Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's been a crazy week, but we're alive and that's what's important!

Hello everyone! It's good to hear that everyone is doing well. It's been a crazy week, but we're alive and that's what's important!

A few highlights: I got a wonderful package from Kristen!
I think she sent me the perfect candies (if I'd been in an American Store, I would have chosen exactly the candies she sent me.) And of course, it's just nice to get a package and know that someone is thinking about you and cares. Yes, perhaps that sounds sentimental and cheesy, but so what?

I've also enjoyed receiving many other letters, including ones from my dear family. I have a plan set up to respond to all of the
letters I've received in the next 2 to 3 weeks. We'll see how it goes! I have a lot of writing to do.

In other news, we continue to learn our jobs and work as hard as we can in the area (when we get a chance.)
I finally got all of the References taken care of this week (of course, it's a never-ending stream, but at least I've gotten caught up. Now I just have to stay on top of it.) Also, for the first time in weeks, I cleared out the inbox! It was a satisfying moment. So, in many regards, things are getting better and more organized. I'm satisfied with my assignment and my level of dedication to it. I feel healthy and I attribute my high level of energy to getting enough sleep at night. As for the area, we've found many new investigators and made a record number of contacts for the area last week. We're just trying to do our best.

This preparation day, we drove early to the temple and have now returned right after. There's a lot to do back here in Alcobendas today, namely washing the car, grocery shopping, cutting our hair, writing letters, cleaning the piso, etc. We've made good plans to be able to get it all done before the end of today and I think we're capable of meeting that goal.

As for Megan's plan for the talk, I think it would be downright hilarious and actually quite effective. Whatever ends up happening, please let me know blow by blow so I can enjoy it too. And it's good to hear that the Knorr Kids are on top of the game as far as grades go. Just wait: next year you'll both be at the bottom of the food chain! :)

Yes, I heard that he caught Dengue Fever twice. Goodness, Xander, weren't you satisfied with catching it once? :) And I hope everything is going well in the re-adjustment for my two good friends Xander and Donny, who have recently experienced the worst loss of feeling of importance that they will probably ever experience in their lifetime.
Believe me, that's something I'm not looking forward to. As secretary, I've been present for a few "going home" meetings and let me tell you, the feeling in those is far less than jubilant. Don't worry, guys, you're still as awesome as you ever were. Keep the mission habits. Don't forget how to speak the language. Congratulations for enduring to the end.

Well, that's all I have time for. I love you all!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mastering the Job, Awesome Investigators, American Store!

Hello one and all from Alcobendas. It's been a good week. There is so much to do!

Well, that's scary about the forest fires in Galicia. And Mom, in all honesty, I do
n't think I'll be going north to Galicia. Elder Whitesides served here in the office for 10 months. If that's any indicator, it means this is my last area. I've kind of had to come to grips with that over the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, the flood of constant work from the office has kept my mind off of it, as have the many contacting and teaching opportunities here in Alcobendas. But yes, I accept that Alcobendas could me my last area and I'll be ending in the office. It won't be too bad if that happens, I suppose.

I'm slowly starting to master many aspects of my job (though some remain enormous looming monsters) and I'm getting a lot of work done and taken care of what should have been done a long time ago. We've been able to manage things in a timely manner and it seems that no one from our mission will have to go home due to residency issues. However, we are still behind and are fighting to get back up to speed.

In another arena, references have begun to stack up and have become a huge task. Sometimes missionaries will send me a name and a number of a person who doesn't live in their area, and I have to try to get a hold of them to see where they live. Other times, they'll just give a street name and a name and I have to do some detective work to see which elders the reference should go to. Multiply these cases by 50 each and you get an idea of what I have before me. I'm thinking that the system needs to change so that the missionaries themselves take more responsibility for their own references, but that's a project that's still pending.

In other news, we went to El Escorial today,
a huge monastery/cathedral where over four centuries of Spanish Monarchy are buried. We went into the mausoleum and were impressed as we stood in a tall, round room and looked at the names and marble coffins of the kings and queens of the Spanish past. It was pretty cool, and awe-inspiring too.
As for the work here i
n Alcobendas, we are continually amazed by how many people there are here willing to listen and commit!

Last night, we set a baptismal date with a woman named Elvia for the 4th of September. She said that she had felt the Spirit in the church meetings and wanted to be baptized! :D

We also had a great experience with a 17-year-old Spanish atheist who sat down and listened to us on a bench right there, then came to a Family Home Evening activity a few days later. His name is Alfonso and we're teaching him again tonight. We're going to put a lot of emphasis on church to see if we can get him to come this Sunday. We'll see how it goes. He's a good guy.

Other stunning news: a block away from our apartment, we found an American-Filipino store. They opened up a week ago and are still getting things imported, but in that wondrous store we found A&W Root Beer, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Betty Crocker Cake, Brownie and Cookie mixes, Maple Syrup, Hershey's Syrup, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, all of which are IMPOSSIBLE to find in Spain! Sure it all comes at a slightly marked-up price, but I bought a box of Mac and Cheese which I just enjoyed this afternoon. Mmm, delicious! :)

Here they are chugging some rootbeer -

We're surviving quite well in our 4-man (built for 2) apartment.
We position a fan right there in the window of the bedroom (which is also the front room and dining room and study room) and crank it up full blast as we sleep. By morning, things are almost chilly in there! Today I cleaned the bathroom with mucho cariño.

Well, that's about all there is to report on now, and all I have time for. Thanks for everything you do for me and help me with. I love you all lots!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It is incredible how good the work is here in Alcobendas!

Yes, I have already heard the "rumors" of Elder Zollinger´s engagement. I too find it quite staggering how quickly he went from girl-shunner to engaged. The mission changes people, though.

Well, well, well, what do I start with? I suppose
I'll start with our proselyting this last week. We've been able to work a good amount of time in the field this week. It is incredible how good the work is here in Alcobendas! We worked only for a couple of evenings and have already found lots of investigators and had some great lessons! I find that I really miss working as a missionary, so when I get the chance I really go all-out.

We found a young family, Antonio from Spain and Clara from Paraguay. They're a good couple. She believes in God and belongs to a protestant church, and Antonio is Catholic but is willing to learn more if he can. They have two young daughters and a little baby boy, and we've had a good time teaching them. We had a good lesson with them where we talked about the Book of Mormon and how it can help us discover the truth. We have another lesson with them tomorrow.

We're also teaching a 17-year-old Colombian named Werner. He's got a bit of a rough appearance: pale, dyed black hair, piercings and chains, but he believes in God and is willing to meet with us and learn more. He works to support his family, because no one else in his family can find work. We had a good first lesson with him where we discussed Joseph Smith. He wants to know more about who Joseph Smith is and how he can know that he actually was a Prophet of God.

Besides that, we've been making a lot of contacts in the street, and going by old references to try and find someone to teach. We've been having good success in both fields finding new investigators. This is just an insanely good area! I wish I could spend more time w
orking in it.

Elder Anderson and I are having fun as a companionship. We have a lot of similar likes and interests. He was a competitive swimmer, so he fits right into the "Knorr Pod." We enjoy getting lost in Madrid with our little blue car, while enjoying such musical pieces as "Jabberwocky" and "Lightning!" by the Northridge Choir.

Alright, now down to da nitty-gritty. The office has been ok this week. I finally feel like I'm starting to gain some control over my work (though many aspects are frankly uncontrollable). I'm learning the ropes and starting to really get a lot done.
Early in the week we had to say goodbye to a missionary leaving for medical reasons. It was hard, especially since we've just had to send off two others (one from the Canaries and one from the Málaga mission on his way through Madrid to the airport), leaving because of residency issues. They say another missionary has to leave from the Málaga mission due to just that: residency. A grave reminder of how important my job is here in the office. We've been working really hard, doing absolutely everything in our power and really putting our heads together to get some of the residency steps done, and we will continue to do so. We can't have any missionaries go home because of residency. Not even one. There are NO acceptable losses.

A challenge I've been having lately is completing all of my little assignments in the face of huge assignments like residency. I tend to focus really hard on one thing and shove everything else to a lower plane of attention. This is good and bad at the same time, as there are lots of small duties that I need to do. Mom, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

All in all, I'm content. :) I'm feeling more confident in all aspects of my work and satisfied as I see some of my hard work pay off. I hope I can continue to do my best here in the office, and in the field, so that God
will be happy with my sacrifice. I really am working as hard as I can, and I feel satisfied in at least that, even if I'm not perfect and make mistakes sometimes.

