Tuesday, 24 July 2012

July 23, 2012, Hannover

Hey guys,

 Thanks for the email that you sent me. I don't have much time today, so I’ll try to do this quickly.

So Hannover is sick! I love it, it’s so much fun to work in. Everyone here is so much nicer and friendlier than in eastern Germany. And since there are so many people I don’t have to worry about talking to the same person twice! haha.

So, I’m living in a four elder apartment with the Zone Leaders: Elder H and Elder S, and my new comp Elder W. They are awesome missionaries and really hard workers. Elder W and I are pretty much starting from scratch again. We're doing a lot of finding and trying to get a lot of new investigators. We've had some way cool experiences together already.

   We went to check up on a contact that ended up not being home. So we went tracting in the building beside it. In that building at the very top, a lady opened her door after us “klingled”. She said she didn't want to hear what we had to say but didn’t close the door. We just kept talking to her and telling her why we're here and what our message is about. She started asking us questions and we were able to teach her the whole first lesson on her doorstep, and give her the Book of Mormon with an introduction to it. It was so cool, and the spirit was so strong. We told her that we can't 'Zwing' (Deutch- force ) anyone and that we don’t want to. But that God will testify to her of our message. She's like “Yeah, I know you guys can’t force anyone to do that, rather you let the spirit work through you!”.  It was so cool that she said that, and she set up another appointment with us. This happened on Friday. I had also noticed that I was having a tough time declaring our message to people (the restoration) so I studied it that morning for both my personal study and language study so that I would know how to tell people about it through the day. And the Lord blessed us by helping us find someone ready to hear that message.

   Also on Saturday, another appointment fell through, and President Kosak told me in an email  that right when an appointment falls through, look immediately for someone to teach in the area that you’re at, because the lord will bless you with something else. So that’s exactly what we did, we talked with  a couple from India sitting on a bench. They couldn’t speak German but spoke really good English. They invited us to sit with them and we were about to give them the first lesson. They were Christians and have a really strong faith in Jesus Christ and really wanted to read the Book of Mormon. We didn’t have an English copy with us, but they said that we could come by their house and give them one the next day. It was such a good lesson too, he had a lot of questions and the spirit again was so strong. We gave him and his wife the Book of Mormon yesterday and they are really excited to read it. They said that they read the Bible every night and that they will tie the Book of Mormon into their reading time too, and that in a week we can check up on them again. The Lord is blessing us as we're working diligently.

  I really love it here, we're taking the “U-bahns”, or subways everywhere and that smell reminds me a lot of the times we took the subway when I was younger, haha.

 I don't have much more time to talk but yeah, Elder V and I had a good last day and we're still best friends. He's doing great and hanging in there with his new comp.

I'm loving it here in Hannover, and know that Elder W and I will do some pretty successful things here. We're working hard. The ward is big, about 110 members show up with about 4 or 5 investigators every Sunday. I’m having a hard time remembering names but that will come with time.

Anyways I love you guys and hope you continue enjoying the summer!

Love Elder Lüning!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

July 16, 2012 Forst

Dear Family,

Wow this week was crazy! So, we had an awesome lesson with one of our investigators. His name was Herr , and we had Jonas, Brother B's son (the man that phoned you on Father’s Day  and the son that is going on his mission this week), come with us for a joint teach. We taught him the 3rd lesson out of Preach My Gospel. We kind of went through the whole lesson but really focused it on Faith in Jesus Christ. He had a lot of good questions and we read 2 Nephi 31 with him. We taught him how to pray, because all he didn't know how, and said he would pray later that night. That was on Tuesday and we set an appointment for Thursday to come by again. We stopped by, but because he has a few health problems he wasn't home.

So, we thought it would be good to check on Herr P. We went to the alcoholic “Heim” and we asked the lady at the front to get him for us so that we could talk to him. We have to ask permission because we're not allowed to go past the entrance. She came back and said that his reply was “Es gibt kein Zweck mehr, weg schicken!” (“There is no more point, send them away!”)That was such a blow, because he was making such good progress and now he wants nothing to do with us. It was pretty hard to deal with that. It sucked. Also the weather here in Forst has been so miserable and rainy every day. But the good thing is that it’s not cold, haha. So if we're soaked, at least we're still warm. It was a tough week for us to work.

On Saturday we had transfer calls! We took the train to Dresden and then waited for an hour for transfer calls on our cellphones. Our district was going to the Temple, so that's why we all gathered together in Dresden. I thought for sure that Elder V would get transferred, but he didn't. I did! I got transferred to serve in Hannover! I had the weirdest emotions run through my body. I was devastated for Elder V, because he's been working so hard and has to stay with a new companion for another 6 weeks. That means he will be spending 6 months of his mission in Forst. And I’ve only been there 3 months and I'm leaving to a city with a population of more than 500,000! I'm so excited to leave though, and I can't wait to meet my new companion. The “Wohnung” (apartment) is a 4 missionary apartment. So it's going to be a lot different. I'm super excited though, and I heard that Hannover is known to have the purest Hoch Deutsch (no dialect) in Germany, so that will definitely help me learn the language even more. I packed all of my stuff last night, and said good-bye and took pictures with some members. I'm going to the B family’s house tonight for FHE and then leaving on the train tomorrow morning at 8:30. I'll be in Hannover at 12:30. We left Dresden and then went to the temple. It was so nice and I stayed in the Celestial room for a while. It was a nice 'Pause' (break) being able to sit in the temple away from everything. We then took the train to Dresden. It ended up having to change tracks because a man tried to kill himself by jumping on the tracks. The train ended up switching rails and headed to Leipzig. We got off there and then hung out at the “Bahnhoff` for 2 hours waiting for our next train, to go to Cottbus. It was a long day. We got up at 530am and got home at 930pm. By the time my light was out after writing in my journal, it was 11pm. Definitely a crazy day.

 Elder V was a bit devastated but I think he's ok now. It was weird too, because on Friday night he asked me where I thought he would be getting transferred to. I joked and said, ``You’re not going anywhere; I’m the one leaving this place!” But then I looked at the map and said ``Nah, you're going to Hannover!” Guess I was right, except with the wrong person. So crazy how things turn out. Definitely did not expect that.

Mom I’m so glad that you made jam with R! She emailed me and said that she had a good time and that you let her keep all the jam you made together, haha. Thanks for doing that.

I can't believe Noah is baptized already! So crazy! I remember when he was born and now he's already 8 years old. Just proof that time keeps moving forward.

 Is J still working at Extra Foods or did he get his buy out? Because I thought he was going to try fighting fires this summer??

 I kind of miss basketball, since Germans don't really play it. But a lot of people here play Ping Pong. They had a tournament in the “Gemeinde” (Ward) and Elder V beat everyone. Haha! It was hilarious! Their best player, Br. G, said that he wanted a rematch with Elder V. So last Monday in the evening, they played again and Elder V won. It was crazy to watch! I even tried playing a couple times, and I’m terrible compared to them, lol.( But good enough to keep the ball on the table haha.)

I'm glad Dallin is finally in Mexico and I bet he's loving it there. I'm glad you were able to visit with his parents and see how they were doing.
It seems like you guys are keeping really busy and I’m surprised at the amount of stuff that you guys seem to be able to pack into your days! Crazy. I hope the weather is good for you guys as you go camping.

Next email let me know how Kass and Scott are doing, or have Kass email me or something haha. I want to know what it’s like to be married. Hmm....or maybe have Scott email me cause he's a dude, and girls perspectives are always different than the guys, haha!

Thank Brother B for me, for making that Plaque. Its way cool, and I forgot to tell him that I loved it and that it’s a really good idea that you're putting all the missionaries and the map on the wall. That's awesome! Oooh, one more thing, tell Sister P that I say, hi, and that I miss her too. I sent her a letter about 9 weeks ago and haven't heard anything back yet...but I guess that’s the mission life, haha. We always check the mail box for “Post” but the only thing we seem to get is post for “Wohnung” bills or something, haha. Naja, emails are always good. I haven't got yours yet, mom, but I'll be on later tonight at the member’s house to print what you send me, if you send me something, that is. Know that I love you all!
Charlene sent me a massive email which was sick! So tell her I say thanks!

I've been memorizing scriptures in German and this one kind of stuck out to me. It’s from the third lesson in Preach My Gospel, John 16:15-19. I'll quote up to 17. This is off by heart so don't worry about the spelling and if its wrong, haha. Verse 15 'Da sagte er zu ihnen: Ihr aber, für wen hältet ihr mich? 16. Simon Petrus antwortete: Du bist der Messiahs der Sohn des Lebendigen Gottes. 18. Jesus sagte zu ihm; Selig bist du Simon Berjon; Denn nicht Fleisch und Blut haben dir das offenbart, sondern mein Vater im Himmel.' I hope I got that right, but yeah, this scripture really stuck out to me because it showed that Simon Peter really found out for himself if Jesus Christ was who he said he was. He prayed about it and received revelation from God that “doch” (yes); he really is the Son of the living God. It's so important that all of our investigators really find out for themselves, and receive revelation for them. That’s why it sucks when they don't keep their commitments. But its way cool when they do.

I hope you guys are doing well, and I’m excited that you get to spend some time at the new Kootenay Lake, haha. Hope it’s still enjoyable with only half the family there. I love you guys and miss you!

Love Elder Luening

P.S.. You might want the new mailing address :

Elder Christopher Luening
Königsworther Str. 15
30167 Hannover

Oh and by the way, packages have to be sent to the mission home. So the first address you ever had from me:

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

Something about if there is a problem with the border or mailing problems or "irgand  etwas" (something else). Then the mission home can take care of it. So I get packages every time we go to zone conference. I mean if i get one, haha.

Monday, 9 July 2012

July 9, 2012, Forst

Dear Family,
Haha! It’s funny that you guys had a 4th of July party too! The 5 Elders that I’m serving with in my district are from the United States, (the Sisters are from Switzerland) so, I celebrated it too.  I never thought I would sing the American national anthem in Germany lol. Weird, but I guess that’s what happens when District Meeting is on that day. So we fried up some ranch burgers and the Sisters made Swiss Bread and we had a little District party, haha. It was a lot of fun.
Then, afterwards, Elder J and I had an “Umtausch” (companion exchange) in Forst together. We had 2 appointments planned, and for the rest of the time we had to do some finding. We put Herr P on the 15 step “quit smoking program” and asked him to commit to quitting smoking, but he said it’s tough because everyone at the alcoholic “Heim” (where he lives) smokes. But he understands it, and said that he will try. We set up another appointment with him for Saturday, but it was raining like crazy on that day, so he didn't show up. We're really trying to help him but it’s tough when we only see him every week and a half. We're not allowed to teach him at the Heim, so when his legs don't work we can't teach him. All of our appointments are hits and misses, but we're trying, and he has been doing his part too. After our appointment with him Elder J and I did a lot of finding. Everyone seemed to be relatively friendly....weird haha! Nah, just joking, but it was really cool. We made out 3 new appointments and managed to teach about 4 more lessons to people on the street. Most of the people we talked to already knew us but listened to our message and talked to us a bit about it. It was good; I had fun with Elder J. The exchanges are cool because you get to switch things up for a day and have a diff comp. It was a hilarious time.
We “tauscht” back on Thursday and then Elder V and I had to plan a “Thema” (message) for Zone Conference. It was on what we do most of, “finding”, haha! Nah, it was really good and I thought a lot about a couple scriptures I found in the Book of Mormon - Alma 31:34-36. It talks all about what we do personally and as a companionship. (34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ. 35 Behold , O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom, that we may bring these our brethren again unto thee.) And verse 36 was cool because every time we are about to leave the apartment, we say a prayer on our knees and then get up and give each other a hug and a slap on the back to get a bit more excited. (36 Now it came to pass, that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Ghost.)So when it read that I laughed and thought it was so cool. Also you can tell that Alma really cared about the people because they are his brethren and their souls are precious. It made me look at Forst differently when times get hard and I wonder why I’m doing this. It’s really about learning to love the people, even when they don't love you at all.
After we planned our "Thema" we had our Ward Mission Leader Meeting at his house. His wife fed us some dinner, and then we looked outside and it was pouring rain. More rain was coming down than I had ever seen before. He lives about 10 minutes away from our apartment when riding bikes. So after our little meeting he offered to drive us home...we thought about it but we decided just to have fun and ride our bikes home, hahaha! The sky completely darkened from the heavy clouds and it was raining so hard. By the time we got home we looked like we'd gone swimming or something lol. I was completely soaked through. Then there was lightning and thunder like crazy. Every 5 seconds we saw a flash of lightning, and it was constant, for like 2 hours. It was sick! But then I realized my English scriptures got soaked from being in my backpack. So things that I marked with pen leaked through about 5 other pages. But I let them dry and it’s not too bad now. So ja, Donnerstag really was a Donnerstag (Donner=thunder; Tag = day)
    Zone Conference was pretty cool. It was in Dresden, so on the train on the way there, we played UNO with the Sisters. President and Sister Kosak are really cool. They have a new blog for the mission, its http://germanyberlinmission2012-15.blogspot.de/
They are really excited to be working with us. President Kosak gave a really good “Thema” about being focused and following Christ's example. He talked about how Christ was focused on his mission his whole life. From his first words about Him needing to be about His Father’s business, to him saying it's finished. It was good and they're really friendly.
 Elder V got a little scared because he's ready to get transferred, haha. They told us that we were in heaven, here in Forst, and that we have an easy place. I'm not too sure if they were just joking or not, but they said it, like 3 times throughout the day, so I think they're serious. It's easy member-wise because they feed us and are way cool, but work-wise it’s definitely not easy, haha. So Elder V is convinced that he's staying another transfer, and if he does, that would be 6 months that he would be here in Forst. And likely, I would also stay here in Forst that long, because I would leave a transfer after him...oh boy! Naja, whatever the Lord wants, I guess.
 I've definitely learned a lot from this place. I've been setting goals for myself and I “schaff” (complete) them. I started a gold star thing, so when I complete all my goals for the day I get a gold star. Actually, I tried to buy gold star stickers but couldn’t find any so I bought smiley face stickers and I just use those instead. It has been keeping me motivated. I guess we'll see what happens though with transfers on Saturday. I feel that I’m going to get a new companion, which will be interesting, but nothing is for certain.
   On Saturday we tried to do finding in the pouring rain cause our appointment fell through. It was tough because not too many people were out and they didn’t want to talk with us. A Jehovah’s Witness confronted us and talked to us for a little while. He wanted to know a bit more about the missionaries from the Church and what we do. It was good and he was pretty friendly until we started talking about the Book of Mormon. Then things headed in a different direction and we ended up having to say good bye to him and leave. It wasn't going anywhere good, so we left. Elder V was a bit ticked, but we kept going and kept talking to people.
We then checked on an investigator and as we got to the doorstep of the building, I knew that he would be home. As Elder V “klingled” I said,”He's home.” We waited for a bit and then he answered and let us up for a lesson. We had a way awesome lesson with him about what he read in the scriptures the previous time. His name is Herr N. We read Alma 40 (from the Book of Mormon) with him and answered a lot of his questions. He asked questions as we read and it ended up being a really cool lesson. We're going to teach him again on Tuesday and Jonas B (he leaves on a mission in 1 1/2 weeks) said he'd joint teach with us. We're excited for that.

  Sunday was good, Church was good. Elder V gave a 10 minute talk. He tied it in with President Kosak’s “Thema”, about following the example of Christ. It was really good. By the way, he caught a cold, so I’m hoping that I don't get it from him. So far I’m healthy, so that’s good. We had a really good time at a member’s house at lunch time (Dieter G's family). It was our first time ever eating at their house and they made us Schnitzel with mashed potatoes. It was fun. We did our weekly planning and then went to the B's house for a BBQ. He had a lot of family there and it was cool. Sister B is way cool, I love her. She's hilarious and so cool. We also had permission to watch one good man so we borrowed it from her. Definitely a really good movie.

Other than that nothing too new is happening with me. Forst is tough but I’m learning from it every week. Before I left the MTC, the teachers told us that “we are not on missions to plant seeds, but to harvest”. “How much you harvest will depend on your faith”. So it is a bit hard to realize that every part of the mission is different and that sometimes all you can do is plant seeds. I've been keeping track of little blessings from the Lord everyday which has been really cool. Definitely helps when you look at the good things instead of the bad things. Not always easy, but possible, ja.
 I think about you guys all the time and wonder what you’re doing. That’s a good idea mom, I think R might like to make some jam with you this year. I know that her and her mom would really appreciate you checking up on them.
 Time is so weird. It just seems to keep moving forward. Some days seem so long and other days seem so fast. And then it is Monday again and I get to email and have some fun with Elder V. I'm so glad he's my Trainer; we have a lot of fun together and work hard. He's hilarious and we always seem to laugh about something and then talk seriously about something else. We're a good companionship. It'll be interesting to see how things play out with transfers.
I'm glad you guys are doing well and that the weather has finally gotten better. It’s really random here still, but seemed to have rained every day this week. Sunny in the early morning, and then cloudy and rainy by midday until we fall asleep. But hopefully it gets better too. It gets really humid here too which just makes us sweat all the time. Hopefully the humidity goes away with the rain. That would be “prima”.
  That’s funny that you mentioned Elder W who visited Trail Ward; I was thinking about him this week. I was wondering if you guys knew his contact info. He was an awesome missionary and worked really hard in Trail. That’s so cool that he came back up to visit everyone. I can't believe he's done his mission already.
 I'm glad everyone is doing well, and I’m doing well, too. Hope you guys have a good week and “bis” next week!

 Love Elder Lüning!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

July 1,2012, Forst

Dear Family,

Hey, no worries about last week! So I didn't get to read the email until today, but I’m glad that everyone is doing well.

Wow, Champion Lake sounds so good right now! I know what you mean about the rain, it's been crazy rainy here, too. We've been getting wicked rain storm showers. But then it seems like just as fast as they come they’re gone but the clouds stay. It's so weird. It's so humid too; we're always sweating like crazy!

It's been pretty tough working here in Forst. Elder V thinks that he will be getting transferred soon. Haha! He's been here in Forst for 3 transfers already so I’m hoping that he gets to see something new soon.

Our investigators have been having a tough time. We're down to one progressing investigator, because all of our appointments seem to fall through all the time. And we've been doing a lot of finding and teaching on the streets, but the appointments we seem to make don't always follow through either. However, I've been given so many opportunities every day to better my German and learn new ways to express myself. Also, feeling the Spirit every time we bear testimony has been a huge blessing to me. I know the Lord is looking out for us wherever we go. I've been doing better in completing goals for myself. It’s tough to do sometimes because I feel like we're always on the go.

Brother G’s son, L, left for his mission on Wednesday. Elder V and I gave him a tie from us each and wrote some messages on the back of them. It's exciting to know that he's gone and you can see how much his parents miss him already. Everyone in the Ward is so proud of him though, it makes me think a lot about home.

I got a letter from the S's and from Bishop R. It was really nice of them to write me and tell them I say thanks! I'll be trying to write a letter back when I can.

Not too much new has been going on. We've just been doing a lot of finding and fasting that this place will get better. It's definitely been tough to work in but I’ve learned so much, and I've been recording what I learn in my Journal every day. It'll be cool when I come home and someone asks, 'What were you doing on this certain day?' and I’ll be able to flip my journal to it and tell them exactly what I was doing and thinking. Elder V and I have done it a couple times already. It’s pretty cool, haha.

We now have a new mission president! Crazy, we'll see him on Friday at our next Zone Conference. It should be pretty exciting.

We had an awesome “Austellung” in Cottbus on Saturday. Elder J and I talked to 2 people that didn't want anything to do with us when we first approached them. One of them was a lady probably in her early 30's. As Elder James and I started opening up to her  a bit more and told her our own experiences about how we strengthened our faith in God, she opened up and told us all the problems and questions she's had forever. We bore strong testimony to her and told her that all her questions could be answered, but not in this one street meeting. It was really cool! She didn't want to set a new appointment, but she did take a card.
The other person was an older lady that looked so much like Heidi Z. She walked by our “Austellung” and Elder J and I tried to talk to her. She didn't want anything at all to do with us and told us we were bad. She said she believes in God and that what we were doing was evil. She stopped walking away and was standing about 15ft away from us and telling us that she was Evangelisch, and then I just stopped and said to her loudly in a last and final attempt 'Duerfen wir mit Ihnen sprechen?!' She had a huge smile cross her face and said “Ja!” Then she came over to us and we talked to her for a good 15minutes. We told her why we were on missions and what we were doing. We talked about God and Jesus Christ and what they mean to her and us. We told her about the Book of Mormon and that God loves all his children, so why wouldn't he stand as a witness in front of the people on the American continent. That seemed to hit her so hard. She just had a huge smile on her face and believed that it could be true. She just said over and over again, 'He must have, I mean God loves us, He must have visited others!' It was so cool seeing the Spirit hit her as we bore testimony to her on the middle of the street and showed her the pictures from the beginning of the Book of Mormon. But she wouldn't take the book, or even a card, because she said she's had so many trials in her life and with her family because of her belief in God. She says she's finally figured out how to balance everything and that she can't afford to change anything that she believes because it might cause problems. She thanked us so much for talking with her, and said she was so sorry for all the things that she said to us, and that she was so happy that she took the time to speak with us. We asked her if she would go home and pray about what we told her, to find out if it was true, before she went to bed. She said she would. It was way cool.

Yesterday was Fast Sunday and Brother G, 2nd Councillor to the Branch President, gave his new twin babies baby blessings! He also brought friends from work to watch. It was so cool, and really powerful. It completely invited the spirit for the start of our Fast and Testimony Meeting. Brother and Sister G fed us lunch and then afterwards we set out to do some finding.
I don't think we've had a worse day than yesterday to do finding. It was tough. We got yelled at by 3 different groups of teenagers, and honked at and flipped off probably like 4 times within 2 hours. I thought a lot about Alma having to preach in the city of Mulek by himself before he received Amulek as a companion. It was on my mind because in Sunday school, the teacher asked, “Why do you think the Lord provided Alma another witness to preach with him?” I was like, “Are you serious?? Is that a serious question??” Haha, I laughed and thought about how hard it would be in Forst without Elder V. I'm so thankful that he's with me wherever I go. We keep each other laughing and moving forward.  Also, I read in Doctrine and Covenants 75 and applied it to me a lot as a missionary. I was pretty bold and a bit fired up yesterday to do some finding, which helped my mood a lot. Every time a group of kids yelled at us, I got Elder V to go up to them with me, or at least walk past them with me. They completely stopped talking once we were close to them or whenever we spoke to them. It was funny. Also the 3rd person we talked to, we made a new appointment with, just because we both bore strong testimony of God and Christ. She said she wanted a Book of Mormon, and gave us her address. We're still seeing little miracles everywhere we go.

We've been having a hard time meeting with Herr P, but hope that progress starts to pick up faster with him because his baptismal date is at the end of the month, if he's ready by then.

I'm glad to hear everyone is doing well. Nice new calling in the Church, mom, haha! I bet you'll have fun with that. Thanks for the letter Dad! I'm happy to read your German letters every week and maybe sometime, when I have more time, I’ll be able to reply to you in German, too. I love you all and thanks for all of your emails and letters.
Oh, and R sent me a letter and told me how much she misses hearing from you guys, haha. (So if you get a chance just drop by and say Hi or give them a quick phone call!) Oh and I heard about the flooding in Trail. R's basement was one of the ones that got flooded! Crazy news!
I pray for you all, all the time and hope that you’re doing well and that the Lord is continually blessing you! The Ward is in my prayers too. Love you always!

Love, Elder Lüning