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Monday, July 8, 2013

Passau: July 8, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, this week was pretty good, and Elder Barker and I have finally seen a little bit of success!! But before we get to that, I just want to comment on Tanner's mission call. Dominican Republic? Crazy!! I'm so pumped for him! I am, of course, mildly disappointed that he wasn't called to this mission, but I am more excited that he will be going to the temple and then going on a mission. I know it will be a great experience for him. Also, Scott's coming home this week. Wow. That is ridiculous. I feel like he has been out forever so it will be weird to think about him back in the normal world.

I don't even know where to start this week. I guess I can start with our success. So we found our first investigator yesterday! His name is Samira, and he is from Afghanistan, but speaks really good English, and actually was offered a job from the American Military. This is essentially the first time where I have had a lesson in English with someone from the Middle East without having some sort of communication problem.  It wasn't a hugely spiritual lesson, but we gave him a Book of Mormon, and talked about the importance of being open to an answer about it.

So, my relationship with Elder Barker is actually pretty good, we can talk pretty openly with each other, and that makes it easy for us to give each other feedback. It's really great because he doesn't get offended when I mention things that we can do better at. That's something I am still trying to develop; because I get instantly defensive if I think that someone is saying that we aren't doing something as well as we could be.

The weather has been pretty good this week, still a little warm for people who walk around all day in dress-shirts and ties, but overall I would call it enjoyable. The three rivers that meet here in the city help to keep things a little bit cooler. Our apartment is right on the Donau (Danube River), which is really great because, as I have complained about before, the Germans don't use air conditioning. The river helps to keep the apartment relatively cool, thank goodness.

The branch here is pretty great. Like I was saying last week, the Sagmeisters are super great, and are definitely the core of the branch. I'm working on trying to love them more, I know it is important, but I would say that for the most part I do love the members.

There were actually around 40 people in church yesterday!! It was so ridiculous! It was Johannes Sagmeister's last day, and so a lot of his extended family came, and then another random member family from Switzerland showed up. I guess they were in vacation and saw the church, and wanted to come to partake of the sacrament. I talked to the dad to see if he maybe knew Daniel, but he's from the Bern area, and so he didn't know him. He was really nice though, and he complimented my German, saying that he was unsure if I was German or American, which of course made me super happy. I love it when people compliment my German, though they are usually just nice when they pretend they don't know I'm American.

Unfortunately, the only temple in our mission is in Switzerland, and since American missionaries can't really go into Switzerland the chances that I'm going to be able to the temple are minuscule. I haven't been to the temple for over 13 months, Father, and I don't expect to be able to go during my mission at all, which is too bad. Like you were saying, I think it would be way interesting to be able go to the temple right now, as a full-time missionary, but alas, tis not to be...

So I got your two packages to me, Mom, thanks a ton!! I don't want to complain, but there were some small problems with them... I loved the idea of throwing the nerds in the package too, you know how much I love those, but I did learn something new this week: wet nerds+a new white shirt=big rainbow stain. The other shirt is fine though. Also, I guess I didn't think i had to mention it, but the crew neck garments are a little bit uncomfortable, and are about a half an inch higher than my collared-shirts, haha. Also, another thing I guess I failed to mention, I'm short, Mom. I don't know if you had forgotten about that, or maybe you thought that I had grown a few inches, but I haven't. Keeping that in mind, the garment bottoms are really cool. And I think I will be able to use them if I buy some of those awesome European man-caprees. Unfortunately, anything that is shorter than two-three inches below the knee won't be compatible with the new garments, because they were designed for someone who is about 6'3'' or so. I'll just order myself some online, and save us any trouble in the future, haha.  Sorry that I forgot to mention those things when I asked for them! Also, you did include pictures, not a ton of them, but you did include a few, don't hesitate to send more though. I love getting pictures from you guys.

OH! I almost forgot, I did have a cool experience this week. So we had interviews this last week, and during my interview with President Miles we talked about Elder Barker a little bit, and he said something that really helped my understanding of Elder Barker. He talked about how child-like Elder Barker is, about how naive he is, and he expressed his admiration of that. That just kind of helped me to understand who Elder Barker is a little bit better. At the very end of this interview President Miles looked down, and as he started to talk I just had this feeling that what he was saying right now was coming right from God. He told me that he doesn't understand why, but he knows that he put me with Elder Barker for inspired reasons. I felt the Spirit really confirming that for me, and so I know that Elder Barker and I are together for a reason. I don't know why, what I am going to learn from it, or why I need it at all, but hopefully I'll figure it out at some point.

I hope that they figure out what is going on with Katie. I feel like this has thing with her has been going on forever, is she still in a lot of pain? I keep her in my thoughts and prayers.

I don't know what else to write, other than all that, this week has been pretty boring. A lot of finding and contacting. This has been a lot different experience for me in finding too. Before I came here we always had an area book, so we didn't have to often just do straight up contacting. Here we have nothing, and so we have just been doing straight up dooring or streeting for the last few weeks. Streeting has also become a little more difficult for me, because I feel like I'm doing it alone. Even when I need help, and straight up look at Elder Barker to try to get him to jump in, he just looks at his hands and doesn't say anything. It has become pretty emotionally draining for me to do hours of this without any sort of assistance. We've talked about it a few times, but so far it hasn't really gotten any better. I'll take your advice though, and think of Scotty. I'll try to develop a more helpful attitude.

Anywho, I love you all!

Elder Merkley

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