Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1st Week in Germany!!! :) :) ( LANGENHORN [ HAMBURG ] )

News from Germany!!!!! :) :)

 Heidi is doing great!!! ... and doesn't seem to have skipped a beat adjusting to her new life in Langenhorn, Germany. ( I think her experience of living in France for 5 weeks with the  Rivet family prepared her well). What an amazing first 5 days she has had...

 HALLO meine Familie! Wie gehts?  Ich hoffe alles gute :)  Deutschland ist so Toll!!!!  Meine neue Mitarbeiterin ist auch sehr kühl.

So first, leaving the MTC was really hard.  Before leaving,  Brother  Alston shared this scripture with me:  D&C 78:18.  "And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours."  This scripture comforted me so much in the moment before leaving.  I must have cried three times the day before leaving.  But I know that my challenges haven't even begun yet.  I am going to rely on the Lord more and more as time goes by.  But I am extremely grateful for the friendship and example that Bruder Alston set for me during my time in the MTC.  Leaving friends was also really hard. The people in the MTC really became like my family.  Especially saying goodbye to Elders Smith, Spencer, and Barber.  When we parted ways in Amsterdam at the airport all I could do was pout like a puppy when they walked away. Going to miss them so much! :(  I know they will go on to do amazing things.

When we arrived to Germany it was the 24th and about 11 in the morning.  It was super super hot and super super humid.  I had the most luggage out of anyone and I pretty much ruined the ligaments and tendons and everything keeping my arms together.  I'm pretty sure I saw President Kosak and the Assistants to the President roll their eyes and laugh when they first saw me . . . But . . . Alles Klar!!  Haha, President Kosak is awesome and I am so grateful to be one of his missionaries!!!  One of the things we were able to do on our way to the Kirche (church) in Berlin was take a minute on the bus and just think.  The AP's (assistants to the president) encouraged us to look out the window and think about the people we saw.  How could we help them?  How could the gospel of Jesus Christ change and bring a new happiness to their lives?  I fell asleep on the bus ride thinking of the German people and how I personally could help them.

One great experience we did on our first day was going out on the street and talking to people:  street contacting.  I went out with Sister Bohne (a sister training leader).  It was so scary at first but such an adrenaline rush!  I had to take the lead and go up to people and begin talking to them.  You should have seen how funny some of these people looked at me hahahaha.  Sister Bohne was there though so I didn't worry.  She goes home next transfer so she was a good person to stick with.  It really hit me like a brick wall that the majority of the people here don't want to hear what we have to say.  They are like brick walls themselves.  But then there are a few people who just soaked up everything we had to say, who listened respectfully to what we had to say.  I really believe the Lord is preparing people who are ready for the message of the restored gospel.  I just have to find them.  

While street contacting Sister Bohne and I came across a man sitting on a bench with a bottle in his hand.  I won't go into too much detail but we ended up talking with him for the next 20+ minutes about the gospel.  He was very well versed in the Bible and he had strong religious beliefs.  At one point of sitting there he just stopped talking to Sister Bohne and turned to me.  He started talking to me personally and I didn't know what he was saying.  Sister Bohne explained that I was a neue Missionarin and that I was still learning Deutsch.  But the man insisted that he speak to me.  So he went on to ask her how to say certain things in English.  "Wie sagt mann, Glaube auf English . . ." and so on.  I understood that glaube meant faith so I told the man I understood quite a bit of Deutsch so that he could try to explain to me further in his native language. But again I had difficulties understanding him so Sister Bohne had to translate a word here and there.  This man was looking at me in such a strange way and speaking with such intensity.  He told me that he knew I was called of God.  He said that the prophet who called me to be a missionary must have the power of God.  (we had talked a little bit about this in our earlier conversation).  He said that he could feel something coming from me as I was sitting next to him and that he felt the Spirit being in my presence.  He held up his arm with this incredulous look on his face and showed me that he had goose bumps.  "You still have much to learn.  But I know that you know God.  I know that he sent you here and that you have His authority to preach.  You have power."  Wow.  so that was my first experience street contacting.  It made me really think how important power and authority really is.  We are here as God's representatives to preach his gospel.  We are here to love and serve other people.  Without this authority and without the Spirit, we are nothing.  We are just people on a pointless mission.  But our mission is not pointless.  We are helping with the work of salvation.

I got my trainer/ companion the next day.  Her name is Sister Nilson and she is from Alpine Utah.  She is absolutely wonderful.   Honestly, we have gotten to know each other so well and we help each other in so many ways.  My favorite thing about her is that she is always so happy.  Whenever we teach lessons, she teaches and bears her testimony with a smile on her face.  When we meet people on the street or at church she always greets them with so much love.  I have been trying to smile more myself when I teach.  It is true that so much of my happiness in life comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have to show that.  I have to show that.  She has only been here for two transfers, so for 12 weeks.  Before coming here I thought it would be so different.  I thought my trainer would be fluent in German and that she would know everything about everything. But no, that's not how it is.  she is still learning just like me.  We NEED each other.  We NEED the Lord.  We really can't do this work alone.  I thought German was the most important thing, but it's not.  The Spirit is the most important thing.  That's the only language that we can truly speak with one another.  That's the one universal language that everyone can understand.  Everyone can feel of the spirit.  

In teaching our lessons this week we have truly experienced MIRACLES.  Every time we teach we teach in German.  We prepare ourselves and we pray that those we will teach will be prepared as well.  When we teach all we can do is give our best.  But I'm learning that our best is good enough.  Despite the obvious language barrier, there are no barriers when we teach in a way that invites the Spirit. It is not us that converts people, but the Spirit.  As we were teaching our investigators this week it was incredible for me to sit there, not knowing exactly what was being said, but at the same time, knowing exactly when to speak and what to say.  If that is not a miracle I don't know what is.  I started learning German less than 7 weeks ago . . .  This doesn't happen without divine intervention.  Our lessons are actually pretty balanced between me and Sister Nilson.  We are able to switch off between each other, and ask questions too.  I am so extremely grateful for my teachers in the MTC who worked me and taught me how to ask good questions that can help us find the needs of our investigators.  I have learned the importance of asking inspired questions.  Questions that come to mind as I strive to be in tune with the Spirit.  when I don't worry about what I'm going to say, or what my companion is going to say, I always just know what to do.  During a lesson with Mar's and M (Mar is a non-member dating M who is less active), I had a thought come to me while Sister Nilson was speaking.  I needed to pray for her.  I prayed for her in that moment and every other time she would speak in the lesson.  There were several times when she would speak and it was like I already knew what she was going to say.  This is the most humbling and miraculous thing I have ever experienced.  God is working through us.  We are His servants here on earth.  
We have one investigator named X.   He is from Iran and he is still learning German himself.  but miraculously we can work with him just fine.  How is that even possible?  I DON'T KNOW!  This man is truly amazing though.  He was born Muslim but wants so badly to become a Christian.  I have never spoken with someone like him before.  He is so sincere and he wants to come unto Christ with all his heart.  He told my companion before I got here that he had had a dream and in it God told him that he needed to quit his job and that he needed to make time so that he could meet with us.  And that is what he has been doing.  It's actually really scary though because we have to be really careful teaching the Muslim people.  We have to ask all Muslim people before we begin teaching them because if they even learn about Christianity or become baptized into any Christian church they can be killed.  How is that?  I don't even understand but it just makes me feel sick.  We have to be really careful that those we teach do not put them or their families in danger with our lessons.  When we talked with this Brother about this he said something that just really touched me.  He said, "I believe in God in my heart.  Ich kenne Christus."  I know Christ.  He went on to say that he didn't care about those who could potentially hurt or endanger him.  He explained that if they ask him questions he can just say that he is a Muslim still and all will be okay.  He explained that the most important thing is what is in his heart, and that Christus understands.  This man is incredible.  He has such a strong desire to be baptized.  Unfortunately, he told us that he will be returning to Iran in a month, so I don't think we'll be able to continue teaching him.  It would be really dangerous for him.  We just baptized one of his good friends (also Muslim) and his father last week and he wants the same thing so badly.  I hope all will be okay with him.  

I must finish the rest of my experiences in a letter though because my time is up on the computer.  I love you all and I hope you have a great day and week.  I am in Langenhorn Germany.  (In the Hambourg area).  Mom, if you want to it would be great if you could do some web searching and see if there are any cool things we could do around here on P.Days.  We have P day every Monday. We have access to the trains and buses all around here so we can get around.  I will most likely be here for several months.  Most people stay for 3-8 months when they are in this area.  So look forward to hearing more great stories!  

Bisous bisous, Ich liebe euch!


Sister Shelley

 Pictures from bus ride to the Salt Lake City airport.  Going to miss Sister Rasmussen  (MTC companion) so much.  She is awesome!!

Heidi and Sister Nilson, her first companion in Germany.

 GERMANY!...:)  :) This is what we call the Bahn (It's like the train station).  We pretty much take public transportation everywhere.  *** Heidi was concerned about getting lost in Germany,  hence the concerned look on her face as she is at the train station. 

Abendessen!!! Dinnertime!!

 This was our lovely dinner sitting on our washing machine that is in the köche.  Our kitchen is kinda tiny but so wonderful!

Me and die familie W.  We had an Essen Termin there yesterday after Kirche (dinner appointment after church)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Arrived in Germany!!! :)

Pictures and Email from Sister Shelley's Mission President

Safely Arrived in Berlin,Germany - July 24, 2013 

              Sister Heidi Shelley with her companion, Sister Nilson, and President and sister Kosak

                                                 Email from President Kosak                                        

                                                                                                                               July 24, 2013
Dear Brother and Sister Shelley,

We are pleased to announce that your daughter, Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley, is safely with us in the Germany Berlin Mission. We have had the opportunity to get to know her, and she is ready and excited to be here. Sister Kosak and I look forward to working with her and will do all that we can to help her serve a happy and successful mission. Sister Shelley’s first companion will be Sister Nilson, and they will work together in Langenhorn for the next several weeks. This is her 
We have all discussed the mission goals and agreed that we will start right, work hard, and finish strong in order to fulfill our purpose to invite others to come unto Christ. 
We, along with your daughter, appreciate the support which you give through your weekly letters and daily prayers in her behalf. Thank you for raising your daughter so that she can be part of this amazing work.
For a glimpse inside the mission, including occasional pictures of your missionary, you can check the blog we maintain at  I’ve included a picture of Sister Shelley, her companion, Sister Nilson, Sister Kosak, and me.
May the Lord bless you in all that you do.
                      Henry W. Kosak, President                      
Germany Berlin Mission

Friday, July 19, 2013

WEEK 5 at the MTC- "I love who and what the gospel helps us become."

Letters  dated July 17, 2013...

Mamanette!!!! :) 
...Goodness..Can you believe I'm headed to Germany in LESS THAN A WEEK!!!!???!!! I'm so excited!!!! Thank you for your mail this week. I LOVE your letters!...And thanks thanks thanks a million for your sweet package!! The ginger snaps were so tasty! Thanks for the other goodies as well ( the tea and Crystal Light! )
When Elder Spencer saw me with more Crystal Light his eyes got huge and he said, " Oh, no! That stuff makes you crazy!!" Haha, he remembers my episode the other day when I had a laughing attack (while drinking Crystal Light in class) ...Buahahaha, ...
I hope your week is AMAZING!!!! I miss you sooooo much. I can't wait to call you from the airport!! 
I love you! Love, Heidi

Hallo meine familie! :)
I hope all is going well there in B-town! What adventures have you been up to this week? This week has been rather uneventful for me actually. The best experiences for me were with teaching in TRC and my "investigators."I've also done a lot of reflecting this week about my MTC experiences as a whole. It seems strange that  I've been here for So long but at the same time I feel like I've been here even longer. These past five weeks have been truly remarkable though and  I am grateful for all the wonderful opportunities I have had . Am I ready to be a missionary for the German people? I guess I'll find out in about a week. Part of me wishes I could stay here , learn a little bit more, and perfect my Deutsch a little bit more , but deep down I really feel I am ready. I have used my time wisely here, worked hard, and learned a lot. I really don't think I could have given more.
So I told you last week how I was struggling to teach from my heart. I had such amazing experiences teaching my teachers but for some reason I still couldn't teach my investigators in the same way. What was so different? They were the same people in both situations ( My teachers  are my investigators) but I was having such a hard time. I told you last week how Bruder Alston directed me to the scriptures to find an answer to my question. The scriptures really do hold all the answers to our questions. They are like our very own Liahona. When we have faith and we are actively seeking for direction they will offer us the help we need. I have learned of the revelation we receive as we read the Word of God. I have found it so helpful to have questions as I study( like the  one I mentioned above). I have got quite the collection of questions ( on sticky notes) in the front of my scriptures. When I read with a question I find myself so much more focused. I don't just read but I think about, I ponder, and I apply what I read to my life. I look for answers. Every time I read and study in this way I always learn something. I always have a question  answered in some way.. Very rarely will I come across a scripture that  explicitly states in a perfectly worded response , an answer to my question. Rather the answers  usually come from the above method- thinking, pondering, applying.. Sometimes I do find verses that jump out of the page at me- showing me something I've never seen before. I'm learning that revelation does not only come from the words we read but it can come in other ways while reading. Our minds can go to other thoughts while we read. Thoughts that may just be inspired . That's actually how my question about teaching from the heart came. I just had some thoughts come to me while studying with that question in mind.
On Friday Sister Rasmussen and I went to the TRC. We were to teach one 40-45 minute lesson and we were supposed to help our volunteers understand how they can receive revelation while reading the Book of Mormon. ( Perfect topic, right?) The thing that is often hard in the TRC is finding out what people's need are. These are all usually faithful church goers who read and study their scriptures daily, and volunteer because it gives them a chance to strengthen their testimony further and help us missionaries strengthen ours. In reality, no matter who we are , or how grounded in the gospel we are, we can always come closer to Christ in our lives. We all have needs. In this particular appointment we had two men at the same time. They are both from Germany- one a convert, one a life long member. But it was the neatest experience as Sister Rasmussen and I took turns listening and answering questions. Throughout the entire lesson Sister Rasmussen and I were on the exact same page! Every time she spoke it was like she took the words right out of my mouth. It was so incredible that we were able to have such great testimonies that supported each other. There was such a good feeling in the room. For the first time we were able to find out what their needs were (even though on the surface they would have been invisible) . We were able to teach and bear testimony. We asked them to make commitments that we felt would help, them become closer to Christ and increase their faith. Almost ironically the commitment we  felt inspired to give then was to read and study the scriptures with questions in mind. This was such a  neat experience! 
I also want everyone in our family to do the same. Read with questions in mind. We don't have to ask questions only when life is rough or when we're having challenges. We should always be seeking spiritual knowledge and counsel. When we do this we will always be progressing,  and strengthening our faith.  
So it's a little later now (about 9:50 at night) and I just got home from the classroom a little bit ago. Today has been such a good day! P-days are always so busy but it's nice having a break from the normal schedule. Today Sister Rasmussen and I spent most of our P-day with Elder Smith and Elder Spencer- doing laundry, writing letters, emailing, etc. I know I say this often but they really are like my brothers. Leaving them is going to be so hard. I think that my district is one of the closest in my branch. We do everything together! It's nice that there is so much trust and respect between us. We can have so much fun together . It is nice that while we are really close with each other we maintain Elder-Sister relationships.It's been really amazing getting to know the people in my district and branch so well. . I wanted to share a experience with you all that happened tonight. One companionship of elders has had a lot of problems during our time in the  MTC and in the past few days it has  become a lot worse. The problem is that one of the elders is really shy, a little naïve, always striving to be obedient, but overall a really good guy. The other elder comes from a completely different background. He is constantly breaking rules, but at the same time he is the first of seven brothers to serve a mission which is impressive. Deep down they are both so good but on the surface the latter doesn't always appear so.. Elder Y ( the first elder I mentioned) has gone through so much during his time here at the MTC as he has struggled with  his companion. The only reason I  know so much is because I hear it from the elders in my district. Anyways,  tonight Elder Y was in our classroom studying since his companion was off doing who-knows-what.. And Elder Y looked so sad. He looked like he had been crying or something. I kept trying to talk to him to make him feel better but I really wasn't having any success. He was just sitting there trying to read his scriptures. He made a comment under his breath that I barely heard, "Sometimes enduring to the end seems impossible." In the next few minutes I saw a small sheet of paper fall onto my desk from Elder Smith. I was a little confused but when I picked it up I finally understood. He had written a sentence at the top : "scriptures that can help you get through ANYTHING." Underneath this heading he had written three of his own scriptures. I was so touche by the thoughtfulness of Elder Smith- seeking to reach out to Elder Young. I added three of my own favorite scriptures: John 14:27, Helaman 5:12, D&C 121. I wasn't quite sure what Elder Smith's original thoughts were but when I looked up at him we both understood each other. I passed the paper on and in just a moment there were several scriptures  written  down- scriptures that have given us peace, comfort, strength, and hope in our own lives. I watched throughout the evening  as Elder Smith and Elder Spencer quietly watched over Elder Y and made sure he was okay. They invited him to stay with them in their companionship. I am just so touched and impressed by the examples of these elders. You've seen pictures of Elder Smith and Elder Spencer ! Just looking at them I would never see this side of them. In fact it has taken six weeks to see them in all their glory.But deep down I see sensitive young men looking out for each other and seeking to be Christlike in their actions. Elder Smith just graduated from high school in June! Elder Spencer has only been graduated a year like me! I find it so incredible what we are capable of  as human beings. We are capable of inflicting pain,feeling sorrow, experiencing joy, and loving one another. I love watching the love of Christ work within people. Just like in Moroni 7- we need to have charity for our fellow men. I love who and what the gospel helps us become. I love how powerful an example is and how much an act of love can mean in the life of another. 
We are all children of God- we are all brothers and sisters. What do we do with  this knowledge? Do we show love for those around us- our neighbors,co-workers, students, teachers? Our own family members? 
Our actions matter.Our actions affect others. By reaching out to serve others out of love you experience something different within you. It's such a good feeling, and every time I look beyond myself in this way it just makes me want to cry out- because  it makes me so happy and so full of light. 
After returning to resident tonight  Sister Rasmussen was very frustrated with the behavior of Elder Y's companion. She looked at me and said. " I know that Elder                      and Elder Y can work through this. All of their differences don't matter. If only Elder                    would do what you do; what you did on day one with me.'Always give your companion the bigger slice'. If you can love your companion and serve him or her , nothing else even matters."
As Sister Rasmussen said this I couldn't help but think about how much that mindset has helped our own relationship/friendship/companionship.Her words touched me. It mad me feel so happy knowing that she had felt my love for her and known that I was serving her sincerely in my actions. I was surprised she brought that line up , about giving  your companion the bigger slice. I shared that with  her  a couple weeks after we arrived  at the MTC.. Once again this proved to me the importance of our actions and examples. This principle doesn't have to be for missionaries though. You can change the words to anybody you want."Always give                     the bigger slice!" Will you guys in our family think about this statement an apply it to you relationships? When we look past ourselves and look towards others we will truly notice a difference in our lives.
So just a recap of things I've mentioned in my letter that I think you would all benefit from:

