Monday, March 31, 2014

LIVING PROPHETS AND FAITH - LANKWITZ [ BERLIN ]

31 March, 2014
Dearest Family,

So, guess who's getting a new companion?  I am!  Guess who is going to Hannover to serve in Bielefeld?  Sister Hansen!  And guess who is coming from Hamburg to Berlin to be my new Sister Training Leader?  Sister Darrington!!  :D :D :D :D : D :D.  I am so excited to see Sister Darrington!!
Sister Hansen and I are jammin out to the song "Look up" by Taylor Olsen. Great music found here!
https://www.lds.org/youth/music?lang=eng 
Are you all EXCITED for GENERAL CONFERENCE??  I am!!

Just yesterday Brother L*** and his family invited J*** over for Sunday lunch. It was a good afternoon for many reasons . . . We had the BEST Indian food (Sister L*** is from India), and really I just felt so at home.  During the meal we had a natural gospel conversation, and it was very evident that the L*** family has been very blessed by receiving and living the restored gospel. One of J***'s main concerns has been about prophets, but it was so incredible the testimonies that we were able to share about prophets right there at the dinner table. 

What does it mean to follow the Prophet anyway?

What is it that the Prophet asks us to do? 

Or warns us not to do? 

What counsel does he give us?

D&C 1:  The Lord speaks to us.  

37 Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.
 38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
 39 For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen.

Growing up in the church I have had many opportunities to hear from prophets, apostles, and other leaders in the church. I have only ever felt sincere love and care. Whenever I hear Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speak, it always evokes the most powerful feeling within me.  I know that the prophets and apostles of the church bear testimony of truth.  Whenever I hear the prophet, President  Monson speak, I always laugh because he is just so cute and funny! But I have great respect for him, and similarly, every time I hear him speak, I feel such peace and feeling within my heart.  I know that that is the Spirit bearing witness of the truth. 
  
After eating at the L***'s, we pulled out our scriptures and read some verses that related to what we were talking about. At the end of the meal J*** shared his own thoughts and beliefs relating to what we had been discussing. He worries that his faith is too small, that his testimony is not strong enough.  But hey, we all have to start somewhere don't we?  
Faith is like a little seed.  If planted it will grow.

It was different from other lessons that we have had. On this occasion there were so many testimonies given, and so many opportunities where the Spirit could bear witness. It was simple. J*** didn't ask any deep complicated questions, he just listened, felt, and then responded to the feelings he had. At the end of the lesson he said a closing prayer and really prayed for strength himself to gain more faith and a stronger testimony. At the end he also prayed for the courage to be able to invite more people to come unto Christ, just like the missionaries and other ward members. 

Last night we got a text from him that he had had contact with Y***  (a previous investigator also from China). He said he had convinced her to come unto Christ again, and to meet with us again. When we asked him what he had said to her, he responded, "I preach the gospel the Chinese Way! :)"

It was earlier this week that Y*** agreed to meet with us only so that Sister Hansen could say good bye to her. Her comments had really shaken me up a lot and brought me to the point of tears once she had left us. There was such a change in her countenance and behavior .  Her words were like knives and they just cut so deep.  Her heart seemed to be so hard and cold.  Finally Sister Hansen pulled out a photo of her family and showed it to Y***.  She pointed out her little brother who is just six years old.  "Y***.  This is my little brother.  He has been praying for you every night since the day that I met you."  Sister Hansen had tears in her eyes, and you could tell she just loved Y*** and wanted her to be happy.  In that moment, Y***'s countenance softened and the cold edge wore off.  We ended up sitting down together and Y*** flipped through the pages of the photo album.  She chuckled.  "We come from two different worlds."  Yes, we do.  But we can still choose WHO we will be.  We don't have to be something or somebody just because of culture, tradition, or circumstance.  We are all children of God.  We all have potential to become great.

Just several weeks ago Y*** was developing faith for the first time in her life, and she had such a peaceful and bright radiance to her. Why do people choose to walk away once they feel of the joy, the peace, the happiness, the LOVE . . .?  I think it is really because life is hard, and it is so easy to harden your heart as a result.  But PLEASE, don't let that tear you from the source of all peace. I don't know what will happen, if she will contact us again or not. But I am really impressed with J***'s comittment to missionary work and that he has developed such faith and conviction himself. 
I know that God lives.  I know that he loves us.  I am doing my best to act because of what I know.  Remember faith without works is dead. Today President shared with us this quote: "To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must SAIL, and not drift, nor lie anchor."  Life is about making decisions, yes or no, choosing between faith or doubt, choosing between rationalization or repentance .  Let's just walk forward together!  We can help each other out.  We can do great things with the help of Jesus Christ.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23.
Love you,
Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley



Sunday, March 30, 2014

DISTRICT PICTURE


This picture was  posted on  the Germany Berlin Mission  blog..

DM Neuk├Âlln March 2014.   ( Quarterly Interview visits with President Kosak. )

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Here are some  pictures Heidi just received from  members in Langenhorn (her first area )


Greetings from the Wolf family in Langenhorn... :D








WORKING TOWARDS A BRIGHT FUTURE!! :D LANKWITZ [ BERLIN ]

Sister Heidi Shelley's latest email..:D

24 March, 2014

Dear Family, :))))))

This week I have had a scripture on my mind.

Mosiah 18: 8-9. ". . . and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—"

Missionary work is really an extension of our baptismal covenant. I feel like we have had so many opportunities this week to just love, serve, and support others who were in need. And what a better way to be an example of Christ?

We met with a woman named R*** earlier this week and in the first few moments something about us let her know that she could trust us. She opened up to us and just started bawling. We showed love to her by listening and just comforting her. The Atonement was so meaningful in that moment, and we testified of God and Jesus Christ, and the healing that comes through the Atonement. I know that and believe that with all my heart. The Spirit was so strong, and before leaving we knelt in prayer with her. She was at church yesterday and I am so excited to work with her more.  For years she was married to a man who told her that she couldn't believe in God, that that was only for foolish for people.  She knew better though.  I admire this woman for her strength.  She is looking for God again in her life, and searching for the healing power of faith and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Really, I don't think it is possible to realize how precious faith and belief is until it is taken from you, or somebody else threatens it.

There were so many other experiences much like this one, and I feel like there were more tears than normal. Even for me, I don't usually get emotional during lessons, but I just felt what these people were going through and I really felt love for them. I just want these people to be happy. 

We made contact with a member of our ward who hasn't been to church since 2008.  Another person in our ward had referred her to us, just by finding her name on a list and he didn't recognize it.  That wasn't just chance though.  We had come at a time that she had really been feeling the absence of God's Spirit in her life, and she wanted to make a change.  It was such a critical moment though, because she had already made the decision long before to cut off all ties with the church.  She had taken on another religion, with the full-hearted belief that it was the right thing to do.  But there we had been led to her door.  She had been baptized years before after being led to the church and didn't understand why she would have been led away once she had already received such a strong impression that our church was right.  I am not normally very bold when I bear my testimony and invite people to make commitments, but in this moment I felt so overcome by the Spirit and I felt new confidence in my speech.  I asked her if she would read in the Book of Mormon every day.  She thought for a few minutes, and then she just began to cry.  If she started reading again in the Book of Mormon that would mean she would have to reopen the door she had already closed.  I testified of the Book of Mormon and I just started crying.  I know because I have experienced for myself.  I know that the Spirit of God testifies of truth, and I have received this confirmation as I have read in the Book of Mormon.

We met with a young woman named H***.  The minute she told me her name I just wanted to hug her, just for having the same name as my own dear sweet sister H***.  She had a stroke 2 years ago and is learning with baby steps how to speak, walk, and function normally again.  When we told her about the priesthood and that she could have a priesthood blessing her face just lit up.  
"H***, would you like one of these Priesthood blessings?"
"Yes.  Yes, I would."

She spoke so clearly, and she just looked so touched at this thought.  I look up to this woman because of her faith and optimism even as she goes through such a trial in her life.  She told us that since her stroke her and God have become very close.  "I always just talk to him in my head.  He understands what I am going through.  He's always with me."  We testified of the Atonement, and read with her from the scriptures.  Christ didn't only suffer for our sins.  ". . . he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him thepains and the sicknesses of his people.. that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7: 11-12).  I testify that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, and that there is power in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Lately I have been pondering about words and how powerful they are. 
In the beginning, before the earth and we were even created, the word was there. 
Here on the earth we are counseled by prophets to watch our words.
When we testify of truth with our words, they have the power to invite the Holy Ghost that he might bear witness of our words. 
We have a specific manner of prayer that includes addressing our Heavenly Father and closing with the words "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." 
We have some prayers that must be spoken with specific sequences of words in order to be valid and to have power. The sacrament prayer.  The baptism prayer.  Those are both sacred and holy ordinances.

Some words are powerful, others are trashy, but no matter what the word is, it plays some role in our language. How important is it that as missionaries, as members, as people, we watch the words that we speak. In German there is a phrase that I have learned as a missionary:  Klarheit ist wahrheit. Clarity is truth.  I am here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity. I am past my half-way mark now--crazy thought--and yet I still feel like I have much room for growth when it comes to teaching. The gospel is still more simple than I make it out to be. I have started going over the 12 week program again, and I am really trying to learn the doctrine of the lessons in Preach My Gospel. I want to be ready and prepared. I know that if I expect the Spirit to be with me, to give me the words to speak, and to bring things to my remembrance, then I need to do my part.

This week was great. I am so happy here, and I am working towards a bright future. Attitude determines altitude!!
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH.  
Love, 
Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley









LETTER FROM HEIDI :D LANKWITZ [ BERLIN ]

Here is a copy of Heidi's letter she wrote home last week. (She was unable to send an email)

March 17, 2014
Dear family,
I miss you all so much and I love you so much. The last couple of days it has been pretty rainy and I’ve been missing the sun. I had the words to a song come to me yesterday morning as I was up early and sitting at my desk.

“I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain, and ponder on the beauty of the earth made clean again.  I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain. I want to be the best I can and live with God again.”

I love the words to this song. With baptism we experience this cleansing. We become clean again – clean form sin, mistakes, and impurities. And even after we are baptized we have the sacrament, we have repentance, and we have the spirit to help us stay clean, happy, and in the right place.

Before we are baptized we must first have faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement. This faith brings peace and strength. The spirit helps us to know in our heart and have the understanding that we need. Then with this faith it helps us recognize how much we really need and depend on Jesus Christ. Why is Jesus Christ referred to as the Savior and Redeemer of the world? Because he saved us and redeemed us all. We all make mistakes, we all live as fallen individuals in a fallen world. But Christ made it possible for us to overcome these conditions. Christ made it possible for us to OVERCOME and BECOME. He made it possible. We decide. Do we accept Jesus Christ and His Atonement? He suffered for the sins of the world. He bled from every pre. He paid the price for our sins. And then he gave up his life on the cross.

“For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.”

God is our Heavenly Father and He LOVES US . Jesus Christ is the Son of God. HE LOVES US. How do we show God that we love Him? How do we show Jesus Christ, our elder brother that we love him? We accept God and His plan of happiness for us. We accept Jesus Christ…and out of love and gratitude for Him we apply the Atonement to ourselves. Believing in Christ and having faith in Him, we make changes in our own lives so that we might become something better. Because nothing unclean can enter the presence of God, we repent, bringing the spirit into our life, bringing joy, bringing peace.
Sometimes on my mission I have been frustrated with myself and my circumstances. I feel stuck like a stationary object. All I want to do is move forward. I want to become. I want to overcome the things that are blocking my path or tying me down. This week I became so enlightened and I found the answer that I should have known the entire time. It is REPENTANCE. Repentance helps us move forward. How is repentance possible? Faith in Christ and God using the gift of the Atonement. Isn’t my motto “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength? That means so much more now that I think about it. Christ can give us so much strength in so many ways.

As a missionary I invite people to repentance. Sometimes it is hard to offer that invitation or extend that commitment to people. I think I just developed a new desire to preach repentance even louder and cleared now because I understand more what it is and how it blesses us.  Repentance means to change. We turn to God and we align ourselves with His will. In the Bible dictionary it says, “Without repentance there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation.”

We all have weaknesses and shortcomings and we make mistakes. But these things don’t have to define us. Repentance isn’t just about big changes or big sins. It’s also about making small changes that make big results. Repentance on a daily basis hasn’t really been a habit ofmine , and I see how much I’ve been missing out. I’ve really felt the spirit so much more in my life lately and as a result I feel so much more aware of my actions, words, and thoughts and the consequences of such. It is said that”[the Holy Ghost ] acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin.” (Bible Dictionary, Holy Ghost ) I feel like I am experiencing this purification process. As I ponder on my own I recognize ways that I have potentially hurt others or myself because of my actions. Maybe it was something as small as a word or a thought, but they still affected someone even if it was just me. To confess something really requires humility, but it feels so good knowing that it is a step of putting the past behind. Then, actually going and apologizing or seeking restitution brings healing in itself. To give forgiveness and to receive forgiveness is one of the most amazing things.

At the end of my day as I am praying I like to think about my day. So much to be grateful for. I usually have questions. I always need to ask for special blessings and help. But I can also look at myself. Where am I today and where do I want to be tomorrow?

Yesterday I sat in the sacrament meeting and I did my best to focus on the Savior and on His sacrifice. This can be such a special time if we choose for it to be. Dad, I remember sitting on your lap as a young child during the sacrament. It was the older Yale Ward chapel in Salt Lake City and we were lucky to have a beautiful stained glass window there. Before the sacrament was being blessed you and mom would quietly help us put away our books and coloring supplies…you taught us reverence. I remember you whispering in my ear about Jesus Christ and directing my attention to the image before us- the stained glass window picturing Christ outside of a door. He is knocking. Mom and dad, you have really taught us kids how special the sacrament is. Your testimonies have helped me as I have grown up- and now I have developed my own testimony. I don’t need a reminder to be quiet during this time because I want that on my own. I want and I love this time to pray, to think, to remember to repent. What does the sacrament mean to you? Is it just a piece of bread? A tiny cup of water? Or is it something more?

You know how much I love the chapters in third Nephi in the Book of Mormon. I love reading about Christ’s ministry among the people there. I love seeing His character. As Christ went to leave the people “the people were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon Him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.” ( 3 Nephi 17:5) Do you know what Christ’s response was then? He tarried a little while longer. He called for the lame, the blind, the halt, the maimed, the leprous, the withered and the deaf. He healed the people of their afflictions .( 7 )
And the people loved him “ and they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, in so much that they did bathe his feet with their tears.” ( 10 )
He blessed the little children. And Christ himself prayed unto His Father in prayer and he wept himself in behalf of the people.

The ministry of Jesus Christ is personal. He loves us. He is our advocate with the Father. Jesus instituted the sacrament among these Nephite people. How special was the sacrament to them? As they ate the bread and water in remembrance, what would they have thought and felt? Just because we didn’t have the same opportunity to see Christ and be in His presence in the same way doesn’t mean that the sacrament should mean something less for us.

So a few weeks ago we had a zone training meeting and I remember so clearly the spirit I had felt there. I felt so at peace. I had been praying so hard for J***, that he would receive the confirmation from the spirit that he needed. Pretty much right after we invited J*** to be baptized on March 15th he became fearful and very cautious when the word came up. We witnessed the growth of his faith so incredibly. We witnessed the formation of one of the sweetest testimonies. He told us every time that he would not be baptized at this time. Maybe in the future. Maybe if I lived in America. Maybe if I wasn’t Chinese. He had felt the spirit though. He had experienced the power of the Book of Mormon. I just knew that everything would be okay. Sister H and I came to the point last week where we didn’t know what more to do. She wanted to give it a break with J***, back off, and just give him time until he came around. That was hard for me because I just knew that he was so close and he needed us. We prayed for him and as I prayed I had tears running down my cheeks. You won’t understand the missionary – investigator relationship until you experience it yourself. That night was hard. Sister H and I seemed to be misunderstanding each other over everything and it was hard. We set up a lesson with J*** for the next morning. Before going to bed I said jokingly, and with a little lump in my throat, “Sister, what would you do if J*** told us tomorrow that he would be baptized?” There was a little chuckle with some obvious annoyance.

The next morning I was praying and I hear Sister H call out my name. J*** had texted us in the night and had told us that he would be baptized. He couldn’t wait to tell us. Oh my goodness. I thought I would cry right then. I was so happy. At our lesson he seemed nervous. He seemed to recognize how special baptism was- it would affect his whole life. What had brought about his change of heart? We went through the baptismal interview questions with him and read D&C 20: 31 and unfortunately he overwhelmed himself with all of the belief. We don’t have to be perfect to be baptized. We just have to have a desire. We have to be worthy. (Faith and repentance J) Hours later though, J*** told us that he didn’t feel like he would be ready. Perhaps we could just postpone the baptism?

I just don’t understand…. He lives the standards of the church, he’s keeping the commandments, he’s praying, studying the scriptures, coming to church..We won’t give up on him though. Today I was praying.  What more can we do to help him? Just keep studying for him. Keep praying for him. That is what we will do. I do believe with my whole heart that God touches hearts and he answers the prayers of the faithful.

In the moment when we sat before J*** and he told us about his decision to be baptized I just couldn’t believe it. But oh wait! I had already known that. I had already received that confirmation from the spirit. Everybody has their own agency though. God is real and he loves us. He answers prayer, but we have to act on the answers we get. So that’s the story with J***

I felt so much joy hearing about his change of heart. He hasn’t been baptized yet, but I can understand and comprehend but a little bit more the joy it talks about in the scriptures- the joy you experience of bringing even one soul unto Christ.

We can’t really teach the D*** family from Serbia anymore because they might get sent back to their country on the 20th this month if they can’t renew their visa. It’s challenging because we can’t teach them on our own ( we need a translator) and because of their lifestyle and mentality they have a hard time keeping the commitments we give them.  I guess it is just in the hands of the Lord. We will do what we must.

The work here has been really hard this week though. We have had some conflict in our companionship and I feel like we are suffering the consequences now. We can’t just have faith in miracles and expect them to come. We have to have faith in miracles and actually work on our own

Mom. I thank you again so much for sending me the talk on Becoming a Consecrated Missionary by Elder Tad Callister. Wow. His words had such a big impact on me. I really want to become a consecrated missionary myself. I don’t want to just be mediocre or good. I really want to do the BEST that I can do. So I have been pondering about sacrifice – how can I give more? It also goes along so much with repentance- making little changes and refinements.  1) Give up disobedience. 2) Leave your fears. 3) Don’t be distracted by romantic passions 4) Give up pride 5) Give up negativism and sarcasm and have instead optimism and be positive.

Some of my favorite quotes or ideas from this article:

Sometimes in life we just have to square our shoulders and do it.

Somewhere, sometime, somehow one must face the wall square up and climb it.

Choose between rationalization and repentance.

Don’t just change behavior, change nature.

Be obedient because you want to, not because you have to.

Whatever the excuse is, it must eventually be overcome.

”If ye believe all these things, see that ye do them” (Mos. 4:19)

Eventually we must do more than just tell the stories of the Book of Mormon; we must live them.

Rise above it.

Discipline your passions.

