Tuesday, 24 December 2013

December 23, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,
  Wow, don't you all just love last minute changes and unexpected events that pop up? If you said no, you could've fooled me because it seems to ALWAYS happen to you, ha-ha. Naja, I guess that's just life. What's awesome is that no matter what happens, we have the promise of spiritual peace which is 'not of this world'. What a blessing we have to be able to remember Christ in this Christmas Holiday! J

   I'm super pumped and excited to Skype, ha-ha. My last Skype session on the mission...wow. It's been a while since I've seen all of you and I'm really looking forward to it. We were have a tough time figuring out when and how we were going to Skype, and then suddenly Dane (Anika's husband) came up to us and asked us if we wanted to Skype at their place. They have 2 laptops so Elder Cannon and I could do it at the same time. It's great! So we'll be at their house Skyping at around 6pm our time. Maybe a little after but just be ready at, I guess, around 9am your time. Dane or Anika will probably call you to ask for your Skype account and set everything up and have it ready for us when we come. They are so awesome! I have no idea what I'm going to talk to you about, so if you have any questions just write them down so you don't forget. 1 hour goes really fast!

   Unlike Charlene, I have no idea what's happened this week. I honestly look back and don't remember anything! We are so busy running around, meeting people, teaching people, taking care of our District Leaders and Zones, and yeah, I just lose track of time! But something I do remember is that I. is going to be baptized on the 25th of January. He works so much so it's hard to meet more often as once a week. But he's been keeping all of his commitments and his story is amazing. He went from not believing in God, and wanting to take his life, to a complete turn-around. He now loves God more than anything and has seen BIG miracles in his life in this short amount of time (3 weeks) that has completely changed is perspective and belief. We've taught him things that he never knew before, about Christ, and the Plan of Salvation, and he loves it. Elder McKean and I found him in August, and then lost contact in September. But he contacted us about 4 weeks ago and said he needs our help. Well, we helped him, and he's allowed us and Christ to change his life.

   Now around this Christmas time it's been a bit harder keeping in contact with some of our investigators but we keep finding new people who want to meet with us. It's kind of a weird time of the year. Lots of people are open, but then lots are closed, so there's no real way to say if people are nicer during the Christmas season, lol. It's definitely more stressful for people than any other time of the year. We went Christmas caroling as a district last week by the Rathaus in Hamburg. It was a lot of fun. We handed out DVD's and Christmas pass along cards to people. At the end of the hour of singing our voices were shot! That's how good we sang J!

   I really hope that Jocelynn recovers well! That sounds so painful and I'm so sorry that that accident happened. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. If you can get in on the Skyping Kass that'd be really cool!

   Aunty Kirsten, Uncle Doug, Laurel, Jocelynn and Craig, I hope you have a great Christmas; too bad it didn't work out like planned, but have a wonderful one anyways! Thanks for the updates and I can't wait to see you again. I was really looking forward to it in Skype, but I guess I'll see you soon enough anyways. I really appreciate you guys and I love you!

  Thanks Mom and Dad for all you do for us, unlike Charlene I haven't opened my presents yet ha-ha. I will wait until Christmas J! So I'll probably tell you thank you on Christmas day when we Skype!

  Jeremy, you are such a stud, haha. I love you and hope that you keep having fun this winter. I miss the snow. It's not going to be a white Christmas in Hamburg...it's still like plus 8° outside. I haven't even seen snow yet! But I'll be back in February, so we'll be able to hit up the mountain together.

  Charlene, have an awesome Christmas! I loved Christmas last year with the members. It's so different, but it's still a lot of fun. Keep tearing it up with the missionary work. I'm proud of you! I had lunch with Florian Löhrmann yesterday, who babysat us as were little and he said he thinks it's awesome that you decided to go on a mission. It's true, and you're perfect for it. You've got a bubbly personality for it,ha-ha. Keep it up.

   Kass and Scott, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hopefully we'll be able to do a 3-way Skype. If not, then enjoy the holidays and the SNOW! lol.
Thanks for everything and love you all! Please let the family know I love them and miss them!

Elder Lüning

Monday, 16 December 2013

December 16, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

So this week has really run away on me. Anna is so cool. She met with us again last week and we taught her the Plan of Salvation. We had given her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to take home and study before our meeting and she had done it. She said the part in 2 Nephi which talks about the need for an opposition in all things (misery to enjoy happiness) was a huge answer to one of her biggest questions about Adam and Eve. It was so cool how excited she was to tell us about it, ha-ha. She's a lot like you Kassandra. Her parents live in Kiel, so she's home until January now, but will continue to meet with us when she's back. We asked her if she's been praying too, and she said that her prayers have changed. She expresses more gratitude and thankfulness than she did before now that she does it daily. She said before she only prayed when she needed help, but never really expressed her thankfulness. She said it's a lot more personal now and that she really likes it.

Other than that our other investigators are also still doing well. Henry didn't make it to church because of a funeral but called me later in the day and said he missed us and made an appointment out with us. He's such a loving man. The ward impressed me yesterday with an investigator that we invited to church. We met him on the street, last week and then he came to church. He speaks a little German and English but mainly French. We have 3 members who speak French and they translated the meetings for him and explained a lot of things to him about the church the whole time. We barely had to do anything. He felt so welcomed and wants to come again. We also made an appointment with him for this week.

I thought I mentioned how things went with R and A. It was really cool and man I was pretty nervous, lol. I “klingled” the doorbell and Andrea opened up. She didn't recognize me at first until I stepped in and said hi, I'm Christopher, ha-ha, as I gave her a hug. It was super wierd because I only remember her a tiny bit, and yeah, she looks different, lol. Her mom had cooked dinner for us and so we chatted for a bit and then ate together. R is really, really strong Evangelisch. I asked if we could say a prayer before we ate, and she said “ja” and asked me to say it. I said it and then she said her own prayer afterwards, ha-ha. She didn't know I was planning on coming with my companion, and didn't know we always had to stay together. She really didn't know anything about the church except for that we don't drink alcohol. I tried a couple of times to teach a lesson but it didn't work too well until A asked me what the difference was between our church and the other ones. My companion was busy talking to the dad about American Healthcare and I took the opportunity to teach her the first lesson. She was really interested, R listened in a little bit, but more of the interest came from A. She doesn't live at home either. She lives in Barmbek which is 15minutes away from where we live. I see more potential in her than anyone else. They are really settled in their beliefs. We had a great time together though. We talked about kindergarten and the things we remembered lol, and about why I'm on a mission, and what things we do as missionaries. A left at the same time as us to go home, which gave me the opportunity to bear my testimony to her.  I'll try to see her again and see if she'd be open for the lessons or to come to church sometime.

   Thanks so much for the package mom, and I love the advent stuff you sent me. You are so awesome! I don't know where you find the time for that, (individually wrapping every one...thanks so much) and thanks so much for the Christmas CD's!! Everything else is still wrapped till Christmas. I'll let you know next week about skype times. We don't know everything yet, but I'll keep you posted. Thanks guys for your emails, I love you and have a great week. You're in my prayers, Merry Christmas!

Elder Lüning

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

December 4, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

    Wow, -24 at night and -18 during the day?! O, CANADA! It's been warm here in Hamburg compared to that. It only gets down to about 5°C during the day time. I'm kinda glad it doesn't get that cold, but something I do miss is the snow. We don't have snow on the ground yet! We had a wind storm on Wednesday and then it snowed a little bit, but it was more like hail. So we're hoping for a white Christmas, maybe it'll snow soon J

   Well let me tell you how things have been going here in Hamburg lately. Let’s start with our new converts. H. is amazing. He cooked us African food again, and is now working on reading the sacrament prayer in German so that he can do it one day on Sunday. He's also getting to know the ward more and more and making family connections which are awesome. He's so solid, comes to church every Sunday and loves studying with us and his home teachers every week. We had the ward Christmas party on Saturday and he came, stayed afterwards to clean up, and then ended up cleaning the whole church building with Bishop Back because no one had done it yet. He's seriously the best African, ha-ha. He's so funny. Brother Stephens is also doing really,  really well. We taught him this week about Patriarchal blessings and after the lesson asked him if he would like something like that. He said 'Elder Lüning, I'm over-ready!’ Ha-ha, he told me to talk to the bishop and get him set up with one. It still amazes me every time I see him that he's 73years old. He doesn't seem that old or act like it at all ha-ha. He's super active and the members love him a lot. He bears his testimony to us every time of how grateful he is to have found the Church of Jesus Christ. He's also preparing to go to the temple to do baptisms. Oh, and he's now a home teacher and whenever we visit him he stuffs us with pancakes, lol.  We also met with C. this week and he's starting to change his life around again. He went to church on Sunday in Delingsdorf which was a big step since he hasn't been to church since two weeks after his baptism. He's still living with his girlfriend but also at his mom’s place and said by the end of the month he'll know if they'll break up or not. He said she's keeping him away from the church and that something has to change. He's going to meet more regularly with us again since the hand off to the Delingsdorf Elder's didn't work at all. They didn't visit him regularly when we handed him off to them which was too bad. But his heart is back in it and we'll help him!

