Monday, November 30, 2015

Dear family,

I hope y'all had a happy thanksgiving!!(: In honor of said holiday, Sister Johnson and I took some time every day this week to reflect on our missions and list why we're grateful we decided to serve. I want to share mine with y'all!!! 

1. Montag. I've learned that power isn't within me, but through me: when I first got out into the field it was all about me. I’M going to work miracles. The Lord needs ME. These people are going to be blessed because of MY capabilities. It didn't take me long to realize that Brooke Terry was good for absolutely nothing. I got out here and absolutely crumbled (We all remember the emails—haha) and I think a big part of that was because I was relying on myself as opposed to the Lord. I'm so grateful for the humility I've learned out here—for the realization that every miracle that takes place, every heart that is touched and every life that is changed is not BECAUSE of me, but because of the Lord THROUGH me. It seems kinda contradictory, but there's nothing more empowering than humility! 

2. Dienstag. I've gained inexpressible appreciation for the blessing of having a member of the godhead by my side at all times: Before my mission, having the gift of the Holy Ghost didn't really mean much to me...but it means THE WORLD to me now. Having a bottomless pit of knowledge and understanding next to me all day every day?! IT LITERALLY DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THAT. I’m so grateful for the channel of communication I've been able to develop with him out here. Strange to say, but he's become my buddy, my friend! And I want to keep it that way for the rest of my life!! 

3. Mittwoch. I've come to realize that obedience ALWAYS brings immediate blessings—namely happiness and peace of mind: Before my mission, I wasn't too concerned with the rules. I was a good person, yeah, but there were definitely things I decided to disregard and disobey. I heard in the MTC that sometimes when the first presidency chooses where you'll go, they feel inclined to match you to a mission president rather than a specific mission...And I feel like that may have been the case for me. President Stoddard’s emphasis on complete obedience—his desire and willingness to always do the will of the Lord—is EXACTLY what I needed for the rest of my life. I’m beyond grateful for the example he's set and that lesson I've learned. 

4. Donnerstag. I’ve been able to see how much God truly loves his children: a few weeks ago, we were teaching a lesson to one of our investigators. Before closing, I paused and asked Heavenly Father if there was anything else we should tell him. The answer came quickly and clearly: "tell him I love him". I've done that at the end of just about every lesson I've taught since then...and God’s response is always the same! It's not a coincidence that the very first point of the very first lesson is "God is our loving Heavenly Father"—if there's one thing He wants his children to know—it's that!! 

5. Freitag. I've learned that when things go "wrong", they're actually going right: Missed busses, late trains and canceled appointments would literally make my blood boil at the beginning of my mission. The longer I've been here, however, the more I've learned that when things aren't going according to my plan, it's because the Lord has a way better one in mind. I'm grateful for the patience I've learned out here, which stems from the knowledge that God has everything under control! Keeping calm under pressure and adversity is not easy, and while I'm far from perfect, my mission has definitely brought me a long way. 

6. Samstag. I've developed a newfound love for the scriptures and God’s ability to speak to us through them. I've read from the scriptures every day since I was about 12, but it was usually just a quick 5-10 minute skim of whatever chapter I was on. I'm so grateful for my mission because I've learned time and time again that when we have questions or concerns, the scriptures contain the answers! When the Lord wants to speak to us, the scriptures are how He'll do so! The Book of Mormon and Bible aren't just lots of words printed on pretty paper, rather sources of personal revelation! The words of God! I'm so grateful for them! 

7. Sonntag. Most importantly, the love I've developed for the Savior: Words won't do this one justice, but I'll try anyway. Before I got out into the field, when I was having a rough day or feeling down, I'd get on the phone and call my mom. Sadly, she didn't stow away in my suitcase like I asked her to, so I literally had NO ONE to turn to when the homesickness and depression set in...Besides Christ. He's always been there cheering me on, but the sounds of His support and encouragement have always been drowned out by that of my family and friends. While I am beyond grateful for their love, I’m even more grateful to have been ripped away from them. It was through those lonely first few months and the periodic ones that have followed that I have FINALLY learned to rely on Christ, to turn to Him, to seek him, and to love Him with my whole heart. I'm grateful for Him and for the opportunity I'll have throughout the coming Christmas season to come even closer to Him. 

Needless to say, missions are the absolute greatest. 

And to expound upon that thought, I'm gonna share a cool experience from this week! 

I went on a split with the Düsseldorf Sisters on Tuesday! We had an appointment with the relief society president in the morning, then went by an investigator. After that, we went home, ate, finished studies...and it started to snow (FIRST TIME THIS YEAR- SHON WIEDER?!). We had a member appointment planned, so we bundled up and went on our way. On the bus ride over, we talked to the guy sitting next to us named Leif. Definitely one of my favorite contacts ever. I can't remember what all we discussed...trials and challenges, maybe? He dislocated his arm a few days ago from falling because of a seizure, so it was probably something along those lines. Anyway, we ended up giving him a Book of Mormon, which he was really excited to read after we got done explaining it to him. At one point in the conversation, he cut us off and was like "I totally missed my stop!" We apologized for distracting him, but he said "no, actually, I don't think it was a coincidence. I think I was supposed to sit here and talk with you two. Thank you." When the bus reached the next stop, Sister Pitts was like "shoot, I think we missed our stop too", so we all got out of the bus to figure out where we were...and snow was just coming down on us like crazy! Leif ran down the street to find the next bus stop, but came back about 5 minutes later with no luck! We pulled out our navi to see where we were...and turns out, we hadn't missed our stop at all and we were standing in the snow for no reason. That's what I thought at first, at least. However, our gospel conversation with Leif continued and he ended up giving us his number so we could meet up again sometime! I'm so glad he missed his stop (: and I'm so glad we thought we missed ours (: I love it when the Lord plays mind tricks on his children to bring about his perfect plan!!! Although I'm bummed I probably won't get to see Lief again, I'm so excited for him! It was another one of those situations where we could see the spirit at work before our very eyes! He started off very closed minded (told us within the first 20 seconds that he had ZERO interest), but was so open hearted and willing to learn by the end!!! Love that guy! (:

Anyway, fun story: we trudged through the snow to get to this member...and she wasn't even home. Hahaha my toes are still frozen, but hey! It was totally worth it! I'm honored that the Lord would inconvenience us in order to bring one of his children nearer to Him (: 

Love y'all lots!! 
Hope you have a great week! 
If you don't hear back from me, it's because we're partying in köln today and gotta catch a train pretty soon!! 
Chao! (: 

- Sister Terry

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dear family,

On Thursday, we had one of the absolute greatest lessons of my entire life. On Wednesday evening, someone named Joseph called. We had apparently given him a card a while ago and he wanted to meet up. Wellll, he pulled an African on us (no I'm not being racist, ask anyone who has served here) and we didn't end up having an appointment, which sounds pretty lame, right? Right. It was. It was way lame.

But not really.
Because we got to meet with POOM.
Oh my gosh.
I love him.
I. Love. Him.
Poom is my favorite.

I want to be his mom or like his best friend or something. A couple weeks ago on that split with Sister Whicker, I noticed a kid sitting on a seat across the aisle from us with a Thailand flag keychain attached to his bag. We were with a less active, so Sister Whicker stayed and talked with her while I approached him and asked where he was from. He was, indeed, from Thailand and I explained that, once upon a time, my brother had served a mission there! I asked him what he was doing here in Germany, and said that he's here as an exchange student (which roughly translates into something along the lines of "I came here to learn about the gospel, duh"). I told him what exactly it was that I'm doing here in Germany and invited him to meet with us and learn more about Jesus Christ and although he comes from a Buddhist background, he said yes and gave us his number!!

After this Joseph character fell out, we shot him a text and asked him (Poom) if he wanted to meet up...and he said yes! The earliest he could get to hauptbahhof was 2:30 and we had another appointment at 3:00, but we decided to go ahead and meet with him, anyway.

Best. Decision. Ever.

We sat down with this kid and talked all about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ...and oh my gosh he's just the most humble, teachable person I've ever met in my entire life. At one point, he shared the most incredible little story with us! He said "one time before a futball game in Thailand, I said a prayer to God and as soon as I did, it felt like he was standing right next to me. Maybe I made it up, I don't know, but that's how it felt"

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, THAT WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD.
Poom doesn't have a Christain background.
Why would he have prayed to a god that he didn't believe in?
HIS HEAVENLY FATHER. Gosh I love the spirit.

Sister Ferris and I (we were on a split!) assured him that he most definitely did not make that experience up, that God most definitely IS there, and that we're never as close to him as we are when we pray. At the end of the lesson, we asked Poom if he would pray—and I'm about to turn on caps lock again—BECAUSE IT WAS JUST THE GREATEST THING OF MY WHOLE LIFE. This is what he said:

"Dear Heavenly Father, this is Poom. I would like to be healthy on my exchange this year. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen" DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER, THIS IS POOM, IS THAT NOT THE SWEETEST THING YOUVE EVER HEARD?! I kid you not, Heavenly Father’s love and excitement that His little Poom had just spoken to him was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I pretty much lost it. So did Sister Ferris. I repeat, one of the absolute greatest lessons of my entire life.

We had a bunch of other super cool appointments this past week, but that one takes the cake for sure. We were in meetings all day Thursday (zone training in Dortmund) and Friday (MLC in Frankfurt), both of which were wonderful. I gave a theme about family history at the training, which was an amazing opportunity. I learned SO MUCH. Here were some of my findings as I studied: We missionaries get WAY frustrated with members sometimes because it seems like they just don't care! We're told we can't do this work without them...yet they seem so apathetic or say they're too busy. The frustration we feel is EXACTLY how missionaries on the other side of the veil feel when we—the members here on THIS side of the veil—don't participate in family history work! Another thought the spirit shared with me: I can't tell you how many missionaries I've talked to who say "my biggest fear is that I'm going to fall back into my old habits and ways". Well...this is how we can prevent that from happening! If family history work helps converts stay strong and on the straight and narrow path (and statistics prove that it most definitely does), we can be sure it'll do exactly the same for us—especially considering that it's out here in the field that so many of us experience that "mighty change of heart" referred to in the scriptures . I'm so grateful for family history work and for the opportunities I've had to use it in my proselyting efforts, as well as the opportunities I'll have to REALLY get involved in it in just a few months from now!

I love y'all lots!
Hope you have a great week (:

- Sister Terry

Monday, November 16, 2015

Dear world,

Ein tausend mal Entschuldigung for completely forgetting to follow up on that Halloween experience last week in my email. The cops called and asked if we'd ever had any contact with that lady prior to knocking on her door on the 31st, we said no, and then they dropped the whole thing. Aka we didn't get thrown into prison :( I was quite bummed. Maybe next time.

Now for some miracle stories

On Thursday afternoon, we were walking up to hauptbahhof, contacting people as we went, and ended up talking with a little family from Africa. At one point in the conversation, we asked them if they'd ever come in contact with missionaries before and the husband said "yes, of course. They're everywhere in Africa". Our little chat continued, and everything was going great...until we brought up the Book of Mormon. We asked him if he'd read it, he said yes, then started to be a total hater. He had some big issues with that book, and try as we might, we couldn't resolve his problems! After about 5 minutes of back and forth, he suggested we go sit at McDonald's and talk (subtext: I want to prove you wrong) and we agreed (subtext: boy, you goin' down). We sat in that restaurant for about 45 minutes, and got to see the Holy Ghost at work on this man’s heart during that time period. Kenny started off so closed minded and full of disdain, but by the end had not only accepted a Book of Mormon, but gave us his number so he could meet with the missionaries in his area, too! Pretty crazy though, Kenny told us that the only reason he stood there talking to us on the street was because once upon a time, two missionaries contacted him and tried to talk about the Book of Mormon. He rejected them and went on his way to work, but had a terrible accident of some sort as he was walking over. He said that as he was lying on the ground, the image of the missionaries and the book they were holding played over and over again in his head. He said "I only stopped to talk with you because I didn't want to get hurt again." We assured him before leaving that those mental images were no coincidence, and that our encounter wasn't, either. The Lord has gone through such great lengths for Kenny—I know He's got a pretty special plan prepared for him! I can't wait to hear the end of this story! I also can't wait to give the Holy Ghost a big ol’ high five one day. Through him, we were able to resolve all of Kenny’s concerns and through him, Kenny’s heart and mind were opened to receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the spirit!! This great work really couldn't take place without him. 

I think my favorite part of the week took place the next day, though. We met with...LEYEO!!! Who—hold the laughter—isn't actually named Leyeo. Haha his name is Yao. We may or may not have been pronouncing it wrong for like 8 weeks straight. Good thing I’m not serving in Asia, right? Anyway, I don't know if you remember him, but he dropped us a little while ago. He was the one who sent us that heartbreaking "I'd rather be an atheist" text. We'd see him around all the time after that whole incident (usually on the buses) and would chat with him and invite him to meet with us again, to which he always responded "thanks but no thanks". One evening a couple weeks ago, he turned to me on the bus and said "just so you know. I still believe in God. I just don't know whose God is the right one." I expressed my excitement and said "Yao! That is why you were meeting with us! We're here as missionaries to help people understand just that! We need to set up an appointment so we can help you!" And he said OKAY!!!! (: said appointment took place on Friday...and it was wonderful (: just like good ol’ times! He's been reading in the Book of Mormon and we spent a good portion of our termin explaining Lehi's dream and the tree of life. We talked about a bunch of other things, too...but the best part was right at the end. We asked him what changed--what made him decide to meet with us again and he said "you didn't give up on me. You'd see me around and you'd still talk to me. You kept inviting me to meet with you. You didn't give up. Thank you."

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THOSE ARE THE SWEETEST WORDS YOU COULD EVER HEAR. Don’t give up on those you love! Don't get discouraged! Keep trying! Keep inviting! Keep loving! Hearts will change and minds will open if you do (: 

Real quick before I go, for all y’all who are wondering how the beautiful land of Germany has reacted to the recent terrorist activity, all I'm going to say is that I've seen more police men and guns over the past couple days then I've seen in the last 11 months combined. They've really stepped up security to say the least! Don't worry about me! I'll be fine! (:

Hope y’all have a great week! Looking forward to our skype call in about a month (:

Love you lots!!(:
- Sister Terry

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dear family,

Well. I have some bad news. The Wi-Fi is broken at our church building so I'm sitting at McDonald's typing up this email...and NONE of my messages from y’all are loading!! In other words, this little guy will be the only thing y’all get from me this week. Lame, right? Don't hate me—I'm just as bummed as y’all are.

I have good news too, though!! This week was jammed packed with some of my favorite contacts of my whole mission! Erklär mal? Don't mind if I do.

On Tuesday, we went by on an old investigator hoping to catch her at home. On the way over, Sister Johnson tapped on a stranger’s car window (isn't she awesome?) and handed him a card. He turned off his car (was about to turn onto a busy street—ha-ha, oops) and talked with us for about five minutes. Probably one of the best-hearted people I've ever met. He said that he wants to believe in God, but he's just been through so much and sees such horrible things going on in the world and therefor finds it hard to. He vocalized his love for nature at one point, though, so we read alma 30:44 with him, which is Alma's response to Korihors "show me a sign and THEN I'll believe in God" comment:

“But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”

The scripture must have really touched him, because he was pretty stoked when we told him he could keep the book. Not only did he agree to read it, but he agreed to meet with missionaries and learn more, too!! Sadly, he doesn't live in our area, but the he's in good hands. The missionaries serving in his city are great! I have high hopes for him!

