1-20-14: A few of my favorite things
(I think I already used that title in the past year. Forgive me for my re-use of ideas.)
One of my favorite things about missionary work?
My life revolving around other people and not having to plan out the details of my own life and future and worry about trivial things that seem to matter and yet don't. I have met so many people on my mission and it is crazy how much time I have spent thinking about them. These poor people have no idea that their lives are copied into journals, discussed with my companion, and then emailed home for a score of others to read. We gleefully look forward to our first appointments with them and are heartbroken every time they aren't there. Random people from Leipzig, Hamburg, and Berlin (plus some from cities we have served in during exchanges) are always in my thoughts and prayers. That is one of my favorite parts about mission work: the important people we meet.
Important People #1: our Serbians
Once upon a time, Sister Kriser and I had a long and dark week in November but found two guys from Serbia at the end of the week that brought hope to our lives. Until that hope was cut short when appointments never worked out. But once upon a time this week, we went by on our Serbian friends after another attempted appointment fell out and although the two men we originally met weren't there, a handful of other Serbians lived there and they were happy to talk to us. There is a huge language barrier because all of the women (two young, cute moms with a bunch of kids and then the older mom/grandma) can't speak very much German. But the husband of one of the women understands pretty well so we speak slowly and go through him. Not only did they let us in for a nice lesson once this week, but they said we could come back and then we did and they were still there.
It's been a long time since one of our new investigators has met with us more than once.
Our second lesson was also lovely and their family has had some hard times but they are so humble and listen so intently when we talk, even though I'm pretty sure they don't even understand. Yorshka, the only man who is there when we've gone, asked us if he could be baptized when we showed him a picture of it. Our conversation went like this:
Yorshka: "I want to be baptized.
(speaking to the women and children) Do any of you want to be baptized?
No? Okay, just me. When can we meet this week to do it?”
We explained it takes some time to be ready to make this special promise with God, but that we were here to help him prepare.
We are so excited for this family we get to help. J
Random though still important other people
We got a call from the Greifswald sisters this week asking if we could meet with someone they made an appointment with but somehow they didn't realize it was in Berlin. We ran to the place where we were supposed to meet this guy and got his phone number to call and...surprise! He was already a contact from us--a Jewish man Sister Kriser found on exchanges who we had kinda given up on. But we met him and explained our purpose and he fell off the earth the rest of this week, but....crazy things made that first appointment happen.
Another surprise: we found another less active African church member from Congo on a bahn who said he got baptized 20 years ago by an Elder Smith. The man’s name is Mike and Mike is the loudest man I have ever met. Our conversation went like this (I shall use all caps for imagination's sake):
Mike: HAHAHA YOU ARE MORMONS!!!
Us: Yes, have you heard of our church before?
Mike: HAHAHA YES I WAS BAPTIZED! BY ELDER SMITH HAHAHA
Us (confused): In our church?
Mike: YES THEY DRESSED ME IN WHITE AND PUT ME UNDER THE WATER HAHAHA
He also thought everything was absolutely hilarious. People moved away from us on the bahn because they felt uncomfortable, but it was so funny. We're giving him to the elders to take care of, but....it was another missionary moment.
And then the bug came....
That all was just at the beginning of the week. Because in the dark of the night of Wednesday, evil found me and I threw up approximately 15 times in five hours and had a fever to boot (is that a real expression?). I know you all wanted to know that. And I had no brother to serenade me with his hits from last year's Stomach Flu Album, including "You've got a puke in you" and "Hey Mrs. Pukeface." So I was pretty miserable. Actually I probably would have been miserable regardless of the singing or lack thereof. We had a leadership meeting on Thursday though and I really wanted to be there and because I am stupid, I thought I could still go late. After surviving the longest bahn ride of my life (one hour stretches interminably when your stomach wants to die) across the city to Tiergarten, I realized I was dumb. I made it approximately 15 minutes in a classroom before being moved to a couch. I was then moved from that couch to another couch after Sister Kosak came up to tend to this not-so-wise, whimpering sister. President Kosak gave me a blessing actually and then I passed out in a room for a few hours until the meeting was over and then the Kosaks drove us home rather than sending us back on the bahn. I love them so much!
Because I was still kind of dumb, we went on an exchange to Neubrandenburg (a couple hours north of Berlin) on Friday afternoon to work with Sister Miller and Tolman, who are awesome. They have so much energy and are so positive. I was kinda dead on Friday night and they actually just toted (is that also a word?) me around in the back of their car (yes, they have a car! ahh!!!) as they visited people. So it worked out okay and Saturday I was feeling mostly better.
And today I am feeling even more better.
Huzzah for Israel and scattered emails!
Keep the faith.
-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward