Monday, May 27, 2013

5-27-13: Draining Time

Time is a precious gift. This week I felt like I was opening the gift of my mission a little too quickly but...there is still plenty of wrapping paper left so nobody panic.

Taufe for reals!
Despite great adversity leading up to the baptism, Lisa got baptized on Saturday and she is so happy! We spent a lot of time this week supporting her and prepping for the program and service. The baptism was supposed to start at 5:00 Saturday evening and Sister D and I got to the church at 2:00 because it takes three hours to fill the font (strange water heating problems prevent fast filling). Two people from the neighboring city of Groitch were also getting baptized on Saturday, so the Groitch elders helped prepare the program and get everything ready before the baptism.
A few things went slightly array during our prep time. We started out with no keys for the kitchen or for baptismal clothing, but acquired those at approximately 4:18 and insanely quick sandwich making ensued. Lisa was supposed to arrive at 4:00 but due to a series of unfortunate delays, she arrived at 4:55. We scrambled to find baptismal clothes that would fit and rushed upstairs so the meeting could start fifteen minutes late. So all was well. 
Except the well.
Meaning the baptismal font.
Because as we started the program before the baptism, Sister D gasped and said she needed to go check the water downstairs. 
She ran downstairs and....the font was empty. 
Because it had been a little too full beforehand and so Sister D had pulled the plug to drain it a little... but forgot to plug it again....
She remained remarkably calm at the time and turned on the water again and started boiling water in the kitchen. Which leads to our...

Wunder der Woche
Because a three hour job somehow was managed in 45 minutes through the aid of many ward members, all the available faucets in the church, and the Lord, who somehow kept the water warm. Three people were therefore able to be baptized with the allotted water and Lisa was just glowing with the joy after her baptism.
We were also glowing, but that was partly from the sweat of running around and gathering water.

It was so great though. Lisa is normally a happy person, but she just looked so excited about the decision that she made and so much at peace. Plus five of the six missionaries who had taught her managed to make it :)

I am so grateful for the gift of my mission and for the gifts other people can hopefully receive from me being here. 

The newest church member in Leipzig!

Quote of the Week
A quote from our conversation regarding our desire to get a dog and talk to more people...
"Sister D, we all have to make sacrifices on our missions. You´re going to have to forfeit your eyesight, or possibly pluck out your eyes, so that we can get a guide dog so that more people will talk to us on the street. It`s a sacrifice we must make for the work to go forward." --Me
I haven`t lost my sarcasm yet in case you were wondering :)

Love you all. Especially those of you that write me :)

Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

Sister D and I at a service project

Monday, May 13, 2013

5-13-13: Immer Besser!

We had a great skype conversation with Claire on Saturday and could see for ourselves how happy she is. So it was easy for us not to cry about missing her and just rejoice that she is happy living in Germany and doing her best to find people who want more joy in their lives. 

Full blown missionary work with a tablespoon of sickness and twelve quarts of goodness this week. Still facing the Triple E dilemma (ebullience exploding everywhere).
We're a tad too excited and maybe plan a little too much for a day (curse these short twenty four hour days and the requirement of sleep), but we're getting better (our companion slogan is "immer besser"). There is just so much to do and so much to learn!
Nothing sums this week up better than the following quotes...
·         After teaching two guys from Africa about the Book of the Mormon and seeing their miraculous acceptance and eagerness to read pray about it.... Sophie (an 18-year-old member who came with us): "This is why I love Africans! German people are always like 'I don't need God,' but Africans....they are willing to do anything to get closer to God!" Thus we are teaching a lot of foreigners. And the occasional stubborn German. Shaku (African number one) after hearing Sophie talk about how the Book of Mormon helps here in her life: "Yes, I will read this book because I want to know what she knows."  Yeah son.
·         After talking about how to improve our talents to meet the needs of our diverse teaching pool.... Me: "Hey, if we teach a deaf man, then we'll need to learn Braille." #thinkingalittletoohard. Or not at all.
·         Elder Normon (commenting on Sister D's and my companionship): "You and Sister D match each other."
·         And speaking of Sister D....I love her so so much. Here are some cute things she said this week: (looking up at me with huge, questioning doe eyes) "Was soll wir zu tun?" (What should we do?) #cutebeginningmissionaryGerman  She always asks what we should do, but then almost immediately cries out "Wir müssen beten!" (We must pray!) Because Sister D knows the power of prayer :)
·         (while talking to people on the street the day before Mother's Day)…. "Hast du eine Mutter?" ("Do you have a mother?"), because you never know. We're still working on conversation starting skills that lead to Gospel topics. Also, "Haben Sie eine Frau?" ("do you have a wife?") #personalquestionstorandompeople
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

Monday, May 6, 2013

5-6-13: Triple E Week

Apparently training a new missionary is a very happy experience so far! 

And I'm not cleaning it up. 
Packing the Impossible
Two 85 pound suitcases and one 45 pound "carry on" later, Sister Diederich made it to Bremen (*I think). We at least made it to Berlin together to pick up our new missionaries with two umsteigs (train transfers) as well. Huzzah!
Francesco's parting words to Sister Diederich...
Insert 5 minutes of Francesco preluding us with various Mozart pieces.
Sis. Diedrich: I'm going to cry when I leave!
Francesco: Stay cool, stay cool
Sister Diederich: What should we do when you come visit me in America Francesco?
Francesco: Um....I think I'll take a shower.
Bringing in the new....
I AM TRAINING AND I LOVE IT! My new companion has now survived four days in Leipzig! Short bio: She's from Texas, went to BYU-Idaho for three semesters, is super hard working, and is brimming with fresh MTC excitement. She is so happy to talk German in her endearing American accent and says hello to everyone we see. Picture Snow White, and then change her name, and you have my new companion. We get along really well. Love. her. so. much. 
DIE Wunder der Woche
If you have been studying your German articles, you would recognize that there was more than one miracle this week. I'm sharing two.
I went to Berlin on Thursday to bring Sister D (my new comp) back to Leipzig. I gave her a really good first night because we met with Lisa, who is the biggest miracle I've seen on my mission. Six weeks ago, Elders Atkinson and Huebsch found Lisa on the street and invited her to Family Home Evening. She accepted and then they taught her about the Book of Mormon. They were emergency transferred a week and a half later, but on their last night here, they invited Lisa to be baptized at the end of April. She accepted and then was taught rapid fire for three more weeks by another set of elders as she prepared to be ready for her baptismal date. A week before her scheduled date, she and I were talking and she told me she was freaking out and she didn't know if the Book of Mormon was true yet and she still had a lot of questions. I told her that it was okay to wait until she knew, so we botched her first baptismal date. Right before the elders left that were teaching her (we inherited her after), she told them that she was ready to make another baptismal date and she knew that the Book of Mormon was true. So our first lesson together in Leipzig....we got to set a baptismal date with Lisa!!! She is so ready and has such a strong belief in what she has learned in the past month. We are so blessed to help her prepare for her upcoming baptism.
The second miracle happened yesterday, when Sister D and I went to some student housing to talk to people about what we believe. We only spent an hour there, and we were able to meet and teach four students who wanted us to come back. That is more than I've experienced on my whole mission so far. Good gracious, golden miracles falling from the sky. so. cool.
I am privileged to serve a mission. If I learned anything from the past twelve weeks and the busy and exciting last few days, it is that I am privileged to act as a representative of Jesus Christ at this time. To teach people about the Gospel. To bring people closer to Christ. To talk to strangers on the street. To meet with ward members. To be as awkward as possible because people do not go on missions to act like normal people. I love it.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward