May 8, 2011
Here is a synopsis of Andrew’s phone call home. We were able to talk to him for an hour after we were finally able to make a connection. We asked him some questions and I wrote down the answers as well as I could. I think next time I will have to buy a recorder so I can participate in the conversation and then go back to listen to the recording to get a transcript.
What do you eat for breakfast?
When he first got there the previous elder had left some cereal that is similar to Cocoa Puffs, so he ate that. Now he eats Müesli with yogurt.
What is your apartment like? How big is it?
The apartment building is 6 floors and they live on the top floor. They have a small bedroom with bunkbeds, a small area for desks, an even smaller kitchen and a sitting area. He has a microwave and a stove, the stove is gas and has to be lit each time he uses it. The refrigerator is mini-fridge sized. Only he and his companion, Elder Pieper, live in the apartment. Elder Pieper is the District Leader and the Zone Leaders are in their district and live about 10 minutes away. As we were talking I could hear his companion laughing so I asked what was going on and Andrew said a member was there looking at their walls. Apparently they have a water leak and the paint is peeling off the wall and they have mold so they are asking the landlord to fix it or the church will find another apartment.
Are your neighbors friendly?
He doesn’t really know the neighbors well but he does say hi and they say hi back. He said a few elders ago tried teaching the neighbors and the neighbors didn’t like it so no one has done it since. He also mentioned that with the death of Osama bin Laden they have to be careful and not say they are American. They live in an area that is predominately Muslim and Turkish.
How often do you have Zone Conference?
Once every other transfer, which is every 6 weeks. They have transfers in 2 weeks and just had a Zone Conference or are having one soon (I don’t remember that answer very well)
How many dinner appointments do you get?
Not very many. They are usually on their own for dinner. His favorite thing to eat is a sandwich called a doümer or something else called a Käse leberkäse which is translated as cheese liver cheese but it doesn’t really have liver in it, he calls it a cheese loaf. He said the doümer is a German food and the second one is more Turkish. He said his favorite drink is a Turkish drink pronounced /ulu dog/, he couldn’t spell it for me. Or there is a German soda pop, almdübler, that he likes. He does eat Nutella and likes it so he isn’t missing American peanut butter yet.
Do you do your own laundry?
Yes, they have a small washing machine in their apartment but no one uses a dryer so they have a drying rack. They have been teaching a man who smokes 2 packs a day and his apartment reeks of the smoke, the walls are yellow. Andrew said their suits smell so they went to buy some dryer sheets thinking that would help get rid of the stench but when they went into stores asking for dryer sheets no one knew what he was talking about, so I will be sending him some. He did say they can buy Febreeze so that might help.
Where do you go to read your emails?
They go to an internet café that charges 2 euros for 1 ½ hours on the computer. He said the postal rates just went up in Vienna and that a letter to the US now costs almost 2 euros to send.
Tell us what an average day looks like:
6:30 am wake up
go for a run or play basketball, there is a park not too far away from
Iron a shirt (see above, no dryer means wrinkled shirts)
8-9 am Personal Study
9-10 Companion Study
10-11 Study German if they don’t have an appointment. They try to eat
before they go out so they can last until 9:00 pm without
Rest of day Appointments. They live a few blocks away from a train station so
they ride the train into the main part of Vienna to teach. There is a river that they have to cross sometimes to teach but it is out of their area so they have to call the Zone Leaders to get permission, he said it while laughing so I guess it’s a regular occurrence and is kind of a weird thing that across the river is out of their area when that is where they have appointments.
9:00 pm Back to the apartment
10:30 Lights out
We asked him how church was that day (Mother’s Day) and he said it was good but weird because they had an investigator, Nikolai, come to church. They have Sacrament Meeting last and Nikolai barely made it through Sunday School, he is the 2 pack a day smoker, without taking a break but then when it was time to go to Sacrament Meeting he said he was hungry and needed to leave. Andrew mentioned that this investigator is also 60 years old and is schizophrenic. He chuckled a few times telling us about church and their adventures in teaching this investigator. He also said that none of their investigators were “normal”. Most of the people who will listen to them are the ones that are not accepted by society. The “normal” ones are content with their lives and just ignore you or stare at you.
Since he knew about bin Laden’s death I asked him if he read the local newspapers and he laughed again and said, “No, the local papers are pornography.” He said that a company just started a new ad with women in bikinis. He said they are all over the train station and on the trains and all over so most of the time they walk with their heads down. He said that he has been warned that the summer will be bad. Apparently the parks turn into nudist parks. Lots of fun!
He also said they ran into someone from Germany who actually spoke German and Andrew could understand them! The people of Vienna don’t speak German and they are hard to understand. While we were talking Andrew would ask his companion how to say stuff in English, it was cute.