Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

...a beautiful day for a neighbor. Won't you be mine? Won't you be mine?

Yes, things are all just sunshine and butterflies for us right now in Segovia. OK, so maybe the weather has been cold and rainy. And I haven't technically seen any butterflies...but things are very very good right now. :) Allow me to elaborate.

OK then, you know how they say that the best way to do missionary work is through the member
s? Well, about a week ago, we had a lesson with Presidente Galera and his wife Hermana Loli. A friend of Hermana Loli's was there, a 55-year-old, very polite Spanish woman named Mercedes, and they were working on some kind of craft together. Mercedes saw us come in and said she'd be on her way, but Hermana Loli (may her name be praised) asked her to stay and listen to the lesson. So she did. We taught a lesson about the family, using the Proclamation to the World, and sung them a hymn to end it. The Spirit was strong! Hermana Loli said she'd give Mercedes a call the next time we were going to come over, and Mercedes consented. And, the next time we visited them, guess who was present? Mercedes! We taught the first lesson, focusing on the Book of Mormon and the importance of reading and praying about it to gain a testimony. We challenged Mercedes to do it and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. The next time we went over, guess who was there yet again? :) and guess who kept her commitment to read and pray? :) :) :) And guess who got an answer to her prayer? :D :D :D :D Yup, you guessed it! Mercedes!!! We taught her about the first part of the Plan of Salvation, ending with the Atonement, bearing testimony of everything as we went and asking her good questions. We ended by challenging her to be baptized on the 20th of March. After a short pause, a smile and a little laugh, she said "Si"!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was awesome. So we're now working towards that baptismal date, and we all feel really good about it. Me and my companion have been ecstatic, gamboling [jumping] and crying out in joy every now and then. :)

Unfortunately, the 27th is no longer when Alfredo is getting baptized. He missed quite a few lessons last week and now we don't have enough time. But, when he came to Church this Sunday, guess who was with him? His son William! :) We had a good talk and William told us that he would be there at the lesson on Wednesday. We believe that now that William is back in the groove, Alfredo will probably be full steam ahead for baptism. He didn't want to get baptized without his son.

Anyway, that's pretty much it for investigators. We haven't been able to teach Hector and his fa
mily for a while due to some misunderstanding on when we were supposed to meet. But we'll keep trying. Also, the first counselor's daughter, Kelly, has been showing a bit more interest in the Church so we've been working with her as well. All in all, things are looking pretty good in Segovia investigator-wise.

Recently, we've been working a lot with Elder and Hermana Jewell, a senior missionary couple who have come to live in Segovia and work with us. We're very excited to have them here! We're hopi
ng that they can stoke up the fire in some of the Menos Activos that we've got here and get them to come to Church. Last time there was a senior couple working in Segovia, the branch had 12 baptisms! We've spent the last few days getting them settled in and up-to-speed on how things are going in the area and how they can help. They've got the heart and they've got the drive! Elder Jewell coordinated the translation of the LDS version of the Reina Valera Spanish Bible, so I've been picking his brain by asking him questions about the process. And Hermana Jewell is an excellent cook, and has made us yummy food twice! She made us some very tasty pork chops the other day. Deeeeelicious! :) They are the Mother and Father of 5 children and the grandparents of 18 nietos.

Everyone in the Mission is talking about the upcoming changes of mission boundaries. From what I understand, and from what Elder and Hermana Jewell have let us know, it looks like we'll get most of the Bilbao mission west of Santander. We don't know for sure if we're getting Santander or not yet, but we definitely won't get Bilbao itself. And, of course, we're getting the Canary Islands, so there's potential for me to get transferred to an island! :O We'll be losing a lot of southern cities to the Malaga mission, including the majority of La Mancha ("To dream the impossible dream..." *sung in a sad, minor, key*) including the missionaries who will be serving there at the time. I hope it's not me! Sure, it would be fun to get to know all of the south of Spain, but at the same time, I like the Spain Madrid Mission and I don't want to leave! All in all, crazy stuff going on there. But it's not until July so there's no need to flip out just yet.

