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Monday, June 24, 2013

Passau: June 24, 2013



Dearest Fam-bam,

Wow, thanks for not telling me what actually went down in this 'Missionary Work changing broadcast.' If you had thought about it, you would have realized that this broadcast happened at about midnight my time (props to Dad, he did mention that), so there was no way that I was able to see that. After a lot of looking around in lds.org, and trying to put the pieces together from your various emails, I was able to piece together that at some point we, as missionaries will be starting to use internet to do our missionary work. The APs in our mission did tell us to not start using these things until they get more information about it, so as for instant changes to my life, I would say that this will have none. I am frustrated though, because I feel like all these awesome changes to missionary work are coming, but that they will probably really hit my mission after I'm gone... I guess we're all playing for the same team though, and it will be cool to tell my kids that all these big changes happened while I was on a mission. Anywho, it does sound great that it's the GML's responsibility to fill in our time with productive things to do. Right now that is one of the biggest struggles that Elder Barker and I have, is just having good productive things to do.

Passau is a really pretty city and it totally has that old European feel that I had been missing in Heilbronn. The old city is super pretty with a ton of small alleyways, a lot of cobblestone (heads up, Mom), and a lot of cool restaurants where you could sit outside and do some people watching, which is always a ton of fun, especially in Europe. The countryside is also really nice, we drove around yesterday with a member, in order to take the sacrament to a few members and what I saw of the countryside was very green and beautiful. As for the weather though...this week was H-O-T, oh, and humid. Really, I heard that it was around 100 F at one point, and it was pretty miserable. The instant you stepped outside you were just hot. And to be honest, being inside wasn't much better either (Someday the Germans will get over the high energy costs and just install some AC in their houses). I hear their are nice things to see in the area, but we only have bus tickets for the city of Passau, and if we want to leave the city we have to pay, so we have been staying mostly in Passau. Especially since we don't even know the city that well either.

There were like 24 people in church yesterday! We had a lot more for various reasons. 1. The Sisters brought an investigator and a less active to church.  2. A random lady showed up, who I guess has just come a couple of times (the sisters have set up an appointment with her, so hopefully we'll see some success through that) and 3. The Sagmeister parents were there, which altogether put us over the normal amount.

This week we have done a good amount of service, and a ton of finding. That is about all that we have done this week. We still don't have any investigators, and still haven't taught a lesson together, but we found 10 potential investigators and have around 4 or 5 appointments set up for this next week, so we are hoping that after this week we may actually have a teaching pool, haha.

So I thought a little bit about what you can have those future missionaries do in order to prepare for their missions, and I had an idea. Maybe you could have them organize some sort of activity to which members can invite their friends, and to which they can invite their friends. I wish that I had some sort of experience with organizing those kind of things, so that on your mission you can bring some experiences with you, and maybe try to apply it in your own mission. I don't know, it was just a thought. I just thought it would be great if they could also experience the other kind of missionary work, working with members, planning events, those kind of things. For me I don't think it would have helped me a ton to go do finding before my mission because I learned how to do that pretty fast here in the field, but if I had had some expereince doing member work somehow, that would have been awesome.

Also, I did get a couple of letters this week. I got one from Sister Whitworth, one from Aunt Jennifer and Uncle Darrel, one from Brod and Kelsey, and one from the whole fam-bam, well, that is relative, because there were letters from three people, and one of them was just a template letter...

Yeah, it has been a good week, and I have learned a lot of things.

I don't know what else to write... I'm kind of bored with writing things right now, but I love you!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Monday, June 17, 2013

Passau: June 17, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

So, my new companion is Elder Barker, from Springville, Utah.  He is already 21, and is turning 22 in a couple of months.

Passau is really different. It is funny that you had aleady heard about it, Mom. And yeah, the flooding here was RIDICULOUS. The water was still a couple meters high when I got here, but most of it was done. I think in total the flooding was around 13 meters high. The whole old city was underwater, and tons of people lost everything, because it happened so fast and it was so unexpected. And yes, I have definitely had opportunities to serve because of it. Saturday I served around nine hours with some members of the ward, and other missionaries, and then today we went and served another four hours. So much water. And I have been super sore recently.

The branch is just as small as we had expected, on Sunday as church was starting, there were thirteen people in the room. Four of them were full-time missionaries.  The Sagmeisters are really cool. Our ward mission leader is a Sagmeister, and has been back from his mission for around 6 months or so. One of the Sagmeister boys, Johannes, already has his mission call, and will be reporting in a month to go to the Leeds (Is that how you spell that?), England Mission. His little brother already has his papers in too, and should then be leaving during summer at some point too. That is awesome for them, but will be a significant blow to the ward, as they lost 2 of their 14 active members. But the branch is super cool, a ton of them came to me after I had introduced myself and told me that I spoke German almost without an accent, which was really nice. I am the oldest missionary in our ward right now. One of the Sisters is a Golden right now, and the other one has been out for like 6 months, so maybe they just missed the accent by comparison...

As for working with less-actives... we don't even have a ward list yet.  We are literally starting from scratch. We have absolutely nothing to go on right now. When we got to the apartment, we found our new area book, which was awesome. It was a half-inch white folder. The tabs that organize it were there too, all nice and still in their package. And there was nothing inside. All we have done for the last few days is streeting! We have found 2 potential investigators so far, but to be honest, I am unsure what kind of potential they have. This is going to be super hard, just starting from nothing.

So we are essentially just sharing the area with the Sisters, who are both really cool. If we can't find a joint teach, which is super hard because of the small amount of members, then we can have the other companionship come with us. If we want to give people to them, then we can do that, but for the most part President Miles has said that when we find someone, we are often led to them for a reason, like we are supposed to be teaching this person. So we are not required to give up our female potentials to them. We'll see how we do it though, because we still need to sit down with the Sisters and the ward mission leader and decide how we can organize this.

Our apartment is really nice, it is known as the Passau Palace. I think the Sisters took the new one because it is nicer, but not neccessarily bigger. We have a really nice look over the Donau river (I forget, is that spelled different in English? the Danube), and it is a good size. It doesn't even really have that dirty missionary apartment feeling like the most do!

