Monday, August 19, 2013

8-19-13: Thinking Thoughts

Claire is excited about the baptismal date because that is her birthday--the very best present for a missionary!

Happy birthday to my dear mother on Friday. everyone wish her good tidings of great joy. Speaking of good tidings of great joy, I broke down and listened to three Christmas songs this week. That should hold me up for a bit.

Lost in Translation
I tried to talk to start up a conversation with someone on the S-bahn this week. Turns out he was from Romania and couldn't speak German, nor any of my Pimsleur languages. But we tried really hard to communicate nonetheless with all sorts of charades, from which we understood the question relating to our singlehood and we tried to explain the mission thing but...that didn't gesticulate well. Finally we just left him with one of our cards with and our phone number on it. But apparently that was a bad choice because then he made a flirty I'll-call-you hand signal. Nothing like accidently hitting on Romanian men when trying to share the Gospel.

Upcoming Baptism Bliss
Remember how we invited Rita to get baptized last week? Well this week she accepted the baptismal date of the 29th of September! I’m so stoked! She is one with great believing blood. She had a few questions about the baptism. Like how long it would last. We thought she meant the service and said about 45 minutes. But she actually wanted to know how long you have to stay underwater. We clarified and all was well.

Dead Man Quote Board
Most of you know that I had something called my dead-man-quote-board with a bunch of my favorite historical people saying historically and profoundly significant things. Just wanted to let you know that I have a variation of it still on my wall, but it's mostly just quotes. From living people. Though with a fair share of dead people quotes too. I just kind of love words a lot and I think that the examples, lives, and wisdom of others, dead or living,. really help me to do good. Good as in the noun, not the adverb, because then I would have used well. Just thought I'd mention that. 

Das Wunder der Woche
We have interviews with our mission president once every few months to see how things are going with us personally and with the work and just to kidna check in. We had said interviews this week. But I was really touched by the love that I felt from President and Sister Kosak. Because even though we have a huge mission with 250 missionaries to care about, they still take precious time to see how each of those missionaries is doing. Which reminded me of Christ and the individual ministering He did while He was on the earth. I think most of you also know I have a small obsession with individualism and I think it is profoundly important. One of my fears about being a missionary was turning into one of a million robots. But we are not robots and we are all prfoundly human. And I am so thankful for a mission president who cares so much about each of us. Just trying to do our best. 

Wo kommon Sie her?
So you know from last week that we're teaching a lot of foreigners. So our favorite question is where they are from. But we are also trying to pick up the family history work in our area and help people in our ward and strangers off the street get more geneology savy. Because family history teaches us about ourselves! The point of this paragraph is actually not at all about where people come from actually. Sorry for the misleading title and introduction. Now I'm just going to make an awkward transition from loving all these different kinds of people and wanting them to experience the joy of the message we have. I was looking through some emails I'd printed out early and found something from my cousin Hillary that I wanted to share from Elder Holland. It's long, but good.  

“Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound. 19 I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world.”
(If you’d like to read the entire talk by Elder Holland, here is the link:

I’m trusting in the promise. I shared more thoughts than stories this week...but it happens. 
Love you all.
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

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