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Monday, July 29, 2013

Deutschland ist am besten! First letter from Freiburg.

Double Rainbow from the window. And RECYCLING BINS!!!!!

Meeting Sister Peterson for the first time at the train station in Stuttgart

At the Bahnhof!

View from the window!

Kitchen in first German apartment

Writing home this morning

Rainy day. Just like home.

Eating rolls on the train, on the way to zone training
     So first, imagine sitting in a train gazing out the window feeling the gentle rhythm of it winding it's way through the rolling hills and mountains of the black forests. You look to your left and see an ancient castle set on a hillside and down below is a small Dorf with old Wohnungs (neighborhoods) and houses settled on the bright green grass admidst the tall dark pine trees. That is the 3 hour train ride Sister Peterson and I have to take for any sort of zone meeting. Yes, familie and freunden, I am the most blessed person on the planet.
     Deutschland ist am besten (Germany is the best). I tell that to everyone I speak with. It is literally the most phenomenal and fantastic place on Earth. You wouldn't believe how wonderful it is.
     We left the MTC at 7:30 on Tuesday Morning and left for Detroit at 11:10. After that, I have no idea the time of it where. It was one long blur. In Detroit we loaded a big airbus airplane and set off for our journey across the pond. It was one of those big planes with a row of 2 seats, a row of 4 seats, and another row of 2 seats. I was in a seat with 3 elders who were heading to the Alpine Mission but I had never really talked to. It was long, and no, I did not sleep the entire time. I tried but never actually fell asleep. We arrived in Amsterdam and I said goodbye to my district. At this point I felt more alone than I had ever felt in my life. I was in the Netherlands with 20 some odd missionaries that I had maybe said a sentence or four to. They were all good friends from 6 weeks of being together, and I sat by myself as the little outcast Provo MTC Alpine mission fasttracker.
     Well I couldn't handle feeling that way, I was about to start on my mission! I wanted to be happy and excited! So what did I do? There was a sister who was from the Netherlands and super shy. She seemed like she went unnoticed sometimes and so I sat and talked to her. Here is one of the most important lessons we could ever learn. The only way to help ourselves is by helping others. As soon as we get outside of ourselves, we are able overcome whatever the challenge may be.
     We arrived in Munich and it was not the funnest for me, I'll be frank. At this point I had been awake for almost 24 hours, I was hungry, I hadn't had much water, and I didn't know anyone (though one sister missionary was very friendly when we united with the Preston, England Fast Trackers). I was holding back tears, honestly. Then we had to go contact and give out Books of Mormon. Well, I learned a crash course in rejection. There is hardly any good that comes from approaching a German and saying you have a message of God. That's just not the way they roll. But, it didn't bring me down, it was very edifying.
     We got to the Church building and had our first meeting and I've never been so tired in my life. I felt like I was in a dream and I couldn't focus at all. I will never do drugs, that much I can tell you. I hate the feeling of not being present.
     Now you probably think, oh my gosh, Sister Henry had a horrible time. But I tell you, HECK NO! Because I have learned that things get worst right before they are phenomenal!
We took a 30 minute nap in the Pews and my mission began.
     I found out I was being sent to Freiburg to be trained by a Sister who just finished up her training, Sister Peterson. On Thursday, we hopped on the train to Stuttgart so I could meet Sister Peterson and then she and I would travel to Freiburg. I sat next to a man named Manfred. I had the Book of Mormon with me that I was to hand out the day before and I decided I wanted to hand it out before arriving in Freiburg. I started talking with Manfred about Germany, how cool it is, how much it reminds me of my home. I talked about my purpose, the Book of Mormon, who I am. We talked about him, his family, and just were talking like two old friends. He's older and travels between Wien and Freiburg to visit his daughters. Yes, this entire conversation was in German. Which made it fun for both of us because we were just laughing. I told him he will always be Mein Erste Freund (my first friend). I wrote Vor: Manfred. Mein Erste Freund. Von: Sister Henry. I then told him he ought to read it and come to church with me. I got his address and Sister Peterson and I will be stopping by sometime this week.
     But it was phenomenal, because as I was speaking with him on the train, there was a light in his eyes. He was gleaming with happiness, he actually reminded me a lot of Gandalf, haha. But I got off the train and I looked back and he had stepped off to take a smoke. I saw him as a weathered man who has been through a lot and needs hope, some glimmer in his life. My heart just broke and I realized THAT is why I am on my mission.
     I met Sister Peterson and she is just great. Honestly, we are going to just be the best companionship ever. I have come into Freiburg and we have 13 investigators and a ton more of Potentials. But not one baptismal date. This is every golden's dream ward because there are so many people to teach, but the teaching doesn't mean squat if it doesn't lead to action. Living a life worth living is all about action!
     Our apartment is up 6 flights of wooden stairs, but we have elders in our ward and they were able to carry my suitcases for me, bless their souls. It's so worth it, we have a gorgeous view from the top window. The windowsill is large enough to sit in so I've done that a few times. Just listening to Germany and enjoying where I am and who I am.
     Freiburg is as close to home as I could get. It looks like home. Basically move the mountains closer to Vancouver, stick Europe in the middle of it, and that is Freiburg. It is beautiful. But even more, the people here are GREAT!
