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Monday, September 2, 2013

Passau: September 2, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Wow. I can't believe that Anna is at BYU now!! Where does the time go? I hope she has been settling in well, the transition is really something else. 

Anywho, so coming to the question that you essentially all asked in your emails...transfers. Well, Elder Barker and I will be staying here in Passau together for a third transfer, which is not a surprise. And I will be starting my seventh transfer as District Leader, which, to be perfectly honest, was also not much of a surprise. I've just grown to kind of expect doing it. In fact, I've been District Leader more than half of my mission so far. I'm hoping that this next transfer will be really good, and have decided that I really want to focus on spiritual growth for the next six weeks. I really want to be a more spiritual person when I get home, so I figure I got to start working on that at some point. 

On Sunday, Sister Heumos, the branch President's wife, stood up and bore her testimony about how she has been praying for a while that all five of the missionaries here would stay (The trio here is being broken btw, Sister Garrett is transferred away, and the other two are staying), but that she finally prayed that the Lord's will would happen. The night before transfers she had a dream that Sister Garrett would be transferred, and then I called her that morning, and it is what really happened. I guess she is just really hoping that the five of us can have a positive impact on Michael. We are starting to have FHE every Monday night here, and invite all the single members that live here, and we invited her son to come, and he said he would be coming tonight, so hopefully we can make something happen.

Another cool thing, a member from Heilbronn came and visited me yesterday!! Bruder Kisling was on vacation, and was more or less in the area (Passau wasn't the closest ward building, but he knew I was here, and so he thought he would just come here instead), and so he stopped by. I freaked out when I saw him. It was totally an answer to my prayers, but I guess I should explain a little bit of the back story here. So I had heard recently that someone in our Zone was transferred back to an area he has already been in for around six or seven transfers, and one of the missionaries in Munich is going to go whitewash Heilbronn again (No idea why, Elder Buck and I just whitewashed it less than a year ago), and I was thinking about how much I loved Heilbronn. I love this ward here too, but I just feel a special connection in some ways to Heilbronn. I was sitting in the Chapel kind of thinking about that, and wishing that at some point I could also be transferred back there. And then like 10 minutes later Bruder Kisling walks in! It was so awesome, kind of weird too, like two different worlds crashing together, but I loved it!

As for language, I think I have stopped mentioning it because I don't really pay attention to it much anymore. I don't really feel like it is that much of a barrier. I do get frustrated with myself, because I feel like my vocabulary isn't as great as it could be, but I don't really have any problems expressing myself. After my talk last week a couple members came up and were complimenting me on my 'flawless German'. They say that my grammar is really good, and that my accent is almost German. I know I still have a little bit of an American accent, but i also know that it is not super strong. I still have a lot of room to improve, especially in vocabulary (I'm often limited to a church vocabulary still), and so I still have a long way to go. I feel like training has kind of limited the increase of my vocabulary, and slowed my progress with German altogether, because I have to speak a lot more English nowadays. Elder Barker still speaks about 80-90% English, which doesn't help the German very much. I still try to speak mainly German, because I need to improve my language skills too!

Funny stories this week? Elder Barker and I got locked out of our apartment... We went jogging, and normally I have the keys, but then I forgot them on this day, and we ended up having to get our branch president to come and bring us the key (I still don't know why he doesn't have it in the Church. He lives like a 20 minute drive away, it would be a ton easier if he would leave it there.). To do that though we had to book it to the Sisters' apartment, borrow their phone and actually their bus passes, and then we drove to the Church and arranged it all from there. It was good though, we found some tea while we were at the church, so we just started comp study and drank some tea. The story goes on, and gets even more embarrassing. So that night we had an exchange, and I normally have the keys,  Elder Barker should have some, but he often just forgets to carry them, and when we change we normally change keys and stuff, but we didn't think about it this time, so forty minutes into their train ride, Elder Barker calls and says that he doesn't have his key in his backback... So they had to call the Heumoses about that as well. Luckily they were already in Passau, but still... To make matters worse, President Heumos bore his testimony about this whole experience to the entire branch on Sunday (ok, to be fair, the entire branch was only about 18 people).

We didn't find any new investigators this week, both we and the Sisters have been having a finding problem in these last few transfers. We're all doing everything that we know, but we are still not finding anyone. We have even had two finding days here in Passau, where we found a grand total of three potential investigators, none of whom became investigators. It has been a little frustrating, but we're trying to regroup, and figure out how we can find new people to teach more consistently.  Missionary work has just been kind of slow recently. I really want to try to get my heart in it more, so that I can have more fun doing it, and so that I will hopefully see more success from it.

I don't know what else to write. Life is still good, the church is still true. Like I said earlier, I want this transfer to really be more focused on Spiritual matters, so I'll let you know how that goes.

Love,
Elder Merkley

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