Monday, 26 August 2013

August 26, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family
So yesterday Henry and Stephens were confirmed members of the Church and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost! It was wonderful!
 Also, I need to tell you of the miracle we experienced this week. So, on Wednesday we met with C before institute and invited him to be baptized on the 1st of September  instead of the 15th. He agreed and said that he was ready! He said that his friends and parents have noticed a big positive change in him. He asked us if we see that too, and how we would describe it. He's so awesome. He's come a long way and has made a lot of changes to be able to be baptized. The next day he told us that his mom would like to come to the baptism, and because she's going on vacation, he would need to postpone it until the 23rd. We asked him how he felt about it and he said he wasn't sure. Both dates looked good to him. We asked him to pray and read in the scriptures and tell us when his mind was made up. On Friday he called us and said 23rd is the day for his baptism. We said, “Are you sure?”,  and he hesitated and then said yes. Elder M and I were a bit disappointed but thought it might be a good anyways. We still had a feeling that he might change his mind again and were praying for him to be able to follow the spirit. On Sunday we met him at 8:00 AM, right before church, and he said that he has the feeling that next week is actually when he should get baptized, and that his mother wanting him to post pone it was a test from the other side. But he was still unsure. So we read 2 Ne. 31 with him and asked him what he thinks he should do. He said, “I need to get baptized next week! I will get baptized on the 1st instead!”  It is so amazing to see how our investigators are being converted into the gospel of Jesus Christ!  This good news to all the earth: that Christ has made it possible for us to come in by the way, and taste of and dwell in His and the Fathers love for eternities. It is touching to see their faith and commitment.
The time is going fast, but I'm keeping daily logs in my journal because I don't ever want to forget it. Thanks for all the support from all of you and I hope you have a blessed week!

 Love you,
Elder Lüning

Monday, 19 August 2013

August 19,2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

What an exciting week! Yesterday we had the baptisms of Henry and Br. Stephens! It was really exciting leading up to the baptism. They had their interviews on different days and were both very excited for Sunday. We thought a lot about who would baptize them. We wanted members to baptize them so that they could have a special bond with someone in the Ward.

The man that baptized Henry is his new home teacher, Brother R. We figured that it would be a great way to start the bond they could have to each other.

We thought a lot about who would baptize Br. Stephens. Opa had a lot of contact with him and he really liked Opa, so we told Stephens and he was excited about it. We told the Bishop on Saturday, who then told Opa. He was really surprised! You should have seen his face on Sunday as he came to Church the next day! J He attacked Elder M and I and asked which one of us came up with the idea, and we looked at each other and said, “The Lord did.” He was very grateful! I think this has helped him more than anything, and he'll never forget it. He said to me on the phone on Saturday, “If Br. Stephens would like me to baptize him, then I will fulfill my priesthood responsibilities and do it.”  J He was super nervous and totally filled with the spirit throughout the whole day! It was a wonderful experience for him that he'll never forget. Br. Stephens was so thankful.

   The baptismal meeting was wonderful. The members were very supportive and we had a great attendance. They will be comfirmed members this upcoming Sunday! We were a little disappointed that some investigators didn't show up to the baptism that said they would, so we'll have to check up on them and see what happened.

   Other than that, things are going well here in Hamburg. We're finding new investigators and helping others to progress. Mom, the referrals that you gave me in your letter live outside of our zone. They live in Rahlstedt which is in the Delingsdorf area. But I got permission from Pres. Kosak last week to visit them with an Elder from Delingsdorf , so that they can continue to meet with them if they want to! I'm not too sure when we'll visit but I'm excited to meet them! Do you have any suggestions on how I should contact them?

   Opa bought me 2 suits today for the price of one at C&A. (€80) They are really schick and I am very very thankful. Thanks for the email Mom and Dad, I'm glad you had a wonderful trip! You'll never guess that I hit my “6 month till I'm home” mark yesterday. I'm not allowed to extend, so my return date is Feb. 18th. Love you and have a great week!

Friday, 16 August 2013

August 12,2013, Hamburg

Hey Family,
So I was happy to hear about everyone’s experiences this week! Mom and Dad I didn't get to read your e-mail because it was way, way, way, too big – ha-ha! So I printed it and will read it later at home this week!
So we have 2 baptisms that will be going through this week. S, from the Bronx in New York, and H from Ghana. The ward is really excited about the baptisms coming up. It's been a little while since they've had one...and you can tell too...there are spider webs and spiders in the baptismal font, ha-ha. I'll send you pictures next week!

               This last week was pretty good. Not too much happened but I'll share some things that I really appreciate. There was a Ward BBQ this week and we invited everyone we talked to, to come to the activity. At around 8:10PM on Wednesday, I was starving and tired and had the thought to just go home by bus and eat dinner. But then I felt like, no, walk home and find people on the way. Well, we talked 2 really cool people. One of them was a 22 year old girl who stopped and talked to us for about 30 minutes straight. She was really interested in what we were doing, and the thing that intrigued her the most, she said, was that we stood so firm behind our testimonies and that we would take 2 years out of our lives to do this. We tried everything we could to get her to meet with us again, but she said she would maybe come to the activity. She didn't end up coming, but I'm glad I listened to the spirit and the prompting to keep going. I think what we said to them was something they needed to hear at that time in their lives. It's good planting some seeds. Those first impressions can last a life time.

               The ward activity was on Saturday and really nice. We gave about 8 church tours all together and from 3 of the tours and visitors we now have teaching appointments. There were probably about 20 visitors including children. The ward was really excited about it. Oh, and during the whole activity it looked like it was going to rain! But we prayed, and even though the clouds were black, it didn't rain on us!! It was so cool  J. We definitely said a prayer of thanks!
We were at Oma and Opa's for lunch and showed them the Restoration DVD and Opa thanked me for bringing the spirit into their home before leaving. Uncle Jan also came spontaneously to church on Sunday! The whole theme was on “Walking Steadfastly in Christ”. That's the Stake theme this year, and it was Ward Conference, so all the talks were tied to it. It was very spiritually uplifting.

I also read Mosiah 4: 4-13 this week and King Benjamin promises us how we can live a joyful life. And his thoughts were focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His love.

 And king Benjamin again opened his mouth and began to speak unto them, saying: My friends and my brethren, my kindred and my people, I would again call your attention, that ye may hear and understand the remainder of my words which I shall speak unto you.
 For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your  nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—
 I say unto you, if ye have come to a  knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the  atonement which has been prepared from the  foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his  trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
 I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the  fall of Adam, or who are, or whoever shall be, even unto the end of the world.
 And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is  none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.
 Believe in  God; believe that he is, and that he  created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not  comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
 10 And again, believe 10 And again, believe that ye must  repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in  sincerity of heart that he would  forgive you; and now, if you  believe all these things see that ye  do them.
 11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have  tasted of his love, and have received a  remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own  nothingness, and his  goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of  humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
 12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the  love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
 13 And ye will not have a  mind to injure one another, but to live  peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
 14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

If we always have him and his love and goodness and patience and etc, in remembrance and repent daily, we will ALWAYS rejoice; “And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the alove of God, and always bretain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the cknowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.”(verse 12)     He's done everything for us. Love is the best 'driving force' there is.
Have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Luening

August 5, 2013, Hamburg

Hey Family,
                Just a small email this week! Wow, you sure know how to write a lot, ha-ha. I'm very grateful that the Lord is taking care of all of you.
               Things in Hamburg are great! We are having a tough time finding people, but naja, story of the mission, J

               S is basically a member already. He came to church for his third time in 3 weeks  and loves the members. He fits right in and has such enthusiasm and excitement for finding the church and this new family. He believes Joseph Smith is a prophet and loves the things that he's learning in the Book of Mormon in his personal study. He's on fire, and feels the spirit every time he meets with us. He shared with us last week that the time when he felt he should leave the church he was attending he opened up his Bible and read Ezekiel 12:1-8. He said it was like God speaking clearly to him and instructing him. He's really excited for his baptism! On Aug 18th, 3 of our investigators will be baptized. It's very exciting! Elder M and I are doing great with teaching together.

Oma and Opa are doing great too. They've both been to church these past 2 weeks, and we are now meeting with them weekly for Mittagessen and for a lesson. They've also befriended S, which is great! We're bringing him with us this week to their home for lunch and a lesson.

               We're working on getting the ward excited for missionary work. We have a ward activity this week which a couple members are already planning on bringing people to. We also have a church tour planned and will be teaching the first lesson throughout the tour J!
I love you guys. Thanks for the emails and letting me know how you're doing!

Elder Lüning

July 29,2013, Hamburg

Dear Family, 

               So crazy that I'm in Hamburg! I'd be walking down the street and just thinking, wow, I'm in Hamburg, wow I'm in Hamburg, WOW I'M IN HAMBURG, ha-ha. Okay not so dramatic, but ja, crazy. My companion Elder Mckean is an awesome missionary. He works hard. He's been out for a year and really loves the people in this city. We are doing a lot of good work together.

We've seen miracles so far since I've been here. We have 5 investigators who want to be baptized - four of them on the 18th of August and one on the 15th of September. S is an amazing investigator. He's from the Bronx in New York, black, 70 years old, but looks like he's 50, plays the blues on the piano, and was a Methodist and church organist for 20 years here in a German church. He one day decided he didn't belong in that church and that it wasn't true. He had the strong feeling and impression to go to our church on Sunday and he followed it. The members greeted him right away and he loved it! We gave him a church tour and taught him the lesson of the restoration and he loved it and said that Joseph Smith’s story was like his story. The spirit was just as strong in our next lesson on Friday, and he knows that this church is true and wants to be a part of it. During the “Plan of Salvation” lesson, we taught him about where we want to end up and he's like, 'I'm gonna be there! I'm gonna be there with y'all and we're gonna have a good time!' It was so cool. We taught him about temples, too, and he says it all makes sense to him. It's so amazing how receptive he is, and he also came to church yesterday. He's excited for his baptism and we're helping him get ready.

We've also had really good lessons on the street with people and Elder Mckean and I are killing it here. We've set goals in our companionship and district and zone of what we want to see happen and want to accomplish. We want to work a lot with the ward and it looks like it'll be successful. We also have 2 small families that we found this week and will be teaching. We're focusing on true conversion. We need the amount of faith in the church like the pioneers had - willing to sacrifice and do what is right in building up His Kingdom.

                 The ward was very welcoming and we've got an meal appointment at Oma and Opa's every Thursday, where we will be teaching them the lessons and helping them strengthen their testimony. They're really excited to have me here.

 Wow your trip sounds amazing, Mom and Dad. Thanks so much for the money. That was a lot of money you gave me. Please pass my thanks on to Bishop Redekop and Grandma and Grandpa at home! I really loved their letters and am so thankful for the money.

 I'm stoked that you got to see Br. Bentke! He sent me some pictures, ha-ha! I'm really glad you enjoyed your trip.

Thanks for the referrals in that letter. The sad thing is that Rahlstedt isn't in our zone. It's in Neumünster zone, so I'm trying to figure out how to handle it. I want to see the family and will probably do that on P-day next week because I'm helping someone move today in an hour so. There’s no time for anything.

I love you! Hope you have a great week!

 Elder Lüning

July 22, 3013 Kiel

Dear Family,

               Hey, so this was kind of a tough week for me. Tough because of all the emotional highs and lows of being a missionary, I guess. But one thing that I'm so thankful for is my ability to shut my brain off when I go to bed, or whenever I need some peace! Such a good gift and blessing from the Lord J

V started drinking on Monday again. He called me on Tuesday to cancel our appointment and then he told me why. That hurt and shook me pretty good. I was on an exchange in Kiel at that time. I decided we would go by on him anyway, with the purpose of uplifting him and motivating him to stop again. Well, he's still drinking. He's back to the same state of how he was when I first came to Kiel. He stayed strong for 5 months, and then fell back into the addiction. We visited him 3 times last week and each time he said he would stop the next day, but he can't. Alcohol is such a terrible addiction. He's a completely different person when he's drunk. (18-24 beers/day). It's bad and it's been tough to cope with because I do love him, and I've built a strong friendship with him. I hope it's just a phase and that he'll snap out of it again like he did the last time.

I found it pretty tough to keep a clear mind and keep going on with the work after visiting him on Tuesday on the exchange. I had the feeling we should go and visit a young member couple, V and K.       V  just got out of the hospital because he had surgery on the caves of his nose, so we hadn't seen him for a while. They were happy to see us. We told them what happened and how we felt pretty down. We asked them if we could serve them in anyway and K laughed and said, 'Not unless you want to wash our dishes'. DONE! I replied, “You bet we do!”  They had a lot of dishes stacked up because V can't do much except for lying around and taking it really easy in case his nose opens up and bleeds. K has been pretty busy and tired doing things and taking care of V. We were so glad to wash all the dishes for them and they were so thankful. It was such a small act of service but uplifted us a lot knowing we helped them out. Definitely a blessing because I needed something like that.

On another note I'm really excited that I am now transferred to Hamburg! I know it's going to be a great experience, and hope that we'll get a lot of support from the Ward. This is a huge blessing from the Lord, and I have the responsibility to do my best. I'm glad He trusts me and that Pres. Kosak trusts me enough to assign me to work in this area.

               Mom, Dad, thanks for your love and support. I'm glad you’re having fun up here in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Deutschland is beautiful, and you’re lucky to be here during this “voll krass” (super) weather! Enjoy the rest of your time here!

Love you,

Elder Christopher Lüning

July 15, 2013, Kiel

Dear Family,

Hey so let me catch you up on some of the things that have been happening this week. Last week on Monday, after we finished emailing, we headed out to G W's place to give him a blessing. He had called us and asked us if we would give him one because he was sick and wasn't feeling too well. We were happy to do it...It's not very often that you get this kind of opportunity to serve others on a P-day, so that in itself was a blessing not only for us but also for G. His girlfriend T, was also there and was able to see servants of God using proper priesthood authority for the first time in her life. He's doing better now! It's funny, they had told us that Anika is getting married and asked me if I knew her, but from the name I had no idea who she was. Of course I remember her! That was such an awesome hike up Red Mountain when she visited us! Wow, you should give G a call sometime, I'm sure he would love to meet up with you while you're here in Germany.

 After that we were able to give Sister M (senior couple) a blessing with Elder M. It was a good day of service. We play Fußball (soccer) every week and had those American members come and play on Tuesday night. It was a lot of fun, and it reminded me of how different Americans are from Germans - or Europeans in general – ha-ha. Someone asked me this week what my favorite part of Germany is, and I said, “The people!”, lol! I love them! We've also been blessed with super nice weather. I love it here when it's sunny, but there's something about living by the doesn't stay sunny for too long, lol.

   Our investigators are doing well. We had good lessons with C, E, V, and T. They are getting a bit closer to baptism, but still seem so far away. E leaves tomorrow for china. V is having a tough time getting the desire to pray about the Book of Mormon. But T is doing great! A lot of members are on vacation now, so it's tough organizing joint teaches, but we're doing well finding new and open people. We did some more finding in the area we were told to, and called a member to pray for us before we started. We spent a whole hour in one building. We taught 2 people in the building for at least 25 minutes each. They were really interested and want us to come back again this week. So we're going to bring a member with us, J It's going to be sick!

 I went on an exchange in Heide and spent a long time doing doors. We had some pretty cool conversations with people, but then found one lady from Switzerland who was something special. She had been inside the Swiss Temple before it was dedicated, moved to Germany, and hadn't heard of the church since. She took a Book of Mormon from us and said we could visit her again. Her husband had passed away and we taught her about temple sealings. She was really touched.

   Oh, funny experience. We were in the train going to Heide, and we heard a young couple speaking English, so we stopped speaking German, and started speaking English to to see if they would talk to us. The stopped talking and just listened to us. Then the boy said, 'Hey excuse me, are you guys speaking English? I'm from America!', -  ha-ha it was so funny! We invited them to sit with us. The girl was German, but had been an exchange student in Michigan where she met him. He came up to visit for 2 weeks. He's like, 'I'm so glad to be able to talk to someone. I can't speak or understand German at all!' It was really cool. We were able to talk about the church and why we were on missions. Good opportunity to talk about Christ J!

Hey, I hope you have a good time in Germany. I would love to see you Mom and Dad, but let’s wait until I'm home J.  Ha-ha. I mean, I really only have a little bit of time left, and these emails are good enough for me! I love you and hope you stay safe and continue loving the time here in Germany.

Oh, schöne Grüße (greetings) from Volker in Pinneberg. Oh, and tell Oma and Opa that I love them and that I have permission to visit them sometime on a P-day whenever they want! We'll also be in Hamburg this week in the Wartenau Gemeinde (Wartenau, Hamburg Stake Center) for a Leadership Training Meeting lol. Crazy knowing we're so close to each other! Ha-ha. I'll be in Hauptbahnhoff (Hamburg Train Station) at around 9:00 AM and at 5:30 PM...just in case you accidentally want to run into me, (since you are in Hamburg now, anyway), ha-ha!

Love you, 
Have a great week!

Elder Christopher Luening

July 8, 2013, Kiel

Dear Family,

One of the big things in Kiel is that the members LOVE us, ha-ha. I've been here since January 1st and I'm way tight with the members. We spoke to the Bishop and asked him where we would find people who would become strong members. He prayed and told us an area. We have a family that we prayed about and talked to and told that we want to do more missionary work with them, and asked them to pray for a street in this area where we could start our finding. They gave us a street and a referral for that street and now we are teaching them! It's so sick. We've only had one lesson with them so far but it was at the member’s house that actually lives in the area we're working in, so it was perfect. It's all inspired work,J.

Something way funny happened yesterday too. We went to check up on a contact but they weren't home. They lived in a building that we Elder R and Elder L tracted while we were on exchanges. So the people weren't home but we heard talking in the door next to them and I asked if we should try it. Elder R couldn't remember if they answered or not but we decided it would be way awkward if they had. So we laughed and decided that I would do it myself and he would go upstairs and we'd see what happens. I talked to that guy for 15 minutes, and then his wife gave me a freshly baked banana pancake! Ha-ha! She's just like, “Here you go!”  Man, it was delicious J. The man said that he had a Book of Mormon, that he's Buddhist, but will read the introduction again and think about the importance of the book. Blessings of risking the awkward, lol.!

Our investigators are struggling. C, our 3 week investigator seems to be the only strong one. E is leaving for China in a week, and won't hit his baptismal date. He'll be gone for a whole month, so he'll have time again to really ponder and consider until  he comes back. We're going to challenge him to be baptized on September 1st. - 3 weeks after he's back from China. V is staying idle. He's not progressing, and he's not changing. We fasted to find out how to help him and we're still waiting for some kind of answer. We know it'll come, but we're frustrated with how he won't take it seriously--- wake up, and find out if the Book of Mormon is true. He won't pray about it. He needs to be told by someone else that it's important. Other than that the work is moving forward. Gordian and Tina are still awesome.

I had no idea that you were leaving this week to visit Oma and Opa. I hope you got in contact with Brother Bentke in Forst. I hope you have a safe trip. Thanks for everything. You guys rock, and I wish I could write more but I'm out of time! Have a good holiday!

Love Elder Luening