Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hear from Elder Knorr's former Mission President Brad and Debbie Farnsworth

CLICK HERE for a short interview with the Farnsworths, taped shortly after they returned from Madrid. Some of the mission boundary information is now outdated, but this is a very interesting discussion about the Church in Spain and their missionary leadership experiences.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Secretary Thing is Quite Taxing

Hello everyone! It's me, Elder Knorr. Well, let's just say that it's been a long, long week. This secretary thing is quite taxing.

But, in order to preserve the missionary-ness of this email, I will start by talking about the area and how things are going in that respect. We have four missionaries here, still. We had five: Elders Dredge, Whitesides, Holub, Anderson and me. Monday, Elder Dredge went home, Elder Holub went to Villalba and Elder Whitesides went way up north to be Branch President in Leon. Since the work in Alcobendas and San Sebastian (our 2 little cities) has been SO GOOD lately, President decided to keep the compliment of elders at 4.

Elder Anderson (the new financial secretary) and I are so new at our jobs and still have so much to learn, we've been spending 12-hour days in the office, sometimes more, and have no time to leave. We understood how important it was to keep the work up in our area and take care of our investigators, but our jobs in the office were so crucial to keeping the mission from blowing up that we have probably taught 1 or 2 lessons this entire last week. It isn't very fun but if we don't do it, no one will. If we had been the only missionaries left in Alcobendas, the situation would have converted into a despicable mess.

Because of these conditions, we were very pleased to hear that two more missionaries were coming to work in our area: Elder Bartholomew and Elder Saune. Our best friend Freencky, the best ward missionary in the universe, has been showing them around and helping them learn the area and meet the investigators. Seriously, Freencky (pronounced Franky) is a stud. He's a 19-year-old guy who has lived in Venezuela and New York, speaks English and Spanish, and loves to go out and work with us. He's becoming a great teacher and finder. He will be a tremendous missionary.

We have many baptismal dates right now and many progressing investigators. The sad part is that we don't know hardly ANY of them! :( The office is really sucking my life away right now, but I know that if I don't, the mission will melt down. The first of my joys in the office is called Residency, and it actually is pretty fun. Well, it is a bit daunting because it's a neverending pit of time-consumption mixed in with tedious government procedures and neverending administrative silence, but I enjoy the challenge. We've really had to put our heads together to find out how to get everything done in a realistic and timely manner, but it looks like it's going to be ok.

I really wish I could tell some more interesting stories, but it would be somewhat tedious to tell you about my tedious schedule. Suffice it to say that I have done a TON of tiny little things. I seem to be the call-if-you-have-a-problem-and-don't-know-who-to-call guy. Now, I don't want anyone to go thinking that I don't enjoy this assignment - I do a lot. But at times my heart yearns to teach a lesson and make some contacts and not have to answer the phone every 2 minutes. I'm sure I will go adjusting and that with time I will be able to do everything faster, which will allow me to go out and teach and preach and work as missionaries should do.

Elder Saune is from the old Bilbao mission, so it's been interesting to see how the cultures of the missions differ (or shall I say clash?). Elder Anderson is from the old Malaga mission, so we have a very diverse piso.
Oh, we also live the law of consecration: everyone's food is everyone's food. I personally like it, though we don't eat in the apartment very much. As a matter of fact, we don't eat very much at all. Also, I won't have to drive anytime soon because Elder Anderson has a permit, though if I am called upon to drive, it won't be very hard to get the license because we found a much faster and cheaper new way to do it. In any case, I would prefer not to drive.

That's all I've got right now. Yes, I'm a bit boring. Yes, I wish I was still a normal missionary. But I'm here now, and as long as I'm here I'm going to dedicate myself completely to this.

Thanks for your support and love. It means a lot.

Till next time,

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Mentally exhausted" and "Somewhat undernourished" and "Having great success."

Hello everyone! This is a mentally exhausted and somewhat undernourished version of the Elder Knorr you once knew.

Yes, the office is quite a beast. I'm doing the best I can to understand all the duties and responsibilities I have as an office elder. There's a lot to do! Among all of the things that I have to do, the most pressing and stressful is residency, which is basically trying to keep all of our missionaries legal in Spain. It has to do with preparing and sending information to the government, in various stages and within various time frames, as well as setting up appointments for our missionaries to go in and get fingerprinted and stuff, all in order to obtain residency cards for them. It's very hard because even when we do our part perfectly and by-the-book, the government is so slow and overworked that they take too long to get back to us and our residencies start expiring. So we've started using these "Administrative Silence" pleas that we fill out and turn in to get immediate appointments. The worst part of it all is that if we fail in anything and a missionary's residency is expired for more than three months, that missionary cannot be made legal again and has to be sent out of the country. Yeah, big consequences.

The rest of my duties involve preparing spreadsheets, reports, organizing emails, coordinating flights home, and managing all manner of randomly appearing crises. It's been a little challenging having my brain working like this again, I've had more headaches in the past week than I have in my whole mission combined. My head is just a tumbling kaleidoscope of chaos at times. We don't go home to eat either at mediodia, so it's either sack lunches or nothing, unless one of the senior couples in the office has pity on us and brings us something to eat.

In spite of the massive time constraints the office has been putting on our proselyting schedule, we've been able to teach several lessons and we have lots of investigators.
Most of that is thanks to Elder Dredge and Elder Holub, who both work full time in Alcobendas and have been having great success. We all share the area, so they plan some visits for us at night that we can go out and teach after being in the office all day. I will confess: it's a mockery compared to how we used to work, just a few hours of time to teach every day. I already miss the old proselyting schedule and being able to spend all of my time doing the work of the Lord. Now I just spend all my time allowing the other missionaries to do the work of the Lord uninterrupted. I understand how important my job is, but I wish I wasn't the one who had to do it. In any case, I'm learning how to do it as fast and as well as I can so that when Elder Whitesides leaves, which could happen very, very soon, I'll be ready to take over.

In other news, we have a new companion! Elder Anderson arrived this last Monday from the Canary Islands to be the new Financial Secretary, dealing with all things related to money: bills, reimbursements, monthly allotments, etc. He is in a trio with Elder Whitesides and me, and is learning Elder Seel's current job. The Seels will be leaving soon, so Elder Anderson has been spending lots of time in the office learning everything he has to know. I don't envy h
im; his job looks even more complicated than mine, not to mention all of the other changes he's had to go through recently. He's holding up really well though.

The five of us who live in
Alcobendas are all living in a two-man apartment. It's been quite a challenge getting things organized so that it works, but we've finally got it all figured out. It's a bit cramped, and there never seems to be enough food, but it's kind of fun in its own way.

Oh wow...I don't think there's really any other news right now. It's been an interesting week. Today we'll be taking most of preparation day off to instead be in the office and work on some urgent residency matters. Yeah, I know. Way fun. But I hope to at least take an hour or two to write letters. Thanks for all your support and everything. I love being a missionary and I hope that I can be serviceable to the Lord in whatever He calls me to do. I love you!

-Elder Knorr

P.S. Elder Whitesides and I realized that we come from office elder lineage. His dad and his older brother both served in the office on their missions, and so did Dad [and Grandpa Godfrey]. This means that Ethan and perhaps also my posterity will also serve in the office.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lots of News Today!

Hello everyone! Oh wow, where do I start. I suppose I'll go chronologically.

First, everything went well with Jose Alfredo's interview. He'll be getting baptized the 17th. He's a great guy! I realized as we were teaching him the law of tithing that he is VERY capitalist. Dad, you would get along really well with him, I think. He's lost everything several times, had businesses go under time and time again. When he moved from Nicaragua to Guatemala, he showed up with no more than $10 in his pocket and worked up to having his own business and a good amount of wealth. One would think that this capitalist mentality would make him more prone to cling to his money, but as I'm sure Dad can imagine, he doesn't really behave that way. His behavior has made it much easier to part with money. In fact, he really views tithing as a kind of investment: following God's commandments and then getting returns in blessings. He's a very good man with a lot of faith and great desires to follow God.

Secondly, I just have one little thing to say. YEAH ALEX!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! YEEEEEEEAH!!!!! Congratu
lations on your call to Australia!! :D :D :D I just read that today and I almost stood up and cheered right here. I'm so pleased to hear about Alegría total. You're going to love it. Write me and tell me all about it. Kirtabicteam pride.

Thirdly, we were kept up very late Sunday night by the honking of car horns and the sounding of air horns and shouting and singing and clapping and fireworks and trumpets and all kinds of noisemakers you can possibly imagine.The streets were a constant fast-moving parade of cars honking, with the passengers halfway out of the window holding out Spanish flags and cheering and singing. From what I hear, this is the first time that Spain has won the World Cup, so it's a very big thing for them.

Oh, yeah, one last little thing. I'm the new mission secretary.

Now, you're probably wondering why I waited so long into the email to tell you all this and didn't include it in the subject line. Well, let's just say that I did it to be funny. But, in all honestly, it changed everything overnight. I got the call Saturday Morning from President, telling me I was going to have a "n
ueva asignación." And that's when he broke the news. I had until Monday morning to pack everything and say goodbye. We used the circumstance as a catalyst to teach lessons with our investigators and members and were able to teach a LOT. Then, Monday morning, I left Barrio 2. We dragged the luggage through the Metro and then got a ride halfway from Elder Dredge and Elder Whitesides (the current secretary). There, in the office in San Sebastian de los Reyes, we had a mini transfer meeting and got our new companions. I am now companions with Elder Whitesides. Anyways, this is an irregular transfer because it happened with two weeks left to go in the regular transfer cycle.

So, more or less this is what's going on now: I've got two weeks to learn everything that Elder Whitesides knows, which includes residency, numbers, references, reports, and a variety of other little tasks. I'm taking studious notes in a fresh new notebook on just about everything that I see Elder Whiteside
s do so that I can learn how to do his job correctly and subtilize [word of the week = refine] my secretary skills. It's quite the task. I've only been at it for a few days though, and it doesn't seem to be impossibly hard or incredibly unenjoyable. It will be a change though, that's for sure. I won't be doing a lot of traditional proselyting like I've done up to this point; there won't be enough time for that. Elder Dredge and his new companion Elder Holub will be staying in Alcobendas with us to start working as full-time proselyting missionaries to keep up the good success that has been happening here lately. Elder Whitesides and I will likely spend the majority of our time in the office, working, though we hope to get out during the late hours to be able to teach at least a few lessons.

Other than that, things are going well. I'm still trying to get used to the idea of my new reality as the mission secretary, as well as trying to ac
cept the fact that I am no longer a Barrio 2 missionary who is able to work as such all day. The new apartment is a little one, made for two, and we've got four of us crammed in there. The elders I'm with are awesome so it's not miserable at all. All of this is kind of a big thing to wrap my mind around still, but I'll be doing everything I can to learn my new job and keep my spirits up in the midst of change. I love you all and am very grateful for your support and love. As I've always believed: I'll go where He wants me to go, I'll say what He wants me to say, and I'll be what He wants me to be. I know it will be hard but with His help I'll do it. Thanks again for everything! Take care.

-Elder Knorr

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain Wins World Cup!

Reports are the tournament made it more difficult to contact people the last couple of weeks (they were either in bars or their apartments watching the games), but maybe their huge win will make them more talkative and willing to engage with the missionaries...we can always hope :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm doing well and the work is also.

Hi everyone! Elder Knorr here. I'm doing well and the work is also.

Well, where do I start...I've enjoyed the package that I received! :) All very nice things. Thanks for the CTR ring, now I can finally start choosing the right! Hahaha, just kidding. I already have been. The ring is a good fit though. And thanks for the salt water taffy, it was a nice American touch. All of us in the piso are also enjoying the new Northridge Choir Album.

Some of the big highlights this last week: the 4th of July! Yeah! INDEPENDENCE Day! We made pancakes and eggs for lunch and were even able to secure some maple syrup (a rare commodity here). We topped off our maple syrupy pancakes with the red, white and blue sprinkles that I got in the package. Yes, I admit that sprinkles on pancakes is a rathe
r "original" idea, but it did make them seem much more patriotic. A NOTE TO MY CANADIAN MOTHER AND RELATIVES: The maple syrup claimed to be 100% Canadian, so in my own special way, we kind of celebrated Canada Day as well. The brand name on the syrup was "Vertmont," a glaring misspelling of the state name Vermont, but it was still more Canadian than American. Other things we had for our celebratory meal: popcorn, Oreo cookies and patriotic music playing in the background. An all around good experience. :) Oh, and that night, there were fireworks!!! We don't know exactly why, but we're not complaining. We had fireworks on the 4th of July!

We're fighting to keep our current baptismal dates and find more. Jose has some big doubts about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and we're trying to help him understand that the only way to know for sure that it is all true is to get a witness from the Holy Ghost. He is a very intelligent and analytical man and likes to study and see evidence, so asking him to think in this new way is quite a stretch for him. He wants to get baptized because he likes the Church and its teachings and the organization, but without a testimony of the fundamental doctrines of our faith, he won't be established on a "firm foundation" and little things in the future will cause him to fall. This is by far the most difficult situation I have dealt with thus far in my mission. Jose is a great man and my companion and I are always thinking of ways we can help him. His baptismal date is set for the 17th and we'll do everything we can to prepare him for that date.

The change of the mission
boundaries hasn't affected us much: the work goes on as usual. The only thing that will make things really different will be to get transferred to one of the new areas, in which case just about everything will change. But, for now, for me, things continue the same.

There's not much more to report this time around...I really love you all and am very, very grateful for your continued correspondence, love and prayers. There is so much to do and so little time to do it all, but I trust that if we follow the Lord's commandments and trust in him, he will make things work out. Thanks for everything!

-Elder Knorr