Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

Heidi wasn't feeling well enough to write a family email so I am posting an excerpt from her email she wrote to her mission president. 

Dear President,

Miracle of the week! So, G*** is going to be moving to France at the end of this month. Up until this week he hasn't known where exactly he would go. When we met with him this week he told us that he would be moving to Bayonne, France. He seemed so sure about this, and when we asked him about it, he just responded that he had been praying about it and that it was where he felt God wanted him to go. Lately in our lessons he has really been opening up about his feelings about the church and about all that we have been teaching him. He has felt such love in the church, from us, from the ward members, even just sitting in the church. We have born our testimony of the restoration and the truthfulness of this church, and also that he can find the same church and the same blessings in France. We looked on and there is a ward right in Bayonne! G*** was so happy! I know that he has really had fear of leaving Germany, especially since he is so young and on his own, but at least now he has a little bit of hope for a new beginning. …

With S*** this week we planned to talk about the ten commandments and help him understand that when he lives this way he is acting on faith in God, Jesus Christ, and in prophets. I really feel like we prayerfully prepared for this lesson, and everything that S*** said or asked went along perfectly with what we had planned for. I am so grateful for these powerful teaching opportunities that Sister Nilson and I have together.

Sister Nilson and I have grown so much together these past several weeks. One of our greatest strengths is that we always recognize and acknowledge the centrality of Jesus Christ in all that we do. There is so much power in understanding the WHY behind our actions and also in knowing our motivation. I really know that it was a part of God's plan to send me here to Cottbus. I have wondered and pondered about why I must be so weak at this time. Why in such a high point when I am with such an incredible Sister? And I can't really explain why. All I know is that through my pain and suffering I have learned so much. I know that I have learned a lot with my companions. But it has also really humbled me and really showed me my dependency on God. I have come to know God and Jesus Christ that much more. And even though at times it has really taken all that I have to sit through lessons and talk to people, I have meant every word of what I have said. Because I really do know for myself. Yesterday Sister Nilson and I read a talk by Elder Holland about Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. I am coming to realize that much of life can be labeled as unfair, cruel, or just tragic. But everything is for our experience. I know I will always cherish the hard times of my mission because looking back they are the most beautiful times....


Sister Shelley


July 7, 2014

Dear family,

Well, this week has officially been the hardest week of my mission.  Never before have I felt so low and so discouraged.  So many people have been concerned about me and my health including myself.  This week I was pretty much told by President Kosak that I should prepare myself to go home.  I was even on the phone with our stake president there in Bountiful during the week.  But as of now, I feel like we have come up with a new plan of action.  Seriously when it was put right before me that I could go home early for a medical release, the stubborn side of me came out and I just kind of snapped.  I am not going home unless I have done absolutely EVERYTHING in my power to get better first.  I have cried so many tears and spent so much time on my knees just praying.  Always a prayer in my heart.  I dont even know how I have come to be in such a low place.  I feel like I have just been broken down completely. 

I am grateful for the small experiences we have had working with other people that have allowed me to feel joy and peace amidst my own pain and suffering. 

On the fourth of July Sister Nilson and I woke up and the first thing we did was say the pledge of allegiance with our hands on our hearts.  We held up a little parade flag in the air.  We sang some songs.  I am proud to be an American!  We made crepes to uphold her family tradition.  That evening we came together at our church with a family in our ward and all of our investigators.  We gave them some of our American patriotism!  It was a fun group and it was cool to be gathered from all over the world. Ha ha I seriously love our little Cottbus family.  We gave a lesson on freedom and faith. Did you know that all of the U.S. currency says ''In God we Trust''?  As we trust in God that leads to freedom.  Stanley made a comment about what freedom means to him.  It is about becoming personally free.  Not being held down by anything.  He alluded to faith and repentance.  That was a reason for me to be happy, to see that he is really understanding and applying the gospel in his life. 

G*** is going to France at the end of this month, and man are we going to miss him!!  He is really our little brother.  In our last lesson he finally understood the priesthood and priesthood authority, and we talked with him again about baptism.  His response really showed us that he understands how big of a commitment it is.  He went on to tell us that he wanted to go without food and water for a time and pray about this decision.  We were able to talk about fasting.  We knellt down and prayed with him at the end, and we all held hands. 

This morning I read this verse in the bible:  ''For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind'' (2 Tim 1:7). 

I just want you all to know that it is really you that is helping me to go on.  This is the hardest thing that I have done in my whole life, and even though at times I wonder if I will even make it another day, I just have to think of you and it helps me to keep on going. I am so grateful for you all.  I really know that God is there and he is mindful of each one of us. I have really felt that he knows me personally and loves me.  I love you all so much and I will keep you in my prayers and close to my heart. 

Love Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We didn't receive a weekly email from Heidi, but she did send me her weekly email that she wrote to her mission pres. The work is going well in Cottbus. I have included a short excerpt: 

Short excerpt from her email to her mission president:

"We have seen so many miracles this week!!  This past week made such a big impact on me, my life, and on my entire mission.  The most incredible thing is really just feeling the Spirit leading and guiding me and Sister Nilson in just about everything.
For weekly planning each week since we came together we have been so prayerful about preparing for the people we teach and work with.  And we set specific goals for what we want to focus on in helping them prepare for baptism.”

An email I received from  Heidi’s companion, Sister Nilson:

Mamannette! ( I hope that is okay that I called you that! I know that it is a very special name in your family. ) Sister Shelley talks about you every single day!! About what an incredible mother you are and how she always calls you her mamanette. Some things that you have said in letters to Sister Shelley she has shared with me and they have helped me so much! SO I just want to thank you. We as people have such a big effect!!
Ah! I have just heard ooddles and boodles about you and your incredible family!! I feel like I am a part of it... :) Sister Shelley has become my sister. I love her so much!!  I just want to tell you how grateful I am for your daughter. She is the most powerful missionary I have ever served with. Her love for the people and her passion for the work is contagious. I love her so much. She is such a force for good!! We have so much fun together. Already we have seen so much success here in Cottbus. I feel so privilaged to be with her again.
Her headaches have gotten better this week. And DONT worry... I make her rest when she needs it. Even though all she wants to do is go convert the world... it is important for her to STAY healthy so she can do that :) I have no doubt that she will do JUST that. Cottbus is different since she came. I am so so thankful she is my companion!!....
Have a wonderful week!!!!
Much love,

Sister Nilson

                              Picture we received from Jialu. A surprise visit to Cottbus!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


We finally received the letter Sister Shelley wrote the week she was transferred to Cottbus. 

June 2014

Dear Family,
I am finally getting this letter written…sorry it has taken so long. (**Heidi was only able to send a short email the previous  P.Day as she was being transferred that day to her new area, Cottbus) I have been in Cottbus about five days now and I am so happy. I love it here! I have already met so many new people and they are wonderful. I can’t wait to tell you about everything and everyone. I have so much I want to tell you! And oh my goodness. I am so happy to be together with Sister Nilson again. She is wonderful and I love her so much.

But first-goodbye to Lankwitz.    Wow,saying goodbye was so hard. I can’t believe that was still a part of this week. I absolutely love the opportunity I have had to get to know so many different people and learn with them and form them. There are so many people I love in Lankwitz…and that’s why it was so hard to leave.  There are really just a few people who have had such a big impact on me, and have really changed my life. I know I can’t forget this area or these people.

I knew that I would be leaving Lankwitz at the end of the transfer, so I had told this to J*** awhile before. We were sitting on the bus and he looked so sad but he responded, “ I knew you would have to leave someday.” Then, when I called him Saturday morning to tell him I would be transferred early it really hit me that it was time to say goodbye. It’s really stuck with me, hearing him say, “ Sister Shelley, you changed my life.” I am grateful to have known him and that I could teach him and share with him the things I know. Seriously, I have seen such a change come into his life. He expressed to us one time that before he met us and began learning about our message his life and future were unsure. But it seems that he has really found direction in life- and definitely an abundance of light and love. He’s applying for post doctorate work now that he just finished his Ph.D.  and he’s looking for work in Utah! When I left he was excited that he found an opening at the University of Utah. Crazy to think that so much can change in one’s life just because of one knock on a door. I have so much respect for J*** and his strength to open his mind and heart to new things. He knows I love art, and as a farewell gift he gave me a small piece of Chinese art. It has 8 horses on it- symbolizing success in a new beginning. I’m looking at it right now as I write this- it’s got a place on my desk J

I have come to find that one way that I show love and appreciation to others is through gift giving. I know I have very few personal items that have special significance to me, but the ones I have I cherish. I have also found that the best gifts turn into the ones that are the most painful to give. Painful because it involves sacrifice – when you give up something so special that parting with it is just hard. I ended up giving J** my little angel from Hamburg. The one that my friend J** gave me and Sister Darrington. There is so much connected to that little metal angel. Hamburg. Jan. Sister Darringon. Michaelis Kirche. Sunsets and sunrises. The harbor. People. Buildings. Above everything though, it reminds me of all the times I really felt like there were angels round about me, comforting me and helping me along.

I know I get attached to people and places. One thing I fear is forgetting, or being forgotten. As I was sitting in the church on Sunday though, my last Sunday, I really saw and felt that I will never forget Lankwitz. Everything I have experienced here has become a part of me. And I also saw that I will be missed. I saw that I have really reached people with MY testimony and just with my example and love.

