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Monday, April 14, 2014

Klagenfurt: April 14, 2014

Dearest Fam-bam,

So just before I forget, I spoiled you this week and put a few more pictures on Dropbox. Please, enjoy.

This week has been a lot of fun.  The best thing has been the weather. It has really been a very enjoyable temperature, and it even feels like Spring may already be passing, as many of the blossoms are falling off the trees and there are real leaves starting to appear.  I think this is the first year that I have experienced a real Spring. Last year we went straight from Winter to Summer in the matter of a week and a half or so, haha. We have also seen more success in our finding efforts, although we did not find any new investigators yet... but we have a couple of appointments set up for the coming week, so I have hope that things are going to keep getting better.

Kind of a funny story from this week, so Elder Dickson and I went to the place where Radu lives to meet up with him, and when we knocked on his door his roommate answered and told us he wasn't there (Radu lives in some sort of Student Dorm), and so we began chatting with him. We chatted for a few minutes and then ended up explaining our purpose as missionaries and invited him to hear more. We got his number and actually had an appointment with him last night. It was really cool, though it might be kind of awkward when Radu sees the French Book of Mormon lying around... Radu seems kind of like the jealous type to us, so we are wondering if that might cause some problems... Anyway, the appointment was cool because we were able to get a member there, and we were really able to establish our purpose, and that of the Book of Mormon well. We invited him to hear more, and he was hesistant, because he said he wasn't really ready to change his Church. We ended up leaving him a pamphlet, and we are hoping to be able to follow up with him about it next week at some point.

Speaking of Radu, things are...unchanged. We have tried to meet with him, and we saw him once briefly, but he was just playing Ping Pong with some other guys, one of whom is someone who had just given us his number last week, that was pretty fun, haha.  Anyway, he keeps putting off really sitting down and meeting with us, because he has always had a test coming up, and can't take the time to talk with us. It's really sad, because I can just feel his priorities completely shifting. Before it was all about God, and everything else was second to that. In the last month or so it has been school and ping pong first (not necessarily in that order), and God is a very distant second or third. It has led me to thinking a lot about what I need to do in order to stay strong in the Gospel and avoid letting my priorities change too.

We have actually found a ton of young college students from around the world in this same little dorm. It's been a lot of fun talking to them, and we should be having another couple of appointments this week with students from the University here. We're definitely looking forward to that.

Besides that our teaching pool has really become very small. It's saddening to see how many solid investigators have dropped off the map, or how many became one hit wonders- those are always big disappointments to me. I have really improved my attitude a lot though, when it comes to this kind of empty time. I am looking forward to this time where we can go out and look for those really prepared people. There have been so many of those kind of people that I have taught here, and I look forward to trying to find more of them.

This week I have actually been studying General Conference a lot, because I had received the assignment on Wednesday to give a talk about General Conference on Sunday. I was really happy to do it, but the short amount of time was a little annoying/stressful, and to make matters even more complicated, the talks weren't available in German, and so I had to either translate things spontaneously by myself or listen to the talks in German on, and painstakingly pause the recording every few seconds to write down three of four words at a time. I did a combination of both, and they were both pretty difficult, haha. I was studying a lot about love this last week, and was really struck by President Monson's remarks. I read this morning in 1 John 4, and was really surprised by how clearly it says that if you say you love God, but you don't love your neighbor, then you are a liar... That threw me through a bit of a loop. I definitely have some improving to do.

Other than that I have been studying in Preach My Gospel about the Book of Mormon and the role that it plays in missionary work. We actually had Interviews this week, and President and Sister Miles were emphasizing our goal of giving away a Book of Mormon every single day, and so I want to strengthen my testimony of the great power in that book. I just realized though, kind of like that email you sent me from Tanner said, that all we can really do is just invite people to read and testify of the results of that. Whether they actually do it or not is their choice. A lot of times I take myself way too seriously, and gauge my success on the actions of others, but I know that I am still a successful missionary even if no one uses their agency like I would want them too. I remember Spolmes telling me in the one letter I got from him on my mission (he went on his mission shortly thereafter, and we email pretty regularly, so I'm not trying to bag on him), that his grandpa had given him the advice to just 'invite, invite, and invite' on your mission. I have really seen the wisdom of that. That's all that we can really do, and it is so important that we actually do it!

Elder Dickson is doing well. We are working on his German, and I think he is getting better. Progress is nothing groudbreaking, but it is still definitely there.

Ward support is still good, in fact they just called an Assistant GML yesterday! Which is awesome, and he lives in Klagenfurt too. Our GML lives in Villach, which is a thirty minute train ride away, so I wonder if they decided to call an assistant here in Klagenfurt so that he could assist us in a more hands on fashion.

The Welsh woman (Rose), came to Bible Course with her husband on Thursday!! It was so cool! Frau Lahoda came as well, and so we had a pretty full class (relatively). There were three nonmembers, two members, and four missionaries. We brought that up in the various organizations on Sunday, and we are expecting a few different members to come on Thursday, but we will see.

I'm feeling really good about missionary work, even though success isn't going exactly like we want it to right now. Well, I got to get going! I love you so much!

Elder Merkley

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