I officially made it into my twenty-second year of life and celebrated the survival of one score and one year by biking to Honey Man's house yesterday.
Honey Man is a contact Sister Kriser found before I got here.
Honey Man gave them some honey.
Honey Man also lives way in the boonies of Berlin.
In a dorf in the boonies.
But we decided that bahns (trains) are slow and Germany is beautiful and we are pretty fast bikers so we could do it no problem.
We were right about Germany being gorgeous.
We underestimated how long it would take via bike however. Meaning we spent 3.5 hours on our bikes (40 kilometers we think?) and then had to take a regional train back because it was dark and there was no way that we would make it home on time otherwise.
BUT IT WAS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL AND GREAT ADVENTURE and we re-found Honey Man. Who had no honey today. And who told us he's interested in our message, but doesn't think he has time. Which was sad. But we still had a good little lesson with him.
Here is where you stop and ask yourselves how the heck we made it from Biesdorf to a 40km away dorf without a GPS or knowledge of German road system (especially taking into consideration my past transportation fiascos). And here is where we say we brought Mark, an amazing 25-year-old convert who got baptized in April. Who has an iPhone with a GPS :) We told him about our adventure at church and he accepted our invitation to come (thank goodness) because no way would we have completed this endeavor without him. Plus he gave such powerful testimony of how he came to know our church was true to Honey Man and testimony is always better from normal people who speak the language natively. Not that our testimony isn't powerful, but members really just send the message home.
We made it home in time to eat quark cake with the other sisters in our apartment and rejoice in life.
And we aren't even sore today :)
It's definitely been easy to be a happy missionary the past few weeks--Sister Kriser is so positive and we just seem to carry each other, no problem, and work and have fun and enjoy little things like finding wild fruit and eating it. We also found a boatload (okay, a family-sized boat) of investigators together this week, which was awesome. It's so good to just get some fresh people to teach and try to be a better teacher from the start. One of the families we found last week is from Macedonia. I found out this morning that we somehow don't have the Book of Mormon in Macedonian. Hmph. That does not decrease the goodness of the Naboosha family though, who are....Christianized Muslims. I don't know how else to say it. They are loosely Muslim by culture but believe Christ is the son of God and everything we taught they loved. They have a 19-year-old daughter named Sibella who asked if she was allowed to get baptized even though she was Muslim. Ja klar (of course)! It was a super good lesson. They are all looking for work and we prayed that they would find work and this morning we found out they found work, which is wonderful except now they don't have time to meet with us because of crazy auslander (foreign workers) work schedules. But isn't that nice that God answers prayers? We shall find a time to teach them more that works regardless.
We went on tausch (exchanges) to Glienicke (northern part of Berlin) this week and just wanted to say that tausches can really help you appreciate your wonderful companion and all that they do. It was still a pretty successful tausch; they haven't had new investigators for a while but we found a sweet lady from Ghana (#memoriesofAltona) and a Vietnamese man, plus a Chinese contact! Marzahn (my area) doesn't have a lot of diversity compared to other places I've served--we mostly have Germans but with a fair amount of seasoning from other eastern European countries.
I realize I didn't do headings this email.
Thought I'd point that out.
For those of you who have been counting, I'm almost half way through my mission. And I was thinking about the beginning of my mission this week and how terribly long those first several weeks seemed and how long 18 months seemed and I had to work really hard at trying not to count every minute and simply rejoice in little things. Time has since flown and I want every missionary still possibly trudging through the first few transfers to know that it always gets better and trudging will turn into joyful skipping (for sisters) and jumping (for elders--not that elders can't skip or that sisters can't jump but...). Elder Uchtdorf's talk from forever general conference ago has stuck with me my whole mission: "Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. 'This is the day which the Lord hath made...,' the Psalmist wrote. 'Rejoice and be glad in it.'" Sometimes it was not so easy to appreciate the particular part of the trail. Right now, it's pretty easy and I'm so grateful. Regardless of its difficulty, I love the challenge to appreciate life and to celebrate the day. I love being a missionary. I love my Savior Jesus Christ, who helps me find joy in each step of the journey.
Watch General Conference this week. In your language of choice.
Go to www.lds.org for all of the life-changing details!
Sister Claire Michelle Woodward