#1 rule of transportation in Spain: Cars are faster. We learned this yesterday when we went with los Jewell [the Jewells] to District meeting in Villalba in their nice, new car. It was about 30% faster! And it wasn't quite so loud and shaky as the train. And I brought along a disk of Handel's Messiah that we rocked out to on the way (OK, more like "enjoyed in a well-mannered fashion). All in all, I think that's the way we'll be getting to district meeting, zone conference, and maybe even transfers from here on out.

Over the past few weeks, the weather has been 100% crazy! Once, it was sunny, rainy, snowy, haily and windy all in the same day! But that's what it's always like, apparently. Coming into March, it should stabilize a bit. Today, it's quite nice, actually. It smells like spring is coming.

Nice to hear that my letters are well-received! I do enjoy writing them and reading all of your responses. I'll probably be sending some more today to various family members and friends who I have not yet responded to. Thanks for continuing to write me, all of you wonderful people you! I love you all very much and I'm very happy and satisfied with where I am and what I'm doing. Thank you for your support, it really helps.

Ever your humble servant,

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making good progress in the area of Segovia!

Yes, first of all, we are still working with Alfredo on the baptism, and still aiming for the 27th of February. Things are looking good. It's going to be great!

Having searched for months of end, it was about time that we found a SWEET family! I don't know if I already told you about them, but I'm going to tell you about them again just to be safe. The father is Hector, a Peruvian man in his mid 40s. We found him in the street one night while contacting. We set a date for a lesson and, when he showed up, he brought two of his kids! In a later lesson, he brought his other daughter too. Brenda is 15 and understands everything we teach really well. It's amazing because she already has a great testimony about the existence of God and she understands the Book of Mormon and its purpose really well. Ingrid is 13 and listens very carefully and attentively to the lesson and understands things very well as well. And Renso, the 12-year-old son, is likewise awesome. We haven't met the mother yet, but this family is great! We have another appointment to meet with them this Saturday, and we are going to focus on getting them to Church. It's so nice when we find someone who wants to listen and learn.

Employing a term I learned from one of Ethan's letters: That's the "wiz fiz" with our investigators right now. From friends and family, I've received many letters and still haven't had time to respond to very many at all yet! For the past few preparation days, we've been a bit busy and haven't had time to write a whole lot of letters. I'm planning on hitting it pretty hard today so we will see how many I can crank out.

I'll dispel the doubt over letters from Dad right now: Yes, I have received all three of the letters mentioned to me in the email. Last preparation day I was able to write letters to Megan and Ethan but then ran out of time. I decided it was better to send them immediately rather than wait until today to finish writing the family and send it all together. I'm sorry Dad, there's on coming soon!!

About the senior couple that is coming: We have been working very closely with Elder and Hermana Jewell to find them a piso so that they can come out here and work with us. They are just starting their mission now. It will be really fun to work with them. Also, according to hearsay, Hermana Jewell knows how to make some great Mexican food, so Elder Kap and I are pretty excited about that! :) They're looking for a piso that is as furnished as possible already so they don't have to worry about that. I suppose they will be moved in withing the coming days.

So, time for a bit of speculation. It is altogether possible that in the next week or so, Elder Kap and I will be moving pisos! While searching for one for the Jewells, we found one that would work really nicely for us. We asked Elder Thompson about it and he said he would get to work on the contracts. The owner of our piso has a contract with us until July but Elder Thompson doesn't think he is exhorable. So we could be moving soon!

Recently I have been reading in both the Book of Mormon and Mark, but I neglected to bring note about what I liked, so I can't really share my thoughts. Suffice it to say that I love both of those studies and am greatly enjoying them!

Time for a bit of not-so-happy news: we still haven't had the cha
nce to meet with William. Alfredo says that he doesn't want to continue, which seems strange to me as he had such great desires before leaving for Colombia. I'd like to at least meet with him once more, if for nothing else than to just say hi, and hopefully find out why he doesn't have interest anymore.

Olympics are happening? That's fun. My companion likes skiing so I'm sure he wishes he could watch them. But he is doing bigger and better things right now, isn't he? Just like me.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to eat any chocolate for Valentines Day. Though I do think it's interesting...(brace for deep-thinking rant). If I'm not mistaken, St. Valentine got famous for marrying young lovers who weren't legally allowed to get married because of a war or something. That version of love is SO different than what the world nowadays views it to be. Here in Spain, it's considered completely normal and natural for couples to live together for years before getting married, and very few young people wait for marriage. Sometimes I wish the world could revert back to those old times, when people who were in love GOT MARRIED. Being here in the mission has shown me how big of a stumbling block this is for some people. The world would be so much of a better place if everyone kept that commandment. Right then, sorry for going off on a tangent. Hope that didn't scare anyone away. :)

Today we are going to celebrate the birthday of Luis Enrique at 2:30. They invited us over to eat and celebrate. It will be fun, that whole family is very dear to me!

So good to hear from you again, family! As always, thanks for the letters and the love and concern that you show me. It really helps me out. The work is going splendidly and I'm having a great time. Take care, and until next time!

-Elder Knorr

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pictures and excerpts from past letters, including Elder Knorr's testimony

Meeting with the Mayor of Segovia

Just a little missionary fun.

December 23

We've been pretty cold here in Segovia the past few weeks. We got permission to buy a space heater. My companion named it "Esther" and we both love it (or "her" I guess). The family of Luis Enrique LOVES animals. They've got two birds, a turtle, and a hamster. Luis Guillermo (the son) always has one of his pets there with him when we teach a lesson. Also, they fed us rabbit once. It's quite good. They sell whole, skinned rabbits at the supermarket. Pretty interesting!

It's funny the things we take for granted, like friendships and relationships, when in reality those are the only things that matter in the end. I was just suddenly uprooted from everything I knew and loved and and sent across the Atlantic Ocean! It really helped me see what's truly important in life. Before, I put a lot of importance on things that really didn't deserve it. Not to say those things in general were bad, I had just messed up values. I'll see things more clearly after the mission.

December 30

Well, I am SOAKED. I just walked through a freak Spanish rainstorm, and I didn't think to bring an umbrella. It just came out of nowhere! And the wind was way strong and just started pelting my face like no other! We were walking through the big, empty dirt field next to our apartment and I just got NAILED and there was no cover or protection anywhere nearby and my companion's little umbrella was woefully inadequate to keep us dry. It was coming in sideways, no joke.

We're sitting in a dentist's office right now. My companion wants to be a dentist and he decided it would be fun to get his teeth worked on in a Spanish clinic. Not my idea of fun, but whatever. My shoes are completely waterlogged; just soaked right through to the insole. Apparently all the stuff here is free. My companion just got an x-ray and he doesn't have to pay for it!

January 27

I know that God lives. How do I know? Because I've felt the Spirit tell me that it's true. I'm very grateful to have had such a witness so that I know the truth. Getting knowledge from the Holy Ghost is the purest way to receive knowledge and understanding. It's just a straight channel from God to us. Other senses can deceive, but who can tell someone else how they feel? Nobody - exactly. Which is why I know that nothing that anyone else could ever do or say could take that knowledge away from me. I know that Christ is our Savior, the literal bridge-builder between mankind and God-kind. Through temples and the power of the Priesthood, we have the opportunity to face the eternal adventure as families, together with the ones we love. I know these things. I know them. I have seen miracles, not all of which I openly share right now but maybe in some future day. I know this Church is true, and that by following it, we can become our best. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Great News!!!

I think I'll start with the best news...

