Monday, September 8, 2014

Read the Book of Mormon!

Liebe Familie,

Well, we received news on transfers this week, and I will be staying in Regensburg. However, Elder Nelson will be sadly leaving to Solingen :( I will miss him, we have had a wonderful transfer together here in Regensburg. We have seen so many miracles together and I have learned a lot from him. I will be recieving a fresh new "golden" companion as we call them in our mission. I pick him up on thursday morning.

On friday we have our meeting with Elder Ballard and I have been asked to play some prelude and postlude music on the organ! I am nervous. Apparently I am the only missionary in this mission who has touched an organ, which I highly doubt, and there are many greater pianists than myself who could switch to the organ with no problem. But, I have been asked. Please pray for me as I prepare for this.

Aahhhh!!!! I am beyond excited this week. There are no words that can describe this wonderful and week. Remember our investigator from Syria that we found last week? Well, we met with him last monday night and set a baptisimal date for the 20th of September! My goodness. this man is amazing. He has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. He told us after we set the date that when we were walking down the street he could see something different about us. He had just been very angry at the world and then, when we talked to him, his mood changed. He took a german book of mormon and translated it using his translator app. He picked a couple random verses and said that he could feel that this book was different. He is studying this book in Arabic now with his whole soul. He said "there is no man who could have written this book, this book comes from God". Because of this, he knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that this is the true church. Read the Book of Mormon! This book is the word of God and anyone who reads it and asks God with a sincere heart if this book is true will recieve a witness of its truth and divinity. I know that this book is true!

Since Monday, we organized some appointments in two members homes where we taught the plan of salvation and the word of wisdom. He accepted everything! We also invited him to do a painting service project with the young men of the branch, and he had such a wonderful time. This branch has truly welcomed him with loving and open arms. I am so happy to be serving in such a wonderful branch :) We will also be having a family home evening at another members house tonight with him where we will be teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We also found a family of 4 this week! I'm not sure how interested they actually are, but they invited us back to teach them more, so we will see how this goes! 

The wrok is moving beautifully! I love you all so much and I know this gospel is true.

Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Miracles are happening here!

Liebe Familie,

Another amazing week here in Regensburg, Germany! Its been quite a crazy transfer because it seems we have been finding new investigators every week, and then we haven't met very often with any of them due to summer vacation and what not.

We received some very exciting news from the mission this week! Don't be too jealous, but two apostles of the Lord, Elder Ballard and Elder Bednar, are coming to visit our mission next week! During transfers next friday, everyone in the mission will travel to Frankfurt and listen to them! We are all very excited here :)

We found another investigator this week!!!!!!!!!!! The Lord is blessing us here so greatly. He is also from the middle east. We were having a very difficult day of contacting and going by on some potential investigators who all rejectied us. It was quite a downer day when wedecided to contact that one more person on the way to the train station. I get teary thinking about it, because we were right next to the train station, and we didn't have to talk to him. But we did, and now, this man has become one of our best friends. I feel a very close connection with the middle eastern people. He is from Syria and has been muslim by birth. However, He does not believe in the Muslim faith and is searching for a christian church! We told him that we are so glad we found him because this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. The very same church that he established on the earth 2000 years ago has been restored through a prophet of God today! We have already met with him twice and are focusing on baptism. He already has expressed his desire to be baptized! 

Miracles are happening here!

We are also focusing a lot of our efforts on the less actives here in Regensburg. It is amazing to see how these members can trust us so much to open their hearts and souls unto us. I hope that we are able to help these members through their trials and hardships, giving them strength to carry on. Some people have had HARD lives. I am so grateful for my testimony of the Savior. I know that he lives and that he loves us. He suffered infinitely for us. He knows all of our weaknesses. He as felt all of our pains. No matter how much pain and suffering we experience, we can always turn to him, for he has felt it all.

 I love you!
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It is worth it. Every step, every tear, every rejection, every success, every drop of sweat, and every shiver. there is no place I'd rather be.

Liebe Familie,

Oh what a wonderful and crazy week! People disappearing off the face of the earth as normal, but also, The Lord has blessed us with some wonderful miracles. And we had the best Zone Konferenz EVER! It was a pretty spectacular week :)

SO, as I mentioned last week... The Hotel Conference room where we have church was rented out for this week and so we were very worried that we wouldn't have anywhere to go to church on sunday except for the next closest ward, my last ward, Feucht. That would have been a little strange not to go to church with our members, so I'm glad it worked out differently. The Germans had to go find the next closest ward, which is out of our mission, so we couldn't go there. But, the Americans were able to organize a room on the military base in Hohenfells where we had church. We got a ride from the train station from our branch president and he signed us on to the military base. We met in a little room and used the couches and spinny chairs that they had in the facility to set up our chapel. We made it work and it was absolutely beautiful! The church is true everywhere. Whether your in a chapel, a hotel, or a storage room, the spirit is what directs those meetings and the spirit was definitely very present this week in church.

I love my mission! I love every experience I have had. Even when the rain comes pouring down, there is so much to learn from everything. And everything has a reason.

The Lord blessed us with another new investigator this week. Remember the less active family form Africa I talked about last week? Well, when we went there, we got the number of her daughter because the mom didn't have a phone. We tried to set up an appointment with the whole family, but it only worked out for her daughter. She invited us over and was super excited to meet with us. She was never baptized as a child, but remembers coming to primary when she lived in Africa. Their family has been attending the catholic church since they got to Regensburg, and has many problems with the catholic church. We taught her of the basic beliefs of our church and she was very impressed saying that we have already answered a lot of questions she has had! Amazing. Truly truly amazing!

We had an awesome experience this week with Josh from our branch. He is 18 and preparing to serve his mission. He came out with us and helped us teach some people. While he was with us, we found this man from Russia who gave us his address and wants us to come by! It was a miracle. I loved being with this member. He has such an amazing spirit and did so well in helping us teach.

We also talked to this guy last week on the street in Schwandorf from Slovenia and delivered a book of mormon in his native language. He said he would love to have us back another time at his house and gave us his address! His whole family will be there when we come by next time!!!! I am thrilled!!!!!!!!  I love teaching families :) It is the best feeling in the world to bring a family closer to Christ.

The feelings that I have felt and the experiences I have had on my mission are undescribable and irreplaceable. And like my dear sister Mary emailed me this week: "I know half the time you are searching for people, but once you share the message, doesn't it make everything worth it? I can't even imagine."

 It is worth it. Every step, every tear, every rejection, every success, every drop of sweat, and every shiver. there is no place I'd rather be.

Jesus Christus ist mein Erretter und Erlöser. Dank ihm finden wir die Friede und den Trost. Dank ihm können wir errettet werden und eines tages zu ihm zurückkehren. ich weiß, dass er lebt. Ich weiß, dass er uns liebt. Er will, dass wir glücklich sind! Seid Glücklich! Und wenn ihr euch unglücklich fühlt, denkt mal an ihm.

Ich liebe euch!!!!

Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Regensburg

Liebe Familie,

This week was wonderful :) We had two investigators at church this week and one of them became an investigator just this week! Remember the guy from last week who we gave our card to and he said he would call us? Well, how many times do we hear that one as missionaries... them: "Oh yeah, I know your church. ummm maybe if you just give me your card or something, I can call you when I have "time" :)Then we are just thinking, oh yeah sure your going to call us... And then... guess what!They never call. Except for our new investigator! He is from Afghanistan, and when he said he knew our church and would like to learn more, he was serious. He has lot's of problems in his country, so like all of the other middle eastern investigators I've taught on my mission. It is very dangerous for him if his family were to find out he is changing his religion to be christian. When he was in Afghanistan, he was working with a lot of american military, and one of his friends was a member of the church. I wish I could find this soldier and tell him how much of an impact he is having, because I believe that is why his friend is investigating the church now. God truly led us to find this man. 

We also have had a lot of success in working with less actives the past week. We have been working on going by a large list of names that the church has collected of members who location is not known and sent us their last known addresses. 90% of the names and addresses are wrong, but we have found two addresses that are real this week and it has made up for all the wrong ones! One of them is a family of 4 or 5 from Africa and they have a son who is not baptized yet! Lot's of potential there. we will be meeting with them tomorrow. The other one is a man whose wife answered the door and took our card for him to call us. We will be going by again this week! Two more families  that no one knew about who could come back to church! Exciting. The work is progressing here in Regensburg and the less active work is so important for the growth of the church here in Germany. More than half of the ward list are less active members. crazy.

I know that this is the work of The Lord. I have truly felt His hand guiding Elder Nelson and I in our efforts this week. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I am not alone. That God is always there watching over us and that I have a Savior who loves me. I am grateful for my family at home whose prayers I can feel helping me and giving me strength from day to day.

Vielen Dank!
Ich Liebe euch!!!!!
Elder Strong





Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thank you for the letters!

Meine Liebe Familie,

First of all, I recieved the best letters ever from all of my STRONG cousins this week from the pirate camp at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was the best :) You are all so awesome and wonderful. It brought me a lot of happiness and joy to recieve those letters! Thank you.

This week was all over the place. Sadly, we had a lot of fallen out appointments causing us to do lots of hours of contacting and doors. This is really one of the least effective things to do as a missionary, but, sometimes it is necessary when you have nothing. It usually goes something like this. "I belong to said church, my mother belonged to said church, her mother belonged to said church, and i will die a member of said church".. plus plenty of "No interest", "No Time", "No Need", "I'm atheist", "Im late for my train", "Kein Lust", hand to the face, door in the face,  oh and my favorite is when the old man pats you on the shoulder and sighs shaking his head... Oh the excuses we hear...

However, we did see some success from our labours this week, which really made it all worth it! We doored a Student Wohnheim and a nice girl answered the door and let us in! She was there with two of her other guy friends from college and since everyone is on break right now, I guess they had some time to let us in. We gave them a basic first lesson and answered a lot of their questions about mormons and our church. We gave them all books of mormon and they invited us to come back today for "Mormontag" :) We are very excited about them.

We also met this man from Afghanistan who spoke barely any German or English. We contacted him and he was confused to who we are, but told us where he lived. Turns out, he thought we could help him find an apartment, but as we were explaining that we were missionaries, his neighbor who speaks german and his language walked in and helped us out to translate what we were trying to tell him. he wasn't interested, but the neighbor was! He said that he had decided that the muslim church is not true and that he was looking for another church. He has heard about the Mormons, and would love to learn more and visit our church. We gave him our number, and he said he would call us once he finds a new apartment and gets settled in. 

Although the work here feels very slow sometimes, we just have to open our eyes to the miracles that God gives us every day. As we do our part and give it our all, the Lord will do the rest. Gott ist unser Vater. Seine Liebe für uns ist endlos! Alles, was wir tun müssen, ist zu ihm kommen. Dann, wann wir zu ihm kommen, schenkt er uns seine Liebe.
-- 
Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ich liebe Regensburg ( letter from August 4)

Meine Liebe Familie,

I am a sincere believer that the missionary pamphlets are not only meant to help people learn more about our church and come closer to christ... but to be used as a fan to help missionaries keep cool in the summer time. It was a little hot this week. And when I say hot, I mean a humid heat because it was also very rainy this week. The weather is so bipolar over here! Last saturday, we had a district finding activity where we stood in the Fußgängerzone of Neumarkt and sang hymns while other missionaries handed out pass along cards and talked to people, then It started to pour down on us. That didn't stop us though :) We found a little coverage and took out our umbrellas and some people actually stopped to talk with us! And a woman from Albania gave the sisters her address to come by. Don't ever let the weather stop your missionary efforts, it could actually open peoples hearts to listen to you :)

I LOVE Regensburg!!! The branch here is awesome. We have an army base in our area, so the branch is half american, and half german. The meetings are all translated in English and German. For example. yesterday was fast sunday, and The Branch president asked me if I could translate for sacrament meeting. So, he spoke in English a couple sentences and then I translated what he said into german. It just keeps going back and forth and back and forth. Its something I have never experienced before, but I really enjoyed translating everyones' testimonies. It was a little intimidating, but I think I did a pretty good job.

This city is about three times bigger than my last city in Neumarkt and their are students galore due to the university :) There are soooo many people to talk to, and it takes way longer than 10 minutes to walk from one side of the Fuß to the other. We also have a good bus system here kind of like we had in Aachen, so lots less walking distance than my other two cities. We also have a car, but, my companion can't get a liscense, so I will be getting my liscence soon so we can drive the car. Until then, we will be riding the busses, which I personaly find better because it gives us better opportunities to talk to more people. However, it is better for members, because they live all over the place and would need to pick us up from the nearest train stations in order for us to visit them. 

This morning in the bus, a group of five 20ish year olds were making fun of us and calling us Zeugen Jehovas, so I told them, actually, we are not Jehova's witnesses, we are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints and gave them all Book of Mormon pass along cards. One of them asked what the Book of mormon was and if we don't believe in the bible, I then explained that we believe in the Bible and the Book of Mormon and that the Book of Mormon is another witness that Jesus Christ lives. He was interested and said that He actually lives right next to the church building and would have to come visit. We also gave him a book of mormon and invited the others to order one if they were interested! It was a cool experience and we planted a lot of seeds :)

I strongly believe that their are people in this city who are ready to hear the gospel. I am so excited for the adventures I have ahead of me and all of the lives I have to touch. We have already seen large success in working woth investigators and less active members. We made a big break through with one of them this week and he is improving like never before. Das Evangelium Jesu Christi ist wahr!

Ich liebe euch!!
Elder Strong

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Versetzt nach Regensburg...

Liebe Familie,

Ich werde versetzt! That's right I am being transferred :( This has been the shortest transfer ever! They just keep getting shorter and shorter. I am going into my 9th transfer and it feels weird. This has been my favorite ward I have served in (mostly because I have only served in branches other than this ward) But seriously, the members here are so helpful and wonderful and nice. They have made me feel right at home here :) I LOVE this place. 

I am not getting transferred too far though. Only about a 50 minute train ride from Neumarkt where we live to REGENSBURG! This city will be amazing :) It is beautiful and gigantic, full of history, the Donau river, and tourists. Oh, and the ward is half american. They do the meetings in English and German and we meet in a Hotel conference room because they currently don't have a meeting house... The church is true. Whether we meet in a meeting house or a hotel!

Oh, and the best part is my new companion is.... drum roll please... Elder Nelson! Not my companion now elder Nelson, but another one. We have three ELder Nelsons in the mission and I now am going to have served with two. Oh, and this area is still in my old district, so I will still see everyone at district meeting every week :) SO, it's really not too bad of a transfer. I don't even have to travel to Frankfurt this time.

Funny story for the week. Our sisters got some bikes this week, so we kind of asked to borrow them so we could ride out to a members house since they couldn't drive us after church. We rode them 40 minutes out to their house, and on the way back, it started pouring. So, we were wearing our suits, on bikes, in pouring rain, soaked from head to shoes having a blast. It was actually, surprisingly a lot of fun to ride in the rain. Adventure.

Our sunday was actually crazy. So, we always have this member help us get investigators to church, however, their is rule that we can't ride alone with women in a car unless another adult male is with us. So, our investigator form south Africa bailed on us this week and decided not to come to church and therefore, we couldn't get a ride with her because we would be alone. SO, we were an hour late to church with the 30 minute walk to Bahnhof and the walk to church from Feucht. Then, as we are arriving an hour late to church, we come to find our other investigator crying with the bishop outside of the church. He had just found out through a text message, that his 8 year old son in Macedonia has two tumors that could very likely be cancerous and that he has slipped into a coma and is in the hospital. It was so aweful to see this grown man sobbing like a baby. I tried to comfort him, but their is only so much you can do in this situation. The bishop announced during sacrament meeting to pray for him and the whole ward just comforted him so well. it was truly beautiful. On top of that, I was leaving so I gave my testimony, and I played the piano because the pianist is still on vacation. Crazy sunday... But, so wonderful at the same time.

I know this church is true. Missions are sometimes crazy. But this is the most amazing and rewarding experience of my life. 

I love you!

Liebe Grüße,
Elder Strong