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Monday, April 7, 2014

Klagenfurt: April 7, 2014

Dearest Fam-bam,

Well, this week was just as crazy as we anticipated it being. I really did enjoy General Conference, just like you all did, from the sound of it. I was able to see all sessions this year, because we sat down with the senior couple this morning after seminary and watched the Sunday afternoon one. What I find so amazing is that although none of the speakers are given topics, their talks still work together so well. There were three or four times when after a talk I thought something like, 'Wow, I really need to work on that', and then the next talk was exactly about that topic. Everything just fit together really well.

Other than that and service we didn't see a lot of success this week. We didn't have a ton of time, and we tried to fill that time in with effective activities, but not as much happened as we would have liked. One cool thing that happened is that we brought cookies to a former investigator from Wales, in order to say hi, and to invite her to our Bible course. She was super nice and said that she would come this week. She loved the cookies (thanks, home teaching. That helped me to memorized that no-bake cookie recipe, and then we also have Aunt Janet's cook book that she gave me. My whole apartment is super thankful for that. We use it for baking all sorts of treats to give people), and she was super open because of them. It is really interesting to see how cookies can melt someone's heart. I don't think anyone can be mad when you are standing in front of their door with a plate of cookies.

Elizabeth is still doing great. She seems to be progressing in the Gospel very well, and comes to Church regularly. She was resistant about the idea of home teachers, but if I'm honest, I'm not sure she understands what they really mean at this point, so hopefully we can get her some assigned soon. The language barrier still makes it hard at some points. We need a member who can speak fluent Spanish and German. That would be ideal.

Gin is still investigating. In fact, he read all of 1st and 2nd Nephi for our appointment on Saturday. I don't know how much progress he is making, but he did just send me an email with about 16 questions from his reading, so we'll see. To be honest though, the questions are often a lot more of the nit-picky, generally accepted as non-important things, haha. I'll let you know how things develop.

Well. Some really heart-breaking news with Radu. He didn't answer any of our texts or calls up to Friday. I even had asked him if he wanted to go get some breakfast/lunch on my birthday, and he never responded, and so we were really worried. We ended up walking over to his dorm on Friday and tracking him down, and he told us that he didn't have the courage to tell us, but he said he was never going to come to Church again. He said that he realized that God doesn't love him. He still believes in God, but he believes that God only loves certain people, and only certain people deserve to be happy in this life, and he's not one of them. He said that he would not read in the scriptures or pray any more, because it doesn't help him at all. It really made me sad. He will at least answer our texts and things now, so we are going to try and keep contact with him, but it is just so sad. I know that smoking and his reading in the Book of Mormon played a part in it. At the beginning he was so adamant about how easy it was to read 2 chapters a day, but after a while he started getting distracted by school and before long I think his reading became a little sporadic. In addition to that, he never was able to give up smoking, and I think these two combined to lead him away from the path. It goes to show you the importance of keeping the commandments, and daily reading your scriptures in order to strengthen yourself against temptation.

Elder Dickson is doing well. We are speaking a good amount of German, which is really good for him. He is still hard on himself, but we have been focusing on being more positive, and so I think things are looking better. He knows that in a few weeks he won't be able to rely on my German, and he is already worrying that he will get a companion who can't speak good German, and that he will have to take over a lot of the things I do. I try to give him oppurtunites to do things like that, but I think I need to make a more concentrated effort to help him prepare for taking over the area.

We found out recently that at the end of April we will be having a mission tour with Elder Dyches of the Seventy. So right before we go to Vienna together, I should be able to go to Vienna with my zone, although I won't be able to really do any sight-seeing.

Anywho, this week was good. Thanks for all your prayers! I can feel your love and support and it inspires me to be better. Oh, yeah, you asked me about what I have been studying in Preach My Gospel. Something I have been really trying to work on is gaining a strong testimony of Scripture Study and prayer. I feel like the very basics of the Gospel are where I have problems being effective. Something I have felt the power of recently is really putting your name in the scriptures. Literally trying to make every verse apply to you. One other thing that I kind of have been trying out on my own is my posture when I pray. I had been thinking about it recently, and I realized that my posture when I pray is often pretty disrespectful. Well, when I pray at night I kind of am half lying in my bed, and it doesn't really look like I am speaking to my Father in Heaven. I have tried sitting up, and being really respectful, like you always see if you watch Mormon Messages, and have really focused on trying to feel the connection to Heavenly Father. I feel like the more I focus on understanding what I am doing, and really speaking to Heavenly Father, the more I can really feel this connection to him, and receive answers to my questions daily.

Ok, well on that note, I love you!

Elder Merkley

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