I love you all very much. I'm happy to be where I am and to do what I'm doing.
I'm glad to hear that Xander has arrived home safely and is now beginning the undoubtedly miserable and thoroughly uncomfortable process of "becoming normal" (something I won't have to suffer for a few more months). Donny is also returning home soon. I wish all of my friends a "welcome home" (even though I am not there to give it personally) and I truly look forward to seeing you all again. Good friends like us cannot be separated forever.

Take care! ´Till next time,

-Elder Knorr

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Surprise Phone Call!!!

We received a phone call first thing this morning!

No, not from Elder Knorr...but from the Seels, a senior couple returning from Madrid.

Elder Seel served as the financial secretary and Sister Seel as the mission nurse. Christopher was their district leader, and has affectionately mentioned them several times in his emails. Sister Seel helped with his toenail problem and when he was very sick with the stomach flu a few months ago. The last few weeks they've been working in the mission office together. It sounds like they know each other very well.

Elder Seel had wonderful things to say - that Elder Knorr is one of the best missionaries in the mission, that he is an exceptional young man, very inquisitive, a hard worker, and a great example to all of them. The Seels flew home to California today, and will be coming out to Utah in September. We can't wait to meet them!

Thanks for the glowing report, Elder and Sister Seel...and thank you for your selfless service in the Spain Madrid Mission.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Great New Pictures from Elder Knorr!

Elder Knorr and Elder Benson"José and Gabriela - An awesome young couple. José has been baptized since we took this picture."
"That night with the baptisms was really awesome:
6 new members in one night!"
Anthony was baptizedWith Anthony
Colonel Knorr fryin' up some chicken

Impressive cooking skillsYum, Yum!!!

"A freak lightening storm that happened in Madrid about a month ago. It didn't even rain, just went crazy with nonstop lightening bolts!"

19 new pictures added to Slideshow "Fourth Area - Madrid Barrio 2" in the upper right corner.

Hello everyone!

Yes, you could say I'm "hangin´in here" in the office. There is so much to do, and all of it is urgent, so we've been spending a lot of long, long days in here trying to get it all done. We've made steps towards eating more regularly (though it's still not what you'd call "regular") and I exercised and had my personal study in the morning for the first time today in several weeks. I hope that things begin to stabilize soon. But stabilized or not, we've been getting a lot of work done here.

I've greatly enjoyed working with President Watkins and all of the people in the office as well. President Watkins truly is a man with a visio
n and I enjoy helping put those visions into action as the secretary. I'm learning my duties bit by bit, focusing on the most urgent things (residency) and slowly picking up on all the other little things that I need to do. The nature of the work in the mission office is that I try to do my normal work and constantly get interrupted by various emergencies. Before I started working here, I never understood all of the responsibility that the office elders have. I'm learning a lot about how to work under pressure and get things done.

I'm glad to hear about how all of my beloved siblings are doing. It sounds like everyone's happy and healthy.

Well, unfortunately, we don't have much time today. Once again, the office has invaded my preparation day and we'll be running some errands, all of them of course "urgent." It's all we can do to keep the mission from exploding, but we're learning our duties, despite our inexperience and lack of training. I continue to miss being able to doing normal missionary work like I used to, but I know that this is an important assignment and, until I can get things down to a manageable level, I've got to devote all of my time and effort to this.

Sorry I don't have the typical "missionary experience" stories this week. The only stories I have have to do with working until 11:00 in the office trying to arrange emergency flights, re-making the mission phone list 5 times, fixing the network connection so that we can print, unjamming the printer, getting 8 missionaries registered in their local city halls, combining the residency data from the old Bilbao missions, the Canaries and the old Madrid mission, making and sending out announcements, keeping up with references, compiling spreadsheets, etc., etc., etc.. So, not your typical "missionary work," but the mission would explode if nobody did it.

To make up for my boringness, I decided to send some pictures in this email. Enjoy! I love you all so much.

-Elder Knorr