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Monday, September 30, 2013

As I give myself to God, He makes me all that I can be!

     Before I came out into the field, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't let fear keep me from using my talents on the mission. We got a phone call this week from a Sister in the ward that plays piano for Primary. Before I had time to be afraid and say no, I told her I would love to do it! So, yesterday in church I PLAYED PIANO FOR THE PRIMARY!!! I just feel so proud and so accomplished and I know you would feel proud too, Mom! It has been years since I played. But you want to know the coolest thing? I literally have not been able to really play the piano for a couple of years now. As I sat there looking at the music visualizing it, I couldn't figure out how my fingers would work to play this song. But as I started to play, my fingers and my hands remembered the intervals. I felt God bringing this skill back to memory because he wanted me to utilize it. It was the most phenomenal experience ever and I am so grateful! I am so grateful to be a missionary! I am so grateful that as I give all of myself to God, He makes me all that I can be!

Practicing for Primary
She took a picture of her boots

     There's a lot that I could email about but I really don't have much time. I feel like Pdays just never last long enough. But I want to let you know, I love being a missionary. I love being here with these people.

     This week we followed a prompting in an unusual way and ended up going by on a Less Active. We went in and she was drinking wine with a friend. There was a strange atmosphere and then after the friend left, she told us that her daughter passed away. We sat with her, we comforted her, we loved her. The next day we found out she struggles with Dementia and her daughter had passed away 3 years ago. But her brother passed away that day we went by. This woman's husband, only two children, and only sibling are gone. She is literally alone and only 65. She lives alone, she has no close family left. There are people like this in the world! People you are friends with, people you visit teach, talk with who are this lonely and are hurting this much! I am so disappointed that I spent so much time on Netflix and not enough time lifting up those with feeble knees. There just isn't time to run around, there are people who need our love! I am so grateful that as a missionary, that is what I get to do. I get to help others, I get to lift and strengthen these people. There are people who need us! I know we are busy, I know life gets in the way, but if everyone just makes a little more effort, God will give us time. We do our part and he makes up the rest. That is the way He works.

     Every day here in Freiburg is filled with Love, Fun, Challenges, and God. It is the most indescribable and amazing thing, to be here and devoting all of my time to the Lord. Being a missionary is the single greatest experience that has happened to me so far in my life and I am so eternally grateful! I love these people so much! I love you so much! I love my friends back at home so much! I miss all of you but I am also so grateful to be here. This is where I am supposed to be. Ah, being a missionary ist am besten (is the best)!

A picnic with Sis Peterson in the Wohnung (apt)

     I will tell more details stories another time, I have to go. But I love you all so much! There is so much happiness ahead, ah, I love just being alive and living this beautiful life!
     Hi Daddy I love you! Sorry I never write a lot to you. I want you to know that you are great. I thought this week of another thing you have taught me that has stuck with me. When I was younger, you told me that 1 excuse was better than 3. If you are going to say something, say something strong instead of a bunch of weak things. I think I was trying to get out of doing homework, but the principle is what has stuck with me. It's more important to be a person of integrity than someone with a bunch of flimsy, half-filled words.
     You are the best. I talk about how great my Daddy is. I love you so much Daddy! I love you Mom. I love you so much!
Sister Henry
They have Burger King in Germany too (for Granny Lynda)

I love being a missionary!
I found kitties to pet!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rats can swim....who knew?

So, I now know what it feels like to be on a deserted Island with only one other person.

You are probably asking, "How do you know that Sister Henry? There is no Ocean near Freiburg?" Ah, but this is a figurative Ocean. An Ocean of living in a foreign country, in a foreign City hours away from the mission home, with no Cellphone. Yes, we survived having no cell phone for a good 36 hours. What happened? Well, someone had the bright idea of letting two American blondes be companions is what happened! Last Zone training they told us to all change our phone pins to the same number so that it's unified across the mission. When we went to change our pin, we realized we didn't know the pin to change it! So what do we do? We ask Elder Steed what we should do. What does Elder Steed say? "Oh, you don't need to tell the Zone Leaders. Just never turn your phone off!" Okay! Brilliant! But what happens when Sister Peterson tries just one more time 3 weeks later, and uses the final attempt out of our 3 chances to type in the PIN? It locks us out and asks for a new code!

Being locked out of your phone as a missionary is the craziest experience ever. In one moment, all security just leaves you. You realize no one can get a hold of you. You can't be late to an appointment. You can't report your numbers. There's no way to tell anyone what is going on. It is just the weirdest feeling.

But, we went to church on Sunday and Elder Kingery is really smart. He told us the information should be in the area book and it was and now our PIN is changed, our phone works, and I had a good story to write about! Don't worry Mom, you can sleep at night.

So, Zurich. Now, what I have to say has nothing to reflect on the Zwingli's because I love them so much and I literally only saw Zurich from the car as we really just were at the stake center all day. But Switzerland is really neat, It's a cool place. It's just no Germany. The buildings in Zurich are really modern and it's a much bigger City than Freiburg, and I just really love my Dorfs, my bajillion churches everywhere, and my rolling Schwarzwald. I have to spend some more time in Switzerland some day, because it just didn't speak to my heart as I looked out the window.

But the food...ah, the food spoke to my heart. I am pretty sure I ate my weight in Nachtisch on Saturday. You wouldn't believe how delicious it was! Luke is a lucky man, marrying a Zwingli. Anyone that loves to eat good food needs to marry someone of Swiss blood. My stomach is growling just thinking about it!

So, I really enjoyed myself and it was so exciting to go to Switzerland! I just also felt so happy when we crossed the border back into Germany. I really love this place, specifically Freiburg. I never want to leave, I will probably cry if I have to. The members are so wonderful, the people here are just so fantastic, and it really feels like home. I love Freiburg so much!

The funniest part about going to Zurich was the car ride. We rode with some members and as we were sitting there, I realized how different it is here in Europe. In the front seat, Schwester Naranjo was speaking Spanish to Schwester Alvez who speaks Portuguese. In the middle, Sister Peterson and I are speaking English to each other as Schwester Bank speaks German to Sharon and Kristina in the back. So we were all going between 4 different languages in the car, but the craziest part is that it is just not a big deal. Unlike in America where we get almost offended when someone speaks in their Muttersprache, everyone here nonchalantly goes back and forth.

The coolest part about it is that I get to talk to people from literally all over the world. I had the opportunity to have an Ausstauch with Sister Jenks up in Lahr this week. I got there Wednesday evening and we went to an appointment with a man in a refugee building. He is the cutest man from Iran. He calls himself a curious man and says he never believed what his grandparents told him, that all religions were bad. Now that he is out of that culture, he loves learning of other churches, learning of other people. He is literally something out of a movie. We were able to teach him in broken English as he read along in a Persian Book of Mormon. Also there was a young man from Pakistan and a young man from Syria. At home I heard about the countries on the news, thinking of them as some sort of aliens, almost not even human. But the fact is that no matter what your Muttersprache is, no matter what culture you are from, what religion, you are a child of God. Because of that, there really is no difference between nationalities, between people. It's something that you can't describe, but as a missionary here specifically, I have been able to experience. It is so cool! People are people, no matter where they are. We are all humans! If we just understood, the world would be such a better place.

Now you are probably wondering what all of this has to do with Rats. Well, I learned another crucial lesson this week as I was in Lahr. Sister Jenks and I were walking along the street and stopped to talk to a man at a part where the street is above a canal that runs through the city. There is about a 10 foot difference between the ledge of the canal and the actual water. We look at the ledge and see a rat. Right when we see it, the dog near the rat sees it too. The dog starts to chase the rat up and down this ledge. The rat tries to escape past the dog, but realizing that it can't go that way, it takes a leap of desperation and jumps off of the ledge into the water below. I swear I heard a little squealy "Bonzai!" in there. Sister Jenks and I just look at each other wondering if that really just happened. Did we really just see a rat jump off a 10 foot ledge into water? We look over, and see a little brown head poking up above the surface. The rat just started to swim merrily down the stream. It was seriously in the top 5 craziest moments of my mission. Now we all know that if a big swarm of rats are chasing you, don't try and lose them by jumping in a river, because it won't work.

