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).
Elder Andy Merkley
Kirche Jesu Christi HLT
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!