Monday, August 26, 2013


Another wonderful email from Heidi!! :)

August 26, 2013

Moin moin Familie!  Wie geht's?


I feel like this week I have stepped into so many different worlds.  I have met with such a variety of people!  It has been SUCH AN INCREDIBLE WEEK.... 

The cutest thing happened at church yesterday.  Bruder S, who got baptized the Sunday before I got here, showed up at church.  He had on a nice clean shirt, a dress coat, nice pants, and a new tie!! I'm pretty sure nothing matched, but I just wanted to get up and give him a great big hug! He looked so cute :D.  He is from Iran and previously Muslim, and he has much to continue learning about our Christian beliefs, and he is so cute!  He is a little bit older, in his sixties, but he acts so young!  He has this awesome grayish white goatee which is cool.  And he wears the same cologne as Kalin which weirds me out every time I see him (hahaha sorry Kalin).  Since Persian is his native language, German is sometimes hard for him, but we make do.  I love sitting next to him in church because I have to help him read the music in the hymn books.  He has a hard time following the verses.  In his language they read from right to left instead of left to right . . .  After Sunday school was over he came up to Bruder W, Sister Nilson, and me, and said that he needed us to stay after class for a couple minutes after.  We were a little confused, but then he pulled out of his pocket a new tie for Bruder W and a small bottle of perfume for both Sister Nilson and I. SO SO SO SO SO SWEET.  Pretty much I love this guy.    

We have been working a lot with less active and new convert members of our ward. One young man in particular, “A”, has grown so much in the time that I have come here. He was baptized last September but has had a hard time the last several months with his faith and church attendance. It is really cool that I connect well with him because his native language is French. He has become a good friend. It's really incredible seeing how much scripture reading, praying, and obedience work in a person's life to bring them strength and happiness. I have a personal testimony of this and I have seen it work in “A” as well.  This past week we met with him and talked with him about the commandments.  He had said in our last meeting that he felt like he was in a cage, and he didn't understand why we had such "rules" in the Christian way of life.  This week though he was different.  He told us that he had been trying hard to wake up and pray every morning before starting his day. Unfortunately with his work schedule he hadn't been able to read in the scriptures very often though.  He did say that he had read our texts that we had sent him though, and that they had really helped him and brought him comfort.  (I had sent him a text each night, part in French, part in English, with a scripture, my personal application, and testimony).  After we had been meeting for a while, he brought up a specific message I had sent to him.  It was when I had shared the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 78:18.  This was the scripture that Bruder Alston shared with me the day before I left for Germany when I was so scared.  “A” asked me to share this experience with him, and how I knew God was there and how I knew He cared.  We read this verse together.  
 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."   It was a really sweet experience.  There was a really good experience in the room.  After we read this verse, I picked up Sister Nilson's hand and I explained that God was there, that we can't see Him, but that he is there, leading us along.  Something really changed in "A".  We have become good friends, and I know that he trusts me.  He had a look of hope in his eyes.  Sister Nilson and I felt like we should share a certain video with him so we went into the computer room and pulled up a video from  It is called "Mountains to Climb".  After meeting with us, "A" was so happy!  We walked out with him and laughed and talked about our families and life.  

We had an amazing breakthrough with our investigator, Angie this last week! She has been very anti-Book of Mormon ever since the missionaries first came to her. But she LOVES God and Jesus Christ. She is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. I have developed a special connection with her too, especially in our last visit. We felt inspired to sing with her, which resulted in her teaching us one of her favorite songs (from Ghana) and us singing to her after. Her song was very up beat, with clapping and praises.  It was so incredible as we all stood up in her little one room apartment, with so much energy and song, jumping up and down and clapping.  Angie was so HAPPY.  She had such a smile on her face.  I looked from her to Sister Nilson and there was such  happiness in the air.  I just kept on thinking, "I love this woman so much.  I know God loves this woman so much."  I asked her if we could sing a song for her after.  Our song was a little bit different. Sister NIlson and I sat down and reverently sang "Nearer My God to Thee". We only had our small German hymn books so it was in German, "Näher, mein Gott, zu dir."  It was such a neat experience.   Angie listened with her eyes closed, then put her face in her hands, then looked at us.  Angie could barely contain herself! After the third verse she called out, almost in tears, saying, "There are Holy spirits in this room right now!" The Spirit was so strong, and there was such a feeling of peace and comfort in the room. We all could feel it. We proceeded to kneel down and pray, and she said that she felt the same thing as I prayed. "I feel Holy Spirits when you pray."  I was able to connect her responses to the Book of Mormon, telling her that I felt the same peace and the same good feeling as I read from the Book of Mormon. I showed her the line just underneath the title (in her native language) and asked her to read it. "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." I bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and told her that the Book of Mormon has helped me better understand and get to know my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. After my testimony I pretty much plead with her to read the book so she could experience the same thing, and she agreed. It was really amazing. I have worked hard to gain her trust since I came here, and I know that she trusts both Sister Nilson and me. We are her friends. I really have faith that as she honestly reads she will soften her heart to what we have to say.

We had a miracle with our investigator “L” this week. She never never never reads in the Book of Mormon or in the Bible because she says she never has time. She has been investigating the church for over a year, had a couple baptism dates, but she just hasn't made a lot of progress. (Really quick interjection: the day before meeting with her we had district meeting and Sister Nilson and I taught a lesson.  As we were preparing for our lesson and as we gave it there was a line that kept coming into our heads, "Specific prayers bring specific answers." So that night we said a prayer and prayed specifically for the needs of every one of our investigators, the members of the church here, and others that we have met.  I already like saying long prayers as it is, but our companionship prayer ended up being 20 minutes long!!!  There are just so many specific things that we have promised people we would pray about for them, and we just needed to remember it all and follow through!  So in this prayer I prayed very specifically for “L”, that she would have the time to read in the Book of Mormon, and that she would feel the Spirit as she did so.  I prayed for other things as well, all very specifically).  The very next day we had an appointment with her, and when we asked “L” if she had read in the Book of Mormon, she explained that she had woken up that very day and felt like she needed to read. GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS. We all have our agency, but we can choose to follow the promptings of the Spirit when they come. “L” was so excited when we came, and she had a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon. We read with her some more, and she told us that she would continue to read that week.  We were meeting at the park, and we just sat there on the park bench and read more together.  Pretty cool!  When she heard my birthday was next month she was so excited!  She told me that she wants  Sister Nilson and I to come by and we can make lots of food together (mmmmm Filipino dishes!:D).  So we will probably do that.  

We also have a new investigator named "H "who we have already met with two times.  He is the one who came up to us after we were on the bus.  He always asks really good questions, and many of them are hard for us to answer with our German abilities. Really though, German is not the tool,  the Spirit is the tool!  There is always a peace when we meet. He has prayed at every lesson which is really neat since he hasn't prayed since he left the Evangelical church a couple years ago. He said that as he opened up the Book of Mormon for the first time and read the introduction that it was very, "spiritual". The Book of Mormon is incredible!!!

Also, I met with this less active member in our ward this past week and she is the cutest thing ever.  She is in her sixties and from Armenia, and I LOVE HER.  Every other sentence she says, "Meine Liebling! . . . Oh meine Liebling!  . . . Oh meine Liebling!"  Meine Liebling in German means "My darling".  She is so wonderful and has the biggest heart.  She fed us apple slices and these little chocolate marshmallow things (that everybody eats here).  She is coming with us to a dinner appointment tonight which I am really excited about.


So . . . I'm feeling a little bit like the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes in one day . . . Not that I was "grinchy" or "grouchy" before, but I just feel like I love so many more people this week than I did last week!!!!  A couple of days ago I came home from a hard days  work and I just had to announce to myself (and my LOVELY companion :)) everything and everyone I love here in Deutschland.  Some of the things I said were pretty funny and random that I was exclaiming . . .  but in reality, I am in heaven here.  We find out soon if either one of us will be transferred this coming week.  I have prayed so hard every night that I won't leave Langenhorn.  I love it here so much.  I love being a Hamburger! :D  Really though, I know that my mission President is an inspired man, and that his judgment is always best.  Perhaps my work is already done here, but I hope it's not.  


Have a great week, stay strong, and I hope to hear from you soon! I love you all!  Ich liebe euch!  Bisous bisous! 


Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley


Friday, August 23, 2013


Here are a few pictures from Heidi's mission president , President Kosak.

Quarter Interviews in August . President Kosak visited Hamburg district and conducted  personal interviews with each missionary . (August 13,2013)

ZTM Hamburg "Joy"

 Zone Training Meeting Hamburg


Another wonderful email form Heidi!!  We look forward to receiving her emails  each week. She is truly being guided and taught by the spirit as she is engaged in the Lord's work. It is  a marvelous work and a wonder.  NO pictures again..she forgot her camera cord..  :(

Moin moin meine liebe Familie!
Once again it's been an incredible week for me! 
First a few cool and interesting facts. . .
Germans wear their wedding rings on their right ring finger instead of on their left . . . Except now some of the younger people are starting to switch over to the left hand . . . So it is kind of confusing!  Haha I was thinking of wearing a ring on my finger just to keep the guys away . . . I guess I will have to wear one on each hand just to make the point clear ;)
A typical breakfast here in Germany consists of Musli and Musli.  It is pretty much oats mixed with other goodies.  It's super yummy and it reminds me of a Dad breakfast :D. 
Mom, you know how you have a sign in our bathroom at home that says 'Salle de bain'?  I feel like in the U.S. anything with French written on it is considered cute and good decor ha ha.  Here in Deutschland it is the same thing only with English!  Tons of people have little decorations with English writing on it, stores, etc.  And it's quite  funny because often times people don't even know what the English says . . . And I hear English music here more often than German music. 
Some German foods I have eaten recently:  Wienerschnitzel, Döner Düner, and Rotko (didn't spell that right.... but it is red cabbagy stuff that is really yummy)
Okay, now let's get down to business . . . and defeat the Huns . . . :D
This week it has become quite cold!  Don't worry though, I've only had to wear my winter coat twice this week!  It has also been quite rainy.  (I am now officially German . . . Germans love talking about the weather).  I also would like to mention one of my goals I have set for myself this transfer.  That is to go dancing in the rain, sing  "singin' in the rain", and click my heels together.  I'm waiting till I buy rain boots though ;)
So really quick let's take a nostalgic moment. . . on July 24th I arrived in Berlin, tired, sweaty, exhausted, and looking rather scary (awake and traveling for 24 hours).  But we went out on the streets for the first time that day and talked to people.  I kinda felt like I was being thrown to the wolves a little bit, and overall it was a huge adrenaline rush.  It was quite scary stopping random people on the street and starting a conversation about God . . .  I remember people looked at me like I was crazy (probably not just for the conversation ;)) and they didn't really understand anything I said, so they looked to the experienced missionary at my side for further explanations.  But I love thinking back to this day because it shows me how much progress I have made.  I have been here for less than a month and I have learned SO much.  Hallo!  Ich bin missionarin für die Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage!!
Now it is August 19th.  Speaking with EVERYONE has become such a fun part of my days here.  Just yesterday we went into a nearby city to find a new family in our ward.  I had never been there before, I didn't know any people, but I greeted everybody with a warm smile and a greeting.  And!  Good news!  People don't have to ask Sister Nilson to translate my German anymore :D  ha ha.  but anyway, yesterday as we were getting off the bus a man came up and began speaking to me.  He is now one of our new investigators!  Sometimes I don't understand how the 'work' works.  I feel like more often than not the people that are truly prepared for the gospel find us, rather than us finding them. The key is that we have to be in the right place at the right time.  This man pretty much came over to us, began asking us about our church, got super excited when we talked to him about the Book of Mormon, and wanted to learn more!  We didn't even have to ask for an appointment, he asked us!  I love it when I meet people and I can just see the desire in their eyes.  They have such a strong desire to find Christ and His church.  They want the truth. 
This week I went to our service project for the first time. (normally we go every week).  It is called Tafel, and pretty much we sort donated food into piles and then take people around and give them food for the week (people that can't afford food on their own for the regular price).  It was so cool!!!!  And it was a great way for me to learn the names of my fruits and vegetables in German ;).  As I was taking people individually around and helping them gather food, I helped one woman in particular who was absolutely amazing.  As I went to greet her at the front of the line and take her around she greeted me with a big smile, said 'hallo', and introduced herself and her young daughter.  (Ha ha, normally Germans aren't that friendly ;)).  Of course I responded in a similar manner and very soon she was talking to me about my nametag.  She asked me if I was a nun, which made me laugh, and then I explained to her that I was a missionary and a little bit about the work we were doing in Germany.  She was so cute and so happy!  She kept on telling me that I was so 'beautiful, cute, and nice!'  She started telling me about her religious past and beliefs, and was very curious about mine.  She was born into the Catholic church, but she had left it because she said that the church had been pressuring her and the other members in political matters (in Mexico).  She also expressed to me the hard time she has had living in Germany the past several months.  She is from Mexico, lived in the U.S. for a year, and is now living in Germany.  I offered our help to her when she needed it, and she almost looked like she was going to cry.  Sweetest lady ever!  She wants her daughter to learn about God and Jesus Christ and she just about leaped when I told her about Primary.  When I told her that kids met together with teachers, learned and sang songs, she was so ecstatic!  I ended up getting her contact information to make an appointment with her this week.  I gave her a card with our contact information and also the address of the church, and this was her reaction:  "Ah!  You have a Gottes Dienst?!  I want to come THIS Sunday!"  And there is the story for our second new investigator for the week :).  The Lord has prepared people for us, we just have to find them, or be in the right place for them to find us. 
The language is soooo awesome!  I know that it wouldn't be this easy if I was learning on my own....  I definitely see the hand of the Lord in helping me to learn.  I am able to confidently give people directions when they ask, teach lessons, and communicate rather well with people when I need to.  ISN'T THAT COOL?!  Missionary miracles :)
Today we went exploring in Hamburg and it was sooooooo Toll!!!! I forgot my camera cord though so I can't send pictures this week sorry :(.  We went to the Rathaus and went on a tour which was super cool!  We did the tour in German and actually understood most of it.  It was sooo beautiful inside!  We also went to the St. Peter's church which was equally amazing.  I AM IN HEAVEN HERE.  It makes me want to continue studying art history . . . I took a moment to sit in a pew and say a prayer.  It was quiet, and the people were all reverent inside.  It was very peaceful, and it was cool to be with Christians of all different churches, all gathering together remembering Christ.  Finally we went down by the Harbour, saw some boats, and ate at a cute restaurant on the side of the water.  You would love it here!!!  We ate Wienerschnitzel which is a German specialty. 
Also, I just need to say something about the ward here.  The ward is INCREDIBLE.  I love living in Langenhorn :) :).  We have also gotten to be friends with a lot of people living in the community as well.  Evangelisch, Catolisch, Moslem, it doesn't even matter!

