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Monday, February 3, 2014

Klagenfurt: February 3, 2014

Dearest Fam-bam,

So...this week was pretty good. I have to be honest, it was not my favorite week, but I am really happy about it, because I feel like I learned a lot of important things about myself, and about missionary work in general from it.

Before I get to that, I guess I will finally answer Dad's never-failing query as to the weather. It has snowed a ton!!! We had been having an unseasonable low amount of snow, and then all the sudden the Heavens just opened, and out came the snow. Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Snow. Snow. Snow. It snowed for like three days straight. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it has honestly snowed more than I have ever seen. It's about two or three feet high out there. The main problem is, that the temperature has been sitting around freezing, and so there have been some times when it has been raining too. It was really a quite curious experience, to see the rain coming down onto the snow-covered ground. I kind of just want the weather to decide, this halfway stuff is pretty annoying. We are already in February though, so I am hoping that it won't get too much colder before things plateau. Who knows though, I hear these temperatures have also been relatively warm. The weather continues to provide great finding opportunities for me in buses though. Telling me people I'm from California often brings sympathy, and then the question, 'Why did you come here?', which is a question I love to answer.

Elizabeth is still doing great. She is progressing, and we haven't set a new date with her yet, but I imagine that she will be baptized before I go. I hope so at least. Both appointments with her this week actually ended up falling through, which was part of the reason for my frustration. I think there were a total of six appointments where either the person or the joint teach cancelled. This is what provided the great learning opportunity though. I have realized that I haven't internalized my purpose as a missionary (which is to invite others to come unto Christ) quite as much as I could have, because I had started to pay too much attention to numbers, and had become frustrated when we didn't reach the goals we had set. I feel like Heavenly Father had all these appointments fall through to get me to feel this frustration, so that I could realize how much of a weakness I have there. It all culminated on an exchange on Saturday night, where I started talking to the other missionary about this, and after a long conversation it finally clicked, and I figured out what I need to do to make it better. I just haven't been working as effectively as possible, because my understanding of my purpose wasn't as deep as it should have been. The last two days have been really good, and I am excited that I still have a few months to try to get this right. However, I am also a little disappointed that it took me this long to see some of the faults that I have. I don't feel like I wasted any time, but I do feel like I could have been more effective in my efforts to help other people. Oh well, I'm just grateful that Heavenly Father has helped me to realize it now.

Dominik and Peter are doing pretty well. We met with them twice last week, and we are hoping to meet with them twice this week too. They should be going to our Bishop's house tonight for a combined FHE, which we are really excited about. We're not really sure if Peter is making progress, he still holds himself too aloof from the whole thing. We hope that as we continue to teach he will continue to open up and continue to listen and learn.

Radu is doing awesome. He was at Church again yesterday, and he really likes it. We met with him twice last week, and almost a third time, but he had to cancel. It is really cool with him, because he really wants to meet with us too. He came really early to Church this morning so that we could meet with him (We will be leaving shortly to go to Salzburg, which because of snow and stuff will probably be a five hour train ride. Yea!). He even came an entire hour early for our appointment, which was a big surprise. We taught him the Word of Wisdom today, and he committed to live it, which means giving up smoking for him, which is something that he wants to do, because he knows it isn't what God wants him to do. He believes in the Book of Mormon and everything, and reads about two chapters every single day in there, but he hasn't quite received an answer about baptism or not. He is Orthodox, and he is hesitant to be baptized into a different church. He told us today that he just needs some time. We are hoping to set a baptismal date with him in the next couple of weeks. He and Elizabeth have finally made me realize what kind of investigators we are looking for. We aren't looking for the kind of wish washy ones who don't hold commitments. We are looking for the ones who come to Church, who are willing to sacrifice for God, and are willing to really follow His commandments.

The ward is still being really supportive, we are doing our best to try to involve them with every investigator. Especially with Radu, because we have the feeling that he is becoming attached to us, which is good, but we are only going to be here for so long. The main problem is that the two times that a joint teach fell out this week, it was with our appointments with Radu, and so he hasn't really had a joint teach yet. We are trying our best to get him to be a part of the ward quickly, and are trying to get a very recently re-activated 21 year old, Sebastian, to come this Wednesday with us.

We are also hoping to be able to involve him in some sort of FHE that hopefully the new Senior Couple, the Wades, will be putting on. They just got here last night, and they are so cool! They are funny, and Sister Wade was telling us we could come over any time and are welcome to eat their food, and she would make us cookies. It just feels like my grandparents moved here, so I am really excited about that. I am already contemplating just asking them if we can hang out on Pday some time and play board games and make cookies together or something. I hope that will happen in the next month or so.

My stress is doing alright. It is still there, and I am working on trying to control it a little bit better, which means trying not to worry about things I can't control, and things like that. As for my visa, one of the Senior Sisters from the Office just called, and told me that the papers I had sent to Passau didn't work, and so I now have to try to get a notary and get them to watch me sign some other document to send to someone else... yeah, it's still a little bit complicated. I still have to the 26th of February, but it is starting to get a little tight, and I really don't want to leave here. The problem of the moment is that I have to go get on a train in two hours, and I will be gone all day tomorrow in Salzburg, which means that I can't get anything going until Wednesday.

Anyway, I love you a ton! Thanks for your emails!

Elder Merkley

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