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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

3 comments:

  1. I'm speechless after reading her letters! What a blessing she must be to your family and those in Germany!

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  2. Rats can swim!! Ha ha ha ……still laughing at that! GREAT letter!!!! She is darling and a stalwart missionary through and through….:)

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  3. I love our daughters too!!! I love their smiles and I love knowing that they can lift each other when one feels low. I'm afraid they will have to arm wrestle about leaving Freiburg- how blessed they are to LOVE where they are!

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