I suspect the title of this week's email is more in anticipation of Claire's favorite holiday which is now just around the corner and I will bet future emails will be full of exuberance about Christmas spirit and cheer. And missionary work, of course. I would expect nothing less from her. Hope you all have a spirit-filled week!
This week we brought in the Halloween Spirit by....
· Carving pumpkins! We had a sweet lesson with a less-active family in our ward and helped them carve their first pumpkin! Because Germans usually just eat pumpkins. But we showed them the joy of making them art. We talked about how God takes all the icky stuff out of us (I was terrified of the inner-pumpkin squishy-ness as a child) and then puts a light inside of us. In order for other people to see that light, we also need to carve some holes, which is painful, but worth it. The kids liked it and we were happy to use pumpkins to further the Gospel of Truth.
· Teaching an old, toothless man we found on the street who was actually less crazy than we expected, but probably not super interested in our message.
· Inviting everyone to get baptized! Everyone we have invited has remained in a state of indecision despite our prayers and love, but...indecision will turn to a yes sooner or later. We know it can happen and we know people are ready.
· Examining all things German that have suddenly appeared in our house (because of the new German sister missionary). Like a red-light lamp that apparently helps ear infections but really reminds us of a chick incubator (Sister Meisenfelder has been sick and that has been one of the treatments). And like all of the German food now in our cupboards including assortments of potatoes and sauces.
· Drinking lots of tea. Which I have come to love, by the way. Germany has a bunch of delicious fruit teas that are excellent for overall health and in accord with the Word of Wisdom. Also I forgot to tell you I tried non-alcoholic beer in Leipzig forever ago and it was nasty. But that has nothing to do with Halloween spirit.
· Having potato peeling contests at church activities. For which German woman prepare their whole lives.
· Listening to a British high counselor come to speak in our ward with a sweet British accent on his German
· Getting stoked to hear from a Seventy this week in our mission
· Tausching (going on exchanges) with the Greifswald sisters! We took a three hour train north to spend Friday night and Saturday with the sisters there, who just opened a new program. They are studs; I was not so organized when we opened Altona and they are so happy to be there. Greifswald is apparently a really touristy town because about 52% of the people we talked to didn't live there. I actually got to give some Marzahn cards away to some people from Berlin J. It was beautiful up there though and by the Ostsee and...’twas good. Our other tausch-group Ostsee city, Rostock, is coming down here this week and working in our area and we're pumped to have them here too.
· Having awesome train conversations with the guy who checks our tickets to make sure we aren't riding schwarz (without paying) and with a lady studying Hebrew! Thank you Logan for starting to learn Hebrew because you gave me the opportunity and courage to start talking to her. The guy lived in Greifswald and we had a really good lesson on our way home actually and the lady lives in Hannover, but we got her emails. I love it when it is so natural to talk to someone about what you are doing here. It is often weird to just approach people walking outside but when we are just sitting on a train, it is natural to talk to people around you. The lady thought it was funny we were speaking German with each other when we both had American accents J. As a mission, we speak 9-9 German with each other, no matter how silly we sound (that means they speak German from 9am-9pm).
· Having an awesome lesson with a guy named Presente (say presence with a French accent) that we found on the bahn (train) last week. We were pretty sure he thought it was a date, but good news, he had a lot of good questions about our church and even took notes! Teaching is so much easier when you teach to peoples' questions and interests.
And now for the things that take away from the true spirit of Halloween, namely, excuses. People have a tireless supply of excuses for why they can't come to church or meet with us. I will humor you with a few.
· I'm going walking that day
· I need to sleep
· I need to wash my pants (apparently there are intensive pant washing techniques I do not know)
· I need to make food
· I'll be in the shower
· I'm working
· It's too early
· I have a doctor appointment that day (Germans are at full capacity after one appointment in a day)
· I'm going to a party
· It's a holiday
· It's too hot
· I need to study
· I don't want to
· I already believe in God; your work is done.
· I'll be on vacation
· No time
· No interest
· I'm atheist
· I don't speak German
· I don't speak English
· It's my birthday that week (which debilitates you for the whole week?)
I know, pathetic, right? We can all make time for the most important things. Like God.
And lastly, some quotes from my mission president and his wife:
"Life is about sucking it up." --Sister Kosak
"Don't miss the joy." --President Kosak
So don't forget the true meaning of Halloween (whatever that it is)--don't make excuses, suck it up, and be happy.
I love you all.
-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward