We finally received the letter Sister Shelley wrote the week she was transferred to Cottbus.
I am finally getting this letter written…sorry it has taken so long. (**Heidi was only able to send a short email the previous P.Day as she was being transferred that day to her new area, Cottbus) I have been in Cottbus about five days now and I am so happy. I love it here! I have already met so many new people and they are wonderful. I can’t wait to tell you about everything and everyone. I have so much I want to tell you! And oh my goodness. I am so happy to be together with Sister Nilson again. She is wonderful and I love her so much.
But first-goodbye to Lankwitz. Wow,saying goodbye was so hard. I can’t believe that was still a part of this week. I absolutely love the opportunity I have had to get to know so many different people and learn with them and form them. There are so many people I love in Lankwitz…and that’s why it was so hard to leave. There are really just a few people who have had such a big impact on me, and have really changed my life. I know I can’t forget this area or these people.
I knew that I would be leaving Lankwitz at the end of the transfer, so I had told this to J*** awhile before. We were sitting on the bus and he looked so sad but he responded, “ I knew you would have to leave someday.” Then, when I called him Saturday morning to tell him I would be transferred early it really hit me that it was time to say goodbye. It’s really stuck with me, hearing him say, “ Sister Shelley, you changed my life.” I am grateful to have known him and that I could teach him and share with him the things I know. Seriously, I have seen such a change come into his life. He expressed to us one time that before he met us and began learning about our message his life and future were unsure. But it seems that he has really found direction in life- and definitely an abundance of light and love. He’s applying for post doctorate work now that he just finished his Ph.D. and he’s looking for work in Utah! When I left he was excited that he found an opening at the University of Utah. Crazy to think that so much can change in one’s life just because of one knock on a door. I have so much respect for J*** and his strength to open his mind and heart to new things. He knows I love art, and as a farewell gift he gave me a small piece of Chinese art. It has 8 horses on it- symbolizing success in a new beginning. I’m looking at it right now as I write this- it’s got a place on my desk J
I have come to find that one way that I show love and appreciation to others is through gift giving. I know I have very few personal items that have special significance to me, but the ones I have I cherish. I have also found that the best gifts turn into the ones that are the most painful to give. Painful because it involves sacrifice – when you give up something so special that parting with it is just hard. I ended up giving J** my little angel from Hamburg. The one that my friend J** gave me and Sister Darrington. There is so much connected to that little metal angel. Hamburg. Jan. Sister Darringon. Michaelis Kirche. Sunsets and sunrises. The harbor. People. Buildings. Above everything though, it reminds me of all the times I really felt like there were angels round about me, comforting me and helping me along.
I know I get attached to people and places. One thing I fear is forgetting, or being forgotten. As I was sitting in the church on Sunday though, my last Sunday, I really saw and felt that I will never forget Lankwitz. Everything I have experienced here has become a part of me. And I also saw that I will be missed. I saw that I have really reached people with MY testimony and just with my example and love.
I was so grateful that it was fast and testimony meeting for my last Sunday. That’s what I wanted to leave with- hearing the testimonies of the people that I love. These members are amazing!! They are so strong and they have strengthened me so much!! I got up to bear my testimony and I just had to smile. I am so happy I could get to know so many of these people. I shared my testimony. I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. My testimony was simple but I felt everything I said in my heart. A testimony might be simple, but if it is said with experience and knowledge suddenly the words have more connotated meanings. I was brought to tears which doesn’t really happen very often. I want these members to remember me for my testimony – that I really KNOW. I have found out for myself.
Because we had some people visiting at church, I ended up on a row separate from my companions. Bruder K*** saw my isolation and invite me to sit next to him and one of the young men. Bruder K*** is someone I have spoken seldom with at church, but I feel I know him very well. He really had a big impact on me here in Lankwitz- And I know I have reached him with my testimony. I guess I remind him of one of the sisters who converted him to the gospel years before. Really, he just saw me as the missionary I want to be and I try to be. He saw my testimony and my conviction. He saw my dedication and love for the people and for God. He made a comment about how there weren’t that many sisters who carry around a backpack full of Books of Mormon in so many different languages. …I don’t even know how he knows that. Before leaving I gave him my PRO ring. PRAY, READ , and OBEY every day. My middle finger on my left hand is feeling pretty bare. I’ve worn that ring there since I was sixteen!! But I am so grateful that I could meet Bruder K*** and so many others who strengthened me so much with their own testimonies and dedication to the gospel.
So I am hoping it is auf wiedersehen and not just Tschuss. I am going to miss teaching with M***. ( **He was their translator when teaching the Serbian people and many others) I don’t even think he knows how much I look up to him. He has sacrificed so much for the church, and really just for following and doing what he knows is right. I am going to miss teaching the Serbian multitudes and hearing his conversion story. Keep up the missionary work my friend! Had he been there on my last Sunday I would have left him with some kind of gift as well, but unfortunately I never even got to say a real goodbye because he was out of town.
I could go on and write about each member I the ward, even each one of the people we met with from time to time or regularly, but I don’t have the time. But really, there are so many people who have come into my life and they have all helped me to see the world a little better, even come to know myself better. Goodbye Lankwitz, until I come back and visit! J
Now that I am in Cottbus. Everything has shifted again, but I feel so good about being here. In a way it is almost like starting my mission over again…only I know more of who I am and what I want . I understand the missionary purpose better. Invite people unto Christ. I just love the joy that Sister Nilson and I find in the work together. The little things matter. There are always things to laugh about. Always reasons to smile. It is incredible coming back together after so many months and seeing how we have both grown and changed as we have continued I our missionary work. I love her so much. Haha..we even have a bunk bed- ( I got the top bunk..:) ) and every night before we go to bed we always end up talking for a while and then saying goodnight…”Guten Nacht! Ich liebe dich!” Meine Gute, I have missed that!
Anyway. It is getting late here, so I should probably get into bed. Not to mention that the bugs are starting to invade our apartment because I have a light on and the window is open…EEK!!
Well, I love you all!
Love, Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley
Sister Shelley and Sister Nilson..together again!!