Monday, 30 April 2012

April 30, 2012, Forst

April 30, 2012, (10:25AM) Forst, Germany

Hallo Familie Luening,

My new address:
Elder Christopher Luening
Hermann Strasse 6
03149 Forst (Lausitz)

So, I made it safely to Germany!! I landed in Berlin at 9:00 AM on Wednesday! Our district woke up at 3:00 AM on Tuesday to say good-bye to everyone that was leaving for Frankfurt and then we stayed up until 8:00 AM when our bus left the MTC for the airport. We got rushed through our terminals and I didn't have time to phone you back. I flew from Provo to Seattle, then to Amsterdam and then Berlin, where President and Sistrer Pimental picked us up. They were very enthusiastic and way cool! We probably slept a max of 2 hours it total on our journey so we were exhausted by the time we arrived in Berlin. But we made it through the day!!

We went tracting for about an hour before we went to bed, and it was way cool! I had no idea what some people were saying, but, hey, that's why I have a companion! We slept in a hotel for the night and then the next day (on Thursday), we found out where we would be serving and who our trainer would be.
They call greenies "Goldens in this mission. There is a lot of power and light that comes from Goldens and they love it in Germany! haha!

So, I was assigned to serve in East Germany, in the Dresden Zone, in a little city called Forst. My companion Is Elder V and he has been out on his mission for about15 months.He is way cool and we get along great! He is from St. George, Utah! Our friendship is already so good that we can rip on each other all the time and "es macht Spas"! But we can also open up to each other a lot which has strengthened our friendship. We clicked pretty good and it is going well!

It is weird thinking that I'm all the way across the world from you.

The first week was crazy!  We took the train from Berlin to Forst, and then it was about 6:00 or 7:00 PM so we did some tracting (proselyting from door to door). We managed to get 2 appointments before going  home. The people are pretty friendly and everyone seems to know who we are! So, some of them swear at us in German, but others politely listen and than tell us they have no interest. It's tough but I'm loving it!

I have had 3 dinner appointments at member's houses so far! It's been really cool!

On Sunday, I bore my testimony and said a little about myself. Everyone was surprised that I could speak so well for the short time that I have learned it. It's still really hard to understand most of the time, but it's coming quicker every day. When we tract people mostly say the same thing, so now I understand when they have interest or not!

Forst has about 20,000 people in it, but it is really spread out, so walking is long and boring. We don't run into many people. But the weather has been really nice - sunny and warm - about 25 degrees or warmer everyday! If it is warmer than 20 degrees, we don't have to wear our suit jackets . Actually, we are supposed to have bikes in this city, but one of them is completely broken - the chain.  spokes, seat and brakes. That is why we are walking everywhere. Oh well. "es macht Spas". We will hopefully be getting a bike on Friday or Saturday!

 The members are awesome! They are all really friendly and happy that I have German blood in me!!

A lady from Kenya accepted the baptismal challenge if she finds out he Book of Mormon is true. She is probably about 28 years old and has a baby. We set a date for her and are going to work with her 3 times a week. we also found a lady that is really interested in the Church. She seems to be pretty religious but doesn't go to any specific church. She has a beautiful yard. I'll have to take pictures of it sometime!  We are seeing success and I am excited to teach them the gospel.

My companion doesn't like to exercise much, so in the morning he will sit on the couch and I'll go out on the balcony and do push-ups and sit-ups! I talked him into running outside every second day, so hopefully it works out. I can't stand not exercising in the morning! I know we pretty much walk all day, but it is still disappointing not being able to exercise before we study from 8:00-11:00AM. Aber alles ist Gut! (but it's all good)

It feels good to be out of prison (the MTC) -just kidding. I can actually walk around and talk to people about the gospel, and listen to uplifting music, and listen to people speak German everywhere I go!!
I love the MTC, but I'm really happy to be in Germany finally!

I miss everyone so much! I am glad to hear that Kass' dress is done and that her and Charlene are figuring things out with their apartment. It is good to hear that you are losing weight, Dad. You guys should e-mail me a new photo of you all together... or at the wedding or something! lol! Good to hear that Charlene is doing well, too and that Jeremy is having fun!

Mom, thanks for all your letters and for sending me uplifting things! Just want you all to know that I'm doing my best to be a good missionary and that I'm on my way to being one! I'm being obedient and learning lots from my trainer and from my mission president! I'm not scared or afraid to talk with people. It was weird - I would just speak and when I didn't understand, my companion just took over. It's disappointing when people are rude, but hey, we're missionaries and everyone needs the gospel.

Thanks for the letter in German ,Dad, and for Oma and Opa's mailing address.

Oh, yeah, I forgot my camera at the MTC, but they found it and they will either mail it to me or to you in Canada. I can't take any pictures until I get it back. Thank goodness they found it! It was scary- mein Fehler (my mistake)!  Hope you all are doing well and if you ever run into R, let her know that I miss her too!May 13, I can call home or Skype! So, if you want to set up a skype account and buy a cheap camera, we would be able to see each other when we talk! lol!

I'll let you know more about what is happening with me and my mission next week! I love you guys and hope the Lord is blessing you all! Stay strong and stay sweet.

 bis Montag,
Elder Luening

Friday, 27 April 2012

April 23, 2012 (1:21 PM)

Dear Family,

Hey! I leave for Germany tomorrow morning! Today was a really short P-day so I don't have much time to e-mail you guys, but I will be calling from the airport! I can't believe that it is happening already!
On Wednesday, I was able to be a host for new missionaries. I picked them up from the street and watched them say goodbye to their families. I showed them where their resident room was and welcomed them to the MTC. It was pretty emotional to see them all say good-bye to their families and loved ones.
 It reminded me of my departure a lot. Almost all of the missionaries teared up - even some of the ones I didn't think would!

Our teachers taught us how to teacher the Law of Chastity in German! I realized how much German that I don't know yet!  It was actually really hard to do and I heard that it is one of the things the German people have the most trouble with. Our teacher sat and talked to us about what we can expect in Germany, positive and negative! Mostly everything was positive, so I'm excited!

Grandpa gave me $50 in an Easter letter. I gave the money to Jocelyn and she bought me this really nice tie that I wanted! It made me happy to see it! You all would love it if you saw it! I gotta thank Jocelyn and Grandma and Grandpa so much for it!

We realized that the food here is clogging up our systems a lot, so all four of us Elders took 2-3 gentle laxatives and regretted it in the morning! It was bad!! I won't go into detail, just know that it was very bad!

I'm sending you pictures today so that you all can put names to the faces of the companions I have been training with.

This week has gone way too fast! I thought it would go slow since it is my last week, but it goes at the same pace! I miss everyone so much! It feels weird going half way around the world and breing so far from everyone.

Thank you for all your letters, and thank you for always thinking of me and writing! Dad, I understood your whole German letter- thanks for writing me in German.

I can't wait to call you guys tomorrow! Love you all.

Elder Luening

Monday, 16 April 2012

April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012,  MTC (3:50 PM)

Dear Family,

How is is it going? Thanks so much for all of your letters! It's nice being so far away and yet being in the loop about what is happening at home.

So, I'm happy to say that my basketball skills are starting to improve! I've been playing bump and 3 on 3 half court basketball games, which has been a lot of fun and a good way to burn off a lot of the food that I have been eating! And also all those goodies from Easter that were sent to me, haha! Jocelyn sent me pumpkin bread and we were so tempted to finish it all in one day but decided to save some for the next day, too!

On Wednesday, we met a missionary who flew to the MTC from Frankfurt, Germany. He's learning English in a 9 week program and is serving in Salt Lake City. It was his first day and there was no-one there to translate for him. Our district was going to dinner when a brother stopped us and asked if we could translate for him. I was like, "Heck, yes!" It was so cool! We went to all the classes he had to go to for about an hour and just talked with him and translated for him until they found someone else for him. he told us that our German was "Sehr Gut", but I realized that I have a lot to learn still because he spoke really fast and mumbled most of his words so it was a bit harder to understand!

Only one more week until GERMANY! Wow! I can't believe how slow the days are and how fast the weeks go! I've been writing stuff down on a card so I don't forget things during the day and then writing them in my journal at night.

On Thursday, we all switched up our seating arrangements in class to make things fresh! It was a good idea. Our investigator lesson with Brother Z was really good! The spirit was really strong and he committed to baptism. Brother S's lesson didn't go so well - just because we didn't know what to prepare. But we did learn a lot about him. I think this week we only have one investigator lesson with each of them. Pretty crazy!

We also received our flight plans on Thursday. We report at 8;00 AM next Tuesday, and leave on our plane for Amsterdam at 11:13 AM and then fly to Berlin! So crazy! I am allowed to call home - let me know if you would like to hear from me so I can buy a calling card!

Our teachers were sick on Friday so we had a sub who just came back from his Berlin mission last year in the summer, and he told us stories about his mission and Germany in general (the people and the places). It was really cool and got us very excited!

Elder Russel M Ballard came to our Sunday devotional and talked to us about how to apply the Preach My Gospel and what investigators must feel when we teach them. It was really great and he made a lot of funny jokes as well!

The spirit is amazing in this place and I love it here so much - but I'm way excited and ready for GERMANY! Can't wait to leave! I'm gonna make this week my best week!

Thanks for Oma's and Opa's address - I still need the postal code!

Yeah, I got my hair cut the second week I was here in the MTC and I need another one before I leave for Germany!

Mom, don't worry about the two weeks we didn't do any German. You were the best teacher ever, and I honestly needed the two weeks to do the things I wanted before I left!

I wrote Charlene and Kassandra a letter about 2 weeks ago...if it's not there yet, then I don't know what happened to it, but I can write another one!

I 'm so glad to hear that the shower went really well! And thanks for telling me about it! I'm glad that you all let me know what's happening!

Thanks, dad, for writing me a letter in German! haha! I actually understood everything it said.
 I've been listening to General Conference talks in German and understand about 3/4 of it. The other1/4, I guess on or write down so I can learn it! I can't believe how fast we learned German here, it's insane!

Hope all is well and till next week! Our P-Day is on Saturday, because on Monday we are packing!

Love, Elder Luening

Friday, 13 April 2012

April 10, 2112

April 10, 2012. MTC (2:54 PM)

Dear Family,

Thank you for all the wonderful letters you have sent me through the week! They all mean so much to me! Mom thanks for the letter you sent me about being fully converted, it meant so much to me. It gave me the spiritual boost that I needed at the time. I had a rough start to the week and it really got me to focus! You all have been writing me all the time and I am always pumped when I see that I have mail.

So this week has been pretty crazy! Tuesday, I was released as District Leader. DLs only serve for 3 weeks in the MTC so my time was up. I loved it, but I feel proud to pass the torch!

Our investigator lessons are going awesome. I am in love with the German language! My vocabulary is getting so much better every day, but my grammar, that is another story. But I finally understand the nominative, accusative, dative thing now! It is so much easier to understand than I thought. Brother S and Brother Z are amazing teachers. They really make us think about how to help an investigator. I would ask them, "What do you think we should teach next?", and Brother Z would say, " I don't know, hmmm, .. I think that you Elders are the only ones who can receive revelation for what your investigators need. They really teach us how to rely on personal prayer and personal revelation. They teach us how to use personal study and personal planning more effectively. I learned how important it is to be prepared everyday for a lesson, or just in general.

On Friday it snowed here! Like, what the heck! All the flowers have been blooming and it finally felt like spring, then BAM! Snow at 7;30 AM. I took pictures because I couldn't believe it! But, the weather has been mostly warm and it has been really nice!

On Thursday, Sister T asked me to give her a blessing of comfort. I did with Elder A, and it was amazing how strong the spirit is through the priesthood. While I was giving the blessing my hands were shaking, but my voice was insanely calm and I just knew exactly what to say even though I didn't know what was bothering her. I could feel the spirit so strong, It was incredible! I knew that it was exactly what the Lord wanted her to hear and what He wanted to bless her with. I have never felt the spirit so powerfully in my life. The priesthood is so real and the power from it is unbelievable!

The sisters are having a hard time lately. They have been sick and discouraged so they talked to the Branch Presidency and are working with them to get through their problems. They are helping the sisters a lot and I feel that they are starting to focus better now and really rely on the Lord for strength. the sisters asked Elder T and I to give them a blessing of comfort on Sunday. I blessed Sister L and then Elder T blessed Sister I. We didn't know what it was about, but we just gave the blessings. What we blessed them with seemed to be what they needed. It was unbelievable how grateful the sisters are for the Priesthood and how thankful they are that we conduct ourselves as servants of the Lord. They have a lot of trust in us.

As a district we fasted on Friday for the sisters. Elder T and I got a cold on Thursday, so we only fasted 'til lunch, (As missionaries, we are only allowed to fast 24 hours without food or water, so dinner to dinner.) but Elder A and Elder M fasted until dinner. The sisters are getting better, and we fasted again on Sunday.

On Sunday, President Boyd K Packer came to our Easter Devotional and spoke on Jesus Christ. It was very powerful and he got me to think of things in a different way that really opened my eyes. It was really great!

Thanks so much for all the Easter packages and the shorts. We have so much candy and chocolate! Like, Grandma and Grandpa, the Marks family, Jocelyn and some others (too many to list right now) sent me letters and packages for Easter. I loved it and it uplifted me so much to know how many people are thinking about me! SO, I THANK EVERYONE!!

I'll try to get some pictures printed and send you some! They take three days to print and then about a week to mail to Canada!I'm doing well! Thanks again for writing all the time! Love you guys so much!

Till next week, 
 Elder Luening

PS My Canadian accent (Eh!) is rubbing off on my district! They are starting to say it now too!

On April 24, Chris leaves the MTC and has the following initial address at the Mission Home:

Elder Christopher Luening 
Germany Berlin Mission
Zerbster Str. 42
12209 Berlin 

It would be great if he had a couple of letters waiting for him when he arrives! we know that mail slows down in the mission field!

Monday, 2 April 2012

April 2, 2012, MTC (3:58 PM)

Dear Family,

So, 2 weeks ago, I caught a cold and last Monday I finally got over it. Haha, I forgot to mention it in my last e-mail. I just wanted to say "thanks" for the cold medicine!

This week has been pretty cool. At the start of the week, I was feeling pretty empty and not really motivated, just because I missed all of you and R. Thanks for sending me her mailing information, by the way.  I'm glad you were able to visit with her for a bit and give her the chocolates and book.
Brother Swenson, our old investigator is now our 2nd teacher, so we have Brother Swenson and Brother Zebetti as teachers. They are really awesome and good to us! Elder T and I are teaching both of them as investigators every week, in the German language. It's hard but we're learning fast. Elder T was in the choir for General Conference which was pretty cool, but it only showed him once.

 I was able to experience some pretty cool things this week. Sister Bohne, in my district, got the flu and asked me to give her a blessing.. As I gave her a blessing later that night, I just opened my mouth and the spirit was so strong in that room. I just opened my mouth and words came out. I'd stop and wait, then more words just flowed out of my mouth and the spirit was so strong in that room! I've never experienced anything like that before, but it was a huge spiritual boost for everyone there. She thanked me the next day for that blessing and said I blessed her with everything she needed and everything she needed to hear. I love how the Lord can use priesthood holders. I'ts amazing!!

Our companion studies should be getting better this week because Elder T is done choir now and we can spend more time together.

On Friday our district had "Ugly Tie Day".! Haha! So we wore our ugliest ties that we have. I had two ties handed down to me from the old missionaries that transferred out to Germany 2 weeks ago. Then on Saturday, we all wore red ties and called it "Scarlet Saturday"! Our district is really tight!

We met the new Berlin Mission President and his wife.  They are so cool and have a great sense of humor! They found out where I'm from and his wife said that they have to send me to Hamburg!
General Conference was so powerful! I think I took more notes than I ever have before, and it was like Christmas for missionaries to watch it on the weekend!

The Shortridges sent me cinnamon buns, and Jocelyn had the students in her building write to me, Haha!
If you want to send those shorts, mom, that would be cool because the only other ones I have are the white ones I brought.

I love getting letters from you guys, and from Kassandra and Charlene. Hope the P90X is going well, dad! I'm only doing push-ups and pull-ups every night, and then playing volleyball in PE., but I love it!

I hope work slows down for you dad, and I hope Kassandra's wedding doesn't stress you out too much, mom! Haha, it sounds crazy over there! I hope all is well with you, Jeremy, and I can't wait to hear from you guys again. I'll try to send out a letter this week, telling more about how my week is going!

Oh, thanks for the letter from sister Hall, I loved it! Tell her I loved it and appreciated it a lot! Same with the Bishop!

I love you all,
Elder Luening