   The members in this ward are so awesome! I love them so much, and now that Christmas is around the corner I feel even closer to them than ever. We really have a lot of support from our ward and we're seeing miracles every day. Last week we talked to a student on the street who had interest and then about 4 or 5 days later I made out an appointment with her. She came to the church and we gave her a church tour, told her a little bit about our standards and how the church is organized and how it runs. We then taught her the Restoration and she loved it! She asked questions about the word of wisdom and chastity and eternal marriage, and soaked everything up. We didn't go into too much detail of course but she loved everything we said. She's German, and married to a Muslim from Iran, and really open to learn more about our church and religion so we'll be meeting again this week. She also loved our sense of humour and how we had personal testimonies of what we taught. It was a blessing finding her just from talking with everyone we saw for 20mins of finding time that we had. We also got in contact with an old investigator who wants to change his life around and is very serious now. His names I. We're looking forward to helping him. Then there are a couple more people we're teaching and helping get closer to baptism.

   I'm stuck on Sunday being my absolute favourite day of the week. I feel it’s the most spiritual and happiest day that I have in the week. It's a time to reflect on the week and see how it went and remember where the Lord has helped me and others through me. I feel a lot of weight on myself  in leading the area, and the zone, ha-ha, and helping Elder Cannon learn everything that he needs to do, but I'm still happy all the time, no matter what!  Ha-ha. I always think of Christ calming the storm and think of it as him calming my storms. Whenever I have a ton of stuff going on and it is chaotic, I can call upon Him and there's peace. One of the assistants asked me why I'm so chill or relaxed and happy all the time, and I said it's because I'm Canadian ha-ha. But I think it's really just a gift that I've been blessed with that comes from the Gospel and doing what's right.

    Mom, thanks for the email. Sounds like your busy like always ha-ha. But it's impressive to see how you're rejuvenated with strength through just little spiritual moments of rest. It's a blessing.

   Dad, thanks for your example and for the way you raised me. I was at the Panitsch's for lunch yesterday and they showed me a video of the day that you and Mom drove down to Salt Lake to spend one day with them. They are still so impressed by that act of kindness and have a lot of respect and love for you and Mom.

   Charlene, I'm excited that she was baptized! Keep working hard! I know member work can be a bit slow at the start, but once they love you and trust you it changes everything. Then you can start role playing with them and help them do their own missionary work by going after less actives and friends. J

   Jeremy, I hope you had a great week and I hope you're enjoying the snow! I'm not sure how much it snows in Italy, ha-ha, so enjoy the last year of it! J

   Kass, I hope things are going well with the job, you didn't tell me your mailing address so I guess you won't get the tinsel in time for Christmas since it takes like 3 weeks to get to you. Too bad...but there's always another year I guess. J

   Have a great week everyone and stay healthy and strong!

Love, Elder Lüning

p.s. Oliver Back and his wife but St. Nikolaus in front of our door! They're so awesome! J

November 25, 2013, Hamburg

Dear Family,

Hey Family, so no worries about the small email! Thanks for the uplifting spiritual thoughts and for sharing your experiences.

  We had President interviews last week Thursday which was really awesome. President Kosak is such a good man and his heart is big. We had a really good talk and I'm so grateful have been able to be in this leadership position for so long and be able to get to know him so well from all of our meetings and talks. He's a great man. He seemed pretty troubled about transfers this week though. He said to me, “I don't know if Elder Lüning will be staying in Hamburg. Something’s not right yet. I still need time to figure out what the Lord wants.” Transfer calls for the Zone Leaders were the next day in the evening, so he had about 24 hours to clear everything up. We all prayed for him together as a Zone which I feel helped him a lot. Our zone didn't change much. There were about 4 companionships that changed, including mine. Elder McKean will be going to Berlin, Neuköhln, and I'll be staying in Hamburg for my last 2 transfers training a new Zone Leader! I was really surprised! I'm excited and looking forward to my new companion. I know him already from when I was in Kiel. He was in Flensburg and I was able to go on exchanges with him a couple times! His name is Elder Cannon, and he's from Utah. I'll be picking him up tomorrow!