Ha ha, also remember how we thought I would fit in because of my blonde hair and everything?  Well actually I have learned from several people that I actually stand out . . . This one lady told me it was because I was 'too cute', another woman told me it was because I was 'too smiley.' ha ha at least those are good things right?? 
Also, I mentioned at an Essen Termin the other day that our family comes from Zwickau and they started laughing!  Haha I was enlightened by the differences between the two areas.  Apparently people in Zwickau all drive tiny cars . . . And they have funny accents . . . And it is a very different place because of their past with the Berlin wall.  Zwickau, along with many other German cities, has been through some rough times.  This sister was explaining to me about the past, and while I couldn't understand much of what she was saying, I could understand her gestures and fear as she talked about guns and controlling the people. Wow, every day I become more and more grateful that I am an American.  Seriously, don't take anything for granted.  We live in a land of so many opportunities and freedoms.  I love Deutschland, but there are some things I miss from home.
I hope you have a good week!!!  Happy birthday Dad and Nakita this week!!!!  I hope you both have WONDERFUL days :) :D :) :D
Ich liebe euch!!
Sister Heidi Shelley  

July 12th - 3rd week in Germany... "Gift of tongues and gifts of the spirit are real." ( LANGENHORN [ HAMBURG ] )

So great to hear from Heidi!! :) 

It's amazing to realize that Heidi has  been in Germany only 3 weeks (at the time this email was written) and has adjusted so quickly to  the life of a missionary and living in a different country and culture.  It's incredible  how quickly she is learning the German language. This is truly the Lord's work !!! 

Hallo familie!

Germany is wonderful as always and Langenhorn as well.  It's crazy how much happens every week!

This week there were a couple things that had a really big impact on me.

We met with this man named "A" .   He was baptized into the church back in September but he has struggled making it to church in the past several months.  He comes from the Ivory Coast in Africa and  French is his native language.  Honestly he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He only speaks English so it was a new experience for me!  I said the prayer and I kinda struggled speaking in English!  A*** is younger, in his 20's, and he has had a very hard life.  Even here in Germany he continues to have many problems.  Many of his family members were killed in the war that took place in 2002 in his home country.  He is now here illegally, speaks no German, and has a hard time finding work.  I don't understand his situation exactly, but he can't go back to his home country and he can't find a place to live.  He has the most sincere heart of anyone I know.  He got baptized into the church knowing that it was the right thing to do.  He wants to follow Christ, he wants to have a strong family, but in his words it is just so HARD.  He is constantly surrounded by wicked and evil people trying to tear him down, trying to persuade him to do this or that, and through it all he remains true to what he knows is the Spirit.  He was pretty much pleading with us, asking us how he could withstand everything, how he could have stronger faith.  I listened to him with my heart and mind open.  We opened up Alma 32 in the Book of Mormon and talked about faith.  Currently he hasn't been praying or reading in the scriptures, and because of his work situation he has been unable to come to church.  From my own personal experiences I KNOW that these things strengthen us in the faith.  We must read our scriptures and pray every day, and we must do our BEST to get to church on Sunday.  These things give us strength against all of the wicked things of the world.  Really, it was a really powerful lesson and discussion.  In the end I think he really understood how important it is that we remember these little things:  praying and reading the scriptures.  He feels like the Christian life just makes everything hard for him.  And yet, even though it is harder for him than most of us, it is still what is right.  We tried to explain that all of God's laws and commandments are there only to protect us, to keep us safe, and ultimately increase our happiness.  He committed to read and pray every day before we meet again next week. I really have such a love for "A".   I invited him to read verses from the Bible and Book of Mormon aloud in his French scriptures and I almost started crying.  I don't know why exactly, I think I just thought of the Rivet family and how much I miss and love them.  After living in France for that short while and studying the language it has really become a part of who I am.  "A"  and I connected really well and we even spoke a little bit of French with each other! :D  In the end of our lesson I brought up the power of song and asked him if he wanted us to sing a hymn with him right then.  Instead he ended up singing for us!  He sang a song in his native tribal language (African dialect) and then sang "How Great Thou Art" in French.  There was such a great feeling in the room.  It was so incredible to see him laugh and smile during our meeting.  We assured him that as a Saint and as a Christian he was not alone.  We are NEVER alone.  We always have each other for support, whether we are close by or far apart.  We always have the prayers of each other.  We also always have our Father in Heaven to rely on.  We can pray to him whenever and wherever we may be.  And of course we have the Holy Ghost.  We must be worthy and obedient, but when we are we can have him as our constant companion.  We departed with an 'Au Revoir.'

Yesterday we had another appointment with Marcie and M.  It was our shortest, best, and most incredible lesson yet.  M has been struggling with faith in general, he doesn't know if God is there or if Jesus Christ was His Son.  In this lesson we focused on prayer.  We connected M to Joseph Smith, in that they both had a question.  In many ways M reminds me of myself!  He always asks questions, and he is very intelligent.  I just find the way we think very similar. For reasons that I don't have time to explain, we were meeting in his car at the Bahn station for our lesson . . . Sister Nilson and I were in the back seat while he and Marcie were in the front.  It didn't even matter where we were, we said a prayer, and the entire lesson the Spirit was there.  Sister Nilson was sitting behind him, so she couldn't even see his face during the lesson, but I could see him.  Something was different today!  I can tell that he really just wants to know.  He wants to feel what we feel and he wants to have faith like we do.  In part of the lesson I just started speaking smooth and perfect German.  I looked at him right in the eyes and I testified to him the things in my heart.  IT WAS THE MOST INCREDIBLE THING.  The gift of tongues and the gifts of the Spirit are real.  Again we had to talk about the importance of reading and praying every day.  That is how we strengthen our faith, that is how we come to better know the feelings of the Spirit, and that is how we can increase our knowledge and progress.  We ended up challenging him to begin reading in Mosiah 27 and continue into the Book of Alma as far as he can read.  I was thinking about Hali and how she read the Book of Alma before she was baptized and how much she loved it.  I shared that with M.  I am really excited to see how he does with this challenge.  He said the closing prayer which was really neat.  before meeting with the missionaries he had never before prayed.  He didn't really know anything about God or Jesus Christ.  It is so rewarding as you watch the people you teach progress in a way that brings them closer to God, developing their own relationship with him.

So do you remember that kid we met outside the Bahn?!  And then we got separated right before he gave us his number?!  Well.... Sister Nilson and I have been praying every day since then.  We have not given up on him.  Yesterday coming back from our appointment with M, we ran into him again!!!!!!!  I hear Sister Nilson say, "That's "C"!"  I turn around and standing right across the train tracks is "C"!  We ended up meeting up with him on the Bahn and we talked for quite a while.  My German is so much better than last time haha.  We jokingly asked if he wanted us to sing for him again and he looked a little bit scared.  (There were hoards of people on the Bahn yesterday).  I think he could tell we were joking because we just started laughing.  But anyway, we ended up getting his number, and we're hoping we can meet with him this coming week.  It was such a MIRACLE.  Seriously, SO MANY THINGS happened before running into him that made our meeting possible.  It was not a coincidence.  God answers the prayers of the faithful! 

I hope all is good at home with everyone :)  I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!  

Have a great week!

Ich liebe euch :)


Sunday, August 11, 2013


Making a difference...

News from Heidi and her mission president:

I have been asked to be careful what I post on Heidi's blog so from now on I will post  excerpts from Heidi's emails and letters.
Heidi's mission president emailed me early Saturday morning and we also received a phone cal from him. He is such a great leader and is a very spiritual, caring, and compassionate man. I know Heidi is in good hands  as she serves under him. He made us aware of a situation that concerned  Heidi and her safety. I am so glad for inspired church leaders. I know she will be watched over and protected as she serves faithfully and obediently. Please remember her as well as other missionaries in your prayers. 

As her mission president was talking to me on the phone and the situation with Heidi he spoke of how blunt and bold the German people are. He then said, "Your daughter isn't a drama queen". She is hard working and dedicated and doesn't let things affect her...( I almost chuckled when he used the word "drama queen". Her German mission president has a great command of the English language and all its idioms. ) That is so true. Kevin, Heidi's dad, apologized for all the added stress that sisters bring to a mission and her mission president  said, "I don't consider it stress but adventures". It's wonderful he has such a positive attitude..because he has A LOT of sisters under his care. There are unique situations that can occur with sisters that you don't have  with Elders.   In his email he said, " We're happy to have your daughter in the Germany Berlin mission. She is such a lighthouse and strength. Wonderful!" So glad that despite all that is happening  she is a great asset to her  mission and the German  people. 

Here's her letter: 

Montag 5 August 2013

Moin moin familie! J
Moin moin is something that only Hamburgers can say…so you should feel pretty lucky! How’s life at home. I miss you all so much. I still haven’t received any letters here so it’s been kinda sad. But last night my District Leader told us on the phone that he has 4 letters for me that came to the mission office! So I’m pretty excited! J
....We pretty much rely on public transportation for everything,  so we are constantly on “der Bus” or “der Bahn” (like a subway) I do NOT understand how we get from one place to another , but Sister Nilson magically does. Haha I’m trying really hard to learn the area.... 
 It’s really polluted and everybody smokes, which is a little bit gross. Like I mentioned in my last letter, Sister Nilson and I really STICK OUT! We just look clean, well dressed, well groomed, of course our name tags , and I fell like missionaries just have a glow to them! It’s kind of hard to explain, but we’re always smiling, laughing, and being friendly. Most people keep to themselves , don’t talk to strangers, and always look solemn or angry.
This week we had six sonstige lektionen (progressive investigator lessons) and four of them fell through. It was so hard. Most of the time we travel 30-45 minutes one way for a lesson so when they fall through it is super discouraging. A few days this week I just felt like crying because every time we tried to do anything we just failed.  My companion never lets it get to her though.  As long as we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing we are being successful. That mindset really helps me. When our original plans fell through this week it always seemed we had even better opportunities finding and talking to other people.
One day we went to contact a woman who lives near us, but we ended up finding a woman sitting along the path. When we were heading towards the original woman’s house , Sister Nilson said, “ We are talking to that woman on our way back. We are giving her a Book of Mormon.” I kind of just laughed thinking that there is no way she will still be sitting there after we meet with the other lady. But our attempt of contacting the other woman failed and so we ended up talking to the other woman who was still there!! You should know that 98.9% of the time people really don’t want to talk to us. So I was a little scared to start talking to her. She turned out to be the nicest woman I’ve ever met!!! She thought it was so toll (awesome)that we were her doing what we were doing. Her husband died six months ago and she’s been so lonely and had such a hard time. She didn’t even know if God exists or anything . When we first started talking to her she looked so sad and depressed, but as we bore our testimony of God and Jesus Christ I literally saw light enter into her eyes. Her frown turned from a frown to a smile. Who knows maybe that was the first time she’s smiled since her husband passed away. This is why I’m here. To bring light to people, to give them a reason to smile. To offer them hope. This woman was so wonderful . I bore my testimony of the Bible and Book of Mormon . She accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon with such gratitude. We asked her if she would meet with us again sometime but she said she wanted to read more of the Book of Mormon first. And since we had already given her our card with our number on it , there wasn’t anything else we could do.   But before walking away this woman thanked us so sincerely. She  said, “Maybe we will see each other again.” UMM YES!! After leaving her , Sister Nilson and I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk when we were alone on the street and I said, “ We need to pray for her right now.” So we just stopped and prayed . We’ve actually done this a few times now. Haha That’s one of the best things about being a missionary is you can do things that would normally be considered weird. 
The other night we had an Essen Termin mit die Familie R and we had another similar experience after we left. We were super late leaving and in trouble with our DL. But we found a boy name "C" . He was sitting there at the BAhn station all alone, smoking , looking like a miserable soul. He was only 15 years old…  having a schlechten tag. (Bad day) I just started talking to him. Pretty much his first impression of me must have been  that I was some goof ball American that didn’t know how to speak German. But after a couple minutes he threw his cigarette on the ground, smashed it with his foot and listened to us. Sister Nlson and I smiled, testified of Christ and were quite the contrast against the black, polluted and deserted Bahn station. My heart just opened up to this boy and I just needed to help him realize that  God was there and does love him. He laughed at so much of what Sister Nilson and I said, but every second he more eagerly listened  to what we said. He said he didn’t believe in God  . But as we talked and testified I saw the same light come into his countenance. I saw hope reflected back at me. When the Bahn came we all got on together and Sister Nilson said, “We are sitting with this kid!” So we continued talking to him and getting to know him a little bit. So I don’t even know how this happened but Sister NIlson and I ended up talking about music with him and before I knew it we were singing hymns right then and there ON THE BAHN. There were only two other people on the BAhn , men in their  twenties . We started singing the first verse of “Nearer MY God To Thee”  and immediately there was such a good feeling in the car. "C"  was super embarrassed  but he had a  SMILE on his face.  J We finished the first verse and I asked, “ein mehr?’ (one more?) “Warum nicht”, he replied. (Why not?) So my companion and I continued singing. The coolest thing happened though! One of the other men on the Bahn took out his headphones  and the other  man  lowered his book. I saw these two men soften their expressions , close their eyes and just listen. My companion and I continued singing other songs and the spirit as so strong , "C" was smiling so big! This was the kid who moments earlier had been sitting alone smoking in the dark having a horrible day.  Yes. The  gospel blesses lives. The spirit touches lives. Faith brings hope. God brings love. Suddenly "C"realized we were at his stop and he knew he needed to leave. We all jumped up and Sister Nilson was like, “Wait, do you want to meet with us again sometime?” He as a little hesitant , but I could tell he wanted to , so I said, “I know you do!” Very quickly Sister Nilson threw him her planning book and a pen and he began furiously  writing down his name. Sister Nilson quickly opened the door but he didn’t have much time. Suddenly the train started to leave , but "C" tried to open the door and keep it open with his body. He was trying so hard to finish writing but he was getting smashed between the doors so he had to throw Sister Nilson her book and get out while the train was moving.  When we looked out the window it was so SAD! L He had only had time to write down his name, but no number. He looked at us with the saddest expression as we faded away into the darkness. It was quite the dramatic scene. On the train the man went back to reading and the other man put his headphones back in. But I know this boy will always remember this experience . He will remember the crazy American sisters who shared their testimonies , made him smile , and sang to him on the train. We remembered that we had given him a pass-along –card  upon meeting him and we prayed that he would remember it and take it out. I don’t understand when people can experience the joy the gospel brings or even just feel the spirit and do nothing about it.
More often than not the differences we make in life, as people or as people with mission callings, are not reflected as grandeur events or numbers. It’s like in Alms 37:6 “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” Who we are as people, how we treat other people,  truly makes a  difference. Our personal influence is greater  than we would think.
This past week I was able to invite one of our investigators to be baptized. ("M" , a 21 year old German man. ) He doesn’t have a super solid faith in Christ or God at the moment , but I know that as he continues acting on the faith he does have he will begin to have a stronger testimony of his own. Sister Nilson and I have really emphasized the importance of the Holy Ghost. It is through the Holy Ghost that we are converted to the gospel.  It is through the Holy Ghost that we receive a testimony  of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, and also of our prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. One question that we asked "M" (and our other investigators  , and ourselves)   is: What is the difference between having a knowledge of God and having a relationship with God? We are always talking  with people about how we can all have a  relationship  with God. But what does that really mean? I think it all comes down to faith.  If we truly have faith we realize our dependency on God.  Our faith causes us to ACT.  And our actions help us feel of the influence of  the spirit, know Gods  will and feel  of His love.  "M" is still working on the first part of the question: Having  knowledge of God.  But he really is a star investigator.  He is reading his scriptures, he is praying. He is coming to know his Savior Jesus Christ. Everyone can become converted, it’s just a matter of will- subjecting one’s will to the Father.
I LOVE BEING A MISIONARY!! I have the opportunity to meet with such a  variety of people . But no matter  what difference I see I have to remember that each person I see and meet is a child of God.  It doesn’t matter if they are homeless, Muslim,  Christian,  wealthy, African, German, American, disable or not. We are all brothers and sisters . God loves all of us. He desires for all of us to come unto Him. But we will always have our agency. As a missionary I can teach, invite , and serve others, but I can’t control what other people do in response to my actions. The thing that I know for certain is that people who do come unto Christ are HAPPY. Yes we experiences trials and challenges just like everybody else , but we are supported and comforted as we suffer . We grow from experiences  and make the best of them. When you come unto Christ you come into the light. It is the best feeling you can imagine. J
I really love my companion Sister Nilson. She is so awesome!! I’m praying that President Kosak won’t make me a trainer after six weeks..If he did I would probably cry…..But it’s definitely happened! Sister Nilson and I are a big support to each other and we’ve developed a great friendship. Haha, our quirky personalities  go so perfect together.  And guess what?? She says, “Holy Crow” sometimes!!  Haha she’s really dramatic when she tells stories  and talks and she always so happy.  We are always laughing together and always talking. Ich liebe sie J We both love fruits and vegetables ….Today we went shopping and came home with bags full of produce---so good. She also loves to sing and she sings like an angel! When we sing together she always harmonizes really well so that we sound pretty good together. All in all things are great here. J She’s starting to keep track of all the people who “fall in love with me” when we’re walking  the streets. Haha…I think I’ve picked up a few secret admirers. …But I haven’t given out our cards to  any of them  and they don’t know where we live so we’re safe. Haha  Anyway, have a wonderful week.
 Ich Liebe Euch! Love, Sister Heidi Shelley

