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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Klagenfurt: January 27, 2014

Dearest Fam-bam,

For a number of reasons I don't have as much time to write today, but I will try to get in as much of the important stuff as I can. I think I will just jump into the week/investigators, as to not waste any time.

Elizabeth is doing great! On Saturday, we went to Villach, which is the other big city in our area, and looked at this warm river that comes out of the side of the mountain. Right after we looked at it she decided that she wanted to be baptized there, and since the water there doesn't run all the time (I guess it has something to do with precipitation, and when it rains a lot then warm water starts coming out of the side of the mountain. People dug a hole so the water would be deep enough to swim in.), and so there was a period of a few hours when we thought we were going to be having to organize the baptism within a week or so. Luckily she decided to wait, and I think we will end up setting a new baptismal date with her sometime in May, so that she can still be baptized in running water. I'm glad that we aren't rushing it, because we obviously want to make sure that she is really solid in the Church before she is baptized. We have already taught a lot of the biggest elements of the gospel, including the Law of Chastity, which we were a little worried about, just because she is a very outspoken woman, and the language barrier does not help us to communicate with her. Sometime when we are having lessons I will look around the table and think about how crazy it is that we are all sitting here, and speaking German. Especially when we had our member from Croatia there, and none of us were native German speakers. This ward is super international. 

Dominic is doing alright. We are actually going to be going there tonight and will be introducing the concept of Family Home Evening, and then will try to invite them to a family home evening at our Bishop's house next week. We're going to try to start meeting with them twice a week as well to see if we can help him make more progress. We actually just found out this week that the Mom, and Peter aren't actually married...so it will be fun when we get to the Law of Chastity with them. We tried to involve Peter more in the lesson last week, but it didn't go as well as we would have liked. He likes being more aloof, and even things like asking him to read the scriptures didn't appeal to him. We're going to try and just teach generally, but teach in such a way that he will still be able to learn even without being an active participant, which is, of course, the ultimate goal.

The only other investigator who is showing a lot of potential right now is actually one that we found this week. His name is Radu and he is from Romania. We had a great lesson with him on Saturday (which a member came to), and then he came to church on Sunday. He stayed for all three hours, and he said he really liked it; although he wasn't thrilled by the 10 Romanian-Gypsies who showed up during Church to beg. As I am writing this, there are actually two more sitting in the lobby of the Church waiting for our Bishop to come and talk with them... That's beside the point. The point is, Radu is really cool, and we will be meeting with him again on Tuesday, and he is planning on coming to Church again next Sunday. On Sunday, he was even explaining to me how he had already read the first two chapters in 1 Nephi, so I think that he shows a lot of promise.

Frau Lahoda is also doing pretty well. We are going to try to start out so different strategies of teaching this week, because right now we just have the feeling that she thinks that we are there to just have a nice conversation with her, and not necessarily to teach anything. I really think she needs to understand the Atonement, because right now, although she considers herself Christian, she doesn't believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, she just thinks that He lived a perfect life, thereby giving us a perfect example.

We are still getting a lot of ward support right now. It's getting tough, because we have started using a couple of our go-to people too much, and we just need to be careful how much we ask them. It's just tough, because we meet a lot of our investigators during the day, and there are only so many people who don't have to work at those times. We are going to start trying to involve the female members a lot more, because at this point at least a few of our investigators are male, and so we don't necessarily need male joint teaches. Our GML announced during Priesthood how well the ward is doing with those, and he told them that the ward has never seen this many joint teaches. He says that there have been more joint teaches in this ward this month than there have been days. I guess that makes sense, when I think that Elder Krieger and I have been able to get seven lessons with members present the last three weeks in a row, and that's not even considering the other companionship, who also works very hard.

Yeah... I think some of my stress is actually coming from my success here. I'm trying to figure out how to deal with it, because I'm am 90% sure that is the main cause of the bad acne breakouts I've been having for the last few months. I don't know. I'm trying to figure it out, and actually one more thing that is adding to my stress is the fact that I don't have a visa yet. There was some problem with something that they should have sent from Passau, it got lost in the mail or something, and it has become very complicated. We're still working on it, and now I have less than a month to get this all figured out, and if I don't, then I will be shipped back to Germany... The main problem is that I don't feel like I have any time. Every waking moment is spent doing something. I haven't even had time to write in my journal since last Thursday, because I have just been updating records, planning something, or trying to prepare a little bit better for the next day. I can still kind of feel the stress sitting in my shoulders right now, they're just a little tight.

As for letters. Yeah! I actually got a ton in the space of like three or four days. I got one from this random friend from BYU, who I had a Poli Sci class with, and who used to always get me to buy him food at the Canon Center. It was actually really cool, and a really nice surprise. That was the first letter I have ever received from him on my mission. I also got a letter from Alicia Myers, and from Anna, which was also way cool. I don't think I'm going to be able to write any letters today, because we didn't have as long of a Pday as we normally do, because of an eating appointment and this appointment with the Hernauses tonight. I think I may have gotten another one from Sheridan too? I'm not sure, this whole week has been kind of a blur. In fact, this last transfer and a half have been ridiculously fast. I don't know where the time is going. I did not have time to write the Menloves last week, and this week I opted for an hour nap, so I haven't written anyone. I don't think I will get around to it...

Anyway. The week was good. We are still doing a lot of teaching. I hope next week will be just as good, we are trying our best to get everything worked out, but it takes a lot of energy, and a lot of planning. Pray for me that we will be able to figure it all out and get it all taken care of. I love you guys!!

Love,
Elder Merkley

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