Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Big Change in Spanish Mission Boundaries

From another Madrid missionary's email:

"Tomorrow also starts the new Madrid Mission. We´re getting about 20 new missionaries from Malaga mission and 30 from Bilbao, and a few of the areas in our mission are being integrated into Malaga mission. Also, new areas are being added to our mission. So a whole bunch of new missionaries."

Working Hard, Using our Time Wisely, Being Obedient

Hello my family and friends! I love you all a lot!

We just got back from the zone barbecue at the mission home. Lots of fun! I played Ultimate Frisbee for the first time in ages and got incredibly sweaty and a bit sunburnt, we sang some manly hymns in a group (very powerful sounding) and we had some burgers and hotdogs (though the delicious guacamole chip-dip made all other food options completely superfluous). All around good times! After this email I'm off to give a baptismal interview to an investigator of the office elders. Then, if we have time, we'll go shopping for food. I hope we have time to do it all! :S

The work has been fantastic in our area lately! :) Antoni was baptized this last week. Planning the service was a bit of a nail-biter up till the last minute (it always seems to be that way; trying to get clothes that fit, filling up the font, problems with the program, etc...) but it went smoothly and without a hitch! Madrid 2nd Ward now has 6 new, young members. Now, our b
est investigator is named José and is from Nicaragua. His wife, Gabriela, is from Guatemala and is already a member. They are both very good and interested in meeting with us, and in studying the Book of Mormon in between lessons. José has a witty and fun personality and is truly interested in the Church and is set on becoming a member. He is set to be baptized on July 10th, so we're working at a quick pace. Tonight we'll teach him about following the Prophet, the 10 Commandments, keeping the Sabbath Day holy and the Law of Chastity. It should be a fun night! Other than José, we still have Claris, Mylena and Clara (the Bolivian family). We've had some trouble with the baptismal dates we've set with them, but they'll be back on track in no time.

Other things in the work: working hard, using our time wisely, being obedient. What else is there? :) I'm just really enjoying my mission and this unique experience. My personal studies have given me a much deeper appreciation for the Word of God. I hope that I can yet be the means by which many souls come to know their Heavenly Father. I've still got plenty of time left, so there's still a lot of adventure left to go. :)

It's good to hear that everyone is happy and busy. Being a district leader is great right now because my district is just so awesome! We have a lot of baptismal dates and potential to set more. I'm blessed to be in the company of such fine missionaries. (In my district right now: Elder Knorr, Elder Benson, Elder Haynie, Elder Sloan, Elder Whitesides, Elder Dredge.)

It has been hot here (and they say it's just beginning). I sunscreen up every day to try and keep my nose and ears the same color as the rest of my face (a constant battle when you work outside all day). My "missionary tan line" is growing every day more bold (high neckline and wristwatch) but I wear it as a badge of honor (as does my companion with his). The Metro workers have been on strike the past couple of days, so we have to walk everywhere or take the insanely crowded bus. It makes for an interesting dynamic. More contacting, harder to get to lessons. We'll survive.

Well, I've greatly enjoyed writing to you all today. I love you! I'm deeply grateful for the support you send me and the faith you place in me. This is the Lord's work, and it truly is a pleasure to do it. Speaking of which, word on the street is that Alex has his papers in. Yee-yeah! :D I love you, man. Get out there and do me proud.

Till next time,

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Work of God Marches On!

Hello family, friends, and whoever else this transmission may reach! This is Elder Knorr, reporting in as usual from the Spain Madrid Mission. Things are going great here in our area! We have lots of new investigators and many who have the potential to soon have baptismal dates (that seems to be the big hurdle...) so we expect to see some big results soon.

We are seeing
miracles happen: This Saturday, 6 young people will be getting baptized in Barrio 2! Among them is Antoni, a 9-year-old boy who is an example to us all through his understanding and righteous desire to be baptized. It's a very exciting time for the ward, for the converts, and for us, the missionaries. We hope to see many more people follow their example and enter into the waters of baptism. Among our other investigators who could have baptismal dates soon: José, a young man from Nicaragua, who is married to a member, has lots of questions and desires to learn more and apply it. Also, we are teaching Claris and Mylena, who are Brazilian-born, Bolivian-raised sisters, and their mother Clara. As a matter of fact, we are teaching ALL of them tonight, and we will be setting baptismal dates with all of them. Oh, we're also teaching a great young family from the Dominican Republic and another awesome guy named Gregorio from Ecuador. We're just teaching a lot!

We've been upping our
level of effort this week, setting even more aggressive goals and making more and more detailed plans. The mission has changed the definition of what constitutes a "contact." Before, anyone we approached and tried to share the gospel with counted as a contact. Now, it is only a contact if we testify of a truth and then invite them to do something. This has made things more difficult, as we can no longer count outright rejections (aka, people who basically plug their ears, shout "la la la la la!" and run away) as contacts, and those still happen to us many times a day. This has forced us to approach even more people each day in order to achieve the same standards of excellence set by the mission. It really requires a new level of focus, dedication and courage. But it's going well. :)

In other news, not a lot has happened. I ran 10 laps at the nearby outdoor track this morning. I've been buying a lot of fruit (pears, peaches, nectarines, apples, oranges, bananas) and enjoying it greatly. The peaches are still under-ripe and crunchy. :( Not the most delicious experience yet, but I'm sure they'll get to that nice soft stage in no time. Today we're planning on going to a big park near the outskirts of Madrid to ride bikes and maybe play some American football (and, of course, invite anyone i
nterested in learning to come and play with us). Other than that, we may clean up the apartment a bit and write some letters.

You ask if I have any last minute requests for the package...? I just expect an auspicious plethora of all things patriotic and American! I'm afraid that this 4th of July I won't see so much as a red, white and blue sprinkled cupcake or a cheap sparkler, but I know that my sacrifice is worth it. :) I don't know if anyone who lives in the United States fully appreciates what they have there, and I'm not just talking about the food selection here. Let me tell you one thing, though: Having lived away from my country for this long, I have developed the firm resolution that I will never live anywhere other than there again. I could go into more depth and detail, but I'll refrain right now. Suffice it to say that you don't know how good you have it 'til you've gone without it.

As a mission, we just received a special new addition: Elder Dredge. He is now the companion of Elder Whitesides, the Mission Secretary. Elder Dredge was one of the Assistants to the President in the Bilbao Mission and he is a fantastic missionary. He has come here to our mission to teach us everything we'll need to know about Bilbao. He'll only be with us for one transfer (and then he goes home) but we're glad he's here and we're excited to receive the rest of them (the Bilbao missionaries)!

Ethan's taken to playing chess? Wow, that brings back memories. Remember how Dad and I would play on Sunday afternoons? I remember that, for awhile, he would always beat me. They we broke even. Then I always won. :) I look forward to playing you when I get back, Ethan! You'd better study up on your French Defense! :)

I love being a missionary! Last night we taught a very spiritual lesson to Gregorio, and as we walked out and headed home, I remember just feeling WAY elated and happy and satisfied. I knew that I had done something good, and that I had truly helped someone learn something that would help them the rest of their life if they lived it. There is no other experience like this one. There is nothing else that can teach these lessons and build these characteristics in this way. The mission is where it's at. Thank you all for supporting me and helping me in this. I love you.

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Well, lots to report on!

Things are "exploding" as we say here in the mission, in Barrio 2 right now. The other elders currently have 7 baptismal dates, and we have 2 (after tonight, 4). LOTS of work.

Antoni is 9 years old and is the son of Veronica, a good member who can't come to church very often because of her work (but we're getting her back bit by bit). As for Antoni himself, he
's full of excitement and righteous desires to continue working towards his upcoming baptism.

The other baptismal date is with Claris, a 14-year-old girl born in Brazil and raised in Bolivia (and now moved to Spain!). She wants to get baptized and comes to all of the church activities. We're also working with her sister Mylena and her mother Clara. They'll come along soon enough, I'm sure.

We're working as much as we can with our ward missionaries, getting the members involved in the teaching as much as we possibly can. The trouble is, we have like 6 female ward missionaries and only 2 or 3 male ones. Since we cannot teach women unless there is an adult man present, we end up having LOTS more opportunities to use the male ward missionaries. But we're doing what we can.

Time constraints ha
ve kept me from getting my haircut from Elder Sloan so far today. I have ironed two of his shirts so far, so he still owes me. His shirts are pretty terrible, so there's not much I can do besides put a nice little crease in each of the sleeves. :) Nah, just kidding. Most of the wrinkles come out. Mom, I can see you shaking your head in disbelief right now, remembering that utterly maladroit ironer that you sent off to the mission. Well, times have changed.

Elder Jackson went home yesterday. Well, ok, he didn't go home, he went to Brazil, where his Mission President parents are. He was very solemn, he's been a great missionary. Former Assistant to the President. He sat in on our district meeting yesterday and, to lift his spirits, we prepared him a myriad of delicious unique-to-Spain treats, such as strawberry chuches, tortilla de patata, horchata de chufa, barra de pan, chorizo, jamon, and palmeras. We really went all out. We'll miss him...

Kristen sent me a package this week, may her sweet name be praised forever! :) In it, she stuffed lots of Butterfingers, cool rocks, and various other treats and goodies.

It's been raining on and off this past week. When it starts raining suddenly, we sometimes stop by the apartment to pick up our umbrellas.
Of course, the moment we step out our door with the umbrellas, it gets sunny and clear-skied again. That's just how it is.

The change of the mission boundaries is rapidly approaching
. One of the assistants from the Bilbao mission is moving here to teach Elder Whitesides (office elder) everything there is to know about the Bilbao mission. It will truly be crazy if I get transferred to a far-off location, but at the same time I would heartily welcome it as a new adventure. Change is hard sometimes, but it can be fun. Also, it looks like my group has been "skipped" when it comes to training new missionaries. Missionaries much younger than me are now trainers, whereas no one in my group has had a chance! It's very strange. It makes me feel old.

We've been teaching the first lesson with investigators in a new way, teaching a brief overview of everything, understanding their desires, making clear ours, and then deciding where to go from there. It's a very effective way to find and teach those who have true desires.

I read a great talk by Joseph Fielding McConkie about not being afraid to offend people. Haha, I know, it sounds a bit harsh, but basically he lays bare the fact that the Truth will always be opposed, and will always offend some if not many. We shouldn't try to establish "common ground" with other religions, but rather, glory in the differences! Every time we claim something in common with another religion, we give people one less reason to join ours. And we should not be afraid or ashamed to boldly testify of the Truth, no matter how offensive it may be. VERY good talk.

Well, my time's up. Thanks for being so great, all of you! The support you give is gladly received and greatly appreciated. I'm doing the best I can out here to see that not one bit of any of that support or encouragement goes to waste.


-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hello Family and Friends!

It is I, Elder Knorr. It's been cloudy and raining pretty hard for the past few days, which has been a welcome relief from the oncoming heat of the summer, though it's been driving my companion a bit mad (he doesn't like wearing a coat and jacket all the time). I enjoy the rain when it comes all of the sudden in the middle of a hot summer day. Very enjoyable!

Well, things are going great for us in Barrio 2. We have a baptismal date with Antoni, an awesome 9-year-old boy who loves to learn about the Gospel and, most importantly of all, does his reading in the Book of Mormon! His date is set for the 27th of June. We also have several other investigators who are showing some potential to progress and set dates for baptism. We, as always, keep working hard and are looking for more people to teach. The recent sunny weather has been sapping our strength, and it makes it difficult to go out and work all day, but we do it all the same!

Today, for the first time in forever, I don't have an ingrown toenail appointment! Yay! It's finally been showing some progress towards healing. We only hope that it continues along this path. T
he infection still isn't going down as hoped, but at least the nail isn't stuck in my toe anymore. The doctor told me not to come back until it started hurting or worrying me, and I DON'T INTEND TO.

Sounds like everyone's nice and involved in fun summer activities. That's great! I am too, if by summer activities we mean teaching, finding and working! :) It gets hot here in Madrid over the summer. Hotter than one can fathom, they say. Apparently last year I didn't get the full brunt of it because I got moved out to Segovia before the "real heat" came. We'll se
e if I can handle it.

Funny story: Last night, we were in the apartment, getting a snack in the kitchen after nightly planning, and one of my apartment-mates was talking on the phone while pouring himself a glass of organic orange juice. He took a gulp, then took a few steps back and stared at the glass, shocked. "Elder Knorr," he said, "taste it." I wasn't sure why he wanted me to, but I sipped a little into my mouth. No sooner did the drink hit my tongue than I felt the prickle of carbonation and smelled alcohol. I quickly spit it out and rinsed my mouth out multiple times. The orange juice had actually fermented! We threw it right away, but the strangeness of the whole situation gave us a good laugh in the meantime.

