Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 5, 2015

This is the food after we had already eaten!
Hey Family! 

Dad, that is so exciting that you have an interview today!  Don't be nervous, you'll do great.  The rest of you…glad that school is starting again.  Sounds like you have just been bumming around!  Ha-ha…just kidding!

Anyway, as for this week, it was a solidly good week.  I had a lot of cool moments, and many, many more awkward ones.  I feel like Heavenly Father is thinking, "Oh man, better get these all packed in really quickly."  Oh well, it makes for good stories. 

So we decided to go by Henrietta again, seeing as how it'd been a month.  We figured we might as well go and see if she had any interest to actually progress this time.  I guess it’s good that we took a break, because now she seems a lot more promising.  We went over there and found out that she is engaged now!  Best part, her fiancĂ© is a member of our church.  His name is Daniel and he is currently living in Italy, but he has family here in Germany so he comes frequently.  He used to live here and was baptized by our bishop a couple of years ago.  WHAT!  So now Daniel is constantly talking up our Church to Henrietta and telling her what is so great about it, and why she needs to join it.  So yeah, that is pretty cool.  Our lessons seemed to go so much better this week.  She was paying attention and giving her thoughts and feedback, and said that she had watched the restoration DVD like three times and just loved it…ha-ha.  We also tried to be more obedient this week, and asked her if we could call her Sister and by her last name, but we didn’t know her last name, so when we asked her, she shot us down, and said, “No, but you can call me Sister Hetty.”  So now, she’s Sister Hetty.  I feel closer already!  Ha-ha. 
Just the dessert table

David's also progressing!  We met with him again and finished teaching the Plan of Salvation, and at the end talked a lot about baptism.  He said that he would be baptized when he knew the truth, but said it would take a while.  But little does he know that all it takes is a little prick from the Spirit.  The best part of that lesson though was he prayed for us at the end!  He’s never been willing to do that before.  We asked him to pray at the end, and he said no again, and then we retaught him how to pray and Sister Sorensen gave him an example, and then we asked him to do it, and he did it!  He prayed!  And it was just so sweet.  He asked Heavenly Father to know of the full truth.  We got a text from him the other day saying that he had been reading in the Book of Mormon and was writing down all of his questions, so this Wednesday should be fun.

The tragic part of this week…the Carricondos have moved.  We don’t know where and all we had was their house number.  We are hoping to get some youth to Facebook-stalk them, because I have to see this family before I go! 

NEW YEARS.  Just as crazy as last year.  Fireworks everywhere.  It sounded like a warzone out there. Just lights exploding, loud gun shot noises, people screaming.  Germany goes crazy at the New Years!  Needless to say, we both woke up and watched fireworks go off for an hour. 

Which leads us to our New Year’s celebration.  Remember the Jacobes?  The family that fed us so much food that I just waddled out of there?  Well, they invited us, the elders and President and Sister Stoddard over to start off the New Year...that eating appointment…man.  They brought out a ton of food, and were just stuffing us full.  Also, I sat on a faulty chair that I couldn’t lean back on, and about halfway through the appointment, I broke the chair.  Yes, it broke.  Every one started laughing and saying that I had eaten too much for the chair to handle... awkward.  They brought me out a new chair and later asked if I wanted more food, and President’s response?  "Well, she has a new chair now!"  So Sister Jacobe happily scooped up some more.  Towards the end, after already being stuffed to the rim, I had just finished a dessert, and Sister Jacobe asked who wanted some more, and the elders were like, "I don’t think Sister Teeples has had any yet."  NO! I already broke a chair, people.  But you can’t say no to Sister Jacobe. 
My companion

Also, this week, I got run over by a bike.  I can check that one off of my list.  We had just doored this old, sick, rich, bed-ridden man, you know, like the ones that you see in the movies with the old maid helper and extravagant curtains?  And then I was walking out of his gate, and BAM.  Flying bike hits me.  Don’t worry.  I’m okay.  It was quite funny, actually. 

Also, you know that awesome family, the Palmers?  She said that she had so much fun handing out Books of Mormon on Christmas Eve that she and her husband made a goal to hand out two every week this year.  She’s like, "I think that 104 Books of Mormon sounds like a great number this year."  Why is she so great?

We also finally got in contact with Angie and Victor again!  They are frustrating because they always seem so great, and then drop off the face of the earth.  But we went by yesterday and they let us in.  We talked for a little while and they invited us to come over again tonight, so hopefully that works out!  We visit them and Sister Hetty tonight.  Should be good. 

So I thought of an analogy this week to describe the Restoration.  I thought it was pretty good, but maybe you’ll just laugh at me.  I’ll share it anyways. 

New Year's Eve aftermath...
So imagine that your best friend, your child, your sibling, or someone you love, is lost in a big, pitch black, room.  They have no light.  It's just completely black.  And now here you are, sitting in a big, warm, bright room, and you want to help your loved one get out of the dark, but you can’t.  You aren’t allowed to leave the room. But you can send for help.  You can send for a guide.  You can send down a flashlight, and a map, so that they can follow it and return to you.  Get out of the dark and into the light.  You would do anything to help them, but you can’t until they choose to follow what you have given them.

That’s just what happened.  During the apostasy, people were in the dark.  They were searching for a switch, but didn’t know how to find it.  Or they were tired and just decided to leave it dark and take a nice nap.  They didn’t care.  But some people did…especially one person.  He wanted the way out, so he asked for help.  And God, who’s in the lighted room, gave him the tools that he needed to get out of the dark.  And because of that, the tools are now given to us.  We don’t have to stay in the dark.  We have prophets, scriptures, prayer, family… everything we need to help us find the right path.  I’d like to think of the scriptures as my own little treasure map, that tells me exactly the steps that I need to take to find my way to the bright room, to return to my loved one, my Heavenly Father.

I'm glad that we don't have to stay in the dark, anymore.  The way is prepared, and available, we just have to take the first step and ask for help…and then be humble enough to follow it. 

Well, have a good week!  I love you all.  I wish to you the best of luck, with all that you do. 

Love you!


December 29, 2014

German Harry Potter!
Merry Christmas to me!

Well, it was really great to be able to talk to all of you this past week. Actually, it was a great week over all.  Christmas on the mission is just the greatest thing ever.  We saw some way cool things and I saw a Christmas miracle: somehow I managed to get through this week without having to ask for an overeating blessing.  I have never eaten so much in my life.

Christmas Eve with the Palmers
So although I talked to you all just this week, so much happened this week that I want to tell you about.  First off, I had this master idea of going dooring at the Uni. I figured, “Hey, the only people left would be those that have no one to go to during this Christmas season.  So they are lonely and have no family, and we have no family, so let’s go see if they want the gospel.” Yeah, I thought we would find someone.  But we didn’t, yet that’s okay because we had a few good conversations with people and wished them a merry Christmas and gave them a nice “Joy to the World” DVD.  Most of them just looked super confused at what we were doing.  I wish I could’ve taken pictures of their faces. That coupled with the next night where we went caroling with the elders…Germans just don’t know what to do when a bunch of Americans show up at their door and burst into Christmas songs.  Most of them ran to get money and chocolate and didn’t understand when we said that all we wanted to do was give them a nice Christmas DVD.  We wanted to give THEM a gift.  One lady got so offended that we didn’t take her 10 euros that we had to and gave it to our bishop.  But it opened the door to a lot of questions, so we got to have a few decent conversations about what we were doing here and why.  So that was exciting. 

Dinner with the Fernandez family
Christmas time in the mission
I think that one of the funniest things this week though was our street display on Tuesday night.  There were about 10 missionaries there and we had “He’s the Gift” playing on repeat and we all went just crazy talking to people.  We managed to hand out so many Books of Mormon together. I had some really good conversations with people.  I got to teach the Restoration to someone from Columbia, and was able to talk to a lot of other cool people and testify to them about how wonderful the gospel is.  We just had a solid time there and all the missionaries were on fire. 

Words of wisdom from a college student....
I already told you a little bit about our appointment with David.  It was really good.  I just can’t get over how many questions he had…how one little statement that I have learned since I was five could boggle his brains that much.  It made me realize how much knowledge I take for granted.  It was also really funny because he said he was trying to read the Book of Mormon and was like, “What the heck is ‘hath’ and ‘thee’ and ‘thy?’  It makes no sense!”  So yeah, he needs one in Aramaic...ha-ha.  And along the way we found a cool guy from Kentucky, so we will have to go hit him up and buy some more burgers. 

We found these chips that are "Only
for Men."  So naturally we had to was some.
There is also this one lady from Ghana that has been at the church for about the last four weeks.  She has come every Sunday faithfully and even to our Christmas party, but she doesn’t speak much English or German.  So every time we tried to make out an appointment to teach her, she hasn’t understood.  Well, that was my goal going into church yesterday - make out an appointment with Dorinda. Mission accomplished!  We are going to meet with her on Thursday, and it will take a lot of patience and work, but hey, someone that comes to church every week should really be taught.  So we are excited about that.

I also got a call from Sister Lyons last night.  Apparently they called up someone from the area book that I taught once in Heidelberg.  Her name is Yue, and we had the best first meeting ever with her and then she just went missing.  But when they called her she said that she had moved to Frankfurt SO we are going to call her up.  Pretty excited.

The awkward missionaries of Frankfurt :)
Sister Sorensen's five-year old
brother sent this to me.  I guess
I am now "Companion."
Our wonderful gifts from
Sister Sorensen's mom
So yeah, we have some awesome leads for some new investigators, so I am doing pretty great.  Besides that, we just had a ton of member appointments this week, and ate more food that I think is even humanly possible.  It turned into four days of Christmas and by the end I just went home and wanted to roll on the ground and just lay there for ages.  Ha-ha.  But it was all super fun.  We handed out loads of stuff with the Palmers, and that was just great.  Their family just chased people down on the streets to give them these DVDs, and because little kids were there, they went like hot cakes.  This Christmas season, Sister Sorensen and I managed to hand out four boxes of DVDs.  It was pretty great.  For dinner that night, Sister Palmer wanted to make us a bird, but since she doesn’t understand German, she just got one from the store.  Turns out it was duck.  As soon as the kids found out, they suddenly didn’t want to eat it any more.  Ha-ha.  But duck is pretty good!  Also, we had Christmas dinner with the Raymundos, and it got really awkward when we found out they were from Portugal and not Spain and then opened up our thank you card written in Spanish...whoops.  But I ate roasted chestnuts for the first time, and let me tell you…those are DELICIOUS!  I also found out this week that I can understand Portuguese because a less active member showed up at church this week and I had a lovely conversation with her were I would speak to her in Spanish and she would reply in Portuguese.  So that was pretty neat.  Yeah, but as far as this goes, my advice for all of you…be nice to the missionaries when you feed them. 

Also, this week I read "The Power of Everyday Missionaries".  If you haven’t read it yet, go and read it.  It isn’t that long, so it is a quick read, but it has some really good ideas for sharing the gospel and how, and some awesome success stories, so just go read it. You won’t regret it.

Well, it snowed this week, so all the missionaries are going to go have a nice snowball fight, so I am going to head out. I wish you all a wunderbares week, and just remember how much I love you all! 

Elder Lovelace and me...reunited
from kindergarten in Texas!
Liebe, Sister Teeples 

December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone!  In three days, I get to talk to you all. :) I am pretty excited.  Except for the fact that I forgot my Skype name and password...  that could present a problem, so if you could figure that out for me, it would be lovely. 

Sounds like things are pretty great back home.  Christmas time, and Troy got accepted into Oregon!  That’s pretty exciting stuff. 

Not going to lie, part of me is not wanting Christmas to come...that means all the markets go down, and the lights are off, and people go into depression.  People are just so happy right now!  And soon it will be all over.  But I guess we can just go and cheer them up with the things that really matter in life. 

This week, it was a pretty fun week.  We found a new investigator, David!  Remember that street display that we had a few weeks ago?  The one where we had absolutely no success at until the last ten minutes?  And then we got a guy’s number?  Well, we finally got an appointment with him, and it was great!  We found out that he apparently has met with missionaries before.  He started off telling us what he learned, and what was still confusing to him, and basically, it sounds like he didn’t really understand too much.  But, he just wants to get it this time around.  He said that maybe it wasn’t coincidence that he ran into us again.  Maybe?  Definitely not!  

We taught him the Restoration and he would stop us like crazy to ask us questions.  He was definitely paying attention.  Some of his questions are difficult to answer, but it is teaching us to discern between what is actually important and will help him verses what is distracting.  But the thing that really got him was the Plan of Salvation.  We were talking about the apostasy and saying how things had gotten lost, and truths were changed and he stopped us and asked us what things were changed.  We started listing off some things until we got to the Plan of Salvation and he stopped us again, and said, "This…I want to know more about this." Time was running out and so we gave him some things to read in the Book of Mormon and a pamphlet to talk about more the next time.  He texted us two days ago and said that he had already read all of it and found it really good and was excited to meet with us again.  So we have an appointment for Christmas Eve, and I am really excited.  FINALLY, someone that actually keeps commitments!

We also met with Leticia.  It was my first time meeting with her.  She didn’t end up reading in the Book of Mormon, so we spent the lesson just reading together.  We talked a lot about her role as a mother and how this gospel can bless her family.  She agreed.  We are going there tomorrow, and all seven of her kids will be there.  SEVEN.  That’s a lot of children.  It’s going to be crazy, but quite the adventure.  The best part…her kids have names like Prince, Prophetis, King Lordrich, and Queen.  Quite the royal family, I'd say. 

This week, our ward had an annual caroling activity.  The whole ward meets up and we all go down to the Zeil and sing hymns.  It was so great.  A ton of people showed up.  And the best part…we decided to swing by the Carricondos on the way and make them come.  Three of the kids came!  THEY CAME…the 15-year-old boy, and the 6-year-old twins, and they loved it.  Rodrigo found out that one of his friends from school is also a member in the ward.  So they hung out and it was great.  So great!  And while they all sang, TONS of people stopped, (because naturally it sounded amazing), and the missionaries worked their magic and talked to them and we handed out boxes of “Joy to the World,” over 70 “He's the Gift” pass along cards, and had tons of great discussions.  Yayyy.  Christmas magic! 

And speaking of singing magic…we went caroling the next day with the APs and a family in our ward, the Southhalls.  It was so great.  They have two adorable little kids that didn’t want to go AT ALL at the beginning.  We had to drag them out.  But we hit up like seven houses and the kids worked their magic.  I decided that we need to hire some cute kids to go out dooring with us.  People never even stop to listen to what we say and just automatically slam the door on us, but in less than an hour, one of their neighbors invited us in, gave us a house tour, and we got to talk to her about the church, the kids were given countless things of candy and chocolate, and they got 27 EURO.  27!  These kids just got money handed to them.  Needless to say, they were begging to keep going by the end—ha-ha.  But really, I have never had such success at dooring.  Why can’t it always be that great? 

We also met with Agnes again this week.  Rita came, too, and translated into Hungarian for us.  It was good.  It was hard because by the time she would translate something, I would forget my train of thought, but the spirit was definitely there and Agnes opened up a lot and told us a lot of stories and experiences that we were able to use to help teach the Restoration and God's love for her.  It was really great and the Spirit was definitely there baring testimony. 

As far as our other attempts to find…a complete failure!  But it made for good stories.  On our way to a previous investigator we got lost, and this car started following us, so we got freaked out.  I was searching for my pepper spray just to be safe (yes it was dark and I was paranoid, ha-ha).  Then I missed construction in front of me and tripped and fell straight on my face.  KG (“Klumsy” Ginger) strikes again.  I had a nice bloody knee and hand, and we couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves as the car drove away, and we realized how dumb we must have looked.

Thinking about it, we got lost a lot this week.  Whoops.  We also attempted to have a really cool street display.  We brought out the TV and played “He’s the Gift” on repeat, which would have been cool if anyone had been there.  The spot was AWFUL and nobody walked by.  And the only people that did wouldn’t give us the time of day.  What did I learn that night?  The way to talk to Germans is by not talking to them.  They run away if you try to contact them.  No joke.  One girl literally started running.  So we decided to take five minutes and all of us just sat on the bench to see if anything would change.  We just let the TV play, and people came!  How sad is that?  They only came when we weren’t there.  We had a good conversation with an Italian guy Christmas shopping for his mom.  He wanted a gift and asked us if the Book of Mormon would be something that she would like.  She is Catholic.  We told him this would be the best gift we would ever get, so he tried to buy it and we said it was free and he walked off just so happy at the gift he got his mom.  I wish I were there to see her open it!  That will be a nice surprise for her. 

The elders both had baptisms this week!  Mildred and Elo are now members of the Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der letzten Tage.

The fruit of the week...pretty on the inside....
I also had my last Zone Conference this week...that is a weird thought, and my exit interview.  That is still weird.  President came up to me after the baptism and asked if I had time to have my exit interview.  I got some advice on dating and marriage and it just made me sick to my stomach.  I felt so ridiculous because I walked in and he asked me to tell him about some of my experiences on my mission and I just started crying thinking about how it is all going to be over soon.  I have learned and grown so much, and I just don’t want to leave it!  It is going to be hard going home…being in America again. 
The inside of the fruit....
definitely not my favorite.

Yeah, this was quite the eventful week.  Can’t really put it all to words, but these were the highlights.  Overall, I just love Christmas time.  This week is basically just going to be members wanting to feed us, which I can’t say I will complain about.  It was made for fun!  I am excited.  JA WEIHNACHTEN. 

I really do love my mission.  I love meeting new people like David that just soak up everything that you say and want to learn it NOW.  As I was studying more about the Atonement this morning, I just realized how much MORE we know thanks to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have so much more knowledge about everything.  And I tend to forget that because I have just grown up knowing all of it and living by it.  But I have tried to imagine my life without the gospel and without even the Book of Mormon.  And I can’t!  I just can’t!  It is just too much a part of my life, and I am so grateful for that. 

I love you all.  I CAN’T WAIT TO SKYPE WITH YOU ON WEIHNACHTEN.  See you soon!