Alfredo is getting baptized on the 27th of February! Yes, we
're very happy. He's still the same ole' awesome Alfredo that he's always been, and he's committed to his date on the 27th. We're preparing him for that day. I'll keep you all posted. We haven't yet met with William, despite our efforts, and he hasn't come to church yet. We'll keep trying - he was a good friend and a nice guy.

Transfers came and went, and still no move! I'm still pluggin' away here in Segovia with Elder Kap. There will, however, probably be changes in the coming transfer. Big ones. For instance, we're getting a missionary couple here in Segovia! We've been looking for an apartment for them for the last week and they'll be moving in ASAP. I'm excited to meet them and work with them. They will be a very big blessing for the branch here.

Right then, to reply to your email: I'm glad to hear that my blog is well-received and I hope that it's helped someone in some way.
I'm really having great experiences here in Spain and I hope that the rest of you all are enjoying them in some small way as well. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Godfrey for the support! I really appreciate it. And I'm glad that Ty and Taylor are doing well and that they've returned with honor.

Utahn versions of the word "cold" are s
tarting to be replaced by Spaniard versions. Though it's only a few degrees below freezing, I'm feeling colder and colder. We have had a few warm days though. That's the way it is here apparently. Presidente Galera taught me a Segovian saying about the weather. Roughly translated, it goes like this: "January's Snowy, February's Crazy, March is Windy, April is Rainy, come out with May, flowery and pretty." So far, it's all happening just as he said it would!

Time to share scriptural insights! I thought I'd
share some observations about 2 Nephi 28, but also share some things I got from my study of the New Testament, just because! :)

I like 2 NE 28. I like to call it the "Don't Sin" chapter. There are the classic verses 7-9 (remember Emily's primary talk?). I also really like 20-22. They use really good language to warn us of the dangers of sin!

20: Total fulfilment of prophecy
! The world at large is more and more "stirred up to anger" against all that which is good, like the Church, the family, self-discipline, etc.
21: Pacify, cheateth their souls, led carefully down to hell. What strong language! This verse was used to good effect by Richard G. Scott in the last General Conference.
22: My favorite one of the three. Flattereth away. "I am no devil, for there is none." I have seen this mentality all over the place while I've been on my mission. It is a huge problem. If we don't know that Satan is there, trying to mess us up, and if we don't keep on our guard, we will get spiritually poisoned by degrees until we're dead. Don't get flattered away!

Alright, now for the New Testament. I read the first 7 chapters of Mark this week and enjoyed them a lot. I like the Gospels because you get multiple viewpoints of the same events. Mark starts with a very summarized version of the baptism and temptation of Jesus and gets straight into the core of his ministry. I enjoyed all of it, of course, but the one that stood out to me this time was Mark 2:21-22.

Jesus Christ started a new dispensation. The old prophecies and laws that Judaism was built off of had become old and corrupted. Jesus brought all things again new.

Yep, all the rumors are true about the changing missions. It's good news and bad news at the same time. Good news: our mission gets the Canary Islands!! Sweet! We'll also probably get the city of Bilbao and a good amount of Basque country, which will be fun. Bad news: We'll lose La Mancha and some of the eastern cities, and probably some of the elders that we have right now. But it's revelation and it will be an adventure anyway so I'm looking forward to it!

Until next time, my beloved family and friends. Take care!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spanish Missions Reorganization

We've just learned that in July they'll be realigning the boundaries of the Spanish missions. There will no longer be a "Bilbao Mission." Its area will be shared between the Madrid Mission and the Barcelona Mission. Madrid will lose La Mancha district to the south, but will gain the Canary Islands (currently in the Malaga Mission). The Madrid Mission will extend from the northwest corner of Spain to just south of Madrid, plus the Canary Islands. While Madrid is not the closest mission geographically to the islands, that is where the most flights depart from.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day...yesterday

Well, apparently this keyboard Im using today has some different configurations because I cant seem to type exclamation marks or apostrophies. So all of you English majors and grammar-philes will just have to grit your teeth and bear it for this one because I dont have any other choice. And Im sorry if I dont sound excited about anything. Its because I dont have exclamation marks (Mom, feel free to go through and fix it all). Alright, this is going to be weird.

Good week this week. Weve found some good new investigators and otherwise interested people. And guess what? Alfredo and William are back (insert many exclamation points here). Yes, I know, its great. Were planning on teaching them tonight and Im excited to get things going with them again. They were really great investigators who truly had testimonies of the Gospel. Im excited to hear how their trip was and get to teaching them the Gospel again.

Lets see, newsy... I went to the dentist today. Its not that I had any tooth pain or anything; I just wanted to meet the dentist himself, who is an inactive member. It was nice to meet him and get to know him a bit. He suggested that, to take care of some white spots on my teeth, I rinse with a supplement that is pretty much, from what I understand, extract from mother of pearl. Apparently, this supplement is his "trade secret" and no other dentist in Spain uses it. Well, THAT was my first warning. But I wanted to be nice and trusting so I took it anyway and was still mostly for the idea until he dropped the price on me: 30 euros. I had pretty much already been pressure sold into it by that point so I paid for it off my home card. But Im probably going to return the unused package tomorrow and try and get my money back.

I greatly enjoyed all of the swell letters and precious packages that you all sent me. I would add exclamation marks there but I cant. Its the thought that counts, right? Thanks for the shoes, Ive begun the process of breaking them in. They seem a little tight. I think its because my feet have become much stronger and more muscly as a result of walking everywhere. But theyre leather shoes and will eventually ad
apt to my feet. Soon Ill be nimble as a ninja. Also, thanks for the several bags of yankee candy and the several pounds of Stretch Island fruit leather. Ill be sure to put it to very good use... :) Question though: why dont they make banana flavored fruit leather? Just a random thought. I have to say that my favorite thing in the package was the photo album of all you guys. Looks like youre doing great and having a good time.

Grandma and Grandpa Knorr: Thanks for the birthday package, it was wonderful. My companion and I baked and iced and sprinkled the cakes. Devils Food cake just happens to be my companions favorite kind. We made two, using the pie tins you sent me. We ate one of the cakes, just us two, and took the other one to district meeting. As it turned out, we didnt have enough time to eat it there, so we grabbed a knife and took the cake with us and ate it on the train, all four of us Elders, cutting slices with the knife and eating it with our fingers. Fortunately it wasnt a crumbly cake so we didnt make any mess. Though the package reached me a few days after my birthday, I enjoyed it a lot and it brightened my day. Thanks (exclamation point). And the bisquick was also put to good use, making an excellent complement to me and my companions fried chicken (yes, I can make fried chicken).

Today will of a surety be a day of much letter writing. I have a lot to respond to. Sorry to anyone who has been waiting a long time for a reply. This is the first time Ive gotten mail in about 5 weeks and plus, it sounds like a few letters have mysteriously disappeared in the black hole of the Spanish mail system. Sorry about that, but I guess it happens sometimes. Ill get right to replying to all of the letters in my possession. Thanks again for caring enough to send them to me (exclamation point). That just doesnt feel the same, does it? Oh well, desparate times...

I hadnt heard about those Romanian Elders, but I have heard horror stories about natural gas leaks and carbon monoxide. We have a great Senior couple, the Thompsons, who make sure our pisos are safe and there arent any problems with that, so I feel safe. As for the "creative methods" mentioned in earlier emails, no worries. We use a small, plug-in space heater that has nothing to do with natural gas OR carbon monoxide, so its very safe. It keeps things from getting too gelid [word of the week - very cold] though.

I love you all so very much. Thanks for loving me and showing it (as Elder Bednar would say). All of the positive emotion is appreciated. Until next time.

-Elder Knorr