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!
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.
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)