I was so grateful that it was fast and testimony meeting for my last Sunday. That’s what I wanted to leave with- hearing the testimonies of the people that I love. These members are amazing!! They are so strong and they have strengthened me so much!! I got up to bear my testimony and I just had to smile. I am so happy I could get to know so many of these people. I shared my testimony. I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. My testimony was simple but I felt everything I said in my heart. A testimony might be simple, but if it is said with experience and knowledge suddenly the words have more connotated meanings. I was brought to tears which doesn’t really happen very often. I want these members to remember me for my testimony – that I really KNOW. I have found out for myself.
Because we had some people visiting at church, I ended up on a row separate from my companions. Bruder  K*** saw my isolation and invite me to sit next to him and one of the young men. Bruder K*** is someone I have spoken seldom with at church, but I feel I know him very well. He really had a big impact on me here in Lankwitz- And I know I have reached him with my testimony. I guess I remind him of one of the sisters who converted him to the gospel years before. Really, he just saw me as the missionary I want to be and I try to be.  He saw my testimony and my conviction. He saw my dedication and love for the people and for God. He made a comment about how there weren’t that many sisters who carry around a backpack full of Books of Mormon in so many different languages. …I don’t even know how he knows that. Before leaving I gave him my PRO ring. PRAY, READ  , and OBEY  every day. My middle finger on my left hand is feeling pretty bare. I’ve worn that ring there since I was sixteen!! But I am so grateful that I could meet Bruder K*** and so many others who strengthened me so much with their own testimonies and dedication to the gospel.
So I am hoping it is auf wiedersehen and not just Tschuss. I am going to miss teaching with M***. ( **He was their translator when teaching  the Serbian people and many others) I don’t even think he knows how much I look up to him. He has sacrificed so much for the church, and really just for following and doing what he knows is right. I am going to miss teaching the Serbian multitudes and hearing his conversion story. Keep up the missionary work my friend! Had he been there on my last Sunday I would have left him with some kind of gift as well, but unfortunately I never even got to say a real goodbye because he was out of town.
I could go on and write about each member I the ward, even each one of the people we met with from time to time or regularly, but I don’t have the time. But really, there are so many people who have come into my life and they have all helped me to see the world a little better, even come to know myself better. Goodbye Lankwitz, until  I come back and visit! J
Now that I am in Cottbus. Everything  has shifted again, but I feel so good about being here. In a way it is almost like starting my mission over again…only I know more of who I am and what I want . I understand the missionary purpose better. Invite people unto Christ. I just love the joy that Sister Nilson and I find in the work together. The little things matter. There are always things to laugh about. Always reasons to smile. It is incredible coming back together after so many months and seeing how we have both grown and changed as we have continued I our missionary work. I love her so much. Haha..we even have a bunk bed- ( I got the top bunk..:) ) and every night before  we go to  bed we always end up talking for a while and then saying goodnight…”Guten Nacht! Ich liebe dich!” Meine Gute, I have missed that!
Anyway. It is getting late here, so I should probably get into bed. Not to  mention that the bugs are starting to invade our apartment because I have a light on and the window is open…EEK!!

Well, I love you all!
Love, Sister Heidi Elaine  Shelley

                                     Sister Shelley and Sister Nilson..together again!!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Heidi was not feeling well enough to email today. But she did send several pictures. I have also included excerpts from  her weekly email she sent  to her mission president. 


Goodbye Lankwitz..

                                                               Hello Cottbus!!

Dresden for Zone Conference

Companions reunited!!! Heidi and Sister  Nilson..:D

Dresden! :D


Dear President,

This week was kind of hard, mostly because I was feeling so sick and some of our plans had to get changed. I just felt like I couldn't give it my all. But, we still did have incredible lessons with those we were able to meet with. Yesterday we met with S***, who was an earlier investigator. As we were meeting I felt the spirit so strongly, and I felt like S*** was responding to what he was feeling. He told us that he knew the Book of Mormon was true, and that he wanted to make changes in his life that would lead to more happiness and joy. We had planned well last week during weekly planning, and I felt like we just taught well to his needs. We really wanted to help him redevelop the desire to meet regularly with missionaries again. He said that he would, and he also recommitted himself to read every day in the Book of Mormon this week. I am so happy for him.

This week we had some really great talks with members about missionary work. One day at the church our appointment didn't show up, but there were a couple members there so we ended up talking with them. We talked about preach my gospel and commitments and how it is connected to repentance and why it is so important. One of the members had some concerns about inviting people to commit to things, but as we redirected him to the gospel of Jesus Christ, he really understood better. I think it is crazy how easy it is to get distracted from that sometime. But when we remember why we do everything, we are more effective and we have power in what we do. Also, every Sunday in relief society we share a missionary experience with everyone. One of the young women had shared an experience she had had with us, and we invited her to come up with us. It was great!!

