Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Adventurous Week, for sure

Since so much has happened this week, I will begin by sharing experiences, then I will answer questions.

Something unprecedented and truly remarkable happened in Segovia this last week: We hit mission goals. The standard of the mission is to teach at least 20 lessons a week, make at least 105 contacts a week, and invite 2 people to get baptized a week. Last week began normally and we didn't notice much of a difference until mediodia Saturday, when Elder Zollinger realized while looking at our plans that we were closer to teaching 20 lessons than we had ever been before. We carefully planned out every hour, confirming as well as we could every lesson and doing everything in our power to complete our plans. By the end of Saturday, we had taught 4 more lessons, an incredible day in Segovia by anyone's reckoning. The following day, Sunday, we stuck to our plans and taught 5 lessons. The last lesson was taught at 9:20 PM, after which we had to practically jog to the other end of the city to make it in the apartment on time. But we did it. We taught 20 lessons.

Allow me to give a brief history in order to help everyone properly understand the meaning of 20 lessons in Segovia. In the Area Book that we keep updated and maintained in our apartment, there are records of the work that missionaries have done dating back all the way to early 2007. After reviewing these documents we found that the average number of lessons taught in Segovia weekly was under 10. There were two notable instances: one time when 19 lessons were taught and one time in more recent history when 18 were taught. At those times, the mission standard was lower: 10 lessons a week, which later became 15, so these statistics do indicate reaching that goal. But sometime around April 2008, the standard was raised to 20. The majority of the areas in the mission, helped by the vast pool of members in the wards and larger branches, have been able to reach this goal consistently, especially since President Watkins came in and made it a focus. Segovia, however, having a smaller branch with only two active members that can be taught, was never able to make the standard, though we tried every week.

What made this week different was that we found new investigators, 5 of them, all in one Bulgarian family, and were able to teach them thrice. This, including teaching all of our other investigators and members, was just enough to give us 20. This has never been done in Segovia in recorded mission history. Working hard, Elder Zollinger and I had been able to bring Segovia to a somewhat steady level of 12 lessons a week, and we even broke through and got 14 once, but never higher. This time, not only did we reach the mission goal for 20 lessons, but we had record breaking numbers in almost every other aspect, including having 4 investigators at Church. This has been the most successful week I have had in my mission thus far!

But success is not without trials. Saturday in the late morning we discovered that our water heater was not working. Having been told by the mission to not touch water heaters as they are too complex and breaking them would be very costly, our only option was to call the landlord and ask him to come take a look at it. However, we didn't want to deal with it that same day because we were going to be too busy with lessons and didn't want to give up our dream of 20, and the landlord would indubitably be inaccessible on Sunday, so we consigned ourselves to calling him on Monday to come and fix it. For the next two mornings, bereft of hot water from the tap to shower with or shave with, I heated up pots of water on the stove top and, standing in the shower, poured them cup by cup over myself to get clean. I then did a similar thing to heat up water for the shave, just dumping a pot of hot water into the stopped-up sink. It was truly an adventure and it worked just fine too. I am, however, glad to have normal hot water back.

Another development: Luis Enrique, one of our investigators, has a baptismal date for the 19th of December. His wife and son, Carola and Luis Guillermo, are already faithful members. For a long time he didn't want anything to do with us, but recently he's come back and we've had many good lessons with him, together with his family. When we invited him to be baptized, he said yes and all five of us started to cry. It was a very sweet experience and I am sure that the date will go through this time. Missionary work can be so rewarding!

Alright, now, on to the answering of questions:

Elder Zollinger has been here in Segovia for one transfer more than I have, but he's scheduled to go home halfway through this transfer, so it's still possible I'll get moved out this next one. They "whitewashed" Villalba this last time around, meaning that there are suddenly 2 new missionaries in there: Elder Butterfield and Elder Vause. They have had a trying time this last week, getting lost a lot and even getting a bit of food poisoning and having to stay in for a couple of days.

Things have been going well here for me. It's getting cold at last. I've gotten good use out of my coat as well as my gloves, and I've drunk a lot of "Leche con Miel" which is nothing more than warm milk mixed with honey. Spaniards seem to think that it has some kind of magical healing and sickness-prevention qualities, but I remain unconvinced as I came down with a sore throat after trying it for the first time. To me it is but a feckless [ineffective] beverage.

Today, we have plans to do a lot of Preparation Day souvenir shopping right here in Segovia. During the course of the day, I hope to stop by a photo shop and get the pictures onto a CD, along with purchasing other knick-knacks and whats-its to send home. My companion and I have also had another idea: Weird Fruit Day. We plan on buying all of the strange, exotic, weird and otherwise foreign fruits that we've never tried and try them, taking pictures all the while to send home to intrigue and gross-out our families and friends. How does that sound?

Well, we've got to get going; there's a lot to accomplish today! I hope everyone is safe and healthy and I wish a hearty "Bon Voyage" to the Knorr family as they embark on yet another California Thanksgiving trip. I love you all! Thanks for the support you've given me, in these emails, letters, packages and prayers!

-Elder Knorr

[Note from webmaster: We finally discovered what’s with the occasional obscure words that Christopher uses in his messages home. His friend Kristen sends them to him with a challenge to use them in his emails. It’s been educational for all of us!]