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







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