****Heidi  put a BIG smiley face sticker on her letter that had a huge teethy grin and had  shiny spots on its face. She wrote beside it with an arrow pointing to it: “ Pretty much I always look shiny like this guy. Always so HOT!!! But always so HAPPY!!!  ICH LIEBE DEUTSCHLAND!!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

July 29th letter- first week in Germany!! ( LANGENHORN [ HAMBURG ] )

We just received this letter dated July 29, 2013. Heidi had been in Germany for 5 days at this point.

Hallo Familie!
Ich hoffe alles Gute! :) Germany is really so incredible! I hope you enjoyed the email I sent! Germany is really hot right now! REALLY hot! The people I've spoken with have said that the temperature in Germany right now is quite unusual. So pretty much we're always dripping in sweat but we've just come to embrace it! That, and the smell of body odor. That's pretty great when we're on the Bahn and everyone is packed in there, holding on while the train moves...Mmmm! Also, it's really fun being a missionary here because people act like you are diseased or something. haha...It's not uncommon for people to move away from us on public transportation  or to just stand rather than sit to avoid sitting by us. Sister Nilson and I just have to laugh though. Here we are blondie and brunette and smiling and people are scared of us. Doesn't make any sense! It's illegal to preach on any public transportation unless people personally ask us, so I don't know what all their fuss is about...

On our way back from an appointment with Mar and M ( I mentioned them in my email) we met this very nice young man traveling from Denmark. It was so cool because when we got on the bahn he had the biggest smile for us. ( in return to the one we gave him) which never happens! So we went and talked to him. He was the nicest guy! He was a really strong member in the Evangelical faith and he had such a sweet testimony of Jesus Christ and of the gospel. It was neat comparing what we believed. We told him about the Book of Mormon , which he has heard of , and he respectfully declined. He had such a  sweet testimony of the Bible and we explained that we believed in the Bible also, but he was not interested. We asked him if he knew of anybody who would be interested in our message and in the Book of Mormon, but he stated, " I'm sorry, but I can't support something I don't believe myself." This man was so friendly and so smart.I would have said the same thing. I support my church and my beliefs only. This just reminded me of my purpose to invite people to come unto Christ by helping them. I know this man would be happy still, even more so, if he heard about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I can't force him or anyone for that matter. Everyone has their agency. I'm not here to tear down what others believe in. Or even tell them they are wrong. I want to add. I want to help them find the FULLNESS of the gospel.  I was happy to talk to this man and rejoice with him that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer! That God is our Father!

This man stood out so much because of his big smile. So many Germans walk around looking sad, angry or just closed off. As missionaries this is one thing that sets us apart from everyone else. We show our happiness in our countenances. I came up with this motto here: " We are changing Germany one smile at a time." This gospel brings so much joy to my life and I am so happy to show that.
I am in heaven here. It is hot, often polluted, often stinky, and always humid. But I LOVE it. The people here are already a part of me. They already have my heart in its entirety.
Yesterday was my first Sunday here at church in Germany and it was wonderful!! The ward is so great and loving. There is so much diversity, but again I am seeing that differences do NOT matter. We all have the same purpose. We come to worship together ! We come to partake of the sacrament. We come to feel of the spirit and uplift one another . I was able to stand up and introduce myself and bear my testimony in sacrament meeting. I followed Sister Nelson's example and spoke with a smile on my face. I meant every word that I said. My testimony was unrehearsed as I spoke in German. Von meinem herz :) (From my heart) This might be hard, but I can do hard things! I'm not letting fear hold me back. I put forth an extra big effort to meet as many people as I could. I see how everybody knows and loves Sister Nilson and  I hope I can build the same friendships. People in this area usually stay for quite a while so I'm excited to see what happens with me.

In sacrament meeting there was a young man giving his farewell talk for his mission. He will be serving in Russia. He spoke with so much power and with such feeling. As he was talking he had tears running down his cheeks. I was sitting there thinking, " I know. He knows. We all need to know." Missionary work is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Where would I be without this experience? These people are already changing my life. I like to think I'm changing theirs.

Also after church we had an Essen Termin (dinner appointment) with the familie W This family is awesome! They live in a humble home filled with so much love. I LOVE German food! We actually had this chicken recipe that tastes like the one that Staci Carlson makes that's so yummy. This family gets a kick out of my German and  they really helped me out a lot. The oldest son kept on laughing and saying he could tell I was a "neve" missionary because I am still so eager to learn..hahaha. I assured him that my eagerness would not be going away anytime soon. I was able to give the spiritual thought and it was a good experience. I share that scripture in Moroni 7: 48 about praying for charity. I really love that chapter! The youngest son, J, is 14 and so so cute and nice. He LOVES Owl City so much!  We listened to Owl City all during dinner. He also loves art so we talked a lot. Before leaving he gave me this drawing that he did a few months ago that was in a sheet protector. It was the sweetest thing ever and I know I will cherish it.

                               This the W family Heidi had an Essen Termin with on Sunday.

I've decided I have a new goal to share my talents with people more. It's actually really cool that I've had this idea on my mind the past couple days, because this is exactly what President Kosak told me on the first day in his office. I'm going to buy a sketch book today and I'm going to begin making drawings for people in the ward and also investigators as a way to connect with them. From day one here, Sister Nilson told me that Langenhorn would love me because everybody here loves art! Sister Nilson has an incredible voice so she is going to use that more too. Perhaps we will sing for or with people when we go and visit them. You know how much I love music and how I believe it really brings the spirit.

Teaching M and M was super Kuhl!! Like I said Mar is a non-member and he is dating M who is less-active. .I've only been to one lesson with them but it has truly been an amazing experience! Sister Nilson and I really relied on the spirit when we taught. M is growing so much too! She bears her testimony in our lessons and she clarifies and explains when our German is not good enough. The Lord blesses us with the words to say when we need them, but with M present sometimes we are meant to sit back and give her an opportunity. This last lesson I watched Mar's eyes as we taught and I could tell he felt something while we spoke. He almost looked like he was going to cry. As we taught him about the Plan of Salvation it was just so clear! The doctrine really is so simple and so sweet. It doesn't have to be complicated. Marcus is super intelligent and asks lots of questions.I know he is making progress though. And I know it is possible for everyone to have their own testimony. At the end of the lesson I felt prompted that we should kneel so we knelt down on the wooden floor in the small room. I asked him if he would say the prayer. Although he was a little hesitant at first, he agreed and offered the most heart felt prayer. I have faith and I know that if he keeps the commitments we give him and he has a desire to learn and progress he will. We are going to commit him to a specific baptismal date this week and so I'll let you know how it goes.

We had another really cool experience this week. We were part of a screen play reading. This man and his wife are one of our new investigators and he is a screen play writer. So we were able to go to his studio downtown which was awesome! It was a several  hour ordeal, but Sister Nilson and her previous companion had prayed about it and felt that they should go. It was great because we were able to interact with a variety of other people  (many Americans living in Germany) and also some more Germans. I've made friends with these people, showed them proudly who we are  and earned their respect. One lady who sat next to me got my email on her own just because she wanted to keep in contact with me. I also got her information and asked her if she and her husband would be interested in hearing about the message my companion and I had of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We're probably going to contact her this week. It's so important that we are friendly with people and make friends with people. We need to earn their respect and trust. I am also excited to meet with Mr. B and his wife again. She is so so sweet and seems so ready to hear about the gospel. She's not that much older than us- probably mid twenties. Her husband is older, in his forties and he actually is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints..a Mormon! He's just less-active. He served a mission himself and even taught at the MTC. I don't know his story, but I know that he is a very good person. He respects us as missionaries. He was giving us his own advice and tips for success with contacting people and learning the language. I don't understand why he's not active when he sounds like he is! His own daughter is on a mission right now and we can tell he loves her very much. We actually received him as a referral from church headquarters (from his own daughter). His daughter has such a strong testimony and she made her dad promise before she left that he would visit with the missionaries. It's kind of crazy but Sister Nilson and I feel like we are connected to his daughter. We know how she feels and we are doing for her father what she is doing for other peoples  fathers.

There are so many miracles associated with this work. We see them every day! I must go now , but I will write to you again soon. Have an amazing week and enjoy summer while it lasts.

Liebe GruBe,
Sister Heidi Shelley

P.S. Another really cool thing about Germans is that they are really really thrifty! Power and water are both really expensive here so everyone is really careful about this.  We don't even have lights on most of the time in church or at our apartment unless we really need them. And air conditioning doesn't exist here. In church you use your hymn books to fan yourself and you try to keep your hair of your neck. There are no drinking fountains (literally) so you have to bring water with you. And when we take showers we only use a little bit of water. We turn the water on, get ourselves wet, put soap all over our body, and then turn the water back on. Most houses (and our apartment) have a water usage reader so you know how much you're using. And everything here is REALLY expensive. We get 172 Euros a month . Travel is really expensive and even things at the store. But we are really thrifty with the money we are given. The culture is different here too, but I'm really coming to  love it. The people are all honest. There's no such thing as a fake friend or person. People tell you what's  on their mind; they are blunt and bold. I really like it.

