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 !!!
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 :)