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Monday, May 25, 2015

Grace and her new companion, Sister Rückauer.

Berlin: Episode I

My dear ones. I don't even know where to begin, but I will do my best.

BERLIN - what a city. It is absolutely beautiful here. Trees lining every street, ivy climbing old brick buildings, and glass reflecting the sun on the super "sprockets" buildings. I love the boxy
yellow U-Bahns and the cast iron street lights on every corner. I love seeing a Lamborghini Aventador, a bathtub Porsche, a Mercedes 300 SL, and an Aston-Martin Vanquish all in one day. I love the sketchy Döner places, the crazies on the street telling me that sandals are not good shoes for women, the weird smell that our washing machine makes, the "Wild Man Boar Circle" bus stop on our way to church, and our creaky IKEA bunk beds. I love Berlin.

MY COMPANION - Sister Rückauer is a saint. She is 23, is a speech therapist (German R here I come!), loves reading the labels of hair care products, has a million sticky note lists, and is the kindest, most genuine, loving, hardworking person. I love her. 

FRIDAY - I'm just going to tell you about one day to give you a snapshot of what I'm experiencing here. We had Zone Training Meeting in the morning and all missionaries were given iPads (!) - it was so great to meet everyone in the zone. After that, we went over to Vasilka's apartment to help her plan out her baptism for this coming Sunday, but she was asleep, so we decided to go visit her brother and sister-in-law to see if they had read any of the Book of Mormon. As we were walking, we heard someone call out behind us "HALLOOO meine Schwestern!" We turned around and saw Dimka - Vasilka's friend that we met a few days before. She grabbed us, kissed our cheeks, and dragged us into the place where she works - a sports bar. HA! She sat us down at a table and immediately whipped out her Book of Mormon - she's already in 1 Nephi 17. She kissed the book, crossed herself, and proceeded to tell us all about Nephi and his family and how God commanded him to build a ship to save his family. She's on top of things. We gave her a Restoration pamphlet in Bulgarian and read to her about Joseph Smith. Her eyes were about to pop out of her skull when we told her the story of the First Vision. After, she started to cry as she told us how Jesus has helped her through so much and she knows that He sent us to her. A little piece of heaven in a sports bar. We then headed out to visit Vasilka's brother. His wife, Albena was home and said that she had been reading in the Book of Mormon. We taught both of them the First Lesson. They loved it. They told us how they wanted to understand their relationship with God. They said that they have never let missionaries from other religions in, but with us they felt something different. They feel closer to God when they are with us. "Sie sind von Gott geschikt.": "You are sent from God." We committed each of them to read in the Book of Mormon and invited them to church. Sister Rückauer and I both had tears in our eyes as we left and said a prayer together in the hallway. 

CHURCH was wonderful. The church is a darling brick building with a big wooden door. The ward is so welcoming and excited about missionary work, and our Ward Mission Leader is so helpful. Vasilka and Dimka both came to church and LOVED it. We used our schmancy iPads to help them understand what was going on. The Gospel Library app is incredible. Dimka said that she felt the Spirit so strongly when she walked into the chapel. She leaned over to me in Sacrament meeting and said "Jesus is here. I can feel him. He wants me to be here." We are hoping that she will be baptized by the end of the transfer. 

Miracles. Christ is behind all of it. He is the reason for all of it. He is our Morning Star (Revelations 22:16). He is our hope that no matter how dark or how long the night may seem, day always comes. Berlin is one of my "days" and I am so happy.  I love you all. 

Sister Grace Hendricks

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bremen Goodbyes.

Transferred to Berlin!

Hello! I'll start with the big news first: I have been transferred, and on Tuesday I will leave for BERLIN! I will be serving in Dahlem, a part of Berlin, as a Sister Training Leader with Sister Rückauer. I am so excited ... little intimidated, but I know that the Lord qualifies those He calls. Sister Rückauer is from Frankfurt and we were trained in the same Zone. She is sweet and spiritually in tune. This will be a great transfer, and my German will improve drastically :) My new address will be:

Sister Grace Hendricks
Kirche Jesu Christi HLT
Duisburger Str. 10
Berlin 10707
Other highlights of the week include: 

- Our trek out to Obervieland: Sister Ballard and I had a few people in this suburb that we wanted to visit. Our first stop was a referral from the office. We klingeled and she was home! Her name is Akos and she is a really sweet young mother from Ghana. She had met with the missionaries a little bit before, but had just moved to Bremen with her boyfriend and 3 children. She invited us to come back this week. We spent the rest of our time in Obervieland contacting people that are on the ward list and no one knows what their scoop is. Lots of sketchy apartment complexes tucked behind extensive hospital and clinic buildings. Most of them weren't home or had moved. Classic :) It was cool though - even though there was NO ONE on the streets, we had some good conversations with people at bus stops and on the bus. As missionaries, we need to talk to everyone. For me, it's usually best to just to start a natural, friendly conversation. It's not intrusive and I still have the opportunity to be bold and bear testimony.

- Zone Training Meeting: My last ZTM in the Oldenburg Zone! The theme was a quote from President Eyring: " God will put prepared people in the way of His prepared servant who want to share the gospel. You have had that happen in your own life. How often it happens depends on the preparation of your mind and your heart." Amen. I thought a lot about how I can prepare myself to fulfill my calling as a missionary - what are my prayers like? What am I studying? How do I approach the Sacrament each week? 

- Michaela: She is finally making progress again! Our lesson with her was great. The Spirit was strong and I think the Book of Mormon has finally clicked for her - that it isn't just a nice book to help her feel better, it is the word of God, an anchor in her life, and its truthfulness is evidence that Joseph Smith was called of the Lord to restore His gospel. I told her that she needs to commit to read in it regularly and obey what it teaches her. She agreed enthusiastically. We gave her a copy of Elder Holland's talk "Safety for the Soul," and I think that this will be the icing on the cake.

It feels weird to leave Bremen. It kind of feels like Indiana Jones stepping onto the invisible bridge - a real step of faith. He couldn't see the bridge that would take him safely to the other side. He could feel the solid ground beneath his feet right before he took that step, but he had no idea what would come. I feel like I have given my all to Bremen. I can feel the solid ground of 6 months of work under my feet. Now the Lord needs me to step out, even though I can't see the invisible bridge ahead. He has promised me, indeed all of us, a way to get to the other side. The bridge is there. On Tuesday I will take that step. And even though I can't see the bridge yet, it will be just as solid as the ground beneath my feet now. Berlin, here I come.

Sister Grace Hendricks

Monday, May 11, 2015

I Have My "Why."

Hello all! Hope that you had a wonderful Mother's Day! I was so lucky to be able to Skype my family yesterday and wish my beautiful, talented, incredible Mother a happy Mother's Day with my own voice. I am so grateful for all of the 'mothers' in my life - Mom, Grandma, Grana, loving Aunts, and dear friends (Melanie, Anne, Michelle, Kim). My love and gratitude to you all. 

Our week was pretty normal. Most of our appointments fell through and Sister Ballard was sick on and off, but we were still able to have some really wonderful experiences strengthening our relationships with ward members and preparing Martin for his baptism this next Sunday. 

We were invited to Familie Sievers for Family Home Evening on Monday and we directed our lesson more towards Martin, their 11 year old son. We talked about the message of the Restoration and how he can be an example of the believers. I watched Schwester Siever's face carefully during the lesson. I think that for the first time, she recognized what we do as missionaries: that we are teachers and we are here to help people. She saw that we know how to teach, how to bear to testimony, how to ask good questions, and how to speak German :) She wants to invite us over again next Monday and try to have some of her friends come over. Progress? I think so. As you know, I have spent much of my time here trying to help get our ward excited about missionary work. After this lesson, I really came to realize that maybe the best way to gain members' trust is to simply show them. I think that there is a difference between being invited to an eating appointment and sharing a nice spiritual thought, and actually using the appointment as a teaching opportunity. We need to show them that we know what we are doing. If they won't let us show them through coming to joint teaches, fine. We will show them in their own homes with their own families. 

We put this into practice at our dinner appointment with the Knabes, a darling elderly couple in the ward, on Thursday. After choking down an obscene amount of boiled white asparagus drowned in some deathly mayo sauce and hearing sweet Bruder Knabe's story of his time serving in the mission office in 1952 for the 8th time, we sat down in their living room for our lesson.  I felt a special reverence come into the room as we shared our message and, just as we would with any investigator, took time to hear their experiences, study in the scriptures together, bear testimony, extend commitments, and made plans to follow up on our commitments. I could really feel their respect for our calling as representatives of the Lord. We made plans to return in three weeks and committed them in the mean time to study and ponder Alma 26 together, to pray about and pick out a street or neighborhood that we should go finding on/in in three weeks, and to pray for a missionary experience for themselves.

Our investigator, Martin, has been making so much progress. We have been maintaining daily contact with him, prayerfully picking out chapters for him to study in the Book of Mormon, and just preparing him for his baptism this Sunday. Since his baptism has fallen out twice before, there is a little bit of worry that it won't go through this time but I am optimistic. This time, he has been open with his family about meeting with us, going to church and committing to be baptized. He says he is so excited that he doesn't know how he will be able to wait through all of the meetings next week :)  I think that my favorite part of missionary work is seeing how the gospel has the power to change a person's nature. Martin has been investigating the church for 4 years. At first, he didn't believe in God or anything outside of his own tangible world. He was shy, quiet, and stubborn. In these past few months he has gained a testimony that God lives, that Christ lived, atoned, died, and was resurrected for us, that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true scripture. I really do have faith that he will be baptized on Sunday.

I loved President Kosak's weekly email this week. He quoted "Man's Search for Meaning" (one of my favorite books) as he reminded us that "Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear almost any 'how.'" I have had this quote on the inside of my planner this past transfer, along with notes that remind me to smile, to not only identify what I need to work on, but what I do well, and to trust in the Lord and His way and timing. I have my "why." I have my family. I have the gospel. I have my testimony. I have the knowledge of my divine nature as a daughter of a God who knows me perfectly. And with that "why" in mind, I can choose how I live - how I serve, teach, love, and grow. 

I love you all. Thank you for everything that you do and are. 

Liebe Grüße, 
Sister Grace Hendricks

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day Skype 
She's her same great self - we miss her!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Holy Hand Grenade, Batman!
The District

Spit Upon But Unfazed


Another full, crazy week. I'd never be able to fit all of what happened into one email, so I'll just tell you about Saturday.

After studies on Saturday morning, we went to an appointment with Vivian. She had requested a Book of Mormon online last year and apparently, the Sisters had a really hard time getting in contact with her. But last month, we finally got a hold of her and she said that would be back in town early in May. So, in true missionary fashion, we called her on May 1st and made an appointment for the next day. The lesson was amazing. Vivian has a 4 year old daughter named Victory and is pregnant. She was rocking rhinestones on her fake eyelashes and was so sweet, loving, and welcoming. We taught her about the Book of Mormon. She had heard about it from a friend and wanted it to change her life just like it had changed her friend's life. She asked us if we could come over every few days and teach her about the book.... WOOHOO! We'll be back on Tuesday. Nah klahr.

As soon as we left Vivian's apartment, we said a prayer of gratitude and then made our way to the bahn stop. As we were about to cross the street, we saw Deborah! She is a friend of a member in the ward and has wanted to meet with us, but her phone has been broken and she was never home when we went by. But she said that God sent us to her right then because a few minutes before, she felt prompted to just take a walk outside with her daughter Johanna. Lo and behold, there we were. We got her new number and talked about her coming to church. She is so excited to meet with us. 

We got on the bahn and some crazy lady started yelling at us and trying to kick us. We were sprinkled with a nice little shower of spit as she got off at the next stop. We weren't even fazed by it - we were on a missionary high :) 

Later that day, we gave Frau Selimovic the Book of Mormon on CD so that she can actually listen to it between visits. What was supposed to be a 5 minute drop-off turned into a spiritual discussion about why we are on the earth and ALL of her 6 children were there. I love this family so much. They are so prepared. We had taught her the first half of the Plan of Salvation the day before and she told us how much she had been pondering what we talked about and how it applied to her and her family.  She is so humble and ready for the gospel. We are hoping to put her on baptismal date this week. We are so excited. 

Well, we are working hard and the Lord is blessing us. Of course, we have our ups and downs, but as with all things  with the Lord, the miracle of seeing people transformed by the gospel outweighs frustrations and challenges infinitely. 

Thank you for your love, prayers, and example. 

Liebe Grüße,

Sister Grace Hendricks