     Which leads me to say something. There is a reason that Germany is called a "sleeping giant". It is because they are. These people are incredible. You look into their eyes and you know that there's an ever so thick veil keeping them from their full potential. It's not what saints in the states think at all. Europeans are not so settled and proud that they don't want the gospel. You see in their eyes that they're yearning and striving for that thing, but it's almost like they're afraid to find it. They are the friendliest people you could ever meet. Almost too friendly, they always say my German is so good when I know it's not! But they've been able to understand me and I can understand them so alles gut!
     There actually isn't too bad of a dialect here in the city because It's such a melting pot. So people speak very good and easy German. But there are people that you just go, "what the flap are they saying" and when that happens I just do my best. The Freiburg dialect itself is verrückt (wild) but I haven't met too many people who speak it. I love speaking German and we speak a lot of English too. But, I'm not afraid that I won't learn the language as fast because I'm speaking both. It's just great because we're able to reach twice as many people. A lot of people here are more proficient in English than German and It's awesome we can talk to them too.
     So Thursday was the day that I got here and after we put my stuff in the apartment we went out on the Straßenbahn to talk to some potentials. No one was home, but we ran into a young man named P. on the street. We were just saying Hallo to everyone, (It's my favorite thing to do) and I saw him look a little differently at us. So we started talking to him and found out he recently joined the Muslim faith because he found that it was moving him closer to God. We gave him a Book of Mormon and got his contact information and it was just awesome. It was such a great conversation because we were talking with him, not just sharing a message at him. We actually called him last night and he's out of town for the next 3 weeks :( But I have faith all will be well.
     I also was able to help teach a lesson to E, she's from Africa and awesome. She is so sweet! It was in English so that was really nice. I like talking in English..hehe
     So Saturday night....I only have one thing to say. BEES. It's been sehr sher heiß (very very HOT!) here in Freiburg. It got up to 38 on Friday! That was the day we went to our training. Well, we had left our windows open to catch a breeze and when we went to bed, Sister Peterson got stung by one that was in her blanket. We then realized they were everywhere! She put on her winter parka and grabbed the fly swatter and then I locked her in our bedroom telling her she's the trainer and she has to kill them! Muaha! And she did. I think it was 9 bees that night and a couple more the next morning. There's a hive outside our east windows so we're only opening the west ones now :)
    First Sunday was a lot of German but it was a success! We have Relief Society first at 9 am and it was very fun. We actually taught the lesson, aka Sister Peterson taught and then I bore testimony every now and then. I think I may be the Freiburg ward's little American pet. They are so awesome and so loving! I can't wait to get to know them better. During my little testimony I was able to make them laugh...twice! Sister Peterson said she's never heard them be so excited and attentive about missionary work. Hip hip Huzzah!
     I'm running out of time. It's something that has been happening a lot in Freiburg. Sister Peterson and I have so many people to see and so much to do but we run out of time constantly. Our are is pretty big and so it's just hard because we have to take trains everywhere. Which is fun but it eats up time when you spend 3 hours to get to a 2 hour meeting and then 3 hours back. But as long as we're doing what we're to be doing, it's all good.
    I love being a missionary. I love talking to people all day and just noticing them and loving them. When we take the time to care about others, we really just feel more love towards ourselves. There's something special about having the boldness to say hello to others.
     Every person you meet is a Child of God. Every person you know needs that hope and that assurance in their lives. It's a not a matter of, if you come to know these things are true, but when you come to know these things are true. I know that missionary work isn't exclusive to just us missionaries, and anyone who thinks that is making it so hard for us serving full time. We need help from members, we need the support and sacrifice of time from those serving in the wards. WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE!
     Don't ever be afraid to talk to someone. The worst they can do is ignore you, and at that point, they feel more uncomfortable when you do. Look into people's eyes when you talk to them, show them that you care. People need each other, we are not meant to be alone. We are meant to be cared for. And we can't only be cared for by other humans here on this earth. We need the light and the beacon that comes only through Jesus Christ. I'm not here to preach about Jesus to everyone, I'm here to witness that he is our Savior and our Redeemer and that the ONLY WAY we can be truly happy is by learning from him and learning of him. That's why I have such an affection and faith that Germany, very soon, will come to a knowledge of who Christ truly is. They are so happy, and so friendly, and so loving now. Imagine how they will be once they are restored to a knowledge of who they truly are! These people deserve the truth, they deserve the comfort and they deserve the knowledge far more than anyone I have ever met. I love these people with my whole heart and I won't stop until each one of them understands how much more they can become!
     I love you, familie. Thank you for being who you are, you guys are the best!
Tell people to write me!
Also, Vora wanted to see some pictures. Did Trinity and Tristan get my letter? I loved the picture of you guys at yo2go. I loved Tori's note. Holy cow dad and Michael's story (scary exit from Mt.St.Helens) riveted me!
We have to go get groceries, eat, and then we're going to look at the churches here in Freiburg. I have to go. I will talk to you next week.
Tell people to write me!
I love you!
So much!
Make sure El gets my letters.
I love you!
So much!
Sister Henry

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I am so glad the two girls are companions! What a blessing for them both. They will be a powerhouse in Freiburg that is for sure.


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