Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stories from the field!

It's nice to be writing you all again, family and friends! It's been a good, though INCREDIBLY busy week. We're finally figuring things out in the area, meeting all of the members and investigators, understanding the streets and metro stops, and such things, and we've been setting up appointments like madmen!

This last Friday, Saturday and
Sunday were an especially crazy chain of days. We get stood-up a lot (bothersome) but among the many tares, there is wheat and we just have to keep looking for it.

I decided that I woul
d tell some "missionary stories" in this email. These are normal to me, but maybe you'll find them interesting.

So, back when Elder Becerra and I were still companions, we were riding in the Metro. There was an Evangelical missionary walking up and down the train yelling things like "hallelujah!" and "Jesus es el Rey! Rey de reyes, Señor de señores!" She more or less looked insane. (Don't get me wrong, it was all true doctrine, just presented a bit strangely.) Then she started yelling about all the problems in the world, especially with the youth, how they were all into drugs and bad stuff and all of that.
Then, as she passed us, she stopped and shouted at the top of her lungs to the whole train (translated) "Look at these two young men! They are not into drugs! They are not lost in darkness! The Light of Christ is in them! Can't you see the Light of Christ in them? Hallelujah!" Everyone in the Metro car was watching us, and it was kind of flattering but at the same time very embarrassing and just all around funny. She finally moved along and there was a young Spaniard sitting on a bench not too far away looking at us. I met his gaze and we exchanged an amused look about what had just happened, then my companion and I got off the train. It was a fun experience.

Another story: We were in the church having our District Meeting a few weeks ago, and after wrapping things up we were preparing the treats for afterwards, which this time was microwave popcorn. We popped one bag, and put in the second one. I put it in for 3 minutes and walked away. We got talking with the other Elders and were swapping references, when sudden
ly, Elder Sloan shouted "The popcorn!" I dashed into the kitchen to smell a terrible smell, and opened the microwave. A thick cloud of brown smoke billowed out of the microwave as I did so, and the smoke continued to curl out of the opening of the bag. I snatched it out and raced it to the exit, and once outside, I stomped it out on the pavement. As it turns out, it was on fire. Literally on FIRE. I stomped it and mixed it until it stopped smoking, then doused it with water from the kitchen sink before throwing it away. Supposedly, Elder Sloan walked into the kitchen and didn't think that 3 minutes was enough time for it to pop entirely, so he turned it up to 6. I'm personally just glad we averted a disaster, but the smell was terrible for the rest of that morning.

One more story: We were in the Muslim Mosque here in Madrid (a fun cultural activity) and were just looking around, reading posters, and learning more about one of the world's largest religions. [pictures below] We went to a place in the building (which was immense, by the way) where there was a locker for shoes and then a large, carpeted room with pillars and beautiful chandeliers. Removing our shoes to show respect for the customs, and leaving my camera there just in case I shouldn't take photos, we went in and looked around. Then, through a window on one side of the room, we saw a security guard running in our direction. All kinds of thoughts went through my head right then, like "Oh no, have we violated something? Are we in trouble?" With our nerves extremely tense, we went back to the door of the room to wait for him. Turns out that he just saw my camera there unattended and was afraid that I had forgotten it. :) They were all very kind and accommodating and polite there.

Well, that's enough stories for now. Things are going great here for us! We've found a few new investigators, but we're still working to find those that really want it.

Thanks for your letters, everyone! I got another one from the siblings and the parents, along with lots of nice pictures!

I love you all so much! Things are going very busily right now. It has been presenting many new challenges, but with the Lord's help I'm learning to overcome. I love the Lord and this Gospel. Until next time!

-Elder Knorr

Visit to the local mosque

Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Day - letters from Elder Knorr!

Here are some little excerpts from the letters we received today.

To Dad:

"How's it going back there in the quiet little town of Orem, Utah, where it's rare to smell cigarette smoke and the customer service is excellent? Ah yes, sometimes I think with fondness on those times. But for now, I've been called to serve on the front lines of the Lord's war, the frontier, as it were, and I feel it a prviledge to breathe this tainted air, to endure the angry glares, to shift my gaze every 2 seconds while walking down the street because it's summer again and the styles are changing accordingly. After all, if through my sacrifice the Lord works a miracle and a few souls are saved, then it was all well worth it, in my opinion. The work goes well here in Barrio 2. Looking for the wheat among the tares! I've already been able to help many people here in Spain, but I have a feeling that tells me that several more are still waiting for the gospel. And as we all know, the only way to get to those people is through lots and lots of work! So that's what we're doing."

To Emily:

"The missionary work is going well here. There's so much to do, and so little time! I know there are people who still need us though, and that keeps me working hard even when things suck (and they do sometimes). I know this is where I'm supposed to be and I'm proud to be able to serve the Lord like this. If I were you, I'd definitely keep "the mission" in my options for the future. You'd love it! But yeah, just an idea..."

To Megan:

"Thanks for writing me, sis. I love you! Don't ever forget who you are: a choice daughter of God who has a very important work to do here on Earth. Keep safe!"

To Ethan:

"Hey bro, I just want you to know that I'm having a great time here as a missionary. It's the most fun, challenging, worthwhile adventure ever! You're going to love it when it's your turn, I'm sure of it. Remember Ethan, I've got your back and I'll stand by you in anything. We're brothers, and that's what brothers do: look out for and help each other. Don't forget what's important, and don' forget about me: your coolest brother. Take care of your sisters, and write back soon!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things are going good here in the mission field, more specifically, in Barrio 2 North.

We're working in a very hard and focused way to find people who have the desire to progress and make commitments. Because, you see, some people just want to talk to Americans. Some just like looking at our blond hair and blue eyes. And some really don't have interest but don't want to tell us "no" outright, so we end up wasting a lot of time trying to get in contact with them and set up lessons and have them show up to those lessons. All that being said, we're doing what we can to find the wheat among the tares. So far, nothing big, but at the rate we're going, I'm sure we'll find someone in no time!

Health news: I've been sneezing and coughing a lot this last week and my nose has been completely stuffed. I wonder if it has something to do with the abundant cottony seeds that get dropped by the trees here in Madrid, which are so thick in the air that they sometimes look like a blizzard. I've heard that you can develop allergies if you're exposed to something like that for too long, and that's caused me to wonder if I've developed my very first allergy. Any ideas? In any case, I don't feel too under-the-weather in spite of the cold-like symptoms.

It threatened to rain every day for the first part of this week, but the sun has finally come out and the temperatures are finally going up. It's summertime in Madrid again! Back to short sleeves, slacks, and sunscreen. It's been bringing back a lot of memories from the beginning of my mission, all the way back in Barrio 1 with Elder Parry. I hope to develop an even more contrasting missionary tan-line on my neck this time around. I'll keep you posted on its progress. :)

I haven't gotten the letter you tell me about yet (I don't think) but I look forward to it with great anticipation! Thanks for being such a great family and sending me letters. My companion and I have dedicated today to letter writing and nothing else, so if we can't get letters written today, we never will and our epic failure will be etched into the stones of history for all time, relegating us to an eternity of shameful doom. In other words, I will write you today. :)

Thanks, family and friends, for being so mindful of me! I'm loving being a missionary and I hope that through my work, I'll be able to help some children of God get to know him better. Take care, and remember what's important!

- Elder Knorr

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hello once again from Barrio 2 North!

Things are going well, if a little slow at the moment. We've had a few days consecutively without many lessons and it's been a bit discouraging, especially after our super-successful time last week. We think the problem lies in not following up and confirming appointments enough, so we're going to step it up in that regard. Today we have two lessons planned with investigators, and we've confirmed them both, so we're feeling pretty good about lessons today.

The phone call was great, thanks everyone! [Note: phone call will be posted this weekend.] Though it was made a bit awkward and difficult by the half-second delay between hearing you guys and you guys hearing me, it was still great to hear all of your voices again and hear how things are going. We're going to have a bit of time today to write letters and writing my beloved family is right up there at the top of my list, so fear not! There will be responses.

The other day while walking in the street, I saw a store that sold all kinds of dried fruit. Among the many savory options was something I'd never seen before: dried kiwi. It wasn't being sold at a very frugal price, but we bought a small about just to try it. When I tried it, the first taste that came to my mouth was "seafood." As it turns out, it wasn't all that delicious, but hey, at least I tried something new, right?

Today we've got a busy day planned. First off, the toilet in our apartment has a little problem: it keeps running and running and running, making noise and wasting water. I called our dueño (the apartment owner) today and he said he'd come down to take a look at it. Next, I'd really like to take in a suit or two to get dry-cleaned. Lastly, at 5 o´clock I have another appointment to get my toe looked at. Now that I've gotten the nail pulled out, I've been on antibiotics to kill the infection and I've been dressing the wound every day. We'll see what the doctor has to say about it.
Last preparation day, we went to a Mosque here in Madrid. It was really cool! It's not letting me include pictures in this email, but I will in the next.

The work is going well here in Barrio 2. It's a great area. I only hope that my companion and I can be the missionaries that the Lord needs to work miracles here. We've just got to work hard and trust in the Lord.

I really appreciate all of the love and support that you show and send me! It helps a lo
t and reminds me what I'm here to do. Take care and never give up!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Area, New Companion, New Pictures!

Hello! Yes, I'm all better now. It was rough but thanks to Hermana Seel, clear liquids and four days of being bedridden, I'm feeling just as good as ever! Thanks for all of your prayers and your concern. This experience helped me appreciate health just a little bit more (now that I know the difference - thank you, Adam and Eve!).

In other medical news, I finally got my ingrown toenail taken care of! [Warning - long and graphic story comin
g.] We went to a foot doctor (podologico in Spanish) this last Monday. Hermana Seel was warning me about the painfulness of the operation. She said that there was anesthesia they could use but even the shot to numb my toe would really hurt. So, with all those comforting thoughts rolling around in my brain, we went in to meet the doctor. Her name was Raquel, and she was surprisingly unterrified by my feet (she was probably used to cases like mine.) She told me that the intruding part of my toenail would have to be removed, and she recommended that we try first without the pain killer and, if it was too painful, we could numb the toe. I agreed to this plan, and she started to work at my ingrown toenail with a narrow metal tool, digging out the ingrown part and pulling it out shard by shard. The pain was intense, but since I'd tried to do basically the same thing several times on my own, I was more or less used to the feeling so I was able to muscle through it. We took care of one side, and I commented that the other side of the toenail also hurt, so she went in to take a look and found that the other side was just as bad as the first! So she started working on that one too. THAT was what really hurt, because that side was fresher and the nerves were more alert, but after a minute or two of digging around, she got out the last bit. Finally, my toe can heal and I can stop worrying! It feels good to finally be done with it. We have another checkup appointment in a week. I'll be sure to tell you how the healing process is going!

Anyway, on to slightly more pleasant subjects. :) Transfers came and gone and now I have a new companion! Elder Becerra has gone to serve in Alcazar de San Juan, a pueblo on the outskirts of Madrid, and I have been fortunate enough to receive, as my new companion, Elder Benson! He was Elder Ogden's last companion. Cool, huh? So I may not have had the opportunity to be companions with Elder Ogden, but now I can at least live the experience second-hand. :)
Another change: I am no longer serving in Barrio 4. The missionaries of Barrio 4 have been reassigned to the neighboring ward of Barrio 2, bringing the total of missionaries in the latter ward to 4. It was hard saying goodbye to the members, many of which I've grown to love during my short time with them. I'll include pictures of some of them with this email!

I have gotten a great letter recently from my siblings, including an awesome sheet of fun photos. Thanks, family! I'll do my best to write you back post-haste.

Just to set the record straight, Mother, it's quite cold here in Madrid today! Yesterday we nearly froze solid because of the uncharacteristically cold winds that swept through the city. Today, the wind has stopped, but the cold persists. I don't mind it too much because when it's cold I can wear my suit-coat out proselyting, and I very much prefer wearing a full suit to wearing the short sleeve white shirt. It looks much more professional.

Today, we plan on going and eating at Domino's Pizza with some other missionaries. We'll see how it measures up to yankee pizza. I must admit that my expectations are somewhat low. :)

I love you, beloved family and dear friends! I'm feeling much better all-around, healthwise and ganas-wise. I'm feeling much more confident in the area (even though it's a different area) and I'm excited to meet the future head-on.

Take care back home, and don't forget what's important!

-Elder Knorr

Little Alejandra Bueno. After all that we could do, we simply could NOT get her to keep that nametag out of her mouth!

Jacob Bueno. I love the expression on his face in this one.

The whole Bueno family. Jacob and Alejandra are twins and were born 4 months premature. It's been a real fight for all of them, but the babies are just fine and healthy now and just barely celebrated their first birthday!

My old companion, Elder Becerra, destroying some of the member boys in soccer last Saturday. We bought some investigators and it was really fun!

The family of Carlos, Agustina and Jesus. Carlos has Mora on his lap, and Jesus is the one on the left. We were teaching Jesus the lessons. He's a really good kid and I'm sure he'll get baptized soon.

After eating with some of the members. I can't remember all of their names, but they sure gave us a TON of food!

The boys of the Moldes family. Guess what, Ethan? They like Nerf guns too! I told them about your collection and they were amazed. I'll show them the picture of the pegboard and let you know how they respond.