Liebe Familie und Freunde, 15 July 2013
Hello from Göppingen! I cannot believe this first transfer has come to an end! It seems like I've been here for six months rather than six weeks, but at the same time the six weeks have flown by. I've learned so much this week!
This week was a good one! Last Monday was our zone Pday in Stuttgart at the stake center, where we had our 'American Day.' We had hamburger, watermelon, veggie trays, and icecream. It may seem silly, but that hamburger made my week! I am so grateful to be here in Germany, there is nowhere else I would want to be at this time, but I do love and appreciate my beloved USA more and more each day. There are so many blessings that come from being an American, and I am so grateful I was born in such a nation where the restoration of the Gospel was established and flourished. So on this "American Day" our entire zone (33 missionaries) played a game of good German fußball (soccer) all together. I love the time we get to spend with other missionaries; there is a sense of unity and support that you get from being together. It's wonderful!
Tuesday Sister Clark and I turned right back around and went back to Stuttgart again for Zone Training. We talked a lot about our goal of becoming the Miracle Zone, having the goal to see miracles occur every day here, and to help perform those miracles. We got to practice role plays (every missionary just LOVES role plays........???) and practice teaching other companionships in German. We were later joined by the AP's who were tausching (exchanging) with our Zone Leaders later that day. Sister Clark and I got lucky enough to practice the role plays with our AP's, Elder Gubler and Elder Hemsley. Both are excellent missionaries with incredible German. It was really intimidating at first, but it was great getting positive feedback from them, as well as some constructive critiscism to make our German and teaching skills better. After the role plays we got our mail that was sent to the mission home (we get those once a month at interviews or zone training or conference) and then Sister Clark and I bid farewell to one another, and we went on Austausch (split) ! I went with Sister Jencks and Green and stayed in Stuttgart, and Sister Clark and her trainer Sister Stewart went to Göppingen. The austausch was awesome! Although I have met Sister Jencks before and Sister Green was my MTC companion, it was a really good experience to go on Austausch and see how they do missionary work, especially in a drit (threeseome). Missionary work in a big city is definitely different from quaint little Göppingen! I really enjoyed learning from their strengths and gained many insights as to how I can improve as a missionary.
We had a dinner appointment that night with an American family, the Wells, from Orem Utah (they are related to the Mathesons in the 17 ward!). The sisters here in Stuttgart are over both the military ward and German ward until there are four sisters, which then they will split responsibilities. It was wonderful being able to make the connection with the Matheson family, and to have a family dinner just like home! The Wells are an amazing family and I feel really blessed to have met them. Wednesday before our switch back at 4, I got to go contacting in the big city! That was exciting!! I decided I like talking with people on the street and bus usw (etc), rather than door to door. Sister Jencks and Sister Green taught me how to be more 'up front' with people, and when you have the prompting to talk to someone, just do it! :) It was good to switch back and be with Sister Clark again in the afternoon. I really enjoyed tausch, but I really like the dynamic Sister Clark and I have, we're becoming better and better friends each day, and I really like the way we work together. She is fantastic. She's so in tune with the Spirit, and it's amazing as the junior companion to see her growth as my trainer. I wish I could have her as my companion for the rest of my mission!
Thursday, before Geminderat (ward council) we met with our GML Bruder Fromm, to discuss what we wanted to talk about at Gemeinderat in pertaining to the broadcast last Sunday. As we sat and talked outside, a man came over and asked us what we were doing and what we were talking about. I could smell him from about 30 feet away--whewwww...he was completely drunk! (That was a first) Bruder Fromm told him we were talking about our church and the man got really interested. Bruder Fromm took over (Sister Clark and I couldn't understand a word this man was saying, considering it was crazy thick Schwäbisch and he was pretty drunk) and began telling him about what we believe. The apperance of this drunk man changed as he listened very intently to what Bruder Fromm was saying. The man asked if he could have a copy of the Book of Mormon. Sister Clark and I had left the one we were going to bring at the apartment! Because we live about 10 minute walk away from the church, we ran back to get it. Literally, we ran. Sprinted, actually, both ways, and exactly 8 minutes later we arrive at the church, out of breath, and gave the man a Buch Mormon. I don't know if he will actually read it, or even if he will remember anything we taught him, but at least when he sobers up he will have that Book of Mormon and may be curious enough to read it, whether this week or in 15 years. You never know. At least we are planting seeds everywhere!
Friday is our day for weekly planning! After spending the entire afternoon planning, Sister Clark and I decided to head out and do some contacting next to a nearby cemetery. In the evening there are a lot of people out enjoying the cooler weather, so there is a wonderful opportunity to talk with everyone! And....as usual....everyone avoided the 'Zeuge Jehovas' (Jehovah Witnesses) and wouldn't listen to us. 'Ich habe kein zeit!' (I don't have time) or 'Kein interesse' (Not interested) are often comments preceeding 'Doofe Jehovas', among other not very nice things. Nobody understands and knows that we are the Mormon missionaries!! Sister Clark and I discussed this, trying to figure out how we can help the people of Göppingen Germany know we are the Mormons, a peculiar people, with a beautiful message about our Savior Jesus Christ. We need to step it up and preach with more power and boldness. We have a important message of the Savior and its not for us to ever become complacent with this message. We need to stand up and testify- this message is so important and will bring eternal joy to these people! If only they knew! We also made the goal to not go back to the apartment until either A, it was 9:00 and we had to be, and B, we gave away a Book of Mormon.
Not even five minutes after our conversation, as we turn the corner to walk down by the church, and a man wearing a bright blue tshirt walks by. He looked really happy and had a very special countenance about him. We stopped him and said hello, and tell him that we are unterwegs (on our way) talking to people about the Book of Mormon. He got really excited and said, 'You're the Mormons!' We smiled and said yes!, and he told us how he really admires our religion. He says that he feels the love from God every day of his life, but he wants to feel more (this guy was great..he was asking all the right questions!). We told him a little bit about the Book of Mormon, and both gave our testimonies that if he read it, he would know it was true and would feel that love from God. He said, "Okay, I'll take your book, but only if I can feel the love coming from it.'" (Uh....ok, whatever!) So he put his hand over the book, similar to a swearing in ceremony, and was in deep thought. I thought it was a little odd...no, really odd, but I don't think I have ever prayed so fervently and was pleading with God asking Him to testify to his heart that this book was true. I was definitely praying...... 'let him feel the love! let him feel THE LOVE!' :) After a good minute and a half the man turned to us, smiled, and said, 'Yes....I feel it. I feel a very strong love. Can I have this book?" YES!!! (Silent Whoot-Whoot-ing!) We gave it to him, gave him our contact information, set up an appointment and went home. This was definitely one of the funniest memories I have had so far, next to singing at a funeral of a cremated man in a forest, but I can promise that everyone can 'feel the love' as you read and study the Book of Mormon. I know that reading it every day has blessed me: I have never felt so whole until I read the Book of Mormon regularly. I challenge everyone to do so!!
I hope you all have a good week!! I challenge everyone to find a missionary opportunity this week, then write me about it! :)
I pray for your saftey and well being. I love you all, my wonderful friends and family! Thank you for the support and love you give me. I know I say that every week, but I wouldn't be able to do this work if I didn't know that I had such a wonderful support crew. I love you all!
Until next week,