Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 4, 2013

This week has been an interesting week for sure. There is not a ton to write about because not a ton happened we just ran around alot and I just want to collapse from being to tired. I think I only got to bed on time like once this whole week because of travel and stuff.

This week I went to Krefeld like 3 times, Düsseldorf twice, and all the way down to Frankfurt once, so a lot of my time was spent just sitting on trains. I dont really know how we managed to travel so much because we really only went on one split and had one training meeting down in Frankfurt. Which basicaly ate up all of my time up until Wednesday because of travel and meetings. I do have to say that the meeting in Frankfurt was amazing and it is super exciting to hear about all the new missionaries that we are getting. This mission is going to expload. And every missionary here is a spiritual giant, it is really quite humbling to be able to listen to their testimonies and hear thier experiences.

We had a split this week, and I went to Krefeld with Elder Slagowski, who is awesome! I love that guy. We had so much fun and we managed to lose an old man, teach a lesson to a family that only speaks spanish, and look like idiots while carying a huge whiteboard around the middle of town with questions of the soul writen on it. Awesome. And to the end the split we went to a kinda nice resturant, and we forgot that it was a friday night, we were the only ones there not on a date... We looked kinda gay... Oh well, the food tasted great.

The highlight of embarrasment was definitly playing soccer. We have this young investigator who likes to play soccer and there was a tournament for the stake this weekend, so we invited him and we were going to play with him, thinking it would be low key. Not. There were teams from all over germany, kids from Hamburg who came down to play, and we looked like complete idiots. Neither Elder Hutchings or I could play soccer, and we were sitting there, watching the other guys kick balls at what looked like the speed of light. And at the same time ballance a ball on thier head and do a backflip and it was just insane. We got put on this team and one of the guys asked us what possition we played, we were so flippen nervous we didn't understand him. I am pretty sure he popped a blood vessel when he realized we did play soccer and we didn't speak german. Yeah, we were the idiot americans. However, we did come in second to last in the tournament, which means we didn't get last. But if anyone remembers my first time playing basketball, where I just grabbed the ball and ran... It was worse than that....

But I came out alive and I have almost regained feeling of my limbs. Not working out for almost a year is a bad idea and I wouldn't advise it.

Well I have to change the way that I close my messages, because Camilla, an investigator, told me that the only two words that I say in german with every letter home were wrong. How is that for the confidence boost, just when you think you can speak the language, people are firing soccerballs at you at 10000 mph and you find out you cant even end a letter properly. Thank goodness the Lord helps me work on my Humility.


Mit Liebe,

Elder Blackley

Lots of Lessons

Another week down in the Dirty-D. It is weird to think that I have already been here almost a full transfer, we have transfer calls this week and really I don't know what happened to Feburary. I think we just skipped it, because I cant remeber anything. This week like always was extreemly busy. We dont have any time to do anything anymore, we are always running around and going from meeting to meeting. It is crazy. But this week there is too much to talk about every day individually, so I wanted to just highlight a few experiences.

First was something that happened Thursday night. We had a zone training meeting thursday night for some reason, it was weird to have a meeting at night, but we got done around 8pm and we all got into a train headed to Hauptbahnhof. There were about 20 elders and 2 sisters and we were spread out through the whole train. And then the elders in the front of the Train stood up and started to sing Called to Serve. And one by one we worked our way down the train joining in the song untill the we were all singing. It was so cool, there were people all on the bus just stairing at us and smiling, pretty sure some were laughing too, but it was just one of those experiences that I doubt I will ever have outside the mission. Something so random and fun, but at the same time fill with the spirit and excitement of missionary work. It was really an increadible experience.

There were three lessons this week that really stood out to me. Two of them were with new investigators Saint and Sarah, a younger couple from China, here to study. And one with a young kid from Brazil, also here to study. We have really been working on finding the people whom the Lord has prepared. I really have seen a difference in our teaching as we actively pray and work to find not just anyone but the prepared. It is so hard to explain over an email, but there is a special spirit that is felt as you bear testimony to people who are really ready. In our first lesson with Saint and Sarah, they each prayed for the first time in their entire life. They were so open and ready for the gospel, not just open but truely seeking and thursting for the truth. The Lord is quickening His work. I have learned so much since coming to Duisburg. Being in a University city there is so many people to teach. But we aren't just looking for people, we dont just teach lessons, we are really here to be the Lord's hands in bringing people unto Chirst. I dont think my email made a lot of sense this week. It does in my head, but none of you can read my thoughts.

Another thing I have really learned is the power of preach my gospel. To all those who are not yet on missions but still preparing, read and learn and live preach my gospel. It has taken me a while to realize how true the principals in that book are. It is not just a guide to teaching, but as we follow it's council the spirit will be there stronger than if we try to do it our own way. Preach my gospel is not just there to give you ideas, but it truely is inspired.

I know this week I didn't have a lot of details, sorry, hopefully next week, but for me, this week was more about what I learned. So I wanted to share that will you all.

Mit Liebe,

Elder Blackley

Monday, February 25, 2013

Duisburg, Germany

First full week here in Duisburg and I have some pretty fun stories for you guys.  I will start off with what happened last week, but I forgot to mention it in my email.

So apparently there are still World War II bombs just laying around Duisburg waiting to blow up, because one morning we got a call from a member telling us that we are not allowed to go out because they found a bomb next to Hauptbahnhof and they need to detonate it.  So we, obviously, walk outside to see what is going on... It is like a ghostown, two police officers come over tell us that we need to go inside because we are in the evacuation zone...  So we spent the first half of the day just chillin inside because there was a bomb close to our appartment.  Welcome to Duisburg.

We also have a inactive member who is in a crazy persons house.... That has been super interesting.  I am not quite sure why she is there, we think depression, because she is completely normal, but the other people there.... Not.  We walk in one day, and this lady just starts screeming at us and yelling how much she hates us she slammed like 10 doors in a matter of like a few minutes.  She the exlaimed really loudly that if we left our bags there she was going to use them to wipe her.... yeah.  Then storms into a room, slams the door, comes our, looks the wrong way and yells, thank goodness their gone, turns the other direction and jumps from being startled and then just yells Oh no not again!  And that was only the first time going to this place.  There have been other visits.  But I will have to save some stories for later, it is an interesting place.  I have to admit, I never thought I would be going there on my mission.

We have been super busy this week.  I have never taught so many lessons, and it is increadible how much nicer the people are here in Duisburg.  I think it has to do with the fact that there is a University here and there are a ton of younger people.  The younger people are so nice and they all want to talk to us, they think we are wierd, but they still want to talk.  So I dont have a problem with that.  I mean we are kinda weird.

We have one investigator, Guarino, who has been my favorite since coming here.  He owns an italian resturant, and every time we teach him he cooks for us.  Oh my gosh, it is the best food I have ever had in my entire life, he is like a legit super amazing chef and imports everything from italy.  Wow.  It is the best.  And he just proposed to his girlfriend this week, so that after his wedding he can get baptised! I love missionary work.

One thing I learned this week is that just becaue you have done it once, doesn't mean you are a pro.  I tried to cut my hair again today, thinking, how hard could it be, I did it once and it looked good.... No.... I now have like absolutly no hair, I am pretty sure this is the shortest it has ever been. I dont know what I was thinking. Oh well, I have like atleast 20 more tries to get it down before I get home.

We had a way cool experience the other day where we read the scriptures to a member in intensive care.  He has Lukemia (dont think I spelled that right), and swine flu at the same time, and is in a coma.  It is one of those half comas where he can still hear, but just not talk or move.  And we were able to go and visit him and read the scriptures and pray with him.  We were all dressed up in a medical gown and masks and whatnot, but in this moment, the spirit was so strong.  Something that I have realized on my mission is that the spirit is strongest in moments of loving serive that resemble Christ's life.  That although what we did was nothing big, it was rather simple, it was what the Savior would have done.  He would have been there for the man who needed his comfort most, even in times where it could seem hopeless.  These are the moments where we really learn how our Savior served. Simply, Lovingly, and Unconditionally.

Viele Liebe,

Elder Blackley

Monday, February 18, 2013

First Transfer!

