This week we will be making our final preparations for a great big street exhibition in front of the Barmen City/Town Hall on Saturday that the whole zone (34 missionaries) will be coming to. We've set up that there will be four tables, one for each district to be in charge of, with a specific theme, like Mormon.org or Family History, and while that's going on, there will be others scattered around the place just reading the Book of Mormon (silent display) and the Young Men's group will be spray painting God's plan for where we came from, why we're here, and where we're going after this life, The Plan of Happiness, on a surface that will later be hung up in their classroom in the Church. There's also going to be a choir singing church hymns during all of this, and, as part of the Church's Europe-wide Month of Invitation, there will be a fireside that same night given by a Dr. Braun from the Solingen congregation about the need of a restoration of the church of Jesus Christ to which the missionaries and members will invite everyone they meet. If you can tell, this has been the biggest thing occupying my thoughts for the last little while. We've tried to organize so that we can work the members in as much as possible and the actual goal of the whole thing is to get them excited about sharing the gospel. In the missionary manual Preach My Gospel it says that the more someone comes to understand the atonement of Jesus Christ, the greater their desire to share it with the world will grow. I'm pretty sure the best way to understand the atonement is to put it into practice and discover the true empowering strength Christ has given us to take on moral quality, overcoming determination, and integral strength and overall purity and goodness in our lives. I know it works because I've used it before, and I trust that it will always be there and always work. I think that that's something everyone one could use in their life, a good kick or hand-up in the right direction with the reassurance that there are second chances and they aren't ever too far-gone to turn to Christ.
This is a picture from my split with the zone leaders in Düsseldorf. They're teaching a gypsy family who actually was there last week when they found the missionaries. I said hi to the man, and he turned around and asked if we were sent from Christ. They're really excited about learning from the missionaries because of the many things that have showed them that we are sent from Christ, and they just got introduced to Christianity only a few months ago. This kid was really cute, and he looked at my side bag with really big eyes and asked what I had in there and insisted on me pulling everything out.
He saw that I had 9 different colors of pens, took my notebook, and just started drawing in it haha. Luckily the pages he turned to were actually pages I had drawn on first and not pages with notes and thoughts on it.
The first "colorfied" drawing is a castle, and the second(s) are some sketches I was doing to prep for a drawing I made for another missionary who really likes Star War and Darth Vader.
I really think they look better now :) (Here's the drawing for the missionary too.)
Also something interesting, on a split with the only missionary at the moment in my district who is German, it's been getting really hot here in Germany, and they had a fly in their apartment. So I caught it in a cup and put it in the freezer for a little bit to calm it down, and then we carefully tied a string around it and called it Petey the one-eyed Pirate. The only problem was that Petey never woke up... so next time we'll have to try stunning the fly a different way... I guess flies don't work like those frogs in the antarctic that wake up after freezing solid in the winter. :(
Ah! and I don't have a picture, but we finally met again with the family from Togo/Nigeria who were on vacation for a couple months. We were going to meet tomorrow, but they wanted to see me so bad that they called to meet today. They always call me their brother when I talk to them and I love it! I've been here ever since their first encounter with the Church and the missionaries, so I think sometimes my companion may feel a little left out, but today they started calling him their brother too. :)
And a friend of a recently converted member told my companion while I was away on a split, that he would get baptised on July 12th. Pray for Michael!
Ach, I nearly forgot! As District Leader, I conduct the Baptismal Interviews for investigators in the district that are about to get baptised to determine their understanding and readiness for the Baptism. Well, this past week on Friday I got to do just that. It was even cooler because it was in Köln, my old area, so I got to go back again, and it went really well. The Man, Wolfgang was baptised two days later and what even more interesting is that he's blind. It caught me a little off guard at first, even though I'd been told, but this man had a very strong will and a deep faith in Christ. It was at the same time a very humbling and a very uplifting experience.
I love it here, and I love you all,
~Elder Mark Standring
[P.S.--I'm trying to put some stories together from the lives of my relatives for a "My Family" Booklet about Ancestry... What stories could I write in it, that you'd say have be very influential /central to your life or your parents'?
thanks so much!