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Monday, May 25, 2015

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

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