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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Klagenfurt: December 30, 2013

Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, this week has been a lot of fun, and so unusual.  I really enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day 1, and Christmas Day 2. Although the celebrations and the people with whom I was celebrating weren't the same as at home, I enjoyed the oppurtunity to think a little bit more about the birth of Jesus Christ, and I already miss listening to Christmas Music non-stop.

I think I will start with the best news of all from this week: We set a baptismal date with Elizabeth this week! We only taught two lessons the entire week, but we had members at both of them, and in the one with Elizabeth she agreed to be baptized on the second of February. So although we didn't have as many appointments with investigators this week, we were able to have one with each of our baptismal candidates, which was awesome, and they both came to Church, and got themselves here, which is also wonderful. We set some really high goals for this week, and are hoping to get six lessons with a member present, which is something that I have never accomplished during my mission. This ward is so good with joint-teaches, as long as we go to the trouble to look for one, we can find one.

Francesco is doing great too. I am pretty sure he won't be baptized on the date that we set with him, but we had an appointment with  him this week where I really got to know him better, and I feel like I understand a lot more where he is coming from and what he wants. I think we will start seeing a lot of progress with him in the next few weeks. He has come to Church the last five or six weeks in a row, and has been keeping his committments, and so I am excited to see how this develops.

As for how supportive the ward is, I would say that they are by far the most supportive ward I have ever served in. The GML, Bruder Mauch, is awesome! He is constantly looking for ways to be better as a GML, and he even had us change our appointment with Francesco to a member's house, because he said he had read it in PMG, and decided that we should try it out. I knew that was in there, but I had never thought that I could ask and make that happen.

We're trying to meet with more members this week and help them to develop their own personal Mission Plan, we hope that we will be able to see some success through that, maybe get a few referrals, we'll see.

The work did slow down a little bit this week, like I mentioned before, we only had two lessons, and only found a few potential investigators, but I think we really set up a good week coming up. We already have a few appointments set up with our investigators, and are hoping to see a lot of success this week. Our New Year's Eve looks a little boring right now. We have two appointments on that day, but we don't have an invitation to stay up to midnight with anyone, so it looks like I might spend the transition period into the New Year sleeping... I'll let you know if that changes at all, but at this point I am not expecting to be able to celebrate it at all.

I know this email is a little disjointed, but I just want to tell you everything! So back to Christmas. It was really weird, but on Christmas Eve, I was able to watch the Hobbitt. I have to tell you, it was so good! I was worried that I would get distracted by it, but by the time I woke up the next morning all trunky or distracted thoughts were essentially gone. Also, I know I already told you, but I accidentally called the Doha Merks on Skype right before I called you. It said Merkley Family on it, and when I called it, a picture popped up of Dad, and I was like, huh, that's a really funny picture of Dad, he looks a little different in this. Hindsight is definitely always 20/20, because it wasn't Dad, it was Uncle Keith, and I didn't realize it until I heard Aunt Janet's voice yelling my name, and saw the whole Doha family gathered around the web cam. It was hilarious!

On Christmas Day 2 we actually got to watch the movie Silent Night, which was made by an Austrian. That movie was awesome, it really inspired me to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ, and not become jaded (I don't think I've ever written that word out, is that how you spell it?) like the old Priest guy. Have you seen that movie? If not I would highly recommend it.

Oh yeah! I got a text Thursday night from the Bishop, asking me to give a ten minute talk on Sunday (yesterday), so I spent all of my study time in the last couple of days preparing this talk. I was really grateful to Heavenly Father, because I really felt him leading me in my preparation. I was hitting a kind of writer's block again and again for a while, and finally I was able to use my study journals, for which I have an awesome organization system, to find some scriptures and talks that spurred my thinking and led me to being able to create a coherent talk. I know that I was led to find those quotes, because I never would have been able to prepare a good, original talk, if I hadn't had that idea pop into my brain. After I gave it, our GML told me that I had pronounced a word wrong, and had made three grammar mistakes while I was speaking, but that other than that I had used the right formulations and conjugations and everything. I was really happy, because I was worried that I was going to mess up, it's been a while since I have given a talk in front of more than thirty people. Yesterday, because of the holidays, there were easily 80-90 in Church.

Anywho, I'm not sure what else to tell you from this week. It was fun, and I am looking forward to this week, where I think we will be able to see a lot of success. Also, Mom, you asked me if I am happy that I stuck it out at the beginning of my mission. Yeah, I am. There are a lot of people whom I have met, and a lot of experiences and learning that I would have missed out on if I hadn't served a mission. I know I have been able to do some good on my mission, and I have learned so much about myself and about my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I wouldn't trade this experience, however, that does not mean that I have loved every minute of it. There have been a lot of experiences that I've had that I would not repeat if I could avoid it, however I think they have helped me to become the person I am today, so in that sense I am grateful for them. I still have a lot of learning and growing to do, and so I am grateful that I have more time to get rid of some personality flaws that I still have.

Anyway, I love you!

Elder Merkley

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