Haaaapppy Monday, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
This week was pretty full of traveling (as always) but we've finally figured out the whole train thing. So no weird train stories this week. But I got a cool picture.
On Tuesday we did Book of Mormon finding down at the college apartments. We have a new book of Mormon app pass-along-card and we just gave out as many as we could! Most of the college students were pretty open to listen, so that was a nice change of pace. We didn’t find anyone new to teach but we know that we are just "planting seeds” as stereotypical as that sounds, but its true! The field can’t grow and be ready to harvest without first being planted.
Wednesday and Thursday we had tausch (exchanges) in Halle! Since our mission is so big, and takes too long to travel anywhere, we always go to the STL's area and then we each spend the day with one of the STL (sister training leader). After we got to Halle Sister Baldwin and I went and did some klingeling. We knocked into a Syrian Family. They let us in and we tried to explain what we did but there was a huge language barrier, obviously since I don’t speak Arabic :p. There was an older lady, and her daughter who was in her 20's. They spoke Arabic so we showed them a holiday video in Arabic. Side note, Germany is such a giant melting pot so we always have material in literally every language imaginable ready to use. Haha in the Middle Eastern culture, you have to invite everybody into your home and serve them Coffee or tea. They tried to give us Coffee hahah but of course we had to politely decline. They just looked at us bewilderedly like "Whatttt???” Anyways, they really liked the video and said we could come back tomorrow.
Thursday Sister Baldwin and I went back to the Syrian family. The daughter that was there yesterday was at school, and she was the one who spoke a little German, so we weren't really sure what to do, but luckily there was another daughter there (This lady has 10 kids) who spoke English. She was probably in her early 30's. We gave them a first lesson pamphlet in Arabic, and the daughter read it out loud in Arabic for her mother and then asked us questions in English. The mom was Muslim and didn't really want to change that, but was interested in listening. We explained the Book of Mormon and gave them an Arabic Book of Mormon. We asked if we could say a prayer at the end, even though the Muslims have their own ways, but the daughter said she really liked it. It’s a lot different than the Muslim religion but she was glad that we came and "helped them learn something new".
Last week president told us that we need to get rid of all the pass along cards in our apartments, so we made a game out of it. Sister Baldwin and I got 175 cards, and Sister Mogensen and Sister Johnson got 175 cards. We would talk to as many people as possible all day Thursday and who ever gave out the most cards won.
Good thing I got a little competitive streak in me, because we talked to everybody that day. When we had 3 minutes before our tram came, we were walking up and down the streets talking to people. As soon as we got into the tram we talked to people. It’s not really allowed to proselyte on public transportation here so we have to use the old "I like your scarf" trick to get a conversation going. Haha. We talked to a lady and told her we liked her scarf, she said "thanks it was a gift" and then looked scared to talk to us so the conversation didn't go very far. About 10 minutes later she stood up, took her scarf off and set it in Sister Baldwin’s lap, then started walking to get off. Haha, perfect opportunity to give her a gift right? ;) I got up, tried to weave around all the people and asked her if I could give her something too, she said “No” and then got off. I tried. Haha now we have a scarf we've named "The sisterhood of the traveling scarf".
Sister Baldwin and I ended up winning the card game so the other sisters bought us Sundays.
Friday we set up a Kino Abend (movie night) for members and tried to invite as many non-members as possible. We watched Meet the Mormons! We decorated for Halloween and brought food and drinks and it was a jolly good time. 4 investigators came, an inactive member who hasn't been to anything in a while, and she even brought her non-member friend Beate! The movie was great as always. At the end when it shows the missionary leaving his family to go to the MTC Sister Mogensen and I were both just crying hahaha, It hit home just a little :p. Beate, the non-member friend, said the movie was amazing. She said she’s never felt so good like that before and didn't know why. She is super excited to learn more about our church and even wants to come to church next week!
Saturday morning we left for Leipzig! We had Stake conference this weekend. We had a Saturday and a Sunday session, so we stayed the night Saturday with the Leipzig sisters. It was fun to be back in Leipzig for a short 2 days and to see my old Gera/Werdau and Leipzig wards. One of the Area 70's came and talked to us. He is from London so he was speaking English and had the best accent ever! He gave an amazing talk that I want to share.
He said "I have a 4 year old son. I thought we were good parents.... Until he came along and then we realized we didn't know anything. Sometimes we have to give him a time out and tell him to go to his room. When he's in his room he loves to take his big box of legos, and dump the entire thing out on the floor. We try to tell him he needs to clean them up before he can come out. We will leave to let him clean it and then come back to see that now there is an even bigger mess because all he tried to do was find his Spiderman costume and put it on. We realize as parents that a 4 year old will not be capable to clean it all up by himself, without the help of his parents, getting down on their hands and knees, the mess can't be cleaned up."
He compared our lives and sometimes our transgressions to a messy room. He said" Don’t we all sometimes have "messy rooms"? When our lives or things we've done are so messy and lacks clarity and peace?
The parents in this story are compared to our Savior and redeemer. Our Savior got down on his hands and knees and paid the price for our mess, for every mess we have ever done, or will do. Jesus Christ is our Brother and Savior. Come to him and he will say “I will help you clear up your legos. I will help things be clear once again. I will help it be peaceful again. I will help it be like there was no mess in that room. I won’t remind you of that mess once its cleaned up. It will be done.”
I know without a doubt that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not unreachable, it is for everyone, and it is real. I know that, I've felt it, and I've seen it work in others’ lives.
Today in Thüringen (the state I live in) it isn't Halloween, but reformation day. 499 years ago today Martin Luther stapled the protest to the doors of the Catholic Church. Many, many people in Europe are Lutheran, so we as a zone had a street display in Jena about how Martin Luther played a role in the coming forth of the Restoration. It was really, really cool. Another thing about Germany is all the stores are closed and the streets are pretty quite. But we still managed to talk to people who were out and about. The picture is terrible quality, but we even brought out the giant Book of Mormon and you could see it all the way from the church hahaha. Afterwards, being the Americans that we all (most of us) are, we had a little Halloween party with food and a few games.
Sorry this email was so long, but I hope that I could say something worthwhile. I’m learning so much that it’s impossible to even put into words how the first half of my mission has affected me. I’m happy, healthy, and grateful.
Happy Halloween! I love you all :)