We were so excited to hear from her today. She has been reading her companion's blog for the last two months (she had just stumbled upon it after she got her mission call and was searching the internet for missionary things), knowing that they would be in the same mission, but not knowing they would end up as companions.
She also said that it is ok for friends and family to email her letters instead of mailing them, though she won't be able to respond to them by email. So feel free to email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would rather mail her a real, tangible, actual letter through the USPS (which she would certainly love), a stamp is $1.10 and she gives her address at the bottom of her letter.
Because many of you (aka my parents) are professional stalkers, you might already know where I am, but in case you don't, I'm in Leipzig! Huzzah! And my trainer is none other than the famous Bella-in-Berlin (http://bellainberlin.blogspot.com), Sister Diederich! It's kind of awkward that I've been stalking her blog for the past few months so I already know lots of things about her and the area, but she didn't think it was super creepy. Apparently she's gotten some fan mail and packages because of her blog. Crazy!
Most of my MTC district (11 out of 15) drove off to the airport Sunday morning. Our flight left at 11am and we all got to call our parents before leaving, so that was nice. We flew to Seattle and then settled down on a long flight to Amsterdam. I sat in the very back of the plane by myself, though the other Berliners were close by too (I don't think Delta wanted to put other passengers by missionaries because we talk too much. Just kidding. But only partially). I slept for probably 30 minutes total on the flight, and spent the other time writing, reading my German dictionary (book desperate?), talking with an Indian man in front of me, and pondering the meaning of life. Plus getting stoked for Germany. Except my head almost exploded at one point because I'm kinda sick and my decongestant apparently didn't do its job. But don't worry, no one had to clean up exploded claire-head.
We said goodbye to the Alpiners at the airport in Amsterdam and they flew to Munich and we flew off to Berlin. We arrived in Berlin around noon on Monday and were taken by President and Sister Kosak (the people in charge of our mission) to the mission office, where we were fed butternut squash soup and apfelstrudel, interviewed by President Kosak, oriented into the mission, and then...assigned our trainers and areas! Usually new missionaries stay the night in a hotel in Berlin and get to take a nap, but we just got right into it. All the new missionaries were pretty much ready to fall down and die (in a sleepy death) because we were so tired. Sister Diederich and I took a train down to Leipzig and stopped by a new convert/investigator family home evening, where people were playing games. I stayed awake until about 10 and then was out.
And now I am celebrating my first German preparation day and I love it here. We went to a Stasi museum* (see footnote below) this morning with the two other sets of elders here (apparently we see them a lot) and a recently baptized member, who pretty much knows every random fact you would ever want to know. Or don't want to know. It's great. I love Leipzig too. The snow falling from the sky. Our super great apartment. The old buildings. The cobblestone. The bakeries. My trainer. The TWO wards here. That's right, two full LDS wards here (about 200 members). Sister Diederich said we're really spoiled here and I feel like I just won the lottery. Without even buying a ticket.
Being here is another answer to a prayer. Not going to lie, the MTC was a little rough for me. So much learning and spiritual enlightenment, but stressful too. And now I am so blessed to be in a beautiful city with a great companion (who has been an excellent mother to me thus far in my sick, jet-lagged state of being) and many new members of the church as well as many who want to learn. I'm so stoked to be here. In case you didn't catch my tone/other statements of excitement beforehand. Now you know for sure.
One last thing....usually as a new missionary, you get a trainer (Sister Diederich for me) and she'll stay with you for 12 weeks and basically teach you how to be a missionary. However, yesterday President Kosak told us WE should be ready to train soon. IN FOUR WEEKS. I thought he was joking. But I was assured he wasn't. Sister Diederich said they want to open up a second sister missionary area in Leipzig, so chances are good that I'll be here training someone who entered the MTC the same day that I did. Um......... (insert more of those missionary-appropriate swears I can never remember)
It might not happen, which might be good, but it also might. Just thought I'd give you a heads up.
Here's my new address:
Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Claire Woodward
Love you all.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward
*Here’s what I (Claire’s mom) found on the internet about the Stasi Museum in Leipzig: The Berlin wall came down in 1989, reuniting East and West Germany. But though the German Democratic Republic is no more, there is still, in the city of Leipzig, one chilling reminder of the dreaded Stasi (SSD), the secret police of the GDR. It is the Stasi Museum and it encompasses the original rooms of a Stasi headquarters.
Located in the stately 19th century building known as "Runde Ecke" -- the Round Building -- the museum features a powerful permanent exhibit called "Stasi - Power and Banality." Walk through the rooms where the secret police operated a sinister network of spying and terror and it becomes clear how the Stasi infiltrated every aspect of the everyday life in the GDR.