Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spain takes a Vacation

So glad to hear from you! I'll start off by answering all the questions:

From what I understand, all of the mail to all of the missionaries goes to the mission office. So yes, please keep sending things there. The office elders and the assistants then distribute it to zone leaders, who in turn distribute it to district leaders, who in turn give it to us in our district meetings. We get it earlier if there are opportunities, but being out here in the "pueblo" of Segovia, our district leader doesn't get as much opportunity to see the zone leaders and get mail. For instance, I didn't get any mail this last week because we just live so far away from the office and it's hard to get it to us. But I'll for sure get it next week so I'm not worried. I'm excited to get my hands on that package! :)

Only Elder Zollinger and I are in Segovia and the surrounding region. The next closest missionaries are Elder Monson and Elder Moreno. They're serving in Villalba, and they're the other two missionaries who comprise our district. As a matter of fact, this last week we had companion exchanges, which is nothing more than trading companions and proselyting areas for 24 hours. I went and spent the night in Villalba, and Elder Monson came to Segovia and worked here. It was way fun! My temporary companion was Elder Moreno. He's a native Spaniard and is one of the funniest missionaries I've met, despite his initial solemn and serious appearance. He's always cracking hilarious jokes! We spoke in Spanish the whole time, and it was really flowing for me! Villalba is even smaller than Segovia, and much less touristy. Elder Moreno is also amazing at contacting people in the street and has a really natural way of talking and sharing the gospel with them. I learned a lot from him.

We haven't found any new families to teach, but we have found a couple of new leads that we plan on pursuing. Overall, we're still spending a lot of time contacting and trying to find more opportunities to teach. It's really slow because in August EVERYONE here closes up shop and goes on vacation. It's some kind of tradition that they practice. I don't know how things keep running! In any case, there's a lot less people and we have a bit of a harder time doing conventional missionary work.

So, what do we do? We try a bit of unconventional missionary work! President Watkins actually asked us to carry out a "meet the neighbors" activity for our apartment block. We've been spending some time in the past week going from door to door, contacting as many of our "vecinos" as we can, inviting them to this thing, where we're planning on just being out in the main plaza with a big stand-up poster explaining what the Church is all about and having a table of pamphlets for them to take. We're doing it Thursday at 8:30pm and we think that it's going to work out great!

I've been out in the sun a LOT more in the past few weeks and I've come to appreciate sunscreen on a whole new level. I've got some sweet 50 spf stuff that I put on just about every day, and while it's not keeping me pasty white, it's at least keeping me from being burned.

I've also seen pictures of missionaries with sunglasses. Personally, I don't know if it's a rule or not. I don't think I'd ever wear them while out working because it kind of creates a barrier between me and the person I'm trying to talk to. I would suppose they'd be ok to wear, however, during preparation day activities, and definitely while taking pictures to send home because, let's face it, sunglasses just look way cool!

I haven't been bothered by insects thus far on the mission. Mosquitos aren't incredibly common here. We did have some roaches in Barrio 1 but that was more entertainment than anything else, trying to catch them and kill them! Ahhh, I'm laughing just thinking about it.

Thanks, Mom, for trying to help my English spelling and grammer, and I'll do my best, but I don't think there's anything that can be done to prevent the slow decay of my English skills. I do appreciate the effort, though!

Well, I'd better be on my way. I love you all and hope this email finds you well! Onward and Upward!

-Elder Knorr

Monday, July 27, 2009

Working Hard and Thanks Folks - little bits of letter dated July 22, 2009

Time is flying by for me. It's hard to believe that in 9 days I will have finished my 4th month. That's 1/6 of my mission already done! Thoughts like these make me panic a little bit sometimes. They really make me reflect on whether I'm being the best missionary I can be and whether I'm using my time to maximum effect. I'll keep working hard, and even work harder, to do everything I can to not waste this precious time.

I just wanted to thank you really quickly for something I realized a few weeks ago. I've found that I have a huge reservoir of knowledge: cultural, political, art, science, you name it. I just wanted to say thanks for raising me in such a way that I could be this way. It was probably all the little things that did it. But regardless, thanks for raising me into a well-cultured individual :)

Thanks for the emails and letters ! They always help lift my spirits.

Your missionary son,
Elder Knorr

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Madrid Mission Changes - courtesy of Elder Jonathan Ogden

"Yesterday the zone leaders...gave us our mail and green sheets. Green sheets are half-sheets of paper that say where all of the missionaries are serving, with whom and as what. It looks like Elder Knorr went to Segovia. A big group went home and there were apparently no replacements that came in. So areas, districts and zones are combining. We went from about 120 missionaries before to about 104 now. And we will keep decreasing the number until we get to 64. That is enough for two missionaries in every ward or branch.

Along with those changes came a few more announcements. You asked me what President Watkins' emphases are, and I just found them out. He wants the missionaries in every ward council or priesthood executive committee meeting so that the members can be more involved in the work. He wants us doing service as soon as possible to get involved in the community, and he wants us to speak a lot more Spanish. So far I like the changes."

9 out of 10 Elder Knorrs agree: "Segovia is the Place to Be!!"

OK, call the title cheesy. It is, and I freely admit it. But I thought it was pretty clever too, so there!

Well, just about five minutes ago, I was typing an email and it was getting to be pretty long, and I was reaching the end of my time, and then the computer crashed and I lost all of my progress. All of it. I'm a bit unhappy about that. And now I'm just about to the very end of my time, so I'll do what I can with the time I have.

Segovia is awesome! The weather is cooler, the sights are prettier, the air is cleaner, and it's altogether much less frowzy (which I'm told means dirty, slovenly or untidy). It's a much smaller city than Madrid, and the branch here is just a little one. We don't have very many appointments usually so we spend a whole ton of time street contacting and walking from appointment to appointment (because we don't use public transportation here, we go almost everywhere on foot). All of the extra time on foot and in the sun has been moderately brutal in the way of blisters and sunburns, but I'm dealing with it. My feet have swollen up a bit so I had to take the insoles out of my shoes so that I can fit into them.

One little detail that I have time to share today: There are storks EVERYWHERE here! They're just these huge, huge birds that look like something off of Jurassic Park. You can almost always see one gliding around way up high. You can see their nests all over the place. I could probably fit into one if I tried cause their nests are so big! But yeah, there's the detail of the day.

I made Chicken Fallbrooke! I used one package back in Barrio 1 and the other here. Elder Zollinger liked it and helped me cook the rice deliciously. If you could send more of those packages, I'd definitely appreciate it!

I'm so sorry this is so short! I'll try to avoid this kind of catastrophe in the future. Not sure how, but I'll try. Well, time's already up for me! I love you all and I hope things are going well! Take care!

-Elder Knorr

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bits and Pieces from letters home...

To Emily:
"Things are going well here in the mission. There's always something new to be learning or someone new to be talking to, or a new part of the area to explore. Sure, it's really challenging sometimes, but it's just crazy the kinds of things the LORD sets up for us! Like all of our lessons will fall through but then we'll meet a sweet person who wants to hear the gospel. He's got a plan, and everything happens for a reason."

To Megan:
"OK! So your first question is about bullfights. They do it a lot here! It's very popular. Actually, one of the members in our ward is a retired awesome. They do it in a coloseum-like thing. I got pictures of it because we took a tour of it a couple of pdays ago."

To Dad:
"Remember how we used to relate the mission to a marathon? And how if I didn't work up to it, they'd have to carry me off in a stretcher? Well, there's a problem with that analogy that I'm starting to see. The more I "meter" myself into the work, the more I'm finding that I want to get carried out on a stretcher. I want to be so worn out at the end of these two years that I've got absolutely nothing left. If I hold back at all, I'll feel like I've cheated the Lord, and I don't want that. No sir-ee!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hello Segovia...lovely, historical city NW of Madrid

Yes, you heard right! I've been moved. We knew that there were changes coming, due to the fact that we had 14 missionaries leaving and none coming in to replace them. Several areas have been combined and a few have been closed. Barrio 1 Sur (my previous area) and Barrio 1 Norte have now been merged into one, huge, ginormous area! Elder Fronce stayed and is now in charge of it all, along with his new companion. Elder Ostler, whose parents you met, and Elder Parry, my first companion, are now home, and I got moved northwest of the city of Madrid, across fields and plains, to Segovia! (for Dad) Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaaaaanges!! (name that song!) But the change is good!

Segovia is a beautiful, historically rich city that is about the size of my old area (so it's a whole lot smaller than Madrid). It features 3 basic things: The Castle, The Cathedral, and The Roman Aqueduct (which is my favorite). The air is much cleaner and the weather is a bit cooler, which is a definite blessing. My new companion is Elder Zollinger, who has a reputation for being one of the most obedient and hardworking missionaries in the mission. I'm super excited to be working with him and I'm sure we'll get a whole lot accomplished together! We've already hit it off real well and I think this is going to be a great transfer.

Just a little, random fun-fact: Elder Zollinger is Sarah Monson's cousin! This is made especially crazy by the fact that both Elder Ogden and I were great friends with Sarah in high school! We've decided that we're going to have to write her a letter to let her know the crazy coincidence that has just taken place.

Strange, funny happenings? Well, here's one of the strange things that happens just about every day in our piso. You see, we live next to some Gypsies, and for no reason that we can yet understand, they make strange shrieking noises, sing loud songs, and clap their hands early in the morning and late at night. Elder Zollinger says that they've always done that, but it's new for me so I find it to be quite interesting. There are always interesting things that happen. None very recently, because I'm just getting used to this new area, but I'll be sure to include them when they happen.

As for pictures, we ended up not being able to do photos last time due to bad timing, and it's starting to look like today will be filled up too because of us having to get something fixed in the apartment (a light fixture in the main room). But I will keep taking pictures, that's for sure, and I'll try to send them as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind that I'm always willing to receive more pictures from family and friends! :) They say a picture says a thousand words. As for the voice tape, I've been recording on it here and there and I think I may be near finishing both sides. When that does happen, I'll be sure to send it immediately.

Ok, you asked about requests for the next package [note: Elder Knorr's family is taking care of these needs - but friends, feel welcome to send him Kool-Aid or other treats. Sounds like he can use an infinite amount!]: I have really enjoyed the Kool- Aid. I would like more of that if possible, and in more variety, but don't send as much Pink Lemonade. I don't know why, but that flavor just hasn't been agreeing with me. Also, I would not mind at all more Speed Stick deodorant, in the same scent. The deodorant here in Spain is not up to par with American kinds, so just sending one or two sticks a package will go a long way towards keeping me smelling like a representative of the Lord should smell. Other than that, I'm all for surprises! There won't be any need to send me more peanut butter for now, as the huge jar you sent me will probably last me my whole mission (no joke).

Well, once again, my time is over! I have quite a few letters that I haven't responded to due to time constraints my last couple of preparation days, but I'm planning on responding to as many of them as possible today. Thank you, family, for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I'm doing my best over here and the Lord knows it. Please keep the letters coming! I love you!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Daily Missionary Life

My next transfer is almost here! It's crazy to think just makes me want to work all the harder so that I don't waste a single minute of this experience.

Good to hear that the whole Knorr family is still alive after their various and sundry adventures. I'm glad to hear that the natural gas adventure was a success! An RC plane? That sounds really fun! Good to hear that Dad and Ethan are having some good quality time together. Speaking of hobbies, has Dad been using my airsoft gun? He's totally allowed to if he wants. The plans for the coming weeks sound like fun ones! I always really enjoyed family visits. And EFY was fun for me the one time that I went. Good luck on the Timpanogos hike! That's one thing that I really wish I could have done more: hike Timpanogos. Oh well, the mountain will still be there when I get back! Night hikes are the way to go on that.