Vanna goes on and off between doing great and no answers. So we are working with her, just trying to be there for her. It's hard, and it seems like she is making no progress at times, but I know that with patience and charity, miracles will happen. I actually read a really amazing talk today by Elder Uchtdorf in the October 2009 conference that talks all about the love of God. I am completely convinced that the Love of God will change the world. That is really the reason I am here to be a missionary. I am not a perfect teacher, sometimes I am not even a good teacher! I am not the nicest, the kindest, the most patient. Try as I may, It's impossible for me as a mortal to be absolutely obedient 100 percent of the time in life. But those things are of no significance compared to the power that I possess, that each of us posses, through our capabilities to love one another. Love is what changes loves, but not just any love. The perfect love that comes only from living a absolutely Christ-Centered life, and that life can only come through devoting our lives to the teachings of the Gospel. The Gospel teaches us how to love, it's up to us to utilize that love and to change the world!

P and S are also doing great. We may need to push back their baptismal date just because meeting with them is sometimes not super easy as P has to work. But I love this family so much! We just feel at home with them, playing with the kids, chatting, discussing the Gospel. They are so choice and so prepared by the Lord. They are such a blessing in my life! I am so grateful for them! We stopped by once just at lunch time and so S made us some food too while we played with the kids. I told her I am going to need some of her African recipes and then she told me it'd be too spicy. I told her to bring it on! Now I am a little bit scared. I will keep you posted.

But for the most part the work is just buzzing along! I still can't believe I am here some times. It all just seems too good to be true! But I am, I am here in the most beautiful and lovable country on Earth, dedicating my whole life to loving others and giving them more light and happiness in their lives! Could I be happier, I think not! Though I want you to know, I do get grumpy some times, poor Sister Peterson. But I have learned an important lesson as a missionary, we always have the opportunity to choose to be happy. Sometimes the choice is hard, and it requires a real conscious effort. But the choice is always there!

I am so grateful for this Gospel and what it has done for my life. I am not here as a missionary to condemn people, fight with them, try to turn them from their ways. I just know with my whole heart that this is the truth, that this is what brings man more happiness than he has ever experienced. All I am trying to do is share this happiness with other people because I know it will make them happy as well! What a great message I get to teach, what a great work I get to be a part of! I love it! I love being a missionary so much! I love you so much, you all mean the world to me!

I think that's everything for this week. Don't forget how loved you are. Every person on this planet is loved infinitely by the most magnificent being in existence. How phenomenal! He hears us, he loves us even when we turn to walk away from him. Never forget! He loves you! I love you!

Bis Bald liebe Familie!
Sister Henry

Monday, September 16, 2013

The little Van against the Big, Bad, Bus!

I will start off my letter this week with a story. You'd think I'd run out of cute old German men stories, but so far I haven't!
Sister Peterson and I were walking back after stopping by on P and S. We needed to catch the Bus by the church that would take us to the Straßenbahn which would take us home. It was evening and so the connections are pretty important since the Straßenbahn doesn't come as often.
We started walking when see the Bus come around the corner. Oh no! We need to catch that Bus! So of course, I tighten my backpack straps, Sister Peterson clutches her bag, and we start booking it! We were pretty far away from the stop, but we sprinted in hopes of catching it!
As we were running, a cute old german man in a work van is driving by and yells something out the window. We smile and laugh and have no Idea what the heck he said, and he keeps driving forward. We come around the corner and the bus goes to leave, but then it awkwardly stops. We have no idea what's going on, but we start hearing really loud, angry german honking.
What happened? You ask. We see this van awkwardly pulled in front of the Bus, blocking it's ability to leave. The little old German man was parked in front of the Bus at the Bus stop so that we could catch it!
Not only were we giggling and laughing about it all night, not only does this man have a one way ticket to eternal salvation, but I can officially say, I LOVE THE PEOPLE HERE IN GERMANY!
This week was just full of miracles. Oh yes, appointments fell through, we walked probably two miles in the pouring rain last night (my shoes are still a little wet this morning), and the weather was cold. But it was such a great week!

First item of business...We set a baptisimal date with P and S! Hopefully October 12th. Specifically, they want to make sure they know this church is true and right for them beforehand. But they keep meeting with us, they keep wanting to know and learn, and they KEEP COMING TO CHURCH. So yes, we are just A LITTLE BIT EXCITED!!!! They are so cute, they are the Nigerian family with De who is a little 7 year old boy, D who is the little 3 year old, and a little 18 month old named H. They are so awesome, such a miracle and really such a gift that God has literally placed in our hands. All of their progression is not us at all! We are just there to enjoy the ride. I am so grateful!
Elder Root said one time in an Email that you don't really know your German until you translate for someone. Stimmt. Yesterday at church, we had 7 Nigerian men. The Elders had us join in on a lesson with F and M, and then in through the door comes H, T, and one other Nigerian man. We then get into Sacrament and J brought his friend and his friends girlfriend. I love Nigerians! They just love coming to church and they love bringing their friends! They aren't ashamed to say what they believe and they love sharing it with others! The 4 of us missionaries spread out between all of our Investigators and I was able to sit with J and his friends again. As I was listening to the talk, I realized that I understood all the speaker was saying. J always says he'd prefer translation, but I knew that the reason God has helped me with German so much, and why he helped me understand literally EVERYTHING yesterday was so I could translate. So I leaned over and asked J if he'd like me to translate, and he did! So I got to translate and it was super fun and super hard. Your brain basically has to be split in two, whew was it hard! But J and I are pals so he thought it was great.
It was super rainy this week, like dumping buckets! I felt so at home. It reminded me of when I lived at home and would always try and be a Sunshine for everyone else. I just feel like when it is cloudy and rainy, that is the opportunity we have to shine. We were standing at the Straßenbahn stop and there was a man standing there so I went up to him and started chit chatting. As we were talking to the weather, I just piped in and said, "Wenn die Sonne ist nicht im Himmel, dann Mann im Herz die Sonne haben kann" ("When the sun is not in the sky, then people can have the sun in the heart") You know when people say that on your mission the Lord just makes you sound so wise and say really cool, wise things? That was one of those times. I am so grateful to be a missionary, and have the Mantle to lift people's days and give them little bits of truth, in whatever form it may take!
Oh, something funny that Mike will like is that everyone here loves to wear American flags or Brazilian flags on their clothes, backpacks, shoes, etc. For some reason, the Brazilian flag is super Trendy.
     Oh and Mom, everyone talks about how YOUNG and BEAUTIFUL you are when I show your picture. They all think you are gorgeous, and I just smile real big because I already knew that. :)
     On Sunday, our stake president spoke in church and he's Swiss. You know how Irish accents sound to us in English? That's kinda how his accent sounds, it was so cool! I'm not sure how it sounds when they're not speaking hochdeutsch. I guess I'll just have to find out when...WE GO TO ZURICH SATURDAY! We're going down to Zurich for a stake relief society activity! I am so excited! We will take pictures with Sister Peterson's camera.
     I think that is about all of it. Except one more assignment for you, Mom. Sister Peterson's Birthday is on October 12 and she is afraid no one will remember. So I need you to use your Mom powers and make sure she gets flooded with love, presents, and cards BEFORE her birthday so we can open them ON her birthday. She loves peanut butter, she is lactose intolerant, she loves to cook. She loves dark chocolate. She loves to make cute things out of paper, like scrapbooking paper. Oh and can you buy her an Oil brush (for cooking)? She will love that. Oh and she loves herbal tea, she drinks it all the time.
     I love it here in Freiburg. I love being a missionary. It is now starting to sink in how long I will be here, how much of a part of my life this mission is and will be. I am so excited for all of the experiences and knowledge that lays ahead, and so grateful for all I have learned so far. I am so grateful for people, just for the other people that we meet, talk to, walk past every day. I am so grateful for the light in my life because I know who I am. I know that I am a daughter of God, I know that he has given me a way to happiness and I know this Gospel lays out that way so perfectly and plainly, and yet it invigorates my intellect to the core! I am so grateful for you, Mommy, and all of your love and support. You are the best Mom on the planet, don't ever forget it!!
I love you!!!!
Sister Henry
Yes, P and S are our Investigators with baptisimal dates! Elder Steed bought me the Mp3 player as a birthday present and gave me a USB drive with a ton of music! Isn't he the best? You should find his mom and tell her she has the most charitable and awesome son for a missionary ever.
I probably gained 10 pounds from all of the oreos I ate this last week. His package was awesome and super thoughtful. Just a lot of stuff that I can use.
I do Yoga in the morning.
Elder Kingery is awesome. He is bringing miracles to Freiburg, no joke. We love him. Elder Packer is awesome too, he is like a younger version of Elder Davies and they adore each other, it's super cute.
I would love snail mail letters. Emails are great to know what's going on, but I treasure being able to read words of love, advice, and just encouragement. So I would love snail mail too from you and Dad. And TORI NEEDS TO WRITE ME that goofball.
Two Mom notes: Sis Henry's camera died this week, Daddy is going to get on and send her a new one for her trip to Switzerland this weekend. And just over one year ago, Sister Henry began studying German. In this letter she talks about translating an entire Sacrament meeting from German to English--6 weeks after arriving to Germany. That is definitely a miracle! There are many people who study a language for years and wouldn't feel comfortable with that--oh, the blessings of serving a mission.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Miracles..and Bees on Crack.

