Monday, February 23, 2015
How was my week, you may ask? Allow me to refer you to my fellow Mormon homeboys, imagine dragons:
"The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell."
The days leading up to Edison’s baptism were not pleasant ones.
We got a call from our branch president on Tuesday, who advised us to postpone the baptism. He felt that we were "rushing it" and explained that it’d be in everyone’s best interest to hold off on the taufe. We called President Stoddard and asked for his advice, and he called our branch president to sort out the whole situation. We got a call from a not-so-happy branch president a little while later, who reluctantly told us to go ahead with the baptism. All was fine and dandy...until later that night. He called us back and, among other things, let us know that he wasn't so sure he'd confirm Edison at church on Sunday...like excuse me, what? As if that wasn’t bad enough, President Stoddard called us the next morning and proceeded to (lovingly) chastise us a wee bit because of something my comp said on the phone while talking to our branch president and oh my gosh I just wanted someone to buy me a plane ticket so I could go home.
Despite all the opposition we faced this week... EDISON GOT BAPTIZED.
Everything worked out!
His service was BEYOND PERFECT.
The spirit was SO. STRONG. And Edison was beaming the whole time!! I was literally BURSTING. AT. THE. SEEMS. With joy!
With all the excitement, I realized I totally forgot to tell y’all "his story"
It’s an awesome one.
In Albania, there’s a law which legalizes the killings of males over the age of 18 if someone from their family killed someone from yours. Well, Edison’s crazy aunt murdered someone and Edison, being 20, had to flee the country or risk dying. He'd been acquainted with the church for about 7 years in Albania, but was never able to be baptized because of the dangerous circumstances he was living in. 3 months after moving to Germany, he ran into the Mormon missionaries on the street (the elders one day and the sisters the very next...after angels had pressed buttons on their elevator, making them miss their bus, remember?). About a month later, he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and confirmed the following Sunday.
What a blessing it was to be involved in that process!
Bertrand came to the baptism...and he LOVED it. We had two really amazing lessons with him this past week. We watched the restoration with him on Monday night. Bertrand, who is usually full of questions and concerns was completely speechless. After the lesson, I told him he could keep the video if he'd like and he acted like I was giving him GOLD. He expressed how much he loved it and told us it was his new favorite. On Saturday, we taught him the word of wisdom, which we found out is something he struggles with. He loves beer. Apparently can’t go to sleep at night without having some. At one point, we thought we were going to lose him! He was saying things along the lines of "This is way too hard" and "I don’t want to give it up". I had NO IDEA what to say...but the spirit did! I asked Bertrand to turn to a certain page in the Word of Wisdom pamphlet and read a paragraph about the blessings promised to those who keep it (i.e. increased spiritual capacity to receive guidance from god, more knowledge and wisdom, greater peace of mind, increased self-control, confidence, etc.), then asked "are all these blessings REALLY worth a bottle beer every day?" His humble heart understood that no sacrifice was too big for blessings like those and he agreed to stop drinking and live the word of wisdom!!(:
Before the lessons was over, I said something along the lines of "Bertrand, if you’re ever struggling or feel like you can’t do it, please just give us a call. We’ll drop whatever we're doing to help you. We'd LOVE to help you through this." As I was saying that, I was completely overcome with emotion. Those words had a familiar ring to them- a loving Father in Heaven has spoken to my heart time and time again. He cares about me, about EVERYONE, so much! He knows our weaknesses and struggles and wants nothing more than for us to "call him", to turn to him in heartfelt prayer so that he can help us. He LOVES to help us.
Ha-ha, that's something that is going to be VERY IMPORTANT for me to remember these next couple weeks because...
I GOT CALLED TO BE A TRAINER.
Sister Knutson will be leaving the area (she got called to train, too!!) and I’ll be stickin' around and showing a golden the ropes...BUT UMM EMERGENCY- I DON'T EVEN KNOW THE ROPES.
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING.
Oh my heavens, I’m TERRIFIED.
We'll be taking a train up to Frankfurt on Wednesday for a "train the trainers" meeting, we'll be paired up on Thursday morning and I’ll be back in Kaiserslautern with my golden on Thursday night!
WISH ME LOTS OF LUCK!
Heavens knows I’ll be needing it!
Love y’all lots!! (:
- Sister Terry
Sunday, February 22, 2015
We received a bonus letter from a family in Brooke's branch! It is fun getting surprised like this!
Good Morning to the Knutson and Terry families,
I have attached two pics taken last evening at the baptism of a young man (Edison Haxhija) who is from Albania but living here in Germany. Your daughters have been teaching him and you can see the results. He will be confirmed today in sac. meeting. We had the opportunity of sharing this special time with your daughters and Edison along with a few of the other members in our branch yesterday evening.
I have more pics that I will get off to you but must only send two at a time, as before, so that they won't be rejected. I have some others besides these too, that are not ready to send yet that were taken earlier in the week when your daughters and my wife and I were working at Br. Koch's home trying to clean it up in preparation for his family to move into. It was a fun, fun time working with your two missionary daughters. My wife has more chances of doing this than I do because of me working and she really enjoys it.
We are planning to have both sisters over for dinner this afternoon. Sis. Knutson, as you probably already know, has been transferred to Dortmund, Germany so this is her last Sunday in our branch. Both sisters will be training new missionaries. They are a bit nervous, as is to be expected but we are sure that they will be wonderful mentors to the two new sisters. If I can get a few more pics this afternoon, I will, at some time try to send them along. We are sad to see Sis. Knutson go, and happy that Sis. Terry is able to remain in our branch but know that both will do a great job with their new challenges. They have been a super team here and have been a great help to my wife who is a member of the RS pres. in her efforts to connect with inactives and other such things.
Have a great Sunday and greetings to all your family members.
Dave and Ellen Eldredge
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
IT’S TAUFE TIME
Everyone says a mission is hard--but no one ever says exactly why that is. I'll tell you why. As a missionary, there’s a constant need for improvement. A "great job" could have always been a better one and even your very best is never perfect. As I shared in a couple emails last week, I’ve been so overwhelmed over the past week and a half or o as I’ve thought about all the areas I fall short in, all the progress I need to make, the attributes I need to acquire and skills I need to develop in order to be a missionary the Lord is proud of, one he can count on, one he can trust. It’s so discouraging. I was feeling incredibly downtrodden earlier this week, and knelt in prayer asking heavenly father to somehow let me know how He feels I am doing...the next morning, I read Alma 38 during personal study. Verses 3-5 say:
"I have had great joy in thee already because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long suffering among the people of the Zoramites (Germany)...Remember that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles and your afflictions."
To all who have had or currently have thoughts similar to mine, who feel like a disappointment or a failure, remember this: Heavenly Father is loving. He is patient. He is understanding. I don’t know why that is so hard for me to get through my head!
Anywho, let me tell you a little about our week!
We had two lessons with Bertrand--one about faith and repentance, the other about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. He understands the magnitude and significance of baptism, which is wonderful...but also SUPER FRUSTRATING because he won’t commit to a date! He's also been really hesitant about coming to church. At the end of our appointment on Saturday, we invited him to come and he said "maybe" and I was like "no dude, you’re coming and I’m going to call you 1000 times tomorrow morning so get ready". I called him once, and he didn’t answer...but he called back about 20 minutes later and said he'd come...AND HE DID! I turned to him after sacrament meeting and asked him if it was as horrible as he thought it was going to be, and he turned to me, wide eyed and smiling and said "no! It was amazing!" I ALMOST CRIED. MY BERTRAND IS MAKING SO MUCH PROGRESS.
