Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TomToms and Strikes and Pitbulls...Oh My!

Hello, it's Elder Knorr. I've had quite an interesting week since I last wrote. Let's see if I can remember it all...

First off, we got a TomTom (a little navigational device that we use to find our way around Madrid and the outlying cities while driving in the car). It is a useful little device that is compact, intuitively designed, and very helpful in a world of one-way streets, confusing signs and endless roundabouts. Up until now, we haven't been very efficient in our navigating, leading to many cases of getting lost and stressed and getting to things late. But those days are over! We got it a few days ago and just put it in the car yesterday. We customized the voice to be an Irish Female, and named her Maggie. :)

Secondly, that TomTom came in very handy yesterday as we took a crazy adventure road trip to Madrid to try and do residency for two elders. The plan was to pick up a missionary from Gijón in the train station, take him to Aluche to do his residency along with a
nother one coming in from Alcorcón (and his companion). When we arrived, we waited in a long line. When we got to the front and they started helping us, they said that both of the missionaries hadn't paid a necessary fee yet (a minuscule fee of 15.30 euros each) and that they couldn't help us until we had the fees paid. We tried to pay it there, but they said that they couldn't do that and that we'd have to have the transaction made at a bank. Trouble is, in Spain, banks are only open from 10 to 2 and it was 4:30. That pretty much killed our residency plans for the day. So, we tried to call and get the money back for Elder Kay's ticket back to Gijón, but they told us it was too late to cancel it. We ended up just making plans for him to stay another day in Madrid, so that we could pay the fee and get it over with, but we forgot that there was a massive strike that was going to happen the next day (now today) in which all public transportation would be shut down and the streets would be packed with desperate commuters. We decided, rather than try to deal with that, we would wait yet another day and just do it Thursday. So, that's our current plan. It's been crazy for all of us. In fact, the only thing that was reliable yesterday was Maggie, our trusty Irish companion. She didn't get us lost once! :)

Something else happened that was very, very different this week. :) I hope none of you judge me. So, we
have an investigator who is a devout Catholic, but open to listen to the Gospel and read and all of that. We had been trying to get him to church for a few weeks, and finally, he said "I'll go to your church if you go to mine first." I briefly considered it and agreed (anything to get him to church, right?). So, at 9 Sunday morning we went to the Catholic Mass. We showed up right on time and sat in one of the back rows. It was very interesting, and very different. It was good in that they spoke a lot about Jesus Christ and read passages from the Bible. We didn't know any of the memorized prayers or hymns so we just stayed silent for those parts, but we did stand up and sit down with the rest of them. Anyway, afterwards, Pablo came to church with us. I think he liked it. Unfortunately, I think one of the members might have offended him by saying something bad about Catholics after the meeting. Yeah. Very, very, very frustrating. We'll talk about it with him in our next visit.

In other news, two nights ago we were walking around, doing some final contacts before going to bed. We spotted a woman walking towards us, walking two dogs.
We didn't pay much attention to the dogs at first and we went in to talk with her. She looked up at us and with a stern expression said "No." Now, we get that a lot, and we usually keep trying after the original "no," but something was different about hers, almost as if she was rejecting us for our own protection. We started talking to her, and all of the sudden the two dogs began barking at us and growling and snapping. They were two, HUGE pitbulls with steel muzzles on, and if they hadn't been leashed or muzzled, I'm sure they would have tried to kill us. She was a lady in her late 40's and it was everything she could do to keep the dogs held back. She finally got them to stop barking and lunging at us, and we parted. After that, our adrenaline was waaaaaay high! It was definitely the most terrifying dog experience I've ever had.

Alright, well, those are all of the exciting stories I've got for now. I'm sorry for the lateness of recent letters. Since Preparation Day last week was on a Thursday, I sent them Friday and I doubt they got anywhere before the mail system shut down over the weekend. Plus, with this strike, I'm sure things will get slowed down again. I'm sorry for anyone who might be wondering.

As for incoming mail, I was blessed to receive a letter from Kristen this last week. It ended what felt like a long drought of no letters and was very nice to get.

General Conference is coming up, and I'm excited to get to go and enjoy the word of the Lord. General Conference is always a happy, cheerful occasion here in the mission. We all gather to the closest broadcasting locations (which, in the case of all Madrid missionaries and several others is the Temple Stake Center), and get to enjoy wonderful talks and music and also the company of our mission buddies. We eat lunch there, get to be near the Temple, and all around have a good time.

It's good to hear about the family and how they're all doing. I think I might try running a marathon when I get back (I'll have to train, of course). So, Ethan finally got an XBox. Was it an XBox 360? Sounds very fun.

Hey, there's a member here named Freencky (pronounced Franky) who is 19 years old and is moving to Utah soon with his mom. He was born in Venezuela to parents from Spain and the Dominican Republic, he was raised in New York, and he's spent the past couple of years here in Spain. He speaks English perfectly, and with a New Yorker accent. He's a convert and he'll be leaving soon on a mission. Freencky is a really good friend of mine. He's always going out to teach with us and help us contact as well. He's every missionary's dream-member! :) Anyways, he'll be coming down to Utah (probably Orem or Provo) and I'd love for you to meet him and his mom (be advised, she speaks no English). I'm going to give him our home address and phone number so he can pass by and meet my wonderful family! :) If I'm not mistaken, he's flying Monday so he'll be there next week. Expect a call!

Well, I need to go now. I love you all and I hope you all do well this week. Remember, the Lord lives and He loves us. Don't let up on the little things (scripture study, prayer, church attendance.) Till next time,

-Elder Knorr

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello! It's me, Elder Knorr. I'm doing fine.

I didn't get stuck in any elevators this week, which was a nice change. :) And my companion and I have been getting a lot done in the office.

This week, my companion has had a leadership training he's had to go to for the last three days in the mornings. He's been going with President, and I've stayed here with Elder Jewell so I ca
n keep getting things done in the office. Due to these trainings, Preparation Day was changed to Thursday (because one of the meetings was Wednesday morning) so that's why I'm writing a day late.

I got references cleared out this week! :) It was hard, but I got it done and now I feel a lot better. I also developed a folder system on my cell phone to receive and organize incoming references, have sent out mail to several areas and missionaries, and helped some missionaries with their residency. All in all, it's been a bit crazy. But we're almost through the madness (I always seem to say that, don't I? And right then more madness shows up.)

I really don't have that much to share this week. We've just spent a lot of time trying to get office business taken care of, something that we have not been able to do to the extent necessary for t
he past several weeks.

We still get out and contact/teach a lot. We keep finding new people to teach, in spite of frequent rejection on the street and those people who don't outright reject, but rather give us false numbers and addresses. We have an investigator named Alfonso, a 17-year-old Spaniard, who we've taught several times. He must really like the Church because he keeps inviting more and more friends to come meet us and listen to our message. It's crazy! It seems every other time we meet, we're meeting another one of his Spanish friends. We must have met a million of them by now! We love it, it's given us a lot of people to teach. Teaching someone our own age is something really different. We're used to teaching adults or elderly people who want to learn about God, so teaching someone around our own age is a big change. Actually, later today we're going to go to the chapel together and play some board games (Settlers of Catan) to get to know some more of his friends and invite them to listen to the lessons. The work is really good right now.

Other than that, I don't think there's anything else. I'm just working hard, trying to be perfectly obedient, keeping the mission from imploding, and loving being a missionary. Thanks for the great letters and emails. They help me keep strong. I love you all and hope that this email finds you happy and healthy and all of that.

I remain, as ever, your humble servant,

-Elder Knorr

Monday, September 20, 2010

Letters Home!

"Dear Dad, the Initiator of the Knorr Office [office missionary] Dynasty,

Well, here I am! Whodathunk? Elder Knorrs must be very "official" because this makes #2. We're two-for-two, as it were. Well, I suppose this opens up a whole world of things we can talk about; I'm sure you're dying to know how a mission office is run these days. Let's start with the basicos:

Residency. I think it works more or less the same in all countries. In Spain, a visa is necessary to enter the country. Now, before the visado expires, the person needs to get fingerprinted and submit certain papers in order to get a residency card (which only lasts for 1 year). 90 days before the first card expires, the process must be started to get another one. On the second card, pretty much all missionaries will make it 'til the end of their mission. (There are, of course, ALWAYS exceptions and emergencies.) If a missionary's card expires and 3 months roll by, we get a nice little letter at the mission office telling us that so-and-so has to leave the country in 15 days. Yup. Ouch. There are a few more requirements, ins-and-outs and hangups, but that's the basic idea. Sound familiar? [Christopher hasn't had one deported and hopefully never will.]

Then there's References. The mission office is
the hub for references that go to other missionaries. Nowadays the missionaries can just send references to other areas by text messages, so we don't have to deal with those anymore. I need to organize them, send them out, and keep tabs on them until they're sent back as "contacted."

Besides that, the Assistants and I do numbers for the mission which we se
nd in weekly to Church headquarters. And I'm in charge of routing email to its intended recipient. It's fun :)

So, there are a few other things. I seem to be the "go-to-if-you-have-an-unresolvable-crisis" guy, so that keeps my blood pressure levels from getting too low. I'm also in on a lot of "transfer secrets," so I'm learning to be very confidential.

Your missionary son,
Elder Knorr"


To Megan:

"So, being an office worker is fun but challenging. Computers are really useful for organizing information. Ha, and I used to think that they were for movies and games and music and internet. I laugh at those now. Computers are for making spreadsheets that look this [drawing of spreadsheet] and keeping track of all of the residency information of 140 missionaries. Isn't that great?!?!"


To Ethan:

"Today is September 1st. That means I have been in the mission for a year and five months! A long time. I like being a missionary, it's really fun! It's the coolest thing I've ever done and it has been a big adventure. Now I'm in
the mission office, which is really different. I have to do a lot of things to keep the mission going and keep things working correctly. I've never had so much responsibility, I'm sure it's good practice for future job or whatever...I miss being able to hang out with my awesome little brother. I want to chill with you a lot when I get home, we'll have a lot of fun. but for now, I've got a lot of missionary work to do over here. Take care, Number One.

Your missionary brother,
Elder Knorr"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Elevator Mishap! and a Super Sabbath!!

This has been quite an exciting week.

Firstly, Sunday I had my BEST missionary day ever. :) It was truly amazing! After Church, we hurried over to an appointment with a young man (21) named Jean Carlos, from the Dominican Republic, and his girlfriend Mai from Brazil. We had a great time teaching them and talking with them, and it was especially nice because they were both young people like us. At the end of the lesson, we gave them a pamphlet about the Restoration, and Mai started reading it all right there! She just couldn't wait to learn more. :) We called them today to check up on the reading and we will be meeting with them again this upcoming Sunday.

We then went to the capilla [chapel] again and met with Roberto, a 25-year-old man from Paraguay who Elder Anderson and Elder Jewell had already taught once. While we were talking about his reading in the Book of Mormon, he said "Yes, I really liked this part:" and then proceeded to read to us almost half of 3 Nephi 11! It was amusing, but reading the scriptures like that right at the beginning, especially such emotional and spiritual passages such as 3 Nephi 11, really brought the Spirit into the lesson. We then watched the Restoration movie together, pausing it at times to explain what was happening. After bearing powerful testimony about all that we had discussed and seen in that lesson, we invited him to be baptized. He said yes! ^_^ We set the date for October 9th, and he seems very excited for it. It was truly an incredible experience.

After that, we headed to a park where we were going to meet Pablo, an Ecuadorian man of about 30 years of age who has a lot of faith in God. Since it was such a nice day and there was a rare patch of lawn nearby, we just sat down right there on the grass and started teaching! We shared our purpose as missionaries and explained some basic doctrines of the Restoration, all of which he accepted very well. The Spirit was very strong and I know he felt it. We extended the invitation to have him learn more and keep meeting with us and he emphatically agreed. We left him with some reading material and he offered a wonderful prayer to end the lesson.

The most incredible thing about all of this is that it happened ALL ON THE SAME DAY! It's simply mind-blowing. I'm really still reeling from the shock. We feel very blessed to be in such a great area with such great people.

Another random event that happened: There had just been a leadership meeting in the office and all of the zone leaders and assistants were going out to eat with President at a Chinese restaurant. We (the office eld
ers) were invited to go along, so we all hopped in cars and started on our way. When we arrived in the parking garage and approached the elevator, we saw that it had a clearly marked capacity of "8 Personas." President Watkins, eager to get us all our food, forced all 11 of us into the elevator (including himself) and pressed the button. We watched as the elevator sunk about 6 inches, and the display screen read "Sobrepeso" [overweight]. Realizing his error, President stepped out of the elevator backwards, just in time to avoid being shut in with the rest of us. When we tried to open the door again, we realized the startling truth: We were stuck in an elevator.

Now, let me paint a picture for you: 10 elders with literally no wiggle room, crammed into an undersized elevator with an array of hot, orange lights shining down on us. It was interesting to watch the different reactions of us all. The overall feel, however, was a kind of amused, jovial, ironic situation. Some elders jokingly theorized that President was "cycli
ng out the leadership of the mission" and waited in suspense for toxic gas to begin filling the elevator. Others of us tried making phone calls, to no avail. Elder Driggs took charge of the distress signal button in the elevator, trying in vain to call an operator and, even when the lady finally answered, she could not hear our pleas for help. We soon discovered that the air lower down by our knees was cooler than the air at our heads, so we took turns crouching and letting other elders crouch so that they could rest for a moment from the heat.

After about 15 minutes of this, we heard some rattling and twisting sounds above us. All of the sudden, the cable came loose and the elevator fell down one level! We landed with a heavy bump on
the 2nd floor and wondered what had just happened. Finally, after about 10 more minutes of waiting, the workers were able to open the door. They chided us for trying to fit so many people into an elevator that clearly set a limit. It was all a fun adventure that definitely served as a "bonding experience" for all of us missionaries, and it made the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet that we then went to all the sweeter.

Anyway, that was my week more or less. That and other little office duties.

Ethan, thanks for the sweet pictures of the Deploy CS-6. It looks way awesome! I can't wait to shoot you with it and be shot by it in return. :)

Well, that's more or less all of the time I have this week. Thanks for all of the love and support that you send me. I really enjoy being a missionary and I'm pleased with the way the Lord has been using me to help His children. I know He lives.

-Elder Knorr

P.S. To all of my friends: I understand and appreciate that the "missionary bubble" is necessary to a certain degree to help me keep my focus. I am ok with that and I appreciate not being told "too much." However, it is nice to hear from you every now and then. To those of you who have written, thank you very much. And to those of you who have not yet, please do! I esteem you all very highly.

Elder Christopher Knorr
Spain Madrid Mission
Calle Fuereventura 4, 2
º, Oficina 8-B
San Sebastian de los Reyes
28703 Madrid

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Keeping the Flame Alive!

Hello family and friends and all. Keeping the flame alive! It's been a good week (albeit very busy). I've decided to tell you some of the crisis that we've resolved in the office this week. Before, just talking about them made me stressed, but now I've adjusted to it to the point that I can describe it in gnarly detail and don't even sweat once! :)

This week was transfers. We spent last week preparing, making the sheets, updating the databases (which still isn't completely done) and making travel plans for every single one of the missionaries who would be moving. I think I heard President say that about 30% of the mission got moved this transfer. I don't doubt it.

The real fun began Sunday night, when we went to the airport to pick up Elder Strickland who was flying in from the north. He was headed home the next day, so he was going to stay with the Assistants in Barrio 2. We drove him there and made a switch with the assistants, who had picked up Elder Woodland (also going home the next day). Elder Woodland stayed with us that night, and I slept on the couch (quite soft, but a few inches too short).

The next day, we took Elder Woodland to the
Stake Center in Madrid and began doing the usual duties with departing missionaries (collecting extra money, collecting residency and credit cards, having them sign "dar de baja" documents, giving them temporary phones for the day, etc.) After that, we distributed letters, packages, and proselyting materials to the missionaries there, having planned ahead of time what to bring so that the largest portion of the mission got what they needed. After driving a few people around, we took the luggage of the departing missionaries to the mission home, dropped it off, went back to the office to take care of a few more miscellaneous things, then went to the mission home at night to try and print out the tickets for those flying the next day. That didn't end up working out, so we just gave up and went home for the night.

The next day, we woke up early again and headed
to the office, then down to the Stake Center again to welcome in the incoming missionaries. Once again, we planned their trips and gave them all the tickets and information they would need to get to their destinations. It was refreshing to be in the presence of those new missionaries, all full of uncertainty, but also big dreams and desires. It reminded me how I was, and brought back those same feelings of wanting to conquer the world with the Gospel. Elder Porter, one of the new missionaries, wouldn't be leaving until a day later, so we decided to have him stay with us. We went and got something to eat at a turkish restaurant, then we went to the office so that I could get some work done. After a few hours, we went out to pick up Freencky (a 19-year-old member who is awesome and helps us a lot) and then we worked in two companionships for the rest of the night. Elder Anderson and Elder Porter were able to find 3 new young investigators, and Freencky and I went back to the office to finish up references. We got them all done! :) Once again, we had 5 people in the piso that night, so I opted to sleep on the ground with several blankets under me. I slept quite well.

Today at 12 we'll be going to the mission home to pick up some packages and then we'll be dropping Elder Porter off at 2 so he can catch
his train, but after that, all of the transfer chaos should be over. It's been fun, and I'm quite satisfied with the amount of stuff we were able to accomplish this time around. We're slowly getting better at this whole thing.

As for proselyting, we managed to get quite a bit done this last week, despite the chaos of transfers. We set an aggressive goal for our district: 45 lessons and 500 contacts in total. At the end of the week, we got 51 lessons and about 470 contacts (just short of our goal) but I know that we definitely gave it our best.

Also, last Saturday the other elders had a baptism. It worked out really well, it was one of the happiest baptisms that I've ever seen. I really enjoyed it.

Sorry, I'm already out of time! We've had to do a lot of running around during this hour and it's been sabotaged a bit. But I love you all and I hope all is going well!

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NEW PHOTOS!!! Plus...Contacting, Residency Work, Secrecy, Garbage!

Back to preparation day! Hello one and all! We've had a good week here in Alcobendas. Allow me to explain:

Empezaremos con lo primero: the work in the area, all goes well. We have been making big efforts when it comes to finding more people to teach, really "putting our shoulder to the wheel" and contacting a ton. Though we haven't had time to teach many lessons, we haven't let that keep us from working as hard as we can. There's an abundance of work to do in Alcobendas so we don't really have any excuses for not contacting all the time! Plus, there are a lot of people who give us their addresses and are willing to have us come by and teach them a gospel message. One of these days, I'm sure we'll find someone who is ready and willing to take the next steps.

Entering the last few days before transfers, our "office duties" have been extremely demanding this week. We are working hard to make all of the travel/residency arrangements for those who are moving. It's funny for me to compare how I used to certain aspects of the mission and how I now view them, working in the office (for instance, transfers.) Before I came here, transfers were kind of fun, and scary, and not knowing where I might go. It involved some stresses, but I had no idea. Now that I'm in the office, I know well ahead of time where everyone is going (2 to 3 weeks) and rather than wondering curiously as to where I might go, I'm just worried about fixing all of the residency and government documents for the moving missionaries, and my companion is focused on arranging travel plans and making sure everyone has the money or tickets or confirmation numbers they'll need. Besides that, It's been a bit of a stress, but we finally have everything figured out and sent off. However, there are still lots of little things we'll have to arrange and plan out to the finest point before the actual transfer happens this coming Monday. In other office things, I'm learning how to be more organized and punctual and effective. I still slip up sometimes, but I feel like I'm making strides.

Knowing now what all the transfers are, we have to maintain a thick cloak of secrecy around the "transfer secrets" so that no information gets out too soon. At times we have to obtain information from missionaries getting transferred, and have to do it in a way that doesn't arouse their suspicion *cue mission impossible music*. I've almost slipped up lots of times while talking to other missionaries, almost telling them sensitive transfer information, but so far we've done pretty well.

For the first time in weeks, it looks like it
might rain today. I like sudden rainstorms in the middle of a hot summer; it helps cool things down a bit. Lately, it has been very hot. The fair of San Sebastián has been in full swing the past week, with partying all night every night. When we went to Church Sunday morning, we were stunned to see garbage all over the place. Seriously, remember that scene from Wall-E where the world is completely covered in garbage? It was much like that. I'll send a few pictures.

We've set aside a sizable portion of time today to just writing letters. It's been awhile since I've been able to catch up on my letter writing, and I feel kind of bad for that. I hope to write at least 6 today. In fact, besides the normal email, cleaning and grocery shopping, all of the other time is dedicated to just that! Last week we took care of chores like washing the car and such, but today we're going to be taking it easy. So take heart! Letters are on the way. :)

Well, that's about it that I've got for today. I'm glad that Megan's talk went well, and that Emily has found a new job (that isn't insane
.) Plus, the steakhouse is named after some prehistorical Native Americans. Cool! :) Anyway, glad to hear that everyone is doing well and I'm sad to hear that the Odyssey has been sold. Lots of memories of fun, carsick road trips are attached to that vehicle! :)

I love you all and I hope to hear from
you soon. I'm doing fine here, and I know that the Church is true.
-Elder Knorr


People I know here in Alcobenda
s -

My companion Elder Anderson with the Seels at the temple

Elder Bartholomew and Elder Sauñé at El Escorial

Freencky a
nd Farrah Portas (twin members of the ward). Freencky helps us a lot with missionary work.

Our Missionary District

Photo documentation of my grand
HAIRCUT, given to me by the muy cariñosa Hermana Jewell.



It turned out really well!

After the all-night party

Incredible.... they didn't seem to think anything of cleaning up after themselves...