Monday, July 21, 2014

Ein Jahr! ( letter from July 21 2014)

Meine liebe starke Familie,
 
Meine Gute! Warum werde ich immer älter. Ich bin gestern hier her gekommen und jetzt ist die Hefte vorbei!  On thursday of this week, July 24th, I will have been on my mission for a year. That is half of two years just in case the math is hard for you. It is a little hard for me because I just can't believe that half of my mission is over, it really doesn't seem like it has been a year yet. Maybe this email is a little cheesy, but I am forever grateful for this opportunity I have had to be serving a mission for the Lord. I have learned so much in this past year and I hope that I can learn just as much in the next year as I have in the past one. I have developed spiritually, mentally, and physically here in Germany. I would like to share some of the things that I have learned in the past year:
 
  • Love. Love is the most important commandment which God has given us. Liebe. Liebe liebe Liebe. I have loved all of my investigators, all of my areas, all of the members of the different branches and wards I have served in. If I learn nothing else on my mission, love would be the only thing I would like to take away with me. Love is what makes the world go round. It is the love of God and Jesus Christ that enables us to obtain forgiveness from our sins and to return to live with them again.
  • Patience. Going hand in hand with love, as we are patient with investigators, and just as important, patient with ourselves, love can be magnified, and everyone benefits in the end. Sometimes this is one of the hardest things to do. Especialy to be patient with yourself, but it makes the difference.
  • Prayer. This is the tool which we use to know what our Heavenly Father wants us to do. He promises us that if we ask, he will give it to us. Sometimes we forget to use this simple promise the Lord has given us. If we don't ask for it, we won't receive, but as soon as we open that door and come unto him, he will always show us the way. He will send his love and answer our prayers. We also show our humility as we pray to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, ask for help, and thank Him for the success we have received at his hand.
  • Always work with your companion in unity.
  • How to play volleyball and soccer a little better.
  • Whenever you get a little down, enjoy some eis:)
  • A powerful and spiritual personal and companionship study makes the difference for the day.
  • The Book of Mormon has the power to change people lives.
  • Setting Goals is the way we set the desires of our hearts into fulfillment.
  • German is the most beautiful language in the entire world.
  • Germany is the best in the world at soccer.
  • Germany is the greatest country in the world and Bayern(Bulvaria) has the proudest, awesomest, most wonderful culture in the world. SERVUS!  #lederhosen
There are many other things I have learned on my mission... I just could go on forever.
 
Sad story this week. We have been working with this less active member whose wife isn't a member of the church. He was seriously such an amazing man, He was in the army, so he would always get us good american products such as peanut butter and reeses. However, a couple of weeks ago he went into the hospital with gall stones and on tuesday he died from a liver infection. We went to visit him in the hospital and gave him a blessing, but on tuesday morning, his wife called us balling and said that her husband had died and that he would like a service done by his church. She doesn't really know too much about our church, but we were able to organize a little funeral service and called our Bishop to come and direct it. So, we cancelled our appointments for the day and organized a service for him that night. I played the piano and we sang Abide with Me and Nearer My God to Ther. Our Bishop gave a beautiful talk that brought the spirit to the room. Her family was all there, and they aren't members if the church so it was a really good experience for them. It was a sad day, but I think this has really opened his wife's heart to learning more about the gospel. I am just so sad that he never made it to church as we were meeting with him.
 
With our investigator who moved last week, we haven't been able to get a hold of him all week. His phone just goes straight to voice mail... ugghhh... why... but, we still had two investigators in church on sunday who are progressing towards baptism. Also, the sisters in our area had a baptism on saturday! It was beautiful :) I performed a musical number and played the piano for it. On sunday, we stood in the circle and gave him the holy ghost. When he received the holy ghost you could see the biggest light and happiness in his eyes. You could truly see a change within him as he recieved the baptism by fire. It was a true testimony building experience for me to see him receive the holy ghost. Sadly, he is moving to another city on thursday :( but, he was able to get baptized before he left. I think that seems to happen alot in our ward's history. Everyone who gets baptized is just temporarily here and then moves away. Well, we are still building God's kingdom, right?
 
So, one investigator, the one from South Africa is doing wonderfully. He opened up to us like never before this week and although we have already invited himto  baptism countless times, on sunday, he told Sister Diethelm that he thinks he could be ready by the middle of August. Happy day!!!!
 
Well Familie, das ist alles was ich zu sagen habe, aber ich will einfach mein Zeugniss mit euch lassen. Ich weiß, dass diese kirche wahr ist. Ich weiß, dass Jesus Christus uns liebt. ich weiß, dass durch ihn können wir rein werden und zu ihm zurückkehren.
 
Ich liebe euch!
 
Liebe Grüße,
 
Elder Strong
Funny face in an ice cream cone:)


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Deutschland hat gewonnen!

Liebe Familie,

Well, if you haven't heard yet... Germany won the Weltmeisterschaft and my country is the best in the world at soccer :) We are very proud here in Germany today! It was a big deal for the Germans and they celebrated a lot last night as we were trying to sleep. I hear it was a very close game, although, I wasn't able to watch it. Go Germany!

We had a pretty good week this week. We have a lot of appointments and things to do here in Feucht. It's amazing, because I feel that we are doing so much and yet not able to get everything done that we need to. We really just need to get some Bikes, because walking everywhere will really only get us so far. 

We found out that our investigator family from Georgia will be moving today to a city at the very edge of our area which is about 1 hour with the Bus from where we live! We will have to take a lot of time out of our day to visit them and probably need to get rids form th mebers to be able to visit them anymore. The biggest challenge will be trying to get them to church! Please pray that everything will work out there. He still doesn't want to quit smoking, but we feel that as we teach him more, he will really want what we have and want to get baptized. That will give him the desire he needs to quit smoking.

Our investigator from South africa is also doing very well. He came to church on sunday and had a wonderful experience. After the meeting, he told us that he felt revived as we asked how he liked church! That is a big improvement from last week where he almost dropped us. The spirit is working very strongly on him. 

We also had another investigator come to church who w didn't really expect to actually show up. We think he might have some psychological issues because during the lesson, he asked us a lot of very confusing questions and told us that he thinks the entire city and all of his friends are turning against him. Interesting.

Yesterday, the Sister in training leader called and asked if I could prepare a musical number by thursday at our Zone Training meeting in Nürnberg, so hopefuly I can work on that and get everything we need done for the week. Please pray that everything will work out!

I love you all so much! I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity I have to be a missionary of the Lord at this time in Germany. I have almost been out a year on my mission and feel that I have so much to learn, but I have grown so much and changed so much during my time here. I know that Christ is our savior and that  through him we can all find peace and happiness.

Vielen Dank für alles was ihr macht!

Elder Strong

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Liebe Familie,

Happy 4th of July! It felt weird not to go to a parade, or see fireworks celebrating the independance of our country, but instead, we carried an American flag around with us in our backpack and sang some patriotic songs all day as we were walking. 

We also got to meet our new mission president this week at Zone Konferenz. His name is President Stoddard from Orem, Utah. He is such a nice person, and is full of the spirit. He told us about when He got his mission call and about the interview he had with President Uchtdorf when he was called to be a mission president. At the end of the interview President Uchtdorf told him, "There are three things you need to study from now to your mission, they are 1. Preach My Gospel, 2. Preach my Gospel, and 3. Preach my Gospel". Preach My Gospel is amazing. This book is so important for this work as missionaries, and as members. We should all read this book.

We also had some wonderful appointments with our investigators this week. So, earlier this week an investigator called us on the way to distict meeting and told us that he doesnt think he wants to change his religion and that he has already been baptized in another church, so we asked him if we could just meet with him one more time before he completely says no and he agreed. so, we brought a wonderful joint teach with us to our next lesson, namely, Bruder Schwartz (our former mission president). Our investigator really respects him and was very happy that he had taken the time to come and visit him. At the end of the lesson, he agreed to keep reading, praying, and coming to church! It was a wonderful teaching appointment.

Another day, we had planned to meet with an investigator, but he wasn't home for the appointment, so we started walking back to the city center, and saw him walking into a shop to buy a Birthday card for his son. He saw us and then invited us to meet with him at a cafe. He comes from cosovo, so it was really hard to communicate with him, especially since he didnt have his Albanian Book of Mormon on him. We are really trying to teach him, and we ordered someAlbanian  pamphlets to help him understand what we are teaching, so those are helping us a lot more now.

Our investigator from Georgia is also doing very well. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and the spirit was so strong. As we read in the book of Mormon with him, he told us that it was answering the questions he has had for a long time. He hadn't been seeing the reason for reading until we read with him in 2nd Nephi 2:25 and then something clicked and he said, I will read this Book, it has all of the answers. :) His major problem right now is smoking. He told us that he doesn't have the desire to quit. So, that is a little bit of a hurdle we will need to get over with him.

I am so grateful for this wonderful experience to be here in Germany. I am so happy to serve others and help them come closer to Christ. This is the best, most wonderful and fulfilling thing I have ever experienced in my life! I know this church is true. I know that through prayer, we can recieve the answers to questions we are searching for. I love being a missionary.

I love you!

Liebe Grüße,

Elder Strong


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Guten Tag! Grüß euch!

Guten Tag! Grüß euch!

We are seeing so many wonderful things here in Feucht. Strangely, I think that I am teaching more lessons in English right now than I actually am in German. We have 5 investigators who are Ausländers (foreigners) and they speak Abanish, English, Russian, and Persian as their mother languages. This is also very difficult, because we have to try to teach them everything, hoping they can understand everything with the language barrier. Also, church is difficult because we have to translate for them into english and hope they can catch everything we are saying. We have the priesthood class first, then an english class forthe investigators in the second hour, then sacrament meeting in the third hour. This sunday, we had three investigators there, so we had them sit inthe back corner, and turned a chair sideways so one of us could sit and look at them to translate and then also be able to look at the stand if we need it. It is very difficult to translate sometimes... They speak so fast! It was a wonderful Sonntag.

Also, Our mission president is officially done with his mission. President Lehi Schwartz is the most inspired man I have ever known in my life. He always knows exactly what everyone needs through the gift of discernment. He is such an example to me. This week we had his going away, closing Zone Konferenz with him. I was able to accompany ELder Markham, an Elder in our district as he played an arrangement of "If you could hie to Kolob" on the violin. It turned out very nicely, so I am very happy about that. anyways, Our mission president is back in his home ward now, and that is my ward! So, our mission president, now Lehi Schwartz was at church on sunday! Exciting. He bore his testimony and in his testimony spoke specifically about one of our investigators and called him by name. It was pretty cool.

Our investigators have asked us many interesting questions this week. For example, "Why wasn't Jesus black?".... "If God created all of us, who created God?".... "Why did they kill Jesus if they saw him do so many miracles?".... "Why did Jesus have to die and suffer so much?" I love questions from investigators. It really shows that they are thinking and making progress. We are so close with three of them to baptism! I am so excited for them :)

I love you all so much!!!!! I am having a great time here in Germany, I feel really confident and able through my Heavenly  Father. That is very important to me :) We had a straßen Austellung (street display) in Regensburg this week and I handed out 9 Book of Mormons. As I was handing them out, I held a Book in Italian, and a Book in Spanish in my arms to give me the strength and confidence that I needed to succeed. I love my two sisters out on missions! I am the luckyest person in the world to have such a wonderful family :)


Liebe Grüße,

Elder Strong

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I love this place!

Liebe Familie,

I am so happy to be here in Feucht! So, Elder Seamons left this week :( I was so sad that he had to leave me, but I am so happy to be here with Elder Nelson. Elder Nelson is from Mapleton, Utah.  His favorite color is blue and his favorite food is buffalo wings... He is super cool and chill and we are getting along very well. He is from my same Mtc group, so I feel very even with him in all the aspects of our missionary work.

The work has just been exploding the last couple of weeks! We had 4 investigators in church this week and one of them we found on saturday night. 3 of them don't speak german, so I translated for all three of them in sacrament meeting. Oh, and I also had to play the piano because the pianist wasn't there... Hectic sunday. But they all loved church and are all progressing! 

The Lord is blessing us so much. After church on sunday, I called a potential investigator that  and Elder Semaons and I had contacted a couple weeks ago and he invited us to come over. He was smoking, and we told him that we could help him quit, he was so excited and said "could you really do that, I really want to quit". we testified that the Lord can help him with anything. It was amazing and we are going back this week! So, we found 2 new investigators and so many contacts have given us phone numbers and addresses. It is amazing here in feucht.

The sisters in our area are Sister diethelm form Switzerland, and her new missionary straight off the plane, Sister Gardner from Pennsylvania. They are so amazing and I love working with them :)

I love being a missionary! I can't believe I am almost a year out on my mission, I have learned, changed and grown so much in the past year. THe Lord has blessed me so much the past couple of weeks and I am so thankful for that.

Thank you for all of the prayers and support. I love you!

-- 
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Missionary Miracle

Liebe Famile,

This week was amazing! Thank you so much for all of your prayers at
home :) I know that the Lord has blessed us because of them. Well, we
reached our goal of talking with 50 ppl a day, and let me tell ya, it
was hard work. We did many doors and streets in the heat of the sun,
we sweat, and I think I ruined a couple shirts. But, the Lord has
truly blessed us and we found three new investigators this week! 2 of
them are the parents of two young children and their whole family came
to church this sunday!!! The other investigator is from South Africa
and he is so ready to learn more and be baptised. I am so greatful for
the wonderful blessings of being a missionary at this time in Germany.
Even though it is hard work, I am tired, I am stressed, and running in
cirles all day, I am happier than I have ever been in my life! It is
amazing to be a missionary. I think everyone should take the
opportunity to serve a mission for the Lord. You will love it and the
Lord will bless you.

Just to show you how much the Lord's hand is in the work...let me tell
you a story that starts back in Aachen where I started my mission.
This city would not give me my Visa because they claimed that my
insurance wasn't valid and that I didn't have enough money to be
living here. So, then I go to Worms and accidentally put the wrong
address on my papers signing in to the city, so this created problems
again with getting my visa since the address was wrong. Much Stress
was created! So, then, I finally apply for my visa in Worms and am
transferred to Feucht far away from Worms... And now I have to somehow
get the visa transferred from Worms to feucht.  so, on Tuesday morning I
called Worms and they told me that they had sent my visa to my city
now. So, We left the appartment right away to pick it up and on the
way, we found this wonderful family. He stopped on his bike, got off
and asked if we were from America. He had met with missionaries four
years ago in his home country Georgia, and when he saw us, he knew it
was a sign that it was true. We met with him two days later, and he
brought his entire family to church. Heonly speaks a little english,
and she only speaks russian, so I translated the church meeting into
english for him, They are the nicest people! Although, the wife can't
communicate very well, the language of love and the spirit spoke to
her. Everytime we share something he always understands and says, I
know this is true. There is a reason that I had so many problems and
stress with my visa, the led us to this man, and placed him on
our path!

The other investigator from Africa is amazing too, we doored into him!
We literally just asked him if we could teach him about our religion
and he said, yes, come on in. It was a perfect, missionary dream
moment. His biggest concern was that he hasn't been baptized yet. He
said, I haven't been born again, I need to be born again. We told him
that we want to baptize him and he was so happy!

This church is true!

Oh, by the way, we have transfers this thursday, and Elder seamons is
leaving me :( My new companion is Elder Nelson. I am excited to work with him!

Liebe Grüße,

Elder Strong

-- 
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adventures

Liebe Familie,

Oh wie lieblich war meine woche. It was so hot! and herrlich at the same time. But seriously. Yesterday we wore suits to church and I thought I was going to die because no one has air conditioning in Germany. But, that's Okay I will surivive this summer.

We had some adventures this week! One of them includes Hitch-hiking... So, we were on time for our train, and then There was some confusion with the display boards at the train station and they were mixed up, so cas we were waiting for our train on one platform, it drove away from the other platform... ugghh, so we took the next trrain and missed our connecting bus by 2 minutes. So, we started walking, and decided to hitch hike along the way. It turned out really well because someone stopped to pick us up! Miracle. And we were able to talk with them a little and gave them a book of mormon. perfect. There is a reason for EVERYTHING.

This week we have a finding week in our mission where we are focusing all of our efforts on finding new investigators. Finding people to teach is a big struggle in our mission right now, so we are really focusing all of our efforts to finding this week. We have set a goal to talk with 50 people every day this week. It is going to be amazing. I pray that those who are ready will be lead to us and that we will be lead to them.

Today We had distict meeting at 11:00 and I had a little lesson prepared (we call them Themas) so, in my Thema, we talked all about finding and for a little activity, we acted out Alma chapter 20 which is probably my favorite missionary chapter of the bbok of Mormon. Ammon had just converted the people of Lamoni and Lamoni wanted them to go visit his father. But, the Lord warned Ammon that it would be dangerous and Lamoni's father would seek his life. He also told him that his brethren were in prison at Midoni and should save them. So, Ammon and Lamoni journeyed forth heeding the counsel of God to serve there brethren and free them from prison. On the way to Midoni, they run into  Lamoni's father and Lamoni's father wants to kill them and his son for being a part of the Nephites religion. But, As He raises his arm to slay his son, Ammon stops him and injures him so that he cannot kill him. Ammon then powerfully tetifies of his love for the king and how he just wants to help him. As a result, The king is overcome by the love of Ammon for his son Lamoni and opens his heart to learn of the gospel. I LOVE this story. It just testifies of so many principles of missionary work. The greatest thing we need in this work is LOVE!

I love being a missionary. I love wearing the name of Christ on my clothing each day. I love this church and I know it is true!

I love you!!
-- 
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong