Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 1, 2014

 Hello Familie!  Tell everyone my address is:  

Sister Savannah Teeples
Kirche Jesu Christi
Schillerstrasse 151
48155 Münster 

…and that I am not opposed to handwritten letters.  Especially when my golden gets about 5 a day. 

My golden's one month
"candlelight" breakfast celebration.
Troy, I know that it is a few days late, but...  Zum Geburtstag, viel Glück!  I hope that you had a great birthday.  Just so you know, I may have forgotten it last week, but as I looked at my planner on Wednesday, I remembered.  I just couldn't do anything about it until now.  It sounds like you had a great birthday.  Much fun.  Taryn is also always up to something.  I don't get how, but it's pretty cool, I guess.  Taryn, I’d be perfectly fine if you stayed in Provo winter semester to do your internship.  The more I hear, the less likely it is that I am going home in time for the semester, so it looks like I might not be getting home till the end of January.  It'd be nice to actually see you and have you be in America.  Mom and Dad, glad things are going well and that Matt made it safely to the MTC.  Do you have his address AND email?  I want to send him something.

Well, it was another great week.  I think that the highlight of the week is that... AIYANA IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON THE 27TH OF SEPTEMBER!!!!  Can we all just take a moment and shout for joy? We gave her an option of two dates yesterday at church and told her to go home and pray about which one was right.  We got a text literally one hour later saying that the 27th was the day.  I always knew that was a good number.  So yeah, I am still on cloud nine about that.  That is going to be an awesome day.  We met with her twice this week, and each of the lessons were great.  We taught her tithing the first day, and her mom was there and when we committed her to keeping it, she agreed right away.  Her mom said that that was a true sign that she had a testimony, because when she sat in on that lesson with Anna, she thought that Anna was crazy to agree about paying tithing, but now she is doing it with no problem. 

Anna's baptism...
The next night, we decided to just have some fun with Aiyana and have a wrap dinner together to make her more comfortable around us, because she is pretty shy.  That was a great idea, because she had a lot of fun, and we did too.  She told us about all of her friends, and the stake dance that she went to and the guys that she danced with and showed us pictures and everything, and just really opened up.  We bought some nasty fruit because we had never seen it before and wanted to try it out, and it would’ve been pretty good, but the whole thing was just like a giant seed pit.  So we got some good laughs from that, and just had a good time.  At the end, we went over fasting and how to pay fast offerings and tithing, and she said that she already knew what she would fast for next week.  On Sunday, we really saw the results of this little wrap dinner.  She just followed us around and was telling us about everything and was just so excited, and when we gave her the dates for her baptism, she was just smiling so big.  Not only is this girl ready for baptism now, I truly feel like we are genuine friends, which is exactly how it should be.  I just love Aiyana!  Just another person I want you all to meet—haha.  But boy, am I, Sister Heywood and Aiyana sure excited for this month, along with the rest of the branch.  Best part, I am training, which means I am 99.9% safe of staying here this next transfer for it.  Zum Glück!

Vivienne and Amelia made us American
bracelets.  They are so cute!
And then there is Rafael.  Another golden.  He came to Family Home Evening last week and loved it.  We had a big dinner together, and he just talked with the branch members the whole time, and then afterwards we all played signs together and he was just laughing and having a good time.  We met with him again this week and had another great lesson.  We followed up on baptism and the Holy Ghost and the Restoration, and basically just had it be a "fill in the holes" type of lesson, to make sure that he didn’t have any gaps, and really understood everything.  We then just ended up reading 2 Nephi 31 together for the majority of the lesson.  He shared his amazing insight and bore testimony of how important baptism was, and said that he would continue to pray about it.  I still don’t think that he understands why he needs to get baptized again, but we will continue to teach that and bare testimony.  But it was a great lesson, and he ended it with another one of his amazing prayers.  Then, he came to church again on Sunday, and I about wanted to die when I saw him.  He was dressed up in a suit with a tie and a vest.  He looked so great!  And he just sat there, soaking up church and taking notes and rereading and marking the passages they read in church.  Oh man.  We had a branch lunch after church, and it was just another massive feast, and he stayed for the entire thing, and just socialized and made some friends, and just said that he ate so much that he had to go home and sleep it off, haha.  Oh man, this guy.  It is just crazy how happy I get when I see him. 