Liebe Familie,
I am so sorry that I couldn't send and email this week. We just didn't have any time because we are doing something fun! But the cool thing is just imagine me looking out of a big train window at the beautiful Southern Germany countryside as I write this...because that is literally what I am doing.
First of all, I want you to know that our Wohnung (apt) is where bees come to die. The other night Sis Peterson and I were brushing our teeth with the window open when we heard an awful buzzing. We knew a bee had entered the premises. But this was no ordinary bee, it was a bee on crack. It was slamming into walls, flying in swirls and loops and just going crazy. He then landed on the floor and started spinning around faster than a tip! It was the weirdest thing, it looked like one of the ose fireworks of Fourth of July that spin reaally fast. We didn't know what to do, so I finished up brushing my teeth, left the bathroom, and trapped Sis Peterson in with the Bee of Death. Well, I call it the Bee of Death because the next morning there the bee was on the ground struggling for breath...that is...if bees breathe. Sister Peterson then stomped on it with a shoe and put it out of its misery.
I also got to experience transfer calls for the first time this past week! It was so ganz toll! (really great!) On Thursday night we put the Elders on Speakerphone and guess who is going where by flipping through our scriptures. It was hilarious!
Obviously Sister Peterson and I are staying together, and we are so excited to have another Sister companionship in our District! It's going to be an awesome and exciting transfer, I can feel it! Also we get to "kill" Elder Stricklin, so we are already planning the "funeral." (he is going home in 6 weeks, and in missionary tradition that is "dying.")
District Sister Finding Day
 But of course, the mission is also about miracles. Boy have we seen some this week! On Saturday we had nothing planned as Saturdays are usually district finding days, but we didn't have one planned. So we decided to have our own "District Sister Finding Day." We had some potential investigators that live far out and we haven't been able to take care of them. So we decided to go take care of the people we have before we expect more! We found another potential before lunch! On our way to our first house. And then we got to the house and were greeted by the cutest Nigerian family. The father is such a miracle. We went in and taught a ‘lesson zero’ and it was so cool! He told us he wasn’t ready before but tha the is ready to come to our church and learn from us now. His brother is a member in Switzerland. Sunday he brought his family to Church and LOVED IT! They have the cutest little girl, you have to see a picture.
Sherry & 2 year old D.
We then went to an area called Schallstadt to go by on some more potentials and saw another big miracle. We got a call from a member who told us his wife was sick and we needed to come over. We were confused since the Elders give priesthood blessings, not us! He asked where we were so he could come and pick us up and we told him we were in Schallstadt. It turns out we had been contacting across the street from them. We thought there weren't any members in thea area, and lo and behold, the one family there was also the one that needed us! The wife teaches Primary but wouldn't be able to come on Sunday. She couldn't find anyone to do it and was praying that she would find someone. She had to ask everyone for our number as she didn't have it. But she got it, and we happened to be across the street and able to be the answer to her prayers!
Sister Peterson ended up teaching the lesson so I could be in the investigator class with Vanna. But it's okay because I got to play with P's little 2 year old D. in Sacrament. =) Oh, and it was fun singing in Sacrament meeting. I just love being a missionary and know that as I use my talents, I am serving Him.
I love you so much family. I miss you all a ton but I also know I am where I am supposed to be. I love this work and am constantly humbled to think the Lord sees me fit to represent Him.
I love you!
Sister Henry

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rodenbahn pday and Birthday Happiness

Okay, the moment you have all been waiting for. What did I do for Pday last week that was so important that I didn't get to write a big Email?
     On our train ride to Singen, we go by a little Stadt called Hausach. Right before this Stadt is a a thing called a Rodenbahn. Have you ever heard of the Alpine Slide in Park City? It sounds like it is the same thing. So for our last Pday as a district, we decided to find out how to ride this little ride, and ride it we did! It was so fun and surprisingly inexpensive!
    It was pretty hilarious, though, because we had to make a trek to get there! It was probably a 45 minute walk from the train station, but worth every step! I am thoroughly convinced that no missionary could have a more fun P-Day activity. And I don't know if you saw the pictures...but it was Gorgeous!
So it was a great way to end a wonderful first transfer here in Freiburg. 
Beautiful Deutschland (click on photos to see larger

     Yesterday was my birthday, and it was awesome! I felt such an outpouring of love! First of all, I loved the card you sent to me, Mom. I read it the night before my birthday and thank you so much, I really needed to just feel that overwhelming mommy love. (I sent a mushy gushy mommy card--the kind she usually doesn't like--and a funny one too) 

The "twins" in their matching Supermissionary Tee-shirts
     My actual birthday was awesome too. But a little tough. We haven't been able to get in contact with Vanna (name changed) this week, well we got in contact once but the actual appointment fell through. We were supposed to have a lesson and then after waiting 15 minutes, she came down and she had to go to Bahnhof. It really was a tender mercy to just see her. We scheduled an appointment for the next day and she didn't answer. Then, we went to pick her up for church again and once again no answer. I am just worried, I hope everything is Okay. She is so fragile, and I don't want her to have to go so long without us being able to uplift her!
     Fortunately, as we were walking away from her Wohnung on our way to church, our phone rang and it was our Zone leaders, Elder Janis and Chapman. There is nothing that will lift a Sister Missionary's day than hearing two Elders singing Happy Birthday on the phone! When we got to church, Bruder H had come! We meet with him every week, his wife is a member and he's been investigating for a while. He's had Urlaub and was able to come, and you could just tell how happy he was to be there! We were so happy he was there too. Ah, it was great. I've never had such a testimony of the happiness and upliftment that comes from going to church on Sunday. It is such a blessing to have that time every week to just be surrounded by people who love us, hearing words that uplift us.
      The members did awesome remembering my birthday! Schwester B got me a little present with my favorite treats, the Bishops Daughters gave me some peanut butter, I got a bajillion cards from people, and V made me a card. She is the girl in the picture with me, she is 13 years old and Tori's German Twin. She doesn't know English so there's no way for the two to communicate, but she and Tori would get along so well!
      After Church, we went over to the C's home and had Pizza and then a little Birthday Party! They made the most delicious Plum cake and then I got to blow out the candles and they sang happy birthday and everything! It was so wonderful, I felt so much love!

      Then, last night, I got a phone call from the Sisters in Singen, the Offenburg Elders, and Sister Miles all singing happy birthday to me! Afterwards, I opened up presents, and I just felt such an outpouring of love!
      We spent a lot of our week up in Lahr prepping the new apartment for the Sisters and so it left us a little flustered the rest of the week. Also, this week was full of a lot of appointments falling out, and it just wasn't super easy.

      I think in every one's life they go back and forth between being the servant and being the one to be served. I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to serve and lift each other here in this life. I felt so much love, and so taken care of this week. I know that the Lord knows me, and he takes care of me. But I also know that God takes care of us through other people. Next time you think God isn't there, that he doesn't care for you, take your eyes off the sky and look to your left or to your right. God answers our prayers through other people. We are here on this world to serve, uplift, and care for each other. Too often we ignore the angels that are placed in our lives because they're wearing tennis shoes and T-Shirts. But I know that God works through his children to take care of his children.
And now, the tough week is over. The storm has gone and it is time for me to lace up my cute, brown, leather missionary shoes and get back to work! Freiburg is ready, these people need to hear this message! There is hope and the only thing that is keeping them from it is the speed at which I can speak! I am ready to change these people, change this city, and change the world! That is what I am here to do, and I am going to do it!
      I love you all so much, I know I am where I am to be. I know God has put us where we are for a reason, he is in our lives, we just need to acknowledge him.
I love you so much, mommy. You are the best.
Sister Henry

Happy Happy Birthday Daddy dear. Happy days will come to you all year. If I had one wish then it would be, a happy happy Birthday to you from Germany!
     I just wanted to send you a special Birthday Email because you are the best Dad ever. There have been so many times in my life that you have taught me words of wisdom that have really stuck. I don't realize how much they have stuck until I realize I am sharing those words of wisdom with others.
      The first thing is that you have always taught me that we make money to spend it on others. That is something that I absolutely live by, Dad. I didn't realize how profound this teaching was until I started living with other people. Without even knowing it, so many people feel like they need to in a way hoard what they have, that it is theirs and I suppose that is justifiable. But you have taught me that money doesn't mean squat unless it is used to make someone happy. Because of that, I have never had to think twice about giving a gift, I have never had to think twice about buying something just to lift someone's day. I specifically remember you saying to me that you make money to spend it on us, your family. I want you to know I plan on teaching that to my children, and them teaching their children, and passing it down through the generations.
      Another thing you have taught me is to love others. I remember when I was little and we were going to go to the Into The Woods musical production with your friend Michelle. I remember you sitting Mike and I down and teaching us about the Proclamation to the family and then explaining why Michelle was Michelle (her name used to be Michael, she was a transgender person Damon worked with before her change). I then remember feeling a little uncomfortable because I didn't understand, but then I saw how you and Mom still loved Michelle even though she had made choices that you knew weren't right. Because of that, I am able to be here in another country and love people the same way. You really have taught me that man can love the sinner while still understanding the seriousness of the sin.
      You have also taught me what it means to sit back and ponder life. I feel like you are so good at looking at the window and thinking, and then sharing those thoughts and teaching others. I just think you are the wisest and smartest guy in the world, Dad. You're spiritual insight is the best in all of the world. I admire you so much, and I treasure every truth and every insight you share.
      I just think you really are the best. You are my big bad, can do anything Dad and I am so grateful for you. I am so grateful for the parent you are for us. Gosh Dad, I just love you so much. You really are my hero and I hope you understand how phenomenal of a Dad you are.
Happy Birthday!
Sher Bear