1) Read and study the scriptures with question(s) in mind
2) Read Moroni 7 that talks about having love  and charity for others
3) Apply this statement to your relationships- "Always give                   the bigger slice."
I love you all and I hope you are doing well! I'll be in Deutschland a week from today! Please, Please,Please,bitte,bitte, bitte remember me in your prayers. I 'm praying for you all every night. Be happy and love each other. Love God and show it by the way you act every day. Would you guys all mind sharing your favorite scriptures with me in  your next letters? :) I would love it if you wold also include why it is your favorite.
 I must be getting to be now, so guten nacht! I hope to hear from you all  soon. Have a great week! :) 
Ich liebe euch!
Liebe Grupe,
Ihre Trochter,schwester, and freunde:)
Sister Heidi Shelley

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WEEK 5 at the MTC..Flight plans and Pictures!!! :D A letter coming soon!! :)

Heidi was super busy today as it was her last P.Day before leaving for Germany , so she didn't have time to write much of an email....

"I am  doing great and SUPER excited to leave for Germany next week .I have my flight plans!!!  I fly  to Amsterdam  at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday morning and will arrive  in Amsterdam around 8:00 a.m Wednesday. I then fly  to home away from home for the next 17 months!!! 
( Heidi is on the same flight as one of her best friends , Elder Nate Blackhurst,  who is serving in the Netherlands mission. So fun they are flying to their missions together!!! ) 

 Sorry I'm going to have to hand write my experiences from the week since I'm out of time.  But I hope everything is good at home!!! :D " 
She did send us a few pictures which keeps us happy until we receive a letter!!! :D

Pretty much the highlight of my week was being reunited with my dearest Megan!!! Sister Matheson is headed to the Rio De Jeniero Brazil mission.  I have missed her sooooo much since we were at school together at BYU. She was the BEST roommate I could have hoped for.  Whoever her companion is will be lucky.  And the people of Brazil are lucky because she has the biggest heart out of everyone I know.   I pretty much searched the MTC far and wide until I found her the first day . . . :) 

  Elder Marler and me.   He  was Kalin's roommate at school.  He's headed to Brazil on his mission.  Gotta love AWKWARD Elder-Sister photos.  Related quote from brother Alston this week:  "Learn to embrace the awkwardness that comes with being a missionary."

 I love watching all the missionaries head over to the Marriott center for devotionals..  Army of Helaman right there!!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

WEEK 4 at the MTC: A Week of Learning, Growing and Discovering

We received an email and letter this week! :) What an amazing week... full of growth and learning.

                                                                                                                                July 10, 2013

Hello all!!!

Once again this week has been full of ups and downs, but in every situation I learned something new. Have I really been here for four weeks?!  That's one month of my mission already gone.  Crazy.  Crazy.  Crazy. 
The fourth of July was a fun day here at the MTC.  We went to a devotional that evening and were surprised when they told us we would be watching 17 Miracles.  Before the movie we sang lots of songs together and it was so neat having all the foreigners with us.  By far the FUNNIEST thing ever was watching Elder Barber suffer.  He is from England and he let everyone in the MTC know that today.  In the opening prayer of the devotional somebody said something about being grateful we could 'break away from England.'  Everybody in my row (which was all my district) started chuckling.  Poor Elder Barber.  In our classroom that morning he made several England flags out of notebook paper and adorned the classroom walls with them.  He went on singing this song:
"Oh I'm England till I die,
I'm England till I die,
I know I am,
I'm sure I am,
I'm England till I die!"
Haha, he sure is a character. 
Anyway, it was really neat to be able to sing patriotic songs here in the MTC.  The speaker at the meeting reminded us that without the independence of America and the freedom in our country the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ would not have taken place.  America was prepared for this magnificent historical event to happen.  Oh how grateful I am for all those who came before me, who suffered and made sacrifices that we might have the freedoms and opportunities that we do today. 
The movie 17 Miracles was so incredible.  It was a really nice break from the regular routine.  It was a good reminder of the sacrifices our own church ancestors made, to help establish Zion.  There were many tears shed during the movie and there was such a neat feeling in the room.  After the movie was over the MTC surprised us with ice cream and the opportunity to watch the Stadium of Fire Fireworks.  Haha it felt good to be outside eating ice cream and laughing with my district. I liked the sense of normalcy.
This week I learned a lot more about my district.  I discovered more of my weaknesses.  I was reminded time and time again that I can't do this alone.  I need to trust in the Lord.  I need to have the Spirit with me.  One day this week was especially hard for my district.  Honestly Sister Rasmussen and I felt great, but the Elders were really struggling.  Elder Barber was homesick and really being worn down by the rigorous schedule.  And their companionship in general had a lot of tension in it.  During that day Elder Barber and Elder Smith both just lost it at different points and began crying.  You know the MTC is hard when the Elders are crying.  Brother Davis was teaching during that hour and he could see the challenges that our district was facing.  He had a talk with the elders after they taught him and then he came in to talk to us all as a group.  I don't know what I would do without my teachers here. They do so much for us.  They are inspired every time they speak, and when they speak they always do so out of love. 
 Brother Davis began talking about his own personal experience, about a good friend of his that had recently made the decision to serve.  It took him longer to get on his mission due to some earlier choices he made in life, but he eventually made it.  He's now been out a few months, and he was having a really hard time.  Brother Davis pulled up the exact email he had sent to his friend and shared a story with us that he had sent to his friend :

"When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing
Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out"Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star."At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear,"Don't quit.""Keep playing." Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child, and he added a running obbligato.  Together, the old master and the young novice transformed what could have been a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was  so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great master played. Only the classic, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."Perhaps that's the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy.We try our best, but the results aren't always graceful flowing music.  However, with the hand of the Master, our life's work can truly be beautiful.
The next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully.  You may hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear,  
"Don't quit." "Keep playing." May you feel His arms around you and know that His hands are there, helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.
Remember, God doesn't  seem to call the equipped, rather, He equips  the 'called.'

In that moment I had one sentence play over an over in my mind:  "Don't quit.  Keep playing."  Once again something changed within me.  Every day here is full of discovery and crucial decisions.  This was mine.  No matter how hard it gets, I can't give up.  God is the master pianist and He is playing by my side.  His arms are around me.  He believes in me and he knows that I have an important part to play.  While he could play all by himself, he wants me to help.  He wants me to be a part of this great work.  I have to do the best I can do and he will do the rest.  Bruder Davis helped us realize that we are all simple people.  God knows that.  But God has promised that He will help us.  He wouldn't call us to help in His work and then leave us on the stage humiliating ourselves because we were weak and incapable on our own.  NO.  God is there and He cares.  We have to trust Him and He will lead us along.   
A day later I was really struggling myself.  I felt so inadequate and incapable of the tasks I am expected to accomplish.  I was frustrated that I could not speak what I wanted to in German.  In my journal I wrote, "There is just so much I want to say but I feel like I am constantly being held back--funneling my words down a small opening in German."  I have such a strong testimony and I'm dying to share it, so why can't I?  This is where my thoughts were.  Once again as I went to class that day I felt as if Brother Davis was being inspired to speak words especially for me.  In my journal I wrote, "Brother Davis talked to us today about who we are as people and our potential to become.  The reality is, man is weak.  But we all have the potential of becoming something great.  We can all turn our weaknesses into strengths.  And while we will never become perfect in this life, we can try more for perfection every day.  Every day trying will be a day worth remembering and a day building up an ever increasing happiness.  I truly believe that living this way, always seeking for a relationship with Christ and always striving to be obedient to the commandments, brings me joy.  I derive so much of my happiness in life from the gospel.  Brother Davis helped me realize that it is OK.  He helped me to remember how important it is that I be myself.  He quoted Carl Maeser when he said, 'Be your best self.'  God really does want me to perform His work.  He knows me.  He loves me.  He will help me.  Bruder Davis showed us a picture that was taken two years ago: a photo of him the day he went into the MTC, holding his brand new baby nephew.  He described to us the feelings he had as he held that beautiful infant in his arms.  He loved that baby so much.  The baby had just entered into this life and he had so much to learn and experience.  But he couldn't help but think about all the baby would become.  He new the baby had potential.  Even in the two years when he was serving his mission, he knew his nephew would grow and develop at a tremendous rate.  He looked at his nephew and he saw the work of God.  Do I look around me and see the work of God in my life?  Do I see His work in my very being?  He created this earth and all us who inhabit this earth.  His majesty and power is exhibited everywhere.  All we have to do is open our eyes and LOOK!  Brother Davis spoke of us as missionaries.  We have potential.  Am I really destined to be something great?  Brother Davis helped me to realize that.  I am so grateful and blessed to have him as a teacher.  Every day he touches my life in a new way.  All of us influence each other in so many ways."   Directly after this experience I felt SO good about myself.  I felt so confident.  But then we went and taught our lesson (Sister Rasmussen and I), and it was a complete failure.  For the first time I had a hard time laughing about my mistakes.  I was scared. 
After coming back from lunch Brother Alston (then teaching) could tell something was up.  The elders had to leave a little bit into class and finally I opened up to him and told him about my feelings earlier that day, then the great experience we had in class with Brother Davis, and then how our lesson was our worst yet.  I felt so stupid.  As I was talking to him I finally said, "This is SO hard."  And right then and there I started to cry.  I was so embarrassed but Brother Alston didn't even care.  Just the fact that he was sitting there before me, listening, meant the world to me.  I remember few of his words but just his character and testimony was enough to show me that he cared.  He is such an example of a Christlike person--a person who has charity.  There was one thing he said really stuck out to me.  "God didn't call you on a mission to fail."  Brother Alston talked to us about our lesson we taught earlier.  What had been good?  what had been bad?  Was konnen Sie besser machen?  As I described to him my frustration of being unable to express my testimony and words in German he said, 'What function does the German play?'  He helped me realize that the German is not one of my important tools as a missionary.  The Spirit is my tool.  He helped me realize that I need to teach from my HEART.  I can't let the German dictate my testimony and the thoughts of my heart.  I need to let my testimony and the thoughts of my heart dictate my German.  He directed me to the scriptures and said that he knew that we could find the answers to all our questions there.  My question:  How can I teach from my heart?  He challenged me to read and study the next morning with this question in mind.  Bruder Alston is incredible.  He is always helping me find and discover.  Helping me to remember what I should be able to remember on my own.         
Normally in class we have the opportunity to do some role playing, but this week we did things a little different.  Rather than taking turns in companionships and practicing on our teacher, Bruder Alston had us teach him as a district.  So Brother Alston left and we found our spots on our knees, praying for the Spirit to be with us that we could teach him the things that would help him come closer to Christ.  We were allowed a few minutes to speak afterwards and plan and then we had to teach.  WOW.  This was seriously the coolest opportunity of my life.  Sorry I'm going to have to continue my stories in a letter home because my time is running out . . . sorry.  I love you all and I'll talk to you soon!!!
Also, this week was probably my favorite of my entire mission so far so just wait to hear the rest!!!! :D
Love you,
Heidi. (Sister Shelley)

