Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Austin - His first week in Wisconsin - July 12, 2010

Oh my gosh, I've never heard so much Spanish in my life than in the last week. It was making my mind explode the first couple days but I always listen hard and try to pick up on words and I can honestly tell that I'm getting so much better at understanding Spanish. I'm in Madison right now, the capital of Wisconsin. My trainer is Elder Brooke Kelly from Orem, Utah. He has been out for 14 months and I'm his second child. We have five investigators with baptismal dates and 3 other progressing investigators. The branch here is tiiiiny, there are only usually 18-25 adults and a bunch of kids. The branch President (President Terry) is awesome. He served in Peru, I think, on his mission. He conducts the meeting then runs of to the piano and plays the piano for the meeting, he's a really hard worker. And he's really smart, he is a Professor of physics at the University here. He was glad to hear that I played the piano at the word council we had after church. Home teaching is almost non-existant in the branch. Yikes, there is a lot of work to do here. It is frustrating too because our area is ginormous and we only get a car every other week. Unfortunately I had to start with a non-bus week, some days we would spend 4 hours on the bus, it was so frustrating to not be able to do much effective work but I'd find people to talk to on the busses.

One of our investigators, Cecilia, has a daughter named Ana which reminds me so much of Alaina. Uuugh, I love our lessons with them. Ana is 6 years old and is so funny, she makes fun of my Spanish and she is really smart and darling just like Alaina! Also, I was so happy to find out that futbol is pretty big over here. There are soccer fields all over the place and people always playing. Elder Kelly and I are the only Spanish Elders in all of Madison. It really is a lot of work but with like no work. It's odd to describe. It seems like a lot of people are totally receptive to religious conversation but they just don't get it. They can't really understand the apostasia or a restoration. It's hard for us to try to weed out who really wants to meet with us because everyone will just give us their number and address. It's also a whole other deal to try to find a time that works because everyone here words every day. It's incredible. Even some of the members work on Sundays, they just love working.

Just on Sunday while we were walking to one of our appointments (which, by the way, they dogged us on the appointment ....in the rain) we were walking and we saw this Hispanic man in a tree with a chainsaw and then we noticed a rope tied to a branch connected to the front of a pickup truck. And like 10 hispanic people just standing around watching. It was so funny, we seriously thought that when he cut it was just going to fall on the house. It was quite impressive, the tree started to fall and the truck just gunned it backwards and it yanked the tree just a few inches away from the gutters of the house. We got a good laugh out of that.

I'm doing really well, I'm excited for this week since we have the car, we can do so much more work and have a lot more teaching appointments.Oh, but tomorrow my companion needs to go on an exchange to translate for a baptismal interview and I'll have an English speaking companion for the whole day...which means I'm not going to have any help during lessons. Ahhhhhhhh! I seriously don't know how I'm going to do it but I'll just have to man up.

By the way, my new address is:

2206 High Ridge Trail #303

Fitchburg, Wisconsin 53713

Thanks for the package when I got here, that was awesome. I love extra shorts and the shirts are peeerfect.

Ya'll take care now,

Elder Papritz

Austin - Arrived in Wisconsin - July 6, 2010

I am just allowed a couple minutes to email and say that I got to Milwaukee, it is incredible here, I love it! It is so humid but I love it. We are going out to go tracting in an hour in Souther Milwaukee soooo pray for me! haha. Also, I sat next to the most impressive young men on the plane ride after we talked. His name was Brandon and he is a smart business and economic major going to Milwaukee for a business entrepreneurship that was confused about child baptisms, authority and the history of the Catholic church. I taught him the first lesson and he took a Book of Mormon so happily, he truly believes that if it is the word of God then God will let him know that is true. What a remarkable 21 year old man! So independent and yet so humble and receptive to truth, what an incredible way for me to start my mission. I know that God used me as a part of Brandon's conversion, he is so ready for the truth, I'm confident he will look up missionaries when he gets home.

Love you all, it was so nice hearing from you all. Take care!

Elder Papritz

Austin - MTC - July 5, 2010

Dónde está mi familia? No he recibido mucho de vosotros esta semana pasado. Divino que no me amaís.

Anyways, so I´m so excited to leave tomorrow. I can´t wait to see my mission president again and to get to work. God has really been working in my these last couple of weeks. I have big plans for the field, I´ve learned from my teachers that we are given a lot of freedom in trying to proselyte. The least of which is knocking on doors. We not only have the ability to but are encouraged to make long term plans for big projects to reach out to many people. I have tons of ideas from organizing soccer tourments to holding a bible study session. Right now it is just my companions and I left from my district, it is so surreal. Honestly these last 9 weeks were nonexistant. Absolutely flew by. I hope that this isn´t a sign for what will pass for my whole mission. I was tested on how much Spanish I learend here and I´m more than half way to full fluency. Out of the scale of 7 they have, I ranked just above a 4.

Anyways, the reason I'm emailing is to make sure that you all will know when I'm going to call tomorrow. I will arrive in Chicago O'Hare at 11:10 AM (that's Chicago time which I think is two hours ahead of Oregon). At that point I will have two hours to make my phone call before my flight leaves at around 1:20PM. Make sure every is there that wants to talk to me. I'll be able to make a separate phone call to Autumn if she still isn't in town.

Well, I don't have much else to say but I still have 14:00 more minutes and I feel impressed to tell you all how much I know God is aware of me. It freaks me out every day when I have a question, especially a conceptual question, thick thick questions and God will literally take 3 days to explain it to me through devotionals something said by a substitute in class and studying the scriptures. It's like a really, really good book. There have been so many subplots and developments that have taken place while the main plot of my time here at the MTC has passed. It has been incredible. I can not summate the extent of all I've learned, and I'm not talking about just recounting words I've heard in class and even cool proverbial phrases I've picked up in devotionals. I mean a true and new spiritual and conceptual and personal understand of the nature of God and my relationship with him. I promised I would never write sappy spiritual stuff in my emails because they are generally not very exciting to read and it doesn't mean nearly as much to the person reading it as it does to me but I just thought that I'd say that.

I have so much love for you all. Thank you again for the photo album, I seriously look at it every single day and it makes me smile every time.

Love you all and I'll talk to you tomorrow from Chicago!

Los vemos,

Elder Papritz

Austin - MTC - June 29, 2010

Oooh, what a grand week it has been. First of all I just want to say that you all could not have sent a better package. I loved it so much, holy cow. Especially I loved the photoalbum, seriously, I look at it every day, you can ask my companions. It was so nice because it was the first time I've been able to see ya'lls faces in two months. And the cookies and banana bread haha, very nice. They had a slightly odd consistancy but they were still soo good. And yes I found the watch but it's one segment to short for me, I think I brought the segments though so I think I'll do that in Milwaukee. The letter and the drawings and the business cards, so classy. Best package ever. So so so, the choir, I'm so glad for the opportunity to be in the choir here. You won't even believe it, the first day we sang for 7 apostles, literally 3 feet away from us. If I wanted to I could have reached back and touched the knee of Elder Scott, the first day we sang for Elders Anderson, Christofferson, Scott, Oaks, Holland, Bednar and President Eyring. The second day there were 7 apostles, we lost President Eyring and Elder Scott but picked up President Uchtdorf and Elder Nelson. On Saturday there were TEN of the apostles, only Packer and Perry were missing and the first presidency. And then the biggest honor of all: The choir was invited to sing for sacrament meeting for the mission presidents and the first presidency presided. Everyone was there but Packer and Hales. It was so incredible. They appreciated our service so much that they let us listen in on President Monson's talk to the mission presidents in another room! It was so so cool. And that's not mentioning that when we sang during the devotional (with 8 of the apostles there, don't remember which ones) I went behind the room to grab a drink and there was standing right in the way of the drinking fountain, I look up and see Elder Holland and his wife standing right there haha. I shook his hand and we made small talk and I grabbed my drink when I noticed that President Smith (the MTC president) was talking to Elder Oaks (who was going to speak at the devotional) so I decided to go over there and shake hands with President Smith and Elder Oaks. Decent. Then on the way out I bumped in to Elder Christofferson and I shook his hand too, no problem. Isn't that crazy?! Haha it has been such a crazy week. There are so many Elders that just hate the MTC and can't wait to leave but I love it here, and I'm not just talking about how cool it is to shake hands with apostles in the MTC. I really and going to miss the MTC, it's comfortable here, I learn a lot, I love the people here. But on that note, I got my travel plans! I'll be flying out at 7:10 AM on July 6th (I'll have to wake up at 4:00 AM to leave from the MTC) and arrive at 11:10 AM Chicago/O Hare, where we have a two hour layover until we fly to Milwaukee from O Hare at 1:25 PM, I arrive at Milwaukee at 2:10 PM. One more week! I'm excited to get to the airport because that means I can't proselyte! I'm kind of nervous, my whole companionship is but we recognized that we didn't just want to sit back and wait for our flight and think we don't have to do anything until Milwaukee. We'll be hitting the airport hard with pamphlets and pass-along cards and all sorts of love. We've been practicing "airport contacts" every day and it's been building our confidence but it's still going to be hard and nerve-racking. I don't know how other Elders plan on just talking to people in the airport without practicing, I assume they just won't do it. Oh, I also wanted to mention that besides singing in the same room as the General Authorities we were singing to the mission presidents. It was quite an experience, I would look down the rows, at each mission presidents face as I sang throughout the week and it was incredible to see the humility and love in their faces. They've all been beaten down this week, I'm sure it's been an incredible experience for them too. I'd love to look out and see the mission president wive's crying to our song and the mission Presidents nodding their head and singing along and even crying too. Truly a powerful experience. Also, we got to meet our mission president too! I love him! President Jones is an awesome man. He is so humble and hard hard working. I can't wait to work under him in Milwaukee. Pueees, I don't have much time, it's been a packed week and I've tried to touch on the main points. I appreciate all the letters and I love the letters on the World Cup they make me feel at home again (although I heard USA lost to Ghana....shoot). Root for the NEDs for me! Mucho Amor!

Elder Papritz

Austin - MTC - June 22, 2010

Hello all,

You all need to inform me every day of games on every team. I need to be in the loop. You don't have to worry about me getting distracted, in fact, I was in the health clinic waiting for my companion and the old ladies working at the health clinic were watching the game against Slovania on full screen on their computer with the sound on.. Uuuugh AND the computer was facing straight at me. I just burried my head in to my Spanish book and kept studying. It was super tempting but I with-held the temptation to see the game. And we were even there when (I think) the refs called back the last goal by the US because all the secretaries were kind of screaming and talking amongst themselves. I'll admit, my heart was pounding for the US, I didn't know how bad it was. Anyways, the computers are being so weird today. I can't use the enter button at all and whenever I press the period button it makes to periods like this.. So don't mind the double periods if I leave any. It's odd, I don't feel like I have too much to say. Everything's been going great. I can finally understand Spanish! I know it has been because I've been listening to a conference talk in Spanish every day ever since I identified that problem and this last week my teachers would tell stories from their mission and teach in Spanish and I could pretty much totally understand them, that definitely felt really good. Elder Moore is a walking caution-cone. He hurts himself all the time. I told the story on the tape I told you of how he sat down on two chairs that were stacked up on each other and he grabbed the top chair, ya know like you usually do when you are going to sit down to make sure you don't miss the chair, and he sat down and the chairs weren't actually stacked they were just put on top of each other and he fell 10 inches and absolutely smashed his middle finger. It was so funny, we all started laughing, even Elder Moore, and then he looked down at has finger which was bleeding out of every corner of his finger nail and his laughing turned in to a kind of whimper and ALL of the color went out of his face. He seriously looked like he had jaundice. We had to take him to the health clinic and he was all lightheaded and clammy from a little hurt finger. It was so funny, we laugh about it now but he seriously thought he was going to passout in the moment. And to make it all even funnier, we were in the middle of a tutoring session when it happened, the teacher had no clue what to do. He was just like, "well, oh um...... let me get my boss." haha Other than that, the new mission presidents are coming this week (starting tomorrow). The choir is going to sing for the their morning meeting every morning, we got our itinerary today and these are the speakers at these meetings that we will be singing 10 feet away from: "Day 1: President Eyring. Day 2: President Uchtdorf. Day 3: Elder Anderson and then later that day Elder Holland. Day 4: President Monson." Haha I just laughed when I saw that, it's going to be awesome. I hope I will get to meet my future mission president, I've heard they will allow the presidents to meet with their missionaries that are here, so we'll see. I have one thing to say, I sent a package which was suppose to include the memory card for my camera but I was in a rush when I was in the mailroom and not thinking and I put in the battery pack instead of the memory card haha. Sooo, I'll send the memory card later, my bad, just send the battery pack back please. Welp, that's all I got. Hope camp goes well and the rest of the family is great. Love ya'll, Elder Papritz.

Austin - MTC - June 15, 2010

It really has been a great week. The Monday before last we had a class discussing about goals and goal setting. I made sure to set really good goals and uuugh it was so nice. I felt so motivated every day because I wanted to be able to put a check mark next to each of my goals. I learned SO much Spanish this week. I'm so excited I can feel "it" will happen soon. "It" being that I will soon be able to think in Spanish and speak it without translated it in my head...and maybe even dream in Spanish! haha My companionship has really stepped it up and we've all be getting out of our comfort zone and teaching a ton and contacting random people. It's fantastic.

So it's been a buusy week. Two Elders in my district were chosen to tryout for the choir here, Elder Reardon and I had to leave class early yesterday to go try out. We both did great. I'm excited because we'll be singing for so many general authorities because they will all be here to train the new mission presidents, including the mission president for Wisconsin! I hope that I run in to him here at the MTC. After today, my district will be the oldest district in the zone, it's super weird because I don't feel ready. Soon I won't be asking other people for Spanish help, others will be asking ME. The Elders that were here for 16 weeks finally got reassigned to Provo and Salt Lake until they get their visas to Mexico.

For those wondering how my preperation day goes (Tuesdays):

Despertar a las cinco y cuarto

Desayuno a las siete

Lavaderia a las siete y media

Mientras hacerlo, escribir las cartas

Tiempo estudio a las diez

hasta almuerzo a las once y media

Ir al templo hasta a las tres

mas teimpo para estudiar

luego cena a las cuatro y media

y mas tiempo para estudiar

hasta la devocional a las siete

luego mas estudiar.

Planear por manana a las nueve

Dormir a las diez y media.

I only have like an hour and a half to write letters so that's why it seems like I don't write that much. Sorry.

I'm so proud of Alden for the awards he got. Way to represent fa reals! How did graduation go for you? Any ... incidents? What did you all give to the principle when you shook his hand? Also, that's terrible that one of the geese died. So many memories. So many lessons about life learned. I'm glad Alaina and Abby are able to experience life the same way I did.

Elder Hales talked at the last devotional, that makes three apostles for my district, and it will be even more during mission president week. My teacher had NO apostles talk while she was at the MTC. We're very lucky

So there are these jalapeno cheese bagels that I didn't think I'd like but they are incredible. I eat one every day now and I sneak three or four out of the cafeteria to eat during the day. Every in my district loves them. We keep a stockpile in my closet of the reserve during times of famine. You should go buy one at Winco and eat one and think of me because their DELICIOUS. Anyways, I have one minute to rap this up.

Love you all, I'm so glad to be in all of your prayers. Thanks for the letters but you're doing to have to try harder to beat out the Wetlauffers they're writing letter for letter with ya'll. Step it up haha.

Bye Elder papritz

Austin - MTC- June 8, 2010

Hey family,

I'm excited for this coming week. My companionship had an incredible weekly planning session yesterday, we have tons of goals and it has gotten our companionship excited again to do work. We were finding that since we had been here for 4 weeks now that we were finding it hard to have the same fire that we had the first couple weeks. And thought and talked about it and even prayed about it and we figured out that it was all in our planning. So I'm starting to figure out my big weakness, when it comes to Spanish, I am NOT an audible learner. It's incredible how bad I am at understanding spoken Spanish. It has been really tempting to constantly ask them to write words or spell them or repeat them for me (or just not try to listen) but I've taken the problem by the horns. For the last week and this week too, I have planned to listen to a conference talk in Spanish every day (there are computers that have only LDS.org available) and I had a personal tutor for an hour where we only went over understanding spoken Spanish. I can see myself getting better but it is truly difficult for me, I'm such a visual learning, I just want to constantly be able to see the word or at least be able to imagine the written word in my head.

Every Monday, starting three Mondays ago, my companionship schedules an appointment with one of the full-time tutors to work on contacting in Spanish. The first time was super rough and it was really slow and when we practiced it would always end with her saying, "I'm sorry, I'm busy right now, thanks for your time Elders." But it has been so much fun to see how we progress every week with that. Just yesterday it was all starting to come together and we were able to successfully interest her and schedule an appointment.

I love the short-sleeved shirts, but probably more than me, my companions love the short-sleeved shirts haha. We wear short-sleeved every day now, it's blazing hot every day. Autumn: the scrubs are awesome, I am now the coolest missionary at the MTC. Also, because of my coolness, another Elder got out the scrubs that he brought but he hadn't wore because hey tought he would look stupid haha. So we walked around to Elders' rooms and pretended to perform surgery on them while they were in their beds reading their letters.

I love the letters so much. I'm appreciating them more and more as I'm getting longer and longer away from you all. How did Sister Gurule's baptism? Wasn't that last Sunday? I've been thinking about that all week, it's truly fantastic.

Also, I just want to say, shout-out to my Wettlaufer sistas for sending me more mail than my entire family combined. I loved the Japanese cartoons. It was funny, when I opened the package and my companions saw the drawings, they thought it was Abby and Alaina that had colored them haha. They told me, "You told us that your sisters were really smart, so we thought they could probably draw that good."

Anyways, tengo dos minutos para terminar.

Love you all so much, the support means the world to me. Especially when I'm the only Elder in the zone (I swear) without a girlfriend (or former girlfriend) writing me haha.

Elder Papritz

Austin - MTC - June 1, 2010

This week has been phe-nom-en-al. Everything is coming together. Our teachers have been hammering us about all of these things:

-teaching with good questions

-but all using lots of scriptures when you teach

-but not just 'counseling' with scripture, actually teaching doctrine

-make it always apply to their needs

-pray for your companion while they are speaking

-have companionship unity, which involves no one person speaking for too long and doing appropriate segways from what your companion said, and not just give your shpeel.

And much more. It's a lot to keep track of but we were teaching our teacher, Hno. Rivers role playing as his mom who is a non-member, and it was incredible. It was ironic too because we prepared for him to teach one lesson, but we were betting on him doing the committed reading (Mosiah 2) but he showed up and said, "sorry, i forgot what i was suppose to read so i just read 1 nephi 1." And so we had to readjust our lesson plan on the fly, it worked wonderfully with the spirit and every spoke up and use their best teaching skills to connect with him. After it was over our teacher just sat there and smiled at us, it was the most satisfying thing ever. Especially because he is usually really hard on us, if we aren't doing all of the above things then he lets us known in his body language (we had already taught him two times, this was our third.).

Anyways, I'm just trucking along here. I can't believe this is going to be my 5th Wednesday, which means that we are also going to speak all Spanish. I can't wait, I know I'll learn a lot. This week I learned the subjunctive tense which is like the weirdest, hardest tense but I understood really well and I'm hoping to hit it really hard this week to get it down. They are sentences like, "God wants YOU TO BE obedient." the capitalized part would be subjunctive. I think it would go, "Dios quiere que usted sea obediente." I don't know, it's weird.

Another big thing that happened this week is we got new Elders in our zone. There are 10 of them, it's such a big group of missionaries (people-wise AND like height and weight-wise.)

There are so many of my friends from BYU that came in this week too. We took a picture at the temple grounds, on Sunday, and there was 13 of us. I see them around the MTC all the time.

I ROCK at foursquare. I was in the king square during my last gymn for like 12 rounds. I figured out this awesome feaux-Japanese style where I chop my hand down at the ball to put incredible spin on it and it's like impossible to hit. It's also pretty hard to aim but when I get it, which I'm perfecting every day. I also yell out Japanese-like Spanish words when I hit it like, "BendiCION." All you have to do is yell the last syllable with an upward swoop in tone to make it sound Japanese. "FueRON." Yeah, so I have a lot of fun with that.

My time is about up. It's rough too because the post office is closed on Saturday after 2:00PM and on Sunday and then Monday was a holiday. So I've gotten like no mail lately and I don't know what to respond to right now. But I know you all are blessed by me being on a mission, and that makes me so glad. Keep up the incredible work, I appreciate you all.

Much, much love

Elder Papritz

Austin - Week 2 in the MTC - May 18, 2010

Holan! That's what we say in our zone because a couple of the older missionaries (that have been here for 12 weeks because they can't get their visas to Mexico) persuaded my entire district that "hola" was a verb and that it was technically correct to say Holan if you were saying hello to more than one person haha.

Anyways, it has been a big week. I've learned a ton, in Spanish and in the gospel. I see myself using the scriptures a lot easier and teaching by the spirit. I love the program here, often we prepare for a lesson but most of the time it seems to go out the window and we just end up teaching by the person's immediate needs. Every Saturday there is a thing called the TRC task in wich they give you role-playing scenario and then you use what you learned throughout the week to teach the lesson. This week the scenario was that we were suppose to be in a park and we were to come up to 3 different people and start talking to them and figure out their needs and start a conversation about the gospel and schedule an appointment to teach them again, all in Spanish. It wasn't even that bad because my companionship has our own role-playing investigators that we meet with two times a week that are all in Spanish. In fact, just on last Thursday we taught this one guy named Simon the first discussion in Spanish. I'm amazed at how fast I'm learning Spanish.

So the zone leaders left for Mexico this week and they assigned new zone leaders. They chose the two elders that have been here for 12 weeks, Elder Stowman and Elder Preece. I love those two elders, they are so mature and patient. They've been told that they are probably going to be here for five more weeks without getting their visa and without getting reassigned. It's also funny because Elder Stowman is a short, strong former wrestling Elder with Cauliflower ear in both ears, we call him hunchback because he kind of just trolls the halls of the MTC. I feel like sometimes he is going insane from being here so long, it's hilarious. Sometimes he'll just start twitching and biting random things just to be funny, but it's hilarious to just imagine that he's actually going mad. I can't imagine being here for that long, they really are incredibly Elders.

Probably the coolest part of the week was having Elder Holland speak at the Tuesday devotional. It was an incredibly powerful talk. He essentially told us that we need to man up and get to work. It was funny, he told us that we have agency for most every thing in this world but he told us that we didn't have the choice, the agency to mess up the image of the church and of missionaries. We don't have the agency to come home and tell how we bent the rules in our homecoming talk or how bad our mission president was. It was an incredidle night. It really left everyone a lot to talk and think about.

I miss you all and I appreciate the letters and support. Don't worry about me though, I'm doing fantastic. The MTC is a wonderful place, a place that I could definitely see Jesus Christ being happy to see. Thousands of men and women from all over the world coming together in a single purpose that always points to Him. It's beautiful. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Papritz

Austin - First week - May 11, 2010

These last six days have been crazy. The first day we had to be in our classroom by 4:00PM and my companion got there but there were four Elders missing. In fact, they didn't show up at all to class, we figured they just didn't know where they were suppose to be since it was our first day. After the class we ran in to the Elders who were missing and all the told us was, "Boy, do we have a story for you." That night they explained how they got stuck in the elevator for 45 minutes in one of the buildings. Even funnier, my companion and I were going to take the elevator and we were perplexed when we would press the button and the up arrow would light up then it would go out after 5 seconds, because our roommate companions were stuck in the elevator haha.

There are four guys in our room all of which are going to Wisconsin and speaking Spanish. However, after couple days our teacher noticed one of our companions knew Spanish pretty well and could probably move up to the more advanced Spanish class. He pulled me aside too to be tested because I had been picking it up really fast. They asked us a series of questions to test our vocab, verb conjugating and explanation skills. I did pretty well but I explained to the tester that I didn't want to leave my companion and the district. The other Elder, however, did really well and so they moved him away. Now I'm in a threesome companionship.

It's awesome here, I really love it. It's weird to say but I always hate to see other missionaries goofing off. I always laugh when an Elder expresses how much he wishes he spoke Spanish better and then you see him goofing around during study time. I spend every second I can to study and learn the language. I'm just glad that I'm doing Spanish. It's crazy, there are so many crazy languages here, it's fun to go up to Elders where you read their nametag and it's some crazy language and you exchange testimonies in the language you are learning. I've heard testimonies in Hmong, Mandarin, Portugese, Spanish, Cambodian, Japanese and Thai. You can't find any other place like this, it's awesome!

El Espanol esta iendo muy bien. Mis maestros son muy intelligente y tienen grande fe. Apprendo mucho cada dia. Esta muy contento ser aqui ahora. Les amo!

Elder Papritz