Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Halfway for Elder Knorr on April 1st!

Well, hello everyone! It's me, the once-again city missionary. I'm slowly getting used to the whole city feel again. The pueblo has its benefits, but so does the city. There are many more opportunities to work and teach here! So I'm enjoying that aspect of things. The ward is also good, and full of really great and fired-up-to-share-the-gospel members, and all of them are, of course, very friendly and welcoming. I still haven't met them all, but I've been working diligently on remembering names and faces, trying to get to know them all as quickly as possible. In Segovia, I didn't have any other choice but to meet everyone and become friends with them; there were so few members! Here, developing that kind of relationship with the members will probably be a bit more challenging, but I'm giving it my best.

The baptism of Alfredo and William went fine! Elder Kap and President Watkins gave me phone calls to let me know about how the service went. They had the baptism in a discreet and beautiful location in a lake near Segovia. An hour before the baptism, I talked with Alfredo and William over the phone to see how they were doing and how they were feeling and congratulate them for the great step they were taking towards Christ. They sounded excited and happy. Elder Kap said that he took lots of good pictures, pictures that I plan on stealing and sending in the next batch. Though I wasn't there for the actual service, I'm very pleased that everything worked out without a hitch.

Just as a clarification, my companion Elder Becerra is Bolivian, from Santa Cruz. Not Spanish, just Spanish-speaking. It's been fun so far being his companion: we teach each other words and phrases. I've already learned lots of useful words, such as "surer," which is a Spaniard way of saying "to beat up." :) I've already taught him a myriad of useful and current English phrases, such as "tough luck," "what the flip" and "what's up" (things they would not teach him of in college).

A few days ago, I got a very nice surprise. Package!!! Yay! It was filled with baking and Easter goodness, a new CD of music, and a camel. I've been enjoying the Eastery treats for the past few days and I plan on making the chocolate chip cookies today to share with some members. Oh, Dad, could you possibly send me a recipe for your chocolate chip cookies (or is that too much of a secret)? I really would like that, so that I can make chocolate chip cookies without packets. :) Oh, and I love the Northridge Elementary Choir music on the disc.

Once again, I forgot to bring the cable to send pictures with the email. I'll try to remember to do it next time, sorry...

Today, for preparation day, we went to the Spanish Naval Museum! The Spanish Armada was the best in the world for a long time and was and still is their pride and joy. It was very cool. They had all kinds of old weapons and models of big ships and paintings of naval battles and stuff. I took lots of pictures. They also had an enormous painting of Columbus coming to the New World and meeting the natives, which was cool.

I hope to get some serious letter-writing done today. We'll see what happens though, because last week I hardly had any time at all. I know I haven't written you guys in awhile and I really want to. I'll try my best to send some letters your way today.

General Conference is coming up! It will surely be a very fun and uplifting experience, and I'm looking forward to it a great deal. It's interesting: last time I saw an April General Conference, I was in the MTC in Provo. That feels like it could have happened yesterday! And yet, here I am, with half of my mission already spent.

Sounds like everything's going well with the family. Have fun with the road trip and be sure to tell me how it goes! Thanks for the package and the emails and the love that you constantly show towards me. It really helps me keep going. I love you, family, and I'm proud to be out here representin' in Spain. Remember, the Church is true, and God loves us. Till next time!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Livin' for the City

To my brosephs, my homeslices, my pilly-wiggles, my narf-scarfs, and my family:

Well, I've been moved! Yup, I am no longer in Segovia. That means there's a lot of things to put in this email. I'll include as many as I think to include and have time to include.

First off, I am in Madrid again, serving with the Madrid 4th Ward. Though I've only been here a very short while, it seems like it's a very good ward and I'm excited to be here. I'm in Madrid again, so it's back to the lifestyle of a city missionary: riding the metro and bus, way more people to contact, etc, etc. It will be an improvement in some ways, but I will miss some of the aspects of "pueblo missionary life." It's all the same work though, when it comes down to it.

The first implication of having moved is that I probably won't get to attend the baptism [of Alfredo and William], which is too bad, because I had so much to do with the planning and preparation that I can't help but feel a little bit let down now that I won't be able to attend. We found a very beautiful place to have it, a lake about 15 minutes out of town right near the mountains. I haven't asked permission yet to leave my area and travel to attend it, but I don't think I'll get it anyway and I'm ok with that. It's just part of the work. I'll be sure to have Elder Kap take some good pictures and send me them.

Second implication of having moved: I don't know anything. That's an interesting part of missionary work. You may feel comfortable with the way missionary work is done and you may feel somewhat capable of doing it and yet, with all that, all it takes to derail you is one little transfer call. Now I know nothing, I don't know the area, the members, the way the work is done, the bus schedules, where shops are, etc, etc, etc. There are things that carry over, like teaching ability, desire to work, and things like that, but it's still a bit of a jarring change.

Moving to a new area is always a challenge. First off, I had to fit everything into two rolling suitcases. That was... an interesting experience. I had to wrestle them a bit to get them to shut, but I did it. Then, the trip to Madrid in the bus. Then, getting through the Metro with those huge, awkward, heavy suitcases is no galumph through the pasture. Thank goodness the wheels haven't broken off of my luggage yet. My luggage has actually exceeded my expectations thus far on my mission and I'm very pleased with it.

My new companion is Elder Becerra. He is from Bolivia and doesn't speak or understand very much English. But that's ok, it will give my Spanish a nice workout. :) He's been out 6 months so I'm the senior companion. Oh yeah, and I'm also the district leader. Crazy, eh? I know very little about being a district leader, but I'm working hard to try and find out what my responsibilities are and how I can fulfill them.

I'm living in a four-missionary apartment now. The assistants to the President are the other companionship, so it's interesting.

So Ethan had a dream that I came back cured of my Nerf Gun affinity? Well, let me set the record perfectly clear in his mind: When I get back, and am no longer a missionary, there will be Nerf battles. Oh, so many Nerf battles. The plastic and orange foam carnage will blot out the light of the sun, the unified roar of thousands of discharging Nerf Guns will deafen the nations, the anguished cries of velcro-tipped dart-covered victims will pierce through the cool, crisp air of the basement as a final, desperate assault is mounted against the pillow and couch-cushion fortress guarding the entrance to the bottleneck hallway, and glory, and honor, and victory will be the anthem of the day. Don't worry, Ethan. I still like Nerf Guns. :)

Well, I can't think of anything more to say right now! My address has changed, so don't mail me at the old one. The general mission address is still fine. In fact, since I am now so close to the mission's center, there will be no need to send me letters to a direct address anymore because they can get my mail to me very quickly from the mission office.

Thanks so much for the cards you've all been sending and the packages that you have sent - and that I anxiously await. :) You're all the greatest! I'll keep figuring things out here in my new area and I'll be sure to tell you all about the adventures that Elder Becerra and I have while serving the Lord here in Barrio 4! I love you all.

-Elder Knorr

P.S. I am now allowed to send pictures over email! I forgot my camera this week but I'll bring it next time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Segovian Missionary, Reporting In

Hey family and friends and faceless puppet creatures! I hope everything has been going well back home. Thanks for the letters and love you've been sending me, it helps me work harder. We've had a very full and eventful week, so I'll get to telling you all about it.

We had a fun, spiritual and constructive time at Zone Conference. We were visited by Elder Kopische (still not sure if I'm spelling that right). He speaks very good English and gave a very good talk that helped me learn how I can better help my investigators towards baptism. It was awesome and very applicable to me personally, and as a missionary.

We've been fighting over here in Segovia, doing our best to help our investigators set firm dates. And we've had success! Alfredo and William are both set to get baptized the 27th of March! :)
They are both great men. Alfredo is a carpenter: simple, humble, and full of faith. William, his 27-year-old son, is in the Spanish Air Force, training to become a paratrooper. He is humble, strong, kind, and knows what's important in life.
Once he decides to do something, he will do it (you have to have that mindset if you're going to throw yourself out of a plane). They're both very prepared for baptism and have strong testimonies. Alfredo, however, has one concern. He wants to be baptized just as Jesus was, all the way down to getting baptized in a river. In fact, he insists on getting baptized in a river. :) So, we'll be having the baptism in the Rio Eresma that runs alongside Segovia. It should be fun, and different. This Monday, we went looking for a good place to have it and we found just the right place.

The Cardenas family is doing great! Luis Enrique is the branch mission leader and he really has a fire in the belly to share the Gospel with all of his family and friends. His friends have all noticed how he doesn't drink anymore and they all ask him about it. He had the missionaries sent to his mother's house in Peru to teach her the Gospel too.
He likes having us over to teach his family, and to feed us Peruvian food. In fact, he's invited us over to eat with them today, so we'll see what he makes! :) At his house, I've eaten rabbit, squid, and a large variety of other foods. He cooks really well and we enjoy eating with him. Carola, his wife, is a very kind and loving person who loves the way that the Gospel has helped her family become more united. She knows what's important in life and she does everything she can to live the commandments. Luis Guillermo, the 13-year-old son, is really one of my best friends here in Segovia. He's a big time comedian and always has something witty and hilarious to say. He is also very focused on what's important. I have never met anyone so grateful to hold the Aaronic Priesthood as him. He takes very seriously his priesthood duties and frequently gives thanks for the opportunity to hold it in his prayers. He's a good kid and loves the scriptures and loves the Gospel.

There's a circus moving in across the street from our apartment building. Looking out the window, we've seen rhinos, zebras, and camels. Pretty cool!

The weather has become downright pleasant these past few days! Spring is finally on its way.

Sending letters to my direct address has been working well! I've received several letters in record time. DO NOT SEND ANY MORE TO MY DIRECT ADDRESS, however, until I know that I'm not getting transferred. I would hate to lose mail in the change. For now, please just use the mission address like usual.

The mission truly is a strange thing. I realized with shock the other day that I only have 14 days left until I hit my 12 month mark. I truly will have come full circle! Serving as a missionary is a completely unique experience. There are things that I have been learning out here that I could not have learned in any other way, and ways that I am growing that I could not have experienced in any other way. I am truly grateful for the way the Lord is blessing me for my service. I only hope that my sacrifice is enough for Him.

Get out here! You will never regret it and it will be by far the best experience you've had up to this point in your life. I know you hear everyone say that all the time, but it is true! I'm living it and I'm telling you now. Be sure to let me know where you get called, alright?

Well, family and friends, I love you all. I'm very grateful to be surrounded by people like you. Thanks for the constant support, love and prayers that you've been sending my way.
I'm still working hard here in Segovia and trying my best to help the people here. They need the Gospel, even if they haven't quite clued in yet. Marchemos, pues, y daremos fin a esta gran iniquidad! [We march then, and we will take aim at this great iniquity.]

-Elder Knorr

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hello, a little early this time!

Once again, I have no apostrophe, so you will all have to forgive me. I decided this time, rather than just write things like isnt, cant, etc, I would just try to not use any contractions or do anything else that would require an apostrophe. So, sorry if I come across sounding a little bit like Commander Data. :)

Firstly, the reason why I am writing a day early: Preparation Day was changed this week to accommodate a special zone conference tomorrow. We will be visited and taught by Elder Kopischke (that may be spelled wrong) who is a member of the Seventy and also the Europe Area President. It will undoubtedly be a wonderful, edifying experience. So, today, we are taking care of the shopping and email writing and all of that good stuff. We plan on going to the Temple today, and then sleeping over in Madrid for the zone conference tomorrow. Exciting! Unfortunately, this unforeseen change in schedule has made it so that I receive no email today. :( Oh well, I guess this means I will get double email next time. :)

Well, since I have nothing to respond to this week, I suppose I will give an in-depth look at our area and missionary work right now.

I have been in Segovia now for... um.... a long time. Almost 8 months. That means I have lived here longer than I have ever lived anywhere else besides home. Interesting, eh? I have grown
very fond of the members of the Church here, from Presidente Galera and Hermana Loli to our recently converted Cardenas family. I enjoy teaching them, serving them, and helping them fulfill their missionary responsibilities. We all love each other very much.

Working as a missionary in Segovia is not a cakewalk. The region is famous for its people being very serious and closed off to strangers (even more than usual.) The people here typically do not like talking to us, even so much as saying "hello." As a result, it is quite difficult to find people to teach who want to hear the message of the restored gospel. But, in spite of all th
is, we give it our best effort every day and try to find that "one soul" who will want to hear and accept the message.

The weather in Segovia is nice during the summer, but it gets very cold during the winter. I no longer know if this is a Spanish cold or a true American cold, but it feels cold nonetheless. My companion and I have decided that Segovia is most likely the "most precipitating area in the mission," frequently getting rain, snow and hail. That title will most likely change when the mission boundaries do, but for now it stands. It makes things interesting though, so we do not mind it all that much.

Currently, we are teaching Alfredo, a Colombian immigrant, and working towards the 27th of March for his baptism. His son, William, will probably take a little longer to get baptized. As for Mercedes, our new investigator, we have not seen her for almost a week and a half, despite our best efforts to meet, and we are a bit worried. We have continued giving her readings in the Book of Mormon and she says she has been reading them and likes them, but just by reading she will not be able to progress. She needs to come to church.

We also recently received a missionary couple here in Segovia. Elder Jim and Hermana Pat Jewell. They are both great and have been helping us out in many ways with the work here.

We have a Guatemalan couple in our branch. There names ar
e Jose and Claudia. They are in a very hard situation with work, and they are not married. We have been working with them on the marriage thing, but in Spain, if you are an immigrant, getting married is very, very difficult. We are getting close, though. We love them a lot and want to help them, but our hands are tied in a lot of ways (being full-time missionaries). Elder and Hermana Jewell should prove very useful and helpful in getting them married and also supporting them in this time of their difficulty.

Transfers are coming on the 22nd of March. I do not know yet if I will get transferred or not (we never really know). If I do not get transferred, I will still be living at the same address as I am right now, meaning that I can still receive mail at it. If I do get transferred, however, my address will change and I will miss any mail that was sent to that address after the 16th of March. With this in mind, I will now give you this address. If you want to write me at it, please do so quickly as I do not want to miss your letter. My current address is:

Elder Christopher Knorr
Plaza Mester de Julgaria, 2 1A
40006 Segovia

Keep in mind that this address may or may not work in 2 weeks. If you would rather play it safe, send it to the normal mission address and it will get to me eventually. However, sending it directly will get it to me in about 6 days (Kristen sent me one and that was about how long it took) which is much faster than the other way.

Well, that is the "wiz fiz" right now! I will keep fighting for the Lord here. The adversary never takes a break, so neither can we. I love you all! Thank you for your love and support. It really does help.

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good to hear about Daryn [Stanley]’s farewell talk. I’m sure he will be a great missionary! There are ups and downs, like anything in life, but there are things I’ve learned as a missionary that I don’t think I could have learned in any other way. It is a truly unique experience and I’m very glad to have it.

So, my week. It was good. We have been struggling to set baptismal dates with our investigators. While they are all very good investigators with good potential to progress, they’re having some doubts. The most common one we’re getting is "I want to learn more." The date is a whole month away and there is plenty of time to learn, and even when the date comes, they won’t know everything and that’s still OK. I don’t even know everything! Anyway, that is our main focus right now: helping them to accept a date and start working towards it.

We have had a good time helping Elder and Hermana Jewell get settled in and get working here. It’s interesting because neither of us know anything about how a couple and a companionship of missionaries are supposed to work or coordinate together, but we are slowly figuring things out. They are a great couple so we get along quite well.

You may have heard about the unusually strong wind storms that Spain has been getting. We heard that the winds reached hurricane force. Well, it’s been fun! A few days ago, it was really, really windy. Lots of trees were knocked down, tons of street signs got bent over like twist ties, billboards destroyed, red ceramic roof tiles tossed into the street. After seeing the signs bent and contorted in various and strange ways, I felt compelled to say "There is no spoon..." [scene from “The Matrix” movie]. We got to walk in the crazy strong wind several times during the day and it was quite the adventure! But we didn’t get injured or blown away so it’s all good.

We have a crazy week planned next week! We will be going down to Madrid this coming Wednesday for Zone Conference, and we will be visited by a member of the area presidency. I’m very excited!

We all anxiously await the changing of the mission boundaries! Apparently, there will be six elders who get transplanted into the Malaga Mission or something like that. Who it will be is the great Arcanum [arbitrariness] right now. I hope it’s not me, but at the same time I hope it is me. I don’t know. I suppose I could go either way.

There’s not much more to say at this point, just that things are going well, the work is very good lately and we are doing everything we possibly can to keep it that way. I’m learning that a mission in Europe, while it typically baptizes less than, say, Brasil, is still a very good experience and I love it. We really have to fight to get converts, every step of the way, but that just makes it all the more satisfying and happy when things go right. I’ve really learned how to dedicate myself to a cause with faith, not necessarily knowing or seeing the result for weeks, but the results do come and I’ve learned how to trust in them. After all, you know what they say about that "one soul"...

D&C 18:15

Well, that’s about all the things I have to say in this email. I love you all very much! I’ve gotten more letters, from Kristen, Family, Elder Hacking, Elder Skousen, and Megan. Thanks for writing, everyone! Oh, and also, apparently Jillian has written me 5 or something times without a response. I have only gotten two letters from her so far, and responded to both. You may want to check the address, Jillian. Also, Kristen has my direct address now. I would write it down in this email but I can’t remember what it is. Perhaps she could distribute it. Also, while writing to me with that address will get me the mail in under a week (I think) KEEP IN MIND that it may be changing soon as transfers are approaching quickly. Don’t send any mail to that address after the 14th of March so as to avoid it missing me.

Thanks everyone! You really are the greatest friends and family that a missionary could ever hope to have! Things are going well and I’m loving the mission.

Till next time,

Elder Knorr