Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rain, then cold, then rain AND cold!

We've been getting some fun weather lately! Yesterday it rained constantly all day long! I now have a personal witness that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains. (I may have used that joke before...) Anyway, Presidente Galera has told us that the reservoirs need more rain, and he said that he wishes it would rain more. But he's not the one who has to try and contact in it! :)

Transfers just happened this last Monday, with some big changes in the mission. My companion and I stayed here safe in Segovia (which is good, because packing and moving is such a headache!) but things are shifting around a lot because of the dropping number of missionaries, which naturally means that things are being consolidated a good deal. Some of the smaller pueblo areas that don't baptize much have to be closed. Segovia may be next; we don't know. But we keep working hard to find the elect here just the same.

I'll have plenty of money to survive from here on out, thanks to a new system that the financieros [bookkeeping elders who work in the mission office] have figured out. Money came in yesterday, so I guess you could say that I'm Mistah Moneybagzz!! :) I'll be sure to stock up on all the essentials this week in grocery shopping.

As for the work here, we've been unable to teach our investigators Itso and Martinez because they just haven't cared enough to show up. We don't know what's going on. We've tried to set up several lessons and invite them to church but they stand us up every time. We're looking for new investigators:)

How's the Knorr Family Scripture Study and Prayers going? What book are you reading? A good idea came to me for a New Year's Resolution: Why don't we all read a book together (perhaps the New Testament) and put our commentaries in our emails to each other? Maybe my brother and sisters can even write a sentence or two from what they read, or perhaps include their favorite line or favorite scene from the reading, and I'll do the same in my email. We'll read maybe 1 or 2 chapters every week and then comment on them. Do you like this idea? If so, I'll leave it to you guys to choose what book and decide the system for this. I'd love to study the scriptures with my family again.

Thanks, family and friends!!! I love you all very much and am very grateful for all that you've done for me.

-Elder Knorr

P.S. Turns out I have a bit of extra time today! So I'll add some other thoughts:

We had an idea to find new investigators this morning: Why not offer "Quit Smoking" classes? It's just that hordes of people smoke here, and I can't imagine that all of them want to be smokers. Who knows how many of them want to quit? So we're thinking of advertising free addiction breaking classes to these people via flyers and signs and thus teach them the gospel and really help them change their lives for the better, in more than one aspect!

We've been teaching the family of Luis Enrique lately, teaching him all the things that need to be taught after baptism. He is one to expatiate [dwell upon/develop], so sometimes the lessons get a little distracted. We need to work harder to keep the lessons more focused and spiritual. But we do love them, and they love us. We've developed great relationships with the people here in Segovia.

Alright, time's up now! I've said it once and I'll say it again: I love you all and thanks for your support and love!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day Phone Call!

For 30 minutes of Elder Knorr's phone call with family, click on arrow below:

video

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2 Photos and Letter to Dad written December 16th

We've had some crazy preparation days lately. The mission gave us some extra money and told us to refurbish the pisos. I got that new frying pan I'd been coveting, and we stocked up nicely on cleaning supplies. It was nice!

As for the veritable plethora of vocabulary I've been using in my emails, some of it is from me. The rest is from Kristen. She sends me words and then challenges me to use them in my emails. I don't mind at all; it gives me a chance to keep my English skills up. Plus, it's fun! :)

I printed out pictures today. The first one is of me and Elder Zollinger with Presidente Jesús Galera and his wife Loli. The second one is my new companion, Elder Kap.

Thanks for the constant letters, emails and packages. They're a big help to me.

Luis Enrique gets baptized this Saturday. Tell you all about it in my next email. I love you! [He was baptized and Elder Knorr talks about it in the Dec. 23rd post below.]

Your missionary son,
Elder Knorr

Friday, December 25, 2009

Excerpts from Elder Jonathan Ogden's email home

Elder Knorr and I sang "Stars were Gleaming" with two sister missionaries. It sounded pretty good from up there, even though we were not all sure on our parts. It is kind of hard when you do not practice together.

Although transfers are Monday I do not expect to be transferred. Elder Knorr and I are hoping and praying that he is transferred here and we can finish my mission together. We will see what the Lord says to President Watkins.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Christmas...Baptism, that is!

I'm glad to hear that the Christmas bag of goodies was well received and that the Turron was enjoyed. Yes, the Turron de Jijona (the soft kind) is my favorite too. It fits the stereotype of most Spanish food: oily, somewhat bland and not very appetizing looking, but still good! However, eating the "Spanish way" is probably not the best thing for my body, I've realized, so I've been contemplating a good, solid New Year's resolution for my diet. We'll see how that goes!

The weather around here has been a bit capricious, changing from one moment to the next. We've gotten good snow a few times, but the other day it was downright balmy. Then we got rain. My companion, Elder Kap, comes from northern Utah and doesn't think he can survive without a White Christmas, so that's what we're holding out hope for. :)

Speaking of having a "White Christmas"... the baptism went great! The Cardenas family is now united in the Church, and all signs point to a firm dedication to make it all the way to the temple. It's such a beautiful thing when people truly live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have a tiny church that has no built-in font, so instead of that we have an above ground mini swimming pool that stands at about 3 and a half feet. It's blue. We fill it up with a hose that we attach to the bathroom sink faucet and then run through the hallway to the correct room. It took about 3 hours to fill up this way, but let me tell you: emptying it is a whole different story. We started by starting a siphon, which sipped the water out of the font and had it running continually into one of the toilets. Then, to speed up the process, we went at it with buckets, scooping it out bucketful by bucketful until it was almost halfway empty. Unfortunately, the siphon suddenly ceased to work. After several failed attempts to reestablish it, we realized that we were now on our own and we worked even harder with the buckets to empty the font. All of this ended up taking about 3 hours of lugging those buckets back and forth from the baptism room to the bathroom. When we got down too low to use buckets anymore, I got down into the font and scooped out the last inch cup by cup into buckets until it was almost completely empty, then we mopped the remaining wetness up (which, I should mention, was not confined to the font at this point.) Quite a big job! But it was fun at the same time. Remember those good old days when we did it in rivers or in built-in fonts where you just have to pull a plug to empty the thing? :) [Note from webmaster: the picture is from a different Spanish mission, but the font is similar.]

Oh great, [the bank told you] someone stole my identity. I've seen this happen to tons of missionaries already, it really is a disease. As for any "unusual purchases," I don't think I've ever used my home card to actually buy something. I've only ever used it to pull money out of an ATM. It could be that I'm forgetting something but I honestly can't think of a time when I used the card to actually buy something. Could you give me more information as to what the purchase was and when it was made?

We had a special Christmas Zone Conference yesterday, and it was great! Lots of singing of carols and good messages and, as always, good missionary training. We also had a delicious meal prepared by Elder and Sister Thompson and Elder and Sister Sproul, four of our older couple missionaries. Then, we had an all-mission talent show! We had been told in advance to have something prepared to share. EVERYONE was required to do something. I had already decided to arrange the song "Stars Were Gleaming" to a four-part harmony and sing it in a quartet months ago, so I was well prepared for my number. Elder Kap hadn't prepared anything, though, so he and I also did a number together, singing "Carol of the Bells" in harmony, but singing "Dun" instead of the real words and singing it in a very intense manner. It was funny! As it turned out, however, a few other people enlisted me last-second to sing with them or otherwise help them in their numbers as well. Elder Ketchum asked me and Elder Monson to sing in a trio with him. The Elders from Villalba and Barrio 5 asked me to play the song "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof to accompany their rendition of it, which was entitled "The Mission." So I was up there quite a bit! The other numbers were all very hilarious and enjoyable, and our MC was great! Altogether a very nice Zone Conference.

Today will be a good preparation day. Elder Kap wants to go buy some cold gear, namely long pants and a hat, so that we can start going jogging in the morning. We've already done grocery shopping so we're well ahead of the game. I hope to get a lot of letter writing done today.

I love you all so very much! Thank you for all the support and love you've shown me, especially around this holiday season. I am truly blessed to have the connections with you that I have. Take care and do have a holly, jolly Christmas!

Elder Knorr

Letter to the Bishop and the Ward - written November 18th

Dear Bishop Claybaugh,

Hello! Sorry I haven't written until now; I know you like to have something from missionaries to read over the pulpit, so I thought I'd write you and tell you about my mission and you can read what you want to the ward.

I'm currently in Segovia, a city an hour north of Madrid and best known for its two thousand-year-old Roman aqueduct, built in the time of Christ! The branch here is tiny, but faithful. In many ways, the contrasts between here and the Northridge 14th Ward are incredible, but at the end of the day it's all the same Church and the same Gospel, and that's what's really important.

The "missionary lifestyle" is excellent! I love the work and I love the message.

The food is good, but very oily and a little more on the unhealthy side. If anyone ever tells you that the average Spaniard eats healthier than the average American, don't believe a word of it!

Christmas is coming and I'm enjoying the appearance of many rich traditions and cultural treats. One thing unique to Segovia and the surrounding area is a little instrument called the Dulzania, which resembles a shortened oboe. It has a very happy but incredibly loud and piercing sound. My companion and I joke that if a Dulzaina is played, everyone within a mile radius will instantly know. When accompanied by a snare drum, the music of this instrument draws out the older Spaniards and they dance a traditional folk dance called the Jota. It's very fun to watch!

I have already seen miracles happen in this work. I have seen lives changed. I have seen hearts healed. I know this Church is everything we know it to be; I know it's true, and that's why I love this work so much. I'd invite all the members of the ward to think about how they can personally help the work move forward. Members of the Church are much more important to missionary work than I think many of them realize.

Thank you, Bishop, for helping me get where I am now and for helping me prepare to do what I am now doing. I'll keep working as hard as I can to help these people see the truth. Take care!

Elder Knorr

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW!!

Yep, you heard right. SNOW!!!!! It has snowed twice here in Segovia now. It snowed yesterday night, leaving about an inch for us to trudge through that morning, but it all evaporated by the end of the day. Then, today, it snowed again! It has left a nice layer which gives an almost numinous [mysterious] frosting to the Aqueduct and the Cathedral. I don't know if it's snowed in Madrid, but up here in Segovia we get a bit more than them. According to the old Spaniard buzz, the weather is acting much differently this year. Supposedly it snowed in Andalucia in the south of Spain where it hardly ever snows. Segovia, however, gets snow every year, up to a foot at times.

The next big thing also has to do with the color white: Baptism this Saturday! Luis Enrique had his interview this Monday and now is all good to go to get baptized. We'll be filling up a "portable font" in our little church with cold water (because we don't have hot water in the church building). Presidente Galera and Patricio were both concerned about the coldness of the water, worrying that Luis wouldn't like it. On the contrary, however, Luis is a very tough man. He served in the Peruvian military as a young man and is just all around tough. In fact, he showers with cold water every morning. So I don't think the cold water will be a problem...for him at least. When we asked him who he wanted to baptize him, he looked at me and said "You want to go in the cold water with me?" We all laughed, and of course I agreed. So I'll be the one doing the baptism.

We've been enjoying the many typical Christmas foods here. There is of course Turron, in all it's varieties. They also have Polvorones, which literally translated means "big dusts." They're golf ball sized chunks of compacted almond powder and sugar, mixed with a variety of spices like cinnamon and lemon zest. They live up to their name and are very crumbly, so you have to eat them with care. Figs or "Higos" are popular around this time of year as well, and I've grown quite fond of them. They taste just like fig newtons (no surprise there). I've found that pretty much all of their Christmas treats are made in some way or another out of crushed almonds. I don't mind; they're delicious! :)

Besides all this, we're still teaching Itso the Bulgarian. It's hard because of communication but it's fun at the same time. And he has a great desire to follow the gospel and continue to learn, which is nice to see as a missionary.

Elder Kap and I are getting along great. We're trying all kinds of strategies to keep the apartment warm (our normal heating units are disfunctional so all we have is a little box heater). But it's fun!

Well, I've got to go. We've got a crazy amount of stuff to get done this preparation day and naught but a few hours in which to do it. I love you all! Take care, and I hope your holiday season is great!

-Elder Knorr

Monday, December 14, 2009

Letters to Dad and Ethan dated December 2nd

To Dad:

Hello! I got the Christmas package...thank you so much! It truly is the Christmas season now! I especially like the fold-out paper nativity. It occupies a prominent place on my desk and I love looking at it. And there is now a nice stack of presents on top of the wall-mounted heating unit (not exactly under a tree, but whatever!). We don't know exactly how to use the heaters in our apartment anyway, and they're not very effective, so it's a perfect spot!

As for a Knorr-Ogden companionship, chances are probably no. There's probably one more chance left, but I've been happy just seeing him every now and then so I'm not all that upset. We'll just see what happens.

Things have gone well here in Segovia lately. We're witness to a surge of new investigators, lessons taught, investigators at church, and investigators progressing. We're just being very blessed as missionaries and doing our best to be worthy stewards of Segovia.


To Ethan:

Things are going great here in the missionfield. Going on a mission is the funnest thing I've probably ever done. Do whatever it takes to get out on a mission! It will take you where you need to go in life. Make going on a mission your goal. It may seem like a long ways away now, but if you don't set yourself in the right direction now, it could be tough later on. Love you, bro! Take care of the family. Your missionary brother, Christopher Knorr/Elder Knorr

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From a Missionary who feels VERY LOVED!

Hello one and all!

I think I'll just let you all know right now that I got a great, amazing, wonderful package yesterday!!! And guess who it was from? Kristen! It was a marvelous wonderful thing with many roborant [restoring vigor or strength] contents. I will most definitely send a more thorough thank you to the sender herself in a letter very shortly, but I wanted to just let her know that I got it safe and sound and that I am enjoying it very much!

Well, Elder Zollinger is history now. He'll be flying to California today. From what I understand, he'll be spending a few days there and then flying to Salt Lake, where he will then drive home to Idaho. It sounds like you've already gotten in contact with his parents and figured out all the information you'll need to know to catch him there. As for the presents, they are all in a bag and are individually wrapped so there's no need to worry about "seeing too much". The turron should be eaten before Christmas, however. I wouldn't want to postpone that. :)

I have a new companion! His name is Elder Kap and he is very different from any companion I have yet had. He likes skiing, singing, and has tons of energy to do the work! He has a good singing voice, so we recorded a bit of singing this morning on the tape for you to hear! He has only six weeks on me age-wise in the mission, so we're about equally experienced. It should be fun to learn how to work together and figure things out here in Segovia!

As for the area, things are doing marvelously. We have 3 progressing investigators. Among them is a man named Itso, who is Bulgarian. He loves the Book of Mormon and started reading it from the beginning before we told him to! He has a copy of it in Bulgarian, and from that he's understanding the principles of the gospel very well. He can communicate with us well in Spanish, but his understanding is much better in Bulgarian, so we use as many scriptures as possible when we teach him lessons. He is a very different character, and it is quite amusing to teach him! Also, Luis Enrique still has a date set for the 19th. We continue to teach him and his family and things are going smoothly. I'm sure he'll be ready for baptism on the 19th to join his family in the Church.

Good to hear that the family is doing well in all aspects! Ethan, good luck with your Space Center adventure!