Hunger and thirst for instruction as to how you can be better.

Go the extra mile. Be an extra miler.

Be a winner and a finisher.

Consecrated missionaries (or people) never give up on the Lord’s work. When you are exhausted and feel like you have nothing left , rely  on your faith.

If you expect to change the world, to change lives, to change yourself, it comes with a cost.

God will not let us be content with our weaknesses.

The Lord doesn’t expect immediate perfection from us, but he does expect immediate progress. With progress comes consecration.

I really do hope to become more on my mission and to accomplish great things. Did you realize that I hit my half way mark last week? Wow, the time has gone by. I’m not going to let myself become discouraged more though or disappointed because of the rate of the work here or the uniqueness of this mission. I feel like this has got to be one of the most difficult missions of the world. But I am strong and I can take it. Maybe I won’t see anybody baptized while I am here. Maybe I will. I can’t control the agency of others. I can open my mouth though and spread the restored gospel to many who have never before heard it. What a wonderful opportunity.

Today on the bus going to do emails a very friendly man began talking to us. He recognized us as missionaries and he himself was from Pennsylvania in the U.S. He said, “ I just love having you Mormons around in the neighborhood. You are so friendly and you just spread so much good.” It’s not very often we get such a compliment. It really mended many of the blows we’ve taken the past week. People really do notice us. People know who we are. And even if we feel like we really aren’t making a difference I know we are.

So, can I ask you to pray for some special things for me? Pray for me and my companion that we might have unity and understanding that we might have the spirit with us. Pray for us that we can help each other in obedience. Pray that we won’t fear the judgments of those we meet. That we won’t fear to open our mouths and speak. Pray that we might really recognize how precious our time is and that we can use our time carefully and not waste it. It can be so hard to be in a companionship sometimes. I am so scared of conflict and contention because it chases the spirit away. But at the same time, I have had a hard time addressing certain issues and concerns that I’ve had. I just really want to help my companion and I want her to help me so that we can both become something better- someone better.

I should be bringing this to a close. But I am so grateful that I could write to you all. I hope my words and experiences help you in some way. Remember I am here and want to hear about what’s going on in your lives. I have made a new commitment to myself to write letters home each week. (not just email ) If you write me, I promise I will respond. I would love to hear from  you.
Stay strong, be safe, and have fun back home.
I’m praying for you all. Thank you as well for your prayers in my behalf.
I LOVE YOU!!
Love your daughter, sister, and friend,
Sister Heidi Elaine Shelley
Please, please forgive me for my neglect at regular letter writing. I’m repenting of it! :D


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

PICTURES - LANKWITZ [ BERLIN ]


Heidi wasn't able to really email us this week as she spent much of her time writing a lengthy email to her mission president.. .but she did say she was writing us a letter which should come later this week..so I'll post her letter on here when it comes.

 But here's some pictures she sent... :D


MARCH 2014 Zone Training Meeting Berlin South


PICTURES OF P.DAY ADVENTURES...ENJOYING BERLIN!! 


Heidi and her companion in front of the Siegelsaule (Berlin Victory Tower)


In front of the Siegelsaule










Schlosse Bellevue Palace- where the President of Germany lives.


 In front of Bellevue Palace




 Heidi and the famous Berlin Bear....he's everywhere in Berlin! :D














LENDING A HELPING HAND...HELPING A MEMBER PAINT THEIR HOME.






SERVICE ALWAYS BRINGS A SMILE!!





The SCHLOSS CHARLOTTENBURG  PALACE






  
















ALWAYS READY FOR ADVENTURE...




























                                    A BOOK OF MORMON ON "ALMA STREET "...  :D




A BUG IN BERLIN !! :D






P.DAY TREAT!! :D


LOTS OF LOVE FROM LANGENHORN!!!!

MEMBERS FROM LANGENHORN ( HEIDI'S LAST AREA ) SENT HEIDI A PICTURE OF THEIR OUTING TO THE TEMPLE.