Ich liebe Deutschland . . . ( LANGENHORN [ HAMBURG ] )

News from  Heidi! So happy to hear from  her. I can tell she  loves Germany and the people and is already  connecting with them. She only had time to write a short email  but will be sending a letter in the mail also. ( Which I will post as soon as we receive it ) 

                                                                                                                                                                          August 5, 2013

This week has been great.  Pretty much every one of our appointments fell through (except for 2), but we found ourselves in other places that we needed to be in.  This week wasn't as hot as last week (thank goodness!).  And I think the German people are starting to be less scared of us!!!  (yay!).  People actually sat next to us on the public transportation and started talking to us on their own. As Marc would say, "wow wow wow, that is gorgeous!"  {*****Marc  , remember when we were in Yosemite two years ago and every time you saw a beautiful  scene you would shout for Kevin to stop the car and would shout, Wow, wow, wow!!! That's gorgeous!!!?" ) 
I bought a sketch book and I am excited to begin sharing my artistic talent with the people here.  When I told Bruder R that I could draw and that I would draw a picture for his family he lept off his spot on the couch!  Haha.  He excitedly looked through all of his photos looking for one that he wanted me to draw.  It's so cool, because on my first day in President Kosak's office he told me that I needed to use my talents.  And here I am using them!  

So a few things happened this week that were HUGE!  One, Sister Nilson and I committed Mar  to baptism.  And I was the one who vocalized the invitation!  That's the coolest experience ever!  We had a breakthrough with L and we have begun to have a great friendship with her.  We made smoothies that were really interesting.  She taught us the coolest way to peel mangoes (how they do it in the Philippines) and I will peel and cut mangoes this way for the rest of my life.  We also made a really interesting watermelon smoothie that was hot . . . because we heated up sugar and water on the stove and then mixed it with the watermelon . . . Haha but it was good nevertheless . . . Sister Nilson and I made chocolate banana chip pancakes!  Best idea ever.  We ran into people this week that were NOT coincidences.  I will write about these experiences specifically in my letter home.  And, my German is improving so much every day!  It is truly a miracle.  Haha. 

I am out of time, but I will write another letter home.  Mom, if you wouldn't mind,  would you either scan or send the words from my letter you put on my blog to Kalin and Brad. 

I love you all!

Also, if possible, refrain from sending letters to the mission home.  Just send them to my personal address here in Langenhorn.  We only get those letters in Zone Conference which is like every six weeks.  But I will be getting mine this Wednesday from my district leader, yippee!! 

Loving P.Days!  Trying on hats!! :)

Heidi in an authentic German dress! 

The caterpillar bus.  These things are so cool!

Me with the familie R.  This family is so American and so funny!  Bruder R reminds me of Dad and his brothers a little bit.  He loves loves loves Apple technology.  And he was pretty good at helping us with our German!  At this Essen Termin  (dinner appointment) they all started singing the Heidi theme song from the famous German cartoon here.  (I told them that was my first name).  It was the cutest thing!  then Bruder R pulled up the cartoon on the tv and played the part where Heidi is singing the song.  Ich liebe Deutschland . . .   

Me and my beautiful, funny, sweet, spunky, quirky companion.  Ich liebe Sister Nilson!  This day it was super super rainy and we traveled a long ways to contact a woman that wasn't even home!  It was also really weird because this guy on the bus was staring at me  the whole bus ride there, so naturally I thought he was interested in my name tag and the church!  He got off the bus when we did, and I was all excited because we aren't allowed to preach on public transportation.  But the first thing he asks me (in hard to understand German) is if I have a boyfriend . . . UHHHHHHHHMMMMM. Pretty much it was really awkward considering he was like 40 years old and we didn't even have any common languages (he was from Iran and didn't even speak English or Deutsch).  Haha and then of course I almost gave him a pass along card that has our cell number and address of the church.  Thank goodness Sister Nilson saved her poor blonde companion. 

Langenhorn ... such a beautiful GREEN place.  I'm in heaven here.  This was us walking to one of our appointments.

These pictures are both from our Essen Termin (dinner appointment) with the familie M.  They are both members in our ward.  Schwester M is an incredible artist and Bruder M was an art dealer for a living.  so we had a lot to talk about!!!  The photo that Schwester M is standing by is one of her originals.  She had a vision for this painting after visiting Jerusalem a few years ago.  This painting also hangs in our church building and in some of the other members homes.  I absolutely love it! :D  After our meal we had a little bit of time so we went downstairs and they showed me their miniature gallery.  These are all paintings that they have purchased from all sorts of locations to sell themselves.  All of these paintings were from famous European artists, some of them worth thousands of euros!!  It was sooooo amazing.  All I could say was, "Ich bin in Himmel.  Ich bin in Himmel.  Ich bin so glücklich jetzt." 

 Smoothies at L's!  She is one of our investigators and she is the sweetest woman in the whole world.  Mom, I told her how you served a mission in the Phillippines and she loved that!  She is native Filipino.  Her little boy P ,  who is eighteen months, is the cutest thing ever.  

 P!!!  While making smoothies he kept making a tent out of my skirt and wiping his mouth on my skirt . . . Good thing I love little kids :D

Me , our investigator L and her son P.
  It was like 500 degrees and super humid so that's why I look so lovely  in all these photos.  But the heat doesn't even matter, because we are always so glücklich hier zu sein! ( happy to be here!! ) We shared a spiritual thought from the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 17: 21:23.  This is when Christ appeared to the people in the Americas after his death and resurrection.  It was so sweet reading about this experience when Christ blesses the little children one by one and weeps to His Father.  After meeting with her she said a prayer with us kneeling down which was incredible.  She is soooo shy and so it was a big deal for her.  

CHOCOLATE BANANA PANCAKES.  Deutschland is officially home.  :)  Best comfort food after a long, hard day.  

Also, don't you just love the hot and humid look? ;D