Monday, 25 March 2013

March 25, 2013, Kiel

Dear Family,
   Thanks so much for the update on what's been happening this last week. I'm jealous of all the activities for the Y.S.A. that are going on. I want to big a big part of that when I get home. All the travelling and the activities sound like a lot of fun. Jeremy, and Charlene, keep hitting those things up! Oh and if you have friends outside the Church, send a little invite their way- you never know who would go with you if you ask, as opposed to not asking. Wow, I miss Trail. I miss all the hiking trails, the mountains, and river. It really is a beautiful place. We have had snow for the last 3 weeks. It's been cloudy almost every day, and seems to snow every other day. It's been staying cold but “naja”, I'm surviving. Yesterday the sun shone as we drove to the Bishop’s house for lunch, and the highway goes right beside the ocean and it looked so nice! The waves were crashing on the beach and the 3 inch layer of snow was melting. The ocean looks so nice, I'm sure Kiel is a really pretty city when it is warm and sunny!

   So, on my side of the world...this week was pretty good. It was a tough week, but we pulled through it and I was able to experience a lot of pretty cool things. I had a sacred personal experience using the priesthood.  I thought a lot about it. I'm really thankful for the way the Lord is helping me and taking care of me. I've learned a lot since I've been with Elder G. I'm not sure why I've been assigned as companion to with him, but I'm thankful that I have been. He has been doing better. We're doing everything we can to find someone who will be baptized this transfer. I know it is possible.

  On Thursday we went to H├╝hnaland (the place where I went with S last week and didn't see any success) again this week, because we felt if the family that gave us that place to work in, really did pray about it, then we shouldn't give up until we've finished tracting the whole place. So we did door approaches and a lady with 2 little kids let us in and we were able to teach her. She's Baptist and so is her husband. She's about 30. She was interested in our belief that families can be eternal. It was really cool that she let us in, and she said that we could come back again and explain our beliefs more. I know that Baptists are very anti-Mormon people usually, so hopefully her husband didn't get mad at her for meeting with us. We're going back tomorrow, so we'll find out. But it was definitely cool to be let in, because all the other people just slammed the doors in our face.

   We also knocked on doors on Saturday. And found a man around 70 years old who said we could come back again. But yeah, we're really praying that we'll be able to find a family to bring into the ward, because we have, like, 4 or 5 young families in our Ward here in Kiel!

    V is holding strong, and hasn't touched alcohol or tobacco. We visited him with S (a YSA leader  - he's 26)) and as we walked into his apartment I realized that he cleaned the whole apartment, and even rearranged things. He's making progress and he's going to pray about a baptismal date. I just hope that he doesn't get stressed about it again. I really hope that he stays positive and keeps progressing.

   M was confirmed a member yesterday, and received the gift of  the Holy Ghost. We also gave him a document saying that he's been baptized and confirmed that he needs to take to his lawyer. He came on Joint teach with us to a 50 year old man from Iran that we met last week. I found him in the area book and we decided to go by on him. He's a really nice man, and he and M got along great. They told us about how terrible Iran is, and why they fled the country. It reminded how blessed I am to be raised where I was. M starts his German class at school next week, which is crucial.because he can't speak much German or English, and he NEEDS to learn German. So that'll be great!

   Other than that, not too much has been going on with me. I've been listening to a lot of talks from Truman G. Madson, about the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the other Prophets of the Church. I'm learning a lot from it, and realizing more and more about how great of a man Joseph Smith really was. Also I read something from Paul, 1 Corinthians 9 talks all about him preaching the gospel, and at the end he talks about keeping “under his body”.(verse 27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.) It reminded me of the carnal man, and how we need to keep control of ourselves and stay disciplined. Paul was a powerful apostle, and he knew that he had to practice his faith forever so that he wouldn't fall away.

   I'm grateful for you guys and for your support. Just like you don't have to worry about me, I know that I don't have to worry about you. I'm way proud of Colten for his decision in serving a mission, and I'm really excited for him. I know he'll love it and never regret it. The same with you Charlene and Jeremy. You'll learn and experience things that you wouldn't trade for anything. I am proud of all of you. Love the missionaries in your areas, and offer to do some work with them. They'll appreciate it! Have a great week.

Love Elder Luening

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

March 18, 2013, Kiel

Dear Family,

   I have  learned a lot this week. I made mistakes like always, J but I also experienced great things that I will never ever forget. I learn each week, that is for sure. 

   On Friday, we were in Flensburg for a service project. We wore “Mormon Helping Hands” shirts, and walked along the streets picking up garbage for the city. It was snowing! About 20 minutes into cleaning, Elder G became very weak all of a sudden, and fainted on the side of the road. He also started breathing really heavy and fast. Elder M and I gave him a blessing as we waited for the ambulance. It freaked me out a bit, because lately he hasn't been feeling very well. He has had headaches often, and becomes weak quickly. (He gets what is called Cluster Headaches). By the time we arrived at the hospital, he was back to normal again. The doctor kept him for another 6 hours, and then he stayed the night so they could investigate further into his headaches. I stayed with him in the hospital from 12:00 - 8:30 PM, and then a member picked me up and dropped me off at the Church where the 2 Elders from Flensburg were, and where my car was parked. I then stayed the night with the Flensburg Elders.

   In the morning I took one of them to Kiel with me, and the other one stayed with a member. After Church, I then had the opportunity to baptize Morteza! It was so amazing to be a tool in the hand of the Lord. As we were changing in the bathroom afterwards, he looked at me and said, 'Thank you Elder Luening' with so much gratitude and joy in his voice and eyes. It was so awesome.

  We then drove back to Flensburg and picked up Elder G from the hospital, and brought the Flensburg Elder back to his companion. We headed back to Kiel. The doctors gave Elder G other medication to try when he gets an attack. They believe he fainted because it was cold outside and he wasn't dressed warm enough. So he's all back in order and ready to start a new week!

   I thought a lot about the many blessings that I was seeing, and then V called. He has quit drinking and smoking again. We visited him last night and it is true! He's completely turned around. He said that he pondered about everything that the Lord has done for him, and knew he could never pay him back, so he decided to give up his smokes and beer for the Lord, and never to do those things again. We gave him a Priesthood blessing, to help him and this morning he came to the Institute Center to help us clean it. The Lord is blessing us all the time. The sisters here in Kiel are awesome too. They are hard workers and prepared Morteza very well for his baptism.

   We had Transfer calls on Saturday, and Elder G and I are staying in Kiel. Sister T got transferred and her new missionary, Sister H, will be training in Kiel! J They are both excited for the change because they knew it was going to happen. I can't believe this transfer is over. 8 Transfers and then I am home again! Every coming transfer “ist mir Kostbar”( is precious to me). 

   I'm really proud of all of you! I'm glad I don't have to worry about you, because of how much the Lord is taking care of you. Charlene congrats on receiving your endowment! I'm also really proud of Colten for making the decision to go on a mission (Colton enters the MTC on Wednesday to begin his training for the Quebec, Montreal Mission) - he's going to love it just like you, Charlene and Jeremy, will love it too! Thanks for always letting me know what has been going on. Charlene I didn't have time to read your letter, but will be printing it off and hopefully I'll write you next week. Love you guys, and have a great week!

Elder Luening

Monday, 11 March 2013

March 11, 2013, Kiel

Hey Family,

    I'm so glad to hear that you all had an awesome week! It was great to hear about how the temple trip was and that you were all so deeply affected by the spirit and had a wonderful time. I miss you all and I'm super excited for every one of you. Time is moving fast!

   Well like I said before, we're still trying to build Kiel up from scratch again. It's going to take a lot of work and time on our part, which has been difficult lately because of bad health and bad luck. But we're doing the best we can. We don't have colds, but there have just been some other problems lately that we're trying to take care of.

   On Wednesday, we had the Elder's from Gl├╝ckstadt come to Kiel so that we could do a split with them and do some work. The day was pretty roughly planned, but planned as best as we could with what information we had. Elder A and I went to do contacts from the Area book that I organized the day before, while Elder C and Elder G went to 2 appointments. It worked really well, and man it was so nice to be out again, talking to people, and being able to do some missionary work.

   On Friday we were in Berlin for another Zone Leader Council. It went really well, and the lesson was on Planning. We want to make sure that all the missionaries are taking the time to do effective planning. It was really good. It reminded me of how we need to start taking more time again, to start planning better, with backup plans if things fall through.

   V can't stop drinking. He didn't come to the service project but we're going to invite him again to the one on Tuesday. He really wants to stop but feels helpless. We've got to help him wake up somehow.

  The sisters have an investigator that is getting baptized on Sunday, and he's asked me to baptize him. His name is M, and he's from Iran. He's around 28yrs old and he's been taught for about 5 weeks. He only speaks Persian and a little bit of English. They've taught him with google translate, haha! J He also has the Book Of Mormon in Persian (not a full translation), and Gospel Principles in Persian, which he's read completely through. Its amazing how much he actually understands and how much love he has. We are always supposed to look at the evidence of conversion in our investigators, and it is amazing to see how much he shines and how excited he is for his baptism. It took the sisters a while to get permission to teach him, to make sure that he would be safe if they did, and it's all figured out. It's really exciting.

  I'm going bowling today for P-day with some of the YSA, and know it'll be fun. I love you guys and keep up the good work!

Love Elder Luening

Monday, 4 March 2013

March 4, 2013, Kiel

 Dear Family,

    I'm so excited for everyone and am so glad to hear that the temple trip went great! Thanks for sending me  Great Grandma’s eulogy, Mom. I look forward to reading it!

   I'm so proud of everyone at home and how you're preparing yourselves for your missions and next phases or steps for this year. It's so good to hear how everyone is doing great at home and that I can focus on my mission and am not distracted about what's going on with my family and their problems. Thanks so much for the emails and for letting me know how everything went this week. I was excited to see how things played out and it sounds like it went really well.

   So I got this basketball shirt that says 'Bishop's Bandits', and I'm wondering what's going to happen next year when I'm home. Am I playing for the Bandits or for the Young Guns? ‘Cause if the young guns got smashed by almost twice the points, then I'm thinking they might want me to help them out next year when I'm back, ha-ha!

   This week was a pretty good week. I forgot my planner at home so I'm trying to remember right now what exactly happened, lol. We spent quite some time inside again this week. But we managed to also get out quite a bit. We have 2 new investigators that we're teaching this week. One is an Uncle of a member here. We were at the uncle's apartment fixing his computer (because Elder G is a computer tech guy), and so as he fixed his computer I talked to him about the gospel a little bit and got to know his opinion and religious background. He asked me a lot of questions about how I gained my testimony, and about how I know these things to be true. He said that he's caught in the middle of believing in God and not believing. We talked for about 45 minutes, and then asked him if we could come back next week. He said, “Yes, and next time you guys can do more talking”.  J It was a good experience seeing how a simple unexpected meeting could turn into a gospel discussion.

    The other investigator is an excommunicated member, who had heart surgery 3 months ago, and would like to meet with us. I'd never met him before but I called him on Saturday night to see if he would like to meet with us this week, and he said he would come to church and we could talk about it then. He came and I was able to meet him and set up an appointment for Thursday. There's an Institute center right around the corner from our apartment (The RITZ), so we've been making appointments there so that Elder Gerhardsson doesn't have to do too much walking. Also since we can't go and do finding very much, we're going to do a lot of phone calls and area book work, to set up appointments at the RITZ, and to find people.

    V is starting to get better. He has started to try to quit drinking again. I'm still calling him every day, and sometimes he even calls us to wish us a good day. He called me on Saturday and told me that he wanted us to start involving him in activities and stuff, because he thinks it could help him. There's a member who's getting married in a few weeks (V Z, 25yrs old), and he bought a new apartment, and is renovating it. So he needs help placing down laminate flooring, and doing a bit of painting. So, V will help us do that. He's excited to help us and get outside to do something active. He hasn't quit drinking yet, but he's got a plan that he's following.

   Elder G had a rough week this week. He was in a lot of pain on Monday night, from using his foot too much the day before. Ever since he was younger, about 15yrs he started getting tension headaches all the time. He's going to therapy for it, (The doctor said the problem was in his neck and shoulder), and because he uses the crutches a lot he gets more headaches because of the strain on his shoulder. He was great for the rest of the week, except until around Thursday, so we spent the whole day inside. It was okay, I was in a really good mood because the sun was actually shining outside and it was warm! (7°C). He then was good again, and on Saturday we went to V’s new apartment to help him out. I was still in my shirt and tie, and he had forgotten that we were coming over to help, so he said not to worry about it, but to come back again on Wednesday. He then saw that my comp wasn't doing very well, and gave him a priesthood blessing. It was a great experience. He was all dirty from working in the apartment, and then all of a sudden we were in a room, music off, and giving Elder G a blessing. The spirit was really strong all of a sudden, and I could feel the sudden difference. V's uncle sat in the room and watched, (he's not a member) and it was a great experience for him to see. We then went on our way, and my comp felt a lot better.

    On Sunday we were able to fast and bear our testimonies. It was a great Sabbath day.

    I've really had the opportunity to read a lot in the scriptures. I learn something new every time. One of the Sisters here in Kiel (Sister T) asked me if I could give her a blessing. It's a great feeling being asked and being able to serve someone like that. I'm glad I'm out here, and for all the ways that the Lord is helping me and guiding me. I've learned a lot about the light and love of Christ so far this year. He is the light and the love, and as we exercise faith in Him, (actions, thoughts and deeds), we receive His love and light through the Spirit which sanctifies us. Then we become the light of the world, and through loving others, ALL men will know that we are his followers and disciples. They will see it in our loving actions, and through the “Ausstrahl” that we have around us (the glow or beam). We are a happy people, because our Hope, Faith, and Love is in Christ and is for the people around us. I have a lot of scriptures to back this up J. I'm not just making this up, it's real. I know it and I'm experiencing it every day. Smiling and having our thoughts on Christ whenever we have the chance, makes all the difference in the world for us, and for the people who observe us.

   Mom, you don't have to worry about my marriage goals for when I get home yet, ha-ha! I still have a whole year! Don't worry - I've been doing a “lil bit of praying, and thinking”, since I've been out here, about what I'll be doing right when I get home. (That was a joke, I did a lot of it). I won't do anything that the Lord doesn't want me to do.

 I love you guys, and I hope you have a great week! I'm proud of you all, and am thankful for the way the Lord's blessing you day by day.

Love you, take care,

Elder Luening