                                                                                                                           July 10, 2013

(Letter we received a few days later.)

Here is a continuation from my email. I wanted to finish writing about my experiences teaching my teachers. First Bruder Alston - we taught him just after I had my little "talk" with him and had been crying. Here is what I wrote in my journal:  *** Words in brackets [  ] are Heidi's thoughts  she has inserted into her journal quote.

"[ Bruder Alston ] told us that rather than having us take turns in companionships and teach him, he would have us all prepare as a district and then teach him together. So he left the room, we knelt down and we started in prayer. We were teaching our teacher, Brother Alston, whom we have come to love dearly. After praying together I proposed that we all take a moment to ponder and think about what he needed to hear. I said my own prayer, humbly and sincerely from my heart, and then began to flip through my scriptures and my Preach My Gospel manual. It was so incredible how we experienced revelation on what we should focus on in the discussion. I really believe that we are all conduits for spiritual revelation as missionaries- all we have to do is open our mouths. The overwhelming feeling that came to us was that we needed to ask him some questions about missionary work. What influence has his own mission played in his life? Why did he choose to get a job at the MTC? How has missionary work affected his life? How do us missionaries affect him? What is the difference between having a testimony and being converted? Right now in his life could he say that he is truly converted? I truly and sincerely feel that we asked inspired questions. We spoke out of love and sincere interest. I know that for myself I wanted to give to him a small portion of what he has given to me. He spoke so openly to us. We were sitting in a circle of trust, a circle where we have all come to love each other. [This is how it has to be with our investigators!!] The spirit was so strong. I remember little about what was spoken there but I remember what I saw and felt. There were sweet and heartfelt testimonies born and tears shed. I really felt like when we spoke we were influenced by the spirit as to what we should say. For the first time I felt like we asked inspired questions and we listened . We listened to Bruder Alston and we listened to the spirit. We weren't delivering  a rote presentation. One of the most personally affected parts of the lesson for me was when Bruder Alston asked a simple question to us: "What do you do when you have had a bad day?" He looked right at me when he spoke these words and I wanted to say"Thank you! You know this is the question I need answered right now, but you are still asking it." [Remember how just prior to teaching him I had told him about the bad day I had been having] Bruder Alston is the happiest person I know and yet I think he was inspired to ask this in our discussion. [ I think this is what is so amazing about my experience here. Nobody is a teacher or a learner. We all play every role. We all help each other. We all try to act on our promptings. ] Bruder Alston knew I was having a bad day and he sincerely cared. So as we were teaching him, he asked a question that he knew would further teach me. Thank you. The comments shared and the testimonies given really helped me. And the whole time I was sitting there looking into the eyes of Brother Alston and my other district members and seeing that they were being helped too. I will not forget when Sister Rasmussen bore her testimony and I watched her eyes fill up with tears. She believes and she knows. I looked over a few times and saw Elder Smith with tears on his cheeks. Oh how I love my (MTC) family. :) We all spoke. We all contributed. The spirit was there. I had to say to Brother Alston how grateful I was for him and how much his example meant to me. I told him how much we love him and how big of an influence he has on us. I don't think we will ever know what large ( or small ) impact we have on those around us. It is truly incredible. I told him how important it is we stand as examples of the believers. [As in Timothy 4:12] We have a responsibility. After this experience we had a talk together. It's amazing how my spirits changed after this experience. How could I not feel happy after feeling the spirit so strongly and hearing such great testimonies from people I love. Bruder Alston compared this teaching experience to our experience teaching our investigators. Holy crow..the differences aren't even funny. This made me really THINK! Bruder Alston helped me remember that when we teach him and Bruder Davis as "investigators" we are still teaching them. There really isn't anything different except for the fact that they remove their ties and name tags when we teach. I still love them and I need to show that when I teach. I can't let the German dictate what I say. My heart needs to dictate my German. [ Keep in mind that in every one of these teaching experiences I speak of, it is 100% in German, including when we taught our teacher.]. Bruder Alston thanked us for the influence we have had on him. He said that even though we might be teaching him as an investigator he feels the spirit in our words so often. He said that we so often teach him things that he needs to hear [personally]and we bear testimonies that strengthen his own. I know I can be better at teaching. I don't want the spirit to be absent from my lessons even if they are just here at the MTC. I have a calling to "invite others to come unto  Christ by helping them. ( My purpose, Preach My Gospel) I need to do that with Bruder Alston and Bruder Davis. It really is astounding how much I can learn and grow each day. It is astounding to learn that as a missionary I have the power to astound."

Isn't that such a neat experience? I had a very similar experience the day following when my district taught Bruder Davis. It was the same process and once again we receive specific revelation on what he needed to hear. I'm really starting to see the miracles. I'm beginning to see the difference it make being "set apart" as a missionary. I don't have enough time to write about that second teaching experience but it was incredible. Things were different the day we taught Brother Davis though. Once again I was happy. I was on top of the world. I had been reminded the day before of so many things I needed to hear as a missionary and I applied them.

So like I said in the beginning of  my email , this week was a week of learning, growing, and discovering with my district. I will remember "God didn't call [me] on a mission to fail". [Bruder Alston]   I will remember "Don't quit. Keep playing." [Bruder Davis] I will remember the scripture Sister Rasmussen shared with us as she bore her testimony crying. John 14: 26-27. "26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

 I will remember the scripture Bruder Alston shared with us as we taught him.     3 Nephi 9: 13-14.  " O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me."

You should read these scriptures as a family. I really really love them a lot.

So even though this week was  my hardest, it has  been my BEST.  I've grown so much. I've come to LOVE this PLACE SO MUCH!! I am so happy!! One more thing that Bruder Davis shared during  the lesson we taught him is that, "even if 1,000 things go wrong, there will still be one thing that is right." I like that a lot. We have to look at our blessings,  the miracles around us . We have to look at what we have over what we don't have. We have to see the good in every situation. I know that when we do this our day will become better and we, as people, will become happier.

I'm so glad I can share my mission experience with all of you! It is hard writing everything out each week but I can only hope my experiences and testimony will give you strength and help you when you need it.

Here is a little German testimony for you:

Ich weiB dass Gott uns lebt. Er ist unser ewiger Vater. Ich glaube an Jesus Christus und sein Suhnopfer. Ich weiB dass Buch Mormon wahr ist. Ich habe diese Buch gelesen und ich habe den Geist gespurt. Die Kirche Jesus Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage ist die wahre Kirche. Joseph Smith war ein Prophet Gottes. Er hat die Fulle das Evangelium Jesus Christi zur Erdig wiederhergesteilt. Thomas S. Monson ist der heutige Prophet. Ich weiB dass meine erloser lebt.   

(I did my best to copy Heidi's German writing...hope it make sense to those who know German)


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WEEK 4 at the MTC- .PICTURES!!


                                                                                                                         July 10, 2013

These are pictures from the little birthday celebration we did for Bruder Alston in class :D  We love him so much!!!!!!  We surprised him with this cake (that Elder Spencer had his mom send him) and we made him a sweet little card with stickers and everything.  We also went to the bookstore and got him a bunch of sweets, a new tie, and some cool pens.  Pretty much we are the best set of missionaries he has ever taught :)

Not all missionaries are perfect and we definitely aren't.  After our last p-day Elder Spencer opened a box and found that his mom had sent him marshmallows.  So naturally we had to play "chubby bunny".  hahahahahaha.  Probably the funniest thing ever. 

This was taken at the 4th of July devotional

We love fireworks, yes we do!!! :D

Fireworks with my district!  Minus Elder Barber, since he and Elder Cavin are usually connected at the hips.

                                                          Crazy elders from my Branch ;)

Elder Holzer (Jordan) and me  He was in my ward at BYU and my FHE brother and he is the coolest person ever!!

    Ran into Sister Sallstrom that I went to high school with.  She's so cute and going to be the        best missionary!  We also went through the temple for the first time together in the Bountiful

Me with Sister Stuart and Sister Knect.  Love these girls to death.  They are both in my room and we are all going to Berlin together!!!

This is Sister Roben.  She is from the Netherlands and is the only member in her family.  She is amazing!
 She converted  to the church when she was 18.  She is now 22 and graduated from law school. 

 Sister Cooper and me. She is the  cutest girl from Scotland you will ever meet!!!

                 Let's just say that after we were cleaning our room we might have had a little towel fight . . .

                                                       Laundry adventures part 1 and 2!!

  Elder Bruneel.  Crazy Elder from Idaho who is very funny.  He loves watches.  He carries his laundry to and from the laundry room in a sheet (that's not weird at all . . .) and he drinks like 10 glasses of liquid with every meal. 

                                            Letter writing in the laundry room.  Love my district :D