Andrew spent most of April still visiting with his investigators, enjoying all sorts of different weather, eating all the good food in Germany, doing splits with the Elders in Dortmund, and participating in a Zone Conference and getting to see some friends from his time at the MTC. It was the last month of living a mission life while in Germany since he would be medically released for some continued health problems that were not improving. While in Germany, Andrew struggled with his health, but he always wanted to stay. Every time he met with his mission president, he would always say, “I think I can go a little bit longer.” We were never quite sure how long he would be able to stay on his mission. Andrew had some incredible experiences with Herman and Silva, one of his couple investigators from Honduras and Holland. I always loved hearing about Herman and the gains he made with him. I could see great changes in Andrew as a missionary and although he was only able to serve for 8 months, it was totally worth it.
After leaving Texas the beginning of the month, Andrew flew from Houston directly to London. Then he got on a bus with the other missionaries who left Texas and headed to Preston, England to quarantine for 2 weeks at the Preston MTC. He was put in a room with Elders Felt, Helmer, and Sumison. Although he missed his friends back in Texas, he had a great time with those elders. They were low key and funny and compared to his first companion in Texas, it was a heavenly situation. Their Frankfurt mission president, President Hammon, contacted them in the MTC and spent some time getting to know them with one on one interviews. President Hammon is incredibly passionate about missionary work, and truly loves all of the missionaries. Andrew and the other missionaries were able to tune into some of the Frankfurt zone conferences and Monday morning prayers. President Hammon told the elders to really hit the German study hard, as it would be very possible that they would only have 4-5 weeks of training before they were on their own training other missionaries.
Upon arriving at the MTC, they were put into rooms of 4 with strict rules. They had to stay in their rooms unless they were going to their assigned bathroom. Food came 3 times a day and they had to stay in their rooms while the food was being delivered. Mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches were not one of Andrew's favorites. It said it was by far the worst lunch idea he's tasted in a long time. On the flip side they got plenty of Nutella packets with their meals, so they used them to trade for other food items with each other.
They were allowed outside time twice a day for 30 minutes, but had no room to really exercise. The classes that were recommended they attend online were basically MTC classes so Andrew and his roommates skipped most of them and practiced German on their own. Although it was easy to get bored, they had nearly daily devotionals from the area 70 which was uplifting.
Due to some changes in the UK their quarantine was shortened to 10 days. Although they still had to stay in their rooms when the food was delivered, they had unlimited outside time and were allowed to go throughout the entire MTC campus. They had the opportunity to visit the temple grounds daily, and went on runs through the town of Chorley. It rained most everyday but they had one or two days of sun and no rain.
On December 18th, Andrew flew from Manchester to Frankfurt, Germany. He was greeted by President Hammon and his wife. He then headed to the mission office building where he quarantined for 5 days. He was able to take a COVID test which was negative and was then sent on a train to his first area in Darmstadt. It was an interesting train ride with one of the sisters that was also heading to Darmstadt. Andrew met his new companion, Elder Jenks (District Leader) and the two other Elders in Darmstadt, one of which is the Zone Leader. One of the members fed them on Christmas Eve and they all sang "Silent Night" in German at the end of their evening. This member gave Andrew and his companion really cool pens in a wooden engraved Darmstadt case. On Christmas Day, they spent time during the day at two different member's homes. It was nice that they had somewhere to go on Christmas. The work moves on, even during COVID. Although there haven't been a lot of service opportunities, the members have been awesome. Andrew really loves the people he has met in Germany.
LAST DAYS IN TEXAS
ORIGINAL MTC DISTRICT ALL IN ENGLAND
1ST AREA - DARMSTADT
After a little over a month in Texas, Andrew has finally gotten into the groove of being a missionary. He has been staying busy, recognizing that 12 hours sometimes is not enough time to get everything done. He has been working hard on finding more people to teach and working on setting up a ward mission plan alongside their newly made family history plan. He worked hard this month on connecting with ward members, both active and inactive. They are technically allowed to knock doors and check on inactive members or people who have been taught by the missionaries if they don't first respond via text or call. He knocked a lot of those doors and had plenty slammed in his face. He definitely got a solid taste of the classic pre-COVID missionary experience. They have an incredible new bishopric and ward mission leader, and he was glad to see the positive impact that they were having with the new ward mission plan.
This month Andrew got to do a lot of service including a Thanksgiving food drive and setting up rooms for kids at Christhaven. He felt great helping others and had a fun time doing it. He got to have some fun during his p-days this month. He went with a big group of missionaries and went to the driving range to golf one day and went fishing on another day with the other elders in his apartment. Some members who have an enormous ranch let them fish at one of their ponds. Only Elder Larson caught a fish, but Andrew got a couple bites. Andrew has really enjoyed the trio of elders in his apartment. Andrew's last p-day in Texas was spent shopping for boots at the boot shop. He found a great pair of nice dark brown waterproof and warm boots to wear in Germany. He was so excited when we told him we would buy them for him for Christmas.
This month he found out that Sister Schellenberg, the other German missionary in his zone, left to quarantine in the UK. This news was encouraging and gave him hope that he would be able to leave. Closer to the end of this month Andrew found out that he would also be heading to the UK on December 3 to quarantine before heading to Germany. He was so excited by this news.
It was a bittersweet morning as we said goodbye to Andrew at the Colorado Springs airport where he was boarding a plane to head to Ft. Worth, TX for his first missionary assignment. He was pretty calm and collected but I could tell that he was nervous about what he was heading into. Since I had already said goodbye last month this goodbye was much easier, even though I knew that it would be the last time I would see him in 2 years. I am so proud of Andrew for his commitment to share the gospel with the people of Texas and eventually the people of Germany. I know serving a mission will bless his life.
It’s been a bumpy road watching Andrew as he went back and forth about serving a mission. It all started with a pretty great spiritual experience last fall that helped him realize that he did in fact want to serve a mission. He was pretty solid about it for a few months but then something happened the beginning of this year. He had lots and lots of questions about things he never questioned before. His testimony was definitely tried, and he spent a few months pondering, praying and asking for answers to his questions. It was during this time that he had many conversations with not only his parents but also with his Grandpa Al. He later told me that it was the conversations he had with his grandpa that helped him back on the path to serving a mission. With nervous hearts, Mike and I kept asking him if he was going to finally turn in all of his paperwork. It was right at this time that COVID19 was starting to shut down the world and Mike was preparing to go and pick him up. In a quick conversation Andrew told Mike that he had finally made his appointment with his Stake President for his final interview before turning in all of his paperwork. He had wanted to surprise us but with everything that was going on he felt like he needed to tell us. We were both so incredibly excited by his decision. Then it was the long wait. Days turned into weeks and finally a month passed, and we were starting to wonder what happened to his paperwork. With General Conference in the mix we weren’t panicking just yet. Then as Tuesday passed, which in the past was the day that the mission calls came, and he had no email about his mission call, we encouraged him to write his Stake President. Surprisingly, two days later his call came. Mike and I weren’t home at the time when he received it and so he read it to some of his closest friends via Facetime. When we got home, he read it to all of us plus both sets of grandparents that were chimed in on Facetime. It was nice to have it be intimate with just family. When he read that he would be going to Frankfurt, Germany on August 19th we all lost it. We were beyond excited for him. I couldn’t believe it because a year ago I had a dream that he would serve in Germany. It was one of the most powerful dreams I have ever had but I didn’t put a whole lot of stock into it because let’s be real…it was a dream. Apparently, Mike had been having impressions that Andrew was going to go to Frankfurt. Again, mind blown. To say that we are excited for him is an understatement. We are so happy that he chose for himself to serve a mission. We know that he will make a great missionary!