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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Passau: November 25, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

This week has been really crazy, full of ups and downs, and just crazy stuff altogether. I think the craziest thing that happened was that we set a baptismal date with Andrej!!

Ok, so before I tell the story of how that happened, I need to give a little bit of background so that you can understand fully how insane it was. This year as a mission we have this goal to baptize 290 people. That is kind of crazy because last year we only baptized around 130-140. Well, we are sitting around 120 right now, and we only have a little bit of time left, so we fasted as a mission last week, and will do it again next Sunday, asking for miracles so that we can accomplish this goal. This week our Zone set like 6 baptismal dates. It was crazy! In the space of two days there were about five new dates set, and it was in the midst of all this that we had our appointment with Andrej. We actually didn't plan on setting a baptismal date with him, but we were in this lesson, and I just had the thought that unless he really sets a goal that nothing will ever change. He has met with missionaries a lot before, but has never made real progress. So we invited him to set a date for baptism so that he could test the Lord, and really show his faith. At first he was hesitant, but after a couple minutes of pretty intense testifying from both us and the Spirit, he agreed to set a goal for the 22nd of December. We were so stoked! We then set up a plan with him that we were going to have contact with him every day, meet with him at least twice a week, and he needs to come to Church. Guess what? He came to church!! I've been really praying that as he puts in his effort he will come to know that the Church is true.

Church was actually really stressful this week, but kind of in a good way. We had a total of five investigators come! We had invited a couple of the Nigerians in our lesson with them this week, and four of them ended up coming. Our lesson with them was actually really good, and we ended up using technology in it! I never dreamed that I would see the day when I was allowed to do things like this, but Elder Nicoll and I found a good Mormon Message during our internet time this week, and we brought it up for them on their iPad, and showed them it. I think we're going to try to download some onto a flashdrive next time, because the internet connection wasn't great, so we couldn't watch the whole video. Other then that though, the lesson went pretty well. They just have problems accepting anything that doesn't come from the Bible.  The Sisters also had someone in Church, so there were a total of six nonmembers, nine members, and four full-time missionaries at Church this week. The Sisters and Elder Nicoll taught an investigator class for the Africans, and I stayed in the Priesthood class with Andrej, and this guy Bernard, for whom I had to translate (he's from Africa too).

At Church I was privileged to give a talk, which went pretty well. I didn't feel super prepared, as in I didn't have my thoughts as well organized as I normally like to, but I think I was able to get my point across well enough. We actually had three different people translating during sacrament meeting, so it was a little disconcerting hearing the missionaries translate everything right after I said it. Today was actually a little bitter-sweet, because as I found out on Thursday, this will be my last Sunday here in Passau.

Yup. I'm being transferred. I got the call on Thursday morning, and the Assistant with whom I talked was being super obnoxious. He plays this game with every companionship where he beats around the bush profusely thanking you for your service in the area, taking the time to testify about how he's sure you have effected many lives there, and all this kind of crud. It's no wonder we had to sit around for three hours waiting if he does that with every companionship in the mission! Anyway, so I'm getting transferred to Austria! I'm going to an area called Klagenfurt, which is probably the biggest area, in geographical terms, in the mission. My new companion's name is Elder Krieger, and I think he is a little less than a year on his mission, and is from Salt Lake City. There are a couple more things I'm excited about. 1. It's a ward!!!! It's about sixty members, so it's not huge, but this is the first time that I have served in a ward, and I think it will be a big difference to Passau. 2. There are two other Elders in that area, and we will share an apartment! I have always wanted to be in a four-man apartment. There is also a senior couple in that area, so I'm pretty excited. There are some things that I am worried about, but I can't tell how it will be until I actually go there on Thursday, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.  This is the first time in over thirteen months where I won't be either training, District Leader, or both, so I'm looking forward to not having to have any of those kind of responsibilities, though, I'm really going to miss it if I'm honest.

Because of this transfer my week is going to be pretty crazy. There is a lot that I want to get done, and not a ton of time in which to do it. Today we are going to the Müller's house to cook together one last time, which I am way excited about. She is going to teach me how to make a incredibly tasty soup, I think. We also have Family Night tonight, which should be a lot of fun. Tomorrow we have my last District Meeting here, and then we are going to be meeting with Sogo, who is the guy who was baptized a couple months ago. Tuesday night we will be meeting with the Heumoses, with whom we will go to a Chinese Place (did I tell you that I like Chinese food now? I do. But still not raisins), and maybe ice cream, Sister Heumos knows that I love eating ice cream, haha. Then Wednesday there was a less active member whom I wanted to visit, and we have English Class. Then Thursday morning I'm gone into the unknown, into Austria. I had hoped to be able to meet with the Sagmiesters one last time as well, but they didn't come to Church this week, and I haven't actually been to their house in about five weeks, we only went once this transfer, which is pretty sad.

I will be really sad to leave Passau, because I really feel like I have had friends here. The members, the other missionaries, investigators, and just random people we see all the time walking around. I feel like I have friends here, and so it will be sad to have to leave them. I have enjoyed this transfer with Elder Nicoll, and will also be sad to leave him. I still wouldn't say that we are best friends, as in I don't feel like our personalities click to that level. But we are definitely friends, which is a feeling that I really like, and something that I really want to keep with my next companion.

Anyway, Mom, that's awesome about the Cook book, will I get one when I come home? I hope so. By the way, you never answered my questions about Christmas Presents. I'm going to assume that I won't have any time today, but what do you guys all want. I've already taken care of Daniel's, but other then that I'm kind of unsure what to get.

Well, fam-bam, I will hopefully be able to send you one more quick email before family night tonight, so that I can send you my new address, but because of time constraints I think I will close this email now. Know that I love you, and am very conscious of your support for me. Thank you!

Love,
Elder Merkley

Elder Andy Merkley
Marian Platzer str 2/1
A-9020 Klagenfurt 3

Austria

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