Monday, January 6, 2014

1-6-14: Happy New Year!

A.k.a....the week after Christmas.

This last week of transfer blew by as we ran around the city finding people to teach, gathering with other missionaries, and meeting with people of all sorts and sizes. Transfer calls came yesterday and and my beloved Sister Kriser is finally leaving Marzahn after ten months, heading north to Kiel tomorrow to bless the people there. Expected and needed, but still sad for us. The good news: I met my new companion on Friday at our Leadership Council and she is super sweet--Sister Cassandra Rasmussen from Sandy, Utah. And guess what else? She runs! How I lucked out for my last four companions that I can run with I will never know.
Other good news about transfer calls? Sister Schwantes, the one I trained for a transfer in Altona, is coming to Berlin which means I will get to go on exchanges with her! Woot woot!

How to start a new year in Germany...
The start of a new year in Germany sounds similar to the start of a small war. It was insane! We had to be home early that night and still went to bed at 10:30pm, but were awakened by deafening explosions at midnight that lasted for a couple of hours. Somehow I felt like I was at Hogwarts. Minus the part that I do magic. But it was so insanely bright and loud and there is surely nothing like it in America.

How else did we start the new year?
Denying more proposals for marriage of course!
We found a Muslim guy named Adam from Mali in Africa a couple of months ago, but only met with him twice because he wasn't really interested in changing his beliefs/learning more about Christ. We ran into him last week though and he said he'd love to meet with us again and he had a friend who wanted to learn too. So we took them up on the offer and set a time for New Year's day. His friend only spoke French and I made the mistake of pretending I could speak French at the beginning (the only time I will curse Pimsleur language programs), so he continued to smile and try to talk to me in French. During our meeting in a restaurant, because everywhere else was closed. Which meeting also turned out to be an attempt to convince us that God sent us here to meet them. And to marry them. We repeatedly explained what we do and don't do as missionaries and the poor French guy just happily grinned at us the whole time while we managed to reach past language barriers and get our message across.
Poor saps.
We told them to pray to know if Christ is the Son of God, and then maybe we'd talk again.
But by "we," we meant the elders.

The Magic of Bahn Talk
On exchanges last week in Tiergarten, I talked briefly with a guy from Camaroon on the bahn and gave him our card as he got off. We got a text later that day from this guy, whose name is Samuel, and he gave us his address. Not knowing exactly if he knew what we were doing in Germany and not wanting another Adam-repeat, we were slightly weary when we called to make an appointment. We didn't have a joint teach so we couldn't meet in his apartment and the place we thought we could go was closed, so we ended up meeting with him just on a bench outside. In the dark winter. Which is a miracle in itself for an African to bear the cold with us. Despite these humble circumstances (or perhaps because of them), we somehow had one of the best lessons we've had in a long time. Mostly because Samuel was great and asked so many questions and was interested in our experiences with this Gospel and we invited him to be baptized and he said yes! The Spirit was so strong there and it was definitely a tender mercy from God. The only problem will be finding time--because students study a lot and making follow-up appointments are so hard. But we have faith!

Now contrast that with...
a guy we found this week named Reinhard. Who I thought was mildly crazy when we were talking to him on the street. He learned English from the BBC so has a voice like British actors but he was really smart too and has studied a lot. We did have a joint teach for his appointment, but he didn't want to meet at his house and instead took us to a pub, and then we asked if we could go somewhere else, so we found a different restaurant (with less smoke) where he could order a beer but we had already started our fast for Sunday so we didn't eat anything and then he just kinda nailed us with a billion questions without really listening to our answers. It was kinda rough.

Let’s just say I am grateful for the many humble souls I have met with who are excited to learn, who know they don't know everything and know that we don't know everything either, but that God does.

Bike Wipeout Number 2
Despite it being winter, I refuse to give up the freedom of riding a bike. But sometimes I feel like a six-year-old that keeps crashing and then getting up and going again. This morning the streets were pretty icy and I braked at an intersection and my bike promptly slipped out from under me and then I ended up sideways on the ground with cars coming at me.
But I didn't die, nor even spill any blood. Just got a few good bruises. J

Quote of the week…
comes from Elder Holland, in talking about the new year and choosing to move forward with faith, confident in a bright future:
"I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from, but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. FAITH IS ALWAYS POINTED TO THE FUTURE."

I'm excited for this new year, for the time I have left on my mission in Germany and for the many adventures that will come.

-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward

Berlin Mission Leadership Council

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