Our American party of
French fries and pudding...
An American celebration...
This week, Andreas, the elders’ mentally handicapped investigator, (that gave us those BEAUTIFUL clothes)…well, we all went and had dinner at his place one night.  That is something that I will never forget.  Sister Heywood and I had the giggles bad that day, and that didn’t help at all.  We dressed up in the clothes that he gave us, and I just couldn’t take anything seriously.  Every time I looked at Sister Heywood, I just couldn’t stop laughing.  Then, he brought out dinner (It’s super late and we didn’t eat anything the whole day, so we were starving) and he lays it down and says that it is an American feast!  What that means to him...  frozen french fries, and pudding with Fanta.  Yummy!  We had a hard time keeping a straight face at that one.  I wish you could understand just how funny that whole situation was.

The moment that I understood that
I don't understand German
And then, there was my dumb moment of the week.  I think that I am really good with German and know what I am doing, and then realize, oh, I actually don’t know anything.  So Sister Jackwert asked us to help her out with the "kindergarten" the next day and my first thought was, she knows we can’t help out with kids.  Which made me think, well the elders have been helping out with their garden, so maybe she needs help with that.  So I tell her, Ja!  We will come and help out.  The next morning, we take the 40-minute train ride out to her house, to have no one be there.  We ring the doorbell, and try calling and wait, but no one is home.  So I finally text her asking where she was, and she said, "I’m at the church".  Oh my gosh.  Turns out she was asking us to help her with the primary room....  I felt way peinlich after that one.  When we saw her on Sunday, she just couldn’t stop laughing.  Add that mistake to the fact that I was teaching about keeping the Sabbath day holy and was going off about how some families didn’t want to watch TV on Sundays.  I was actually saying “fenster” instead of “fernsehen,” so I was telling Aiyana that some people weren’t allowed to look out the windows on Sunday... oh man, Sister Gionker hasn’t let that one go yet.  Oh well, makes for good stories. 

This week, I also gained a testimony of the Atonement on a level that I have never reached before.  I am going to try to describe it to you, but I feel like this is something that you have to be there for.  We had our Zone training this week, and it was just amazing.  Our Zone leaders brought us into this room where we were all in a giant circle, and called Elder Rock to the middle.  They then pulled out a huge box of chocolate, and started offering it to each person.  For every person that took a chocolate bar, Elder Rock had to do 5 pushups.  It started out in a laughing mood, people taking the chocolate and jokingly saying, “Sorry Elder Rock!”  But about half way through, the entire mood changed.  He started to get so tired, and his entire body was shaking, and he was just dripping sweat.  I can’t get the picture out of my head.  Maybe it’s because I have gotten to know Elder Rock really well these past 2 transfers working with him, but just seeing him there shaking and struggling broke my heart.  The room just went silent, and more people started to turn down the chocolate, because they didn’t want to make him suffer any more.  By the end, he was just dead.  But then Elder Miller asked how many people didn’t take a chocolate bar and 11 people stood up.  He told Elder Rock that he had to do 5 push-ups for each of these people, because someone still had to pay him back.  Those last 55 pushups were the most painful things to watch in my life.  It really made me understand, just on a small scale, the Atonement and how much suffering Christ went through, so that we could have the chance to live with God again.  He performed the Atonement for every person on this earth, regardless if they take the gospel (the chocolate in this case) or not.  He knew that not everyone would choose to follow him and his teachings, and yet he still took upon himself all of their sufferings in case, one day, they decided to turn back and say, "Actually that chocolate, I think I will take it.  I think I do want to have this gospel be part of my life.  That looks good.  That is what I want.”  He went through all the pain, sweat, tears, he was shaky, he was weak, and yet he did it so that we could have the chance to choose for ourselves whether we wanted the gospel or not.  That is the definition of love.  Christ is love.  There is no other way to describe him.  That Zone training was so powerful, because I really understood the power of love.  How everything we do, and are able to do, is possible because God loves us.  I love what Elder Kearon said last week.  "He loves you more than you can ever understand.  He ADORES you." I know that that is true.  I know that this gospel, this way of life, everything that I am blessed with in my life, and even the hardships that I go through, and are proof of God’s love for me.  And I will be forever grateful for that. 

We realized that this exotic fruit
was just a giant seed pit...
This week, we had so much happen.  We had so many amazing moments, funny moments, spiritual moments, everything.  I wish that I could describe them all to you in the finest detail, but that would take me hours.  I wish you could be with me in these lessons, with our other investigators, new investigators, potentials, less actives, recent converts, members, everyone, and just feel the spirit, love, and also funny moments that I have on a daily basis.  But that’s impossible.  Just know, this work is true, and I am so grateful for everything that I learn on a daily basis.  This transfer…I can’t believe it’s almost over.  It was exactly what I have needed.  I feel like I have never appreciated my mission so much before.  This, it is great.

Ich hab' euch lieb.  Wirklich.  Have a great week! 


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