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Monday, June 1, 2015

"Mein Herz!"

Great week in Berlin!

Our first PDay together. Sister Rückauer and I had a great time and treated ourselves to falafel for lunch. For Family Home Evening, we went to Albena and Plamen's home, taught their children about the Book of Mormon and made picture books about how Jesus loves and knows them. We sang "I am a Child of God" together and Albena recorded the whole thing on her phone.

On Wednesday I had my first Sister Training Leader exchange in Cottbus with Sister Lisonbee. It was so interesting to be in the heart of East Germany. The Sisters live in a cute/crappy DDR apartment with a tiny gas stove and a plywood pantry. That evening, we picked up about 15 Serbians and brought them to the church building to watch "The Testaments" (famously queso but no matter!). The majority of these Serbians were raised Muslim, believing Christ to be a great prophet and a good person, but not the Son of God or Redeemer of the world. But I'll tell you something, friends - I saw that change as we watched this movie. I saw the Spirit touch and teach their hearts as their brows were furrowed in concentration. At the end, one leaned over to me and asked me if Jesus really did rise again from the dead. I smiled and told him yes. My answer was supported by a chorus of "amens" from the other investigators in the room. When Sister Lisonbee asked how they were feeling, the same man who leaned over to me said "It's the truth. And the truth is the truth. You cannot deny what your heart and what God tells you." They promised to come to church on Sunday and even wanted to come early to ensure a good seat. 

We made the trek back to Berlin and had a dinner appointment with the Wenkes, a darling couple in our ward. They made us feel so at home and loved. They told me how happy they were to have us in the ward and asked how we came to the decision to serve missions. Sometimes it's nice and necessary to take a moment to remember how I got here - what my parents taught me growing up, what my testimony was before my mission, and the guidance and feelings of confirmation that I needed to serve a mission.  

Later in the week we were trying to get to Vasilka's baptism interview and had determined to walk there when three buses in a row hadn't arrived. We started walking and after a few hundred feet, we heard someone call out "Missionaries! Wait! I will walk with you!" and saw a friendly man from Zambia that we had been talking to at the bus stop. He asked us about what makes Mormons different from other religions and about the Book of Mormon. As we parted ways, we asked him for his name and address. Turns out that he lives a block away from the church and his name is HAPPY SIMBA. No joke - that is his name. Next week we will bring him a Book of Mormon and teach him and his family. We are so excited. After that, we went to the church for Vasilka's baptismal interview, which she passed with flying colors and she walked out beaming with all 10 of her teeth :)  "Mein Herz!" she said over and over again as she described a dream of white room with beautiful lights and mirrors and prayers - she had dreamt about the temple. We hugged her and told her that one day she would be there. One year. 

On Saturday we visited the Rinkes - an inactive elderly couple in the ward. Partway through our lesson, Bruder Rinke (who is blind and not all there) walked into the kitchen with just his diaper on saying that he couldn't find his pants anywhere. We helped him find his pants, picked up his medication from the pharmacy, and wished them a wonderful day. As we walked out the door, Schwester Rinke gave us a huge smooch on the cheek and Bruder Rinke yelled "Hasta la vista, baby!!!" We were making on our way to a less active family's home when I saw a €20 bill blowing on the sidewalk. I picked it up and asked the old woman waiting at the bus stop if it was hers. She was SO relieved - that was the money that she had been saving to get the medicine she needed and it had just fallen out of her pocket. She thanked us a million times and we (obviously) started talking about why we are here and what we do as missionaries. She is very religious and wants us to come by and talk to her about God. We gave her a Book of Mormon, helped her on the bus, and we are expecting to meet with her next week. 

Sunday was happy chaos as 10 Bulgarians came to church and we helped Vasilka get ready for her baptism. Sister Rückauer braided Vasilka's hair and Elder Miller brought a cake that he had spent 4 hours baking the day before. The service was short, sweet, and simple. While Vasilka changed, we passed out little colored papers for everyone to write their favorite scripture and something nice to Vasilka to welcome her into the ward. We put them in a glass jar and gave it to her and she promised to study one every day. 

I apologize for the length of this email. My experiences this week were just too sweet not to share. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful to serve in Berlin, with this ward, and with my companion. I am so grateful for the people we teach and for how much the Lord has prepared them to hear the message of the Restored gospel. I have seen it turn sadness to hope, doubt to faith, loneliness to love, and even happiness to true joy. I see it in myself and in everyone around me. It's a transformation - an active choice and change. And it is all through Him whose name I get to wear on my black name tag and my heart every day. 

Liebe Grüße, 
Sister Grace Hendricks 

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