March 3, 2014 In which Elder Billings considers doing something crazy

Last Monday we met with a member named Nelson. He is about 25 I would say and plays ping pong on a team. He talks really quickly, so I had trouble understanding him. He talked about going to the krankenhaus (hospital) because he was sick and going home because it was full. I was really surprised, but apparently the Germans have socialized medicine, so they go the doctor whenever they want. Emails took a long time because we were taking turns on the computer in the church, so that took a large chunk out of the day (four hours). We also went shopping, which took a while because we didn’t know exactly what we were buying. Which reminds me, if anyone has quick meal recipes I would love to hear from you. My companion and I have made spaghetti, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Rotkohl and Potatoes(we didn’t have enough time for the potatoes to cook all the way) and strawberry syrup with pancakes(by far the best).

Tuesday we were going to meet with Jan (the guy from Skype) but he slept in, so we rescheduled for Thursday, but I was on tausch (exchange) in Leer (I don’t believe he really exists). We ended up walking across the city to go to a member’s house. On the way we went through a park and talked to a couple of older couples. They were nice but didn’t have any interest to meet again. We gave them passalong cards, so if they have interest they can call. At the members’ house (apartment), we talked about genealogy and how they can help the investigators and new members in the area.

Wednesday was district meeting. The Porters (senior missionaries) drove us to Oldenburg so we didn’t have to worry about the train. It was an interesting experience because it was done in German, and I can’t be sure that I understand everything. We made our March goals (I understood those) and then I left with Elder Kossin (district leader) for leer. We spent most of our time in Emden, a city near Leer, and talked to people in an outdoor mall like thing. One of the people we talked to thought we wanted his passport. That was amusing. We gave him a card and he said his friend would call (his German wasn’t very good and he didn’t speak much English).

I was also in Leer Thursday morning. We went contacting all around the stadt (city) but didn’t have any success until we found a man probably in his twenties, who was pretty interested. We gave him a Book of Mormon and found out that he lives in Oldenburg, so he will be taught by the Zone Leaders. While I was in Leer, Elder Matthews and Elder Flack found a professor that is interested to learn more. They also met with Jan and brought Elder Porter along. Later that day, Elder and Sister Porter ran into Jan again and found out that he has a friend that may also be interested. They are planning on coming to church next week, so that is really exciting.

Friday was the first day that I did service. We sort fruit at the Tafel, which is basically the same thing as the soup kitchen. That was really interesting and the people were all really nice. Afterward we met with the contact that we found while I was on tausch. He was really smart and well read. We told him the basic background of the church and invited him to read the einleitung (introduction?) at the beginning of the book. He told us that the new semester starts soon so we won’t meet with him for a couple weeks. Something else cool happened. On the way to our appointment with the professor we meet a lady on the street. We introduced ourselves and asked it she had heard of us. She has heard a little but wants to learn more. We set up an appointment for Tuesday. It seems like it wil be very interesting because when we talked to her I barely understood what she was saying.

Saturday was really interesting. I am starting to understand that part of missionary work is getting rejected by a lot of people that you talk to. At the same time, we have talked to people that I would not have expected to listen to us, but they do. Sometimes they are interested but a lot of the time they are just being nice and not slamming the door in our faces. We had an interesting experience while we were dooring the other day. We hadn’t had anyone talk to us yet, and I was starting to get desperate. I was reminded of the scene in the best two years when Elder Calhoun offers flowers to the lady at the door. Just as I was about to try something crazy, we found someone willing to talk to us. We asked the frau that opened the door if she would be willing to answer a few questions. She asked us who we were and once she found out that we were Mormons (we introduced ourselves as missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ, and she said she had talked with missionaries from the Jehovah witnesses and the Mormons but not us. We then explained that we were the Mormons) she told us that she had talked with missionaries about twenty years ago and told us the same thing that she had told them; that she was happy with her religion and didn’t have any real interest in our church. She then explained that she had seen us out her back window being rejected at every house we had gone to, and she felt like she wanted to talk with us. We asked her some questions about family and if she had thought about what came before and what will come after this life. She said that family was important but said she didn’t think that the idea of what came before and what comes after this life had to do with religion. We explained that we had learned about these things from God’s prophet and gave her the plan of salvation pamphlet and a pass along card with our number on it. I don’t know if anything will come of it but it was really exciting at the time just because we got to talk to someone.

Sunday was my first time in sacrament meeting. Elder Matthews and I were asked to bless the sacrament (I guess I did fine because I didn’t have to do it twice), and I was asked to introduce myself and give a short testimony. After church we had dinner at a member couple’s house (probably somewhere in their late thirties). They talked about how they were introduced to the church and a lot of other things I didn’t really understand. Before we left they invited us to walk on the beach with them when the weather gets warmer. I haven’t seen the beach yet, but we are good to go there until summer gets here so I should see it a couple times. We had our weekly meeting over Skype with Jan. The night started off with a ton of technical difficulties that we had to fix and then when we started talking with him he basic said that he had read in the book of Mormon, and he wanted to know how to become a Mormon. I can’t tell if he is serious, but he will be coming to church next week. He has to fly a plane to get here on Sunday from his island. Also starting today I think, he is working seven days a week until October. He will only be able to go to church once a month but he says that this is what he wants.

The gospel is amazing. Even though I have only been out a week and a half in Germany, I have already seen the amazing miracle that God works in our lives. We get so caught up in our everyday worries that we often forget the little things that we are blessed with everyday.

Tschüss!!

View from leer apartment

View from Leer apartment

Water drops on tree outside our window in Wilhelmshaven

Water drops on tree outside our window in Wilhelmshaven

Emden water towerEmden water tower

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