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Monday, June 17, 2013

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 

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