It was good that we went jogging this morning...).
We didn't have as many lessons as we wanted this week, I think we had two with a member, two other lessons, and one less active. That is about the average though, for what I have got in my mission so far. But next week we have this one day where we already have five appointments made out, with the potential to find five investigators. We're pretty pumped about it. My experience so far is that it takes about four or five weeks of a lot of finding and a lot of hard work, and then you have this one week where it all comes together, and you can have a lot of appointments. And then you start again, doing a lot of finding, and a lot of hard work. This week there were a couple of really hard days where we just didn't have anything. We feel like we have changed the area a little bit so far, like now it is a lot easier to get at least five lessons a week, where before we had trouble getting two sometimes. Because of that we usually have an appointment every day or so, and there have been a lot of days where we didn't have to do any major finding.
Our puzzle is still going, we got all the easy stuff done now, and so it has slowed down as we have lost motivation, but I think we'll get our second wind soon and push through, haha.
It's funny that you talk about these perfect little Mormon answers, Mom. From my experience, the Saints here in Germany don't really do that. Sunday School classes are really great sometimes, especially in a really small branch setting, because the members are so honest. They really say what they think. That is one thing I have really learned so far on my mission, it just to be more honest and straight forward about things. I haven't prefected it yet, probably never will, but I think it is really important to really mean what you say, and not just beat around the bush.
Anyway, life is good in ol' Heilbronn. We work hard, and we try to find people, sometimes we even manage to get someone to take a Book of Mormon, or get some information from someone. That's nice when that happens, haha. I think I'll try to send some pictures with this email, don't laugh at me because I've gained weight.
The first one just kind of happened, we had decided that it looked like the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python. The second one is that family that knew Daniel, their name is something wierd... I wrote it down, but I'm too lazy to look for it now. Ask Daniel. (From Daniel: The family he is talking about is the Grahovac family. Brother Grahovac was the ward mission leader in Ulm, an area where I served for 6 months. Shortly after my mission, they moved to Stuttgart. They are a great family and I am delighted that Andy got to meet them, and that they remember me!)
Well Family, I spoil you every week with such long emails. I hope you enjoy them.
Elder Merkley

Heilbronn: February 18, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,
I had such a good week! I just want to say that right now. I swear that everything just went perfectly this week. But before I talk more about that, I want to answer these questions that you, Mother, so persistently ask.
I received the monthly family letters this week, but other than that, nothing. Yes, I got the Valentine Package, and I shared the brownies with my district. They really liked them, and they keep bugging me to make sure I thank her for them, so, Katie, Thank you. I did get your hand-written letter, and it was very nice, thank you for taking the time to write that for me! Also, I just got the Christmas package from Anna last week, it took two months to get here!! I'm wearng the tie she sent me today, and have worn the beanie pretty regularly.

The weather was very German this week, and by that I mean that it was pretty random. It was warm for a day or two, and then it would cool down like 3-4C in just a couple of hours. I always carry my gloves and my beanie with me, to be ready to spite Mother Nature, because she always trys to make me cold, haha.
Ok, enough chit chat, down to the good stuff. Guess who now has a baptisimal candidate? May or may not be us!! Yes, Phillip will be getting baptized!!!! It is so cool! So, here's how it went down: in planning for our lesson we had realized that we were still unsure exactly what he believed about the Church, so we just asked him, and in the course of the conversation he said that he had decided to be baptized sometime this year. And then he said that he would like to be baptized on March 17, because that will be his and his wife's one year anniversary, and he wants to be able to get sealed on the temple next year at that time. You can just imagine our joy. Not only does he want to get baptized, but he is already planning the date for his celestial marriage! But then on church on Sunday, he told us that he actually wants to be baptized on the 10 of March! So we have three appointments with him, and three and a half lessons to teach him. I feel like a South American missionary, it's all happening so fast!
Sven is also doing really well, he should be finding out in the next couple of weeks when he will be going to his therapy program, but he will probably be there for a few months, so that means that I probably won't be here when he is actually baptized. Also, they both came to church yesterday.
This week was a lot better with Elder Buck. We had talked about a lot of things during our last comp inventory, and I think we worked a lot better together this week. It's not that we fight or anything, it's just sometimes frustrating, because I can tell he doesn't like my ideas, or the way I want to work, but he just says ok, and then tries to go on. So I always have to ask for his opinion, and kind of work to find out what he likes to think. But I am really impressed with him, because he goes home in about a month or so (this transfer is only 5 weeks), and I really don't think he is trunky at all, even though he has a girl waiting for him. That just is very impressive, and I hope he can hold out, killing companions is not fun. But I bought a puzzle last week, and Elder Buck and I have been doing that as a comp project, which has been fun, but since I have to call a ton of people every night, I don't really have that much time to do it.
I have really been noticing recently how strong my tesitimony has been becoming. It's not that I used to have doubts or anything, but now I just have such a surer knowledge of things. I understand the gospel so much better, and it is so much easier for me to bear my testimony about it. I've been reading other people's emails, and I was feeling bad that I don't share a lot of the spiritual experiences I have, should I be doing more of that? Sometimes I feel like these emails have nothing of worth in them, so sorry if that's the case...
We have found some really solid potential investigators this week; and have even made out a few appointments for the next couple of weeks. Some of these conversations we had were just great, the spirit really just comes in sometimes and testifies of what we say, it is really a cool feeling. I hope we will be getting some new people into our teaching pool, which has been shrinking recently as we have been dropping a lot of our investigators that haven't been making progress.
I love this area and ward so much! They are all just so great, and we even got a Ward Mission Leader yesterday! It's this 30 something year old Brazilian guy, who doesn't speak German, but is really excited to try and make some changes, he also told us that he was AP on his mission for like a year or something, so we're pretty excited.
I think that is all that happened to us this week...well, everything that I really want to write about anyway. I love you all!
Elder Merkley