For someone normally as close to a Christmas elf as genetically possible during the month of December, it sure has been a lot harder this week to feel and spread the Christmas joy that normally fills my heart to bursting, and sometimes unto complete combustion. And I could talk about lots of things that are hard, like people not making progress despite all you do to try and build up their testimony and that the days are only getting darker, but I thought I'd share a story from one of the sisters we visited in Rostock this week to better illustrate my point.
Rostock (on the Baltic Sea) is kind of a hard place to find people to teach and they have had a dearth of investigators for a large part of their four transfers up there together. Except one day, they found someone and they were so excited to go visit them at the appointed time and place. After traveling o'er hill and mountain to reach their appointment, they discovered a false address had been given, and without a phone number to boot. Oh and I forgot to mention it was raining buckets. Of water. On them. And so as they tried to put on a tough face, they went to a nearby park, sat on the swings, and cried in the rain.
That is a missionary story for you. Not a magical miracle. But a "life happens" one. And I know that magical miracles happen and I have seen them and am thankful for the success stories that others share and the optimism that they bring. I also know that sometimes you just have to sit on a swing in the rain and cry and then you feel better and feel like you can go forward again.
I didn't sit and cry in the rain this week (though maybe I would have relished the tragic beauty of it), but I gave myself a lot of pep talks as we struggled to find courage to talk to people in the cold and as we let ourselves feel slightly frustrated that people somehow don't care about the huge difference that Gospel can make in their lives, that is worth every little sacrifice or change that they have to make.
It is so worth it.
Instead of buying a cool car to make me feel better, I contemplated borrowing a dog from someone, but decided on chocolate in the end. It helped, a bit.
Word of the week…
from our favorite German, Mark? "Tasteful," as in "This brownie is so tasteful."
On a cold and windy night...
we were in Rostock, where a mild hurricane passed through apparently, but it just seemed like a bunch of super strong wind to us. We made sugar cookies and drank herbal tea after working that night and felt safe and protected from the outside elements.
Wunder der Woche
I've been skimping on the miracles, so sorry. I'll say a couple to make up for the lost chances in the past. A.) I broke my retainer a couple of weeks ago and got it fixed for 10 euros this week. That was a sweet deal. B.) A lady we've been trying to visit since September finally answered her phone and we are meeting with her on Tuesday! C.) We made Christmas cookies and cut out snowflakes with a less active family in our ward and talked about serving others to help them feel God's love . That last activity helped me get out of my grinch-ish funk and I feel more prepared to conquer whatever rains, winds, and times of darkness come.
And I'd like to end with a quote from Heber C. Kimball about the nature of God: "I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is - the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, 'I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance' (D&C 59:15). That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man."
So come closer to God by being happy and don't forget the reason for the season.
I love you all.
-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward