Elder Aaron Baxter
Germany Frankfurt Mission
Kirche Jesu Christi
Corneliusstrasse 18
60325 Frankfurt am Main

Monday, January 25, 2016

Transfer 16

The 16th transfer of my mission has finally come around.  This is a unique transfer because it is also my last six weeks of my mission.  Where did the time go?!

It all started on Monday preparing for my companion to leave to his new area.  There was packing, ping pong, and saying goodbye to members.  The following morning Elder Merkley jumped on a train and I waited a few hours with the other Hanau Elders to wait for my new companion to arrive.  During the wait, I ran into an investigator who we had lost contact with because his phone number had changed.  Needless to say, I got this guy´s new phone number.  After a little bit of time, my last companion in the field showed up: Elder Ireton.  He´s been out on his mission just a few months shy as to how long I´ve been out, and for the first time since the MTC, he´s my first American companion that doesn´t come from Utah.  He´s a way friendly guy.  We spent the rest of Tuesday getting Elder Ireton situated in Hanau, meeting with our ward mission leader, and practicing with the ward choir.

Wednesday we had a lot of time dedicated hitting the streets, and we actually found some good success getting contact info from others.  In the evening there was a special worldwide broadcast for missionaries put on by the Church.  It was titled "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts" and was all about the basic purposes of missionary work and the Gospel, specifically: faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  The next day we had district meeting with a couple of newcomers in the district, including the new district leader being my district leader in my last area.  We talked about the mission broadcast and got to know each other better and then it was back to Hanau.  That evening we drove out to visit with a less active member and we discussed the importance of scripture study.

Friday we had several appointments planned out with investigators, but they all fell through. With no set appointments, we used the time finding and got some more contact info from others.  Also, I got a package in the mail from the mission office, namely a 4 step ladder.  It was addressed to me, and while my companion and I don´t know exactly why we got it, we do know it was intended for us and is probably for our bunk bed that doesn´t have a ladder.  Random, but ok.  Saturday I baked brownies for a member appointment because we would be visiting an older member on her birthday.  We got to the member´s house, and she had her family and friends over, most of whom were less active or nonmembers.  We got to visit with all of them.  After we left, we attempted to visit some other less active members.  Sunday was ward conference in Hanau, so there were a lot more people at church than normal.  Elder Ireton introduced himself, we sang in the choir, and during the second hour of church we got to meet some nonmember friends of a member family.  It was a positive experience, and the members were really happy with us being able to meet their friends.

Time is rushing by, but it´s not over yet.  A lot of great things happened for the first week of the transfer, and if things continue this way, I´ll be really happy with the end of my mission.  No matter what comes though, I´m sure it will be a good transfer.

Aaron and Elder Ireton

4 step ladder

Monday, January 18, 2016

Lego Buddies

With the last week of the transfer, came many adventures.  So where do we begin?  P-day of course!  The day was actually my companion´s 20th birthday, so in the morning he opened up some presents and made a nice breakfast.  After emails, we traveled to Wetterau, part of our district, because we were invited to play a game with other missionaries.  What it ended up being was a "Star Wars" themed "Dungeons and Dragons" game.  Talk about a nerdy experience!  It made for some good laughs though, so it was kind of fun (although I don´t think "Dungeons and Dragons" would ever be something I would commit myself too).  My companion and I then went out to eat at a nice Italian restaurant for his birthday, and then we made a visit to a member.  Tuesday Elder Merkley and I got some contact information for a potential investigator from Elders in our district to check out.  The guy wasn´t home, but we were able to get something set up the next day, and then we knocked on doors in the area.  We then picked up a member to drive out to Fulda to make a visit to a member and her boyfriend who is investigating the church.  The member we took with, and the member we visited herself are both very missionary minded (she has three children who have served missions, one who is currently serving)  so it was a great experience to meet and talk with the boyfriend, plus there was some amazing food.

Wednesday we were able to meet with the potential investigator we set out to meet the day before, and he was way prepared for the Gospel.  He comes from a Muslim background, but he was asking all the perfect questions about the nature of religion and the purpose of life.  We then met with another investigator and talked about our Heavenly Father.  We also gave this man a copy of the Book of Mormon in Spanish, which was actually a way cool experience.  The man seemed so touched and grateful for the copy of the Book of Mormon, it was special to see.  Thursday was district meeting, and we got a district picture because we figured some changes would be coming for the next transfer.  In the evening we helped a member with a home teaching appointment.  The family we were visiting consisted of a single mother recently reactivated in the church and her six year old son.  At the beginning of the appointment, I was asked by the home teacher if I could help out this six year old boy build his Star Wars Lego he was showing off and distracting everyone with.  After two hours of legos, games, and everything six year old boys love, this kid and I were the best of friends while the home teacher and my companion talked to the mother.

Friday my companion got a call from our mission president informing him he would be serving as a district leader for the next transfer in another area.  We then went out to Fulda again to meet a woman who has had contact with missionaries for nearly 20 years.  She is very firm in her faith she has, but we had a really good discussion, and gave her a talk to read from the last General Conference in October.  We then spent a little bit of time at an Elders Quorum social we were invited too, and then drove home in the snow that had just started to hit.  Saturday Elder Merkley and I met with a man we call every night at 9:30 to see how he is doing.  Something is wrong with this guy´s head, and he´s known the Elders for years, but he´s a really nice guy.  We then met with a less active member and talked about the importance of church.  That evening we got a call telling us I would be getting a new companion in Hanau, and Elder Merkley would be going to the N├╝rnberg Zone.

Sunday there was snow in Hanau, Elder Merkley said goodbye to the ward, and then our Brazilian Elder gave his very first talk in Germany.  Elder Merkley and I then had a dinner appointment with some members: the single mother we visited for home teaching, and then her parents who are also in the ward.  During this time I found out how much the six year old boy I played with really appreciated me. His mom and grandparents told me I was like an older brother to him.  Wow!  This home teaching appointment really turned out to be something!

 I´ve only got one transfer left now for my mission.  Whatever may come, bring it on!

Aaron's district

Monday, January 11, 2016

Always On The Move

It was the first full week of the year in Hanau (and everywhere else in the world), and of course the week started with another P-Day.  Besides the usual shopping and emails, we as the Hanau Elders had a rematch or two against a member with "Settlers of Catan."  We also in the evening went by a family from Syria we met a few weeks back, and while they were still too busy to meet this whole week, they still seemed happy to see us.  Tuesday we went about trying to get into contact with some former investigators and referrals.  In the evening we met with our ward mission leader and then had choir practice.

Wednesday was a pretty cool day because as we were out continuing to find former investigators, we ended up meeting one without knowing it at first.  It was really confusing trying to find the place where this guy lived, so we asked a man in the area.  The man we talked too claimed to be the neighbor of the guy we were looking for, but later admitted he was the guy.  He was just making sure we were not from another church.  We set up a time to meet and then took a train out to Fulda to meet with a new member in the ward.  We met in a cafe over hot chocolate and talked about missionary work and got to know the new member better.

Thursday we walked out to a town we thought was a lot closer than it really was.  That made for a multiple hour adventure walking in the rain to stop by an investigator and former investigator.  Along the way we found a "Word of Wisdom" pamphlet on the side of a street with contact info for the Elders in Offenbach.  What are the chances of that?!  We did get to visit with an investigator and then decided to take a bus to end the trip.  At the end of the day we met with a less active member and we were able to give him a blessing when he asked for one.  Friday we had a zone training meeting in Friedrichsdorf, where the Frankfurt Temple is.  Planning was the theme of the meeting and setting goals (a new year, anyone?).  That evening my companion and I had help from our ward mission leader with meeting an investigator and teaching her about the Plan of Salvation.  Unfortunately, we don't know if this investigator really has any interest, so we will have to see where things go from here.

Saturday we were able to visit with the former investigator we ran into on Wednesday and set expectations.  He has a lot of positive memories of when he met the Sisters years ago, so that's great! After that, our plans weren't really working out with investigators, but at the end of the day a member said we could share a spiritual thought with him.  After the thought, he showed us his progress record when he was investigating the Church years ago, that was really cool.  On Sunday there was a mission farewell for a future Sister missionary, and I got to give a talk for part of the Sacrament meeting.  It was about finding happiness every day, and I used Elder Wirthlin's last talk from General Conference in October of 2008 for the focus of my talk.  It went over well, and to close the week, as we were out trying to meet with an investigator, we met the landlord of the apartment complex we were at and learned he is actually a member.  So while we didn't get to see our investigator (he wasn't home), we did find a less active member.  Despite plans being warped or thrown out the window, somehow things still work out

More Brothers Grimm Art

Monday, January 4, 2016

Year´s End...

First and foremost, I totally made it into the newspaper!  It's old news, actually, but the ward recently gave me a copy of the paper to hold onto for memory's sake.  Somehow the ward in Hanau got a spot in the newspaper to say that two missionaries, the brand new missionary here and I, moved into Hanau, which is pretty cool!

With the start of the week, I tested my courage and decided to cut my hair by myself.  It turned out alright, could have been better, could have been worse.  With the seasonal sales in Germany after Christmas, I was able to find a brand new suit and shoes for an awesome deal, so now I got something nice to wear for when I'm back in the states! P-day was also spent playing "Settlers of Catan" with a member and the other Elders, and finding someone in the ward to help with a future teaching appointment, which was surprisingly hard to do, but in the end we found someone.

Tuesday all plans we had fell out, so we ended up going to a small town and knock on some doors.  We did meet a man who was in charge of the local church in the area, who recognized us as Elders and was happy to see us, so that was nice.  Wednesday was district meeting, where the zone leaders showed up and talked about how missions change people if you let it, and later in the day we met with a woman we met with last week.  She actually did the commitment we gave of her reading Moroni 7 in the Book of Mormon, which made for a nice appointment talking about, faith, hope, charity, and good things coming from God.

Thursday (New Year's Eve!) my companion and I ventured out to a town called Steinau to find a less active member.  Sadly, we couldn't find her, but we did find a cool little castle and stuff about the Brothers Grimm all around the town.  We also had a dinner appointment with a member family, the parents of the family both being return missionaries, and having a great visit talking about sharing the Book of Mormon with others.  My companion and I then stayed up to watch the fireworks and welcome in the new year from our apartment.  We tried to capture the moment of all the chaos outside, but taking pictures of fireworks never seems to turn out that well.  Oh well, welcome 2016!

Starting the new year, my companion and I planned for the next week, and then we went on a split.  I stayed in Hanau with my district leader, and he inspected the apartment.  The next day we drove out to meet with a less active member we meet regularly with and talk about faith and repentance.  The split ended, and then it was off to Sunday. The most notable event that happened in church was that I taught the lesson in Sunday School, with the new topic of the year being the Book of Mormon.  Of course it was daunting to be in a ward that's bigger than anything I've known my whole mission, plus I am still getting to know the majority of the members, and then teach in German, but I was told it turned out well, so hooray!

In reflection, a lot happened in 2015, my year completely dedicated to serving the Lord.  It went by fast, and I feel I can say I am happy with the year and how it turned out, which is the most I could ask for.  On to the new year!

Making the News

A Cool Little Castle

Brothers Grimm