Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Great Week!

Hello everyone!

First off, Ethan, thanks for the message! I got a
letter from you guys this week and I got a copy of the program that features that SICK drawing that Ethan made! :) Really, I love it, it's way cool, and my companion thinks so too. Apparently Ethan has a much better artistic vision than I did at his age. And he's more athletic. And more popular. And better looking. Dang it, Ethan, won't you leave anything for me? :)

So, things are going well here in Villalba. Isaac,
Andrea and Sadith are all still progressing wonderfully. The Linares family in the ward (from Honduras, David and his wife Laura with their one child) has offered to learn sign language and become the official interpreters for Isaac and Andrea. They volunteered themselves enthusiastically! and they're learning very fast. I'm sure that things will go great in that regard. We taught Isaac the Word of Wisdom yesterday and he is willing to live it. In all honesty, he has very little problem with it in the first place.

Today we went to San Sebastian de los Reyes and stayed in the mission home for a few hours. It was nice, they made us some food and we played some tennis and sang some cheerful music. It was all-around good times. It cost a lot of traveling and time though.

Speaking of
things costing... I'm out of money for the rest of the month. :D So... yeah... back to the lentils, rice, potatoes, eggs diet that we survived on for two weeks in Segovia. Ah, just like the good old days.

All in all, life is good here. I'm trying to use my time to its fullest, every day, every hour, every minute. There's way too much to do and so little time... but the time I do have is a gift that needs to be used wisely.

I love you all and thanks for all of the letters
I've received lately (including one from Xander and one from Isaac). You're all the greatest. I love you!

Till next time,

-Elder Knorr

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

21st Birthday - Mario's and Michelle's Baptisms - and "focusing on the now"

Hello Knorr Family and friends! Thank you for all of the birthday wishes. It's me, Elder Knorr.

Doing email here in Villalba, waiting for the train to co
me so that we can got to Segovia and meet with some members for my birthday.

It was a good day. I got an excellent cake mix from Grandpa and Grandma Knorr, which we cooked up in a jiffy. We gave half of it to one of
our ward missionaries, who's birthday was on the 17th of January, so it worked out perfectly. Besides that, we made bacon and eggs this morning, and I think Segovia is setting some kind of surprise party for me (though I can't be sure.)

But the BIG news is that Mario and Mich
elle both got baptized! Mario is now the coolest possible Recent Convert, wanting to help us and accompany us to all the visits that we will allow him to, and has set the Temple as his next goal. Michelle is the 3rd member of her 4-person family to get baptized, so we're now working bit by bit with Sadith, her father, who is showing some pretty good desires and interest to get baptized. They're both very happy. The baptismal services in themselves went well: we had one in the morning and one at night, to accommodate the individual circumstances of each. Both services were very spiritual, and special experiences for us, the people getting baptized, and all those in attendance. They both asked me to baptize them, so we had some logistical problems when it came to clothes... which we quickly resolved. We also baked some brownies for the morning baptism. All in all, great.

Isaac and Andrea came to Church for the second time this last week, even though Isaac was tired from his late-night work (that
always seems to be a problem for people we teach.) Interpreting this time was extra difficult for some reason; I think I've plateaued in my learning and need to start putting some extra effort into my studies in order to keep progressing. We're also starting to make long-term arrangements so that Isaac and Andrea will be able to continue in the Church even after I'm gone. We've asked the bishop to assign a member of the Church to do it. We'll see if he responds to our request. Besides that, we'll be teaching some basic sign language to the youth during this week's mutual so that Isaac and Andrea have more people to talk to. We got a simplified Book of Mormon for them (the one made for children with the pictures and simplified explanations underneath). They like it a lot, especially Andrea, because they can actually understand what it's about now. Elder Thurston is picking up on Sign Language very quickly.
In the meantime, we're looking for new investigators,
due to the fact that the majority of our good ones just changed from investigators to members. We're talking with lots of people on the street and searching for people who want to hear the message of the Restored Gospel.

OK, now let's talk about the stuff that I'd rather not talk about. Mom, to answer your questions:
[I had asked him a few logistical questions about his plans upon returning in April, which he answered.]

Alright, enough about those worldly things. I think I'm
doing a pretty good job not thinking about going home and focusing on the NOW, but I can always do better. Things are going great here in Villalba and I hope to stay here for the rest of my mission, if the Lord wills it so. I'm glad to hear from you all and appreciate your support and love. Take care, and DON'T FORGET what's really important!

-Elder Knorr

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fresh Pictures Taken Today! and Nice Comments from a Member in Villalba!

Elder Knorr and his new companion, Elder Thurston, gave a birthday cake to one of the ward missionaries (Clara Molina Blanco) who's getting ready to leave on a mission. Here's her explanation and some pictures:

"Yesterday I called the missionaries to confirm a discussion and they told me they had no idea what I was talking about, but they also added that I had to make sure to be at home by 3 p.m. At 3:
30 p.m. today they were at my front door with a Birthday Cake with 21 candles, and sung me Happy Birthday!!! Aren´t they nice?? I was told by them that they brought me a cake to thank me for all the times I´ve helped them (not so many times by the way).

The two missionaries are: Elder Knorr and Elder Thurston and I promise I´ll be just like them when I go on my mission =)"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Michelle and Mario to be Baptized - and another TRANSFER ATTACK!!!

Well, hello everyone! Lots has happened this week that I need to fill you all in on. First off, TRANSFER ATTACK!!! Elder Holub was forcefully uprooted from his beloved Villalba and sent far up North to Galicia, Santiago de Compostela. So, I'm sure he'll be enjoying life up there and spreading the joy and love of the gospel to everyone just as he did down here in Villalba and before in Alcobendas. To replace him came Elder Thurston from Logan, Utah, who is even TALLER than Elder Holub was. We've been getting settled in and keeping things going in the area in the meantime, and I'm sure we'll have a great companionship. Elder Holub is my favorite companion to date, but we'll see what happens with Elder Thurston!

Things are going well here in Villalba, as far as missionary work goes. Michelle and Mario will both be baptized this Saturday, at different times. They have both asked me to baptize them. Last night we had their interviews and they both pass
ed with flying colors and are totally ready to take the important step of baptism. I'll be singing a solo for one of the musical numbers. We'll see how it goes! Also, Michelle wanted Elder Holub to give a talk at her baptism, but since he got transferred, he recorded a talk and we will listen to it at the baptism instead! Cool, eh?

In other news, things are going great with Isaac and Andrea.
My signing is improving. We keep teaching them good lessons and they seem to understand pretty well what we want to communicate. And, the biggest news of all, is that we got them to Church this last Sunday! It was an excellent experience. I had to put all of my signing skill to work in order to try and interpret the talks and lessons, but I'm pretty sure they got the jyst of it. Isaac said that he liked the Santa Cena [sacrament], and he had another spiritual experience during Sacrament Meeting that really strengthened his testimony. Besides that, the night before, Mario, Isaac and Andrea all came to a baptism with us that was being held in Barrio 1, Madrid. I had to interpret there as well, and they enjoyed the experience. The best part was being able to talk to Isaac on the bus there and back and learn more about him and Andrea and their lives. This is probably the biggest challenge I've ever undertaken in my life: integrating a deaf person into a hearing ward and helping them gain a testimony, but I know that with the Lord's help, nothing is impossible.

They've begun demolition to build a new capilla [chapel] here in Villalba
(a "carillon," you could say). It will resemble those we're used to in Utah: a free-standing building with a steeple and a real cultural hall and all the bells and whistles. I don't know if I'll still be around when it's finished, but it's still exciting to hear about. I am very happy and pleased that we will have a nice, new capilla.

Besides that, nothing new! We were sad to take down the Christmas decorations and put away the Christmas music, but there's a time an
d a place for everything. A few New Years Resolutions I've set: daily workouts to the next level, eating better, and keeping the apartment cleaner. So far, all three are on track.

I love you all! Thank you, ALL of you, for your kindness and concern. I really appreciate the emails, letters, and packages that I've received lately. They'v
e helped me in a multitude of ways.

Take care,

-Elder Knorr

1- Elder Holub with Maritzah, Brian, and Michelle
Coello. We
celebrated his 20th birthday with them.2- Elder Holub and me3- The Baptism in Villalba Barrio 1 - Pablo (ward mission leader), Mario, Andrea, Isaac, me, Elder Holub4- Our Romanian Gypsy Family :) [Mariana]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Investigator Mario!

Wow, that's too bad about the Provo Tabernacle! Has the building itself been hopelessly damaged, or are there plans to restore it? That's a neat thing about the picture of Christ's Second Coming. It reminds me of the scriptures quoted in Handel's Messiah "For who shall stand when he appeareth? and who shall abide the day of his coming? For he is like a refiner's fire..." I don't know, but it is a neat thing. Still stinks that the Provo Tabernacle was burned. I always really liked that building.

Anyway, things are going well. In about an hour we have a visit with Isaac. He and Andrea have been on vacation in Barcelona for the last week, so we've been out of contact for a while, but they have plans to come to church this Sunday and we're very excited for that. Today we hope to set a definitive baptismal date with him and explain the Holy Ghost better. We don't have a word for "Espiritu Santo" in LSE, so we're going to have to make one up. We have plans to get him a simplified version of the Book of Mormon (the one for children that comes with pictures) so that he can understand better the doctrines and stories. We're still concerned that even that book would not be able to fully convey the important doctrines contained in the Book of Mormon, but it would at least be something.

Natalia did not get baptized the 3rd as we had planned. There are problems in her family that keep impeding her progress, and a little more effort needs to be shown on her part as well before a baptism will be possible. We'll keep working with her.

We have a great investigator right now named Mario. We found him while contacting near the train station and had a 15 minute chat about gospel subjects with him right there. We invited him to come by the church to talk some more, and he did. We watched the Restoration movie and he absolutely loved it! Since that day, he has really gotten into the Book of Mormon and given his full effort to learning it and applying it in his life. He has gained a firm testimony that the Church is true and that he wants to follow it. He has a baptismal date for the 15th of January, and he stopped smoking New Year's Day. We were originally going to meet with him a few days after to help him with our "quit-smoking program," but when he showed up he let us know that he hadn't smoked in 3 days and that he had no intentions of doing so. Incredible! In every way, he is progressing towards his baptism. We're excited for him and know that he is making changes that will help him for his whole life.

We've been traveling around a lot lately: making the journey to Madrid several times, and to Segovia a handful of times as well. The weather is cold, and for the past two days it's been very foggy (something that happens periodically here that I haven't seen happen much in Utah.)

Tomorrow is Three Wise Men day (Dia de Reyes Magos) and after that the vacations will officially cease and we will be able to start meeting with more people and having more members accompany us to visits. I've felt crippled these past few weeks as far as missionary work is concerned, just because of a general drop in the work.

I'm glad the you enjoyed the Christmas call. Thanks so much for all of the love and support you send me, in emails and letters and such things. It means a lot to me to know that I'm appreciated and loved by my family and friends back home. Just know that I'm giving it my all out here in Spain and that I intend to keep working hard until the end. I love you! Till next time,

-Elder Knorr

P.S. A warning to all: Don't send anything to my apartment address. It doesn't seem to work... and I would hate to lose your letters.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Report on Christmas Phone Call with Elder Knorr

Another great phone call with Elder Knorr on Christmas Day! Since we were at Grandma and Grandpa Godfrey's home, we didn't record it this time, but here's a quick recap...

  • We made the call 15 mins. late, and when he picked up he explained they were just finishing up a lesson with their 2 hearing impaired investigators, husband and wife Isaac and Andrea.
  • We thought that was the best Christmas gift Elder Knorr could give his family - to lose track of time and forget about the call home because he was busy teaching the Gospel!
  • They said their goodbyes and we chatted as they began walking home...then "click" - the phone went dead.
  • We kept trying to call back and finally about 10 mins. later he answered again. The battery had gone dead and so they ran all the way back to their piso to plug it in! We continued and had a grand total of 45 minutes to talk and get caught up on all the goings-on.

  • Their Christmas Eve lunch plans with a family had fallen through so they fixed themselves a festive feast of pineapple, oranges, choriso (sausage) and cured ham on toasted breads and other local delicacies.
  • They ate their Christmas Day meal with a local family (dad Spanish/mom Finnish).
  • He continues to learn LSE (Spanish sign language). It differs from ASL in the order of the grammatical structure, as well as the Spanish vs. English spelling and phonetics.
  • Natalia, their young Spanish-Brazilian investigator, will be baptized on January 3rd!
  • Mariana (from Romania) progresses well. Despite the fact that she speaks little Spanish, they are able to communicate enough (with the Spirit's help) to get the message across. She reads the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, Romanian.
  • He says he feels totally safe from crime in Spain. He went on to describe it as a sort of "police state" with machine gun toting soldiers and muzzled German Shepherds a not-uncommon sight. He thinks the dogs have been trained to growl and bark at random people just to keep a fear of the police alive.
  • It's cold but not unbearable in Spain.
  • We asked about a short winter coat he was wearing in a recent photo and he said was a "piso-find" left behind by a former missionary. He says his other clothes are wearing thin but will last until the end.
  • There's a little confusion about his release date. When he said "I have 5 more months" I replied "Aren't you coming home April 5th?" (which is the date we received in an email from his mission president). He thinks it's closer to April 25th, and didn't want to dwell on it. He's guarding himself against getting "trunky" so we dropped the subject. I just said, "Well if you hear anything more definitive, just let us know." We of course are impatient for his return, but want him to end strong!
  • He hopes he stays in Villalba until the end of his mission, and is happy to get another General Conference in the mission field.
  • We all had a chance to talk with him (Grandma and Grandpa, Megan, Ethan, Mom and Dad). He listened with interest to our news too.
  • Before we said goodbye, he bore his testimony to us (in English this time). It was the perfect way to end a wonderful Christmas Day call.