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Monday, December 2, 2013

Klagenfurt: December 2, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, things are going to be a lot different this transfer. I don't even know where to start, life is a lot different right now. 

First off: new companion. He's really cool. Like I said last week, his name is Elder Krieger, and he is from Salt Lake City, and has been on his mission for about 10 months. He went to BYU before his mission, which makes him the first companion I've had who has gone to BYU. We get along really well, and I feel like we are actually friends, so I think this transfer is going to be a lot of fun, as long as our relationship keeps developing like it has been.

The four-man apartment is also going to be a lot of fun. I'm just going to say this right off the bat though, my journal writing is going to suffer. I've had some major problems getting my journal written in, there's been too much socializing. One of the other Elders is a little bit interesting, which is one of the things that I was concerned about, but I don't foresee any problems.

Oh my word. There were so many people at church yesterday!! Ok, well it is all relative, but for realsies, there had to be more than 60 people there. We were sitting in Priesthood, and I counted the brethren there, and I realized that there were more men than there were members in Passau. I was feeling really overwhelmed trying to remember all the names of the members, but I think I learned at least 20 names or so, so I think within a couple of weeks I will know the members pretty well. We even were invited to eat somewhere yesterday!! That's the first eating appointment I've had on a Sunday in six months! It was so awesome. I think that there should be another eating appointment this week too, so I'm way excited.

Something else that is super crazy about this ward, they have youth! They have a seminary class to which four kids come. I think there is a second class in another town that is pretty far away, to which a few other kids go. Every Monday the missionaries come to this class too, so I woke up at 5 this morning, so that we could come to seminary. It was awesome! I had forgotten how much I liked seminary, it was really nice to start the day with a spiritual boost.

Relating to weather. Oh my word. It has been cold. Winter has definitely arrived, and we saw some snow this week. We have had temperatures under freezing, and I have not been super happy about it. I don't like the cold, because my feet and hands are always ridiculously cold. I feel like anything above 25 degrees or so is ok, but once it starts getting colder then life just stinks, and no matter what you wear you are just cold. Well, the winter has only just begun.

So Thanksgiving was not anything special for me. We had to get a train at 9:00 in the morning, and I didn't get in to Klagenfurt until 7:30 or so. We didn't have any sort of celebration or rememberance of it. I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving until around 5 or so that evening. My Thanksgiving lunch consisted of a sandwich that I had packed with me, it wasn't very American, I even used delicious thick German bread to make it.

Klagenfurt is about the same size that Heilbronn was. I think that there are around 100,000 people that live here. I don't have a great feel of what the city is like, because I haven't spent much time walking around. Elder Krieger and I had to go to a meeting on Satruday, and it is over three hours to get there with the train, so most of our day on Saturday was dedicated to traveling to Salzburg and back.  I've heard though that this city and area does have a lot of history, so I'll let you know as I find out more. What I do know is that there are actually mountains here, which is really awesome. The countryside here is very pretty.

The Austrian German is definitely different. One of the first days I was talking to this kid on the street, and I had to tell him that he needed to speak High German, because I had just moved there. When they try to speak High German I can usually understand them, though. Yesterday at church was interesting though. I had to translate for about four American who were in our ward, and there were a couple of times where I just had to say, sorry I don't know what they're saying right now. I could usually still keep up with what they were saying, but sometimes my understanding just wasn't as effortless as it normally is, and so I was having a hard time translating what they were saying. I think within a week or two though most of the major understanding problems will be gone as I get used to how they pronounce things differently.

The teaching pool isn't awesome, we haven't had a lesson with any investigators yet. but there were still two investigators in Church yesterday. Their names were Walter and Francesco. Like I said, I haven't met with them yet, so I don't know them, but we're hoping to see them both over the next few days. Francesco is from Italy, and Walter is a very old Austrian man. I hope that we will be able to find some new people this week though.

I don't know what else to tell you... I was really sad to be transferred though. We ended up having three eating appointments over the course of those three days, and I really was sad to have to say bye to those members. They really want us to come visit them when you pick me up, so we should keep that in mind. In fact, as I was on the train, a member found me in the train and gave me some stuff from a bakery, and said bye. I'm going to really miss that branch.

Other then all of that the week has been pretty uneventful. Like I was saying at the beginning, I'm really hoping that Elder Krieger and I will be good friends. We're both pretty good at communicating, and I feel like that is going to be one of our biggest strengths. Our companionship has a really good feel to it after three days. Oh yeah, Mom, Elder Krieger was telling me that his mom doess all those kind of wacky Missionary Mom things that you do, so you could probably find her and be friends if you want.

Before I close I don't know how much I'm going to be able to tell you about Andrej. We weren't able to meet before I left, so I don't know how he is doing, but I hope that Elder Nicoll and his new companion stay on him. I won't be able to return for his baptism. My mission president changed the rules so that nobody could return for baptisms outside of a zone anymore. I will be able to find out if he does get baptized, but I just won't be able to be present at the actual ordinance.

Sorry that I'm not writing more, but I am just really overwhelmed right now. New area, new companion, new dialect, and a huge new ward. I'm trying to process it all myself, so hopefully next week I'll be able to give you a little bit more information. I love you all so much! I am very grateful for all that you do. Thanks for sharing that scripture with me, Mom!

Elder Merkley

Some of Andy's Mission Buddies

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