We set such great goals last week in our companionship, but we are still working towards many of them this week. We had some setbacks this week, but we are really determined.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Zone Conference in Dresden June 2014

                                  Mission Tour Zone Conference in Dresden June 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


10 June, 2014

Dear family,

I LOVE COTTBUS.  Everything about this place just makes me happy.  It is so calm compared to Berlin, even Hamburg, and I like how peaceful it is just walking on the streets.  Ha ha Sister Nilson and I are back to singing!  The other morning we were singing for Companionship study and the window was wide open.  A woman in the apartment building across from ours ended up opening up her window and coming outside to hear us.  Even just walking down the street one of us will always break out into song and the other will just join in! Yesterday for study we sat on the windowsill and sang some songs from the hymn book.  Our little gift to the world!  Good morning! ;) 

I have had such a warm welcome here by the members of the ward and also from those who are investigating the church. We teach a music class during the week and also attend ward choir practice afterwards, and it is so wonderful.  I love music!!

Okay, so now I just have to say that being together with Sister Nilson is so wonderful.  I love her so much, and since I came here I have found so much happiness in the work, even in life itself!!  I think the reason why we work so well together is that we both have such love for other people and we have such enthusiasm for the work. I have been here for a week now and I feel like everything has recentered on Jesus Christ.  We are always talking about the people here, our love for them, and how we can help them.  And we so often end up sharing spiritual experiences and insights with each other.  Compared to how things were in Berlin the last transfer, I cant tell you how good it feels to just go out and work.  Sister Nilson and I have both noticed a difference personally as well as in our companionship, that we really feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives.  It is crazy how easy we just jumped back into things after so many months of being apart, but I know it is because we really have the same purpose.  We both trust and love each other, which makes teaching effective and powerful.  Love has to be the motive and the Spirit has to be present. 

One of the first people I met when I came here was G***.  He is from Camaroon and is only sixteen years old.  Wow, have I gotten to know him well in just a week!! He lost his parents when he was really young and his family, so he has been on his own for a long time now.  One of his stories is that he was in a desperate situation and needed to escape, so he determined that his only option was to swim from the tip of Africa to Spain.  So, he entrusted God with his life, prayed, and just jumped in and started swimming.  Well, he made it and he claims that God sent the fishes to help him.  So there is G*** for you.  He really has the strongest faith, and he has a good heart.  It is through him that we have met many other peolple.  Whenever his other friends express their doubts about God or Jesus Christ G*** just laughs because he cant believe people can think that way when God has given them so much.

I wish I could really tell you all that has happened this past transfer, but it has just been really crazy . . .  The morning that I got the call that I would be coming here to Cottbus, I had a really special experience.  I prayed so hard that morning (before the call), and I committed myself to go and do whatever God wanted me to do.  I wouldn't fight against the Spirit, but I would follow.  I would continue trying to overcome my weaknesses, and I prayed for forgiveness for my wrongdoings.  I felt such peace come over me.  I felt in my heart that I would be leaving Lankwitz, and it wasnt even an hour later that I received the call.  And I know that this call to come here to Cottbus was really inspired, because since I have come here I have been a part of so many miracles and I know that I am where I am supposed to be. 

The minute I got here and poked my head out from the train door, I almost started crying.  I saw Sister Nilson running toward me with the biggest smile on her face. She is just one of my greatest friends and we have gotten even closer over the past week.  We have felt the Spirit so strongly in our lessons and we have both been getting so emotional in our lessons, even just talking to one another.  Our investigators can feel it too, because they have made comments about how strongly they have felt the spirit while meeting with us.  It is so real.  It also just means the world to me that we can talk about people that we have met here on our missions and experiences we have had and just relate so well.  We just get talking and sometimes one or both of us just ends up with tears in our eyes.  I am just so happy here.  So so so so so happy. 

Even in our planning, we have received such clear inspiration on what the people need here and how we can help them.  This is especially crazy for me, because I just barely got here and I dont even know them!  But we always receive the same impressions, even down to specific things, and we are always in agreement with everything.  We dont know what will happen the remaining 10 weeks before she goes home, but we are hoping we can spend them together.  We set goals for the area extending into the next two transfers, and I am just so excited to work hard here. 

On top of that the elders in our ward are so fun and great.  Elder Williams is a convert of two years and is incredible.  Elder Conley just lost his Dad a couple months ago, but is back here on his mission. 

And Sister Nilson and I are enjoying making tofu dishes, doing SPORT, and experiementing with green smoothis . . . :P


Have a good week!


Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley.