Monday, January 27, 2014

1-27-14: Special Types of Missionary Coldness and Miracles

If I was one of those people who named crayon colors and those crayons were actually weather types, I would call this week "missionary cold" or "permanently frozen." Granted I'm not serving a mission in Russia, Finland, or Norway and maybe I'm just wimpy, but it was so so cold this week. Piercing missionary cold that comes from being outside for extended periods of time. I think that's how Hell will feel: cold. And away from God. Fortunately we don't have to bear the latter. We just shuffle through the icy streets and find all the food we've taken with us for the day to be frozen in our backpacks. The good news about that: frozen granola bars taste faintly of ice cream. Despite the chilling frost, it was an awesome week. The special missionary coldness came with special missionary miracles.

Miracle Number One: aka “The District” day
We have these training videos that we watch as missionaries that give examples of how to be better teachers, planners, etc and it's called "The District." Most of the time, I feel like American missionary work is totally different from Germany missionary work and I feel like no missionary work is as perfect as on these films. Until Tuesday, when I think someone from "The District" producing team set up two perfect appointments for us. So if we're on the next "District," that was Tuesday. We met with the Müllerstein couple and their baby (ps-they are GERMAN) and Herr Müllerstein (who is actually only 20, but I don't know his first name) was so interested in what we believed. When we promised him he could know if the Book of Mormon is true by reading it and asking God, he asked how long it would take to get an answer. We explained it was different for every person, and then he gave us this equation:
"So if I have a lot of faith, I'll get an answer really quickly and if I don't believe, then it will take a long time."
We went with the "um. kinda. maybe?" answer, because sometimes even really faithful people wait a long time. But he wants to find faith again and it was so brilliant! Unfortunately, he's leaving for work for two weeks, so we're hoping we'll keep in contact. And that he'll get his answer. J

Part two of our district day was our appointment with Jenny, who got baptized last June but hasn't really been coming to church. We brought her home teacher with us for support and Jenny also brought a guest; she wanted us to teach a friend of hers about the Plan of Salvation and he wanted to learn from us. Except the best part was that we didn't even teach; we just provided visuals, scriptures, and transitional phrases. We're good at those. Meanwhile, Jenny and her home teacher just had this master joint teach appointment and Jenny's friend Heiko was so interested and deep in thought. It was the bomb! Plus Jenny invited him to get baptized. He said he'd think about it. Then she commanded him to get baptized. What do you say to that?

Miracle Number Two: related to the first
On our lovely “The District” day, we also found a guy named Ben from Cameroon. He showed us the building where he lived and told us to come by on Saturday so we did. Except the name he gave us wasn't on the building. Which happens sometimes when people give you false information. But instead of deciding he was lost, we decided to go inside and knock on every door on the eighth floor, where he said he lived. We were delayed because of this particular way of finding him again, but we found where he lives by meeting his brother Alex! Ben had apparently left because he thought we weren't coming (curse you, invisible names), but Alex proceeded to tell us he wanted to give his life to Christ. And when I say he told us, I mean he told Sister Rasmussen that because while he was talking to her, he gave me the phone and told me to talk to his friend. Slightly confused, I said,
"Hi, this is Sister Woodward. Who is this?"
He responded,
"Hey, this is Christian. I meet with your people in Eisenhütenstadt and I've been going to church for a month and I'm getting baptized on Sunday!"
Then came the awkward pause where I tried to figure out what was going on and then we were just excited and Alex told us he wanted to get baptized too and it was just a party on the eighth floor of a ghetto building. Hurray!

Miracle Number Three
Remember our Serbians from last week? Ah they are great! We had a crazy appointment with them with week that started out kinda rough. As in, all six of their children under the age of four were a wee bit hyper and giving their best impressions of angry birds (the animal, not the game) and Yorshka started talking to me and asking for money from us or the church because they have a niece who needs an operation and they can't afford and I awkwardly tried to explain we weren't allowed to give out money. So I was feeling kind of uncomfortable with the whole environment but we somehow got to the point that we wanted to watch a movie about Joseph Smith with them in Serbian. They were thrilled (demonstrated by vigorous nodding). They all gathered around the couch to watch the movie on the tiny DVD player we had brought with us and it was such a picture-perfect moment, aside from the occasional screaming of angry-bird children. Then we invited them to be baptized on the second of March and Yorshka and Yasmin said yes! The others have to think about it. I think it will take a while to teach everything, but they have a goal and are super excited for it!

Miracle Number Four
Because all good things come in sets of three, I thought I'd add another one. Because Annie from China is also a miracle! Sister Kriser and I actually found her forever ago but didn't get to meet with her until Saturday. She was also so attentive and tried really hard to understand everything we were talking about. She doesn't have any background with God but wanted to learn about him and she prayed for us at the end in Chinese! She is really open and told us she really respects our passion for our faith :)
My favorite parts of appointments?
When investigators pray for the first time.

Northern trips
We went up to Greifswald for our exchange with Sisters Schmidt and Bronson and it was also lovely, though we definitely had our fair share of feeling "missionary cold."

Special types of heart breakage
We see oodles of miracles, make no doubt about it. I think there is also a special type of missionary disappointment, where our hearts just break when people don't keep their commitments. We were expecting so many people at church on Sunday, many of whom were mentioned above, and approximately zero came. Even faithful Frau Möbius who comes every Sunday stayed inside because of the cold. Even those that we tried to pick up before church but then weren't ready. Such deep disappointment after you saw how excited these people were when they were with you. That's why we pray and read the scriptures every day--so we don't forget!

Random side notes that don't fit with anything else
You know what I miss in English? Adverbs. Just saying.
Also people here often pray for "the missionaries and the sisters." Because apparently missionaries aren't sisters.
Also I love apple tea.
Also....that is all.
Except that I love you all.
As usual. J
God lives and loves us; this is His special work.

-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

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