First sorry this is a day late again. We pretty much can't email on Mondays in Gotha. Well we could but all the places we could are casinos and such and it wouldn't look good for missionaries to go in and out of those places. So we waited until Tuesday so that we could go to the library. We will most likely continue to do that unless we go to Erfurt or something then I can write on Monday.
We had a good week though it being transfer week and all. Monday was a normal day then Tuesday pday and we went to Erfurt with all Elder Rechters luggage so we wouldn't have to make the trip twice. We spent the evening with the Erfurt Elders then up on Wednesday and helped the Elders to the train station. Elder Gardner and Wilkinson and I spent the day working in Erfurt until our companions came. The Erfurt Elders have a car and I was the only one who could drive and since we had appointments far away I was able to drive. So that was nice to drive again. I wasn't so sure how it would be since I haven't driven since like...March 2010 or so. It was good though and nice to be able to do it again. It felt like I was actually an adult ha driving a car instead of walking around all day. We met our companions at Banhof in the afternoon then it was off to Gotha!
Elder Sherman is way cool. On the train back to Gotha the announcer came on to say what stop was coming next. He had a pretty good east germany/thüringen dialect, I had to listen really close to understand everything he was saying. Elder Sherman looked at me with big eyes having not understood anything and said ''I was warned about the dialect''. It was pretty funny, but luckily not everyone speaks with a strong dialect. I actually think its less common then speaking mostly normal ''hoch deutsch''.
While in Erfurt Elder Gardner told us about how he had visited another churches bible study group. I thought that was sweet so when we got back to Gotha I looked up Churches in the phone book and called to ask if they had bible study groups and if we could come. The first Pastor I talked to wasn't too excited about 2 mormon missionaries coming which I guess is understandable...kind of. So he said he would rather meet with us first alone at our church and talk and then we could see where things would go, I was totally ok with that ha. Sadly he hasn't called us back yet so we'll give him a call this week.
The next guy though was pretty excited and invited us to go. So we went last thursday and it was cool. We walked in a couple minutes after it started and the Preacher was a bit shocked to see us since it wasn't him who I talked to and who invited us. But the guy who did hopped right up and came and shook our hands and showed us our seats. It was pretty cool though. They were open and nice. We read something out of Ephesians and the Preacher taught a bit. Something I really liked that he talked about was Gratitude. He said ''If we are not grateful and do not thank God for what he gives us, we are in a way putting ourselves above God. Suggesting that he didn't bless us enough or that he should have done something differently, as if we know better.'' So cool. Being grateful and showing it keeps us humble. Towards our fellowmen and towards God.
We pretty much have no right not to be grateful to God. Mosiah 4:9, we cannot comprehend everything. Gods perspective and vision is much better then ours. He knows what things must happen and how, so that we in the end can receive the greatest blessings, and so he works accordingly. Our impatience or ungratefulness blind us, often causing us to become bitter towards God. If we really think about it though, by acting in such a way we are claiming God didn't do something right...which would mean we know better. And we of course do not know better. Therefore trust in God, ''believe that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend'' and be grateful for everything!
Then after the bible group the guy that I talked to on the phone and then welcomed us so warmly came and offered us a ride home. Turns out the church is connected to his house so him and his wife take care of all of that. So as we were getting ready to go he stopped and asked if we had already had dinner, to which we replied yes (although we hadn't, but we knew what was coming) then he said ok otherwise you would have got dinner from my wife. It was late though and we needed to go so it was alright. He drove us though and we were able to talk a lot. He was way nice. Hopefully something will come of it, we still need to figure out how to best go about keeping contact and all.
The rest of the week we spent mostly planning for the transfer and looking for people who want to hear our message! Sunday we had Stake Conference in Erfurt so that was cool. It was packed so they had us missionaries sit up on the stand so there would be more room for the members. It was cool to see so many members together here. President and Sister Schwartz were both there and also spoke.
Yesterday then as we were out talking to people we talked to a guy in front of a restaurant. He doesn't belong to a church but believes in the bible and is quite faithful. We talked for a while and at the beginning he was very against the Book of Mormon and what our message was. He used a lot of bible stuff to show us we were wrong, to which we simply re-quoted it but in context and correctly and then he would try to find something else. Eventually he was a bit more open to listen and we gave our testimonies of the Book of Mormon again. He said yea but the bible has changed me and I am sticking to it and the Book of Mormon will not change me. We gave testimony again and promised him the Book of Mormon would change his life. He then paused for a bit and asked, really? We gave testimony again then he put out his hand and said, ok give me it. He said he would read and see what happens. It was interesting to watch him change throughout the conversation. He was so attacking at the beginning and closed. By the end he was giving his testimony of God and telling us the Book of Mormon could be true. I was trying really hard the whole time not to just use all the scriptures he was using at us back on him to show he was wrong. I didn't want to argue or ''prove'' anything simply by fact or logic. Sometimes a bit of that is necessary but its always hard to know the limit. We tried very hard to just focus on the spirit and bear testimony, to which he responded in the end. So we will keep in contact and hopefully start to meet with him. Turns out he owns the restaurant or something and invited us to come eat sometime. We will see what happens!
It has been interesting to have so many of those experiences with such closed people. From the beginning of my mission until now, so many people we speak to instantly turn to attack us or ridicule us, then without allowing us to answer will go away. It has always been amusing to me how people behave but at the same time it is so sad. You learn a lot of self control and forgiveness in dealing with those people. Throughout my mission it has been a constant thought on how to best answer them. You feel bad with using simple logic, common reasoning, or fact; but they hardly respond to the most heartfelt testimony you can give in that moment. You have to learn to trust God and pray that even though they walked away after your testimony that your words will stay with them and help them eventually. One of the most common things we get every single day is people just saying ''There is no God, if there was there wouldn't be so much suffering on earth'' or ''If there is a God he is a terrible God for causing and allowing so many bad things to happen''. This thought is so hard for me to hear. I so often want to respond quickly and sharply to such ignorance but that accomplishes nothing. God definitely helps me to bear such things with patience and to respond as lovingly as I can. I have also tried to never just have superficial love because I am supposed to. So in taking their bitter words and swallowing them and then replying as positively, sincerely, and lovingly as possible I have been able to grow a lot. I have learned often the response I would give annoyed with such comments is the same one I give when I try hard to be sincerely loving. The manner however in which I respond is completely different and that is what has the effect. You have to consider their life experiences, their growing up, what their surroundings have been, then you better understand their responses and you can respond with understanding. There is so much involved! Its crazy, but is so good to learn.
Sunday we were doing doors and people we not responding so happily. We were outside apartment buildings ringing on the speaker box talking to people. As Elder Sherman was ringing someone a lady walked by behind us towards her car. I spoke to her and she responded ''Not for me. If there was a God there would not be so much suffering in the world'' then she turned to get in her car. I said ''If the people would listen to God and apply what he has given THEN there wouldn't be so much suffering'' With her back turned and getting into her car she said ''Go tell that to those big people who have influence and are causing the problems. Us little people can't change anything''. Then she drove away. I stood there and thought about that. How mistaken she was! Each individual can change so much! That is what it is all about. It is not about changing the masses, it is about changing the individual, thereby affecting the masses. Each individual person must experience a change of heart worked only by God. Each ''little person'' must do their part and allow this to happen. Once that is accomplished much of the worlds problems will simply pass.
Keith B. McMullin said ''As men and women and boys and girls do their duty to God, they feel impelled to do their duty to one another, to their family, to their church and nation, to all things entrusted to their care. They are duty bound to magnify their talents and to be a law-abiding, good people. They become humble, submissive, and easily entreated. Temperance conquers indulgence; obedience guides their diligence. Peace distills upon them. Citizens become loyal, communities become benevolent, and neighbors become friends. The God of heaven is pleased, the earth is pacified, and this world becomes a better place.''
''Us little people'' have great responsibility. We must recognize this. We cannot simply blame God and not do our part to change anything. "Pray as if it all depends on God, then go work as if it all depends on you." The future state of mankind depends on ''us little people''. What we do, what we allow, what we approve, if we stand for our beliefs, or if we shrink in doubt and fear. The world is in desperate need for individuals who will not tolerate the things of the world that erode the foundation of mankind. It is in need of individuals who will stand up and speak up. Who understand and believe that things can be changed. Each person is a child of God. And deep inside their ''conscience'' pulls at the heart and tells them what is right and wrong. We who are aware of this and have the light given us to see and understand are responsible to act. Each is accountable to their ''conscience'', and each has felt at one point or another the approval or disapproval of ''conscience''. Each is therefore accountable to their true identity as a child of God. Martin Luther said ''I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.'' We must come to this conviction.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said ''In leadership, in standing for principle, there is loneliness. But men and women of integrity must live with their convictions. Unless they do so, they are miserable.... Never in the history of the world has there been a more profound need for leaders of principle to step forward.''
We need to do our part to prepare ourselves to be tools in God's hands in these desperate days. There is a God, and he does love us. He is active in the world today through those who cleanse themselves and allow him to use them.
I hope you are all doing well, looks like ammon is doing pretty well which is way good to see. Make it a good week! I love you all!