Monday, 11 November 2013

November 11, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

   Hey, Mom I agree with Charlene. You do a lot and I'm grateful for your example and for how diligently you strive to serve the Lord. I had a little time today to think about progression as we were walking to the grocery store. It's important to look back sometimes and see how far you've made it and how much closer you are drawing to the Saviour. Some might say, don't look at what's been done, look at what still needs to be done, but it's important. Otherwise you forget the ways that the Lord has helped you already. We've received so many blessings from Him, and when we look at how he's blessed us and changed us, it can fill us with immense joy and thankfulness and motivate us to continue. I think the closer we draw to our Saviour, the more light shines on our imperfections and the more we see that there's still lots to work on. But it's important to never lose sight of how far we've come. Step by step is how He works, and it is how we work too! Thanks for your example and for everything you do for us kids. I really appreciate it!! J
   Things here in Hamburg are good. I like serving here and I really like the Ward. I had the opportunity to see a few members from Kiel yesterday because of their Stake Conference being in the Hamburg Stake Center. It was nice being able to catch up with them and it reminded me of how much I do miss them. Also one of people we gave to the Sisters to teach, moved back into our area. I'm grateful for the opportunity to start meeting with him again and teach him.
    We met on Saturday with Uncle Jan. He agreed to meet with us regularly and start working on his testimony again. He's very excited about it and has the desire. What a blessing being able to help family out here. I'm so grateful for this opportunity! It was always a wish of mine to serve in Hamburg, but I never thought it would happen. Well it's happened, and there's always a bigger picture behind everything!
   There is a young married couple with whom we're working. The wife invited her inactive sister and her sister's boyfriend to dinner with us. They accepted and want to learn about prayer and Christ. The sister doesn't come to church and the boyfriend isn't a member but they are looking forward to meeting us and having dinner with us at the member’s house tonight!
Charlene it sounds like you’re doing great! Keep up the good work. Thanks for always sharing your testimony. You're great!

Jeremy, that a boy. Ha-ha. Way to be a winner
J!  Thanks for always being a good example to the youth. I know they look up to you and that you're a big help for them! You're always in my prayers.
Dad, it's good to hear about the youth and to know they're doing well. Also Oma told me you were having troubles with your passport. I hope everything gets sorted out in time for Christmas. Thanks for your example and testimony. I've learned a lot of things from you growing up and have also noticed ways that the gospel has changed you as disciple of Christ.
Kass, thanks for the big update on how you're doing and thanks for the personal email. I'm glad things are going well! I'll be visiting lots when I'm home!
I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Luening

November 4, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

Thanks for the emails! It was great to hear from all of you. I just had a really good week last week. We were busy with meetings. But they really built and uplifted me and I felt edified by the messages shared. Elder Kearon and Elder Fingerle from the Quorum of the Seventies were at our Zone Conference on Wednesday. They were doing a mission tour. We had 120 missionaries in the Stake Center! 5 out of 11 Zones were there! It was really awesome and a great opportunity to hear the voices of the Lord’s called servants.

   On Friday we had our Leadership Training Meeting in Berlin (for Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders) and Elder Kearon and Elder Fingerle were also there for half of the meeting. I can't really explain in an email the feelings I felt during one of the discussions we had. I felt the spirit so strong, and the love that they had for us as they taught us the importance of faith and overcoming discouragement. It just really hit me like a wall and knew that was something that I needed to hear personally, and also a lot of other missionaries in the Zone, that we can pass it on to.

   This last week was a little disappointing with lessons, because a lot of our appointments fell through, and we couldn't contact the people we had found. But there were also a lot of positive things that happened. Things are still moving forward. We have a couple candidates that we're trying to commit to a baptismal date. Sister Uhtermöhlen loves us and cooks for us every week. Oma and Opa too! They stuffed us with the best Grünkohl (kale) that I've had in Germany so far. I ate so much, it was great! Ha-ha. They are really doing well and I love them a lot! Opa's still working his way through the Book of Mormon and is almost finished with Mosiah. He's a big help for the Sunday School classes too ,because he gives good answers and participates freely J!

  There was a man that we talked to on the street that Sister Uhtermöhlen lives on. He was about 45yrs old and we talked to him about God outside. He said he lost his faith in God but didn't tell us why because it was really personal to him. We bore testimony, shared some experiences with him, and encouraged him that he could find that faith again and that life with Him is better than without. Well he completely opened up and said with tears that he lost a lot of family members at a very young age and that that was the cause of him losing his faith. We thanked him for sharing that with us and then bore testimony to him about love and about how the Gospel brings hope and peace! We asked if we could share our message with him and he said no, and walked away. We walked on, but it hurt, because I knew that what we had could bless him and help him in his life a lot, but he rejected it, even after opening up for us. My heart reaches out to people like that and wishes that I could help them, but I can't unless they want it. We're finding the ones who are prepared, and like Ammon worked with the servants to gather the flocks together and contend with the Lamanites, The Lord is helping us gather his flocks while he contends with the ones who try to weaken us!

   I love you, and hope you have a great week! I know I will! The Lord is with us!

Elder Lüning.

October 28, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

   Thanks so much for the emails. I honestly love being a missionary and the things that I've learned so far in the field. We bought our pumpkins today for carving and it was just another reminder of how quickly the time is moving by. Mom, dad, you two are amazing. You're so diligent in planning and sacrificing time for the church. You two, with your solid testimonies and missionary experiences are a huge help in Cranbrook Stake! I get letters from members telling me how much they appreciate you and all that you do out of your personal lives to help build up the Kingdom of God on earth. You're “Großartige” examples for me. (“great” sounds better in German to me, ha-ha).

   So this week was a week where Elder McK and I learned a lot. Our District Leader asked us to study Ch. 9 from Preach My Gospel this week, and so we did. On Tuesday we started at the beginning and made it to the end of the second page before we ran out of time because it was like instant revelation. We reflected on how we talk to people and approach them on the street, how we plan to use our time as we find people to teach, and how we listen to the spirit. There's a quote which says 'Finding by the spirit is just as important as it is to teach by the spirit.' Also it says that the people we find who are prepared for us will want to listen to our message and meet with us again. We really tried to apply what we learned into the rest of our weekly work and we saw the effectiveness of it. When someone would want to talk with us more, but didn't want to meet or learn from us, instead of continuing in discussion with him we ended the conversation in testimony, gave him a card and moved on as quickly as we could. It helped us tune more into the spirit and discern if this man is ready or not. It's amazing how it works. In doing this we've been able to find people who want to meet with us. We found 20 people with who we have contact information with.

Once we have our planned time of finding, we would stop and talk to each other if this is what we should do or if we should be somewhere else. Sometimes we get sudden promptings that tell us to get out of the bus suddenly, or to walk in a different direction, and sometimes the plan stays the same. But through this tuning in and double checking if this is where we should be, we've been able to find these new people who want to meet again.

   One girl we found last night is called J. She's a German girl probably about 28yrs old and from Hannover originally. Before we went finding we said okay, which way are we going, I looked at the map again while we were in the train, and picked out the way. As we just got out of the train stop Elder McK. said to me, 'This is perfect, I just got revelation, we should walk to “Haupt Bahnhof”', I laughed because that was exactly the way I picked out, but I guess I forgot to tell him, so I said, “I feel the same way”. Well after talking to a few people we found J. who was completely open and said that since she left Hannover, she doesn't really have a ward to go to, so she wants to come see ours and meet with us this week sometime. We got her number and gave her a Book of Moormon and pamphlet and testimony to go with it. It was great!

   Another story is about a man named R. He was walking in front of us and as we were passing him, I talked to him about Christ, and he said, “Yeah I believe but I don't have anything to do with a church. We talked a bit more and then suddenly he said he was from Canada. Bwahh! My first CANADIAN! Right then we started talking in English and I told him where I was from. His whole countenance changed. He told us he'd met missionaries before but didn't understand too much about the Book of Mormon. So we set up an appointment with him and he wants to learn more. Before walking in that direction we were on exchanges, so I asked Elder G. how he felt about the plan and the direction we were going, He paused and said really good. These small pauses to tune in to the spirit, and double check to see if we are doing the right thing is what I learned this week. And it works the same way at home.

   A missionary told me once a long time ago, the things you learn in Preach My Gospel and the White Handbook, are really for MEMBERS with a few extra rules and tips for specifically set-apart missionaries.

   One more thing, Opa gave a great talk the week before. I forgot to tell you that last Monday. It was about the importance of General Conference, and really, really well done! He gave solid testimony and it was really touching. Ha-ha, he said he was really nervous because it was the first time in 20 years that he gave a talk but he didn't show it at all! He's a natural! Oma and Opa are doing great! I love them so much.
   Thanks for everything you guys are doing and for the emails you write me. Charlene, your emails are so long I print them off and read them when I have time ha-ha. And Jeremy thanks for the small email and your testimony about prayer!

Love, Elder Luening

October 21, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family, 

  Thank you so much for all the wonderful e-mails. I really do appreciate all the time you take out of your busy, crazy, stressful lives to write me words of encouragement and to let me know what's been happening in your own personal lives. It helps me feel a part of your life, even when I'm on the other side of the world! So thanks!

     I wish I had time to write you all back individually. It takes me close to an hour to read all your letters, and then I need about 20 minutess to write Pres. and report on how the Zone is doing with its respective Districts. So I usually have only about 40 minutess to write friends and family. I try to reply and wish I could write more than a few lines but it just doesn't work lol. I love you so much and yes...I'm starting to get a bit excited about see you all again, skyping on Christmas! Kass and Scott, I won't be able to see you but I guess it's only like 2 months after Christmas when I'm home again so no big deal lol. I've been a Zone Leader in this mission since January 1st. The Assistent to the President just told me on Monday that I'm the longest serving Zone Leader in the mission. I'm wondering if I'm going to finish my mission here in Hamburg or not. I really hope so, but at the same time I would love to train again before coming home. We'll see what happens. Our Mission President is awesome, and receives revelation from the Lord for each of us.

   I'm really excited that Elder McK. and I are staying 3 transfers together. We get along really well and love working together. We're both hard workers and our Zone is so awesome. We really focus a lot on obedience and striving for exact obedience with everything. Success of a missionary is not based on how many baptisms he gets, but how obedient and faithful he was as a servant of the Lord. It's so important to always have the spirit with you.

   This last week was great. It was the worst week we had number wise because we didn't find a single new investigator and we couln’t meet with the 2 investigators we have. We had a lot of member visits to involve them in the work of salvation, and also a lot of finding time. We're really focusing on using all our time to talk with people wherever we are like Elder Ballard said in General.Conference - that means wherever we are and whatever we're doing. We're risking the awkward and talking with people in the trains and buses! Sometimes they completely reject you and act like they didn't hear what you said to them and then it's really awkward for the next 5-10minutes, ha-ha, but other times you can get some pretty good conversations. Our name tag is a magnet too. We talk to someone about the weather and all of a sudden they're asking us why we're here and why we're wearing a name tag... “Well, let me tell you...” BAM, restoration! We don't see many new inv. from it but the point is to always be engaged in talking. Of course you gotta have a balance. Sometimes you need those train rides or short bus rides to get a chance to cool down and like Kass said, 'Meditate'. But when we're fit we use the time, we as the Zone Leaders, are doing it so that our zone does it too. Lead by example. We also had a man stop us because he saw “Jesu Christi” on our nametag and wanted to know who we were. Don't see that happen too often in Hamburg.

