Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Skype! 12/25/13

We were able to Skype with Elder Ridd on Christmas Day - it was so great! He looks and sounds awesome. A sweet family in his ward in Tübingen let him Skype us and they also had the missionaries to dinner. We are so appreciative of their love and support of the missionaries! 

Here are a few things we learned from Skyping with Mitchell~
  • He and his companion live on the 1st floor of their apartment building.
  • Peanut butter sold in Germany is not the same as US peanut butter. The jar we sent for Christmas is almost gone! (and "Mom, please send more!")
  • Elder Ridd is still getting used to the German spoken there.  It's a different accent/dialect than Standard German - and is called Swabian German. Click on the following link for a description of Swabian German from the expert, Wikipedia. Swabian German
  • Lately, it hasn't been all that cold in Germany - Elder Ridd has heard that generally at Christmas-time it is a bit warmer - and that it gets colder both before and after Christmas. He's bought himself a nice warm coat, so he's all ready for the cold! (He loves cold weather.  Really? A Houstonian?).
  • The missionaries take the bus and train as their main methods of transport, and they use a pass that covers this...except for the longer train rides. 
  • The ward is really nice to the missionaries. 
  • We learned from Elder Stilger that Mom's maiden name, Daminger, would usually be pronounced "Dah-min-gher," with a hard G, in Germany....not "Dam-in-jer," as we pronounce it here in the States. 
  • Mitch still has his fun sense of humor. 
  • The living conditions for Mitchell are much more comfortable than the living conditions that his big bro, Parker, experienced in Mexico City....times 100!  Lucky Elder Mitchell Ridd!  (Sorry Parker - but it builds character, ¿sí?). 
  • The missionaries rely heavily on the members for referrals - tracting/knocking on doors is not very effective.
  • Elders Ridd & Stilger are staying in good shape; they work out each day and eat healthy.
Frohe Weihnachten! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Letter - 12/23/13

Stüttgart (Elders Ridd & Stilger took the train here this morning on their P-day)
Mama & Papa,
I am doing awesome! It is so weird that Christmas is just around the corner. So excited to see you all! It will be so fun. But not sure on the time like I said. I will try and make it a time when you are not sleeping though.

Haha, that's pretty cool about Lukas going on splits with the missionaries! The missionaries love that, so good job, Lukas! And Mama - not a Gleek? Whatttt?

I always like the Christmas programs, Oh and guess how my church was? On Thursday, they assigned me to give a talk in German for Sunday's Sacrament I had to speak in front of my whole German ward - in German! - yesterday in church! It went well actually. Before my talk, Elder Stilger went through it and corrected my German translation of my talk - on how I gained my personal testimony.  I think I have to speak as much as Dad in church now that I am on my mission. Sadly it's in German. It was pretty good though and I am way glad that that is over with.

I got a mug from the white elephant exchange at the Zone conference/party, which was pretty cool! I bought this photo snowglobe and put a picture of Jesus in it. The snowglobe has hearts all around it, so that was pretty cool. 

That was an amazing eating appointment with the A family. They are such an awesome family. And the Christmas season is so hard for eating good. Especially when you are a missionary.... trust me it is nuts how nice the ward is here. I had some reallly good German cake the other day. It was so tasty. 

Teaching is going well. One member's husband is a non-member and has been against learning about the church for over 35 years. We started teaching him, and when Elder Stilger and I were teaching him, the Holy Ghost touched his heart and now he is going to take the lessons from us. His wife is so happy and loves us so much now. It is so cool. 

Sounds like you had a good time on the bday, Mom! 

I am writing really fast because we are actually going to go soon, so sorry this email isn't very good! But we will talk on Wednesday and I can fill you in on what I did this week and how I am doing!

Love you both so much and thanks for all you do. You are the best parents ever! Can't wait to see you on Wednesday!
Mit Liebe,
Elder Ridd

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

First Zone Conference - 12/16/13

Esslingen on Aus Tausch
Former MTC Mates - Elder Ridd, Sister Gilmore & Elder W. Smith

Guten Morgen Mutter,
Wie Geht's? Mir Geht's gut!

I am doing well! The weeks just keep going, don't they? So weird how fast they seem. But not too much has happened this week  teaching-wise. We have been getting referrals and also have been finding new investigators. S is doing well, but she was sick yesterday so we were not able to go by and they were not able to go to church either. Sad day! Our other investigator, P, is going to England - so she was not at church either. However, when she gets back we think she is going to be baptized, which is amazing. P is around 50 and she came to Germany to visit her brother. She came for two weeks and loved it so she has been here for 30 years now - haha.

The zone conference was really awesome! We kind of had a Christmas party there, and we had a white elephant exchange. I met a ton of missionaries in my Zone. Cool thing is that Sister Gilmore (from the MTC) is in my Zone. I got a picture with her so I will send that over. She is serving in Stuttgart.

We Skype on the 25th, so I will be calling on Christmas. And I have no dea what time, but I think that It will be at a decent time for you guys. Just be sure to keep your Skype logged in.

Hey, I went to a ward council this week too! Cool! Sounds like the Christmas market was lots of fun!  We are going to Reutlingen for a Christmas market today for Pday!

So this week was pretty neat - I got to experience a lot of new things. We were working with the ward a ton this week and we received many referrals from members. The first way cool thing that we did this week was going to Stuttgart for Zone conference. It was pretty neat seeing the big city and some people from the MTC (Sister Gilmore and Elder W. Smith). It was awesome to have President and Sister Miles there, in addition to tons of missionaries from the Zone. We basically ate a lunch, learned about how we are doing and what we want to do in the future, We also listened to the Prophet from the Christmas devotional, which was inspiring. We then listened to Elder Holland from a devotional to missionaries, as well as had a white elephant gift exchange. We all talked about traditions that our families have at Christmas-time, and we also played the chimes - which was interesting.

The next day I also got to experience something new for me. We had our first Aus-Tausch   (I switched comps for a day and went to Esslingen with the District Leader).  It went really well and we went by to see some less-active members. We also found a potentially interested person on the streets whom I talked to (basically) myself and set up an appointment for them. It was pretty cool as my German isn't that amazing. Then we had a lesson on the law of Chastity with one of their investigators named K, who has  a baptisimal date set. She was fun to teach and I did a lot of the teaching - which was really neat. I then participated in GemeindeRat (ward council for their area), which was interesting. I basically just listened to what they were saying because it wasn't my ward - so I didn't have much to input, but the next morning we tausched back and then we continued with our week. We had a Christmas Party with our ward, where we sang and some people played instruments and we talked about Christ.  We had an eating appointment with members yesterday, which was really great. It was with the C family, and they are a newlywed couple. The husband was an awesome missionary and he gives us tips all the time on things that we ask him about. But that was basically my week! And now is P-day!

I love you tons! Thanks for all you do! You are a wonderful example, Mama, and I love ya!

Mit Liebe,
Elder Ridd


Monday, December 9, 2013

Getting Settled - 12/9/13

Christmas Market 
Hey Mama and Pops!

I am doing well! This week has been pretty good and I am getting into the swing of things. It does seem like it went pretty fast, doesn't it? That's pretty cool that time seems to speed up when serving the Lord. My companion says that it just goes faster and faster as the weeks progress. He says he feels like he just got out here yesterday and he has been here for like 15 months. That's nuts. But it is way cool here! Got to love the new culture and all the cool differences.

Sadly, I did not get to watch the Christmas Devotional! So cool about Uncle Randy though! 
(Click the following link to watch 2013 Christmas Devotional).

We did get to teach a few families. We have 2 main investigators, which include a lady named S and her family, and another lady, P. S is from Germany and her husband is less active. They have 3 kids and 2 are of baptism age but none are baptized yet. We hope that we can reactivate the husband and baptize the other 3. They seemed way receptive in the last lesson we had and we have a return appointment planned for this coming Sunday.

Our investigator, P, is soooo cool. She is from England so we teach her in English! Best deal. But she is the coolest person. She came to church for the first time yesterday and then we called her and asked about it and she wanted to know what she had to do to be baptized. We read through the baptismal questions and she thought about them deeply. When we first taught her, she was really not wanting to get baptized, but she is really progressing.

Church was good! We had P there, and Sister Smith (a Sister Missionary from Tübingen) and I, and P's member friend taught her in the second hour. It was way cool and went really well. Our member lunch appointment fell through yesterday, so we ended up eating lunch on our own.  

Okay, I will be looking out for a package! We actually are taking a bus to Stuttgart on Wednesday for Christmas Zone Conference, and that is where the packages will be. So I will let you know this next week when I get them! But sounds good, I don't know if I will wait to open them but I will try, haha.

Parker told me about the study abroad! That is so sweet. Man, look at our family going all over the world.

It isn't too bad here. I thought it would be a lot colder. I bought a coat last P-day and that's really it. It is a pretty nice coat and I really love it. I might need to pick up some boots today, and I think I am getting a haircut as well. My apartment is pretty warm, as we have nice heaters on the walls that are way different than in America. I don't even know how I would describe them. (Note from Mom - I believe they're radiators). 

The satchel is working well. There is actually another missionary in my district with the same satchel which is pretty cool.

I eat really well! And I have had a good amount of dinner appointments, maybe 2-3 times a week. Which isn't too bad! The peanut butter is so expensive here and they have this thing called Quark. It is kind of like Greek yogurt, with no flavor and is really hard to eat. But on the bright side... 3x the protein. We have been mixing it with regular yogurt and making our own Greek yogurt. It tastes way good.

Well this week was sweet. We basically have been working with a ton of members and getting referrals like the missionaries did from you. It has been really cool, but we do not have too many people we are teaching right now, as mainly it is women referrals we are getting. It is hard for the Elders to teach women because we need another man - or 2 other women - present, so we have to give a lot of our investigators to the sister missionaries because they can teach them really easily. I already told you about the two investigators that are doing awesome, so I will tell you a little about what else we did this week. 

We were able to go to a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) and look around with a member. It was in Naguld, which is a pretty sweet little town in between two little mountains. It was so cool looking at all the different things they had in the markets and seeing all the Germans running around. We walked around and saw all the cool things they were selling and the member bought us some Rotwurst (kind of like a sausage). It was way good.  In Tübingen they had a huge chocolate market, and we got to go around there as well and see it all. There was chocolate everywhere. The three things Germans love are Beer, Bread, and Chocolate. Literally, there were thousands of people at the Chocolate Festival and it was really cool to see. I don't have too many photos of it, but I do have a few.

Anyways, no time but I will send more later. Love you, Mama, you are awesome. Thanks for all you do. Love you so much, Dad, and you are an awesome example to us all. 

Mit Liebe,
Elder Ridd

Elder Ridd's missionary apartment - looks like a nice view!

Look at all these veggies! Pretty healthy fare!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1st P-Day in Tübingen, Germany - 12/2/13

Mama! I will start with writing what I have done this week then address some more of your Q's.

So the first day we were leaving the MTC we got to the airport and then when we went to check in we realized that they had not bought us any tickets.... So we had to wait around in the airport for the longest time and then we finally were able to get tickets on the next flight. For some reason we could not find any phones there which was really weird.. I thought they would have phones in the Manchester airport.

Anyways, so we arrived in Munich and then we met up with President and Sister Miles as well as a few other missionaries. (APs and some trainers). We shortly after departed for the trains in small groups to go teach on the way to the mission home and mission office. We talked to a few different ladies, one of which already had a Book of Mormon in German - but she didn't really read it because she was from China and she would rather read it in Mandarin. So we made an appointment for the missionaries in Munich to go see her, so that they can bring her a Book of Mormon in Mandarin. That was pretty cool - we talked to her for probably around 40 minutes.

That night we ate with the Mission President and all of our trainers, then after we found out who our trainers were and where we were going. That is when you got the photo of me and Elder Stilger. We slept over in the mission home after that and then the next morning we had a little bit of training, then off we went to our separate areas. It all happened pretty fast and it is weird that I have been here for several days already But it is also way cool that I am actually in Germany. 

So when we arrived in Tübingen we immediately had an eating appointment for Thanksgiving. It was really cool because it was with an American family (well, the dad is from America and the mom is from the Philippines) and we had a lot of non-members there. We spoke mostly English there so it wasn't too crazy. Definitely a good way to start off. We had was soo good too.We stayed there for awhile then Brother Slatten drove us home with all of my luggage. We basically went to bed after that.

The next day we had weekly planning and all of our other studies. We stayed in all day because we had so much that we had to do. So that day wasn't the most fun. 

Then on Saturday, we had another eating appointment and we taught a little 9-year old girl whose parents were less active; however they are now active again so that is awesome! We ate with them and then shared about baptism, and she is getting baptised next year. We had GMK (Gemiende Missionare Konfernz, or Ward Mission Conference) for an hour before the eating appointment.

The following day was Sunday and it was pretty cool. We had church then after that we had another eating appointment with members of the ward. It was really cool and we set up a family mission plan to help the members get their friends to meet with us and come to church. After that we went home and did our studies and now we are here back to Monday! That's really all that has been happening and its pretty cool so far. We are talking to everyone on the street... well, Elder Stilger is and I  try and say things sometimes, but I am learning a TON from Elder Stilger he is such a good missionary. Definitely the best trainer out of the lot. He is from England. His dad is German and his mom is Swiss. His German is perfect. He has served most of his mission in Austria so far, so that is pretty cool.

In answer to a few of Mutter's questions: We have a fridge and a freezer in our apartment. There's a washer in our apartment complex. We take a train everywhere, or a bus.  We don't have too many biking areas in our mission.  It is a Shvabish (Schwäbich or Bavarian) accent here. And it is way cool here.  Not many huge mountains, but some pretty cool hills all around and awesome German buildings. Christmas will be awesome.

I am planning on doing a lot of shopping today.  For coats, boots, and whatever else I may need. The town is really cool!  It is south of Stuttgart, and is really pretty. I am in a really big area so we take the train to a lot of places. I had to introduce myself and bear my testimony in went well but was very interesting. Tübingen is home to 2 universities; 83,000 inhabitants and 27,000 students. Click on this link for more info on Tübingen!

I love you guys and hope you are doing great! 

Elder Ridd