I'm very grateful for the support that I've been given so far as a missionary. I have all kinds of people back home who I know love me, including, apparently, Brielle Giles, Kristen's 3-year-old sister, who I've been told is set on marrying me when I get home. :) As for letters, I've received lots so far from a wide spread of people.

I'm glad to hear that the blog is getting lots of attention! Looks like it will continue to be a reliable way of letting people know what's going on.

TODAY IS THE DAY that we are going to do pictures. I have pictures on the old camera (broken), pictures on Elder Parry's camera, and pictures on my own, new camera. We'll try and get it all sorted out and mailed by the end of today or tomorrow. Not sure what kind of crazy format everything will be in, but I think it will all work out. Have you been posting the pictures on the blog?

Ok, time to answer some questions:

Our typical day goes like this. We wake up at 7, go jogging for 15 minutes, come home and I do push ups and crunches for another 15 minutes. At 7:30 we start taking turns in the showers and eating breakfast so that everyone can be fed and showered by 8:30, when we begin an hour of personal study in the scriptures (which always goes by too fast. I love reading the scriptures! I'm currently in the book of Psalms, the Book of Ether, and reading topically in Preach My Gospel). At 9:30 we have companion study, which involves sharing insights we gained during personal study and also planning for and practicing for lessons that we'll teach that day. At 10:30 we begin a 30 minute language study, which is when I usually read out loud from the Libro de Mormon to work on my pronunciation and then I usually conjugate a few verbs. On that note, my Spanish is starting to increase a lot in fluidity, which is good. At 11, we leave the piso for la calle and start to go to our appointments and contact people on the way. We work until 2:30, which is when mediodia starts, which is basically a Spanish tradition of taking a break smack-dab in the middle of the day. That's when we eat our main meal of the day and do a bit more language study if we can. At 4:30 it's back to the streets, going to appointments and contacting. The rule about being home is that we should be home by 9:30, unless we're in a lesson, in which case it's extended to 10. As soon as we get home we go back into the study room and prayerfully plan the next day. After that, we do what we need to do to be ready for bed by 11 and then it's lights out!

As for finding people, we usually find on our own efforts. The members in our ward haven't quite caught the fire, but we're working on it. They treat us very kindly, but we don't eat a whole lot with them like in some other areas here. Mostly, we view our meetings with them as a chance to practice our teaching skills and also get them excited about missionary work. Right now, we meet with the Silva family and the Bersosa family, who are both from Ecuador, as well as with Hestrobel from the Dominican Republic, who is our ward mission leader.

My health is great! My health philosophy right now is to get my food groups, including fruits and veggies, and also drink lots of water. Also, I try to avoid eating sugar before bed, seeing as how that tends to ruin my sleep. I haven't noticed the weight go away, but I figure it doesn't matter too much as long as I'm doing my best to keep a healthy lifestyle.

I have plenty of money to eat decently. We shop at a grocery store called Mercadona, where a somewhat lacking variety of foods are sold. They just don't have the same scope of variety as does the United States, but it's ok. I usually buy some fruit, a bag of fresh spinach, a loaf of bread, some hamburger, bacon and eggs, a box of corn flakes, some premade pizzas, milk and yogurt. Pretty basic. I've still got tons of rice and pasta left over from the previous person who lived in my place, so I buy those only when I run out. I also usually buy a liter and a half of Caribe Juice, and then use that bottle for Kool-Aid for the next week.

My clothes situation is really good. In fact, all of my equipment has left me satisfied and not wanting or distracted, which is all very good.

The work goes well here! We've been trying to find new investigators and work with the ones we already have. The big thing that I'm working on right now is learning the area, seeing as Elder Parry leaves next week and I'll have to teach this area to another missionary. It's a lot of pressure! But I know that if I work hard that I'll be able to keep things moving here, with the Lord's help of course.

I love you all! Take care and keep the letters coming!

Your favorite Elder (if that isn't too presumptuous) -Elder Knorr

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

4th of July, Familia Mejia and Awesome Elders

Well, this is another packed preparation day, so I won't have very much time to respond to letters, yet again. I'm sorry about that, but I promise that I will do my best to respond to every single one of them, as time and circumstances permit.

Good to hear about everyone's fun little adventures! I've never been to a YW camp (imagine that!) but from what I hear they're fun, spiritually uplifting events. Any kind of camping sounds pretty fun, come to think of it. And a natural gas adventure for the boys? That sounds like a lot of fun as well. Hopefully they don't run out of fuel in the middle of the desert and find themselves up the crick!

I'll bet that you're all wishing you had the old, blue blow-up pool back to cool down. At least that's what I'd want if the weather in Utah is anything like the weather is here in Spain, which people are saying it is. It's hot, hot, hot here! Thank goodness for short-sleeved missionary shirts!

I'm quite excited for the 4th of July. No reason in particular. We won't be having much of any kind of celebration. I just really love and miss the United States of America. All of you Americans reading this, I'm going to tell you right now: Appreciate Your Country. They do things differently here. Good, but differently. Religious freedom is only a little more than 40 years old. The police force here is a bit more heavy-handed, in a lot of aspects. For those of you who have a house, appreciate it, because almost everyone here lives in apartments, and a good number of people have to even share apartments with others because they're too expensive to afford on their own. The unemployment rate is much higher here than it is in the United States. One thing I'm definitely taking away from this mission is a greater appreciation for the little things. So, when this coming 4th of July rolls around, I'll try not to shout "God bless America!" too loudly in the streets (I'm just kidding....). I'm just happy that it's the native land of my upbringing, that's all. On a somewhat unrelated-but-at-the-same-time-related note, I believe today is Canada Day (if my sources are correct). Hooray for Canada too!

I really enjoyed my visit with Elder Ogden. It was just like old times! We spent pretty much all the time we had together just talking about anything that came to mind, and it wasn't all that much time, mind you. Just the time in between coming in for the night and then going to bed. We did, as he said, record a bit of singing on the tape, which still isn't full but it's getting there. The story is the same with the memory card. In 2-3 weeks, I hope to make a CD or two or three with all the pictures from various memory cards that I've had to take them on due to my "unique circumstances." There are a goodly number of pictures, and I think you'll enjoy them.

I really like President and Hermana Farnsworth and it's going to be sad to see them go so soon. They're really good for the work here. We all know, however, that the new mission president will be just as good, and we are all eagerly awaiting and anticipating his arrival.

The work is going on well. Familia Mejia is progressing wonderfully! They've set a goal to all be sealed in the temple! :) We're working with Angel Jr. and the mother of his children Carla so that we can get them legally married. Once that's taken care of, then Carla can be baptized, and a year after that they'll all be able to go to the temple and realize their goal! It will take some time, but I think they have the ganas (tener las ganas=have the desire) and can really do it!

The gospel of Jesus Christ is really all about taking away people's pain, as Jesus Christ would. There's a lot of suffering out in the world right now. A lot of the time we talk to people and they just want to tell us about their lives, which oftentimes are quite difficult. I'm fine with being a sponge that absorbs people's problems. Everyone needs someone to tell things every now and then and I'm here as a representative of Jesus Christ to help them. I really love the people here and I'll help anyone in any way that I can.

In other news, we're working with a couple of other new investigator families and things are going well. We're doing our best to find more investigators to teach. Elder Parry is leaving the mission soon for home (he only has 2 weeks left), but he's doing his best to keep his focus on the mission, and we're having great success!

A little birdie told me that Elder Patrick Ketchum was saying stuff about me... in response to that, I'll just have Sister Ketchum know that her son is already an excellent missionary. I haven't seen him in some time now but I greatly enjoyed the time we were able to spend talking and sharing insights in the CCM. He's very smart, very sincere and very eager to make a difference. I would be a happy missionary if someday in the future I got called to be his companion. In any case, I have no doubts that he has great things ahead of him in the future and I know that the Lord will likely forge him into one of the greatest missionaries this mission has ever seen.

Well, it's about time I hit the dusty trail once again! Keep taking care of yourselves and each other, and be sure to have a spectacular 4th of July!

-Elder Knorr