   I have to agree with you Dad, the fall is beautiful. Hamburg is so pretty in the fall, too, because of how many trees there are. Everything green is turning colours. I'll have to take more pictures and send some. M., Brother Stephens son will be able to meet next week. He's finally gets a break from his 200 kids that he teaches French to. We're excited to be meeting him! He's got a desire to learn and be baptized. I think even when we work super hard and don't see the success we want, it’s comforting to know that we're working with the Lord, and that he's always with us.

  Something I've started doing for about 2 weeks now is just taking the last 15minutres of the day (10:15pm) to lie in my bed and read. It really helps me get that quiet time I need so that I never feel I don't have time for me. I can feel the effects from it and I don't burn out so fast.
   Thanks again to all of you for writing me. I'm doing great and so is my companion. I hope you all have a great week, and know that you're always in my prayers.

Elder Luening

October 14, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

So, this week has flown by again. All I remember is that I was extremely tired and exhausted this week. We had a lot of meetings, lol. We had our Zone Training Meeting which was amazing! We taught a lesson about repentance and how we can apply that into our areas and missionary life. It was great, and I love the spirit one can feel at these types of meetings. We also had a Leadership Training Meeting the following day which was also good. One of the lessons given from Sister Kosak (Pres. Kosaks wife), was on stress and stress relief. Well, we all thought a lot about that lesson afterwards and got stressed out just thinking about it! It was a good time though.

We met twice this week with R., the lady who talked to us after General Conference, and invited her to baptism. She said she wants to learn more before she commits to something big like that. But she's aware of why we visit and that baptism is her goal!

     Our Chinese investigator, S., is leaving tomorrow for China. She came to Stake Conference and loved it. She's all set to go home with her Book of Mormon (which she loves), her Bible, and Gospel Principles book. She's really built her faith so much and knows that she has a Heavenly Father looking out for her. She's excited to keep learning and studying the scriptures and doctrines when she returns to China. The closest church to her home is about 10 hours away, so she'll need to keep studying and figure out what she's going to do in the future. She loves the things we've taught her and expressed her gratitude to us after church before she went home. She said she'll never forget meeting us and the things we've taught her. We made her really happy! It was really touching to hear and made us feel really grateful for the work here in Hamburg.  

     We also met a young man about 20 years old on the street and asked him what Christ meant to him. He stopped and pondered for a while and really dug within himself for an answer. He then said, 'I'm actually one of the few who has read the Bible all the way through, and I'm not really sure what Christ means to me. I guess you could say I'm one of those people who are on the search.' We bore our testimonies to him and introduced the Book of Mormon to him. We gave it to him and he was really touched that we would just give him this book for free. He expressed his appreciation to us and took the book and promised he'd read it. It was touching to see how this all impacted him and excited him to continue studying for truth.

   We had transfer calls and Elder McK. and I are staying another transfer together in Hamburg! We've just set some goals and made some plans of what we want to accomplish this transfer and how we'll do it. The Lord is working WITH us in His “Weingarten” (vineyard). (Jacob 5).

Love, Elder Lüning!

October 7, 2013 Hamburg

 Hey family!

     Jeremy I'm proud of you for making the step you did. Guess you'll be home when I get back eh? I'm excited to see you again. Mom, Dad, please let Grandma know I wish her a “Gute Besserung” (Get Well)! That whole accident just sounded really painful. I'm glad she's doing okay.
     This week sped by on by again. On Monday/Tuesday I was able to go on exchange with a District Leader. We stayed in Hamburg and had a really busy day. He was so excited to see how Elder McK. and I talk to people and how we find people, so I made sure we had some time to do just that. It didn't take him to long to realize that he had been doing exactly what we were doing the whole time. Ha-ha!  The only difference was our attitude and how we dealt with those who didn't want to listen. Those that don't want to listen to us, we don't beg them to stay and hear us out. We wish them a good day and moved on to find those elite that God has prepared for us. Elder McK. and I know that they're out there and that Heavenly Father will put them in our paths.

