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Monday, July 13, 2015

Dresden/Eyebrow Piercings/Shaq

Great week!

On Tuesday, we made the trek to Dresden. I thought I was so smart and brought all of the letters I needed to work on in 2 hour train ride. We found a car to sit in by ourselves and thought we had scored big time when the train started pulling away and we had the whole car to ourselves. Then 3 Italian backpackers sat down with their huge, smelly backpacks, tank tops, and pierced eyebrows. We may have exchanged an eye roll. I tried to work on my letters and was interrupted by questions of whether or not we went clubbing, if we had boyfriends, etc etc. But then I decided that I wasn't going to sit on a train with these guys for two hours and not do what I was called to do. They sipped beer, Sister Rückauer shared her mostly melted knusperfleks Rittersport, and one of them put on U2's free album as we talked about the purpose of life, our relationship with God, the eternal natures of families, and just about every other gospel principle. It became one of the most spiritual conversations I've ever had. As I got to know these scruffy high school dropouts from Rome, I felt how much God loves and knows them. They said they would go to the Rome Temple open house and would be happy to meet with the missionaries there.

Sister Cady and I then went to an appointment with a Less Active who is working through the repentance process. As we sat in the back lot of his rundown DDR apartment building and talked to him about how his divine nature and the Atonement of Jesus Christ gave him the power to really change his life, once again I was filled with Heavenly Father's love for this enormous, toothless man who had lost his way. This back lot with its gravel mingled with beer bottle glass and cigarette butts, rusty chairs, and plastic pineapple tablecloth weights became hallowed ground as this beloved brother finally understood that the power and choice to change was in his own hands. What an incredible realization. It was so special for Sister Cady and I to really feel and watch the Spirit take over the lesson. We happily submitted. After, we went to see a 17 year-old girl from the old elders' program area book. By miracle, she was home and the lesson went really well. It turns out that she was ready to be baptized, but her parents wanted her to wait until she was 18. With transfers and programs closing, she kind of got lost in the chaos and the missionaries hadn't reached out to her in a few months. She was thrilled to see us and to start working towards the goal of baptism. This wonderful day ended with a perfect summer thunderstorm breaking through the Dresden heat.

That evening, after Sister Rückauer and I exchanged back, we went over to the Bishop's home to help his wife with their beautiful garden. We sang primary songs, practiced our new vocabulary for the day in funny sentences,  and got our bare feet dirty in the fresh earth as we snipped away the old blooms and made way for the new. After, we had dinner with her and had an amazing conversation about the process of our personal conversions and our decision to come on a mission. We talked about the Lord's constant support and outstretched hand through times of uncertainty and doubt. She opened up to us a lot and shared some of her experiences and struggles over the past few years and we wept together as we studied Paul's description of the comforting and strengthening power of the Atonement in his letter to the Romans:

3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that
tribulation worketh patience;

4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad
in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for
the ungodly.

She hugged us longer than usual and we rode the bus home feeling edified and grateful. I was reminded of our missionary purpose that we recite each morning as a companionship: to "invite others to come unto Christ...". "Others" includes our investigators, the less actives that we work with, the people we talk to on the street, our district
members, our companions, and even our bishop's wife on a windy July night. What a privilege.

There is no way I will be able to get through the rest of what happened this week so a couple short peeks:
- P-Day at the East Side Gallery
- Zone Konferenz with President and Sister Fingerle. I came to the meeting with a very specific question and received a very specific answer. Funny because none of what was talked about had any direct relation to my question. The Spirit really is the actual teacher. President and Sister Fingerle have an ambitious, inspired, and beautiful vision for Germany and I will dedicate these 9 months to making my contribution to this vision.
- New investigator named Shaq. Yes, you read it correctly, his name is Shaq. And he is about 5'5" and from Tajikistan. We met him on the U-Bahn and on Saturday, we had a great joint teach with Christopher - a gem and stud of an 18 year-old who is about to report to his mission in Birmingham, England (any tips, Megan?). He is really excited to learn about the gospel and blushed profusely with excitement and nerves as he humbly offered his first prayer at the close of our lesson. He said that as soon as he knows that the our message really is the truth, he will be baptized. He also is instant best buddies with Bruder Speck, our incredible Ward Mission Leader. I'm not surprised - Bruder Speck is best buddies with everyone. 

I feel so grateful for the miracles that the Lord has allowed me to witness. It is confirmed to me day after day that this really is the work of the Lord and that He is preparing people to hear the message of the restored gospel. I feel blessed beyond description to be a part of His work. I add my voice to Alma's as he declared "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

Liebe Grüße,

Sister Grace Hendricks 

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