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!!!!