Monday, September 29, 2014

Letter #62 - On the Pursuit of Happiness (Nephite style, not Will Smith)

I had the thought today to write my letter like I was on the battlefront in a war, and act all superficial and what not...

But instead of preparing it, I wrote raps about the Gospel instead.


This week was great. :) I was probably the entire week außer [except] two days not in Werdau. So, that brought a lot of surprises and what not. :)

I started my split in Gera with the wonderful Elder Taylor, a golden who is from Springville. Love this fella. He is a really smart guy, and he cracks me up like no one. :) We had a great time on our split, and well, we had a photo shoot after planning. The idea came from the new Mormon message (Super super good ps). So, that explains the pics. The day was so fun. I got some of the BEST rejections I have had on the mission, and I was just laughing after each one of them. I had no fear. From talking to some teenage girls, to a guy that looked like he had 3 baby heads for each shoulder, I just was feeling good. :) We had fun and made some sweet memories. Then after, we had the Ward Game Night. I love the members in Gera, especially Schwester Zorga. She is so competitive it's hillarious... when you beat her. ;)

Mittwoch was just awesome. We had Distrikt Meeting, and then we all went to another members house, Sch. Dörtliz (I've talked about her before). We had lunch, and since we were on a split, we got to give a spiritual thought. I had the idea to just sing hymns with everyone, because she loved hymns. It was like  WOW! Such an amazing experience. The spirit was just so strong. Everyone was so happy. We made the member cry. She said that she hadn't felt this good in a long time. *Thank you Spirit* It was so great. When we came out, I could literally see the change to how that room was with all of us in there, and then the difference to the outside world. We made a big change.

Freitag was a crazy day because our friend Rolf came back from America. He wanted to see us, and help his friend from New Jersey, that we love (Karen), get home safely. We were planning on meeting with him earlier in the day. We had some other things planned, and we were going to make a pie for a member's b-day. So, we had to fit everything in. But, as it always happens, he called RIGHT when we started baking the pie and had a termine [appointment] in about 45 min. So, we turned off the oven, and ran over there. He had food for us, which we scarfed that down. We shared something spiritual with his friend, ran back, cooked the pie, ran to the member's house to give him the pie for his birthday, and have a spiritual thought with him. By running, I mean biking. And by biking, I mean biking distance. We probs traveled 4 miles in less than 10 min. CRAZY. STRESS!!! But it all managed to work out. When we got to the members, our Branch President was there with his cute kid. We come in there panting and sweating, and he just laughs at us. :) It was great.

Samstag: Well, our ward had a party. There were 60 people, and 13 non-members, which was AWESOME! But, I wasn't there. I went on a split with my Cali friend Elder Wright. We, and the other Gera Elders, traveled to Erfurt to have our interviews with President. Love that Man. I am glad that I am under his direction. Had a great time with the Jena Zone Leaders too. We then caught a train all the way back to Gera (1 hour). My buddy Elder Checketts and I took the car drive home to Werdau. We were freestylin' rapping, and talking about life after the mish (because he just had his departure interview).

You all are probably wondering why I titled my weekly letter this way (yes, look at it again and remember). Well, it's after the people of Nephi. When they say "and we lived after the manner of happiness." They didn't say they were happy all the time, or that life was just a bowl of cherries. They lived after the "manner of happiness". That is living after the manner of Christ. Living after the manner of happiness is choosing to enjoy the moments when they come, the little small things. It's finding joy in those moments when it seems too hard. Life is great, and my dad hasn't made me a chocolate cake [Reference to Bill Cosby]. It's because I know my Savior lives, and He has given me the example.

LOVE YOU ALLLLLLLL!!!!! Watch General Conference, and I can promise that you'll feel like they are talking just to you. :)


P.S. We got 4 pounds of peanut butter from AMERICA! Karen brought some back.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Letter #61 - ITS GOING TO BE A GREAT DAY!! :)

Well folks, the commencement of another week. This week was, spectacular. I loved it a lot. I'll just add it to the list of the other 60 and something weeks of the "favorite" list. :)

On Monday, we played floor hockey!! So sick and intense, and just the perfect sport for a church parking lot and 6 missionaries. :) Super duper fun, and then contacting after was even funner.

Yes I used the word funner. :)

Dienstag, we got to meet with Katherine! AH, what a great time it was. We planned on teaching the first lesson, but it ended up being all about the commandments and the Book of Mormon again. She accepted everything!! She was just like, ya that totally makes sense. She even said herself, "To follow the commandments, you have to do it with your whole heart, or else your just doing it out of duty." SUPER cool. I love this woman. I hope everything works out. Have a Termine (appointment) on Dienstag (Tuesday) again. :) #WELOVEPRAYERS

Mittwoch nothing too special other than I was cooking up a storm. I totally laughed at some people's reactions when I tried to contact them. Haha, and I was calling people outta the area book like a boss. It was fun. Then we got to English Class and it was a party as usual. I love my two old friends that always make it a good time. :)

Donnerstag was great. We have in our area, one of the cities called Crimmitschau. They have a hockey team that is actually really good. It has some NHL players on it, with both Americans and Canadians. So, we obviously went to go check it out. Sadly, no one was there really to talk to. But, we will go by there another time and check it out. Talked to this one old guy who made me really happy. I crashed on my bike (I tried to ride with no hands on the handlebars :)). Don't worry mom, it wasn't bad, I was still was on my feet. It was right in front of these people. They looked at me all funny, and I was just like "Alles ist in ordnung!" Everything is ok! Ha, and they laughed, I laughed, and then we went over and talked to them. Elder Shelley said we should start doing that for a contacting method. We could just crash in front of people. I told Him it was his turn. :)

Oh, and I almost got attacked by a swan too. Just random fact. Sorry mom if you're worrying. :)

Donnerstag was a challenge. We went to DDM which was great. But sadly after, we wanted to start my driver's license and what not, but Elder Shelley forgot his passport. I found out that I needed some paper that I've never needed before. I was So ANGRY. But then I was like, hey, how can I laugh about this? It took a little bit, but then I just laughed at my weaknesses, took a sip of this amazing mango drink, and let my worries go away. :) Then we had English, and they helped me correct my profile (almost done). Even though they corrected it a lot, they were impressed with how good my German was. :)

Freitag - Weekly planning. Yup. :)

Samstag was my favorite day this week. We planned on doing an hour and a half of doors, and I was legit PUMPED. When we got outside and were riding to the place we had prayed about and felt was good, I had a prompting. I was like, lets go ride into the Markt and see what's up. Well, there just happened to be this HUGE annual fair that happens in Werdau (life of a missionary, no updates). We automatically went in there, and saw the most people we have ever seen in Werdau at one time. :) BUT the coolest thing, we met these guys from Peru who were pretending to be Indians (Inka). It was super cool to talk to them, and we gave them a Book of Mormon. It was super cool to see how easy it was to talk to them. As we were walking around, getting some food, and talking, this girl comes up to us and asks us who we were. We told her, and then I had one of the most intense convos on my mission. She had question, about why God would let babies have cancer and die. It was personal for her. I told her I don't specifically know WHY that happened, but that she will see that baby again, that there is a plan, and that the Atonement makes that possible. Elder Shelley taught her that if she prays and gets an answer, she will know that this plan is true. It was crazy. I felt the Spirit so strongly, and I KNEW that we were there to help her. She took a Book of Mormon, and told us she wanted to meet next week. Really, really cool experience.

Sonntag was just great. I gave another talk. This time about opening the windows of Heaven, which was hard, especially in German. I used the talk by Elder Holland, "The First and Great Commandment." He talks about Peter and when Christ asks him, "Do you Love me?" It was fantastic. I am just so glad that I can speak German, with the Spirit. :) I just want to testify, that the Lord has commanded me to be out here. I am showing Him that I love Him everyday. I am not going to sugar coat it. The first two days of this week were HARD. I felt like the best I could do, was just get out of bed. But I said, "Lord, today is going to be a great day. I can't make it a great day without you." I relied on Him. I showed him, the circumstances that I was in. I MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. My attitude, is what changes everything. The way I hit the pavement, make a fool of myself, and still get up and smile at the people. THAT makes a difference, and makes people feel great. I know that Christ had a perfect attitude, of being positive. He still wept. He still asked, why is it so hard? But He didn't, give, up. And neither will I. I want to give a shout out to Elder Blackhurst. He has to go home because of ruptured disc in his back. I love this guy to death. Even through his problem, he has made it into a stepping stone. He knows the Lord's will, is the right will. It makes me think of this quote from Switchfoot, "Teach the monkeys on my back, to FIGHT." Think about it. Try this week, to smile when you shouldn't, compliment when it's inconvenient, and laugh when all you want to do is cry. Life is too short to dwell on what we CAN'T do. We need to see what we accomplish when we focus on what we CAN do. I love my family, friends, future wife, and this GOSPEL. This is the way. :) LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!

