We just received this letter dated July 29, 2013. Heidi had been in Germany for 5 days at this point.
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.
I LOVE YOU ALL!! :) ICH LIEBE EUCH!! :)
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.