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Monday, June 17, 2013

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?

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