So this is my first week in Schwarzenberg.
About what we are doing: Elder Larson and I are here reopening a program here. 3 months ago there were Elders here. And now we are here for a new, fresh start. We have some old contacts and potential Friends of the Church; but we are trying to find new people who are interested. Schwarzenberg is relatively small and full of a lot of uninteresting people. I see a huge area, with a ton of people, who are all ready in some way or another for the Gospel. We have already found two Young People and a family, with whom we are meeting this week.
Elder Larson was actually trained here! So he knows almost every person in the Area Book and every village in the area. Plus he can understand the Erzgebirgisch accent. To me, it sounds like they are speaking German with marbles in their mouth. I never know what they are saying, so I just say something in response hoping it makes sequential sense…. I know I will pick it up!
About the area: We are currently serving in the city of Schwarzenberg – because that is where the Branch here is. But the entire region where we can serve is called Erzgebirge. WAY WAY WAY back in the day, this was a mining region – hardworking people. Erz means Ore. And the rocky hills are very dark: hence “Schwarzenberg.” But it so very beautiful here! They are known for all of their wood carving – namely Christmas stuff that is very expensive here. This is the place to be for Christmas; perfect timing, right?! Since I was in Berlin for almost 5 months, the land all around in so beautiful!! The train down was amazing! The other Elders wanted to talk. I just wanted to look at all the forests and green fields going by outside the window!
We got here Tuesday night and had a few meetings right away!
Funny story. We were shown where our new apartment was and we walked in. We noticed that there was so much leftover clothing there. We were walking around looking at the nice apartment. Sometimes Elders leave clothes and whatnot behind for others. But there was so much leftover. We didn’t really understand. There were a few things different in the apartment. And I knew that there hadn’t been Elders there for a while. And then I saw fresh fruit in the Kitchen and food. And dishes in the drying rack. I turned to Elder Larson and said, “I don’t think this is our apartment Elder….” So we went back downstairs and talked to the Sister Missionaries (they live right under us). They had actually joked with us and said that it is only temporary. So we are living with a member for a while and then, next month, we will move into our new apartment in Aue – the next town over.
But, for the most part, the Sister Missionaries have been taken care of us. We have not been able to do some grocery shopping and they gave us some food. We can finally buy some real food today. We have been getting to know the area and the members and the people and trying to get to work! The sisters have been keeping us up-to-date about meetings and activities – which I am very grateful for!
I am excited to serve and to finally become the Missionary I need to become. This will be a really great place to push myself, stretch, grow, and show my faith. I think faith is definitely going outside to work at night (in Schwarzenberg) when we have an extra hour to do nothing. That is when the miracles happen – in the 11th hour.
President Kosak has asked us to read Preach My Gospel before General Conference – one chapter per week now. I read the Introduction and Chapter 1 this week. There is a quote from Elder Holland on page 8. He says that if we do not teach with power and authority and with the Holy Ghost, then we have absolutely no reason to be devastated – because we did not do all that we could do. For us, if we do not give all that can give in finding those who are prepared, we should not be disappointed when we have no one that we are teaching. The are so many people here. There has to be at least one person ready to hear what we have to teach. If I exercise enough faith, we will find them. God will trust us enough to put this person – or people – in our path. I know that. I have seen that already!
I want to invite everyone at home to read Preach My Gospel before General Conference, too. Whether we have a name tag or not, we are enlisted and called to serve. “We have come to this earth upon a mission;… that we may have power to go forth and warn the nations of the earth…. As elder of Israel (I add: as members of this Church), very few of us fully comprehend our position, our calling, our relationship to God, our responsibility, our work the Lord requires at our hands.” When you study this, you can learn how you can be a better member missionary over the seas at home. We need more members helping us! That is the best way!