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Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Avoid a Creepy Man on the Train by Sister Sherry Henry

Liebe Mutter,
I will begin this E-mail for the week with a story.  This week Sister Peterson had the opportunity to have an Austauch with our Sister Training Leaders.  As Sister Peterson took off to Pforzheim to serve, Sister Holman came and joined me in Freiburg.  We had a great time, and I was so grateful to serve with another missionary and learn so much to bring back and improve my personal work.  I learned many things.  How to plan better, how to use my goals.  But I think the greatest thing I learned was:

Found an American Flag!

                      "How to avoid a creepy man on a train"  
  We were on our train back to Karlsruhe and it was a pretty nice train ride.  Beautiful scenery, pretty castles, and the sorts.  We were sitting in a four seater across from each other just enjoying each others company.  Being the beautiful young dames full of the Spirit that we are, sometimes men just want to strike up conversation with us.  A man that was sort of diagonal from the aisle facing Sister Holman had just this urge.  So he told Sister Holman how beautiful she was.  He told her that he likes her.  He also told her he wishes his girlfriend was like her.
     He actually wasn't too creepy, but he was loud.  And when men are loud and have an open beer, we just like to be safe.  So we politely said, "Auf Wiedersehen" and pretended we were getting off at the next stop.  We then proceeded to the next cart and found a cozy little 2-seater to be in.
     Well, all of a sudden we hear this man come into our cart and talk to someone.  We didn't know what to do, since any second he was going to see us.  We tried to duck down and that didn't really work.  So what do we do?  We pretended to be asleep! And guess what?!  It totally worked!  The man, though we were right there next to him and he definitely saw us, didn't bother us a bit!  I now know my secret weapon!  When in doubt, pretend to be asleep!
We had some beautiful sunsets this week.
     We actually ended this week on a tough, note, though.  We had an amazing Friday full of miracles.  We were able to bring a member with us to (names changed) Frau Smith's and she is just an Angel and is totally going to make sure Frau Smith is taken care of.  Frau Smith also told us we can use Du sprache with her (Yay!) and call her Vanna.  So she is officially Vanna.  We left the appointment feeling so elated and so excited.  Why, you ask?  Because her BALCONY DOOR WAS OPEN!  This woman used to not open up her shutters, and now the shutters are up and the back door was open!  I was so excited and so filled with joy to see her progress!
     But then Sunday rolled around.  Yesterday was hard for us!  Between the Elders and our companionship we average around 3 to 5 investigators at church.  We had no investigators at all yesterday.  On top of that, we went a 3rd consecutive week without a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader to report our progress, all of our investigators returned to not progressing, and after church we were dropped by another investigator which means 3 people dropped us this week.  It was just a tough day to be us!
     I am grateful for tough days, though.  Because, first of all, it just means that Sunshine is right around the corner.  
     But more than that, I think there is something divine in the Lord giving us tough days.  Because we were struggling, we were able to allow others around us lift us up.  If no one had a bad day, if no one had a hardship, then no one would ever have the opportunity to serve.  Think about all of the joy and the blessings that service provides.  Maybe that's another reason why God lets us suffer some times.       Our hardships are a gateway for someone to receive the joy that only comes from selfless, charitable, service.
     Oh, I know what France looks like!  One of our trains takes us through Dorfs right on the border!  It is beautiful and every time I ride it I think of you, Mommy, and how much you would love it here.  I hope some day I can bring you and show you around.  The work is the same every where, it's true.  It doesn't matter where you get called, you will love the mission just as much because the work is so beautiful and so much larger than us.  But, I am so grateful to be able to serve in such a beautiful area of the world.  If man really spends time every day stopping and looking up at the mountains, smelling the flowers, watching the sunset, there is no way they would ever lose hope.  Every thing in this world testifies there is a God, there is a purpose.
All of that bread was made for us by Elder Steed! He's Elder Davies companion in Offenburg and he baked all of it for us! Everyone loves the sisters. It was good bread too! We have the best Elders in the whole mission in our district.


Oh, the pictures with the kids are just some random ones we met on the train. Noah and Lynda. It was pretty dang fun playing with them. Sister Holman and I had a blast, and it was a tender mercy to just have some fun interacting with the awesome people here in Germany. They were heading down to der Schweiz for Urlaub.

The picture in our apartment is what we look like when it's cold and we are doing studies. We are supposed to be wearing our skirts but we look goofy wearing our sweats and a jacket too. It was funny.
     I am running out of time but I want you to know that I love being a missionary!  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  This Gospel and this work is so much larger than any of us could ever comprehend.  Our purpose here is greater than we could possibly imagine!  Never think you are forgotten, never think you are alone.  We are not, our Savior is closer than we think.  He is standing there with his arms outstretched to lift us.  I know that He lives, I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that as we turn our hearts and our eyes to the things of eternal consequence, we will find true joy.  I am so grateful to be able to taste of that joy 24 hours a day as I embark in this service.
     I hope this E-mail wasn't super boring.  It's towards the end of P-Day festivities so I'm a little tired.  I need to go eat some chocolate before we go to our lessons tonight! 
     I love you so much Mom.  I pray for you every night and thank God for you every moment.  I have the best parents in the world.  I am so grateful to have been raised in our home by you and Dad.  I only hope I can spend the rest of my life and eternity repaying you for what you have given me.
     Have a phenomenal week!
I love you!

These photos: Some of the photos are from a members' home, I thought it was just a cute little German house. The picture of Elder Stricklin in the chair and Elder Sumsion is priceless. It totally describes their companionship. The picture of the steps is just documenting the steps of death. Those are the back porch steps for the homeowners down to the patio.

"Stairs of Death"

Just a random patch of grass in the city that has a ton of beautiful Wildflowers in it. I thought you would enjoy that. The wildflowers here are AWESOME.
Daddy, thank you so much for writing that!  I was reading this week in Helaman as he's talking to Nephi and Lehi about the importance and significance of their names.  It made me think about how special it is to be named after Grandma Sherry and I want to know more and more about her so I would love to hear more and more!  I loved reading that letter, I think I may try to print it out.
     You are the best Dad.  As I was reading Helaman chapter 5 i was thinking about all of the wisdom you have given me in my life and how much I cherish it. Thanks for being my hero.  I love you so much and I think you are the most spiritual, righteous, amazing man on the planet.  
     I love you so much!  I am so blessed to have been raised by you and Mom.  You two are the best parents I could ask for and I am so lucky.  I am also so lucky to have a Daddy that loves my Mom so much.  Thanks for always loving her, and kissing in front of us kids so we knew you were in love.  I am so grateful for you 2.
     I love you so much Daddy!  Ah, I love being here.  Missions are so cool!  I am so humbled and grateful for what I am learning and what I am feeling out here.  No wonder you love New York so much!  I hope some day I can bring you two here.  There are times on the train where I look out the window and want with all of my heart for Mommy to see this.  She deserves to be here seeing this beautiful countryside more than me.  I love you both so much!
Have fun with the cleaning!
Sher Bear
Today I was able to go to Ikea with the Bignalls for P-Day! That's why we are E-mailing so late. They are putting two more missionaries in our district in Lahr. We are praying for Sisters! But we got to go furniture shopping while we were there!
We were testing out beds by seeing how comfortable they were to lean on for prayers at night. It was pretty fun :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

"The Singing Missionary" and a miracle!

Beautiful Freiburg!!!
"Make sure Rachel Zwingli Christensen sees this picture, my water bottle is SWISS!"
Exchanges with Sister Allman at the Boden See

Sherry leaving the apartment this morning

Sister Peterson this morning looking so pretty

Pretty sure this statue is saying GO DUCKS!!!!

     If I come home having gained 30 pounds, it will have been 30 pounds of chocolate. Not a week goes by that I don't get at least one chocolate candy bar. I eat a piece of chocolate in the morning to get me going, I make sure to eat a piece at night to reward myself, and I eat pieces in between because I am a woman and I can. You'll understand why I can't put down the chocolate bars in about...hmmm...3 weeks?
     Oh, I withdrew 50 Euros today. So make sure the bank doesn't freak out. Oh and I used my credit card one time trying to withdraw money because I thought it was my mission card. Both are US Bank. It obviously didn't work but I want to make sure that the bank doesn't think someone is trying to steal from us.
     Okay, for the real stuff.
     Everyone has been saying I write good E-mails but now I am worried this one is going to stink because the pressure is on! But I will just write the things of my heart and first and foremost that is Frau Smith (name changed).
     I don't know if I have mentioned her before. She is an investigator who has been investigating the church since 2009. She is 56 years old but she is not a typical investigator. This woman has had some very very Böse or evil and horrible things happen to her in her past. She has the darkest past I could ever imagine, and because of that, she still struggles even today. She doesn't open the window to her Wohnung. She doesn't answer the door unless she knows someone is supposed to come.
     It was my first time meeting with her this week, and her apartment was like stepping into a chimney it was so full of cigarette smoke. But when I saw this woman across the table from Sister Peterson and I, I just couldn't help but feel like if anyone in this world needed the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this woman did. Sister Peterson and I had made a pact not to let her lesson fall into the trap of her dwelling on the terrible things in her life. We decided that we would flood happiness, gratitude, and light into this lesson. And so we did! We sang there is sunshine in my soul today and we went around in a circle saying reasons why we love Frau Smith and having her say things she loved about her life.
      I don't think you can comprehend the anguish in this woman, Mom. She is someone who, when you look at her, you think that she will only find happiness in the life after this. That things too terrible have happened to make this life of any worth. Here's a woman who thinks she just needs to cease to exist. And yet at the end of that lesson she was smiling, she laughed, she had seen light! Mom, Sister Peterson and I had the opportunity of shining the light of Christ to a woman sunk into the shadows! How lucky am I! I am so blessed to be a missionary!
     But that isn't the best part. We were getting on the bus to go to church on Sunday and who do we see cross the street, but Frau Smith. This woman doesn't leave her apartment. She doesn't talk to others. And yet there she was, wearing a white shirt, white capris, and a white necklace. I can't tell you how utterly shocked Sister Peterson and I were. We hadn't extended a commitment to come to church, we hadn't even thought of it! I mean, it had been 3 years since she stepped into a church building.
     But this is where members come in. Schwester M is a woman in our ward who had called up Frau Smith (They know each other from before) and invited her to church. Because of the work and fellowship of members, Frau Smith came ON HER OWN. You, as members of the church, are the key to letting missionary work explode all over the world! We can't do it without the members!
     As I watched Frau Smith shake the hands of the Men in the church building, and watched her hug complete strangers and listen to the lessons, I was so grateful. So absolutely grateful for this light and this Gospel. This is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about. It is about extending this love, this light, to those who need it. The love of Christ reaches those who are furthest in the shadows, those who we think are so fallen in the pit of despair that they will never climb out. This is why we have the Gospel! It is for people like Frau Smith! Don't ever think that someone has fallen so far that the love of God cannot reach them and bring them to the light. Don't ever think that you are not loved and that you cannot have that joy.
     Everything else this week seems grey in comparison to the miracle that happened yesterday. But there are small miracles and blessings every day that I get to enjoy!
      There is a picture of me with Sister Allman and I at the Boden See! I went on my first Austauch in Singen and it was a total blast! I had so much fun, I like to explain it as a working vacation. You still work just as hard, but since you are in a new town, you feel like you are traveling and a visitor. It's just the best. Oh and I love contacting! I love dooring, but here it is a little different. We buzz to their apartment and then talk over the Klingle and then they let us in. So not quite as scary as knocking on doors.

     Oh, and you could call me the singing missionary because I love to sing to myself as I walk around! The song that I call the theme to my mission is from the Muppets movie. It's the one at the beginning that says, "Everything is great, everything is grand. I've got a Book of Mormon here in my hand. Everything is perfect, it's falling into place. I can't seem to wipe this smile off my face. Life's a happy song when you've got someone by your side to sing a long....I've got everything that I need! Right in front of me....etc. etc." (She mentioned in our chat this morning that she was able to sing for her zone conference this week and will be singing in Sacrament Meeting soon).
     I sing it so much that Sister Peterson has started singing it too. Muahaha! Oh and "Oh what a beautiful morning" from Oklahoma. I love singing that song. OH! Bringing the speakers and Ipod were the best idea ever. I am so grateful for Music! If I didn't have the speakers, I would never be able to listen to music and I think I would be struggling a lot more.
     I am just so happy. I can't help but sing and smile as I walk around this beautiful City. No matter what happens on the mission, I will be able to go home knowing I said Hello to every person I walked past. No, seriously, I have probably said hello to the entire population of Freiburg by now. And I smile and stare at them until they smile back at me. I love these people so much!
     Oh and as far as the German, it is coming slowly but surely. I can't really see my progression, but Sister Peterson says I'm making some, so I will take her word for it.
     Oh and one last quirky thing. So there is an Evangelisch Kirche and Convent across the street from our Wohnung and every morning at 8 the bells ring. That is also when we begin study. So with their bells they are really calling the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to prepare to bring to them the Gospel!
     I love this people and I love this work. I can't believe how blessed and fortunate I am to wake up in Freiburg every day and know I get to spend the day bringing this Glück that I have to this people. Mom, I couldn't be in a better place. I love it so much. I love you so much. And I love our Father in Heaven so much. I am so grateful for this life and for this world. I only hope I can spend the rest of my days here doing what I am doing now, helping others find their way back to true happiness.

Oh, and pictures. So there is one of me on a tower overlooking Freiburg and surrounding areas. It's pretty cool. We went there for a District P-Day. I have the best district in the world. Elder Stricklin is awesome, he just brings a smile to everyone's face. Elder Sumsion is only 2 transfers into his mission, but he works like he's been here for years. Elder Steed is awesome, he's older into the mission and has a lot of experience. And then Elder Davies is our district leader and he is seriously our hero. This Elder is the best missionary I think I could ever meet. He sets such a good example, I can't even begin to explain. I just hope that when Spencer goes on his mission, he will be exactly like Elder Davies. Our District is super close and it's just great. We do things together all the time and we all feel like really great friends united in a love for this people. I couldn't ask for a better area to come in to.  
     My Waterbottle is Swiss, make sure Rachel Zwingli knows! The pictures of the chapel are our meetinghouse. It's HUGE! Oh and I took a picture of Sister Peterson cooking me food. She takes care of me :)

From her companion Sister Peterson:
Guten Morgen Mama Henry!
First off, I want to tell you how awesome of a mother you are! Sister Henry talks about you all the time, and I can tell she really loves and admires you. But I'm sure you knew that already :P
The other way I know that you are a good mother is because you have raised an AMAZING daughter. I am completely blown away by Sister Henry's talents as a missionary and a daughter of God. I have only worked with two other companions so far, but  I would say that as a companionship, we work more in unity than I have with my previous companions (which is saying something, because I love Sister Jenson and Regnier to DEATH!) Her love and excitement for the gospel is so contagious, and it bleeds into every aspect of the work: her love for the people, for the area, for the ward, the work, and for me as a her companion. I know that we like to tease about us being young giggle 'twin Sisters', but I have also never seen this work go faster here in Freiburg than I have since your daughter got here. She is going to do great things on her mission!
I hope everything is going well for you and your family in Washington. Have a good week!
-Sister Peterson

She is cooking me food!
Sis Henry....talking or singing haha
Sis Peterson in the chapel

View from her window

Emailing this morning

Monday, August 12, 2013

Creepy Guys and Turkish Eyes

With my favorite pretty Evangalisch Church
I have never ran so much in my life.
No, seriously. That one season of track and field doesn't even compare. Okay, maybe a little bit. But literally every morning Sister Peterson and I go down our 6 flights of creaky wooden stairs and then pictures this: Two Sister missionaries, skirts flailing, Book of Mormon in hand, sprinting to the Straßenbahn. It's definitely a sight to be seen. But it's so fun!
But story of the week. So we were invited for dinner with a sister in our ward out in a dorf called Himmelreich (guess what that means auf Englisch--Kingdom of Heaven). So, we went with the Elders and it's only a 15 minute train ride to the train station for the dorf. It had been threatening rain all day, and literally 5 minutes off the train it started dumping. Sister Peterson was the only one with a small umbrella and then the Elders didn't even have their jackets. We were definitely a sight to behold as we knocked on Sister Windhausen's door after walking a kilometer in the rain. We had a delicious meal and literally stuffed ourselves to the brim. Here in Deutschland, you eat all of the food. So we had 2nd and 3rd servings and I'm pretty sure I ate a loaf worth of bread. We topped it off with 2 ice cream bars and we were stuffed. But then, we looked at the clock and realized our train was coming in like 8 minutes. Sister Windhausen was going to drive but she forgot her husband had the car. So we walked out of her sight and then just started booking it. We looked to the left and saw a train and were running for our flapping lives! Elder Stricklin ate so much, the poor guy couldn't run anymore. Elder Sumsion stayed behind and Sister Peterson and I took on ahead. She fell a little behind but I was not letting us miss that train. We caught it literally just in time. My stomach has never hurt so much in my life. I am definitely not coming home fat!
Sister Peterson eating currywurst

eating currywurst and drinking my favorite apfel shorle

eating my new fav snack, pears and nutella

with swiss schokolade that is made with pure cream. So good.
This week in Freiburg was awesome. We learned a lot about being better teachers in our lessons. Luckily, none of our lessons went so poorly as to ruin some one's eternal salvation. But after coming out of a couple of them, we just felt like our balance between the lesson plan and listening to promptings of the spirit wasn't so great. We teach so many Africans! We have Die Familie B. and they are so cute. They are all from Ghana and don't really speak German so we teach in English. This last week we went over to teach C, the Mom, but when we got there it was her, her husband, her brother in law, and her sister in law. I felt so intimidated. Here I am a 19 year old white girl from Vancouver, WA teaching grown African men and women who are as old as my parents about the Gospel and how to better their lives. But they are so full of love and they just kept coming! We weren't able to teach at all what we planned, especially with C's two sisters coming in in the middle and how loud and chatty they were. But we all just enjoyed being together and talking about the blessings we have from knowing God lives and from learning and relying on Jesus Christ as our rock. The Spirit was there and at the end C told us that she wanted to feed us which is always a great sign. Apparently, you only get spontaneously fed when the lesson has been REALLY good. So she came out with two plates of rice and sauce and I took a bite...and....I started scarfing it down my mouth was on fire! Holy African Food! It was so spicy! I've never eaten so food so fast in my life. The next morning I woke up and my inners were not happy with me.
Just some cute primary colored wohnung (apartment) buildings
Other funny stories of the week. Men. Holy Cow we have so many stories of creepy old men. We were standing at a bus stop making calls and heard this whistling. It went on for 10 minutes and only after we were walking away looking to our right and saw an old shirtless man standing in the window, did we know the source. When we looked at him he yelled something along the lines of, "Oma Oma!" Which doesn't make sense but we were just cracking up. We were contacting in Riselfeld and an old shirtless man on his balcony whistled at us. We looked up and he asked if we wanted to come in. We said no thank you and went on our merry way. What a creep. Oh and last night at the bus stop. We struck up conversation with an old Turkish man and I couldn't understand all that he said. But, we asked about his family, where he's from, yadda yadda. He was asking some weird questions that I sort of understood. Like how old we want to be when we get married. Do we have men we live with. But only afterwards did Sister Peterson tell me he was asking if men could come into our apartment! And she said he was going on and on about how lonely he is and how boring it is because he lives alone. WHAT A CREEP! This man was sending off some weird vibes, but when she told me all of the weird things I missed, I couldn't help but start cracking up! He did give us some good marriage advice, "You have a good life when the man you marry is a good man, and a good man to sleep with". Sister Peterson says we get hit on so much because these men see the happiness the gospel provides and are drawn to that....yeah, I don't know if I totally buy it. But don't worry, we just laugh at these stories because we are perfectly safe. The Elders are ALWAYS a phone call away.
Oh, while we are on the topic of men. Sister Peterson and I are not allowed to teach young Turkish men, we have made a rule for ourselves. Because they have the most captivating and beautiful eyes on the planet. Honestly, I have developed such an affinity for Turkish eyes. (dark hair/skin & blue eyes).

That is the middle of Freiburg in the background
I just thought I'd share some of those fun stories with you, but the fact is that I'm not here to get hit on by creepy men or gaze into beautiful eyes. I love being a missionary. I don't think I could have comprehended the kind of love and the knowledge that I would be gaining. And I've only been a missionary for one month! I still have 17 to go! The opportunity to spend my mornings studying things of eternal consequence, and then spend my days talking to people and bringing this burning light I have found in my life to them is something I'll forever be grateful for. The greatest thing is that I know what I am learning is of God. Because as I learn, I am just studying the basics. The same things I have learned my entire life, but yet each time I read and each time I study, my intellect is invigorated. Oh it is so beautiful! The Gospel is such a beautiful thing! I am so humbled and so grateful that the circumstances in my life have led me to the opportunity to serve as a full time representative of this beautiful truth!
This week we had an investigator at church, his name is J. He's actually going to be the Elders' investigator now since he is a single man from Nigeria. But I have had the privilege of sitting next two him during sacrament meeting the last two weeks. I don't know much about this man other than he doesn't speak German and his English is OK. But as we were in sacrament yesterday, I heard him singing softly along to the sacrament hymn. At that moment I had such a love for this man, and such a desire for him to continue to seek and come to knowledge of the things of God! What an overwhelming sense of Joy and Charity I felt for him in this moment! And not just him but all of these people that I have been called to labor for! I love them with my whole heart, and if there were a way that I could just show them who they are! It is not fair for us to let others wander with no hope, no peace. We need to share this light we have, why would we not want to share this light?! I love these people so much, I hope I never have to go home and I can spend the rest of my life here and doing this work. I have never felt so happy and so much like the Sherry Henry I have always wanted to be. When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you truly are in the service of God. And as you serve him with all that you have, he will give you so much more, and make you so much more than you ever thought you could be.

On the straßenbahn. I love the straßenbahn.

Emailing home wearing her "Don't Mess with Texas!" tee shirt she got in San Antonio
I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ restored. I know that God is our Father in Heaven and as we come to learn of Jesus Christ, we will also come to learn more of who our Father in Heaven is. I am so grateful for Christ and what he has done for us through the atonement. I am so grateful for a Modern Day Prophet who labors all of his days to help us know more truth. I am so grateful that my family is sealed together for eternity, and I only wish that I could take this happiness I have and give it to these people that I see. I love them far more than they will ever know!

I love you Mom. I love you so much.

Sister Henry