What an amazing place Deutschland is! I think I will do a day-by-day review, just because so much has happened!
Monday, 3.21: We left the MTC at 5am, and drove on a charter bus up to the airport. There was a lot of excitement, and also a bit of anxiety from everybody. At the MTC, there were scales for our bags, and I was pushing 50 pounds in each... but the airport scales read them at 46 and 47, so all was well! We went up to our gate and just waited around. We were walking up to the boarding area right before we loaded, and Brother Park was walking this way! He was coming home on the same plane! It was great to see him. (The plane was really crowded and several of us including me had to wait until the plane was boarded then receive a seat assignment. He went to the desk and changed his ticket to first class to make sure there would be a seat.. and I was one of the last on the plane, so it was a great blessing!) To be honest, I don't even really remember that flight to Dallas... I'm pretty sure I slept, though! How great it was to touch down in Dallas! We walked off the plane, and the other missinaries complained a little at the humidity... I secretly loved it! We got to our international gate and waited for a few hours. It was there that I was able to call and talk and we ate some McDonalds... no Blue Bell or barbeque to be found.. Then we loaded our plane- a HUGE plane! 9 seats across and 4 separate sections. I sat by Elder Decker and a young woman going to Frankfurt for deployment in the army. I slept a lot of this flight... there were TV screens in front of every seat with flight information and maps and cool stuff like that. I remember seeing us over Missouri, Canada, and England... So Iäm not quite sure what happened to the Atlantic ocean, but I know we flew over it! There were really nice flight attendants and they said they make this flight every week, and look forward to seeing us in two years when we return home!
Tuesday, 3.22: So with crazy time chanes and Germany not yet being on Daylight savings and such, we arrived in Frankfurt at 7:00am, but our bodies felt like is was 11 or 12 at night. We met President and Sister Ninow outside the customs place with several missionaries- assistants and others- and split up 5 and 5 to do the day's activities. I went with some of the assistants on a train through Frankfurt to the Mission Office to fill our paperwork and get registered. They challenged us to talk to people on the train, so I got up enough courage to talk with this woman going to work- it was the first time it really hit me that I am in Germany! We got to the mission office and spent a while doing passports and visas and drivers licences und so weiter und so weiter... Then we were taken to Innenstadt Frankfurt for the street preach; a group of missionaries sang hymns and others went out and contacted. It was so great and Elder White and I actually were able to talk to this man for a while about prophets and got his contact information for the Frankfurt Missionaries. After a while of that fun, my group went to the mission home and had interviews with President Ninow. What a great man! He is so genuine and full of love. He gave me some very wise and personal counsel, for which I am greateful. Now it is about this time of the day when the tiredness kicked in... for everybody! It was funny to see all the missionaries slowly start to gaye off in the distance with glossy eyes and their heads kind of bobbing around. The picking up your leg trick can only be used so much! Thank goodness it was dinner time! But it was only 4pm! Sister Ninow made ham with potatoes and salad and Deutsche Brot! sehr sehr lecker! They gave us Milka chocolate and we were taken to a Holiday Inn... 6:30pm we went to sleep, and woke up at 6:00am the next morning... That is officially a new record of sleeping for me! But it was much needed and I haven't felt the jet lag since.
Wednesday, 3.23: We were taken to the Frankfurt Stake Center, also the headquarters of the European Area offices. We had a meeting with President and Sister Ninow and the Assistants. I played the piano for about an hour before as everyone sang, waiting for them to finish discussing companions and areas. (I saw a paper from one of the original lists, and I was in a different companionship and area, so I know I am in the right place, sent here by the Lord) I was assigned to be companions with Elder Forsyth from the Boston area and to serve in Mönchengladbach, out by Düsseldorf. I am in the Duisburg District, Düsseldorf area. The ward boundaries are mission areas, and stake boundries and the zones, making 6 Zones in our mission. I saw Elder Bangerter at the Stake Center right before he went home (one of the Bangerter cousins). Then we were off to Gladbach! We took buses to the Frankfurt hauptBahnhof, where all the transferring missionaries met to get trains to their new areas. I love the Bahnhofs! They are so cool looking, and remind me a lot of the train stations in Harry Potter :-) A group of us got on a train heading through Essen and then on to Düsseldorf and then to Gladbach. What an absolutely amazing train ride!! I will send pictures later, but we were traveling alongside a river, and the most picturesque little German citites were all over the place- castles, churches, Snow White-style houses.. the whole nine yards! It was so amazing! We transfered a couple trains and reached Mönchengladbach! It is a pretty industrialiyed town, and parts remind me of Houston, just not with the skyscrapers. But then there is a great charm to this city- and if you look for it, you will find it! We live very close to the Innenstadt, so it is pretty industrial and commercialized. But we go all around this city- which is really a collection of a whole bunch of other small cities- and find the most amazing looking places, especially the churchs. We have upwards of 10 huge amazing looking churches here- my favorite is St. Josef's Kirche- it really reminds me of Hogwarts! I will get a picture soon.
-Now, the other days kind of blend, so here is just a clump of information about the rest of the week-
But even more impressive than the Churches or quaint parts of town are the people. My first evening in Gladbach we had a lesson with a ma, Gu, who is preparing for baptism, and we got several contacts on the street, including Maik and Herr Schendilar. I don't understand why people say that Germany is such a hard place to do missionary work, and how nobody will listen... because it is just not true! Along with the new investigators found that first day, we have contacted and made appointments with Herr. Raisat, the Ngabonga Family, Herr Johnßen, Ismael and Anitia. The work is moving along just splendidly here! And with every new contact/investigator we found, there were countless others that would stop and talk and we would give out pass-along cards or DVD's or etwas.
Herr Raisat is a fun man- he is about 55 years old, 'Muslim' and a drunkard... but he loves us coming over, and every time we come, he says he never drinks and is not normally like this- but his fridge is full of beer, and apparently he has been in this sauced state for about 9 years- But we feel like he is ready and we can really help him out. We have met with him 3 times and each time he seems to be getting better. He speaks 7 languages, but normally German. Randomly, he will say 'Now I speak English' and so we will talk in English... and then 'Now I speak German' and so we follow. It's a lot of fun to go over and work with him! He just really needs Christ in His life. So one night we were planning and decided to bring him 'Finding Faith in Christ' DVD and we were joking how if he watched it all night long, perhaps he wouldn't drink so much... so the appointment the next day we brought it over and introduced it. On the way out, I said 'And you can just sit here and watch it over, and over, and over, and over, ok?' Elder Forsyth almost busted up laughing! But the cool thing, and kind of funny too, is that the next day we came back and he said 'So I watched your video all night long' ! haha it was a great. He is a wonderful man and has so much potential and I know the Lord led us to him. Please keep him in your prayers, as well as the other inverstigators and contacts.
Church was great yesterday. It wasn't fast Sunday, but I was able to introduce myself and bear testimony in sacrament meeting. It was wonderful! Rainer, an awesome man who is so close to baptism, came and it was really good for him to be there. It was the last Sunday of the month, so the ward had GemeindeEssen, ward meal. It was scrumptious!! And it was a lot of fun to talk with the people there. The youth really love the missionaries, especially Björn and some others. But it is really interesting that Sundays, and really starting Saturday afternoon, the city is just dead! No buses, very few people out and about, and all those we stopped by to visit were either sleeping or not home. But I love Sundays here! And we have had the most beautiful weather this whole week! Crisp mornings, warm afternoons, blue skies, birds always singing- I love Germany! I love Mönchengladbach! I love the people here! I love Missionary Work!
What a great pleasure it is to serve here and help the wonderful people of Gladbach come closer to Christ!
My address is:
Alleestraße 1 (Allestrasse 1)
Thank you for your support, your love and your prayers!
And I hear the fields, birds, and blue skies singing, Carry On, Carry On, Carry On!
Much Love and As Always,
Monday, March 28, 2011