Today, we received extra money from the mission to go out and buy new dishes, utensils, and cooking supplies, along with cleaning supplies. We're refurbishing the apartment! It should be fun.

That's all for now, family! I love you all and I wish the best for you. Thank you once again for the wonderful packages and letters. They truly warm my heart and get me into the Christmas spirit! I'm healthy and happy here in Segovia so don't worry about that. Till next time!

-Elder Knorr

P.S. Just received word that we're only allowed to speak to immediate family during our Christmas call. I appreciate everyone's willingness to let Kristen come for the occasion but it looks like that won't happen now. I know this is kind of a bummer after we were all thinking that it would be ok, and I'm sorry for that. This is the rule and I must follow it. I love you all! and thank you for understanding.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December! and 8 months too!

Whew, wow, I just had a very hard time trying to get something printed out at this locutorio (internet place). You see, we're having a Christmas Talent Show in the mission and I decided for my talent to write an arrangement of "Stars were Gleaming" for a singing quartet and then perform it. Hermana Watkins, the mission president's wife, took what I wrote and scanned it and sent it to the four of us through email but now it can't be printed out. So...I just spent a good amount of time trying in vain to print it out but it's just not working. Frustrating...I hope the other missionaries are able to print it out. I already know my part by heart, so I won't be too bad off.

Anyway!! Thanksgiving was very fun. We cooked up all the Thanksgiving-y foods that I got in my Thanksgiving package and then ATE THEM! We also made the Bisquick Biscuits that were sent to me by Grandma and Grandpa Knorr, and we enjoyed them very much! :) Be sure to tell them that their package did indeed arrive and also "Thank You" from me for all the wonderful treats they sent.

We had interviews yesterday and I got several letters and also a PACKAGE!!! :) I haven't opened it yet because then it would be harder to carry around Madrid on the way home, so I've decided to wait until we make it back to Segovia before I open it and see what's inside. I think I'll be able to resist the urge to open the presents in there, so no worries! I also received a letter from the Dentons! It contained messages from all the members of the family and was very nice to read. Thank you Dentons!!! I'll respond soon.

Now, as for the Christmas package that I want to send y'all: My companion is going home very soon, in a matter of a few days, and he'll be taking a bit of a detour to get there. He'll fly in to California, where his parents will be, and then they'll all fly to Salt Lake City and then drive home to Idaho Falls from there. What I thought might be good is if someone from the family drove up to Salt Lake and met him there in the airport. He's said that he'll have extra room in his luggage and will be able to just take my package to you guys with him. I thought this would be good because we'd save on postage, you'd get the package before Christmas and you'd also get to meet my ex-companion! He'll land in Salt Lake the Saturday after this Saturday somewhere around noon. His parents' names are Steve and Jerry Zollinger and I have both of their phone numbers here so that you can call them and get more details and plan things out. I'll be sending the package with Elder Zollinger though, so be sure not to miss him or else you won't get nuttin' for Christmas! ;)

As for our area, it is getting cooooold out here! Well, probably not cold by Orem standards, but I'm starting to get softened up by being here. I've been trying out my rain gear and cold gear and I'm pleased to say that everything has been working without a hitch! I'm especially pleased with my coat, which not only keeps me warm and dry but looks quite classy. :D

We've been developing a good relationship with the extended family of Alfredo. We've taught his aunt, Meri, several times and we've gone over many times to eat as well. This last time, we ate and then made Brownies together. It was way fun! Meri is among the most polite, ladylike, kind women I know! She is very loyal to the Catholic church though, but we'll keep working on her! She's told us many times that she always tries to follow her heart, so we know that she'll eventually come to know that this Church is true.

Other than that, I'm excited to see who my new companion is next week. Elder Zollinger and I are an intrepid companionship but I'm sure I'll get another companion who's just as good. We have another visit planned to Avila this week and we'll continue to work hard here in Segovia, searching out the elect wherever we go! I love you all so very much, and I'll talk to you again!

-Elder Knorr