Fist email out from the Dirty D, and it lives up to its name.  I dont smell it as bad anymore, I think I am just getting used to it, but the first day I was here the whole city smelled like pee, and a hint of ripe poo.  Everyone just said that was normal and that I wouldn't notice it soon... Great.. Not to mention on my second day here a pigeon pooped on me... Welcome to Duisburg...
Despite the smell and lack of anything beautiful, I love Duisburg.  This city has so much going on, and it is like 5 times bigger than Hagen.  We have a university, which means lots of young people, and it is just a huge city.  Not to mention that the work here is going crazy.  Before in Hagen we were having like 8-12 lessons a week, and that was a huge improvement from when I first got there when were were having 1-5.  But just over the weekend here in Duisburg we had 10.  In three days and in a normal week about 20... We have so many investigators and so many people that we are teaching, the ward is huge and super awesome.  I am so excited.
Not to mention my companion is so cool.  He was a pitcher for BYU's baseball team, but try not to hold that against him, he is still great guy.  His name is Elder Hutchings and he is one transfer younger than me and he has great German.  It is kinda weird to be in a companionship where both people can speak german.  Makes things super easy.  I am loving it.  He is a super hard worker and has worked really hard to build up Duisburg into the missionary city that it is.
The ward here in Duisburg is super young and really active in missionary work.  We have already in the past 4 days, contacted more referals than my whole 6 months in Hagen.  This ward is so awesome.  I dont really know what to say more about Duisburg, I am so stoked to be working here with Elder Hutchings.  We have had some crazy appointments already, found like 6 new investigators in the past 4 days and it is just going great.  I love it.
The hard part about this week was saying goodbye to everyone.  I spent half my week in Hagen, and then arived in Duisburg on Thursday, but in those first couple days where I had to say goodbye to everyone I think we had 7 meal appointments... Thank goodness my mom thought I was going to get fat when I left, because I needed the extra 4 inches of pants this past week. And on the Wednesday we had grilled chicken and french fries, chinees buffet, and mexican food..... did not mix well...... 
The good news is that if I ever want to go back to Hagen, there are about 5 couches that I could sleep on.  I am going to miss everyone there.  It was an amazing way to start out the mission and I have learned so much, but I am kinda excited for the change of scenery and the opportunity to meet new people.  Like our Italian Investigator Guarino, who owns a super fancy italian resturant and gives us a free dinner every week :)  Oh yeah.... Thats right :)  Duisburg is going to be so amazing.
I am sure there will be plenty of fun stories from Duisburg, this place is crazy and I think I fit right in.  So I am excited to see how the weeks unfold.
Viele Liebe,
Elder Blackley

Friday, February 15, 2013

Week Thirty-Two

This week was eventfull.  We basically ran around the whole week doing a billion different things and every time people told us that they were sick.  There is some nasty cough and flu that is going around, and it seems like every member and investigator caught it at the exact same time.  But nonetheless, we still had a few awesome appointments.  But..... on Saturday we had transfer calls.... And I am getting transfered... On Thursday, I will be traveling to my new area, Duisburg.  After hearing that I was leaving, it was kinda just a mad rush to call about a billion people to set up appointments so that I could meet with everyone and say goodbye and then at the same time try and figure out what Duisburg is like.  All I have learned is that Duisburg is dirty.  Really dirty.  It is like a steel manufacturing city, and all the missionaries call it the ´´Dirty D´´.  So that should be fun.  But it is on the Rhein River, so I am hoping that it cant be that dirty.  But it is alot bigger than Hagen, and has a University, so I am pretty excited about that.  But unfortunantly, I have to pack now... which means I have to clean too... Not looking forward to that.  But we managed to pack every day full of goodbye appointments, I am not exactly sure how we are going to be able make all of our appointments, lots of running.
However, one of the coolest appointments happened before transfers.  We went to visit and inactive member, Bruder Kambi.  He is from the Congo, and speaks no english, and very little german.  Which makes it kinda hard to communicate with him.  And on top of that, he is a little menally challenged, but one of the nicest people ever.  We decided we wanted to stop by and invite him to church this week, I was giving a talk, and we wanted to see how things were going.  We shared a little bit about the Love of our Heavenly Father, which went well, but the coolest part was the closing prayer.  He offered it.  As he prayed he simply bore his testimony to our Heavenly Father.  After he finished, I looked up and there were tears streaming down his cheeks.  It was increadibly humbling to see this man become so emotional as he shared his simple testimony with our Heavenly Father.
Our first of the goodbyes was with Cremer.  He has been a steady investigator for almost 4 months.  It is crazy to think how much time I have spent here in Hagen and with all of these people I have grown to love.  I know that the Lord's work will go forward and I am exctied to hear how these people will continue to progress and come closer to our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Chirst.  Cremer is an amazing man and I know that he will be a member of the church soon, he is progressing so fast and it has been so much for to watch his excitement and love of the gospel grow and expand as we have been with him.  The next, and one of the hardest, wasMerhawi, he has been in Köln for a while because of his studies, but he is finally back and back on track, so he will be getting baptised in a few weeks.  Duisburg is not too far away, so I think I will be able to come back for the baptism, which I am extremely thankful for.  He is just the most amazing guy, I love him.  It is weird to think that I have known him for almost 5 months.  I look back and it really doesn't feel like it has been that long.  The time has really just flown by.  Another family that was hard to say goodbye to was Sandra and Jozsef.  They were the first investigators I had here in Hagen, and over the past 6 months, have become some increadible friends, and a family that I will definitly be visiting here when I come back to Germany.  Ugh I hate goodbyes.  It is hard when you have spent the last 6 months in an area, and all you have done is serve the people and think about how you can help them, you grow to love them so much.  It makes transfers so hard, but it makes me very thankful that I was able to serve 6 months here in Hagen.
Church on Sunday was hard.  I tried not to tell very many people that I was leaving, I hate goodbyes, but there were a few families that were hard to say goodbye to.  Thankfully we have the next three days to pack in about 10 member meals... I am going to get so fat.... Oh well. I was also able to give a talk this Sunday.  Before my mission, I talked to my dad alot about giving talks by the spirit and not writing them out.  Well... it is alot harder in a foreign language.  But from what everyone said, it went well enough for people to understand, which was not because of me, the only way they could understand my was because the spirit, my german was exceptionally confusing for those 10 minutes.  But walking out of the church, my last sacrament meeting here in Hagen, was weird.  I honestly didn't expect transfers to be so hard, but they are.  I think that on Sunday alone, I must have cried like 10 times. But I know that the Lord needs me in Duisburg, and I go happily, the leaving is just the part that is hard.
Sunday night we were with one of my favorite people in all of Germany, Bruder Kramer.  I don't really know what to say about Bruder Kramer I feel like there is just too much to say I dont know where to start.  He was the first person I met here in Hagen, my very first day he took me to an american resturant and from that moment on I made about 10000000 memories with him.  I love that man, and he will be a life long friend. There are too many memories of Hagen too list them all, but here are a few of the highlights of the last 6 months, most of them will have been in previous emails.
Carying a bed, table, and two chairs, 5 kilometers.
Teaching an entire camp of refugees and only one person translating it into like 3 languages.
Crazy indian guy who has a huge man crush on me.
Best friends with the town drunk
Being Friends with the Hagen criminal life.
Merhawi and his amazing story.
First döner, and just all the amazing food.
English class with the Graefs.
Miracles and Miracles and more Miracles.
And then memories with an entire ward and all of our investigators.
There are too many memories to write them all down, but I love Hagen and all the people here that I have met.  There is something special about being in the service of our Heavenly Father and the love that you have His children.  I am sad to go, but I know the Lord has a plan and I am excited to see that plan unfold as I begin my service in Duisburg.  I will try and send more pictures and whatnot next week, today for the rest of P-day we are meeting up with the Siegen Elders and going to see a castle, so I do not have a ton of time for pictures and whatnot, but hopefully next week I will have alot more time.
Viele Viele Liebe,
Elder Blackley

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wedding Pictures

Unfortunately, Brandon will not be here for my wedding in May. To include him we asked if it would be alright if we could get married on his birthday. He said yes. May 18, 2013. But, one of his requirements for me getting married "without him" is to include a life-size cardboard cutout of him in all our family pictures. This week he sent us the pictures we could choose from for the wedding. He is such a goof, but I love him.

I love my little, Hobbit, German, stud of a brother. :) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Catching Up on Pictures

I have no idea what was going on here....