Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3-19-13: In Poetry and Truth

I (Claire's mom) got a phone call from someone in Claire's ward in Leipzig this week. At first I panicked when I saw a German phone # on my caller ID, but he was just calling to tell me what a great missionary Claire was and that they were very glad to have her serving in their ward. It was a lovely thing to hear and made her seem not quite so far away for a little while.

So Goethe studied in Leipzig over 200 years ago "in poetry and truth." I'm doing the same thing. Because I try to think poetic thoughts and study the truth. I get to learn from the scriptures every day :)

This week was kinda hard. We moved apartments and spent a lot of time cleaning our previous one (a new set of elders is coming on Thursday and moving in), as well as sanitizing our new one. My companion is still battling health concerns, so we just do as much as we can with the allotted strength. 

Das Wunder der Woche
I realized last week I forgot to include a miracle. Sorry about that. Be assured that we still saw miracles. As I said, this past week was hard with a lot going on and a lot to do with limited time and strength. Wednesday was our last day in our old apartment and we still had some packing and resting to do before moving. To do those things, we need to be able to get inside our apartment. Except that I may or may not have left the keys in the door and we didn't realize that until that evening. And in case you don't know how doors work, you need a key to open them. Except that if there are already keys in the lock, apparently you need pay mucho euros to take apart the whole stinkin' door. But we got our spare key from someone in the ward and went home, expecting to have to sleep outside in the snow or in a creepy German cellar (NEVER go in one alone) and praying that something would work out, and when we turned the key....the door opened! With the keys on the other side in the door. That, my friends, is a miracle.

That's the German word for investigator (someone meeting with us and taking lessons and hopefully getting baptized sometime). In case you didn't study your missionary German today. Take notes, people. This email spotlights Sandra, who is from Columbia/Spain. She has an adorable 5 year old son named Pablo and she just wandered into church one day because she heard people singing and saw the sign that all were welcome. She doesn't speak a ton of German and I only speak hotel Spanish (which includes the words for eating, clean, going, and everyone), but she feels the Holy Ghost and understands that. She told us how happy she is when she comes to church, meets with us, and reads in the Book of Mormon. She has a strong testimony of Christ already and she is just so great. That was my quick spotlight this week.

We said goodbye to some friends this week and that was a little sad. I didn't realize how much transfer calls changed your missionary world. One of our zone leaders went home home (does America still even exist?) and sadly, one of the red headed duo, Elder Duff, left to serve in Freiberg. But that's also awesome for him because he gets to walk by the temple every day. Sister Diederich and I stay here together for at least another six weeks (hurray for being trained like a normal missionary!). So that is good. Wherever we are, missionaries across the world are united in purpose and that is comforting. We're bringing the light of the Gospel to the world! 

Things German missionaries say (actually just one thing):
"She would totally freuet herself if we bring flowers." (it would make her happy)
It's just impossible to separate English from German. 

Quote of the Week
This is from a prayer Francesco said (see last week's email too). Hopefully that's appropriate to quote. "Thank you so much for Bach and that he could live in Leipzig because his music is SO BEAUTIFUL and I can't wait to meet Bach in Heaven and thank you for happiness." Because God gives us joy :) 

Keep on trucking along world out there. I love you.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

3-12-13: Austria is not a holiday

People of this world.
All is still well in Germany. We were blessed with two days of sunshine last week, and have since returned to clouds, fog, and...snow. Lots of it. To show the weather who's boss, we ate ice cream in the snow on Saturday. Take that. We didn't go out a ton this past week because of my companion's health issues, but we still achieved a smattering of teaching appointments and our apartment is thoroughly cleaned every day as I jam to Tchaikovsky. Regardless of where I am, I learn so much from my trainer, from the people here in Germany, and from God. There is no place I'd rather be right now than on a mission--snow, smoke, graffiti, and all. 

Spotlight of the Week
There is a 22-year-old boy who just got baptized a couple months ago named Francesco and he is great. He's a little autistic, and he is so sincere and excited about life and happy to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So excited that he goes up to everyone he doesn't recognize at activities to ask if they've been baptized yet and if so, if they did it the right way (by immersion).  Haha. The real spotlight of this story is that he said the best prayer in the world at our weekly Book of Mormon class. He told Heavenly Father that he was so thankful that he could be baptized and for the Book of Mormon and for Beethoven and that he could play soccer with the Elders, which made it so he could have more energy at church. Prayer is the best. 

Quotes of the Week
One of the quotes of the week comes from Francesco. We played Pictionary as part of a Family Home Evening (a Monday night gathering for those without families here in Leipzig) and Francesco was trying to draw a frog. But it didn't look like a frog (picture a dinosaur/couch with circles surrounding it). Someone guessed "cat" and he said...
"Nein! Es ist wie eine Katze, aber GANZ anders." (no, it is like a cat, but COMPLETELY different.) You tell them, Francesco.
The next quote comes from me. I think my German is coming along pretty well. But sometimes I think it is definitely not. For instance, Sister Diederich and I were at an eating appointment and I asked if Germans did anything special for Easter. Except I didn't say Easter. I said Austria. (Oster is Easter and Österreich is Austria)
In case you were wondering, people don't do anything special for the country of Austria here.

Surprises of the week
So...we are moving apartments! On Thursday! Which means if you wrote mail to the Blochmann address, I'll still get it (elders are moving into that apartment), but when you send future letters, mail them to the Berlin address or the one at the bottom of this email. Weird thing about German apartments: when you move, you take everything with you. Like entire counters, cupboards, showers, sometimes toilets. I know, crazy. Our district (6 Elders plus me and my comp) spent Thursday assembling desks, cabinets, beds, and walls. Just kidding about that last one, the people were kind enough to leave the walls there. Madness, though.

Every six weeks, we find out if we stay in the same city with the same companion and that is called a transfer. We thought I might be training a new missionary this transfer, but good news: I get to be trained like a normal missionary before doing that, so Sister Diederich and I are sticking together in Leipzig. We'll get some new elders (one more set) and one of our zone leaders (an elder over a bigger area of the mission) is going home this transfer too so...hurray for more missionaries! Somewhat related shout out...BECAUSE MY FRIEND SHAY LYONS IS GOING TO FRANKFURT AND WE WILL BE NEIGHBORS! Shay, I am so excited for you. Write me a stinkin' letter. Also, Marisha congrats to the Phillipines!

Speaking of...
Speaking. It is kinda hard. I'm kind of the worst person at small talk in the world. In English and German. But it's okay because I hope people appreciate awkwardness and then remember our real conversations better. Plus Sister Diederich is the best at making other people feel loved, no matter what we say and when people know that we care, they will listen to what we say. I love how Christ ministered and cared for people as individuals during His life and it is really amazing to see how Christ can change and heal people. God works with individuals, not the mass population of Germany or America or the world. As missionaries, we try to do the same. And it is so great. I know, I think I've worn out that phrase. Because it's great.

New Address:

Kirche Jesu Christi
Sister Claire Woodward
Limburger Strasse 52
04229 Leipzig

Love you and thanks for your prayers and support.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

Monday, March 4, 2013

3-4-13: Sunshine in Leipzig

I want to start off by letting everyone know how ecstatic I am to see sunshine. I saw my first sunshine in over a month on Saturday and screamed in joy to the discomfort of all those around me. We're so glad that the weather is starting to warm up. Also sorry parents, I haven't taken very many photos....

Real email start here.

Brought to you by...
Today's email is brought to you by the word "Geschwür" (“ulcer”). Not many missionaries know this word, but if they do, it's probably because their companion had a stomach ulcer. Like mine. We therefore got the opportunity to visit a German hospital, where Sister Diederich had a little surgery and I spent time with the Ehepaar (the senior missionary couple serving here). How Sister Diederich was able to speak doctor-German-talk I will never know. She's amazing. We've had to take it easy because of her surgery/pain, but yesterday was the only day where we were completely confined to our apartment. We have another doctor appointment this week and...we'll see what happens! Did you notice the plural pronoun? Because missionaries are united in cause, so if my companion has a stomach ulcer, I feel like I do too. Minus the excess pain she has.

A glimpse at Leipzig...
One of my favorite things in German buildings are the windows. They are so convenient. If you don't know how they're different from nasty American windows, look it up. My least favorite things in Germany include the graffiti (which is EVERYWHERE. And I mean on every building ever) and the constant smell of cigarette smoke. But you win some, you lose some. Other random fact about Leipzig: a bunch of people left after the Berlin Wall came down, so there is more than a smattering of empty, abandoned buildings. Mildly creepy? Yes. The creepiest one that Sister Diederich has shown me? See attached creepy teddy bear picture. Apparently some lady died and left all these bears to watch people from the windows. From a building where no one lives. Sketch.

Das Wunder der Woche...
In case you forgot your German words, that means the miracle of the week! We were at institute (a class for young adults) last week and this lady named Jeannine walks in and asks if we could teach her more about what we believe. Um...do kids love Christmas? So we talked to her about the Book of Mormon, prophets, authority from God, and answered a bunch of questions. She told us that there was something special about us, like a warm glow, and asked why we were so happy. She will soon know because we're going to teach her! Our task is to give people a reason to be happy in life, and that joy comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite being ill, we still got to teach a fair amount of other people this week. It was also a miracle my companion didn't die. Hurray!

Quote of the week...
Sister Diederich: "Germany is just like a Dr. Seuss book. Except that nobody smiles and it's always cloudy."

Keep the faith, my friends and family.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward