Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week of January 7 from Berlin

Well, last week I almost died from sickness and the pace of the work needing to be done, and of course naturally this week was a week of harvesting the fruits of the sacrifice. I HAD AN AMAZING WEEK THIS WEEK! Easily one of the best of my entire mission. I could probably write a whole novel about everything that´s happened, but I´ll see what all I can convey in this email.

So the week actually started out with a bit of a struggle to be honest. So coming off the hectic week, our one solid progressing investigator started to get thrown right in to the buffetings of the adversary. I hate talking about him, but he really tried to give us a run for our money this week. So this elderly lady started getting phone calls from relatives and people she didn't even know telling her we were an evil sect and just a bunch of crazy bologna. It came so hard and so intense that the result was an 80 year old women balling her eyes out for an entire day and calling us asking if any of the stuff she heard was true. It continued for the next couple days til she finally stopped answering and barricaded herself in her room. We took up daily contact and visits to calm her down, but she was really having a rough time. Eventually we narrowed it down and found out her only daughter had spearheaded the whole thing and was enlisting tons of people to try and talk her out of joining the church. It peaked with her coming over and with a bunch of anti mormon literature and stuff. Ya, pretty bad. As we were praying and thinking about what we could do to help her, the thought hit me very hard, that a certain member in Prenzlau, my "German mother", was around the same age group and had gone through roughly the same opposition as she joined the church and became a strong member, so after making a quick phone call, we put the two in contact and they became best friends virtually over night. That coupled in with a few members fellowshipping efforts, and it´s safe to say that we´ve finally righted the ship, and she´s doing better now than before. Her family has forsaken her, and she´s still facing opposition, but she´s more determined now than ever the reach her baptisimal date, so we´re super excited. Our last appointment, as she was kind of coming out of everything, she asked if I would baptize her as well.:) I think it´s more the fact she thinks I´m really strong and support her than anything, but it´s always an honor to have someone ask you to do that... :)

Now we come to the real highlight of the week.... ROAD TRIP NACH KIEL!!!! OHHHHHH YAAAAA! Oh that was the coolest thing EVER. So basically it all went like this. We left Friday morning at around 9am-ish, and made our way up to a small little place called Lauenburg, a tiny dorf on the outskirts of Hamburg. We did some power-finding there with the missionaries and made out 7 appointments and an old mission friend and I found the COOLEST guy ever! We were just walking down an obscure street when all of the sudden I see this black guy coming the other direction. We talked to him and he said in broken German, "I can't speak German, just English" and I was like, "Oh no prob, I´m from America" to which he said "OH SNAP (bro hug) No way! I´m from Miami!" Anyways, he was like the coolest guy I´ve ever met, and after we had talked some basketball (he offered his condolences for my not having seen LeBron yet play for the Heat) we got to the important stuff, families and the gospel. So anyways, the elders there are meeting with him soon.  I can't wait to hear how that turns out. Haha, who finds a guy from Miami walking down the streets of Lauenburg??? But surely enough he lives there, pretty cool story. Anyways, then we headed up into Hamburg and delivered a bike to our storage unit up there with some other packages, and then went out with the elders in the Hamburg, Altona program and did some good finding. Afterwards, we headed up to the promised land... KIEL! I screamed like a little girl driving in to that place. We got in at around 9, but squeezed in an appointment with a good old investigator/friend as well as another less-active member we did lots of work with, and committed both of the them to come to the baptism the next day. It was one of the most joyful/weirdest experiences of my life! Joyful because it was awesome, weird because it was all so familiar, but I would have never in a million years would have thought I would be retracing my footsteps as a golden driving the big ole Chevy Cruze down those streets. It is so weird what all can change in one year. But ya, aside from serious reflection, everything was just so lively and happy.:) The following day, we went up to Rendsburg to work with the elders there (actually the first city of my companion) and met with a lot of people that he used to teach there. We also went on the world´s longest escalator there, and a cool car ferry over the river, and then a suspended cable ferry back over the river (all in the car) and it was just super super awesome. After the Tausch we drove by the man I baptised right outside of Kiel to visit, but he wasn't home, so we just headed back and met at the church for the baptism of a lady who was one of the first people I ever found on my mission. It´s so crazy... I would have NEVER thought she would be baptised. She was a strict Buddhist, but we just helped her with things she needed help with and did what we could, and next thing you know, she has a mighty change of heart and is now a member of the church. AHHH!!! That coupled with seeing a bunch of the old members was just so awesome! She asked me to speak there and I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. As I got up there I said, "Last time I spoke from this pulpit, I cried like a little child because I didn't want to leave this place... and now I´m crying because I´m back." I then went on to say how it was such a special place because of the love and support of the ward which this new member would enjoy, but that she should be even more excited for the constant love and support that will come from having the Holy Ghost as her companion. It was an experience speaking from that pulpit again which I will NEVER forget. I wish I had a count of how many German sentences I butchered from that place as a golden, but to step back up there with confidence to to give a talk with the Spirit, awh, that just made my mission! I have never felt the Spirit so strong at a baptism on my mission as I did yesterday in Kiel. It even brought the investigator, and less active member (who did show up by the way :) ) to tears. It was one of those moments where you think to yourself "I would knock an 1 million doors in a blizzard, and have 999,999 slammed in my face, if I could only experience the joy I´m experiencing now again." I think a lot on nights, like tonight for example, we were just outside talking to people for a long time in the freezing rain, and no one really gave us the time of day. It´s easy to think, "Why do we do this? Almost everyone says no," but that´s really whats so cool about the Gospel... it really isn't about numbers. I think the Germans would be the first to tell you before anybody, that doing something purely because it´s what "the majority thinks makes sense" doesn't always make something right... the Gospel is about individuals. Just like the scripture says in D&C, "If you should labor all of your days and bring save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy." Being on a mission here has shed more light on this principle than ever before. Just do what the Lord asks of you, no matter what. I´m not a big fan or practicer of "blind-obedience", but I do practice faithful-obedience, because I have faith that what is asked of me comes from an inspired and holy source. So ya, long story short, weekends like this are the weekends were you just thank your Heavenly Father for all the MANY blessings he gives you. This was definitely a week of thankfulness!

So ya, after that all, we went by on a family I taught up there, who weren´t home :(. and then began the 6 hour car trip back to Berlin, where we got in late at night. I don't know exactly how far we drove, but I know that from Rendsburg to Berlin is about 400 km and we took probably a 50 km detour to run some elders somewhere, so ya, we drove a LONG ways this weekend. It was totally worth it though and we both had the most wonderful time of our lives, thanked our lucky stars, and got re-energized for the work ahead! Next week we´re on the road again for leadership training. It´s gonna be a long, but fun week. Hope you all have a wonderful week back home. Love you all so much!!!

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