Since I've developed the reputation of being the best white shirt ironer in the apartment, Elder Sloan and I have struck a deal: I will iron three of his shirts if he will give me a nice missionary haircut. Elder Sloan has skill when it comes to haircuts, so we struck this deal last night. Hooray for bartering!

In our district right now, we're seeing a lot of success. 6 baptismal dates set with a potential 3 or 4 more on the way. We're seeing very good times and the fruits of our labors. But that's no reason to slack off! There's still a lot to do.

Thanks for the nice emails and letters! They give me the boost I need and help me work more effectively. Thanks for all the love and support and for communicating it; it's really appreciated.

Take care, and till next week!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Elder Knorr is doing...simply fantabulous"

I'm sorry if that title sounds a little odd, but there was really nothing else to be said. :) In all aspects, this has been an unusual week. Very busy, but also quite unusual. I don't know if I can even remember all of the oddities that occurred this week, but I'll give it a shot.

First, we ran out of minutes on our phone 5 days before the end of the month (replenishment time) and were in a tough spot that way. We could still receive calls and talk as much as we wanted, but calling-wise we were stuck. We borrowed one of the assistant's phones to make a few calls, and our plight reached the ears of President, who offered to hook us up with an extra phone so we could still be effective missionaries. We were delighted to have two phones! :) We affectionately named them Jacob and Esau. We were supposed to give Esau back yesterday in Zone Conference, but we forgot (oops) so we'll just keep using two phones until we get caught I guess. :)

Next, one night we wer
e going around doing missionary work, and President just happened to be in the area and offered to drive us to our next appointment. Instead of just dropping us off there, he went in with us and helped us with the lesson. Then, he offered to drive us to the next appointment, and the same thing happened! It was great being able to work closely with him for one evening.

Next, on Wednesday night, there was a meeting for all the bishops of the Madrid East Stake. Elder Caussé of the Seventy was there, and the meeting was intended to be a training meeting to teac
h the bishops how to best work with their missionaries. A few days before, President Watkins asked us to come and help with the practices that Elder Caussé was going to do, so we got to be flies on the wall in the meeting! It was really cool. The meeting went late so President offered to drive us home, and guess who was in the passenger seat? Elder Caussé! It was a pretty neat experience.

[To view a short video message from Elder
Caussé, see the post below.]

Next, my companion was ask
ed to perform the baptism of an investigator he taught in Barrio 3. This necessitated an exchange with ward members so that we could be in two places at once, because we already had an appointment set up for that night. So that was fun, going out to work with Hermano Escajadillo. As it turned out, my pseudo-companion had to go in to work before the exchange was over, so we stopped by the bishop's house and he became my new companion. We went over the ward list together and talked about the less-active members. Altogether a fun experience.

Finally, yesterday we had Zone Conference, which I would deem the BEST Zone Conference yet! We learned lots of useful and applicable things that we can use to be better missionaries, such as different ideas on how to teach the lessons, how to improve our contacts, etc. All very, very good.

Now, an important item of business. THE MISSION OFFICE IS CHANGING. They're planning on moving June 14th. Mail typically takes 6-7 days to arrive here, so that means that after June 7th or 8th, you should probably send it to the new address, which I will now put down five times consecutively for added emphasis:

Spain Madrid Mission
Calle Fuerteventura 4, 2º, Oficina 8-B
San Sebastian de los Reyes
28703 Madrid

Spain Madrid Mission
Calle Fuerteventura 4, 2º, Oficina 8-B
San Sebastian de los
28703 Madrid

Spain Madrid Mission
Calle Fuerteventura 4, 2º, Oficina 8-B
San Sebastian de los Reyes
28703 Madrid

Spain Madrid Mission
Calle Fuerteventura 4, 2º, Oficina 8-B
San Sebastian de los Reyes
28703 Madrid

Spain Madrid Mission
Calle Fuerteventura 4, 2º, Oficina 8-B
San Sebastian de los Reyes
28703 Madrid

Have I made this message bastante claro? I think so.

My best wishes to Emily as she begins this awesome new stage of life. Lots of new responsibilities, but lots of new adventures and things to learn.

I love the mission! I love being a missionary! They always call it a big sacrifice, and it is, but I'm learning things that will be useful to me the rest of my life. I love helping people change and learn true doctrine, and we've been working very hard and doing our best. I love you all and am so grateful for what you did to help get me out here, and what you're doing to support me now. Take care, and I look forward to hearing from you again!

-Elder Knorr

Tuesday, June 1, 2010