Oh my word, Bayerish is so difficult to understand! The first night as we were streeting, I asked like three people, can you please speak High German with me? I'm American. It was ridiculous. It has already gotten a lot better, but the first time I heard it, I just thought, that's not Schwäbisch! Which is the dialect they speak in Heilbronn. I haven't really seen any cultural differences yet, just been noticing the dialect differences right now, haha. And yeah, we are ridiculously close to Austria. Where we were serving today was less than 500 meters from the Austrian border. But I think that Austria isn't actually a part of our boundaries, so I don't think we'll be getting there, which is unfortunate. Who knows? Maybe I'll never make it out of Germany! (Austria is part of the Alpine mission -rgm)

And no, I can't use facebook right now. I meant more for after the mission that it will be nice to be able to keep contact with him and with other members of the Heilbronn ward, whom I am going to miss with my whole heart. I really loved that branch.

That's crazy that Kevin is already home from his mission! Wow, how the time flies, am I really the next one to come home? That is still so far away, it's kind of funny how big of a gap there is between the missionaries in our ward.

I really don't know what else to report. We don't have any appointments this week and we will be doing therefore a ton of finding. So pray for me that I will have the strength to talk to everybody.  I have been trying to help my comp talk to more people, and yesterday we set a goal that he would talk with 16 people, and he did it, it only took about four and a half hours. . I know that everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, and he definitely has strengths. For instance, he is a great cook, and really enjoys cooking food for us, which I really appreciate.

The Sisters in this area are great. I have been calling them like 15 times a day to ask them questions about the area, about how to do certain things, how to go certain places, and everything. They have been extremely helpful, and even made us dinner on the first night we got here, because we didn't have any food in the apartment. One of them was in my district for a couple of transfers back when I was district leader, and so it is fun to come and work in the same area with her now. 

Life is still good. I am happy, and am excited for what this next transfer will bring. I am stressed because of having to start this new program, but I think it will be good, just a ton of work is all it will take to get things moving. I don't know. Just pray for me that I will be able to really  love my companion, because I think that is going to play a huge role in how this next transfer goes.

Oh, but a cool story before I go. This morning, when we were going to serve, we were in a bit of a rush, and I had the feeling that I should put a Book of Mormon in my bag, just in case. We weren't going to go streeting or something, we were wearing normal clothes and everything, and I almost didn't, because I didn't want my bag to be too heavy, but then at the last second I did. Then while we were eating lunch we were talking to the guy we were serving, and he asked a few questions about our Church, and so then I went to my bag, took out the Book of Mormon, and gave it to him, explaining that I had brought it to him. It was really cool, and a super normal way of giving a Book of Mormon away, I was really happy with it, and I am super grateful that I listened to that feeling to put the book in my bag.

Well, I love you all. Keep being awesome, and yeah, the Church is true, and missions are good.

Love,
Elder Merkley

Transfer Calls!! (June 10, 2013)

Dear Family and Friends,

Andy's been transferred!  He'll tell you all about it in the letter below.  If you've been keeping up on the news, you might know that he's being sent to a place that is flooded!  I saw the address before I read his email and sort of gasped.  It's okay, all is well, but do remember to pray for him, please!  And he loves real letters (which cost $1.10 to mail).

Robin/Mom

Elder Andy Merkley
Kirche Jesu Christi HLT
Ettendoblestr 4a
94034 Passau
Germany

Dearest Fam-bam,

Mother: YES, I GOT YOUR LETTER. THANK YOU FOR SENDING IT.

As you can see from the title of this email, transfer calls came this week...and I'm staying a seventh transfer in Heilbronn!! No, just kidding, I got transferred. In order to preface my new assignment, I just want to ask a few questions: 1. Do you remember how I complained about how whitewashing was really hard? 2. Do you also remember about how I complained about training being really hard? 3. You know how I've only been in branches my whole mission so far? Those three things are all different aspects of my transfer call. President Miles called and asked me to go whitewash an area with a Golden. I still don't know what my new companion's name will be, I will probably find that out an hour or so before I actually see him. I will be going to Passau, which is in the Munich Zone, don't get too excited though, it's like a 2 or 3 hour train ride from Munich to Passau. Anywho, so I will be staying in Germany, but will be going to another province, Bayern, which means that I am going to have to learn a new dialect as well. The branch in Passau is between 10-15 members from what I have heard, with one family being the real core of the branch. There are sisters there right now, and we will be doubling up missionaries there, which will be fun. I guess they really want this branch to start growing. 

I can't even describe the feelings I had when I found out that is what I was going to do. I had thought of a few different options of things that could maybe happen, but training and whitewashing again never crossed my mind. Anywho, and last week, Germany was hit by a lot of floods, I have never seen the river here in Heilbronn so high. And I have heard everyone talking about Passau, I have heard different reports, but apparently the whole city is under water right now. I have heard that they haven't seen such bad flood water in about 500 years... So President Miles was also telling me that we will probably be doing a ton of service for the first few weeks... Apparently the new apartment that I will be moving into is right on the edge of a river, and from what I have heard the water came right up to the foundations, and President Miles said he thinks there is no damage to the apartment... It's gonna be fun, haha. But no, there were a lot of different feelings. I am really sad to leave this city and ward that I've grown to love, but at the same time, it feels right. After such a long time I never even considered that I would stay longer, so the fact that I was getting transferred wasn't unexpected, just what I'll be doing. I am really excited though to be able to go and start in a city new, and build up a new program there.

It is also really funny, because I know one of the Sisters that is in Passau right now, she was in this district for a couple transfers back when I was district leader. I saw her a few weeks ago when we had our Mission Tour with Elder Tiexiera. Anyway, she was explaining to me how they were going to give all their weird investigators to the new Elders, and how the Sisters are going to get the new apartment, and so on and so forth. I had never thought I was going to be the one to go there...

Yup, so that is the main thing that I wanted to tell you this week. Other than that this week has been pretty great, it has been rainy, but also pretty sunny, which has been awesome. Somehow we missed spring and jumped right into summer, haha. My allergies have been going crazy though, did I even have allergies in America? I don't think so, somehow when I came here last year I just started having allergies. Don't worry though, I'm taking medicine, and I think it's helping.

I'll just answer your questions in order to add some structure to this email:

1. Philipp is great, I saw him yesterday at Stake Conference, which was great. It was pretty hard to say bye to him and Becky, but they gave me their email, and told me to write them, so we'll definitely stay in contact.

2. It was super great to see Sven, and i have a phone number from him, so I should be able to call him and tell him bye. I'm going to miss that guy too, but he's got a facebook, so we should stay in contact too. Facebook is great for things like this.

