It’s officially half-way time on my mission. Which is a dang good place to be if you ask me. To celebrate, the Rostock sisters came in for two days for a tausch and then for our annual Mission Tour, which is where an apostle or seventy (leaders in our church) comes to visit and speak with us! We were graced the presence of Elder Patrick Kearon from England and Elder Fingerla from Germany. Because the former is from England, our meeting was in English! Hurray! Not that I don't love German. But English is just my mother tongue.
Jumping back to the pre-celebrations of this week:
Okay, so you all know I struggled greatly with transportation at the beginning of my mission. I want to let you know that since coming to Berlin, I have not gotten lost or taken a wrong bahn or bus (thanks to Sister Kriser’s extended stay here), nor have I actually even used a map. Except I loved labeling my maps in my other cities with investigators, members, and less actives because it was good to know if we were in the area and had time to stop by someone, so we took our neglected map last week and went to work labeling (yay for 3-hour trips to Greifswald!). I was pretty satisfied; Monday we got to use our handy work to go by a less active before an appointment and somehow after checking and finding the address...the map disappeared. Forever. Sucked into oblivion or stolen by a stray cat or picked up by a homeless person who is now stalking all of the people’s names thereon. It just somehow disappeared. Which resulted in me lying on the ground during nightly planning with the weight of a lost map on my shoulders (and the massive amounts of people we saw at Primarck, a cheap and insanely large and crowded store here, still clogging my head with too-many-people-in-one-place syndrome). But then as it turns out, a lost map is just a lost map. Maybe the stray cat can now find a home with its help. Sister Meisenfelder was still sick this week, so I spent a day at home tending to her and relabeled another map and problem solved minus the sick sister, but more good news, that problem is now solved too and she is healthy again! Hurray for her German red-light incubator that heals ears and throats!
stats: Amount of German jokes in apartment? Increased by 243%
So that was Monday and Tuesday-day. Tuesday night the Rostock sisters came and we had six sisters in our apartment that night and the next! I served with Sister Stuart, who is so so great J. She has hipster glasses and beautiful big hair and we had some good appointments, especially with the Binaj family, who has been getting taught off and on for the past several months (Alba, their 21 year old daughter got baptized last year). Theyre from Albania (I forgot if I already talked about them so sorry) and strongly cultural Muslim, but the mom has read almost the whole Book of Mormon and knows its true. Except she can’t speak German and we can’t speak Albanian and her husband isn't really onboard for another member of his family getting baptized in our church. But I love the Binaj family; they are so passionate and ardent in all their conversation and they kind of just yell during our lessons when we talk about normal things because that’s just how they express themselves. That is a good way to live life though--heart and soul. I think it kind of intimidated Sister Stuart, but she loved it too and it was another successful tausch. Especially because all six of us celebrated Halloween Eve together by making caramel apples that night. ‘Twas wonderful.
Thursday: Mission Tour! The whole east half of our mission (about 140 missionaries) gathered together to be uplifted and edified so we can be better missionaries. Sadly, Sister Darrington and Sister Schwantes are on the other side of the mission so they met in Hamburg, but it was cool to see and feel the power of so many exceptional young people who are giving all that they can to help build God's kingdom. The visits of Elder Kearon and Elder Fingerla just put the day over the top. The next day we went back to Tiergarten (the ward building in central Berlin) for our leadership training meeting (all the zone and sister training leaders from all over the mission) to be double-uplifted from these two servants of God and pumped for life. I developed a nasty cough that threatened to de-pump me for life, but my mother-sent essential oils and Sister-Kosak-sent-mini-pharmacy enabled me to attend and learn and then keep working. Exploding with joy and the Spirit and only occasional fits of coughing.
In case you forgot, I love Christmas. More than a lot. But I want you to know that my ardor for Christmas probably falls beneath both Sister Kriser’s and Sister Ricks’s love for Christmas, both of whom insist on singing Christmas songs to start companion study, gasp in excitement whenever we see something that slightly relates to Christmas, and consistently end the day by telling me how many days we have until Christmas. Tis the season J.
We had some good appointments this weekend with Frau Kleine and Nga (a 13-year-old Vietnamese girl), who we help with English every week and teach a little bit too. We got them to come to the church to make brownies and have a church tour and it was the bomb (stats: using the word "bomb" since serving with Sister Kriser? Increased by 372%). Frau Kleine doesn’t haven’t any legs and we always thought it was because of a car accident, but we found out that she tried to commit suicide when she was 23 by jumping in front of a train after her husband left her. She survived, so obviously she is still needed! I’ve seen her heart soften a lot towards the church since coming here a couple of months ago and she loved our church and all the beautiful pictures of Christ, so she just needs to feel His healing. We taught Presence again (who astounded us with the amount of research he’d done on our church and how much he’d already read in the Book of Mormon) and invited him to get baptized and guess what? After weeks of everyone saying no, he said yes! No date yet, and he wants to do a lot of research before, but...he has the desire! Woot!
Stop, Drop and Roll
Sr. Kriser and I have found a boatload of new investigators while serving together. Unfortunately, almost all of them stop after our first lesson and they drop us and roll away, despite our continued efforts to master how effectively we teach. Even Frau Möbius, our ever diligent eternal investigator who didn't recognize an answer about getting baptized, doesn’t really have a desire to meet and learn more from us; she just wants to continue going to church in her normal life. Except normal life is normal life and it won’t get any better until you make a change! We are therefore overly pumped for Presence and hope he won’t pull the stop, drop, and roll drill like the others.
I had one of those rare moments of perfect contentment yesterday.
During sacrament meeting at church.
After singing Nearer My God to Thee.
Which is one of my favorites.
And sitting and feeling full.
Full of peace that only the Holy Ghost gives.
And simply content.
Before returning to the crazy but great missionary world in which I live J
I love you all.
-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward