Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ben Uhlig's story: Run! Hoodlums

See the post of week 27 which explains why I am including this in Fred's Blog. Angelika sent me the link to Benjamin's companion's blog (Elder Reading)  which gives a greater explanation of what occurred.  It made me cry with gratitude that our son Philipp heard the Spirit tell him to run several times on his Mission in Samara Russia. It is also a testimony that the Spirit is protecting these valiant missionaries as they try to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. http://footstepsofpaul.blogspot.ch The following is written by Elder Reading:

This week I had a special experience on Wednesday. It was quite disturbing at the time but now it makes me rejoice in my Savior and my God! Here goes:

We just got off the bus and rounded the corner of the metro station Attiki and were walking along the back road of the station. We were on our way to an appointment with an investigator. As we walked down the road we crossed the road to the far side from the metro in anticipation of turning at the end of the road. As we walked on this side of the road we approached three young men (about 20) and the tallest of them spoke to us in English asking us if we spoke English. Elder Uhlig said "Yes" and I answered in Greek saying "Nai" because I could tell that they were Greeks from the accent and looks. They continued speaking to us in Greek and asked who we were and we replied that we were missionaries. I could already tell that this conversation wasn't going anywhere and I tried to slowly continue walking. Then one said in a very accusatory tone that we were JW, adding that he didn't like this denomination. We denied that and tried to continue walking when one grabbed Elder Uhlig and the other me by our bags and the third yelled STOP. Surprised we stopped and as we turned they said that we should stay right there and then the short one came up to us and as they were talking he backhanded Elder Uhlig, and as Elder Uhlig stared at him in surprise he backhanded him again, knocking his glasses down. As Elder Uhlig turned to and bent over to pick up his glasses the man that had been holding him kicked him in the stomach. I was watching this in horror and I turned to those people to say or yell something when the short one that had hit Elder Uhlig slapped me in the face. I stepped back still not quite comprehending what was going on. And then Elder Uhlig gathered enough of his wits about him to yell for help in Greek. As he did this one of the young men kicked me in the leg and I wanted to walk away when they grabbed me and yelled "Stay here" in Greek. Then I heard what I thought was Elder Uhlig say to me "Run". As I heard that I thought that was a very good idea, I'd better do that. So I knocked the hand away of the guy grabbing me and I turned and ran, Elder Uhlig right next to me. We reached some people further down the street. The three men didn't pursue us and turned a corner.

Well, the hand of the Lord in this story is the following. As Elder Uhlig and I spoke later in the day we recounted to each other what we remembered. As I told him about his great idea to run he said to me, that he hadn't yelled that but he'd heard it too and he'd thought it was me. He himself had thought that it was a good idea and was proud of me to have yelled it. Well, I know I didn't say anything. And Elder Uhlig is sure he didn't. But we both agree that we heard someone yell "Run". We've come to the conclusion that it must have been the Spirit of the Lord telling us to run so we would realize what we needed to do. And he had to say it audibly for us to recognize it in the time of distress. I know no other explanation. So this is a grand testimony to me of the Lord's hand in my life. I know that he's looking out for me and that he's taking care of us. We need only be worthy of His Spirit's guidance and we shall be led by the hand and He shall go before us and His angels shall be round about us.

Week 27 Fred OK! Ben attacked by thugs

Some days I have a lot to write and others I have no real idea of what to put in my email. Moods swing up and down and I don't know. My singing seems worse and worse. Don't know if cold showers since the beginning of the mission have worsened my singing. Staying in this area for at least 6 weeks. Finally bought some plums today, and I bought another kg of granola and a kg of honey, so I'll survive somehow.
 ( Julie: Missionaries create interesting diets)

Any ideas for future p-days? 
(Please send ideas to Julie at luschin@aol.com and I will send them on to Fred.)
I know that I´ll be staying in this area for at least this next transfer (seeing that it just started, that would be 5 or 6 weeks.)
Another thing is that President told me in our interview that his plan for me is to train or to be senior the next transfer; i.e. in 6 weeks. Any ideas for training or being senior? Things I should avoid?
Love, Elder Frederick Luschin

Let the Uhligs know that I´m sorry that happened but that I´m thinking of Benjamin.
(I will attempt to translate the following email about Fred's friend who has been featured in Fred's blog in past entries.)
From: Angelika Uhlig <angelika@uhlig-family.de>
To: Julie Luschin <luschin@aol.com>
Sent: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 4:35 pm Subject: Elder Uhlig

Liebe Julie, leider habe ich schlechte Nachrichten. Benjamin und sein Mitarbeiter wurden in Athen von 3 jungen Männern verprügelt. Er hat ein paar Faustschläge ins Gesicht bekommen und wurde  getreten. Es ist nur glimpflich ausgegangen, weil andere Passanten eingegriffen haben.  Gut, dass er  Hilfe auf griechisch rufen kann!  Er hat ein paar blaue Flecken abbekommen und einen ziemlichen Schock, aber sonst geht es ihm den Umständen entsprechend gut.  Er durfte zu Hause anrufen, leider waren Andre und ich nicht zu Hause - so hat er mit Julian und Anne geskypt und das hat ihm geholfen, die Situation besser zu verarbeiten. Das ist genau das, wovor ich immer am meisten Angst hatte. Zuerst habe ich gedacht, warum hat der Herr nicht auf ihn aufgepasst, aber es hätte ja viel schlimmer ausgehen können.... Ich bin wirklich sehr erschrocken.
Benjamin wird am Montag nach Zypern versetzt und in Nikosia dienen. Seid so lieb und schließt ihn ein bisschen in eure Gebete ein.  Liebe Grüße   Angelika
(Dear Julie, Unfortunately I have some bad news. Benjamin and his companion were beat up by 3 young men in Athens. He received some punches in his face and was kicked. It would have been worse if some people hadn't helped. It is good that he can yell for help in Greek! He has some black and blue bruises and is in a state of shock but considering the circumstances it was realitively good.  He was allowed to call home but unfortunately her husband Andre and Angelika were not home- so he skyped with his brother Julian and sister Anne who were able to help him deal with the situation.  This is exactly what I have feared the most. At first I thought, why  hadn't the Lord watched out for him but it could have been much worse.  I am very shocked. 
Bejamin will be transferred to Cypress on Monday and serve in Nilosia. Please be so kind to include him in your prayers.  Greetings, Angelika)
Dear Family, Another good week has come and gone and so has the transfer. As I said, I will be staying in Corcórdia for a while yet and Elder Romero is still my companion. I guess I could tell you more about him. Elder Romero is from São Paulo. Is going home in little less than 6 months. Is a good missionary, quite obedient.  He is a good companion to me but doesn´t have a whole lot of suggestions regarding my improvement, which I guess is fine because we improve together. I really have gained an appreciation of practices, and I think that with a whole lot of practice, we will be able to handle a lot of situations. We haven´t done contacting on the street or door-to-door for quite some time now because of the open house, which anterior-open-house, effected us to invite people to it and post-o-h we are trying to follow up on the couple of people that expressed interest in receiving more information, which isn´t a whole lot of people, in reality. We talked to some nice people last week that let us in because of the open house, including a retired couple that has a view right overlooking the chapel, which is nice. The companionship dynamic is altered by the fact that there are four of us, which means I´m generally less-active in the conversation and other things, as I let Elders Morais and Fullmer talk with Elder Romero. Maybe I´m excluded, but I feel like that I´m just trying to focus on my scriptures and my planning and all that. I´m a little frustrated that I´m doing well on my goals but not making the progress I want to be making, as with my scripture cards, for example. I´m probably at 180 right now, but need to reach 500 on July 26th, which is going to be tricky. Same thing with exercise, as I need to become more focused. Same thing is wondering with the work, as I haven´t taught anyone who has progressed. That raises the question with me of progressing and not regressing while at the same time enduring to the end. I´m generally happy, but I´m starting to be worried about the time. I have been out for 6 months, and what have I learned? I do not think I study better, nor am a much more of a spiritual person, I may actually be more physically-obsessed, though I´m trying so hard. Seeing good missionary examples or reading about them in the scriptures doesn´t lead me on to higher heights, but just seems to point out how flawed I am. As opposed to a lot of missionaries, I already came to the mission field knowing how to clean my clothes, prepare food and clean up after myself, so that hardly seems like the issue. (Julie: glad he feels he knows these things!)
One special experience I didn´t relate is that we have a fellow here who is 18 who wants to get baptized. He´s been taught since July of last year, so a lot of preparation has gone into him. Last Sat. during interviews, our President challenged Elder Romero to invite this fellow Josinei to be baptized. He accepted, but his father wouldn´t let him get baptized the same day. Since then, we found out last Saturday while we were in Irani (the other city) for the last time that he has figured out that he could get baptized on the 2nd of February. Exciting! It will be my first baptism in the mission, and we still need to see who will actually be baptizing him. The family that we were staying with in Irani, the sister works for a pizzeria and so she paid for a pizza for us on Saturday. It was half five cheese and half pizza California, which is a dessert pizza with a load of fruit on top. Quite good. Additionally, they would serve pressed juice every few hours.
I don´t feel very focused and that I have already wasted a lot of time on the mission. Ie. the Lord´s time. Still, I´m grateful that I could feel the spirit testifying when I conducted I am a child of God for the closing hymn of our 17 people Sacrament meeting in Irani.
Elder Frederick Luschin

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013_01_21 Week 26 Open House

Dear Family,

It´s my birthday in exactly eight months. I only realized this morning
that I´d be turning 21 on the 21st, and that on my mission. What
excitement for all!
Needless to say, I hope that everybody is doing just fantastically.
This last week was a good one, and rather uneventful at that.
I was hoping to use today to make all the necessary backups from the
month of December for my pictures and then send you a good little
summary of what has been happening.
You may have already realized that it has been over a month since I
last sent pictures, which is because the computers from the local
"lan-houses" have not granted me access to copy from camera to
computer, though I will figure that one out, I believe.

We finished the week in a beautiful, brand-new chapel here in
Concórdia with a presence of perhaps 75 members in the sacrament
meeting, which is the most I´ve seen in a ward during my mission, but
that was also because some members were visiting from another ward
because of the open house and then dedication.
The week can be summarized in few words:

Tuesday to Friday: Open house all day every day, though with the
addition of two other Elders who traveled 7 hours by bus in order to
come here.
 Saturday: Last day of the open house from 10-17 o´ clock and
interviews with Presidente Fernandes in the morning, as well as piano
practice in the evening with the choir (half of the members thereof
being from the local district, since this is the district Chapecó and
not even a stake yet). Dedication Saturday evening ay 20:00 with
Presidente Fernandes offering up the dedicatory prayer. It was a very
special moment and Presidente Fernandes is a lot of fun. It´s rather hard
to describe his powerful personality in writing.

I really enjoyed the interview with the president. I was able to
present my pass-off chart to him to show that I had completed knowing
all the basic information pertaining to being a missionary: all the
lessons, how to interview etc. I believe that Presidente trusts me and
knows that I am trying to work hard and keep good records of
everything from finances to the way I exercise.
I have been memorizing more scriptures again which has made me very
happy. this week the transfer also comes to an end.
This last week President said that he would put another companionship
in the other city, enabling us to finally concentrate on the work here
rather than splitting up our forces.

I´ll write more next week. Trying to figure out the technicalities of
technology rather took up time.

My love, prayers and optimism goes out to all of you. Work on
memorizing hymns and scriptures. Singing the national anthem got me up
the steepest hill in the city in record time.

I got a letter from Lothar Peters and brd. Lopper.

Anyhow, I´ll be off to get some apples, though always with you in spirit.


Elder Luschin

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Week 25

Dear Family,

We are about half-way through the first month of the year. How exciting for all of us.
This week I have the opening of the new chapel here in Concordia.
 It is quite the nice building but in my opinion and certainly Dad´s, it could use about 3-4 weeks or more before it should open. It is a 5 story building which has parking integrated on one of the floors and has 3 usable floors for the Sacrament, class rooms and the cultural hall which is at the very top. There is still a whole lot of unfinished concrete on the exterior (ie. the front stairs) which has
neither been finished nor polished, and is already covered in rust and paint and marks and so on. However, seeing that some of the members were responsible for finishing up construction, we just have to be quite grateful. However, I am quite excited that I´ll be able to play basketball (it has a great outdoor court with stairs and a ramp that allows for stair-running) as well as a great Kawai digital piano. This will be a possibility because the Chapel is all of 5 seconds away from where the missionaries live. Oh the joy!

We don´t have any progressing investigators currently, which is rather unfortunate but also due to the fact that we are splitting our forces and having divisions nearly every weekend. This is because we have another city in our area called Iraní which is 45-60 minutes away by bus that my dupla (the word for companionship) is assigned to help out in every Friday to Sunday.
However, with the next transfer coming in two weeks, Presidente Fernandes has promised to change all that by putting in a different dupla permanently, which is good because I would quite like to get
going on the hilly landscape of Concordia.

I have a deeply dissatisfying feeling that I have not been working very hard. A lot of little things haven´t gone to my favor in terms of being able to work a lot. Ie. on Saturday, we
finally received the 5000 invitations that we need to hand out before the conference. The 6:30 bus ride was absolutely gorgeous. It looked like Caspar David Friedrich´s picture of the wanderer overlooking the valley. Very romanticism-like. We had a very good Zone Conference in which I got my Christmas mail (good stuff) as well as the encouragement to use the Book of Mormon a lot more. I am planning on starting to use it in the first lesson on the restoration even. Needless to say, I am very grateful for my testimony of the book. I am improving on getting my dates organized but in some ways feel like a Pharisee: very obsessed in minutiae but lacking a spirit of spirituality. Strange but true. I hope that prayer and dedicated scripture study can change that.

Quick assumption: I believe Brazilians rarely introduce others even in a new-person situation; would be interesting to research.


Elder Luschin

Time is up though I have more to write.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Week 24 New Year's Goals

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:32 AM PST

Dear Family,
I am doing very well and very much looking forward to this unique year which I will be able to dedicate to my service to the Lord. My little journal system which I got from Mom has a page full of goals which I wrote during my fast on Sunday.  I spent the last minutes of 2012 and the first minutes of 2013 writinga resumé of the year. Basically, I must have learned a lot of optimism, because I looked at the year as a good one, and with this one being one of my mission, I only have even more to look forward to.  A brief resumé of the resumé for you would be the following:I had two wonderful semesters at the `Y` and gained even greater love for academia.
I spent time with Phil which I will never forget, making me realize how blessed I am to have such a delight some family!
I loved the time with Doro and family before coming back to Europe and being able to see everybody over there. It was a pleasure to meet Franziska for the first time and then spend time with C&E&F in Rome. (Christoph, Emily, Franziska 2) Rome was great. (With Phil as a companion the two explored Rome and lots of museums and sketched and even tried singing on the street with a guitar but they weren't given a cent. Hard to be a street musician. Easy to starve!)
Off I went and learned a lot about Missionary Work being in the MTC for much too long, or maybe not. Came to be quite good at Portuguese and went off to a second area, leaving the flat coast of Biguaçu which was quite ethnically diverse (Lots of Bahians) to come to Concórdia, where everybody is either Italian or German, with some other Europeans mixed in.  I have learned a lot of patience with myself and a lot greater capacity to ´Just do it,´ as the Nike slogan goes. I used to dislike the saying,  but I now realize how to apply it from everything to exercise to contacting.  I learned a lot about being a man and continue with the goal of being a gentleman, Christian and a scholar. I walk a lot taller now that my posture is very good and I have become considerably skinnier. On an aside, I have started taking pictures of your emails~faster than printing them.  I will write a lot more next week, but one thing is that a `German´woman cut my hair Friday, and we had a lovely talk. Let me know about your New YEAR´S goals, because I have a page full toshare with you all!. Love, Elder Luschin

Week 23


Dear Family,

We are in a different city in our area, so it seems that I will only
have maybe 15 minutes to write to all of you. Unless we are able to
write again when we get back to Concordia.
I am doing well and very excited for this new year, as I have so much
that I can do to apply myself and give all in the service of the Lord.


Elder Luschin

That is all we heard from Fred. They must not have had any time to write any more but our Christmas Skype call was great.  We tried to involve all the family which turned out to be more complicated than we had expected.  Fred called us from a computer at the home of a member in his area. We don't have the details of whose home he was at but we could hear another American Missionary in the other room talking from a different computer to his family in the USA.  This did make it a little hard to hear Fred who was on the balcony trying to talk to us with the twitter of birds and other street noises it prove to be a challenge. 

Here are the details. Arnold and Amanda and their 3 children are up in Wolfsburg Germany, which is the Volks Wagen City Headquarters. 
Christoph and Emily and Franziska are living in an apartment in Frankfurt near Christoph's office.
Dorothea and Warren and their 4 children are in Buena Park California along with our son Philipp who spent the Christmas Holidays with them. 
Hanno and I joined Christoph and Emily because we felt their Internet connection would be the fastest.
Well though we tried to pay for video conferencing so we could all see each other this didn't work. Every computer needed to download something to make it work so it was a flop. It is also very hard to ask questions when so many people are involved in the conference call.  We learned our lesson.  So after awhile Arnold decided to get off because communication just wasn't working. Then the Williams signed off and we skyped from just one computer to the one Fred was using and low and behold it was fantastic!  We could see our son grinning and smiling and looking like his hair has gotten blond on top from so much time in the sun.  Fred has always been a brunette and to see his hair turning blond was a shock.  But he was so relaxed and enjoyed showing us the beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds and the vegetation. It was just delightful.  Then we had some communication reception problems and quickly said goodbye and we were finished. But then Phil managed to get in a few minutes of his own with Phil from LA.  We decided that most of our hour of communicating had been a flop since we had spent so much time trying to connect everyone and getting the picture working which never did so advice...stick to just one on one and give everyone 10 minutes.  But the call was the high light of our Christmas.  How wonderful it is to have a son serving far far away and actually be able to see him in a skype call. This is truly a modern miracle.

Christmas in Brazil is summertime. But the realization that 6 months of his 2 year mission are already over and he will have one more Christmas and then a half of a year and then he will be finished. I think that this is a turning point to realize how fast a mission can actual go. We took some photos of talking to Fred on skype which I will try to post. Fred didn't get the Christmas package I sent which is fine. I realize now that when he gets it, any chocolate inside will probably be totally melted.  It is the fact that we tried and he knows all his family, his siblings and nieces and nephews are praying for him each day and that we really care.