Elder Mayne

PS: I cook like a BOSS. Thanks mom for teaching me. :)

 I make bread like a boss. :)

 How I dress hipster. :)

My shoes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Letter #60 - #ApostleBesuch

That’s right. I saw an Apostle, Quorum of the 12, Elder Ballard, in the flesh. It was a really great experience, and he knows how to speak his mind, that is for sure. BUT that was on Friday. So much happened before that.

Monntag:  Monday, we all went to Jena and had a good time with the Gera and Jena Elders. We went and climbed this gigantic mountain, which, no matter how good of shape you are in, the wonderful humidity makes you bathe in your sweat like none other. It was super fun and running down the mountain was even more fun. 

Dienstag:  We met with good old Bruder Klinger. I love that man. Actually, he was having his 88th birthday, so if you all want to give a shout out to him, he would love that. We actually stopped by and give him some bananas, his request.   Also, after doing some contacting, we met with the older missionary couple, Sister and Elder Seelos, for our cleaning check. Elder Seelos brought his computer and we were able to do some family history work which was REALLY cool.  I totally felt that I am going to do family history for the rest of my life.

Mittwoch:  AH MITTWOCH. What a great day. We met with Katherine, our new investigator and she is AMAZING. She is a real lady. She is open to what is out there, and wants to find the truth. She really likes us, and is glad that she found real people.  She is excited to learn what we have to teach, and to find the truth for herself. We had a great talk with her and her grandson who is 6 years old. It was hilarious, because at the beginning he was so nervous around us, and then at the end, gave us hugs as we left.  It was a great time, and I am PUMPED to see her progress, and to see what happens. 

Donnerstag:   My goal was to get two MASSIVE smiles from two people: Elder Checketts’ and Barbara, a lady from our English class. We had to cancel our English class because we had to go to Gera to sleep over for the Conference the next day.  Barbara was really looking forward to our class, so we went and brought her brownies.  She really appreciated it. (One down).  At Gera ward, they were having their ward game night. So, we planned a surprise birthday party for Elder Checketts, and that was just hilarious. Made a poster, hung streamers, cake, ice cream, games, and the whole shebang. It was great! We had a great time hanging at the Gera Elder's apartment, and having fun.

FREITAG:  We had a ROADTRIP! It was so NICE not traveling to Frankfurt by train for once, and going in the Car. Elder Checketts’ and I jammed out to some gospel music, and had some real conversation. We basically did everything a road trip entails, just missionary style, while our goldens sat in the back, and fell asleep. We got to Frankfurt early and had a WONDERFUL time chatting with all the missionaries, all 250 of them. I LOVE so many people in the mission. Love my best friends. AND then (dramatic roll)... Elder Ballard!!! He was great. He didn’t have any notes, and he just spoke his mind. He was like the grandpa that has no filter, but in a good way. But all joking aside, right as he walked in, I felt in my heart and thought, Elder Ballard, he is called of God. This is one of the many amazing leaders God has called to raise up His kingdom. It was great. He just spoke with so much confidence.  Something I loved, was that they have asked so many people, whether converts to the church or people who didn’t join, what was the biggest, most influential part of the conversion? And above all, it was the missionaries. WE make the biggest impact, and we helped them, "feel" something. Another thing, I loved, was Elder Ballard said, “I can bet you now, right now, give me two of you and we can go on those streets and I will find you an investigator in one hour." I loved it. He invoked so much confidence and said that attitude, is really key in life. Attitude is the thing that we need, to make this life wonderful. Those who have a wonderful attitude, impact the lives of others. 

Well, after the spiritual feasting, we got home late on the train. By home, I mean in Erfurt where we slept over with the elders. Erfurt is so beautiful. One of my favorite cities so far. Then the next day, we traveled, studied, and spent time talking to people. Train time is talking time. If there is no one on the train that wants to talk, well then it is extra sleep time.

Sunday:  Really quick, Sunday met with the best family ever, the Bauerfeinds.  They have cutest kids, they are the cutest couple, cutest apartment. I feel really weird using the word “cute” so many times, but it’s the best word to use to describe meeting with the Bauerfeind family.

AS for my quick spiritual thought, I want to testify of the Love of Christ. That HIS Love, is perfect. We are not perfect. But for us to change, it needs to start with us in recognizing that, even though we are not perfect, that we don’t have to dwell on what we cannot do. We are not all the similar.  We are all extremely different individuals. I testify, that when we change our thoughts and actions, to become more like Christ, as the scriptures call it "praying continually," we will be happier.  We will accomplish more than we ever have accomplished.  Those dreary and sad days will seem like they are just "cute" little humps that are fun because we make it fun. The person we talk to the most every day, is ourselves, in our head. The more we succumb to the negative thoughts in our lives, the more we slowly succumb into that trap and hole Satan has put there for us, the barrier we have made for ourselves. Stop it. Wake up every morning and say "Today is going to be a great day."  Look to see how many times God says to you, "I love you." Because He does.  Have a great week! And know that, WE ARE AWESOME!!!

Love you all with all the soul I got as an Indian brown Missionary. :)

Elder Mayne

 Our road trip to Frankfurt with our goldens sleeping.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter #59 - My Duty, My Honor

Well folks, this week, I have never felt like I have accomplished so much in my life. And no, I didn’t have a baptism; we only had one lesson, and no one showed up to church. But, you want to know why I feel so accomplished and I am so HAPPY? 

Well I'll tell you.

So this week I tried to focus on two things: 1. Speaking only German to my companion, and 2. Focusing on the little things;  just kinda "living in the moment" rather than worrying about all the things we had to do.  To report, the German thing lasted only 3 days. BUT, I realized I can speak really good German.  I know that I can totally improve, but I am better than I think.

Even though I realized just how blessed we are and how wonderful a mission is, it somehow even better, if that’s possible to imagine. 

We met with our friend Ralph and his wife on Monday and Tuesday, because they were packing up and going on their trip to AMERICA, NYC!! One of their friends, the one that I translate his emails for, flew out and was helping them get all ready for the trip. Their friend, her name is Karen, is a super cool lady who lives in New Jersey.  Karen does yard sales for a living, which is pretty cool.  It was SO COOL that Karen has previously met so many missionaries, and was given a Book of Mormon.  We talked to her for a while about our church, especially about Family History.  Karen loves Mormons. She then asked what our Church is all about and I was able to talk about Joseph Smith.  I was lucky enough that the spirit could tell me the first vision again in English.  It was a super cool experience and as we left, it felt like old friends having to say goodbye to each other. Luckily, Karen is coming back in 3 weeks and bringing peanut butter.  #Benefitsofamission

Mittwoch:  We found this really cool pond at a park that was super beautiful and decided we are going to do our studies there. WELL it was stinkin’ cold that morning, and all beautifully misty. So, I took that as an opportunity to wear my new coat and scarf (see pictures). What was really cool was that this lady comes walking by with her dog. We say “Guten Morgen” as she passes by us.  Then she pauses, and sits right next to Elder Shelley who was sitting on the bench across from me.  She asks "Why are sitting and reading a book in the cold?" Ha, ha, ha! Elder Shelley talked to her, for 40 minutes all by himself!!!!!

I almost came over, but I decided it would be a good experience for Elder Shelley, so I fed ducks.  I also took videos of the ducks and Elder Shelley.  After a little while, I finally came over and talked with this lady for a while.  She is TOTALLY interested in what we have!  Elder Shelley asked her for address and a phone number and she was like, why not? My Son is Boss and I am proud of him.

On the rest of the week, we had a lesson with Marcus, the 24 year old that is going to school in Zwickau. It was an ok lesson, but we realized that he doesn’t want to change too much. The spirit in the lesson was so incredibly strong. I knew, without a doubt, that the Spirit was testifying truth to what we were teaching. I shared a strong testimony – I was bold.  We asked Marcus to pray.  Marcus prayed, saying what he is thankful for.  I knew that he felt something that he hasn’t before, and that was a wonderful experience.

That experience made the rest of the week. I talked to so many people and I just gave them that chance, of whether they wanted to accept the gospel or not.  I felt that when I gave my testimony, the Holy Ghost was there. HE touched the hearts of those people. And I didn’t even know what I was saying sometimes. Everyone has their agency, and I gave them that option to choose. That’s all that matters. I love being bold. And I felt like, since I am testifying on the streets, why not in church too. I gave my testimony during Testimony Meeting about how the church in Werdau will grow. Significant changes will come, and when the Lord commands us to do something, he will provide a "mittel" or a way. This week, it all started with my reading in 1 Nephi 17:3. Never touched my heart so much until now.

OH, I almost forgot about what else made this week so great. I TOTALLY PLAYED BASKETBALL AGAINST GERMANS!! Ah, it was so fun. One of the players on my team, after a play, looked at me with this dumbfounded look and was like, “Where are you from again?” I flashed the badge.

This week I studied humility, and I KNOW that I am absolutely nothing. I know that none of my talents, strengths, characteristics, are my own. Rather, I have been wonderfully blessed by my Heavenly Father. And because of that knowledge, I have received so much strength. I bear testimony that He is there. Jesus is the Christ. And as we take upon His name, He blesses us. I came to know him, BECAUSE of my trials. And because of that, I am eternally grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Mayne

Me feeding the ducks. :)

 Cool fields that we ride passed. I had to stop and take pics in them.

Our Distrikt activity. We played "500" with no hands, and Swedish fish. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Letter #58 - The memories stay forever

I LOVE MY MISSION! That's the overall feeling I have right now as I write in this sketchy Döner shop. I love it with all my heart. I had some experiences this week I would like to touch on because I don't want to ever forget them, and I want you all to know about them too.

This week we went to the concentration camp in Buchenwald for our p-day, and wow. I cannot explain the things that happened to these people in detail. I'm afraid of not matching the ultimate suffering that they experienced, and what I saw there. I obviously took plenty of pictures. It is something that you have to experience sometime in your life. When you walk on those grounds, you can feel that there is something different here. You walk around and see the places, the confinements that they lived in, and how they were treated. The question that pops into your mind, is how on earth, could a people think that this was okay to do? To look at human beings as not the same, but rather that you yourself are something better. Then because of that, they eliminate almost an entire generation of people. I looked around there, and I could feel the sadness. When we walked into the crematory, you couldn't form words. It was an experience that I will never forget. In one of the museums, there is a little book you can sign your name in and leave a comment. I wrote that, this life isn't the last, and that suffering is only here on Earth. All will be returned a hundred fold after this life.

The other experience happened this Saturday with our investigator Georg. Super great guy. But before that, I went on a exchange with Elder Wright, my Distrikt Leader. Love the guy. We rejoice in being hipsters together, and he wants me to visit him in San Jose, CA when I get back. :) Ha. Our split was epic. It included: helping people move in, figuring out how to use cameras, finding peeps, and getting into relatives cars that drive super fast that scare you but somehow you feel safe (that last line probably brought no one comfort, but it was fun and I am ok :)).

FIRST, meeting with Georg. Super great guy, and a wonderful family. We got to teach him. He had questions that we all were able to answer with scripture. We taught a little bit about family and the Plan of Happiness. The spirit was so STRONG! Georg just wants to follow God, and find the right direction. He reads the Book of Mormon, watches Conference talks, reads Jesus the Christ, and is amazing. In the lesson, the spirit was so strong that you could cut it with a knife, literally. After the lesson, we had a BBQ with his family, and had a great time. Then at the end, we were all just enjoying the moment. I wanted to talk to him about baptism, and we did. He says that he wants to know more about the principles of the Church. So, we are going to talk about the 2nd lesson, and what not, next time. What was really great is that we testified, Elder Shelley and I, that this is the way. We testified of baptism, and then we just let it sit there. It felt like the spirit was on an elevator shooting up to heaven. It just grew and grew, and ahhhh.... We know that one day, he will be baptized. He then came to church. But ah, my heart broke because he said, "See you in 3 weeks!" His work, and caring for his mom, takes him away for the entire week sometimes, and only home on some weekends. It's hard, but it'll happen. :)

For a spiritual thought this week, two things came in my mind. There are two stories I have heard from Sister Holland that I'll share. Her daughter, when she was 7 years old, wrote in her journal about one day: 
"I came home from school after a hard day. I felt like I couldn't do anything. So I went and started playing piano. It sounded so bad. So, I cried even more. Then I went to draw, because I knew I could draw. So, I started drawing and it was even worse than the piano. I couldn't stop crying. My little brother came up to me, and I asked him, 'Is there ANYTHING that I am good at? Can I be anything?' He responded: 'You can be my sister.'"

The other story is an old parable about God and Heavenly Mother making a beautiful tapestry. On this tapestry, is each of us. We are the patchwork, the fabric. Everyone of us has our own square. But for some reason, we see others, and we say: "Wow, that color is beautiful! Oh wow, that fabric is nice. I wish I could have that." And there are others that are saying the same thing about your square too. But, our Father made us the way we should be. We are all our own, individual, beautiful people. God doesn't care where you were. Rather, he cares about where you are now, and with His help, where you are willing to go. :)

I love life, love you all, and I hope all of you have a fantastic week. :)

Elder Mayne

  Well, concentration camps are cool.

 We got ROOTBEER!!

Yeah, I try to draw.