We had another miracle on Sunday! We've been working with this less active named Sister Freitag. The sisters have been meeting with her for a while and were about to tchues (drop) her right before I got here because she wasn’t making any progress. But all of the sudden, she’s turned into a total rockstar and keeps the commitments we give her, agrees to live the commandments and EVERYTHING. She even agreed to come to church! We went to go pick her up Sunday morning (we can get people on buses/trains for free on the weekends) and she was running late! The bus was scheduled to leave at 9:58...but oddly, it just sat there for an extra three minutes! Because of that, Sister Freitag was able to make it in time and came to church for the first time in who knows how long!
You want to hear another awesome story? So I’m the "young women’s" missionary. Meaning, on Sundays, Sister Knuston and I split and she helps with relief society and I help with the teenagers (I think we all know who got the better end of that deal). Anyway, one of my girls, Shirley is not a member! Her parents have been less active for 20 something years, but the elders have been working with them a lot, and the whole family is starting to come back to church! We went over to their place for lunch (and to give them the snicker doodle recipe--thanks Sara!) and the dad was basically like "the elders have done a great job...butttttt we want the two of you to teach our daughter." The elders are currently refusing to hand her over...but I’ll definitely keep you posted! I have high hopes for that girl! She’s pretty great!
As for Edison...I have 3 words for you: ITS *TAUFE TIME. My arch nemesis, Satan, is doing EVERYTHING he can to prevent it from happening (surprise, surprise), so its' been an incredibly stressful week....but a great one nonetheless.
Anyway, I’m going to go hike up to a castle now. No worries. I’ll send y’all some pics next week.
Love you lots!!!
Wish me luck with transfers next weekend!!!!
*Taufe= BAPTISM WOHOOOOOO
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Let’s start off with a miracle story, shall we?
We had a lesson planned with a woman named Elenore yesterday. She was a referral from a member in the American military ward. Sister Knutson and her previous companion had a couple lessons with her back in November--they actually had a baptismal date set up at one point--but that ended up falling out and the appointments stopped. Anyway, so we got to her little dwarf (about hour or so outside of Kaiserslautern)...and found out that there wouldn’t be a bus leaving to get us to her house for an hour! We called her and, luckily, she didn’t have anything else planned and said we could still meet. Sister Knutson and I were sitting on a bench eating lunch, waiting for the bus...when we see it drive by! It was 10 minutes early and hadn’t seen us sitting there!
We were so upset!! We had a rockin' lesson planned and were going to recommit her baptism...but there was no way for us to get to her house. We were walking down the street, about to call her and cancel, when we hear someone yell "SISTERS! DO YOU NEED A RIDE SOMEWHERE?!" We looked over our shoulder, and there was a member from one of the American wards standing outside of her car.
My mouth dropped to the ground.
I couldn't believe it.
She ended up driving us to the appointment, where we taught the aforementioned rockin' lesson and....SET A BAPTISMAL DATE! The 14th of next month!!!! HOORRAYYYYY!
Speaking of baptismal dates...do you remember the guys we met on the street the other week? The ones who we ran into because of the angels on our elevator? One of them, Edison, said he was a member...but SURPRISE: He’s not! He's been going to church for about 7 years but has never been baptized. However...HE WILL BE IN 2 WEEKS. That’s right! The 21st!!! Ugh he's such a rockstar. Like, you don’t even know. I feel so privileged to teach him! He has SUCH a strong testimony and is going to be a rock solid member (he basically already is). In lessons, whenever we testify of anything, his response is "I know that, too!" ...he makes our job really, really easy.
I have about 50 emails to respond to this week (STRESSSSSS), so I’m gonna keep this one short...but the lord is blessing us LIKE CRAZY here in Kaiserslautern. Keep the prayers coming...they're working miracles!!(:
I love y’all so so so so muchhhhhhh <3
Talk to ya next week!!!(:
Monday, February 2, 2015
Oh my heavens.
So. Many. Miracles.
I don’t even know where to start.
Friday night, we were on the bus heading home and sat next to a cute old lady. We began talking to her...and shortly found out that she was deaf. After chatting for a bit, I asked her if she had ever heard of the Book of Mormon. She hadn’t. I handed her one and gave a brief explanation as she flipped through the pictures in the front. I honestly can’t remember what all I said, but I remember feeling the Holy Ghost stronger than I’ve ever felt him since coming out here as I bore testimony about the Book of Mormon and explained how special it was to me. She asked me how much I wanted for it and was ELATED when I told her it didn’t cost a cent! She took it from me and hugged it to show her gratitude.
She had to read my lips throughout the whole conversation.
I had to try to make out her slurred, mumbled words.
But, through the power of the Holy Ghost, we were able to communicate and understand one another perfectly.
Later on that day, we got a call from some elders in our zone! Do you remember that group of Americans I was telling you about the other week? Actually, maybe I didn’t tell you about them. Either way, there was a group of four American military men who we stopped and talked to one of my first days here. Three of them gave us their numbers and expressed interest in learning more. WELLL the elders we referred them to were calling to let us know that one of them, Nick, and his wife are now investigating the church! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!
Speaking of awesome...GET THIS. We had Gemico planned for 15:00 on Saturday. Sister Knutson and I had gotten out the door with JUST enough time to run to the bus and catch it. On our way down, however, the elevator kept stopping and opening on random floors (which it never does). We got outside just in time....to see our bus drive away. So we starting walking to the church. We were at a stop light near our apartment waiting to cross the street when 2 guys came up behind us. One of them looked down at my tag, then back at me, then back at my tag and then back at me again. I laughed, stuck out my hand as said "Hi! I’m Sister Terry!" He introduced himself and then asked "you two are Mormon missionaries, right?" Sister Knutson responded and asked what he knew about the church. Come to find out—he’s actually a member from Albania who moved here about 3 months ago but hasn’t been to church. I turned to his friend and asked "are you Mormon, too!?" he said no...So I said "WHAT!? Why not?!" He laughed and then said that he's heard a lot about the church from his friend and would like to meet and learn more!
Call me crazy, but there is no doubt in my mind that there were angels on our elevator, pressing random buttons so that we'd miss our bus and run into these two!
Funny though, after talking a little while longer, we found out that they had actually run onto the elders on the street the day before and had an appointment set up with them already...so naturally, we called the elders later that day and said "YOU STOLE OUR AFRO SHOP—WE'RE STEALING YOUR ALBANIANS." The elders won’t let us teach them though, because they two guys are asylum—meaning they had to flee their country because someone wants to kill them and said person is currently still after them.
They both came to church yesterday, though!! So that rocked.
You want to know what else rocked. Our lesson with Bennett. He was a referral from the American elders! AGHH it was SUCH a neat experience! When we began, he was asking a bunch of really random, off topic questions...making it just a little hard to teach. However, as we delved into the first lesson, his crazy questions ceased...and he was all ears. Before we started, he said something along the lines of "I’m going to be honest...this Book of Mormon? I don’t think I’m going to read it. I don’t really have time, ya know?" BUTTTTT, by the end of our 45 minutes together his attitude COMPLETELY changed! "Yes, yes, yes, I’ll read!" He said. "I know God will give me an answer when I pray and ask him if it’s true". It was INCREDIBLE to see the spirit working within him—softening his heart and mind right before our eyes!!
On top of ALL THAT, we found and taught another man who is now investigating the church, had an old investigator show up to church (who we will be meeting with and teaching this coming week) and have been blessed with about 6000 other miracles which I sadly don’t have time to type up right now. Sister Knutson and I got a call this past week and were asked to give a 40-minute lesson at zone training, because, in the words of our superiors: we're "killing it right now". Booyah.
Real quick. Before I go. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but because of everything going on in the world right now (someone please tell me...I have no idea what’s happening) the level of security here in the Germany Frankfurt mission has been raised. Please keep me and the rest of the missionaries in your prayers!!
Love y’all so much!!!!
Talk to you next week.
OH BEFORE I FORGET FOR THE 3rd WEEK IN A ROW, SHOUT OUT TO MY HOMEBOY AARON THAXTON. You've been called to THE BEST mission on planet earth. GET PUMPED.