One of my other favorite contacts of the week took place on Saturday night. We had just gotten done having a lesson with a family next door and had about five minutes before we were supposed to be in for the night, so we walked down the street towards a guy heading our way. We stopped him and asked if he was familiar with the church down the street, and he explained that he wasn't from Neuncamp and had just come to visit a (girl)friend. We asked him how it went and he was just kind of like "yeahhh, uhhh, not so great" (that's code for BREAKUP) so we were like "oh my goshhh no!!!" "We're so sorry!" "That really stinks" and so on and so forth. He was obviously upset, so we didn't push too hard for a conversation, just kinda gave him a card then gave him some space. As he was walking away, however, the spirit prompted us to talk with him more, so we ran inside our apartment, grabbed a Book of Mormon, an opened package of Oreos and literally CHASED this poor kid down the street (he's a fast walker, in case you were wondering). We were still pretty far behind him, so we just started shouting "ENTSHULDIGUNG" and flailing our limbs as to get his attention. Mission accomplished. He stopped, turned around and gave us a pretty confused look. We held out the package of Oreos and were like "THESE ARE FOR YOU. CHOCOLATE MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!" He said thanks (that's code for y’all are freaks) and we all just kinda stood there awkwardly for a second, so we quickly busted out the handy dandy Book of Mormon and were like "this is for you, too! It's the word of God. Much better than Oreos!" He was actually really curious as to what exactly it was, so we explained it briefly and invited him to meet with and learn more. He said no... but he took the book! And he had some chocolate to mend his broken heart, so that's good too! (: They say there's no silver bullet to contacting...but I think that's it!! Chase people down and give them chocolate. I'll have to use that one more often.

We had some cool lessons this week, too. On Tuesday, we met with Ben! We've been teaching him for a little while now and have been trying to help him overcome his issues with baptism—he just hasn't been able to see why it's necessary! Can't someone just commit to follow God and that be that? We made him a pretty bold promise at the end of the lesson--told him that if he reads through the whole book of Mosiah with an open heart and asks God if baptism is the path he needs to take, he would receive a very clear answer.

Sister Johnson and I began a fast Saturday night with him in mind and stepped into a room with him yesterday after sacrament meeting to talk about his feelings...and good news! He received his answer! His heart was touched and he told us he felt like baptism definitely is the Lord’s will for each of his children. Bad news: he said now he wants to figure out which church it is that he should get baptized into!! Moral of the story? Be specific with your promises and even more specific with your fasts. The Lord will always keep His side of the make sure the terms are clear! Hahaha. No really though, I'm way excited for Ben! There's no doubt he's going to get baptized...just gotta be patient and wait until he's ready!

Given the current Wi-Fi disaster, I've got some extra time on my hands... so I'll just leave y’all with one more story—a journal entry from this past week!

November 5, 2015
In the most recent session of general conference, our prophet was struggling quite a bit. His voice and body were shaking, and his memory seemed to be failing him. A little girl at the conference drew a picture while he was speaking, which depicted him standing at the podium with angels on his left and his right. Today we went to the grave sight of schwester Link’s son. It was so special to see the work she put into making that place a beautiful resting spot for him. Her love was quite obvious, and her heartbreak was clear. She squatted down in front of it at one point, closed her eyes, bowed her head and prayed. In that moment, I remembered the promise made and D&C as well as the picture the little girl had drawn at general conference and said "Heavenly Father! I KNOW there are angels next to schwester Link right now. I wish I could see them!" And then, without missing a beat, the voice of the spirit spoke back to me and said "you're standing right next to her". I looked up at my companion standing on the right of schwester Link, then took note of my own position on her left and couldn't stop the tears. I'm so grateful for the Lord and the opportunities He gives such an imperfect, unprofitable servant like me to lift and bless others. He doesn't need me—His atonement can mask all the pains and sorrows the world has ever felt—but He allows me (and everyone!) to support and uplift others, anyway! I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for the angels he sends to support us in time of need. And I'm grateful for the privilege He gives me of being one of those angels every once in a while.

I love y’all lots!
I hope you have a great week (:
Sorry again that this email is all you're getting...I'm praying the
Wi-Fi will be fixed by next week!

-Sister Terry