Ya, so I'm in Köln.
/Cologne (for you silly English speakers)
SO, it's super awesome that I've already been here before, even though it was only for a couple hours and that didn't help me to know the area AT ALL. [NOTE: Elder Standring came here as a high school student with his choir while on a European tour and they actually sang right here in front of this cathedral!! And some of his family--parents & brother--got to come along, too, so we think it's SUPER COOL that he got assigned here as his first area in Germany! :)] Haha, I was totally thinking that it might, but no. Not even close. Köln has 2 million people in it, so it's definitely the biggest area in the mission. My Companion, who I was also previously acquainted with, actually, says that our Apartment Building, too, is the biggest/tallest in the Germany. Soooooo... Cool Beans :)
My trainer's name is Elder Davis, and he's from Utah (Turns out that most missonaries are!), but more specifically, Provo. I don't think anybody back in Crescent City knows him, but we met briefly at BYU as he accompanied a girl in my German Class one day, which was actually just before he left on his mission. He's been out here about 18 weeks and in Köln about 6 weeks. He's a really awesome guy and super patient and loving, and his German is really, really good. too. Cool story though, my first day here we didn't have any lessons, but we did have Priesthood Correlation Meeting, so I go to meet the Bishop right away! I didn't really say much at the meeting because I didn't have know what any of the plans were, but he said I have quite good German for being a Golden (what they call greenies here in the Frankfurt Mission). After the meeting there were two old women in the building probably working on genealogy or something, and they both agreed that I have no accent at all! And then a few more people at Sacrament Meeting said that I have really good German too, all of which is pretty surprising and a huge relief, and I know that Heavenly Father has really been good to me in Learning the Language Department. However, just being able to mumble without an accent doesn't get people baptized by itself! I learned that for sure on Saturday when we had a Strasseausstellung in a suburb called Bergisch-Gladbach, and it was SOOOOO COOOOLD. (Oh and bytheway, a Strasseausstellung is a Street Display) I'm definitely sure that it wasn't the coldest I've ever been in my life, but I just really, really do not enjoy windy weather, especially when it's already quite cold outside. It was in the negatives for temperature (Celsius that it), and we were out there for about three hours. The deal with it was, that yes, it was hard to understand people when they start talking about one of many, many, many things they don't teach you in the MTC, but definitely the hardest part was just starting. (Meaning that if someone were to look up the word 'starting' in a dictionary, it would say 'Starting ~ The hardest part of everything') It was exactly like when you're about to call somebody on the phone, and you've gone over the whole conversation in your head already, so you've got it figured out, but then the moment someone answers, or the answering machine beeps... It's all gone... and not even 'gone' as in it left, more like 'never existed' is what I mean. Anyway, it's crazy, incredible, and a little bit frustrating. Ha, I talked to one guy and asked him about the purpose of life, and I'm pretty sure he was just doing it for a laugh, because he basically walked up to me and answered like, 'Ok, c'mon, tell me the meaning of life'. Didn't see that one coming.
Wow. Kids are super hard to talk to also, because.... ugh.. just everything, hah. I was trying to make up a story with the Bischof's kids who were at the Street Display and after the first round, I had like no idea where the story had gone. I know, tragedy. Tragedy that there had been four words put together as a story put together with no missionary to appreciate it because he didn't understand. After hours of mulling over, with consultation, I think the story went something like this:
An apple jumped and flew over a mountain.
the end. I guess.
One more awesome story:
So as a missionary, it's great to be friendly and talk to as many people as you can (easier imagined than done, especially about 10 seconds before you try), so I was trying to do that on a train the other day. Bytheway, let me just tell you, Germans have trains coming out of their ears, but in a good way. There's SO many trains, and they go EVERYWHERE, it super complicated, like it's a huge problem for my district right now because the missionaries can't figure out which ticket to buy to get where they want! Hahaha, anyway long story short, I told a lady on the train that I liked the color of her scarf and so she gave it to me.
What do you do, say 'no' after you just said you liked it? Bah, haha, so I have a very womenly-like knitted scarf in very fine shades of red, pink, and purple.
Anyways, I'm am so loving it here in Köln. Lovin' it, Lovin' it, Lovin' it. I had a Döner for the first time the other day, and it was way good. Also, Elder Davis says he's not much of a cook, so I get to subject him to all sorts of the Culinary Experiments that I love doing! So far, I've made french toast, scrambled eggs with potato, tomato, and green-plant-that-I-found-in-the-fridge-ness bits, and mashed potatoes with onion, lots of butter, more green-leafy-stuff-that-resembles-spinach, and cheese! Lovin' it.
I can't quite remember what else I'm supposed to tell y'all as far as answering questions go. I feel really silly that I left my camera home, especially on a P-Day. Oh, yep and we went to the Köln Cathedral today! Which is time #2 for me, although this time we also went up to the top of the steeple/tower, so that was new. My companion got pictures, but we'll both have to wait 'til next week I suppose.
I love you all so very very much. Thanks for your supporting prayers and letters! I've been praying for you too, so be awesome and feel the Savior's love in you life! I witness so, so strongly that Heavenly Father has a plan for us and that he loves us more than we can fathom or understand. I know the Holy Ghost can help you to find solutions to those problems in your life that you've been thinking and worrying about. Let Heavenly Father bless you. Don't be afraid to be great. Don't be afraid to succeed. When there's something good you feel, do something with it. Act on that silly little thought you have to help someone. Be better than you were yesterday. I know through the atoning sacrifice, the Atonement, of Jesus Christ, all the bitterness, bad, and sorrow can be emptied out of us and we'll be filled back up with something happy, good, and loving. We will change when we do this, yes, but it's ok, because it's what you want deep down inside. I know there will be a way provided for us to do what Heavenly Father wants and needs us to do. Don't be afraid to succeed.
I love you more than little boys love cake and little girls love bunnies,
~Elder Standring :)