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Monday, July 22, 2013

Passau: July 15, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

This week was really great. We were in trains for EVER though. I think it was straight up around 15 hours of commuting for various meeting or finding days or just appointments.

It's so weird to think that Scott is home from his mission. We've been mission buddies for a long time (my entire mission), and it is weird to think that he is now a civilian again.

It is really interesting to think about how different missions are for every single person depending on your mission president, your mission, and just you. A lot of my friends who are serving in South America email me, and are always talking about how their 'finding' is more like 'sorting', where they just have to try to teach the people who will actually make progress. I swear, sometimes in our mission I feel like if someone says that we can come back, we come back. It's hard for us to drop people who are nice and like to talk with us. I understand it is important though, because then we can use our time wisely, and find more people that are interested.

I have heard rumors about them relaxing the standard for missionaries a little bit. President Miles talked about how they wanted to get rid of backpacks, and I'm just ahead of the curve, because I realized like 3 months ago how tacky they look, and that's why I bought a bag. In fact, they were even mentioning how a little lighter suit colors are ok too, and then Sister Miles kind of pointed out my suit, which is a lightish gray, and said that that kind of suit is totally okay. I had never even thought that it was borderline, but it was nice to get a confirmation about that, haha.

We didn't see Samira this week, but we are hoping to have an appointment with him in the next few days. It wasn't his fault that the appointments fell through, we couldn't actually come when we had said we would, because we had to go to another are for a finding day, and it took like 3-4 hours to get there with the train. So we were sitting for a really long time that day.

The Sagmeisters are also doing great. I was so impressed, Br Sagmeister and Johannes came to our English class on Wednesday. And then the next morning Johannes left on his mission. I was so surprised, and kept asking him what he was doing there. If I had been his mother I would have been angry at him. But it was really nice to get the support from them, and it made our class a lot better.

Yeah, we definitely cover a big area. We mostly just stay in the city because we have to pay for tickets to get anywhere outside of it. I can't describe how big it is, but there are members who have to drive for thirty minutes to get to church, and they aren't even the farthest out. We took a bus and train combination to visit someone, and it took over forty minutes to get to this dorf where he lived. The members are pretty spread out too. Only two active members live in Passau itself, and a few less actives as well. In general the members are a lot more spread out than I am used to. It also makes it difficult to visit them because we can't just hop on any train or bus that we want, we have to pay for it all.

Yeah, they rely on the missionaries a good amount in the branch. Yesterday Sister Garrett led the music, and Mom, you're going to laugh, but they don't have anyone to play the piano, and if I could play hymns very well, I would be used every week to play them... Still not regretting the quitting though, well mostly not. There is a keyboard in our apartment, and I bought batteries for it this week, and I plan on spending some time practicing this week. A missionary is expected to talk at least once a month, so there are quite a few talks from missionaries in the branch.

We did have a fun experience on Saturday. We actually changed our Pday to Saturday last week, and we went to a city called Landshut, where they have this huge celebration right now. It's like this reenactment of this wedding that happened in 1475 or something like that. A ton of the Landshut citizens dress up in the old clothing, and they are all members of guilds and what not. You actually have to grow out your hair to do it, so they are way serious about it. We went there on Saturday and walked around and just kind of enjoyed the day, it was a lot of fun.

We did have a cool experience last night. I was talking about some of my frustrations and concerns with Elder Barker, and then he ended up offering me a blessing. Before he had offered it I had kind of had the thought that if he offered me one I would take him up on it. And so I did. It was really a very good blessing, and I had the idea to record it, and then copy it down into my study journal, so if I remember I will type it up and send it with my next email. It really strengthened my testimony of priesthood blessings, because it totally addressed a lot of my concerns and worries. I am really grateful that the Lord can work through anyone to talk to us.

Anywho, it was a good week.

Love,
Elder Merkley

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