Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I got letters! And a package! Joy!

Hello!!! So good to hear from you again.

Yes, the title answers your first question. Being in a pueblo like Segovia, so far from the mission office, limits our ability to receive mail in a timely manner. But yesterday we had interviews with the president in the Cuatro Caminos meetinghouse in Madrid. Interviews with the president are done by zone (there are 6 different ones) and everyone meets together and then takes turns going in and talking with him. During the down time for everyone else, we have other meetings and training from zone leaders and assistants to the president. So our zone was told to meet yesterday in the Cuatro Caminos meetinghouse for interviews.

To get to Madrid, Elder Zollinger and I took the Avant, which is basically a bullet train that goes up to 150 miles an hour. It got us from Segovia to Madrid in 20 minutes! While at interviews, I was able to pick up the mail that's been waiting for me for the past couple of weeks. I was pretty PSYCHED when I got 4 letters and 1 package, including a letter from the family that contained 3 individual letters within! :) I'll try to respond to as many of these letters as I can today.

The package was AWESOME!!!
It contains enough Kool-Aid powder to make a swimming pool's worth of Kool-Aid, along with several other food mixes, including 3 packs of cookie mix. Chocolate chips don't exist here so up until this point, chocolate chip cookies have been impossible. Also, there were 6-7 packs of hollandaise sauce mix!! More Chicken Fallbrooke is definitely in order. Maybe even some Eggs Benedict! There were many more wonderful things in the package, all of which I am very grateful for and cannot enumerate at this particular moment. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

That "slowdown" on the work I was whining about last week is now old news. Last Saturday, we found no less than 3 new investigators!!!! And what's better is that they're all really willing to meet with us and appear to have great desires to keep going with the lessons.

One of them is a 50-year-old man named Jaime from Peru who has a very charismatic personality and likes to read the Book of Mormon with us. The other two are an older married couple named Luzdadi and Javier. Javier is a native Segovian and Luzdadi (Dad will love this) is an immigrant from Colombia. That's right! Estamos ensenando a una Colombiana!!! Just keeping the tradition of Knorrs-teaching-Colombians-the-Gospel alive. :)

The Spanish isn't quite a non-issue yet; no need to throw a party. I still struggle with speaking fluidly and also grammatically correctly at the same time. When I was on exchanges with Elder Moreno, we spoke nothing but Castellano and it felt totally natural. I didn't even make too many mistakes with him! So it comes and goes. I'm still studying a lot and trying to get it to STAY.

About the withdrawals from my U.S. account, I've needed to make a few so that I could buy food. We spend a whole truckload of money on transportation out here in the pueblo, which gets reimbursed by the mission, but we don't get reimbursed for food. So I had a bit of a deficit and I needed a little from the home account just to keep things rolling. I shouldn't need to do that for the rest of my time here in Segovia, now that I've sent in "reembolsos" to the office and will be getting that money back shortly. It's just one of the ways that things are different here out in the pueblos. I'm not sure at all what the exchange rate was. I don't plan on making many more of those withdrawals so it shouldn't matter too much.

That is pretty incredible to believe that summer is over already for the kids. It seems like only yesterday to me that they were finishing up their classes and taking finals and stuff. Time is truly distorted out here on the mission, but I like it. It's part of the experience.

It's good to hear that the members of the ward who have undergone those trials lately have been doing well. It's almost too sad to believe! Two families all of a sudden without their mothers, in such a short time too. My heart goes out to them.

The branch I'm serving in gets a weekly sacrament meeting attendance of about 14, and that's including us. Most of the active members are single women. We have one family, the family of Patricio and Maira, that has 5 members. Then there's the branch president, Jesus Galera and his wife Hermana Loli, who are getting along in years but are still way faithful and active in the church. And... that's about it! We have a recent convert named Jorge who comes just about every Sunday. It was actually him who gave us the reference that led us to Luzdadi and Javier, our new investigators. Then we have Hermana Carola and her son Luis Guillermo who are also recent converts and attend regularly. Our meetinghouse is a small one. It doesn't even have a kitchen! But it's nice. It has a chapel, restrooms, a couple of classrooms and an office for the president. It, like the one I was at before, is part of a much bigger building on the bottom floor. Nothing like what we have in the United States. But all that really matters is that the saints of God meet there and that makes it a meetinghouse! :)

I'll finish things off by giving a bit of a recap on the project we recently brought to pass in Segovia. No, we didn't distribute any cookies. But we did go out in the main plaza of our apartment complex with a big, wooden easel-like thing that basically has the first and second lessons on it, and also took out a table and filled it with pamphlets and DVDs and copies of the Book of Mormon to give away. As it turns out, very few people wanted to come out of their apartments and talk to us. But a few gypsy children, who I will tell you right now have NO fear of anybody at all, came and asked us questions about things we had out, which I was happy to answer. It was funny to me; they were all so young and yet they were braver than all their parents in coming down and talking to us. We gave them pass-along cards with pictures of the temple on them and I used the pictures in the front of the Book of Mormon to tell them the story of the book and what it's about. Eventually, one of their mothers came down and we were able to give her a pamphlet too.

Yesterday during interviews President Watkins praised us on carrying out the activity that he asked us to do. He has some big ideas for this mission and new ways to contact and do things. It's a bit scary for me to step outside the way things have always been done, but I'm also excited to be part of these changes. I hope I can be the missionary that he needs me to be to get these things moving.

Well, I haven't gotten the CD with pictures out yet. I've taken a lot less pictures so far this transfer and there's not as many places to get the CDs made out here. But I'll let you all know that I HAVE just finished the last side of the tape I was working on, so I'll probably try and send that home soon. Be prepared for a weird packing job. I haven't recieved any tapes yet from anyone back home, so I don't have anything to go by. I'll just have to be creative!

Well, we need to go grocery shopping now. I love you all and I'm ever so grateful for the support and love you've been sending me. Thank you, and take care!

-Elder Knorr