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Monday, October 28, 2013

Thanks for putting me in Little League Soccer....

She loves her cars--this is a Lotus

Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for putting me in Little League Soccer...except you didn't.

As a missionary, you have promised to dedicate your whole life to this work, especially your talents. The only problem is...what if you have not talent?

Last week we were walking down the street when we saw a cute older German man putting his glass bottles in the recycling. He had a soccer ball by his bag, and so Sister Woods asked if he likes to play. His face lit up right then and he told us he and a group play together every Saturday and Wednesday. He then told us he was on his way and that he would love to introduce us to his friends! Cool! What a great opportunity to meet people!

We went over to the Soccer Pitch and standing there were 5 other older German men. They were so cute, and invited us to play. We were in our Skirts but we promised them we would come the next week and try to bring some friends so they had enough people.

Flash forward to Saturday. We show up to play and there are literally 15 other people there. I look to the left, Turkish man doing all these crazy foot tricks, look to the right, German man doing a bunch of other tricks with the soccer ball, look forward and another man blocking all of the super aggressive shots from his friend who also just looks like a pro.

I think this is the point where my knees started to wobble...

But, we started to play anyway.

Sister Woods is a great Soccer player, don't let her tell you otherwise. It was so fun to watch her use her talents and to shine, she even made a really cool play where she bounced the ball off of her head toward the goal but it unfortunately got blocked. Everyone was going crazy, it was so cool!

Oh and then there was me, in the corner, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I only knew two rules to the game. I don't want the ball to go this direction, and we want it to go into the goal in that direction. I kicked it a couple of times.

Fortunately I was playing defense. And now I can say that I have played Soccer against a player for the Romania Women's international team...because she was there playing too. No big deal.

People told me that I would be facing fears on my mission. I just didn't expect Soccer to be one of them.

Pictures from Hauptfriedhof. I wish the scaffolding weren't on the chapel. Germans know their cemeteries. Let me tell ya, Phantom of the Opera's graveyard scene must have been based off of here.

But it was great. No wondrous miracles seemed to come out of that day, but it was one of those moments where you are really proud of yourself because you did something hard. I learned that if you want to feel more worthwhile, if you want to feel like a better person, go out and do something you would never do. Go out and do something hard! I promise that when we do hard things, we give ourselves the opportunity to become our dream selves. To become who we want to be.

There are these candys here called Kinderüberraschungeier or "Children's suprise eggs" and inside of them it gives a little toy. We bought some disney princess ones and guessed who our princessess would be and we both got it right! Mine was Rapunzel (yes!) and Sister Woods guessed Belle! It was awesome.

I found a Smurf!

I really do love being here. I don't have much more to write for this week, which I am sorry about. We have been seeing so many miracles here in Freiburg, but I also feel like right now is the calm before the storm. Right now is the time full of seemingly-ordinary days which are preparing us for wondrous blessings ahead!
At the park with Josie, from Peru, and Peru is now on Sis Henry's "to visit" list!

the cat turned it's bum to the camera just at the wrong time, I thought it was funny!

Studying Jesus the Christ and keeping my feet warm

I love you all so much. I love you so much. I can't say it enough. I am so grateful to be here and to be a missionary. It is so hard to describe, and it's impossible to explain how it feels to be here and doing this. But just imagine who you have always wanted to be...and then being it. It is phenomenal. I love it!

Keep being your best selves. I love you!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Henry

PS from emailing back and forth with Sis Henry: 

Our investigators just need that desire!  It is so hard!  I just know now what it means to be lukewarm. There is just no dynamic in their lives, no desire to take that step and read in the Book of Mormon, or to come to church, or to just take action!  It is so sad.  :(  I love these people so much but I can only do so much for them!
I LOVE MAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Chatmans sent me some and so did Sister Fishers primary class.  So I am going to buy a ton of post cards today and send them.  That is what we are doing with our pday.  I am super excited.
I love getting post cards!  I got one from my MTC companion and now I will have two on the wall because I got the crater lake one!
Oh and tell Jokke congrats for me!  I met his fiancé while I lived at Southridge, she is awesome.
I loved the story of Jessica Chatman from the Deseret News.  So cool!
 (I asked about the new elder and the other missionaries in their district) The Offenburg elders (Davies & Packer) are great ,we love them.  I love our Freiburg Elders so much, they are seriously our brothers.  This morning Elder Kingery and Elder Stuart called us at like 6:30 and we ended up chit chatting for like a half an hour.  Which wasn't the most obedient becase we were supposed to be doing fruhsport but it was fun.  
Please send some crunchy peanut butter!
Autumn in Germany is so gorgeous!

McDonalds has a gym here called Mcfit. Thought that was hilarious.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trying to become a missionary who will flood each moment with a testimony and a spirit of love that the stranger can't deny.

With new companion Sister Woods in Stuttgart!

Bye bye dearest Sister Peterson!
With a new convert!
Trunky Elder Stricklin on his way home! We got to take a French train--and the French know how to do trains!

One thing people don't think of when they think of missionary work, is the crazies.  I don't know why, but the black name tag seems to sometimes send a magnetic signal which calls the weirdos.  This last week, Sister Woods and I were on the Straßenbahn talking to the nicest man from Missouri.  We had heard his American English on the phone and as soon as he had hung up, we sprung!  Birds of a feather have to flock together!  We were having a great conversation and found out we had to get off at the same Haltestelle to catch the same Bus.  So we were talking, it was a good conversation, too. 

But then out of nowhere a man starts talking to be about groups.  He says something with the term gemein in it, and a Gemeinde is a ward or meeting group here, so I am trying to understand this man.  He just goes on and on and I feel like he is telling me that I am part of a cult.  Sometimes understanding another language is taking a shot in the dark and piecing the pieces you understand together into a twisted puzzle of understanding. 

He wasn't saying I am part of a cult, he was actually saying really nice things.  He went on and on about how nice Mormons are and how great America is.  He then told me he needed his help.  He reached into his bag and grabbed a folded piece of paper.  He told me it was a story about the "Big Bad Bank" stealing from him.  He said that Deutschebank stole technology worth €1,000,000,000 from him and the only way for him to get it back is if I take that story back to America and give it to a journalist.  I told him we won't be back in America for 18 months, but he didn't seem to really care.

I don't believe his story, but he did say that people were trying to kill him.  So I guess if I don't email next week, you'll know what happened.

But seriously, of all the time to come up to us! The nice Missouri man hopped on the bus and all we could manage to say was Tschüß!

Hmm...I should have said auf Wiedersehen!

So, it was sad to see Sister Peterson hop on that train and take off.  I can't even begin to say how much I learned from her.  Living with me for 3 months...she is a saint.

As the beautiful chapter of training with Sister Peterson closes, another glorious one of Fall with Sister Woods begins!  On Thursday, after we said Tschüß to Elder Stricklin and Sister Peterson, we got to spend 6 hours in Stuttgart.  A lot of people say it's an ugly city, or it looks really modern, but I actually thought it was gorgeous.  Probably because the trees were every shade of Green to Red you could imagine.

We came back to Freiburg and just as I expected, Sister Woods fell in love.  It's just impossible for someone to come here and not feel at home.  The pace of this city, the people, the scenery, it is just amazing.  Being a missionary is the coolest thing.  You have the privilege of loving others the way Christ loves them.  You don't look around the Straßenbahn and see strangers.  You look around the Straßenbahn and see your brothers and sisters.  I love these people so much, if only they knew!

I am trying to focus a lot on diligence and giving my all every day.  There is a difference between a missionary who looks out the window on the bus, and a missionary who says hallo to the person next to them.  There is a difference between a missionary who says hallo and a missionary who asks how you're doing.  There is a difference between a missionary who asks how you're doing and a missionary who looks for any opportunity to teach this stranger even a nugget that will improve their lives.  And then there is a difference between a missionary who looks for an opportunity to teach a nugget and a missionary who will flood that moment with a testimony and a spirit of love that the stranger can't deny. 

My goal is to reach that last phase.  But, I have also learned that it's important to just diligently work schritt für schritt.  Elder Uchtdorf says to start right where you are.  I couldn't agree more.  The only way we can reach where we wish to be, is if we take the small step today.  Are we looking out the window?  Well then start saying Hallo.  It may take a while, but I promise you will master the Hallo.

The only way I have been able to improve is by the little steps.  There is a reason missions are 18 months.  There is a reason life is 80, 90, 100 years.  The fact of the matter is, change in us, change in others, takes TIME.  The key is not only patience, but diligence as we work to make ourselves better.

You asked if it is hard to be myself in another language.  Mom, do you really think that another language could keep ME, Sherry-Lynda-Henry-Dance-Across-The-Video-Camera-Look-At-Me-Mom, from talking?  I get frustrated sometimes, I can't lie and say it's easy.  But, the only person that keeps me in the way of being me auf deutsch, is me.  A big lesson I have learned serving in another country, is that language isn't who we are. I have met people from France, Ghana, Peru, Turkey, Japan, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and countless other places and cultures.  When we talk to each other in German, I am thinking this emotions and thoughts auf Englisch, translating it into German, then they receive it in German, and translate it in themselves to whatever language they have.  Regardless of the Sprache, the things we say are always the same because in reality, everyone speaks the same language. 

It's just, we don't remember that language because we were dumb enough to try and build a tower to heaven before they had even invented Automobiles.  Come on people, it would have been much easier with a tractor or two.

I don't have much else to write. I wish I could just tell you everything that goes on every day, but the fact is that those stories have to wait until we can sit and talk and read in my journal.  I wouldn't trade this service right now for the world.  Ah, it is just the best!

I love you all so much.  So, SO MUCH!  I think about you, I pray for you, and I love you.  Have a phenomenal week.  Ah, I love you so much!

Liebe Grüße,
 Sister Henry

Elders on the French train making "French Faces"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life advice from a 90 year old and transfers

SuperMissionaries doing a service project!
Sis Henry planned and threw a surprise birthday party for Sis Peterson!
Sis Peterson and V. one of the sweet YW in the ward at the party!
I wrote this poem to try and cheer up my companion, so it's a little rough because I wrote it really fast..haha

When I'm feeling Glum,
and my heart won't seem to hum,
I look around with desperate eyes,
thinking happiness is in disguise!

I then ask, "Can I hear it?
Some times one's eyes can seem to fade,
But surely my ears function well,
the same as when they first were made."

Oh yes, Oh gee, Oh silly me,
How could I think to hear or see!
We all know the sense that goes,
for happiness really is the nose!

But I have learned through many tries,
that happiness isn't found through nose, ears, or eyes.
Happiness that is really worthwhile,
will only come when we learn to smile!

Hello mom!
This week in Freiburg was a beautiful week like all of the rest! Actually, it wasn't like all of the rest, especially because the trees in Schwarzwald are starting to change color and so when the Sunlight hits it right, Schwarzwald starts to look Bronze. It is absolutely gorgeous.
     So, I want you to know that the end of transfers mean that missionaries eat like kings. Everyone wants to meet with Sister Peterson before she goes, and so we have been having a LOT of eating appointments. Some highlights include me eating Duck for the first time! It was absolutely delicious! We had it with Knödel (I think that is how you spell it) and some yummy side dishes. I also was able to eat my first real, German, Apfel-Strudel and I want you to know that GERMANS KNOW BAKERIES. Oh my goodness, a sweet treat from a bakery here is way better than America. In America, they just lather sugar, sweets, sprinkles, on a pastry. Here in Deutschland, they have the perfect balance between the fresh tasting bread and the sweet apple, nuss, or whatever flavor that goes with it. It is something you have to experience.
     Also, I had a Rootbier float! Schwester Halder-Ulfik is so cute. She loves Rootbier...a lot. Those Rootbier bonbons Michelle gave to me, I still had them and I started giving one to Schwester Halder-Ulfik every time I saw her. Needless to say, I may be her favorite missionary now. Forget the kids, the parents are the ones that love the bonbons! Oh she also asked me to ask you to send more. She REALLY likes them.
     At our eating appointment, she said she had a surprise. She pulled out these huge bier mugs and then placed them on the table. She went to the other room and came back with 4 cans of A&W Rootbier! There are only a few instances where I have been more excited than right then. After the meal, she brought out MORE Rootbier and we had Rootbier floats! It was awesome! I don't understand how everything can be better here. Even Rootbier floats in Germany taste better! Must have been the mug. 
     As I have said before, I have made it a personal goal to say hi to every single person here in Germany.Well, that little goal is paying off! As Sister Peterson and I chime our sing-songy "Hallo" to everyone on the street, we sometimes reap huge rewards in the form of little old German woman. So what happened was, we were going vorbei on a less active when we chimed Hallo to a nice old woman on our way to the Straßenbahn Haltestelle. We were standing there and then the woman came up to us and said, "I love your skirt" Shout out to Sister Julie Pond, it was the blue skirt that was made from Libby's old mission skirt! She then started talking about how she and her mom and sister loved to sew but she couldn't wear her old skirts anymore. She said to meet her at the Haltestelle at 6:00 on Friday and she would give us some!
     We went back and there she was with a little bag in her hand! She gave us a cute little skirt that Sister Peterson is graciously letting me keep, and then we just talked with her. And talked with her. And 45 minutes later during the cold, crisp, autumn day with buses passing by us every 10 minutes or so...we were still talking. But I wouldn't change it for the world. It was really hard to hear her, she talked really softly. But she gave some great advice to live to be old like she has. She said, eat Joghurt, Almonds, Apple Sauce. Stay away from a lot of Sugar and chocolate. Which confuses me a bit because she called us the other day to invite us over and have some Swiss Chocolate.
     But, honestly, it was so amazing. As I was standing there listening to this woman talk to us, I thought of how phenomenal of an opportunity this mission is. How many times can a person say they talked with a random 90 year old German woman on the street? She had so much to say, and I know I have so much to learn from her. The greatest part, is that as a missionary, It wasn't just listening to this woman ramble. I have the opportunity, and the blessing, to be able to listen with my heart and to let this woman know that she is loved by God. This woman is loved by the most incredible, powerful, magnificent being in the universe. Maybe we weren't able to say that out loud, but by the way she was looking at us, I know that she felt it. She felt that love, and as we continue to listen to her and talk with her, we will have the opportunity to teach her about that love.
     Missionary work is all about patience. The opportunities won't come unless we are patient enough to work on the Lord's time. His time is in terms of eternity, so we have to adjust accordingly.
     The other day I looked into a tree and saw a woodpecker. It was super cute, and I just wanted Dad to know it made me think about him.
     Yesterday was a phenomenal Sunday! So, another Hallo story. There was a woman on the bus that we had said Hallo and smiled at and then after we got off the bus, we asked how she was doing and started chatting. Her name is Z and she said we could come by. We came by but she wasn't home, just her daughter, son, and their cousin. We chatted with them awkwardly, but felt like it wasn't really good to try and teach a lesson. We then went back on Saturday and chatted again. Z was there and her daughter, and it was a nice little talk. It was a little disappointing because Z doesn't really know our purpose, she just invited us over because we were nice and she is a nice woman. But we bore testimony when we could in the conversation, and then invited them to come to church with us the next day. Z said she had to work and seemed to not have interest, but H said she would like to come. We then asked to say a prayer and told H we would pick her up before Sacrament. They just live around the corner from the church so it was not a problem.
     Then at church, we asked the young women if they wanted to come. So at 11:30, all 12 or so young women, Sister Peterson, and I walked over to H's. We said a prayer together, and then Klingled. H buzzed us in, and then one by one, we all said hi and the girl's each gave her a hug and introduced themselves. I don't think H was expecting to be flooded with young women love when we said we would pick her up, but she loved it! She had the biggest grin! We then had all of the young women, us, and H sit on a row in sacrament together. The girls did an amazing job! Christina, one of the young women who is her same age, explained the sacrament to her and helped answer her questions. All of the other youth in the ward came up and introduced themselves, bishop, and a bunch of other ward members too! She was just flooded with love! Afterwards, I took a few young women and asked if they thought it would be a good idea to give H a Book of Mormon. Then one of the girls suggested to write a testimony in it...OF COURSE SHE CAN! She was such a rock star, and after handing the book to me, she told me it was her first time writing her testimony in a Book of Mormon. I told her how perfect it was and then asked if she was ready to give it to H. She was such a champ, she did perfectly. Those young women didn't even need me there, they are better missionaries than we could ever be!
     As I was sitting in Sacrament with all of these young women, and thinking of H, I had such an overwhelming feeling of happiness. As I was able to share the joys of my missionary work with the young women, it only helped my joy grow exponentially! Mom, it is not easy for me to be here. I will say that frankly. I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my language, I miss my down time, I miss my alone time! But this work makes me so happy, the joy I feel here is so great, that it makes it all worth it. It is not easy, but the overwhelming moments when I feel that joy and that love for these people, the pure happiness that comes through this work, makes it all worth it. I have never felt so much fulfillment in my life. I have never felt the love of God so purely.
     There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God loves us. He loves us so much. He loves you so much. That is the message I share. Everything points back to God being our loving Heavenly Father. That is the first principle we as missionaries teach, before Joseph Smith, before the Book of Mormon, even before Jesus Christ. The first principle, the foundation for existence itself, is that God is our Father in Heaven and he loves you.
     I am so grateful to be here. Through the hard times, through the tears, and the sadness. Through the homesickness, the long days, the sore feet. I would not trade the things that I have felt, the things I have learned, and the people I have loved, for the world. This mission is everything to me. I am so eternally grateful for what it has done for me. I am so indebted to my God for giving me this opportunity.
     I love you so much. I love you SO much. I miss you, Mommy. I want you to know you are loved. I talk about my amazing parents all the time. I love you!
Sister Henry
(She forgot to tell me about her transfers--she is staying in Freiburg and Sister Woods will be her new companion. Thanks Michelle & Treisha!)

Hi Daddy, I love you! I think I will hold off on the winter clothes at least for another week or so. I don't like spending the money! Especially because sometimes I think about how much better of a missionary I could be and THEN would I feel okay spending even more of your money to be here.
     Daddy, I owe you so much for letting me serve a mission. Thank you so much for helping me be here. I could never pay you back for what you have done for me, and I only want to be the best missionary I can be to try and pay you back at least in that way. I think one of my biggest fears is that I will come home and not have gotten anything done on my mission, and then I will feel like I wasted such a big sacrifice you made for me.
     I love you so much Dad. You are really my hero. I look up to you so much. I am so grateful for you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fufu in Germany!

Okay, so since S is Nigerian it is actually called Puree but it is the same stuff as Fufu. Different countries in Africa call it different things, make it a tiny bit differently, and then put their sauce on it. The sauce wasn't too spicy...until after about 5 seconds. My mouth was only a little on fire. I sent home a picture, the woman is S, De is the little boy with his arm up, H is the smallest one, and then Di is the one with me. DISCLAIMER: She is not on my lap, it just looks like she is.

Unfortunately, my investigators haven't been making the progress they need to to be baptized, but that is okay. I have been learning a lot about patience as a missionary. The fact is that, I am not in control of anything. Through studying the plan of salvation, so many aspects of missionary work just make sense. When we understand why we are here, we understand why things are hard, why things aren't happening, why we need to do certain things. We know what blessings are, we know what trials are, and we know who we are. I think about how great The Book of Mormon is, how great the hope we gain from a knowledge of latter day prophets, but the single most important doctrine for people to learn about from us is WHY we are here.

The plan of salvation is not just a piece of what we believe, the plan of salvation is what we believe. I am so grateful for the peace and hope I have from learning about it, and that peace and hope is why I am not discouraged one bit that things aren't happening on my time scale. This life is much more than me.

So you have all probably been thinking, "Man, I guess the old men have just stopped hitting on Sister Peterson and Henry." Ha! If only! Just the other day we were walking down the sidewalk after an appointment with a recent convert and there was a sweet old man in a wheelchair on the side of the sidewalk. We said our unified sing-songy "Hallo!" and then he looked at us a second too long. It's so funny, if people take an extra 2 seconds of eye contact to say hello, they don't realize what they just did. Because then we catch them and ask how they are doing, then they take the discussions, then they are converted, then they are baptized, then they receive the gift of the holy ghost, then they are sealed eternally in the temple, then they die and are exalted.

All because they held eye contact for 2 extra seconds with the missionaries!

But anyways, we asked how this man was doing and proceeded to chit chat. But he gave us an "up-down" and then talked about how it was such a bummer he was so old. That's when we cut the testimonies, hold on to our pass-along cards, and keep walking.

Old men should be the missionaries of the church, they definitely have mastered the art of boldness.

Oh dang! I don't have much more time!

So the other day it was raining and it was just absolutely gorgeous. There are just some times where I am here and think about how I am totally living a Fairytale. But I know it's not because I am living in Germany. It's not just because I am far away from home doing things I would have never imagined. My life is a Fairytale because of the Gospel. I know what choices are the right choices to make, and because I make those choices, my life is blessed. When we do the right things, our lives will be Fairy tales. This Gospel is the path to happiness. If you don't know that yet, find out. If you do know that, then tell someone else. I don't know why in the world we are so afraid to spread happiness!

I love you all. All of the emails, letters, love from my friends and family back home do more than any of you could know. I read and treasure each one. They get me through some tough times. I am so grateful for all of you. Stay beautiful. I love you all so much.
God loves us. We are his children. I know it. I want everyone else to know it. It is such a happy day when someone learns who they are.
I love you!
Sister Henry

About General Conference: "I didn't want it to end. I have never felt so spiritually thirsty before. It flew by. 6 hours on Sunday, and yet it flew by. My body was tired but I didn't want it to end. It was the coolest thing. All I want to watch on TV when I get home is old conferences. I loved it."

About the photos this week:   "Look at my pictures! We went to a ruin called Schneeburg. Oh we also saw a Nazi bunker on our hike up to the castle ruin."