Saturday, February 28, 2015

2/23/15 Farewell Germany

Well, this is probably the announcement that a lot of people have been waiting for, even though, to be honest, I have mixed feelings. I'm leaving Germany.

My flight is scheduled to leave Frankfurt, Germany at 10am on Friday and come in to SFO at 12:25pm (11 and a half hours. I know, it's because of the time difference. Go figure.) in terminal I and then I take off again at 7pm from terminal 3 to Crescent City.

As you can see, I'll be becoming very good friends with the airport people during my stay in San Francisco. We'll see if I have to get a visa since I'll be staying there so long. I'm going to love books by the time I get home.

For the missionaries who are staying in Germany after this week. You lucky bums, you better work twice as hard and enjoy it twice as much for me. All of you. I want to get emails from you too, even the weekly-group email kind

For my German friends, I plan on visiting again in the not-too-far-off future in 1-2 years.

For my west coast friends and family... :D long time no see.

I know Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind, and that his love changes lives. I've felt it as I've served my brothers and sisters in Germany and I've felt it as I've studied the bible and Book of Mormon, the word of God. I encourage everyone to make a conscious effort to come closer to Him every day.

~Elder Mark Standring

p.s. I can be reached in the future on every day of the week, not just Monday or Sunday (depending on where you live) at my google mail account:

2/16/15 Vorletzte = Penultimate

I made a pleasant discovery this morning.

I'm not too fond of packing, and I escpecially dislike the awkward period between finishing packing and actually leaving, but I did a practice run this morning to see how things will fit and it looks like I'll be able to fit everything and only need one checked bag! (personal and carry-bag too) I was worried because after two years you tend to accumulate things, and I didn't know how heavy the bags would be either. I weighed in this morning with both bags being under 18kg ~ 40 lbs, which is the weight limit for the carry-on (the checked bags allow 23kg ~ 50 lbs). Not bad if I say so myself.

Pack Light, Travel Light.

As far as the work goes, I went on two companionship exchanges this week, one in Dortmund and one in Siegen. In Siegen we talked to a lady walking her baby stroller up a hill and told her who we are and what we do, she said right away she'd love to meet with us and hear our message about Christ and modern-day prophets. It's moments like those that really help me remember I'm a messenger of Jesus Christ, called by a prophet of God, and what that means to me. It's sad, but Christ wasn't accepted very well at all by his own people. If we open up our lives to Christ when he knocks, he will come and dwell with us and bless our lives.

~Elder Mark Standring

Jan./Feb. 2015 Fuzzy socks, hard work and prayer

Yes, I got your Christmas package!
Thanks so much! I wear the green and red fuzzy socks every morning!
Thanks for all your prayers and love and pictures, they all really help and I'm determined to work harder than ever before. I've been fasting for Heavenly Father to help gain a testimony of Hard Work paying off, because before in my life I can only think of about one experience where I could see a very positive difference from a greatly increased amount of work into something. Everything else seems to have come so easily where minimal actual exertion/"normal" has been good enough. It was my first semester at BYU in the American Heritage class. I had a mediocre grade in the class which had mostly been made up of previous small tests and essays. For the last big final, I studied more than I've ever studied for anything ever, much much more than my normal 1-4 hours or so of cramming a couple days or hours before the test. I studied all day for three days, more than 12 hours total of studying with a good study group at the library and with Travis Stacey together at home. Then I got the best test score of anyone I've still ever heard of from that test in that semester. I did so good that they even thought I cheated, with a 94%. (The professor of the class called and asked to talk to me in his office and asked me what I'd done to study. I thought it was because they wanted me to become a teacher's assistant for the class, but then I could tell he wasn't happy and he sounded suspicious of my score for whatever reason.
Of course I didn't cheat, so I told him very openly what it was I did to study and then that was it. He talked to Travis Stacey too because we'd studied together.) I want my mission to be like that. The Lord deserves that kind of consecrated effort that I've kept in store for these two years, just for Him, and His children who He loves.

2/2/15--Er ist das Geschenk, Mormons or Baptists, roleplaying & joint teaching

This week we had our first return appointment with a German family we met around Christmas through "Er ist das Geschenk". Elder Awerkamp worked well together as a team and the wife really felt and recognized the Spirit. The husband is atheist, and we went in planning to focus the lesson on him and see if he's at all willing to act to find out that God really is there. He is respectful during prayers, but he doesn't say amen. Frau Christman has read, we'd assigned her 3 Nephi 11 to read, and it surprised me how when we asked her what stuck out to her that she didn't say that Christ had appeared to the people, but rather she talked about a lot about baptism and how it seemed pretty serious. That appointment was also to set expectations, we talked about our purpose and said we'd like to meet weekly. They're pretty busy though, so our next meeting will be at the end of February. 

We also had a first return appointment with a women who talked to Elder Awerkamp on a train. It's funny because she thought a relative of hers was Mormon, but at the return appointment she remembered that he's actually Baptist, but she and her boyfriend are still interested and they want to get married. They said the biggest thing that's holding them back is that they'd need a space to rent out and that it's a lot to plan and a big to-do. Their names are Manuelle and Andi. She called us just a minute ago to ask if we can meet again sooner than our Friday appointment because a friend of her just died and she's very sad about it. We'll bring her cookies.
In the past couple weeks I've really started to see our roleplaying has paid off in our teamwork! I really have a strong testimony off roleplays now and I've been trying to do more and more for months now, but I've really started to enjoy them a lot lot more too since the beginning of my mission. When I was new I often thought they were cliche or hokey. It helps me to understand the thoughts and feelings of missionaries who don't yet have a testimony of roleplays and I can tell them how much my view of roleplays has changed.

One last quick thing, I forgot, we had a first appointment with a woman we found in our old phone contacts and it went great! We've been going forward with the mission president's suggestion to drop those who art making progress and the Lord is showing us new ones we can teach! It's great! The only thing is it's pretty hard because of the people we teach, 10 are single women, so we struggle to find enough joint-teach men and if we don't we just talk at the door or the appointments fall out (we don't visit single women alone). During my time in Dortmund I've often thought about how President Thomas S. Monson said he used to visit all the widows in a ward where he was bishop, and there were about 80 of them! (I think it was 80). However, for him, he didn't neccesarily need a joint teach, but he's definitely our example in that sense!
~Elder Standring

1/26/15 African language Twi Book of Mormon, Contact asking for baptism,..Off to the Hauptbahnhof

We are going to give a woman a Book of Mormon in an African language called Twi at Hauptbahnhof soon, so I'll write something just really quick.

This past week there was a miracle experience. The other missionaries were walking through the city center when a man came up to them asking if they were the Mormon missionaries. When they said yes, he said he wants to be baptised! He said he's seen all the bad things escalating in the world and really feels like he should become christian. He used to live in England and had a friend there who was Mormon and was really impressed with him and had made the decision that's what God wants him to do! 

I've seen Christ work miracles and healings here in Germany and I know he lives, loves and helps us every day!

~Elder Mark Standring

1/19/15...Glad to be given a short time more

Things are going well with me and Elder Awerkamp, we still haven't been able to set another baptismal date with anyone yet, but we keep being persistent and inviting everyone. Our main guy right now, from Ecuador, said last week that he feels closer to God when he comes to our Family Home Evening than he does at his church on Sundays, which is huge that he would feel that way, but that he would admit it to us as well! I believe he's going to have a date soon. One friend of ours from Cameroon started finals today, we schedule  bi-weekly appointments (twice a week) but we only actually get to meet maybe one out of every 4 times, so that's sad. I think he'd make it more of a priority if he came to church just once and felt the spirit there. He's about the only one that doesn't have a set conflicting commitment on Sundays. Our Ecuador guy plays music at his church so he hasn't come yet either. Another has his church services at the same time we do and is in their equivalent of the Young Men's presidency, and another has a jumping stilts club practice he feels very commited to. With the new transfer, half of my group are home by now, and I'm super glad the Lord has given me just a short time more. Of course I know I have to come home eventually, and I'll be overjoyed to see everyone again, but I love missionary life and serving and helping others with all the time I can. I'm going to be sending a package home with all my journals and books in it. Hopefully it will get home around the same time I do, but it will at least make the travel factor world's easier. It's a pretty big package, about 20 kg, so...45 pounds? Yes, it will make the flight a lot easier.
~Elder Standring

1/12/15 Week 2, Year 2. Hmm....fitting

This is how the next week is looking: tonight will be the Family Home Evening activity at the church to say bye to Elder James and the senior couple missionaries, Elder and Sister Vermillion, (the whole ward's supposed to come. I'll miss them, but it was cool that I got to be in the same district with Elder James at the end as well as in the beginning 2 years ago in the MTC), then probably the main focus of this week will be increasing our teaching pool. Last transfer's goal was to go from 4 to 10 friends of the church to teach and we were close, but two appointments each for two new friends didn't happen, so we hope we can meet with them this week. We also want this referral guy's phone to stop being off so we can see if he wants to make progress too. 
I decided, against my norm, to have a district meeting this tuesday even though Elder James and Elder Ellis have to pack to go on Thursday. I really really wanted to finally do something I've been wanting to ever since I've been a district leader, and I  finally had it ready to go, but there had to be a district meeting for it, so, that's why. Ya, so it worked out, I got the meeting's assignments for next week's meeting planned, with everyone having something to do, at the meeting before it happened, so a week early basically; all written out on pieces of paper to give to them. And, no, that shouldn't be that hard, but for whatever reason I didn't manage to do it until what should've been the last district meeting of my mission haha. I feel great about it, though.
Yep, so I'm gonna plan out the companion exchanges and try and figure something out for my zone leader's challenge to get a Vision for what I want this district to become, and that's how my week will go.

~Elder Standring

1/5/15 Contemplations on humility...

I'll tell you something that's been occupying my thoughts quite a lot lately, and Elder Awerkamp could tell you this too because I talked to him a lot about it because I trust him probably more than any other companion I've had. (Bytheway, he told me he's coming to see and understand the inspiration and wisdom of the Lord in putting our companionship together because of how much we learn from each other and how similar we are). So to my thought: I've been thinking an awful lot about humility.

I don't understand it. It has to do a lot with, a couple weeks back, how both my pair of shoes got holes on the same day. I bought one pair of waterproof shoes for 15€ the very next p-day so that I'd have time to look for a nice pair I'd like, and I've been very pleased with the cheap pair, they're still holding up three or so weeks later, although with some wear. Elder Awerkamp and I went last p-day to get me a sweet pair of shoes and I still haven't been able to decide what I want because I've been thinking about the Savior's  example. in modern terms, he was born in a barn! Someone could simply think that's quite unfortunate, but that's how it was meant to be! For the Son of God! The Angel asked Nephi if he understood the condescension of God, and that's something I know I don't completely understand. And so I've gotten myself into this huge internal struggle trying to figure who I should be, who I want to be, especially since I'll be back home looking for a marriage partner soon. I don't understand how I should want a very good-looking wife and yet expect myself to be a very humble person in appearance as well as character. D&C 88:40 teaches, in one way of looking at it, that any characteristics I am looking for in a spouse I need to have too. So I don't understand that... Right now I also don't understand the difference between proud vanity and divine/godly beauty. The Celestial room and actually every room of a temple is very very beautiful and classy looking... but like in Helaman3:36 it  was the exceedlingly great riches and prosperity of the people that caused exceedlingly great pride. I don't want to be prideful. I really don't want to be prideful, but I don't understand how "humble" the Lord wants me to LOOK. Does he want me to look ugly? I don't know what kind of clothes the Savior wore, but Isaiah says he had "no beauty that we should desire him"... I don't understand it.

~Elder Standring

1/5/15 FROHES NEUES JAAAAAAAAHR!!! & Delicious pastry

HAAAAPPPY NEW YEAAAR!!! --New Year's awesomeness!--

So for anyone who doesn't know, just in case, yes, New Year's is celebrated in Germany. They say:


or "frohes neues" for the hipsters/ for short.

We spent New Year's Eve (dinner) at a member's house who made pumpkin soup, bockwurst (think hot dogs), potato salad, with cakes and some nice drinks at the end. We had to get home by 6pm though, which wasn't all bad. We got a lot of sleep. In fact I didn't even wake up from all the racket at midnight. Elder Awerkamp had to tell me about it,because it woke him right up. Apparently I'm a heavy sleeper.

Other interesting things in my life lately, it's snowed a bit lately, which is pretty nice. This picture is of me eating some amazingly delicious German bakery goods. This particular one was filled with poppy seeds. And it actually was really good, despite what my expression may appear to be saying. haha.

I also got some new shoes. My two old pairs got together and decided to get holes on the exact same day somehow, but have no fear. I can once again walk undaunted through puddles and snow.

This week I went on a split in Siegen where there's even more snow nowadays and had the chance to teach a lot of people down there about the wonderful plan of happiness God made for his children before any of us were born. It kinda clicked for me why the celestial kingdom is the happiest place we could hope to get to. Aside from it being the place where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, that's also the only place where families can live together forever, so naturally it would be the happiest place. I am so grateful to have been sealed to my family by one with God's Authority in his Temple.

~Elder Standring

12/22/14 Busy with FHE, Secret Santa, He is the Gift, Christmas Markt, Google Hangout, English Classes & Volleyball

So tonight will be FHE like normal, I think the other Elders are doing the lesson, and hopefully we can do a lesson with Leo, from Ecuador, before or after. Tuesday will be District Meeting. It will be special because we're going to do a secret santa gift exchange, and then we're going caroling after we follow-up and talk about how we're going to organize our proselyting efforts using the He is the Gift (Er ist das Geschenk) cards and video. Do you know about those? Have you used them? It's supposed to be all over youtube, although I haven't been able to check for sure since we don't use Youtube in our proselyting. Then after district meeting we're going to spend pretty much the rest of the day in Stadtmitte (down town/city center) where the Christmas markt is. We set a time to meet a young man there at 12, so hopefully he'll want to learn more, then we'll eat lunch and dinner there, and in between we want to talk to people and give away as many He is the Gift cards as we can!  Then Wednesday is Christmas Eve. We're either going to go over to Leo's Wednesday or Thursday at midday to enjoy some time with him, and then on actual Christmas Eve, we were invited over by a young member family who lives outside of Dortmund in Lünen. Christmas day- evening we'll be going to the Nabrotzky's to call home (google hangout), and then the second day of German Christmas (Friday the 26th) all three sets of Elders were invited over by an English sister who lives about a 5 minute walk away from us. Saturday, I'll probably want to do a split, since I haven't done any this transfer yet, and I'm supposed to do one with every Elder in my district, ever transfer (six weeks long), so we'll a couple two-split weeks to catch up. Saturday we also want to start a weekly volleyball activity, since it's getting a little cold to do soccer outside (no snow on the ground yet, although it did snow once. It's been a raining a bit more often and a bit windy sometimes) and we also want to do our English class on that day, since we normally do it on Wednesday, but I'll be seeing YOU then! and then Sunday will be Church. :)

12/15/14 Weihnachtsfeier Christmas Celebration, New carol "bald ist Nikolaus"? & Zone Conference--maybe final one

Previously on 12/8/14--Thanksgiving dinner was good this week. Christmas Package coming. little time. sorry :( Love!
Elder Standring

12/15/14--We had our ward's Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas Celebration) and it went really really well. My companion and I had been practicing with the ward choir after church on sundays, (they really needed more men's voices) and Elder Awerkamp even played the organ for the song that we sang as a Men's Choir, The First Noel. We'd invited a lot of our friends, but sadly none of them showed up. There was one couple that did show up that we were helping to move. A man from the ward had provided a trailer for their furniture so as we were talking in the car he asked if they'd heard about it and we even took a special detour to show them where the church was and which bus to take and where to get out. He did a great job, and.. They came!

I've actually really come to learn why they have advent calendars, it's not just to count down the days until Christmas! Maybe I've already told you this, but every Sunday in December leading up to Christmas is called an "Advent Sonntag". There's even a first, second, third, and fourth with a specific something that happens on each one, you can't mix them up. Also, St. Nickolaus isn't the same as Santa Claus! on the 5th or 6th of December (I think it's the Saturday before the first Advent), the children put their boots out and St. Nikolaus comes and puts presents in them! He also looks different than Santa. The bishop's family invited us to celebrate the first advent with them at home and I experienced my first real "Adventsingen" which is basically like a mix between a family home evening and Christmas carolling. I learned a song too! I don't remember the verses, but I do remember the words for the chorus:

blah blah bla-ah bla-ah bla-ah-aaaah
blah blah bla-ah bla-ah bla-ah-aaaah
lustig, lustig tra-la la-la laaaa
bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!
bald ist Nikolaus Abend da!

Zone Conference is tomorrow. It's also going to be a joint-zone conference, so all the missionaries from the Düsseldorf zone will also be coming. Exciting stuff. I never thought it'd come, but this will probably be the last zone conference I go to on my mission, so everyone from my group will likely be giving their leaver's testimonies... that's scary.

Elder Awerkamp's birthday is also today, as well as his twin brother's. Sadly his brother is in the Friedrichsdorf Zone, but we called the assistants to the president and they said we could call the other Elder Awerkamp. He was really happy about that. To celebrate, we ate some delicious German Bakery sweets (amazing I tell you) and he actually wants to cut his own hair for his birthday... and with the big conference tomorrow and the mission president going to be there... well, pray for him please. :)

Elder Mark Standring

12/1/14 Godzilla Christmas Tree--World's Biggest! + Huge sword, old shoes, WWII Bomb scare & yummy cheap tortillas!

Our Thanksgiving dinner is actually going to be this week on Saturday, so I'll let you know about it then. That aside, we met with the ward council, which was good. We also got a new investigator that night! We met with a student, whose record we found in our area book, and we set a time to met again.

I have to say I just love Christmas...

 And I love it even more when there's a godzilla-sized Christmas tree in the middle of the city! Ah, 'tis the season.

Some highlights of this week were picking up Elder Awerkamp's fake visa, trying out some good new sport shoes, getting evacuated, eating tacos, meeting a guy who owns the biggest sword I've ever held in my hands ever, and experiencing the power of the Spirit when we met two strangers who invited us, two guys in suits, into their home, almost without a single word uttered from either side.

So, now for some explanation. The visa we picked up is actually fine, but there's a paper that has to be kept with it that we suspect belongs to someone else because the name written on it says "Awesum, Marvelous". Highly Suspicious. I did get those shoes I needed for sport, so, to those who expressed distress, no, my feet aren't freezing (temperatures have only just started to drop below freezing). The exciting picture I wanted to send of the dead shoes didn't go through, soo.. sorry. There is a construction site about a 5 minute bus ride away from our apartment, and I suppose as they were digging, they must've uncovered an old WWII bomb that never went off, because we were asked to evacuate the area yesterday while they disarmed it. It didn't really affect us at all though because we were at church during those hours anyway. That kind of discovery has actually occurred in a couple of my areas on the mission. Not a big deal. Then with the tacos, we found a 6-pack of tortillas for only €1 last week. I know unbelievable, right? So naturally we bought a good couple and indulged ourselves in Mexican sunshine this past week. That's all I have time for, but please know that I love being a missionary, and I know God loves his children, and wants them to be happy, so that's why I'm here, to help people be happy. Are you happy? You probably have a lot of reasons to be.

don't forget to smile!
~Elder Mark Standring

11/24/14 Helping Week & Thanksgiving

Our ward's mission leader is organizing a big party or something for us for Thanksgiving (it's a surprise even to us! ha), so I'm excited about that. FOOD. In Germany there's something similar to that, but it's at the end of October. It's called Erntedankfest, so basically the Harvest Gratitude Festival... I guess would be a rough translation.

During a companion exchange this week, we really got to help several families out a lot. My companion said about one of them that it was a complete miracle that we were there to help them because they had no car and had no option to transport all of their furniture across the city.

It's things like that, and changing peoples' lives with the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ that make me love being a missionary!

don't forget to smile!
~Elder Mark Standring

11/17/14 Essen=Food! & Train station and sign

We had a zone training meeting in Essen this week. That was interesting, because of, one, the name of the city, two, I've been to the city, but never used the subway system there or seen the church building. I'll include some pictures about that.

(Sign interpretation?="Sänk ju for trewelling wiss Tschörmänn Treyn" = "Thank you for travelling with German Train"
Haha (with a really think German accent)! Deutsche Bahn = German Train, and DB is the company that runs the entire train system here. There's basically only one; it's not like flying where there's different airlines.)

Also, I'm not sure I whether or not to be proud of this, but I finally succeeded in bursting my shoes open in the middle of playing soccer this week. Heh heh, I got a picture of that, too. Thusly, part of this p-day will be spent in search of a suitable replacement. 

We met with William again, our friend who's preparing to be baptised on December 20th. We meant to meet on Friday, but the poor guy didn't get home from his small job until 11pm that night, so we met the next day and taught him the plan of happiness and about the word of wisdom. We're praying so hard for him that he'll get enough sleep and have the energy to get everything with studying and working done. I tell you though, he's working so hard. He's awesome.

All is going well, but I keep looking for to try harder. I'm loving it here, my companion is great, he basically knows German already! A lot more than I did. He's going to sound like a native speaker long before the end of his mission! I always think it's so funny how I took Spanish in high school, but most missionaries here took German! At least I've used what little Spanish I know. One of our solid investigators right now we met on the street because I asked him if he speaks Spanish, and there's a couple members here too who speak Spanish as well. Spanish is a great language. German is too. I just don't know who I'll be able to use it with in America besides Sandra (from Dad's office, Dad, people from my mission, and maybe Garrett.

~Elder Standring

11/10/14 Highlights of 2nd lesson with investigator

On Friday, Elder Awerkamp and I had a second lesson with an investigator (Elder Awerkamp's first although they'd talked before). We talked and taught about the Sabbath day since, William is his name, William said he'd like to come to church on Sunday. After talking about the Sabbath, we talked and taught about Church and the Sacrament and the Atonement. I felt inspired to pause where we were in the lesson and read out of the Book of Mormon, so we opened up to Mosiah 16:9 and then 1 Nephi 19:9. Normally when talking about the atonement of Jesus Christ I like to read Alma 7:11, but William had just mentioned something relating to the Mosiah scripture, and I felt like we should read the Nephi scripture first or instead of the Alma one. So William read the two out loud in his french Book of Mormon... He paused a bit and asked if he could read the second scripture once more. He read it, paused again, and said it really touched him. It talks about how much love the Savior has for us including those who crucified him and that's why he endured those terrible things, for us. It was then that we brought up the baptismal date again and asked if he would get baptised on a certain date if God told him it was the right thing to do. He said of course.

Well we were pretty excited and we called President Stoddard and the zone leaders when we got home. Sunday came round and we went to pick him up, but when he stuck his head out of his window, it was obvious he'd overslept and he said he come at 10 for the last two meetings. I suppose we could've said we'd wait for him to get ready, but we went to church anyway and waited. He didn't come over or answer his phone, so we'll get in contact with him again and see if we can't help him to make it next week.

I know that Jesus Christ does love us and that's why he did and does so much for us like it talks about in the passage in 1 Nephi 19:9. I feel his love, and I want everyone to be able to feel that same love more strongly, more personally, and more constantly. That's what we're about.

~Elder Mark Standring

11/3/14 Halloween? And new guy missionary arrival

There wasn't really much of a Halloween for me this year. I called up one of our friends we're teaching and asked him if he was going to celebrate Halloween. He said "No, Halloween is of the devil." I'd say that's the general thought about it here, but there are still some neighborhoods were kids can go trick-or-treating, and last year when I was in Darmstadt there was still a ward Trunk-or-Treat (car tailgate-style) party.

The new missionary got to Germany safe and sound. I down went to Frankfurt Wednesday on a three-hour bus ride and then we both came back to Dortmund (Just to remind everyone--I am in DORTMUND. Haha, similar to Darmstadt, even in the feel of the city and ward, but different) together on Thursday morning. His name is Elder Awerkamp. Pretty German sounding, but he's American. He's also a twin, so that's exciting. We're really similar kinds of people, so we got along really well. He's already got really good German too!

A lot of our appointments with people fell out this week, but that's just Pech. (Pech is a German word that basically means you were unlucky or you got hosed). We did get really lucky in another way though. When we went to the city office to get him registered, the worker was nice enough to get his Visa setup so we didn't have to come back for another appointment! I didn't even know they could do that because I thought it would be a different office! Anyway, I'm super happy about that because that will make things a lot easier for us later on!

~Elder Mark Standring

(p.s. The second picture is of my missionary "family", or all the missionaries I have trained and those who they have trained. A couple are not pictured because they didn't get transferred.)

10/27/14 Elder Standring Training for 4th time now, and his companion, too--plus fried variety treats

The transfer call came this Saturday. The Lord has called both me and my companion to train! My companion is pretty young on the mission, only 4 transfers, (I trained his trainer) and I'm going to be training yet again, for the fourth time, so it was surprises all around! I'll really miss Elder Kitchen. Working with him's been great and he only got to serve in Dortmund for one transfer. They call that getting "ghosted" here in the mission. Not really sure why. The day before the call, the mission president called us and asked if we'd accept the Lord's call to train. Since there's 6 missionaries in Dortmund, and two of them are zone leaders (so that wouldn't change) we hoped that the other two elders would get transferred out and we'd get to both train here, but the Lord has better things in mind and Elder Kitchen will be heading down to Nürnberg. (Not to shabby either, by anyone's opinion I've ever talked to. Nürnberg is beautiful and is supposed to have the best Christmas Market in all of Germany)

With this new development in my mission, I've noticed a pattern: With every city I served in, I come in, get used to the area, train a new missionary, then he takes over, and I move on to the next city. It's interesting to think that I've trained in everyone of my areas. Many missionaries don't get the privilege to welcome a newcomer into the mission, so I'm grateful I've gotten to so often.

As for how the work went this week, we met a new friend who wants to meet with us and come closer to Christ. He's a student from Cameroon, so he's still new and settling in, here in Germany. He's very grateful for the french Book of Mormon and Bible we have for him and said he really wants to read and start praying every day. I was impressed because he understood why it was important when we told he could pray to get an answer from God about what is true. It's always great to meet new people like him. I also did a split in Siegen for the first time. It felt like I imagine being a missionary back home in Crescent City would since the Elders in Siegen have a car. Both of our appointments fell out that day, so we drove around to people we knew and ended up teaching 3 lessons anyway. Cars are a lot faster than public transportation. It's things like that, that remind me I couldn't trade in my American Driver's License for a German one, since I'm from California. I'd have to go through the whole process again from square zero and plus pay some 2.000 € (Ya, it's super expensive here). Anyway, it was a good split, and we got good work done.

We have a Muslim friend from Turkmenistan who we've been teaching English since our first week here! We met him while we were emailing because we saw he was googling English courses and stuff. He knows we're not professional and sometimes I wonder what my mom would think about the sentences I've started saying (I feel like my English has slipped so much over these two years, and even common words now I can only think of the German word), but he's been making great progress and he enjoys seeing us a lot.

Also, during our weekly district meetings (when the missionaries in a couple neighboring cities get together to practice teaching and learn from each other about the gospel of Jesus Christ) we've been taking a few minutes aside to eat a quick snack, to help people refocus and really make the time effective. This week for "district snack", one of the missionary pairs noticed they had a deep-fryer laying around in their apartment that they weren't using, so we decided to try bringing it with and have everyone bring something to fry. Haha, what we saw going in the fryer ranged from french fries and attempted funnel cakes to twinkies, gummy bears, and twix candy bars. It took more time than the normal, already-baked cookies/brownies we've done before, so we probably won't be doing it again, but it was definitely a new experience that was also fun. Right up there with stuffing G.I. Joes inside the model rockets I used to shoot off with my brothers back home, which we'd later find in a burnt-up wreck in a field somewhere. :)

10/20/14 Dortmund basement service project...and continued miracles!

This week all 6 of the missionaries in Dortmund got to help a member of our congregation with a super fun project. He has a house he's fixing up and there was a bunch of junk in the basement, so he had us clear it out and put it in a dumpster!

(BTWs, the guy coming out of the hole is my companion, Elder Kitchen, from Provo, Utah)

There's actually a couple videos of us smashing up stuff to make it fit in the dumpster, but I think they're too big to email :(

I'll also include a picture of our dinner we had two nights ago: Mexican food!!! 

With homemade tortillas!!!

I've been loving this new area so much! There's been so many awesome experiences! We've designated one of our walls "the miracle wall", where we tape up 3x5 cards with a short summary of everytime we see a miracle. This one will be going up this week!

We randomly met this Latino guy Leo on the street a couple weeks back and he's been coming to our FHE, but hasn't showed much real interest and has had to work 6 days a week anyway. He had a break on Saturday though and came to the Saturday session of stake conference with us. Afterwards, we met with him and saw that he could really use a priesthood blessing. He at first didn't want it, but we kept asking as we listened to him vent about his problems. Probably about the tenth time, we instead asked if we could pray together that he'd have the faith and strength to accept a priesthood blessing, and he agreed. After we prayed, he talked a little more, but less, and then we were able to give him a blessing.

At the end of the blessing, he didn't say anything, but stayed sitting and hugged our sides. We asked him how he felt and he said he felt like he'd just taken a heavy backpack off his shoulders. The holy spirit was so strong. We decided to invite him to be baptised too. Before when we'd asked, he didn't even consider it, but this time he carefully said, "I want to say yes... but I have to think about it." !!!!!!

It's a miracle! We're going to see him tonight at FHE again, and we're going to follow-up with what he's decided!

My testimony of prayer and the priesthood has grown so much this week!

It's great here, we keep seeing miracles, and I'm loving it!


~Elder Mark Standring

10/13/14 This week's miracles

This week's miracles:

One of the biggest miracles of all is the miracle of change, and a man taught by the zone leaders in Dortmund was baptised this week on Saturday. One of his greatest goals is to prepare to go to the temple as soon as he can so he and his wife can be sealed for time and all eternity. (she's already a member of the church)

There was a message we got from someone that they wanted us to come by because they'd seen our website. We'd been by a couple times, but it seemed like the woman was never home. We we're going by one such time this week, found nobody home, and were on the way back, when this same woman saw us on the street and talked to us! Right place, right time!

~Elder Mark Standring

10/13/14 Departure info already??!

They've likely sent this information to you already, but just in case they didn't.

Do you want to come to Germany?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 3:18 PM
Subject: 101-5M-Departure - Missionary



Deutschland Frankfurt Mission

Missionsbüro: Corneliusstr. 18, 60325 Frankfurt am Main,

01 Oct 2014

Elder Standring

                                                                Nervierstraße 23

                                                                Dortmund, NW 44263

Dear Elder Standring,

You will be completing your mission in a few months.  Your scheduled travel date is 27 Feb 2015, and you will stay in a hotel the night before and travel home the following day. We need some information to make arrangements for your travel home. Please complete the form below and email it to the Mission Office as soon as possible.

If you are planning to travel prior to your departure, you will be responsible for your travel itinerary.  Church Travel will reimburse you the value of transportation costs from Frankfurt to your home destination.  Of course, that will be at the Church's rate.

You have the opportunity to influence many more lives as you serve the next few months, so continue to work hard as you serve the Lord in Germany.


Elder Lynn BangerterMission Secretary, Germany Frankfurt MissionKirche Jesu ChristiCorneliusstraße 1860325 Frankfurt a. MainGermany/Deutschland+49-69-9706-4310 Mission

Missionary Release InformationEmail or Mail to Mission Office as soon as possible!Return to:

Missionary Return date:   27 Feb 2015


Personal email at home (not

Parents email address:

Name and city of destination airport/bahnhof:

Is your Aufenhaltstitel/Geistlichenausweis (residency permit) valid through your departure date?

Is your family coming to Germany to pick you up?

If so, how many are coming?

How many will attend the Temple Leavers Session?

--How many Elders?

--How many Sisters?

Will you be spending the night before you leave at the hotel provided by the mission with the other missionaries?

Do your parents need hotel reservations?(If so, we can provide them information on how to book their own reservation.)


Elder Lynn BangerterMission Secretary, Germany Frankfurt MissionKirche Jesu ChristiCorneliusstraße 1860325 Frankfurt a. MainGermany/Deutschland+49-69-9706-4310 Mission

Mark Standring


to meDad
When does the second block for Winter semester start?

L Standring


to Mark
Wow!!! Amazing that they already send you that travel date! Yes, I think we do want to come, but we'll investigate and get back to you soon....also I'll check on the BYU block for you! love you....Mom

L Standring


to Mark
    BYU Winter 2nd block starts Feb. 26th, but if we are going to tour around any places of your mission, that might be kind of hard to aim for that?...They also said there are very limited classes offered on the block, too. Spring Term starts April 28th and Summer starts June 22. Fall semester starts August 31st this year---that is earlier than usual. Kira is there, but I don't know if she is planning to come home for Spring and Summer--I would think yes, but not sure. She would probably love to be there with you at some point!
    I am going to go there this weekend for Homecoming for BYU and see a home game with the full half time show with the band and everything...(Last time on conference weekend, Dad and I went, but they didn't do their full regular half time show because they inducted people into the Sports Hall of Fame, so that took a lot of the half--mainly for a quarterback that was there most of the time while Dad and I were there, named Jim McMahon #9).   --Mom

L Standring


to Mark
    Oh, and not sure what the "temple leavers session" is, but if it's for people to go to the temple and if that is something that parents or families sometimes do also, that would be great--we would just need to know when that would occur to coordinate into the time schedule. Probably just Dad and I would be the ones there, because I don't know if the others could get off of school. etc. If they have hotel information or if they could have us stay near the missionaries or whatever they typically work out, that would be great if they can get us that information they mentioned in that questionnaire they had in this message to you.  You can stay with the missionaries the night before you go and we can stay where they recommend. The airport for you would be Crescent City.  Dad wondered if we can just have them book your flight, but like a week after it would usually be or something so we can look around at places with you...?  --Love, Mom