Monday, September 28, 2015
This week. Holy cow. I don't even know where to start. I wish Sister Johnson and I had cameras following us around so you could see for yourselves all the amazing things that we experience...these emails just don't do it justice! Please excuse the length of this one...I just have a bunch of exciting things to share!!
The week before last, as Sister Parker and I were waiting for our Ubahn, I contacted two teenage boys sitting on a bench. I can't remember the details of what was discussed, but I ended up giving one of them, Marvin, a Book of Mormon. Before getting on the Ubahn, we exchanged numbers and I told him we'd text him so we could meet and talk more! We had our first lesson on Thursday at McDonald's...and it was AMAZING. We began by asking him about his religious background, and he said that he was raised catholic, but doesn't believe it's true at all. In fact, his negative feelings towards the church have grown into uncertainty that God even exists--much less that His son Jesus Christ was sent to earth to atone and die for us. He'd read some of the Book of Mormon since I'd given it to him at Bahnhoff, and after answering some of his questions about it, he asked "so what's the difference between you and the other religions?" We proceeded to talk with him about prophets and God’s use of them throughout history. We explained that they were given something called the priesthood—or the authority to act in God’s name—and that when people rejected the prophets, that authority was taken from the earth. We testified that when Christ came to the earth, he gave that authority to his apostles, but that the sad pattern of apostasy repeated itself and that that power died with Christ and his apostles after they were rejected and/or killed. But, with huge smiles on our faces, (I literally get giddy when I talk about Joseph Smith) we told him the good news! That, just like throughout history, God called another prophet to lead and guide His church and through him, that priesthood power was restored to the earth! The spirit was SO STRONG, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole restaurant could feel it! Marvin sure could—he was literally trembling! He prayed for the first time EVER at the end of the lesson and just sat there BEAMING afterwards. Haha, all he could say was, "I feel...really...weird right now" I asked him if it was a good weird and he said "yeah...actually. I feel...really good. I feel...Lighter." We explained that that was the Holy Ghost, which made him beam even BRIGHTER and, oh my gosh, it was just the greatest lesson EVER.
Later on in the week, we had another sweet lesson with a new investigator named Ben! Sister Johnson found him while I was on a split. He used to be a junkie, but turned his life around and found a career that allowed him to help those struggling with the same issues he once did. He was really awesome! He was in the same boat as Marvin—said he was unsure about the existence of God...but after talking with him, it was clear that deep down he KNEW God was there (Our brains may have forgotten that we once lived with, walked with and talked with God...but our spirits sure can't!). I've seen that SO much this week—people who claim they don't believe in God, but obviously do and are just confused about His nature and find it easier to say he just doesn't exist. You have no idea how exciting it is to be a missionary and get to help people FINALLY understand!!! There's nothing better than watching a person’s faith grow right before your very eyes!! Ben's sure did.
The incredible experiences don't stop there, though!
Last week, we dropped by Jorda (an investigator who has been sick for the past couple weeks) and set up and appointment for Monday night. We also set up a church tour appointment for later on in the week, but as we were walking up to her door, she was walking out saying "we're going to the church, right?" So off we went. We took her and her sister (who speaks a tiny bit of Deutsch and a lot a bit of Arabic) and her sister’s kids around the church and they really enjoyed it! They thought it was beautiful! We ended in the chapel and talked about sacrament meeting, then sat quietly as the ever-so-talented Sister Johnson played a song on the piano. Afterwards, we asked Jorda how she was feeling, and she said something along the lines of, "I feel...very peaceful. Really, really calm. Like everything in life is going to be okay!" The conversation shortly led to the topic of baptism, and we took her into the room with the baptismal font and explained that, through baptism, she could have that same feeling in her heart all the time. Her eyes literally LIT UP. We proceeded to talk about the covenant of baptism, and when we explained that all her sins and mistakes could be washed away through it her eyes lit up EVEN MORE and she responded, "when?” Sister Johnson and I looked at each other all confused and said "huh?” she repeated "when? When am I getting baptized?? This Saturday?!"
Haha pretty awesome, right?! To make things even better, she turned to us after the lesson was over and said "I know this is true because you invited me to be baptized. Other churches just say 'yes, come join us' but no! Baptism is important!"
She's a smart one.
October 24th is the date we decided on!!
We're pretty pumped!!
LEYEO WILL BE JOINING HER.
We had SUCH an amazing lesson with him On Saturday! We followed up on his scripture reading and prayers, and he said that he feels like he's been receiving answers from God over the past couple weeks, for sure! He said "God is there. I know He is." It's been so neat to see his testimony grow more and more every time we meet! Last week, we invited him to be baptized, and he said yes...but like, in a few years. He just laughed at us when we suggested next month. Today, however, we went over the plan of salvation, discussed the three degrees of glory and asked him which one he wanted to go to. Of course, he pointed to the celestial kingdom (where God and Christ live!!) and we explained that, in order to make it there, we needed to follow the commandments of God, one of which being baptized. Without saying anything else, Leyeo turned to us and said "October, right? You said I could be baptized in October?" We said yes, and asked him if he wanted to work towards to 24th of next month and he said YESSSSSSSS (:
One thing that I've learned on my mission that I've been reminded of pretty frequently this week is that missionaries DON’T DO ANYTHING. Every little bit of success, every miracle, every changed heart and opened mind is ALL the Lord’s doing....He's just given me a front-row seat to the show and a computer to type up all the incredible things He lets me see. How grateful am I to get to watch as He pours His spirit and mercies out upon the people here in Germany and for the opportunity to see that it really truly is His work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
I love y’all lots!
Hope you have a great week!
P.S. I hope EVERYONE takes advantage of the opportunity we have this weekend to hear from prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ. I know the messages they will share with us are the words of the Lord and that the callings extended are inspired of God.
LDS.ORG. Saturday and Sunday. Don't miss outttt!!!
Monday, September 21, 2015
We had a lesson with a guy named Leyeo last week. Sister Parker and I went through all the potentials we'd found over the transfer and gave them a call. We ended up setting up an appointment with Leyeo, met him over by the church...and funny: neither one of us remembered having ever talked to him! It was an amazing lesson, though! He's from China and first heard about God when he came here to Germany to study a few years ago. He said something along the lines of "growing up, I never learned about Him, or heaven or anything like that...but I always had the feeling that someone was behind all this! The world is too perfect to be a coincidence!"
(CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW MUCH THE SPIRIT HAS WORKED ON THIS KID?!). He said he wasn't exactly sure, though and committed to read and pray and ask God himself whether he's there or not. This past week, Sister Johnson (AHH, I STILL CANT BELIEVE WE'RE COMPANIONS) and I met with him again and he'd grown SO MUCH in just the course of a week. We followed up with him about his prayers and scripture study, and he said he received his answer that God really is there!!
We also started meeting with someone else from China! Her name is Icey! She's kind of in the same boat as Leyeo—isn't sure about the existence of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. Her attitude was along the lines of "why SHOULD I believe in them? What good what that do me?" We helped her see the peace, joy and happiness that was "in it for her" if she developed faith in them...and she committed to start searching and praying for answers! She was so cute! They both were!! One of my favorite parts of being a missionary is getting to hear people communicate with their Father in heaven for the first time. It's SUCH a sacred experience...and I got to share it with both Icey and Leyeo!!! It brings me to tears every time!!
We had a few other lessons, but the majority of this week was spent inside. I was pretty sick for the first half of the week (alles gute--I'm doing better now!) and the second half was spent having planning parties with Sister Johnson. We had transfer planning to do and transfer goals to set on top of the normal weekly planning session that takes place every Friday. We also spent some time getting our themes together for zone conference tomorrow and MLC on Friday. This week is going to FLY. The transfer itself is going to be over in an augenblick! We've got two zone trainings in October and TONS of splits to go on, too. We're going to be superrr busy...but we're having so much fun that we don't even care that we have to run around like chickens with our heads chopped off 24/7 (:
Serving with Sister Johnson is as beautiful as I dreamed it'd be.
Life could not possibly be any better than it is right now!!
I love y’all lots and hope you have a great week!!
Monday, September 14, 2015
This past week has been filled with some of the sweetest experiences of my whole mission.
On Monday night, we went over to Methu's for FHE with a bunch of other YSA's. Sister Parker and I were put in charge of the spiritual thought, and we decided to talk about the Holy Ghost. We asked one of the YSA's to read a scripture in Alma that talks about the "veil of darkness" being removed through the power of the spirit and about 1/4 of the way through, she burst into tears and couldn't finish the verse. After the lesson, Methu asked her what she was feeling and she said, "I really just felt like that verse was meant for me. It's obvious that you sisters are called of God. That was exactly what I needed--thank you."
One of the greatest moments of my life. It was one of the first times I'd really known that the Lord was literally speaking through me in order to talk to one of His children. It doesn't get better than that!! That's what I thought walking out of that appointment on Monday night, at least. Come to find out yesterday at church, that girl has been less active for quite some time. Even more incredible, she (and the rest of that group) weren't even supposed to be there!! Methu had originally invited another group of friends, but none of them could come...so he threw something else together last minute and ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom MIRACLE. Gosh I love this work (:
After that lesson, we went home to plan for the next day. We planned on going by a potential after a lesson at noon, but for some reason, that just didn't feel right so we decided to go by a couple less actives, instead...which was definitely heaven-inspired.
We knocked on Sister Küppers door and received a warm welcome from the lady who answered it. She immediately let us in and shouted to an old woman sitting at a table "the sister missionaries are here!" She pulled chairs over and the four of us just sat there talking for about 20 minutes. We came to find out that the old lady was the member of our ward, and the one who greeted us at the door was her daughter who had come down from Barcelona for the week to visit. During our spiritual thought, Sister Parker and I had a prompting to ask her straight up if she was active, to which she replied that she was not. "I've simply gotten lazy," she said. "I'm living with a man I'm not married to, he drinks and smokes and the church is an hour away so, no." We asked her if the missionaries ever come around and she said no and that they live on a mountain and the missionaries don't have cars, so visits from them don't happen too often.
Isn't it amazing what great lengths the Lord will go to for his children?! Like sending them from SPAIN to Germany in order to have a little contact with the church. I knew it was no coincidence that we met her. After talking for a little bit, it was obvious that she still knows the church is true. She knows she's not living in accordance to the commandments of God. She knows she'd be happier if she returned to activity, she simply doesn't have the motivation to make the necessary changes.
I don't remember everything I said to her, but I know it was definitely through the spirit because I had never been so bold with someone before! Sister Parker was laying it down, too! And because everything we were saying was coming from the Lord, she wasn't offended or irritated or anything!! Ughhhh she has so much potential!!! I pray she takes what we said to heart and starts making those necessary changes.
On Saturday, we went over to begin Holy's (Naomi's 8-year-old son) new convert lessons and decided to talk about the restoration. We went through all the points, and then turned on the restoration video for him when we got to the part about Joseph Smith. He and his little sister sat quietly throughout the whole movie, and then when it got to the first vision, the two of them freaked out!
"JOSEPH SMITH SAW GOD!"
"GOD JUST SAID HIS NAME! HE KNEW JOSEPH’S NAME!"
I was literally choking back tears as they went on for another three minutes thinking:
“This is seriously one of the single most EXCITING things that has EVER happened in the history of the world...why don't we ALL get that pumped?! Why aren't we jumping out of our seats like little Holy & scream, "JOSEPH SMITH SAW GOD"?”
Because we should!
We SHOULD be beyond stoked to share this message with others! It IS something worth getting all riled up about! When we went to pick their family up for church the next day, they were STILL going on about it. I'm so grateful for those two little kids...who woulda thought a 6 year old girl and an 8 year old boy would teach me so much about being a better missionary?!(:
And now...for one of the most exciting pieces of news I've EVER written home about...
SISTER JOHNSON GOT CALLED TO BE MY NEW COMPANION.
THE SISTER JOHNSON.
SISTER BEGGED-THE-LORD-IN-THE-MTC-TO-BLESS-ME-WITH-HER-AS-A-COMPANION-IF-I-STRIVED-TO-BE-THE-BEST-MISSIONARY-I-COULD-POSSIBLY-BE JOHNSON.
IVE BEEN A GIDDY MESS FOR THE LAST 3 DAYS STRAIGHT.
DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE
THE LORD ANSWERS PRAYERS
THE SPIRIT ROCKS
JOSEPH SMITH SAW GOD
Hahaha now if y’all will excuse me, I'm going to go continue having the time of my life.
PS despite all the really incredible highs this past week, Sister Parker and I had our fair share of lows, too. Send some extra prayers our way, would ya?!(:
Monday, September 7, 2015
On Friday, we went over to teach a lady who Sister Parker contacted on a split who definitely went down as one of the most prepared people I've ever met in my entire life.
She's had an incredibly hard life. She was abused by her mother growing up--would go to school and work all the time with bruises up and down her arms and neck. One day, the abuse had gotten so bad that she decided to end her life. She was at work and decided to go down to the basement and hang herself. She had everything ready, went to stand on a crate...and her boss walked in. She said, "He NEVER went down there," but on this particular day, he did. And he saved her life.
Her list of near death experiences, life tragedies, and deep sorrows go on and on and on. Talking with her, however, especially about all the hard times she's had, reminded me of that scripture in Alma 63 that talks about how the Nephites reacted to their trials and challenges.
Vs 41 says:
“But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.”
Frau Albruch truly did let her experiences humble her! She let them soften her and bring her closer to God as opposed to further away! She just kept saying "men have their agency! It's not God’s fault that they use it so poorly sometimes!" (2 Nephi 2:27, anyone?). She also kept repeating, "We're here to be happy! God sent us to the world to be happy!!" (Ummm, does vs 25 ring a bell?). She went on about all the different churches and how they've all got truth; we've just got to find the correct one. She asked us "which one IS true?! How am I supposed to know?! Everyone says something different!!"
Gold. SHE IS GOLD.
You wanna hear another highlight of my week? I was on a split in köln (YES. KÖLN. AHHH IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL) and we went by on a 93 year-old lady named Schwester höhn...who helped translate a bunch of the songs from the English hymn book into German!!!! Sister Ferris told me that her favorite is Herr, Ich Will Folgen Dir...so I asked Schwester höhn if we could sing it with her and she responded with an enthusiastic YES. Ughh it was so cool!!!
Now, however, for the highlight of all highlights....
NAOMI AND HOLY’S BAPTISM.
It was AMAZINGGGG.
It was a pretty stressful week (as the ones leading up to baptisms typically are)...but everything ended up working out perfectly. I think my favorite part of the day was after the service, actually. We went over to Naomi's after the baptism to finish filling out her record. Her kids opened the door...and there she was kneeling beside the couch praying! We just kinda hung out with her kids for a bit, and after a few minutes she got up, apologized and was like "we just got home and I just HAD to say a prayer!"
Is she perfect or WHAT?!
I love this area!
I love being a missionary!
My heart is literally BREAKING thinking that Thursday marks my 6-months-left-in-Germany aka worst day of my life aka WHY CAN’T I DO THIS FOREVER?!?
Hope y’all have a great week!
Talk to you soon!!