Week 3 in Altona? Like eating ice cream after licking bread for the past two weeks. Sometimes miracles happen and the bread turns to ice cream—that`s always a good thing.
The first part of the ice cream?
We finally had appointments and we have people to teach! Teaching is the substance of missionary ice cream. I`m going to stop the ice cream metaphor now because it`s not going to carry further very well and I`m starting to crave the ice cream that we shall now buy as soon as we are done with emails. We work with people anyways, not ice cream.
Just to give a broad overview, we met with Getrude from Camaroon (yes, I thought of dear Chako from Leipzig who bytheway is still going to get baptized, except probably in Canada. Rumor has it he finally made it to church in Leipzig before he left. Huzzah!), the Blanksons from Ghana, Rita from Ghana, Schwester Elevanyo from Ghana, Juliana from Haiti, the Boschman family from Russia, and Frau Frommhagen from (wait for it...) Germany. Just so you know the cultural mix of people here in Altona #thesmallerghana
Awkward Meeting Moments
So we met with a lot of less active members of our ward this week as well, and we tried to track down a bunch of others. We only got yelled at twice. One lovely awkward meeting I wanted to share was our meeting with this old man in our ward named Brüder Fricke and his daughter Schwester Rosa. Brüder Fricke has a bunch of medical problems and his daughter is there to help take care of him, and when we went to visit them, he just starting talking and talking with Sister Schwantes and Schwester Rosa started talking with me. Except Sister Schwantes doesn`t quite understand German yet and Brüder Fricke didn`t really move his mouth when he talked and I could hear him talking about the war and his wife and I knew that Sister Schwantes had no idea what he was saying. For possibly twenty minutes straight. And Schwester Rosa just kept talking to me and I just thought the situation was so funny and so whenever she said something slightly funny I just busted out laughing because Brüder Fricke just kept going and neither of us knew how to tell them we had to go and when we did he just kept talking still, except directed mostly at the one of us who doesn’t really speak German yet. Finally, Sister Schwantes just started praying to signify our lesson was over and we needed to go. Baha.
Das Wunder der Woche
So we had an appointment on Wednesday with the Blanksons. Except they were late. So we waited outside until they got home. While we were waiting, a family speaking Russian walked by us and I heard the mom say "kirche" (church). They`d already passed us when I decided to call out "Sprechen Sie Russisch?" (Do you speak Russian?). They responded in the affirmative and came back to talk to us. I once again faithfully spouted off my token Russian phrase (I really need to write Dr. Pimsleur to thank him for all his help with learning phrases in French, Spanish, and Russian before my mission) and apparently it was impressive enough this time for them to invite us over to teach them. Say wha—teaching a family for the first time???!!! Apparently she had met with missionaries a long time ago and he's kinda agnostic but the husband is the one that wanted us to come and we had a good first lesson with them. I didn't know if I'd ever get to teach a whole family in Germany J.
And wait, there`s more!
We went by a contact the elders gave us because she's a single mom and elders aren't allowed to meet with alleinstehende frauen...what is that called in english? (a sister who lives by herself). Her name is Rita and she let us in and told us she`d started to read the Book of Mormon and knows it's true. Which kinda threw Sister Schwantes off because then the discussion question changes from "When you come to know these thing are true..." to "Since you know these things are true..." except she still used the former. But we utilized the correct preposition in the end. And invited her to be baptized. And she said yes. And then we asked if she would prepare to be baptized on the 29th of September (my birthday!) and she said she`d think about it. She is so awesome though and we are so happy we met with her.
Quote of the week
Fraue Frommhagen, who still thinks we're elders, in her prayer: "Danke, dass ich mit den weiblichen elders treffen konnte." Thanks that I could meet with the female elders. I always thought elders were cooler than sisters J.
West German food is like...
American food. Tacos. Lasagna. Spaghetti. It`s weird. I miss my eastern German potatoes, meat, and rotkohl (red cabbage). But hey guess what? I've apparently lived here long enough to enjoy bubble water. It only took six months. (Those of you who know Claire well should know what a huge miracle that is)
Making Small Talk
So when Taylor came home from his mission, he wanted to talk to everybody we saw in stores and have actual conversations with cashiers at Walgreens and what not and I thought it was weird. Mostly because I hated small talk and thought it was a waste of breath and meant nothing to people. But my small talk skills have been increasing exponentially and my appreciation for it has increased as well. Because sometimes people need a stranger to say hello, to ask about their day and their lives. Sister Schwantes and I have been working on our bus conversations and we've seen a lot of little miracles from it. So go make a 25 second friendship with someone this week and try it out.
Also....Matt Becar (a young man from our stake who is in Claire’s mission) is in my zone and I saw him at zone conference this week. That was weird. But great! His German is super good by the way.
Unfortunate event of the week that was still tied to a good thing:
I was talking to a guy from Ghana (surprise) on the S-Bahn and getting his information because he was interested in learning more about the church (more miracles!), but it took a little bit of time and so at our stop I had to run to make it out the doors before they closed.
Except I didn't make it and once again, I got stuck in the S-Bahn doors.
Take your pick.
Fortunately I made it out after a few struggles and with Sister Schwantes pulling on my backpack.
Sometimes doors close on you. And sometimes you get stuck. But if you keep squirming, you're bound to get out eventually. Missionary work? Helping people get out of doors that closed on them. Squirming our way into faith.
Love you all. Keep squirming.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward