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Monday, October 27, 2014

To the tune of "the final countdown! "

Überlingen pday with Sis Kutschke and Oma
Dinner at Oma's house to say goodbye to Elder Mickelson

Baby its cold outside!
Meine Gute, I can not believe it, that I have made it to my last transfer on my mission!  Seriously, I just can't believe it. I am staying in Singen with Sister Kutschke!
I mean, even when I was filling out my papers, I wasn't sure if I would actually go on my mission.  I remember specifically feeling no direction on whether or not I was actually going to go, I only knew that filling out my mission papers was bringing me peace.  So I moved forward.

Then I somehow found myself reporting to the MTC, and even right before that, I had some second thoughts.  Would I really do this?  Would I really serve a mission?  Well, I knew that getting dropped off at the MTC would be the only thing that brought me peace, so I at least reported.
     I feel like it continually went forward like that.  Would I be able to make it to the end of my mission?  There were times where I honestly didn't know.  Oh my goodness there have been so many times I have wanted to quit.  I think only my companions really understand how many times I have wanted to throw in the towel, because they're the ones that were sitting there with me during those hard times.
     I would keep going for that day, for that month, but the thought of enduring to the end seemed so anstrengend!  I should know that word in English but it isn't coming to me right now.  (exhausting)
I definitely couldn't envision myself getting here because it seemed so far away.  But now I am here in my final transfer!  And I look back and I can't help but thank God for every single moment on my mission so far.  I really have no regrets, because every mistake or failure has also taught me.
     Honestly, I sort of have a philosophy that you really can't fail on your mission.  I compare it to like extra credit in a class at school.  If you mess up your extra credit, it doesn't hurt your grade.  But if you give it your all and do your best with your extra credit, then you definitely reap benefits.  I consider missions to be like spiritual extra credit.  Don't go on a mission, God isn't going to damn you, or punish you.  But you go on a mission, and you will experience a happiness far greater than anything any sort of school or degree or professor or person could offer you.

Man, missions are great.  Man, life is just great.  Man, GOD IS JUST GREAT!
     I just want to keep pressing forward for these last five weeks, and enjoy every moment.  I mean, I am almost finished with my training.  Pretty soon I am going to start the rest of my life, I better learn the lessons I am supposed to learn, the last preparations!

But seriously, there is only good and happiness ahead if we let ourselves make the good and happy choices.  I have been reading the Chronicles in the Old testament a lot lately and I just love the stories of the old Kings of Israel and Judah and their examples.  One I read about lately was king Hezekiah and I love his story.  There is a certain point in Chapter 32 where the Assyrians are coming against them, but Hezekiah just totally keeps his cool.  He does what he can to protect his people and then he tells them this:
Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the King of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: For there be more with us than with him:
With him is an arm of Flesh; But with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.
     I just know with 100% certainty that if I stay on the Lord's side, I never need to fear.  God will always take care of us and always provide for us.  We always have reason to be strong and courageous. If we don't feel we have reason to be strong and courageous, then we need to get on our knees and pray.  Because I can promise that after we pray for that courage and strength, we will feel it.  Then we will be able to make it that next day or next week or next month until all of a sudden we realize that we have made it to our final transfer.  Even when we thought we would never be able to.
     I love my mission, and I love the Gospel.  There is so much happiness that is awaiting to greet us, we just have to do our part and find it.

I love you all so much!  The work goes forward, there are miracles happening here in Singen, in Costa Rica, and all over the world!

Sister Henry

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spanish Tangerines. Wisdom gained. Pday love.

Pday today with Oma in Überlingen

This week a ward member gave us some tangerines and told us they were out of Spain.  It is funny because I remember being so impressed at the beginning of my mission of the places my food came from and now it is just normal.  I like Grapes out of Italy the best, and then citruses come out of Spain often and taste good.  But there is nothing like Apples out of the orchards here on the Bodensee.  Oh my gosh, can I just take a moment and enjoy how delicious the food here is?  I love Europe.

Anyways, Mom, you asked me what are some things that I have seen different in myself.  Sort of a check in on how I have changed.  That's a lot harder to do now, I can tell, just because I have forgotten a lot about how I was before my mission, you know?  But I realized some things while I was thinking about it this week.

I think the first one I have seen is how much my heart has been given to God.  I just feel it, I feel a yearning and a desire to do what he wants me to do.  Before my mission, I was maybe slightly influenced, consciously, by what my Father in Heaven wanted me to do with my life.  Though He may have been unknowingly guiding me, I still felt like it was MY life, MY decisions. 
Well that has changed in me a lot as I don't want my life to be for me anymore.  I really want my life to be for Him, for my God.  I have found so much peace and happiness as I have put my wants second and His wants first.  I mean, just so much peace!  Sorry, there is a fly flying around and bothering me.  Okay, yes, peace.
I don't think I really understood what it meant to consecrate my life, to really be a Member of the Church.  In a way, I made some of my covenants sort of innocently, unknowingly.  I mean, I had a knowledge when I made them, but now I understand them more completely.  And I have really come to learn that those covenants mean so much more than I ever thought.  Those covenants mean everything.  God means everything to me now.

I just want to live my life so that I can continue to be His tool, you know?  So that I can continue to let Him work through me no matter what that call may be.  I just know that if I do that, then I will become a better person than I ever expected, and I will do more good than I could ever know.  So I think that is the biggest change I have seen inside myself.  My desire to continue to do His will the rest of my life.  And the ability to recognize and follow that will.

Because another thing I have learned is that that will is different for everyone.  Yes, some things are the same for all of us.  Christ has laid that out clearly to us in his Gospel.  But all of the details are individual, the Gospel is for everyone INDIVIDUALLY.  I have learned so much about that.  We are individuals with individual talents and strengths.
I think also, this sense of consecration and this strengthening with my Father in Heaven has caused me to also chill out.  I just feel less stressed.  I have really learned that the things which I don't need to control, I don't need to control!  I can just trust God, you know?  That's the only choice I need to make, is to trust Him.  I can feel it in my heart, too, when I am trusting Him.  There is always a very prevalent peace that comes when my heart is trusting Him.  Some days I do better than others, but that is okay, because improvement is a part of this Gospel.
I just feel like my eyes have been even more opened, and I know they will continue to be for the rest of my life.  It's just so cool, though.  My mission has cultivated within me a yearning to learn more, to search for truth and to understand my Father and the things of God better.  I really feel like the path in front of me is as long as ever, but I can see it clearer now.  Maybe not the details clearer, but the direction of the path is clearer.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I have learned how to handle the fact that I have a future. 
Man, missions are the best.  The Gospel is great.  I love being a missionary.  I love sharing this happiness with others, now matter what form that may be.  I love it, I love all of it!  And I know that that love comes from God because ALL that is good comes from God.  All that is not good, God allows to happen, yes.  He allows it to happen.  But if we learn of him and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we can also learn WHY he allows it to happen.  We just have to search and ask and pray and search some more!
Well, I love you all.  Keep smiling and keep praying.  Praying helps you keep smiling.  I have a definite testimony of that!

Sister Henry
PS Oh a couple weeks ago we were called as STL's I forgot to tell you.  And on the 2nd I am going to sing at the musical fireside in Wetzikon.  I thought you would think that's cool. Oh and I forgot to say, the trains have been going on strike!  It was funny because the Freiburg Sisters got stuck here for our Austausch, but it was extra fun because then we got to do a Supertausch here in Singen!  Es gibt nie Zufälle im Leben!

Train Strike

The entrance to our investigators' house is straight out of Once Upon a Time

"My albino flower" 

Candid of Sis Kutschke

"Sister Kutschke LOVES spaghetti!" (Sherry's plate is on the right)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A short one today...

Man!  I am sorry, I don't have as much time this week to write! I have some school stuff I need to take care of.  But I want to share just one thought I had this week.

I was chatting with another missionary about how I go home in a couple of months and he asked how I was feeling about it.  I had mentioned, "Well, you know, I never came on my mission to stay on my mission"  Then stuff happened and the topic obviously changed.

Anyway, I was thinking about it later and I don't think I had expressed myself totally correctly.  I never came on my mission to stay in Germany.  But I sure as heck came on my mission to stay on my mission for the rest of this life and the next!

We'll see what that means in the eyes of the Lord!  But I know that if I strive always to give my life to Him, then He will make it greater than I could ever imagine.  That's why He asks us to first and foremost: love God with all of our might, mind, and strength.  Because that's the only way He can make our lives more beautiful than comprehension.

I love you all.  I am sorry that I am not writing a lot this week.  But Zone conference was awesome, President Kohler is just so cool.  With President Kohler, we are becoming the best trained missionaries in the world! It is awesome because he loves teaching and so he always takes time for training segments in our meetings.  He is just so smart!  I feel so blessed that he's my mission president. 

Sister Henry

Street display Saturday
 Singing in Singen!

Singen in the rain...

Good friend Elder Bellersen, they served in Salzburg together
Tall and small--with Sister Schönherr at Zone Conference =)
 Meersburg is so gorgeous!

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Soul Food"

Pday iStein am Rhein, Switzerland.

(Some answers to questions Mom sent)
The Elders are teaching M now, we just felt like it was better for Him.  But he is still progressing well!  We haven't started an English class, but I got to teach German class last week and loved it!  F. (an investigator she had found in Freiburg and her friend also taught while serving in Freiburg) ended up getting baptized in my first transfer here in Singen.  As far as I know, he is doing well.
Yep I am still healthy.  But my body is so tired, I can feel the missionary schedule taking it's toll.  The last month or so, I am exhausted in the mornings.  The only thing that seems to be keeping my body going is our morning jog.  Without it I am totally shot.
Gosh, I left my study book at home.  But I thought it was cool how many people talked about sustaining the prophet.  I also loved what Elder Holland said, "I may not be my brothers keeper, but I am my brother's brother."

So I was feeling a little grumpy this morning and sort of grumbling, started my emails.

Fortunately I had a Ritter Sport in my bag that Elder Lee gave me the other day.  I had sworn off chocolate for this month so that I could pig out in November, but this was an emergency.
Somehow after a few pieces, I am chipper and happy again :)  That is why I titled this email soul food.  Chocolate fixes my soul.
I also have decided, since we jog almost every morning, I may rethink my chocolate fast...
General Conference was really cool.  Actually a lot of stuff this week was really cool.  Actually, you know what?  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is just REALLY COOL.
First I will start off with why General Conference was really cool.  Saturday we were pretty busy running around with a few appointments and so the Saturday morning (which we watch in the evening) session snuck up on us.  We were walking down the street to the church when it dawned on me, "Woah!  We are walking to GENERAL CONFERENCE!"  Then I got that Christmas-Eve-Santa-is-coming feeling and thoroughly enjoyed the session.  I think one of my favorite parts, too, is just knowing that on the other side of the world, My family is watching the exact same thing that I am watching.  There's just a special spirit that unites us as we all listen to the words of the prophets together.
I also had a really cool learning experience through conference.  A little disappointing but I am grateful for the sure witness it gave to me.  We had an appointment before the viewing of the Saturday afternoon session (which was Sunday mid day for us over here).  The appointment ended up going long (which we assumed would happened but were stuck between a rock and a tight place for).  We drove back to the church, but at that point got back in time only for half of Elder Holland's talk and Elder Perry's, the last two of the session.
I was sitting their listening to their words and of course, I learned so much and it was so uplifting.  But I also just felt this deep sense of disappointment.  Just a disappointment that I had missed the opportunity to partake of the spirit that had come before.  Yes, I will be able to go back and watch them and read them.  But there is something special about that sacred time that is set aside to view the conference.
But, I am grateful.  Because, although I was sad, I was also taught that I do have a testimony and love of General Conference!  I do cherish listening to their words!  Now, because of this experience, I don't want to take a single session of conference for granted, ever.  Fortunately there was a wonderful Sunday Morning session which followed shortly afterwards!

The Lords teaches us in mysterious ways :)
Another cool thing this week.  We met with a man from Nigeria (with the Konstanz Elders and something really special happened.  We had kind of told him straight up that if he keeps drinking and partying and smoking, he isn't going to come closer to God.  We had sort of left it at that, but all of a sudden he had been getting up on Sunday mornings and coming to church.  In our last appointment, he told us about how the grace of God has been helping him resist that desire to smoke,and turn down his friends invitations to parties.

 We were so pleased, and a little bit surprised! He came to a couple of sessions of conference and we will just keep moving forward at his pace!  He has a desire to be baptized, we just have to prepare him and make sure he understands.

You know, it's so interesting because I really have learned on my mission that we are all individual.  I have taught a lot of different people and something I have seen is that progression is personal.  Everyone has their pace.  I think the adversary tries to tell us, especially as missionaries, that someone's spiritual progression should fit a certain timeline.  But that is simply not how it is.  Our entire life's purpose is to come unto God.  Just the fact that people have widely variable amounts of time they spend here on this earth should be a testimony to us that the pace of progression is individual.
The trick of helping someone progress in the Gospel is not to pray that they will be baptized on a certain date, or come to a certain activity.  The trick is praying and asking God to distill upon you a little bit of the perspective that he has for that persons progression.  Then taking that knowledge that he has meted unto you, and pondering how you could help that person along their path. 

Then after pondering and studying it out in your mind and in your heart, you should probably get back onto your knees and ask Heavenly Father if this plan that has come into your thoughts is the plan you should take.  You should probably also let him know that whatever his will may be for that person, you will do it.  Even if it means that you don't get to see them baptized before you get transferred.  Even if it means that you might have one less key indicator to report that week.  

Then, the next day, you should probably repeat the process.  As God will certainly mete another portion of that knowledge which is essential to your part in the progression of his child.  It goes back into what Elder Eyring talked about, continued revelation.
Don't worry, if I said I were perfect at this I would be a hypocrite.  It is hard to be fully engaged in the Lord's work, to take the time to figure out the needs of those you are serving and truly give your life to them.  It is in no way easy!  But...that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.  Then we fail after a time.  So we then truly repent and try again.  And so forth.

At least, that has how my mission has seemed to go so far :)

You know it just is astounding to me how much God knows.  He knows it all, from the beginning to the end, and moreso because he understands what it means that there is no beginning and no end!  He knows everything, and most of all, he knows that specific person we are trying to help absolutely one hundred percent perfectly.

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, because I forget to pray and ask him for his Help!  Ah, I must be a human or something.
Anyways, man, I am just learning tons on my mission.  I don't think I realize how much I am learning until I write it down in my journal or an email.  I am every day awed at how much God is teaching me.  
I know that he loves us.  He loves us so much and he wants us to come unto him.  He knows exactly what that takes and what that means, and he is guiding our lives to help us to do so.  At this point it's all up to us.  Are we going to take our personal progression into our own hands and move it forward?  Because we are the only ones that can.
I love you all so much!
Wunderschöne, großartige, liebe liebe Grüße,
Sister Henry

Hi Daddy!
Yeah I was pretty bummed about the no German thing too.  Mostly for the German speakers who don't speak English.  How lame would that be to have an American speaker speak in another language, and then you have to have it translated in English?
But I still enjoyed conference a lot :)
Let me know about the job!  It sounds like the one you have now is really good for you in a lot of ways, though.  So I don't think it would be too bad if you stayed there a little longer either :)  
I love you
Sher Bear

Photos from Sister Lee:

Sister Lee said: "Here are some action shots of Sherry! We were all invited to lunch at a member’s home for a birthday, there were several non-members there so the member asked the missionaries to sing. It was beautiful! Sherry is very careful not to overpower the other singers, they sounded great together.  The other pic is of “Chinese Ping Pong.” There must be a more politically correct way to say that but I don’t know what it is! J  [they are running around the table as they play] And the third pic is of German Class that Sherry taught."