3. Marcel and Nancy are really cool. They believe really strongly in Jesus Christ, and Marcel even sung us this song about Jesus, which, although it was a little uncomfortable for us, was really moving. They say that they like the Book of Mormon, and they could imagine that it could be true. They had done their reading too, which was really great.  Our appointment with Tobias fell out this week, so that stunk, but it was for a valid reason. I'll probably never see any of these people again though.

4. Yeah, the three mentioned above are actually progressing right now, which is great. With Tobias it will be a long road, but I can see that if he gets baptized that he will stay really strong and active. Getting him to church though will be difficult, because he hasn't gone in ten years or so. Marcel and Nancy have real potential I think. We want to get members there at the next lesson, and really try to get them a solid connection to the ward. I feel like I have worked really hard in this area, and have found a lot of good people. I could definitely see some of them getting baptized down the road. Even this week we found some really good potential investigators. We'll see where it all goes.

5. Elder Jerman is doing well, and I am quite sure that he is ready to take over this area. The last couple of weeks I've been making a conscious effort to step back, and make him do a lot more. He's been leading in our planning sessions, carrying the phone, and doing all these things, and I really feel that he is prepared to be getting a new companion and help him learn the area. Elder Jerman's new companion is from Finland! And what's crazy is that they were in the MTC together, and so they will be both in the third transfer... That will be fun for them, haha.

6. Funny that you mention General Authority visits, because we only had this stake conference thing yesterday because Elder Kearon was here. I think that he is a member of the seventy, or he is the area president or something. He was definitely British, and he definitely gave a super good talk. His wife too. They were both hilarious. I also love listening to the people translating, and thinking about how I would have translated it.  Also, on Tuesday we will be going to Munich, and will be having a missionary meeting with Elder Nelson, of the Quourm of the Twelve. So yeah, we do meet general authorities every now and again. It is kind of dumb about it being on this Tuesday though, because a ton of members wanted to set up appointments with me, and now this whole day is gone.

In the next three days though, we have five appointments with members who just want to say bye to me. Three to four of them are eating appointments (One of them may not happen because of the Munich thing, which will be essentially the whole day (we may have to leave our apartment at like 5 or so to get there on time, and then not get back till 8!)). The members were really sad that I was going. Some of them told me to say hi from them. I would love to come back to this branch on a Sunday, if you guys pick me up. That would be a ton of fun, to be able to see them all again. In total I have spent over eight months here in Heilbronn. Ridiculous, right?

I'll be honest, I forsee no problem in winning the trust or love of this new branch, I figure with so few people getting to know them will go pretty fast. I've also whitewashed before, so it that's nothing new for me. Also my natural charm and big cheeks help win over any heart.

Anywho, I don't know what else to write. This week was great. I talked to another like 15 people for a second time on the street. Not gonna lie, that is going to be nice. To talk to every singe person without the fear that I've already talked to them before. On Thursday then I will go to Passau, wish me luck and keep me in your prayers!

I love you all and pray for you too! Thanks for supporting me!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Heilbronn: June 3, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

I apologize for that letter last week, I know it was terrible, but I literally had about 20 minutes, and I wanted to read the emails I had gotten rather than write a long email... so sorry.

Anywho, this week was a lot of fun. We found three new investigators, which was pretty great. Elder Jerman and I have actually been finding a lot of investigators, but the for some reason, almost every single time the second appointment has fallen out, which has been super frustrating for us. 

So Marcel and Nancy. I actually know very little about them, Marcel was a former investigator, and we had planned to go by on them, and then it ended up happening on an exchange. So Elder Jerman and somebody else from our district actually found them.

Then we have Tobias, whom I am pretty excited about. He's about 30 years old, yes, he's German, and we had talked to him on the street last week, and made out an appointment with him later for this last Thursday. We had a pretty good intro lesson with him, and gave him the introduction and a few other things to read in the Book of Mormon. He's actually been meeting with the JWs for like 10 years, but has never been baptized. Then we met with him again on Sunday, and brought a member with us to that appointment. He had done the reading, but he explained how he thought that the whole Joseph Smith story sounded like 'Science Fiction' (He actually used those exact words. Even though we were speaking German. Denglish happens a lot in the German language.), and he was just having a hard time believing that. He hasn't been to church in about 10 years or so, but he is super religious, and really enjoys talking about God. We tried to help him understand that God has always called prophets, and that sending an angel is nothing out of the ordinary for God. It was a decent lesson, but I think it will be a long road with him. He already says that he has received an answer that it's not true, but we'll see what happens.

Yeah, so about transfers.. I would say that I am about 85% sure that I am going to get transferred. 6 transfers is already a ridiculously long time to stay in an area. I have never heard of seven in a row. So I think I'm gone, but I won't know until Friday morning. The waiting is killing me. I actually had this really random dream this week that I was transferred to Hawaii, to start some weird German program there... I have been having some crazy dreams recently.

Philipp is doing really well, he brought a tie to church yesterday, and he made me tie it for him, which I did happily. Also, Sven is still in his rehab program, but he came to church yesterday!! I don't know how he worked it out, but he came, and he brought his new girlfriend, and her two sons. It was really great to see him, and he stood up and bore his testimony during sacrament meeting. The ward members are really supportive of the both of them, which is really great.

Father, we are seeing SOOO many new missionaries coming in! They have been putting a second set of missionaries into a ton of areas to accommodate the new missionaries, and there have been a ton of people training. A normal group of new missionaries is probably about 7 or 8, and the last two have been around 30. They used to have the trainers come to Munich to have a dinner and stuff, but with these huge groups the goldens have just been meeting their trainers at their resepective Bahnhofs (Train stations).

Elder Jerman is doing great, just like always. We still have a really good relationship, we are both really enjoying this time together. The last few days I started explaining the Harry Potter story to him in great detail. I have only gotten to the Troll incident in the first book. I have been telling it in a crazy amount of detail. I'm lucky that we used to listen to those books so often, or I wouldn't be able to help him remedy his lack of knowledge in this area. I think I've had a good influence on him. It's been a lot of fun because I have the feeling that we have been learning a lot of stuff together. I don't have the feeling that I've really been teaching, rather that we are trying to do it together, which has been really good. I've also been making him do a lot more this last week or so, to try to prepare him for when I'm gone, because next transfer he'll probably be the person that will have to lead his comp around.

Finding ideas? Hmm, I would say that it is super nice, as a missionary at least, to have regular activities. In Germany it is kind of difficult, because the members live so far apart and only really see each other on Sundays, but it would be super nice so that you could get investigators to come to activities and get to know the ward in a more normal way. It's just a great way to get the members and investigators talking to each other. I can't really help you too much in this aspect of finding, Dad... The finding that I know pretty well is streeting or dooring. If you have questions about that I would be happy to help.

Wow, Kevin's coming back already? That's kind of crazy. Am I really the next person to come home? I still have a year though! That's ridiculous. How many missionaries do we have out from our ward right now?

Wait. And what's this new dog thing?! You can't drop a sentence, Oh yeah, nbd, but we have a new dog, and expect that to be enough. I expect an explanation, a picture, preferably with both this new dog and lil Gideon boy together so that I can see if they're a good fit for each other.

Also Mom, your letter was nothing to write home about either. I only had 20 minutes, and had to read 30 minutes of email and write you. You had a whole week, what's your excuse?

Anna's coming to Germany tomorrow?? What, that's so crazy! Wow wow wow, she's all finished with high school and what not. I can't believe that she will be going to BYU soon. Just ridiculous. I would really love some pictures of you guys too, I only get them very sporadically, but I love it every time I get them, so just keep that in mind. 

While I'm thinking about it, the next time you send me a package, could you maybe send me socks? All the ones I stole from Dad before I left are starting to get holes in the toes. Oh, Dad, did I tell you that I stole a bunch of socks from you? Because I did, I hope you forgive me. But those socks are kind of cruddy, they always slide all the way down to my ankles...

Love,
Elder Merkley

PS Also, I may have bought glasses today.  I had asked you if that was something I should wait to do, or how to go about doing that, and then you guys never answered me, so I went today, and they tested me, and said I could definitely use them, and one thing led to another... so if that's bad, you should probably write me a letter, because I will have to pay for the rest of it in like a week when I pick them up.

PPS CAN YOU GIVE ME AN UPDATE ON TANNER? OR MAYBE HIS EMAIL? Taste of your own medicine.

Heilbronn: May 27, 2013

Fam bam,

Ok, so I have like 2 minutes to write today. Brother Lichner, a member in our ward, wanted to do a trip with us today, before I get transferred. So we went around and visited a bunch of old things today, for the entire day. It was way great.

Transfers are coming up, but I won't know next week, but I should know the week after if and where and all that jazz. Even if I do get transferred I'll be in this area for over 8 months, which is a long time. Anywho, like I said, it's already time to be done, we're getting picked up in a minute, so I love you!!

I know you`re going to hate me for this email...but suck it up.

Love,
Elder Merkley

Heilbronn: May 20, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Wow, it sounds like you guys had a pretty eventful week, from trips to the emergency room, to just plain old hard work. My week was not quite as eventful, but we did have a ton of fun.

I really am kind of confused why I had so much fun this week, we only had like three lessons, and we spent a ton of time on the street talking to people as we were walking
 to other places. But I guess I have just been getting better with my attitude recently. I have read a lot of other missionaries' emails, where they talk about how they can feel Heavenly Father helping them to become better, or just how He has been shaping him. This week I really can understand that feeling.

I feel like I have just been understanding more and more what it means to be a missionary. It's not a job, I am not forced to do anything, and I shouldn't do anything just for the appearance of it. This last week I have really just been understanding that having fun is an essential part of being a missionary. I mean, I'm only 20 years old, I can't expect myself to always be serious, or always be mature. I think that for this last year I have had super high expectations of myself, so high that I really never had a hope of being able to meet them. But now I have been understanding it better, and I have been having a lot more fun this last week, and I'm really excited to keep working on it and getting better at it. I can't really articulate that well what this change has really been meaning, or exactly what the change is, but just know, it is definitely a good thing.

We had some super cool experiences this week, too. I think one of the best days was on Saturday. I need to see if I can remember why it was so cool, I just remember that I wrote like 5 pages about it in my journal, so it was either really good, or it was really bad... It's actually really interesting, because I'm looking at my planner right now to help me to remember, and we didn't have any lessons, or any sort of real key indicator numbers on that day, and regardless it was super good.

Well, it started off nice, we went to a town... and wait, I need to give a little backstory here, recently Elder Jerman and I have been writing all of our potential investigators notes, and giving them a time when we would be coming back to visit them. We have been getting frustrated that we have had to go by a ton of times. Especially when they don't live in super convenient areas. Anywho, so we went by on this one guy who lives a 40 minute bus ride away. I had called and left him a message two or three days before, and had told him we would be coming by, anyway, the way there was a nice relaxing bus ride, he wasn't home...but we had a little bit of extra time, so we were doing some dooring and talking to the people on the streets, and we just talked to a cool kid, who turned out to be from New Zealand. We only found that out after the conversation, which we had entirely in German... He didn't have an accent that I could hear, and he didn't want to stop the conversation to interrupt and ask where we were from. Haha, it was just a cool conversation.

Also, this week, because I have been using a cool side bag, I also realized how great it is to give away these little lesson pamphlets that we have. I started doing it because the JWs always do it, and I think it's hilarious to look like the JWs. But anyway, I started doing that this week, and it is really great, it has just been a nice middle ground between a tiny card, and a Book of Mormon. There are some people who don't want a Book of Mormon but then you have had such a great conversation that it feels dumb to just give a little pass-a-long card. The pamphlets have been great, and I have had so much fun giving them out.

Back to Saturday, so that guy we wanted to visit wasn't home, but we made out an appointment with him, and since Philipp and Becky live in this same little town that he does, I really want to try to get them for a joint teach. Afterwards we went back to Heilbronn, and... actually I'll just leave that part out, it was pretty uneventful. But yeah, then we went to another little town and were stood up again... On the way back, I was looking at my watch, and we had wanted to visit somebody else who lives in a smaller part of the city, and I was pretty sure that we were going to miss our bus, because we were coming in a few minutes later than the bus should leave. I prayed and told Heavenly Father that if he slowed the bus down, we'd run for it. It was an interesting situation, because where we get out of the S-Bahn, you can't see where the buses go from, because it's like a 4-5 minute walk away, but when we got in we just showed our faith and took off running. Keep in mind the bus should have been gone for like 3 minutes already. So we run and run...and we get it, with about 10 seconds to spare. It was so cool. Then we were in the bus and I realized that I hadn't looked at the map to see what stop we needed to get off at (this whole taking bus thing can get complicated at times), and so I prayed again and just asked Heavenly Father to help me to know where to get off. At some point I just kind of decided to get off, not a huge feeling, we just kind of got off, anyway, and then I looked at the map, and was a little disappointed, because we were probably on the bus for about two stops too many. So we started walking back, and on the way we talked to this really cool woman, to whom we gave a Book of Mormon and set up an appointment. As we were talking to her, I totally had the feeling that we got off at the wrong place to talk to her. Afterwards we were walking, still talking to people, and we ended up getting invited into a Cordish Cultural Center, where this guy bought us soda, and then, while explaining the history and current situation of the Cordish people, took us to a Döner place, and bought us Döners...and then left us there to eat them. It was awesome. 

So we ate our Döner, scratch that, we ate half of our Döners because they were really big, and it was already after 8:00, and walked out of the restaraunt, and I realized that the guy had inadvertently took us right in the area of our apartment, so we only had like a 10 minute walk to get home. Just another nice surprise. And then on the way home we talked to another couple cool people, gave out a couple of pamphlets, and set up another appointment. So I wrote a ton about this one day...but it was just really great. A lot of fun.

Church was also super great, and Philipp got the Aaronic priesthood! It has been so cool to be able to be here for such a big part of this process, to see him get baptized, get the gift of the holy ghost, and the priesthood. Just awesome. Also, I still just really love the ward. I have such a good relationship with them.

Our next week looks really good. We were just counting, and we have about 7 or 8 appointments made out with nonembers, and only like 2 or so from those appointments are with people that are already investigators. Most of the appointments are really solid too, we even have phone numbers where we can confirm them and everything! We are really stoked for this next week.

I got a couple of letters this week. On Monday, I got two from you, Mom. Even though you sent them on different days, they both came on Monday. On that same day I got a letter from Sister Miller, which is really great. She is a very faithful writer. And that was it for us in the letter department. There have never been so few letters coming into our mailbox as now. Elder Jerman has received one letter from a friend (the whole time we've been together), and maybe once every one or two weeks a letter from his family. At this point, I'm not getting any letters from anyone but Mom... This whole change in the emailing policy has ruined our mail intake.

Elder Jerman is still doing well, his German is coming along really well. It is interesting to see how fast people can make progress, I have been impressed how fast he has learned, but I am, at the same time, excited for a companion where we can try to speak only German again, or somebody who can also help me with my German. It is exhausting to always be the one who has to understand the people. I want to be able to not understand again, haha.

Now, to answer Father's question. We have cards for more or less our entire area. So essentially everywhere that we need to travel during the normal course of missionary business we don't have to pay for. However, with District Meetings we have to order a ticket from the office. They have this one ticket that costs 26 euro, and you can travel all over Baden-Würtenburg with it. 

Ok, I spoil you, but I am also tired now, and I still have to write a ton of other people emails. Love you!

Love,
Elder Merkley

PS I'm going to get my eyes tested next week, I have been realizing that I may have trouble seeing things that are farther away. Nothing bad, but I wanted to get it checked. If I need glasses, is that something I should just take care of, or should I wait till I get home?

Heilbronn: May 13, 2013

Dear Fam-bam,

Well, I really enjoyed being able to talk to you yesterday! It was a ton of fun for me, and I am happy to report, did not cause any homesickness whatsoever. Only a little bit of wistful reminiscing, haha. But, it really reminded me how blessed I am to have such a great family. I was just realizing how great families are, how I can be myself with you, and you guys don`t judge me at all, which is something I have experienced a lot on my mission. Thanks for being great!

Anyway, just a warning, this email will not be very long, because I need to take a train in about 40 minutes to go to a zone pday. We only have one zone pday per transfer here, but it is a ton of fun. This is actually probably one of the only zones in the mission that does that so regularly, except for Switzerland, where they have these cards where they can travel in the entire Switzerland without paying. Anywho, but my email will definitely be a little shorter today.

We spent a day or so in Munich this week for a Mission Tour, which was a ton of fun. We were privileged to hear from both President and Sister Miles, and from Elder and Sister Texiera (Not positive if that's how it's spelled). Anywho, Elder Tiexera (from the first Quorum of the Seventy) told us that he felt inspired to promise us that if we do the things that President Miles wants, that we will hit our goal of baptizing 290 people in one calendar year. That's more than double what we baptized last year. The Spirit was there though, and it confirmed to my heart that it really is possible.

Other than that the biggest thing that I took from this conference was a lesson about obedience. Not that that was the message what was talked about, but just because afterwards I was examining my own attitude, and I realized that I have loss a lot of my obedient spirit. Not that I have become disobedient, but I have just been realizing that obedience is really an attitude, and that it all starts with the decision to be obedient. I think that I have just been getting closer to the line of justifying things recently, and therefore I have decided to start studying and working on obedience, which is something that I have never really focused on before. Pray that I will be able to develop that obedient spirit again!

Like I mentioned to Mom yesterday, Herbert Krause came to church today! Elder Buck and I had talked to him around Christmas time, and since then we have been meeting with him ever three weeks or so. We called him on Friday and invited him, and he said he would come, and he actually did! He also stayed for all three hours! It was really great, but he left pretty quick after the meetings, and so I'm not sure what his impression was. Although right after our small Sunday School class, he said that it really is true, that when people come together in Jesus Christ's name, the spirit is there. 

Other than that we found one new investigator this week, Davut. He is from Turkey, and I am unsure if he is Christian or Muslim, he wasn't really clear about it... I know that's weird not to know after he becomes an investigator, but I had asked him straight up about it, and then he gave this really convoluted answer that didn't really address the question at all. But yeah, we gave him the Book of Mormon in Turkish, and he said that he will have it finished by next Saturday... I'll be honest, I didn't really believe that, but we have an appointment on Thursday, so if he's already in the end of Alma by then, then we know that he's on track.

The weather here is still so-so. It's sitting at about 50 degrees right now, but after this week should then warm up again. If it gets under 60, then Elder Jerman wears his suit coat, and his winter coat, and his gloves. (Because it is 50 today, he is also wearing his scarf) It is one of the 
funniest things in the world, and I make fun of him for it all the time.

Other than that we had a ton of appointments that fell out this week, but it was still good, we found a good amount of people and are hoping to find a few new investigators next week. Pray for us! I can't really think of something else I want to write, but I love you!

Elder Merkley

Heilbronn: May 6, 2013

From Andy: "This picture deserves an explanation. Well, Heilbronn is not a pretty city it was bombed out in the second world war, and so it doesn't have a ton of history, but on May day, we were in this smaller town, and the area just looked old, German, and pretty, and so I wanted to take a picture with it. The reasons my hands are up: whenever I take pictures for ElderJerman, I would always yell at him, 'Do something with your hands!!' And then he would always just kind of put them up in the air. One time I just kept yelling, 'Higher!' and then waited until he just looked ridiculous and took a picture. So I was kind of making fun of him..."

Dearest Fam-bam,
I have no idea where I want to start this week...normally the emails just kind of happen, but today for some reason I don't even know where to start. That's not because this was a crazy week or anything, it was totally normal, and maybe that's why... or maybe it's because I'll be talking to you next week, and so I don't really feel the need to tell everything that happened this week. Which reminds me, if there are things that you want to talk to me about, I would write them down, so that we can talk about anything important. And yeah, let's do skyping. I talked to a member in our ward, and we worked it out so that we will be able to Skype at about 8 or 9 your time on Sunday. I assume that works with Daniel and Tin Tin too? 
Oh and before I forget, could you send me a copy of the Conference Addition of the Liahona? I would really like to be able to start reading that as soon as it comes out, and not waiting for like 5 months. We got the last edition about 4 weeks before this last conference, and that was terrible. I still haven't heard the talks from the Sunday Afternoon session. 
Anywho, so we did have on really nice experience yesterday. So we were going by on someone in Heilbronn, and we were just talking to all the people we saw as we were walking there, and then we walked by a New Apostle Church (Is that the right translation, Daniel? Neu Apostolische Kirche?). They saw us talking to the people and yelled to us to come over, I was a little hesitant, having had a lot of... interesting experiences with people from other denominations wanting to 'talk' to me, but we went over, and then they said, 'You guys are certainly Christians, right? Do you want Cake and Coffee?', I was still pretty skeptical, but it was already past time where we should have broken our fast, so I agreed. And then they just took us in to some sort of Member Celebration that they were having. I didn't drink any coffee, in case you were wondering, but I did eat a few pieces of cake and had a ton of really great conversations with the people there. It was a ton of fun because they were super nice to us. I learned a couple of valuable things from this experience. One: I learned exactly how it feels to be an outsider coming to a new church for the first time. That was a first time experience for me, and it really strengthened my understanding of how important it is that our own investigators have friends when they come to church, because when our friend left us, I felt super uncomfortable. Second: the New Apostolic Church (I think that may be it) isn't true. One of their 350 Apostles stopped by while we were eating, and our friend who had invited us in, introduced us to him. He seemed like a nice man, but I did not feel anything special from this encounter. Not like I did when I met Elder Nelson, or how I felt when President Monson or Hinckley walks into a room. Anywho, they invited us to come back on Thursday for some broadcast of something or other. We are considering going back, just because they were so nice and friendly to us. 
I also got one letter this week, Mom, from you. Other than that, Elder Jerman got one letter too. We don't get a lot of letters nowadays, haha. 
I guess I'll answer some questions now: 
1) I have just as much time to work as we did before. As District Leader I never took time from the day in order to prepare meetings or whatever. The only difference is that I don't have to call the other missionaries in my district anymore, or the Zone Leaders. I do get my whole study time to just study what I want, which is nice. I guess there is also one less exchange. As District Leader you have to do an exchange with the Zone Leaders too, so we won't have to do that this transfer. But it has been cool not being District Leader. I've been using the extra time at night to pick up sewing, and have begun sewing my Tshirts. They were a little looser than I like, and so I started experimenting, and I think I'm starting to get a little bit better at it. Except I did use all of the white thread that was supposed to be for sewing on buttons, so hopefully I don't lose any more buttons on my white shirts... OH! That reminds me, I did sew on a couple of buttons this last week. All by myself. I'm becoming cultured, Mom. 
2) Just going to skip this question... sensitive subject, haha 
3) May Day was pretty normal for us, we had a lot of appointments on that day, but it was just kind of dumb, because it was a holiday, and that means that the trains and buses go a lot less often, so to get to all these appointments was a pain. But I guess that's just the price you pay for appointments. 
4) They're both doing really well. Philipp is planning on going to do Baptisms for the Dead with his wife in a few weeks. I still haven't been able to talk to Sven yet, but I want to write him today, so hopefully I'll be able to get a little bit more info about him. The members did get to visit him though, and I think he really enjoyed that. 
5) Nothing really new in this department. Still nothing with Dennis and Tisha, and we saw Xenia on Sunday at church, but we didn't teach her. We are trying to work out with the Primary President how we can teach her without making her miss the things she could be learning in the Primary. We want to come up with a really good plan to teach her, because right now, she's only eleven, and so just teaching the lessons like you normally would doesn't really work. But yeah, like I've said before, Sven is going to be gone for like 16 weeks. So that means around 4 months. Which puts him coming back around the end of August. So not for a while (This may have been written with a sarcastic tone, don't be offended though, it was with a joking sarcastic tone) 
6) Yes. Xenia came. See above. 
7) The members and I are just great friends. I am able to laugh and joke with all of them,  and so yeah, they're treating us pretty well. As for eating appointments... those have slowed down a little. We have around one a week. Sometimes two, if we're lucky. But other than that it's great. We were actually able to do a ton of service this week. We spent a few hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday doing service (which means wearing normal clothes!! Which I love, haha. Wearing church clothes all day gets old sometimes. I just want a little diversity). 
8) Things with Elder Jerman are going great. We are pretty good friends. With Elder Jerman we can talk about anything, he doesn't judge me, and he is just always in a good mood, which is great for me. I have felt a huge difference in myself in these last 2 months. I think that I am finally starting to really be myself again. For the first while on my mission, i was super up-tight and really really stressed about a ton of things. But I don't really like being up-tight and stressed, that's not really who I am. I feel like Elder Jerman is helping me to learn to be myself again. I have been realizing more and more that you don't need to be dumb to be a good missionary. The culture of the mission is just sometimes really dumb. Where it gets to the point that a lot of people turn into a little bit of robots, and get way focused on the rules. I don't mean that obedience is not important, but being dumb or ridiculous about it is not needed, and does not help anybody. But yeah, serving each other has actually been happening in this companionship, which is the first time that it has ever really happened on my mission so far. I am just a lot happier in this companionship, and have learned so much from Elder Jerman about how to be a better missionary. His German is getting a lot better too, his sentences are slowing starting to take on German grammar, which is really fun to watch. 
I was actually thinking about Sister Casperson the other day, just kind of thinking about how after however many years (2 or 3?) i can still remember her really well. I was just thinking how much I would love it to be able to leave that kind of impact on the ward members in my area too, even if I won't be able to stay ten and a half months like her. 
What about you, Mom? How's life not being Relief Society President? Also, Father, what kind of stuff are the missionaries there focusing on? What kind of stuff is the ward focusing on? Here they have been trying to get home and visiting teaching going, I think that is a pretty universal problem in the church, is getting people to do that consistently. 
Uhhhhh. I don't want to write the ward again! Can't you just copy and paste some of my emails together and get him to read that over the pulpit? That would be ideal. I don't even know what I should write anyway! Isn't one letter to the ward per year, enough? Cause I already wrote one for the first year, so I should just need to write one more, and then I should be good, right? 
Anywho. I spoil you with my emails. You're still welcome! 
Love you! 
Elder Merkley 

Heilbronn April 29, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

In trying to better follow the ten commandments, I will again respect your wishes, Mother, and write this large family letter first. You're welcome.  First off, what? You got released?! Oh my word, I don't know what to say. I would assume you're having a lot of mixed feelings about it. I think I can relate.  It sounded like you guys had a super busy week! A lot of things are happening right now!

Well, transfer calls came this week...and I'm staying in Heilbronn! It will be my sixth transfer here, which is pretty ridiculous. When they called, they also told me that I was going to be staying District Leader, which really really surprised me. So there was this hour where I thought I was going to have to do it for a sixth transfer. But then the APs called, and told me that I wasn't actually going to be District Leader anymore. This is where the relating comes in. I really enjoyed being District Leader, but I've been doing it for over six and a half months, and it was really stressful and time consuming. I had to give so much of my study time to planning those meetings, and I was always calling people, and it was just a very involved thing. So I had very mixed emotions about it, too. 

The members were really excited that I'm able to stay though. So there is the one guy, Brother Schneider, who is the nicest person in the world. I mean, he is really incredibly nice, and just a super cute old man. When I told him that we had transfer calls this week, he put down his briefcase, and was looking at me really worried-like, because all the members know I've been here for a really long time. Then I told him that I was staying, and he kind of jumped up and down, and gave me a really big hug, and said that we had to go out to eat to celebrate. It was hilarious. But yeah, they were just super surprised though. I was a little bit too. I had hoped, but I wasn't sure this time that I would be staying. I assume, though, that next time I will be going, but I guess you can never be sure...

Anywho, YES. I got a letter or two in the mail this week.

So, with Mother's Day. I haven't quite worked out everything with the ward yet, but I thought I could maybe call around 5 or 6 my time, which would put it around 8 or 9 your time. I am pretty sure that I will be able to work it all out. I guess I can let you know all the details next week.

We haven't seen Xenia this week, she can only come to church every second week. I have tried to call Sven a couple of times this week, but I haven't been able to get in connection with him, and so I don't know how he's doing. Some members will be going to visit him on Wednesday, so hopefully they'll be able to give me an update. Philipp is doing super great, too. We talked to the Bishop about trying to include the members, and he said that the only real possibility is to have their home teachers help out when they do their home teaching once a month. That means we're just going to try and coordinate with them and have them teach whatever lesson we are on at the time. We were also not able to meet with Dennis and Tisha. We had tried, but it didn't work. We are planning on trying again on Saturday night, so some prayers for that would be great.

In response to Dad's question about the weather...well, things cooled off again this week, still not really cold, but not great spring temperature either. The temperature was hovering in the 50s I would guess, with raining the last few days.

4) Yeah, so we found one new investigator this week. It was this Malaysian guy named Syanim. He was pretty cool, but he is Muslim, and he was having a really really difficult time understanding why we would need Jesus Christ to suffer for our sins. I have learned a ton about Muslims on my mission, and about what they believe, but it has just strengthened my testimony that we DID need Jesus Christ. The whole gospel just makes so much sense...unless you're Muslim, then it is apparently inconceivable. We also found a good amount of potential investigators this week, and have three or four appointments made out for next week, hopefully a couple of them will really happen. That is one of the most difficult things, we find a ton of people that give us their information and are willing to make out appointments, the trick is just actually making those appointments happen. I have had so much trouble with that on my mission, haha.

5) For the record, Dad, I'm actually unsure what the question should be here. Maybe I'm missing it, or maybe I was supposed to read in between the lines?

6) I have the same answer to this 'question'.

Before I forget, I guess I'll answer the unasked question, Mom. Who the letters were from. I got a card from the Morans, I got a letter from my friend from the MTC, Elder Norman, and I think that was it.

Anywho, this week was a lot of fun, we worked really hard, and we found a lot of good people. I have hope that we will be able to continue finding new people here. We also have a couple eating appointments this week, which I am way excited about. Eating appointments are so much fun!

Well, being a missionary is great. Sometimes it is less great, but sometimes it is super great. it is always a really good thing though, and I am really grateful that I have the oppurtunity to serve, especially that I am able to serve in Germany, and even more that I can serve in Heilbronn.

Have a great week! 

Love,
Elder Merkley

Heilbronn: April 22, 2013

This is Andy with Sven and Elder Jerman.



Dearest Fam-bam,

Per request, I am writing this letter first, I normally would write it somewhere in the middle of my time... But yeah, the last two Pdays have just been crazy busy, but today I have a little more time, so I can try to write a better email. Sheesh Mom, you sounded really paranoid in this email, asking, in all caps, if I write other people before you. Don't worry so much, Mom!

Anyway, this week was pretty good, although slightly disappointing in other ways. We had made out a ton of appointments last week, and during the start of this week too. We should have been able to find another four of five new investigators, but almost every single one of our appointments fell out this week, which was not the best. Our appointment with Dennis and Tisha fell out, even though we called to confirm it like an hour before... Our appointment with Onur fell out too, and yeah, there were just a lot of appointments that didn't happen.

You can always find some little gems though, because there was this one guy who made one of those days and fallen out appointments a little easier to take. We talked to him last Sunday on the street, and I was pretty sure that he was pretty drunk, just the way he smelled, the slurred speech, all the signs were just pointing to intoxicated. He wasn't super interested, but then I said something, and then he got a little upset, and was like 'No! I'm open for everything! We can meet and talk more!' He was really insistent that he was open for other things, and so we made out an appointment. Then I called him on Tuesday to confirm the appointment, and he just straight up said that he had had too much to drink, and he had no idea who I was, and he couldn't even remember the conversation that we had had. I thought it was hilarious! So needless to say, that appointment didn't happen, which I actually wasn't that torn up about, haha.

Elder Jerman is making great progress with his German. Still not where I think he would like to have it, but his sentences are starting to have a little bit of German grammer, which is really great. A couple of the members were complimenting him on Sunday, which was great for his confidence. The kid is a great missionary, super humble, and super pure. You know how I just get annoyed sometimes, and that hasn't really changed so far on my mission, probably it takes longer, and I am better at controlling it, but it still happens, anyway, but he has never really become annoyed. He is a really good companion because he is always willing to try new things, never gets discouraged, and is just very Christlike. Like I said, he's just a good missionary.

This week I have been trying to get better on following the promptings of the Spirit. So far I still feel that I am just terrible at that. People would always say that they had received a prompting to go do something, and I really have just had no idea what that should feel like. But this week I have just been trying to listen to my feelings more and I hope that as the Lord works through them that my ability to recognize these prompting will increase.

Anywho, I'm going to answer some questions now:

1) No idea what kind of holidays are coming. I have heard some rumors about May day, but I actually have no idea what happens. I'll put my ear to the ground though. (That's a saying, right? Or did I just make that up right now?)

2) I would definitely prefer to do some sort of conference skype again. When is Mother's Day? I don't really hear these kind of things anymore. I can try to start working it out with the ward when and where we can skype, but I'm not actually sure if I'll even be in this area then. Transfer calls come on Friday morning, and I hope that I will stay, because I love this ward so much. I would love to stay a sixth transfer here, and be able to try and find some more people for these great members, who have really become like family for me.

3) Philipp is doing great, he wasn't at church last week, and when I talked to him this week, he was saying that he really noticed how he had had the feeling that something was missing. He is jsut really a cool guy. They invited us over on Sunday, and I just love being with them. They're just a lot of fun.

5) Well, I guess Xenia, one of Sven's daughters, kind of became an investigator this week. We taught her during the second hour of church. She wants to be baptized when her dad comes back from rehab, which has definitely not happened. Maybe I didn't explain this well, but he is going to be there for like the next 16 weeks... Anyway, we will be trying to teach her the lessons and help her prepare herself for baptism.

Yup yup, so I'm going to try and send some pictures this week, hopefully they work, one is of Sven's baptism, and one is just of some cool grafittig that I saw while we were walking around.

Anywho, love you all! Thanks for the emails!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Here's that graffiti that he was talking about.

Heilbronn: April 15, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

I'm sorry, but I don't have a lot of time this week either... I have to be leaving for my district Pday in like 20 minutes, so this email will be pretty short. The weather was so awesome this week! Yesterday I didn't have to wear a jacket! That's the first time I haven't worn a jacket in about six months!! Well, this week we saw a ton of miracles, I mean, a lot. First off, in the last two days we found four new investigators. It was ridiculous. So here's the story:

So on Saturday, Elder Jerman and I were planning out our day (because we had ward council the night before, and didn't have a chance to plan on Friday night), and we looked at our weekly goals and kind of realized that we had wanted to find three new investigators, and we hadn't found any this week. We've been getting a little frustrated because we have just about no investigators right now, and we really want to have some people to teach. Anyway, so I said, well, we can find one investigator tomorrow, so let's find two today. And then we planned to go by on a bunch of people who had said that we could come back. Then for some reason, we planned to spend some time in the last town, Weinsberg, and do some dooring. We prayed about it, looked at the map, and chose a spot where we would go. Then when we got to Weinsberg, we called a couple of members and asked them to pray for us while we were working, and I know that one of them at least stopped what he was doing, kneeled down, and prayed for us. We then visited the three of four people that we had found in Weinsberg, and not a single person was home. So then we sat down for a second, we both said a silent prayer, and we both had the feeling that we should change our plan a little bit and start dooring down one particular street. So then we started dooring. After an hour and a half of rude people, we had nothing, and it was already 7 o'clock, so we were going to need to start heading back in about an hour or so. Then we knocked on this one door, and this young guy came to the door. Elder Jerman started talking to him about the purpose of life, but then when the kid said he was Muslim, we kind of shifted into talking about prophets. And then he just invited us in. That's only the third time that has happened on my entire mission!! It was so ridiculous! And then we taught him and his father an intro lesson. And they both became new investigators! The kid's name is Onur, and it turns out he's only 17, but he was way cool and way open to talk to us. It was just a great experience, and the members were really psyched when we told them about it.

Anyway, the second miracle happened yesterday. So we tried to plan out a similar day yesterday, but instead of finding two investigators, we only wanted to find one. Then we spent some time going and visiting other potential investigators, trying to find someone who was home, and we had the same thing as on Saturday. No one was home. So then we started dooring, which is the best thing on Sundays, because the people love it when you knock on their door on Sunday. That was sarcasm, they actually hate it, haha. But anyway, it happened a second time! Somebody let us in when we knocked on their door! It was a little different this time, because it was someone whom we had talked to on the street about two weeks ago, and they were like, hey, we know each other! And then they were like, would you like something to drink? One thing led to another, and then we were sitting on their patio, eating a nice snack and drinking some Apfelschorle. They didn't become investigators, but we did give them a Book of Mormon, and we may stop by in a few weeks to see if they have any questions about it.

That wasn't even the miracle. After that we could have gone back home, because it was already 8, and we hadn't eaten dinner yet, but then I thought, We should call Dennis, who is a potential whom we talked to on the street a couple of weeks ago. So we called him, and he said he was home, so we went over, and had a super great lesson with him and his girlfriend. I mean, super great. I'm not going to lie, lessons on my mission haven't always been super spiritual, because a lot of times the people are just listening to find something that I say wrong so they can argue with me. But the atmosphere in this lesson was just great. Really open, they're both pretty young, late 20s I would say, and so we talked really honestly about our relationship with God, and the girl, Tisha, said that she really had no idea what our relationship with God can be. I felt the Spirit when I started bearing my testimony that God is really our Father, and that we can really have a good relationship with him. We should be going back to meet with them on Friday. It was crazy, we only wanted to find three new people to teach, and then we ended up finding four!

Also, my camera is freaking out right now, so I can't send any pictures, sorry! I got to go though, but Mom, it is way cool that Elder Jerman and I are practically related. Boom. Commented.

Love,
Elder Merkley