My move to Bielefeld has left me feeling more or less like a new missionary again, back at the beginning of my mission instead of the aged missionary I'd become. Vulnerable, exposed, prone to getting lost, torn from my cozy home in Berlin. That's about how it goes. Which is good for strong bones (just like calcium) and ideally, it should (and likely will, with time) help me be in a focused state of growth for the next few months. Unfortunately, that didn't happen this week and it was kind of hard. At every wrong turn and knocked on door, I just thought of home and missed it dearly. Whatever home is now. I was most homesick for Berlin and my peeps there at the beginning of this week, but then that changed to homesick for my family and America this weekend. But then you can't really do anything about that when it comes except buck up and keep going because someday you'll be home, but right now your home is here.
So we did that.
Three by three.
Normally, missionaries go two by two, but sometimes you get uneven numbers of missionaries and so you go three by three. Which is actually more different than I thought it would be.
Here are the pros:
· we can accept rides from men because we meet the proportion rule
· we can also visit and teach men without awkwardly standing outside the door because of aforementioned proportion rule
· we can talk to three people at a time when we are street contacting
Here are some of the cons:
· we don't all fit on the sidewalk so someone walks awkwardly ahead or behind
· it takes more effort to unite our thoughts and ideas
· it's slightly overwhelming (to others) to approach a person on the street when there are three of you
None of us know how long we'll be together, so that's where that's at.
The good news is that Bielefeld really is beautiful--a lot smaller, quieter, and more rural than any of my other cities. There are little dorfs (villages) around Bielefeld where a lot of members live so we take real trains to visit people fairly often. Or at least we will as the ball gets rolling. We all came to this area new and had approximately zero investigators left for us. We went to work and found eight people this week, so hopefully we'll be able to build up a teaching pool pretty quickly and I won't be so dang trunky. Despite taking the wrong bus an hour away to a wrong address anyways and also losing a 114 -euro monatskarte (train pass) that I'd bought the day before, I am glad to be here.
Also....I would like to introduce Bielefeld as the mini-Nigeria.
How Ghanaians picked Hamburg, Cameroonians Berlin, and Nigerians Bielefeld, I'll never know.
But rest assured, Africa lives strong in the smaller western cities as well.
Like usual. General Conference really is like Christmas for missionaries. And maybe some normal people too. It will have been my last time watching it in Germany and I got to watch it in English again J. I really loved President Uchtdorf's talk about gratitude and how we should be grateful in things and not for things. Sometimes it's easy to be grateful and see our blessings and sometimes it takes more effort, but gratitude increases our happiness. There are a lot of things that end in life that we tend to mourn, but really we just have a bunch of everlasting beginnings.
So I didn't end my mission when I left Berlin.
I'm just starting another everlasting beginning in Bielefeld.
Love you all J
-- Sister Claire Michelle Woodward