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Monday, December 9, 2013

Klagenfurt: December 9, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

 Well, this week has been a lot of fun.  I don't even know where to start. I feel like I have been settling into the area pretty well, but I have been getting a little frustrated with myself, because I feel like I'm learning the area a lot slower than I want to, and I haven't been able to contribute to planning as much as I have wanted to. I'm working on getting to know what the area looks like, where people live, and the buses though, and I hope that during this next week I will be able to get to know the area a lot better. I feel like we have been filling up our time with a lot of good things this week, but I think that we can be using our time even more effectively, and I hope that we will be able to do that this week.

Things with Elder Krieger are still going well. He's already been in the area for two transfers with two different companions, so we think that we will stay 2 together, but of course there is no guarantee.  I wouldn't say that we have a perfect companionship, however I am really enjoying the time together, and I think that we communicate and teach really well together.  It was actually really cool, because we had a good amount of opportunities to teach this week. On Monday we found an investigator together, his name is Valentine, and is from Nigeria. We met with him twice this week, and gave him a Book of Mormon on Saturday. A lot of time it is tough to teach people coming from an African culture, just because they aren't always super reliable, but Valentine is really solid, so I hope that we will be able to see him a time or two this week, and I'll let you know as things develop.

Someone else whom we were able to teach a couple times is named Francesco and is from Italy. I don't know if you know, but we are really close to the Italian border here. In our last lesson with him, we actually set a baptismal date with him for  the 19th of January. He doesn't have a testimony quite yet, however he has been reading in the Book of Mormon, and has come to Church the last three weeks, so I think it is only a matter of time. What is really cool is that he and a member, Danelle (who is a man. I just wanted to clarify, because that name doesn't necessarily answer the question), have become friends. They are both Italian, and Danelle has been at almost every appointment, and they sit next to each other at Church, and it is great. We should be meeting with him again on Wednesday, and we are really excited for him.

We found one other investigator this week, his wife is Schwester Karner, a member of our ward. He has apparently already looked into the Church a while ago, but I guess due to a couple of badly timed transfers and a couple of missionaries whom he didn't like things didn't really work out. We met with him on Saturday and invited him to read the Book of Mormon, because although he and his wife have been married for 46 years, he has never read the Book of Mormon. I'll let you know how things go there as well.

Other than that the weather here has been way cold. It was in the low 20s for a couple of days, and hasn't really reached above freezing consistently for the whole time I've been here. The people I've talked to have said that it has been pretty normal here, but that in the winter it isn't uncommon for the weather to reach up to -20 °C for a couple of weeks. That would be super super cold. It sounds like we get a lot of snow here, but typically the sun is out between the storms. That is one thing that I have noticed this last week. I swear we have had more sun in this one week than I had the entire last winter. I know I told you, but last winter was the least amount of sunshine in about 55 years or so. I hope this winter is different. I really don't like the cold though. My hands and feet have already been way cold, but I survived last winter, so I know I'll be able to deal with it.

The mountains nearby are part of the Alps. I really don't know how to describe it though. Just beautiful. There is this really pretty lake in Klagenfurt too, and everything is just super beautiful. 

Yeah, I am way far away from Munich. I have no idea exactly how far, but I think it typcially takes around 5 -6 hours with a train to get there, so we are definitely pretty far away. Yeah, Dad, I've noticed as well that President Miles likes to send me to the outskirts of the mission. Right now, I'm more isolated than I have ever been, because our District is the four Elders, and the Senior couple, who are leaving next Tuesday. So for the next six weeks or so we will literally be a District of four Elders, all of whom live in the same apartment.

This last week with the members was a lot of fun. We actually had a few eating appointments this week. We actually had three on Saturday... It was very painful. We went and served with a member in the morning, and then they fed us lunch, then we went to Valentine, who also gave us lunch, and then we went to the Karners' house, and they gave us dinner. I literally gained four pounds in one day, and was in a very real pain. Yesterday we were also invited over by Danelle and his wife, and we had some delicious Italian food. It looks like the missionaries typically get invited every Sunday here. I won't say for sure, because Elder Krieger told me that last transfer that didn't happen every week, but I hope that it keeps up this transfer. We also got invitations for Christmas Eve, and one for the first Christmas day. I'm not sure how skyping is going to work, but I'll let you know. I think I should be able to skype on Christmas day itself, but there is also a possibility it would be Christmas Eve. I'll try to figure it out in the next couple of weeks.

I have not received any Christmas cards yet, and I haven't received the packages yet either. There is a special Christmas Conference a week from this Saturday where we will be able to receive those, I believe.

I've been understanding a lot better this week, it's not like I really had a ton of problems to start, but I'm starting to get used to how they pronounce things. In fact, it's been really funny, but there have been a couple people who have been able to know that I've spent my whole mission in Germany so far, because they say that I speak German like a German, and not like an Austrian.

Overall life has been good this week. I feel like there is a lot of work to be done here, and I have been inspired more and more by the other missionaries whom I live with. I have become friends with all of them, and that has been really helping me to enjoy life a lot more. Although I will reiterate, journal writing has suffered. I'm getting better and more consistent, but it's nothing that awesome.

I love you so much!

Elder Merkley

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