Monday, January 25, 2016

Dear family,

This week was jam packed with one awesome experience after another. 

Monday one was one of the coolest—yet sketchiest—evenings of my whole life! We met up with Elijah, a guy from Africa we had a lesson with the week before last! We were planning on passing him off to the Elders in Wesel because he lives in their area, but they had something else planned so the three of us just went ahead and met with him...and I'm so glad we did!! (: 

He met us at the train station and we hopped on a bus. Got off at some super random stop in the middle of nowhere and started walking down some super random street which was also in the middle of nowhere. Turns out, he was taking us to a refugee home. 

While heading towards his friend’s house, he ran into another buddy, gave him a hug, and invited him to join us! The friend agreed and walked with us back to the apartment complex he was just walking away from. Once we sat down, Elijah left the room for a minute or two, and came back with about five other friends! The guy literally just went around knocking on doors, inviting everyone he knew to come listen to us. We ended up having a Muslim, a Hindu and a bunch of Christians in the room. WHY DON’T WE ALL HAVE THAT SAME KIND OF EXCITMENT?! WHY AREN’T WE INVITING ALL OUR BROTHAHS, REGARDLESS OF THEIR INTEREST LEVELS OR RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND, TO MEET WITH THE MISSIONARIES AND HEAR THE GOOD WORD OF GOD? Because we should. Anyway, the lesson went beautifully, and we'll be meeting with them again this week! I'm so sad we're going to have to give them over!! They have such special places in my heart (: 

On Tuesday, we had a lesson with Ben! It went incredibly well! Basically, he just doesn't understand that joining a church would increase his spirituality as opposed to stifling it...he's just so "free spirited" that that concept is hard for him to grasp, so we've been focusing on helping him overcome that little mental road block over the past little bit. During our lesson, the spirit led us to talk a little bit about the Book of Mormon. He doesn't read every day because he spends his time reading other works he classifies as holy scripture—written by random people who definitely weren't and aren't prophets of God. During our companion study, we talked about how that is probably the root of a lot of his concerns—the fact that he's not anchored in the Book of Mormon and praying about its truthfulness. During our lesson, we committed him to read every day and promised him that if he would, his doubts and concerns would flee. The next day, we got a couple super neat texts from him.

I shall translate them for you: 

"I read chapter 31. It was so beautiful, it brought me to tears! I have felt so humbled today! Can y'all tell me about temporal and spiritual repentance!?" 

Later on we got this one: 

"The light that you see in my eyes is the light of God, which shines in you and reflects onto me. I am the mirror by which you see yourselves. You light my candle and I want to be able to light other's! It's so nice not being in darkness anymore! 

My translation skills may not be the best, but you get the picture! The Book of Mormon is MAGICAL. It really is the most powerful tool (aside from the spirit) in conversion. It softens hearts! It opens minds! I'm so grateful for this experience and what a testimony strengthener it has been (: 

On Friday, while waiting for the bus, we met two guys from India—Rahi and Minor—and talked with them a little bit about Jesus Christ. We explained our purpose as missionaries, gave them a Book of Mormon and set up an appointment for the next day. Can I just tell you? Church tours here in Neuenkamp have been some of the most wonderful experiences of my whole mission! The spirit is SO strong in our meeting house—EVERYONE who who has walked through the halls and sat in the chapel has said they've felt something special. It was no different with these two! We took them around, showing them the classrooms and explaining the pictures of Christ hanging up on the walls. They're Muslim and their understanding of Christianity is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, so they had lots of questions which we were able to answer! Minor, who speaks super broken English, kept saying (in regards to the organization of our church verses that of the Catholic's) "system no good. Your system? Good". A little while later, we were talking about Jesus Christ after having watched a video about him in the chapel, and he said "if al quaeda come here, they would change their ways!" There you have it. The spirit is strong in Mormon church buildings, even terrorists would convert. Booyaa. 

We ran into Rahi about 2 or 3 other times on Saturday and ended up finding out that he lived in Russia for a period of about 6 months and while there, he would play basketball with the Elders! So what did the Lord do? Sent him to Neuenkamp with a church building and sister missionaries within a two-minute walking distance. That, my friends, is definitely not a coincidence. 

Ralph is doing great! He rants for about 5-10 minutes every time we meet about how incredible it is that he was able to quit smoking. He's tried many, many times and has never succeeded....until now! He says he doesn't even feel tempted to do so!!! The priesthood is REAL, my friends. The power of God is HERE. We should all be freaking out like Ralph a little more. And like Elijia. And Ben. And Rahi & Minor. 

I love y'all lots!! (: 
Have a great week!! 

- Sister Terry

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dear family,

This week was, as usual, super wonderful. 
Ralph's baptismal service went SO WELL (: 

The day before his baptism was pretty rough. He said he had the hardest time staying away from cigarettes and that Satan was doing everything he possibly could to prevent him from getting baptized. "I was stronger than he was, though" Ralph told us when we met Thursday evening. "I literally yelled at him a couple times and told him to get out of my house. That font is getting filled tomorrow and he can't do anything to stop it." WHAT A LITTLE BEAST, RIGHT?!? I was so impressed with his strength, BLOWN AWAY by his testimony and in awe of his deep rooted, sincere desire to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding His authority. 

Everything went great once Friday hit!! Usually, the day of a baptism is stressful and hectic...but it was pretty smooth sailing and stress free this time around! Satan even left Ralph alone! He felt like such a warrior, hahaha. We ended up having a really good turn out—a bunch of people from the ward came, we had about four potentials/investigators there and the district came with quite a few non-members, too!! Ralph was so happy that so many people were there to support him (: I was too!!

I don't really know how to sum up my feelings and emotions...but basically, I just really, really, REALLY love being a missionary. Haha I remember hearing Elder Anderson talk about missionary work a few years ago at General Conference and saying something along the lines of "it's not missionary work, its missionary fun!" and thinking, ha. Righttttt. But let me tell you—he couldn't have been more correct. I've spent the last 18 months having missionary fun...and Friday evening was one of the highlights (: Catch the wave, y'all. It'll be the best decision you've ever made!! 

To emphasize that point even further, I'll tell you about one of THE MOST special experiences of my whole mission that took place on Saturday!! We met with a lady named Hewin a few weeks ago, and although she is Muslim and really didn't seem all too interested, for whatever reason she allowed us to set up a second appointment. We called her a couple days ago to invite her to Ralph's baptism...and she agreed to come! She even called us the day of asking if she could bring a friend with her! She left pretty quickly afterwards, so we didn't get to talk to her all too much, but we went over today for our lesson, followed up, and were totally caught off guard by her response. 

Let me preface the following story by saying we went into this lesson planning on dropping Hewin. During companion study, someone literally said "I'm 99.9% sure she has ZERO interest" so we prepared a little lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ, emphasizing the fact that we are here not as friends, but as representatives of Jesus Christ to help people follow Him by entering into the very covenant that she had just seen take place the night before. 

Well. We got there and ended up having to change our lesson plan a little bit. One of her very first questions was "can women get baptized, too?" We were like “umm, yes” and then proceeded to discuss baptism further. We ended up asking her if SHE wanted to be baptized, and the lady was like "I talked to my mom about it last night. She said no. I came home and my son had told her where I was, so she asked me about it when I got home and I wasn't going to lie to her...” We were like woah, woah, WOAH, WAIT. YOUR MOM SAID WHAT?! YOU ASKED HER IF YOU COULD GET BAPTIZED?! WHAT IS GOING ON?! 

Pause. I want to say something. One of the coolest things about getting to serve in Germany right now is working with Muslim people. You can see how the Holy Ghost has started working on so many of their hearts and minds! Some of my favorite heaven-sent realizations people have vocalized have been "You Christian nations do so well, while us Muslim nations are literally falling apart. I don't think that's a coincidence" and "Muslims are killing Muslims. God wouldn't inspire that". Now I'm aware that Christianity doesn't have a perfect track record either...but the spirit has testified to me over and over and over again that he's the one behind comments like that, and God’s work is about to roll forward in unprecedented ways, especially among our brothers and sisters who once rejected Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. 

Okay. I have pressed play and shall continue my story now. 

So we were internally freaking out, right? As it turns out, Hewin has developed lots of uncertainty and doubt about her faith over the last little bit, as well as curiosity and genuine interest in ours. We literally poured our hearts out to her about the reality of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice...and the coolest thing happened as we did. I don't quite know how to explain this...but I'll try to paint an accurate picture in your head. The sun hasn't shined here in about a week. Literally haven't seen it once. It hibernates here during winter months (yes, I'm whiter than a sheet of paper right now, thanks). But the second we started testifying about the savior, the sun BURST through the clouds and light filled the room. We'd stop, let her speak, see the sun go into hiding again, then watch it break through the clouds the second the Savior’s name was mentioned and testimony of His divine role was borne. The light was so BLINDINGLY bright, I could barely open my eyes at certain points! I kid you not, this happened about five times. Feel free to call it a coincidence, but I can assure you it wasn't. I've been praying for Heavenly Father to confirm the truthfulness of Christ and His gospel to me...and I KNOW that what happened in that apartment wasn't some random light show, rather a sign to both my investigator AND me that The Son of God lives and His church has been restored to the earth. 

I wish Muslim lesson #2 of the day was as magnificent as the first one...but sadly, it wasn't. Aballah also came to the baptism yesterday! Except instead of coming to our appointment with an open heart and mind, he came with an open journal. Full of notes. About how the Bible supports Islam. Huh? He even printed out some wiki pages on the case you were wondering, the Bible tells us to wear a hijab or shave our heads. Yup. Pretty frustrating lesson. We're going to meet with him again this week, though...hopefully the spirit will work some sort of heart-changing magic on him, too!! We'll see!! Wish us luck (; 

Love y'all lots!! 
Have a great week!! 
- Sister Terry 


Monday, January 11, 2016

Dear family,

This week was filled with lots of meetings! We had both Düsseldorf and Dortmond zone trainings...which basically translates into we spent a lot of time planning, traveling and sitting. It was great, though! We focused our trainings on chapter 8 of preach my gospel: goal setting, planning, and using time effectively (3 of my favorite topics!!), so I enjoyed it a lot! 

We also had a bunch of lessons this week. Some went way well. Some went way...strange. 
I'll tell you about the good ones, first (: 

Ralph is doing wonderfully!!! He had a little hiccup with the word of wisdom, but he got himself back on track and will definitely be getting baptized this weekend. He's such a rockstar—we were talking about scripture study at one point this week and he was like, "sometimes I'll sit down to read, and then I'll look at the clock and five hours have passed and its 2am and I had absolutely no idea!" The man loves the gospel possibly more than anyone else I've met out here! It's been such a joy to grow right alongside win him!! 

Ben is indeed back. On Sunday he told Sister Roderer he had a few questions, so we came prepared ready to combat deep doctrine, unanswerable inquiries and accusations. However, he ended up asking us a few basic doctrinal questions then being like "okay thanks". We were like "umm…anything else?" And he said no. We asked him if he wanted us to clarify any bad or negative things he may have heard about the church and thought about it for a few seconds then answered something along the lines of "no. That's okay. If you look hard enough, you'll always find a black sheep. I've just decided to focus on the positives. This church is good. I can feel it." 

What FAITH, right?! 
I couldn't believe it!! 
The spirit totally did a 180 on his heart. 
I’m so excited to start working with him again (: 

We had a bunch of other really neat experiences, but I'll just go ahead and fill you in on some of the odd ones because I don't do that nearly enough: 

The other night, we got a call from a man who wanted to meet. Apparently, we'd given him a card and he was really interested! We met him up at hauptbahnhof...and it was a total disaster. Turns out, he wasn't interested in the church after all, but he WAS interested in our dear Sister Roderer. He literally proposed to her. Said "I'm Muslim, I can't convert. But if you'll marry me, then I can! I can just tell my parents I have to be unified with my wife. Let's go. Let's get married right now!" Sister Johnson and I were literally DYING...and Sister Roderer was just like "umm yeah no". He was super persistent, proposed at least 5 more times before the end of the lesson...but Sister Roderer stayed strong! Proud of her for not thinking twice about using some good ol’ flirt-to-convert tactics (; 

On Monday evening, we had a lesson with a guy who was definitely on drugs of some sort. While discussing Jesus Christ, we pulled out the Book of Mormon and showed him the picture of His appearance to the people in the Americas...and he pointed to some random kid next to Christ and was like "who's that?" We were like dude we don't know it's just a painting. 

Haha, missions put you in some pretty weird situations sometimes. 
Strange experiences make the best memories, though, so I'm pretty grateful. 

I'll tell y'all another great one before I go! (: 

After dortmond zone training, we went over to Alex and Annika's and had THE BEST member appointment of my whole mission. We read D&C 100:6 with them and were like, "we're gonna watch this scripture in action right here right now", then we handed them a restoration pamphlet, give them 3 minutes to prepare a lesson on Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon sections and were like "we have so many opportunities to teach people, and hardly any opportunities to experience what our investigators you're gonna be the missionaries tonight and we're gonna listen. Ready go."

And...It was INCREDIBLE. The spirit was SO STRONG—I was choking back tears! I definitely received a confirmation of the truthfulness of the restoration. Alex and Annika really enjoyed it, too! We committed them to read through the pamphlet and pray for an opportunity to bear testimony to a non-member of one of the sections in there before next Sunday, and they agreed! Super excited to follow up and see how it went! I love those two so much! 

That's, actually, something that stood out to me a lot at zone training today—love. While talking about key indicators and using time wisely, I realized that I'm a little bit too focused on work. Don't get me wrong—I'll be the first to stand up and say that if you aren't being diligent, you aren't meeting the Lord’s expectations—but what the Spirit told me is this: when all is said and done and you stand before the Lord to be judged, you can't bring your worn out shoes or your tattered clothes with you. You'll be resurrected, so the bags under your eyes will be gone, too...but your heart will remain—and that's what the Lord is going to look at! So fill it with love! That's what your Savior did! I'm so excited to be able to implement that heaven-sent advice into my missionary work over the next couple months...and into the rest of my life, as well!! (: I'm grateful for the constant companionship of a member of the godhead, who leads me to higher roads and better, more Christ-like paths! (: 

I love y'all TONS. 
Party with y'all in 7 FRIDAYS (: 

- Sister Terry

Monday, January 4, 2016

Dear family,


I just wanted to put that out there before telling you about my beautiful week. Actually, I don't really even know what to say in regards to the past seven days...they've just been jam packed with lessons!! All three of us Sisters exceeded our mission record of lessons taught to investigators, which was SUPER exciting!! Found about eight new investigators, too! I'll tell you about one of them—Dendy! We were planning zone training with the zone leaders and got a super random call from some man at a payphone. He said we gave him our number at a bus stop and that he wanted to meet up and learn? Haha well, we set up an appointment with him and turns out, Sister Roderer had briefly talked with him the week before. He told us he's been feeling distanced from God lately and was thinking about it one evening when the thought came to his head to call about not delaying promptings, right? Hopping on the nearest pay phone and calling a stranger who engaged him in a conversation about Jesus Christ....That's the spirit at work, no doubt!! Anyway, we had a great lesson with him!! Sadly he lives in Essen (like all the other cool Africans we meet), but that's okay! The Sisters there are awesome! They'll take good care of our payphone miracle man. 

We met with Ralph a few times this past week, too. He's (you guessed it) perfect. He found Preach My Gospel online and sat down for five hours the other day and read through it. The whole thing. He LOVED it. Ugh that man is incredible. His excitement about the gospel is unlike anyone's I've ever met!! He's taught me what it means to feast on the scriptures and declare the gospel with the sound of a trump—he's already talking to random people he meets about the church, as well as defending it when the devil sends people to try to shake him. The guy is as solid as it gets. He is obsessed with the gospel of Jesus Christ—as he should be! As we all should be!! If I've said it once, I'll say it a million times...I'm so glad we got the chance to work with him!! Haha, he came to church with notes prepared on baptism for our Sunday school lesson and our ward mission leader turned to me at one point during the lesson and was like "he really is perfect!" We're all looking forward to the 16th—Ralph especially. He let everyone know during the second hour yesterday that he'd be getting baptized on that day, and that they were all welcome to come (: 

Ben came to church yesterday, too!! I didn’t ever tell you, but he ended up dropping us at the end of last transfer because he got ahold of some anti-Mormon material. He has wanted nothing to do with us for the past little while, but we've been texting him over the past couple weeks to wish him a Merry Christmas & New Year, and he started showing interest again!! Sister Johnson seized an opportunity to invite him to church on Friday, and I ran into him in bahnhof after a split on Saturday! Sister Brown and I were walking to the front and Ben was walking our way, but I totally didn't even notice him! He moved in front of me, waved...and then we both FLIPPED. I was squealing and he was crying and it was just beautiful. I wish I had it on film. I asked him where he was headed and he was like "I'm hanging out with a friend, and then I'm going to my mom’s so I can be on time for church tomorrow!" I asked him if he was fasting, too (Sister Johnson let it know it was fast Sunday) and he said “yes! Since last night!" Sure enough, he came...and I've never seen him so happy! He was all smiles!! And...He agreed to start meeting with us again!!! 

I don't think I've ever been so excited in my entire life! PRAY OUR LESSON THIS WEEK GOES BEAUTIFULLY. Thank you. 

Clifford had a great time at church, too!! The gemeinde got 109 gold stars yesterday. They did such an incredible job talking to and fellowshipping the three of those men!! (: I'm excited to see the progress they continue to make over the next few weeks—especially with our awesome members supporting them and making them feel so welcomed and loved!! 

I love y'all lots! 
Hope you had a great New Years! Germany is literally a war zone on the 31st!!! It sounded like one, at least!! People go absolutely crazy with those fireworks! Be safe and I'll see you in eight weeks (: 

- Sister Terry