     We've been focusing on the atonement in our mission and it's really helped us with our missionary work. We also had a lesson given to us in Berlin on Friday about Missionary Repentance. We internalized it and brought it into our apartment and introduced it to the other 2 Elders who lived with us. We got a red piece of paper and wrote “HAMBURG UMKEHR” at the top. (Hamburg Repentance) and made a list of things we noticed that we want to change and do better on in the apartment. We have 16 things written down and things have improved a lot already! I've also notice how it's helped us each personally apply the atonement more in our lives because we prayed afterwards for the support to be able to change. It's also unified us more with each other.

     Two miracles happened this week. S. told us that the Book of  Mormon leads her to believe in God. We taught her how to read it and she read from 1 Ne. 3 to 1 Ne. 19 in 3 days. She loves it and said she needs to read it through at least twice. One for the story, and one for her personally where she can apply what she learns into her life.

     Second miracle, is that after the wonderful General Conference on Saturday night (the first Saturday session), on our way home a lady asked us if our church is in English. We told her about General Conference and she said, “Oh I was in Utah and saw the temple!” We invited her to come the next day for General Conference and she came! She saw the Saturday afternoon session and loved it! We will now be meeting with her twice a week and she's coming to church on Sunday again!

     I'm grateful for the atonement in my life and for the power I receive from it daily. These days out here aren't easy. But they're good. From my study of Isaiah this time through the Book of Mormon, I tied what he says together with Nephi. In Lehi's dream he sees people walk away from the tree after partaking of the fruit because they were ashamed of those mocking him. Isaiah talks a lot about the atonement of Jesus Christ and about how we should be proud of being his followers. He says that though we might feel as though we're roads for people to walk on, or that we are persecuted beyond what we can handle, Jesus Christ will lift us up and carry us on His shoulders. He will take our burden from us and those that persecute us, He will separate from us. The message that I got from it this time through is be proud of having a Savior who is more powerful than ALL things. Nephi had hard times, but he never lost sight of his Savior, and knew the rewards of obedience and faith. This is one of the reasons why he loved Isaiah so much.
I hope you all have a great week! 

Elder Luening

September 30, 2013, Hamburg

  Dear Family,

   So I'm trying to think about how the week went and again, I have no idea. It's now October which I can't even believe and the time just keeps moving forward. I just bought a new winter jacket for this last winter here in Germany. I found a TK Max where I can use my Master Card and it's a really big store. Success! I am now completely prepped for winter. I'll probably be sending stuff that I don't need any more home soon, so I'm not all stressed about it at the end of my mission.

   The appointments with the five new people that we found last week all fell through. We thought they were part of the “Elite”, but apparently not. So we are back on the road looking for and searching for the ones who are prepared.  We're having a lot of fun with finding, though. The people that we've managed to find and have conversations with are great. When you talk with everyone you see, you get some crazy people, some people who don't even regard you, some people who stop and hear your first line and then leave without saying anything, but no matter what, there are always the ones that listen. You just might have to go through a bunch to get the ones who are ready. I love it!

    Our new members are doing great still. They're super active and haven't missed a single Sunday. S, our Chinese investigator asked about how she can understand the Book of Mormon better when she reads, so we prepped a lesson for her about that. It was awesome. She had read the chapter we left with her and then the first 3 chapters of 1 Nephi. So we read Nephi 4 with her and helped her apply the things she read to her life. She said, “Now I understand how I can learn from this book!” She's like, I was reading it like a novel and didn't even think about paying attention to what I would do if I was in that situation! She's making so much progress and she said after she read Alma 36 she learned why it’s important to keep the commandments! Oh and their Chinese food is so good! The H. Family love us and as we teach S, it's helping Sister H’s testimony so much too!

  That’s all I have to say this week! It's getting colder now. 13° during the day!
  Love you and hope you all have a good week!