   We moved all of our stuff out of our apartment on Saturday to get it ready for the renovations, and no members showed up to help because there was another service project where they needed to paint, however, only 5 members showed up to that one. It took us 6 hours to clear the whole apartment and when Bishof found out about it he was pretty upset. He addressed it in the priesthood meeting and pulled out the handbook where it said that the quorum’s first purpose is to serve. Bishof Back rocks. He's a really good leader, and I'm learning quite a bit from him by just watching him and observing what he does and how he addresses things. He reminds me a lot of you, Dad.

   We will be living in Altona until Thursday. Friday we head out to Berlin for a conference, and then Friday night we'll be back in our new renovated apartment! I'm really excited. Elder B. was also transferred who is another missionary in our apartment. The missionary that is replacing him I haven't met yet. So it'll be a bit different but it'll be good still.

   Oh yeah, also Sister H is in this zone in Bergedorf as a Sister Training Leader which is way cool because she was with me in Kiel at the beginning of this year. Elder G and I picked her up from the train station and welcomed her fresh into her first area on her mission. She was in Kiel for 3 transfers and then went to Lübeck. She was then in Berlin, and now she's back in Hamburg zone, ha-ha. It's cool because we get to catch up on our drives to Berlin for our Leadership Councils and talk about times in Kiel. I haven't told you much about her at all but she wanted me to say Hi to the family for me.

   Elder McK. and I were together for 3 transfers so it's too bad we couldn't stay one more together for Christmas. But the decisions come from the Lord and they are for our own good. We're going to check out the Christmas market and look around at things for his last day here in Hamburg.
   Mom, thanks for sending the package! Let me know if there's anything you or the family wants. I love you and you are a good example to me of service.

  Dad, thanks for the spiritual thought. It reminds me of the baptismal covenant in Mosiah 18: to be a witness of Christ in all things, at all times, and in all places! There is so much power that we can receive from the atonement, and just from keeping it in remembrance! I read about the stripling warriors in Alma 58 and was impressed by verse 40. Sometimes we receive wounds through this battle of righteousness but it’s important that we stand firm in the freedom that we have received from giving our lives to Christ. He said whosoever loses his life for my sake will find it. And we'll stay in this peace and happiness and freedom as long as we keep the commandments and keep the Lord in remembrance. Their example was one of Faith and Trust, and throughout these chapters the lord fulfills his promise at the very moments when it seems impossible. I love it. The Lord will ALWAYS fulfill his promises to His faithful servants.

   Charlene, congrats on being able to go back and see the baptism! Thanks so much for the pictures, they're awesome! I love you and keep up the good work in your new area! I'll try to send some Caro soon! J Just don't drink it without sugar and cream...ha-ha, it's really bad like that! J
Have a good week family! Lots of love,

Elder Lüning

Monday, 9 December 2013

November 18,2013 Hamburg

Dear Family,
   It's so great to hear from you all again! P-day is almost over, but it was a lot of fun. Sister Uhtermöhlen, bless her heart, gave us money to go to the Hagenbeck Tropen Aquarium! It was about €56 for the 4 of us. We didn't want to take the money from her but she insisted that we go visit it, have a good time, and then report to her with pictures about all the fun we had ha-ha. So that's what we did and man, that was a lot of fun. Saw some crocodiles, sharks, sting rays, weird bugs, and a lot of cool look'n fish! Ha-ha. And at the entrance there were lemurs that jump on you and eat carrots and stuff. It only took about 1.5 hours so it as a perfect p-day activity! I'm definitely going to write her a nice thank you note for that.

   It was nice to hear from all of you and to hear about your experiences that you had this last week. When you told me that my release information was emailed to you that made me feel weird. Times going so fast. For Christmas...I thought about it a bit, but you know I'm going to be home like 2 months later so there's no real point in getting me anything. Something that I do want is copies of the Christmas music that you would always play during advent J I'm totally getting into the Christmas spirit with all the German Christmas treats already out in the grocery stores! I've got Lebküchen un Spekulatius, and those Herzlebküchen, and Marzipan and oranges and Caro and fruit tea! I also have some German Christmas music, but I like the CD we have at home the most, lol. There are some songs I haven't found yet like the children one that sings 'eine Maa, eine Moo, eine teteretete'. If I got a copy of the CD I would “freu” myself! J That's about all I can think of. You don't need to send money either. I still have about €200 cash personal money, and I'm sure there's still something on my account. I don't spend money too often lol. BUT let me know if there's anything that you would like me to send home to you for Christmas! I can help stock you up on German stuff again. Just give me a shopping list and I can do it. That goes for all of you. If there's something special that you would like for Christmas let me know. I'll be sending home books and stuff soon to help get rid of some weight for my luggage. I've got a way cool 3 book combination of the Max und Moritz stories.

   So, I wanted to report on the FHE at the member’s house on Monday last week. It was a really nice experience. The wife’s sister showed up with her boyfriend and after dinner we taught them the message of the Restoration. It was really positive. They really liked it and took a Book of Mormon from us to read. After they left we talked about how it went with the husband and wife and they couldn't believe how powerful the message and the lesson was. The husband looked at us both and said 'Es war mir nie wirklich so bewußt, wie sie als missionare tatsäglich vertreter Christi sind. Heute abend habt ihr wirklich Jesus Christus repräsentiert.' (It was never really clear to me how you really are representatives of Christ. Tonight you really represented Jesus Christ.) J They loved it and thanked us for sharing that message. They didn't really expect that one since they told us anything on prayer and Christ ha-ha. We heard that and automatically thought hmm...RESTORATION! Lol. The sister and boyfriend left for holidays and said when they're back they want to have a FHE again and learn more.

   We ate African food with Henry, our convert. He made us some fufu and chicken and fish soup. We looked in the pot and there's a fish head in there and some cut up chicken legs, wings and back ha-ha. He made some fufu to go with it which is close to mashed potatoes but really sticky. You eat it with your hands by taking some fufu, dipping it in the soup and grabbing some meat with it and then shoving it in your mouth. It's so African and way good! Henry's like, eat the back Elder McK., it's very sweet! It was a lot of fun and he's such a great member. We've been visiting him every week since his baptism in August and he's doing so great. He passes the sacrament every Sunday and is now going to be practicing the prayer in German.

   I love the ward here and the city. It's awesome and the members are so nice to everyone. We're doing a missionary fireside on Saturday. We're introducing Mormonism by teaching the first lesson from Preach My Gospel. We've put fliers everywhere at the student housings and hope to see a lot of people come. It should be good and we're hoping to see new investigators from it. Also on Saturday our apartment is being renovated so we'll be in Altona for a week and have to move everything out on the same day...Saturday. It's going to be a busy but fast week.

   Opa bore strong testimony about how much he's loving the Book of Mormon, because he's learning a ton from it. He's read it before, but he's finding things that weren't in there the last time. He told us he's learned a lot so far. He's now in Alma! I love Oma and Opa a lot and their food reminds me of mom’s cooking! It's way good! They’re now on vacation for a month. I'm learning a ton from the scriptures too; it reminded me of how there's no end to learning, until we choose to stop!

   Dad, Thanks for sharing the spiritual thought! Did you find out more about your passport?
   Mom, thanks for the email last week. I printed it off because it was so long and read it throughout the week and liked how much you learned from your scriptures study and how it helped you throughout the day. Thanks for your testimony! 

  Charlene, full proselyting! Sounds exciting and I'm sure you'll love it. We'll find out about transfers on Friday during interviews because next week Tuesday is transfer day. So I'll find out what's happening here in Hamburg! I'm pretty positive that I'll be staying my last 2 transfers here. I'm just curious to see if Elder McK. will stay one more transfer here, making it his 5 transfer in this city, or if he'll leave and I get a new companion. We've been 3 transfers together so far so we'll see. It'll be surprising!

    Kass and Scott, Ich freue mich total dass es schon Schnee bei euch gibt! Ich hoffe dass er bleiben wird bis ich wenegstens zu Hause bin, dammit ich mich auch im Schnee vergnügen kann! Ich vermisse die Winteraktivitäten. Wie Snowshoeing, and snowboarding, and sledding haha. But I'm sure it will, it's Canada after all, lol.

  Jeremy, mom keeps telling us good things about you. Like you helped with moving, I'll be doing that this week too lol. Actually there's like 2 member families who are moving in the next couple weeks so we'll be helping a bit with that too. Good to hear you are ready to serve!
I love you all, and hope you have a good week. I thought I'd send a big email this time, since I couldn't for a while now, but could today!

Love Elder Lüning