|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!
|Elders on the French train making "French Faces"|