Monday, September 9, 2013

9-9-13: Enter stage right, Berlin (where life is great!)

Started the next act of my mission in Marzahn, an east section of Berlin. Despite the trauma of leaving Hamburg so unexpectedly and soon, I've had a good week here and love my new companion, Sister Kriser.

Before we get carried away though, let's go back to Tuesday morning when I left Altona. Oskar, our investigator from Russia, was a dear and escorted me and Sister Schwantes to the hauptbahnhof (train station) and made sure I made it on the train on time and safely. Our zone leaders were also there to help us, but Oskar insistently made sure our needs were met by him. It was really tender to have him there. And then I left. On a train. By myself. Which was the first time I've been alone (still surrounded by people, but companionless) in seven months. Your companion usually brings you to the train and your new one picks you up, but since the last 2 times I've gotten a new companion have been at a training conference and my last companion has gone with me there, I had not yet experienced semi-solitude. I enjoyed the two and half hours of pondering and preparing.

Here enters Berlin.
Or I enter Berlin.
Depending on if this is a play or I am simply narrating what has happened.

Warm Welcomes
A brigade of missionaries met me when I arrived (I wonder if the people who work at train stations have noticed that every six weeks on Tuesdays a bunch of missionaries show up), including my new companion Sister Kriser! She entered the MTC the same day that I did, but got to Germany a transfer later, and I am her second companion. Yup, she stayed with her trainer, who is now home, for four transfers. Whew! Anyways, she is great! I love her. She's from Florida and is super sporty and super healthy (amount of salads consumed this week? more than 12) and just plain super. We've gotten along really well and have quickly become friends.
Also I didn't realize how stressful training was until I'm not doing it. And yeah, being a missionary is still stressful, but not nearly as much as when you have a new companion who doesn't speak the language and it still trying to live the MTC in Germany, which is great but hard. I have enjoyed not having to learn the transportation system by myself and not being always in charge. Also we live with two other sisters, including Sister Ricks who I took Writings of Isaiah with at BYU! It is fun to have four of us here :)  So the missionary scene is positive.

Sister Training Leader What-not
So being a sister training leader is pretty much the best parts of being a zone leader; we have five sister companionships in the area that we tausch (exchange) with and help train during the transfer and also get to go to leadership meetings once a month and see how we can improve the mission. We went to one such meeting this past week and it was super great. That's all the information you get. I need to get an English thesaurus so I can remember what other adjectives I used to use in English besides great. Because great pretty much sums up existence right now, but not so eloquently. So the great tausches we have coming up have not yet happened but we'll have one a week for the whole transfer and I'm pretty pumped about all the greatness that lies in future. And right now.

African Patches and Appropriate Hand-holding
Good news. I may not be able to teach the dozens of Africans we found in Hamburg, but we have two African investigators here in Berlin that I get to work with now, so I don't have to go through terrible withdrawal pains. Their names are Douglass and Chambal and they are both....greatly great. Ja klar. But there's definitely more Germans here, people we both talk to and teach. The ward has about 100 active members (and 200 inactive) and four elders and four sisters all serve in  the same ward. Working on trying to get two wards here.
Participated in some appropriate hand-holding on Sunday with a member who got baptized a couple of months ago. She is an adorable older lady named Sister Kremir who I sat by during sacrament meeting and she just grabbed my hand and held it the whole meeting. It was presh.

Das Wunder der Woche
On the way to church on Sunday, I realized that I had lost my Monatskarte. Which is not great. Because to use public transportation for the month, you buy an 80 euro ticket that you should not lose. But I did somehow and we went back to the bus area searching for it but our searching was to no avail. So we did what all missionaries do and prayed that we would be able to find the card, but it wasn't looking like that was going to happen. We started walking back to church, slightly defeated with our heads down, and then we saw the precious card, lying on the sidewalk! We cheered huzzah and went merrily along to church.
Which maybe isn't a big deal to some people. But I love that God answers prayers, no matter how big or how small. And things like Monatskartes or races that wouldn't be important to Him become important to Him because they are important to us and we are important to Him.
How was that for a great sentence?

Transporation
So I keep getting transferred to bigger and bigger cities. Leipzig was big enough for stra├čenbahns. Hamburg had busses and s-bahns. And now in Berlin, we use busses, s-bahns, stra├čenbahns, AND BIKES! I didn't think I would like using a bike as a missionary, but I love it. It is like freedom. Don't think I can get a to a bigger city after this one though.

So there is your short intro. I'm excited for it all. Be excited for life.
--

Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

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