Liebe Freunde u. Familie
Welcome to the World Vivian Bottom!! Today my FIRST niece is born and I am so excited! I will get to meet her via Skype for Christmas. I think that will be the best Christmas present anyone in the Berlin Mission will get this year!
This week has been great. Elder Fuller and I are seeing more and more miracles all around us!
Wednesday we our Zone Training Meeting (for Berlin Süd). President Kosak has changed our Standard of Excellence from 1 baptism per transfer to 1 bpatism per month! And I am so excited for this change. It is small, but perfect! We will find ways to work that much harder to find those prepared souls – and there are many out there! We read Mosiah 17: 8, 11-16 when almost 200 souls decided to be baptized. We talked about how special the baptisms of just one or two people are and how strong the Spirit is at those. Then we compared that to this story from the Book of Mormon; the feelings at that moment written in the Book of Mormon must have been so tender and overwhelming. It renewed our spirits to help more people have this experience. (This counts for my scripture chain this week…).
Which brings me to this week’s General Conference talk. It is entitled “Look Ahead and Believe” by Elder Dube of the Seventy. We must stand always as a witness of Christ. It is not where we serve, but rather how. We look back to collect old embers. When we are truly prepared, we will always look forward. Faith, just like a compass, points to True North – forward. We are all equally yoked with the “Work of Salvation.” The size of our team does not matter, our coordiantion mater. We can all fulfill our potential! We must not be so involved in ourselves; let us all join together to bring to pass the immotality of man. Get lost. Find yourself. Where are you willing to go for the Lord?^
While my mother’s lesson of looking ahead was directed toward the visible weeds in the field, that challenge was minor in comparison to what the early Saints went through. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin described this experience so well: “In 1846, more than 10,000 [people] left the thriving city [of Nauvoo] that had been built on the banks of the Mississippi River. With faith in prophetic leaders, those early Church members left their ‘City Beautiful’ and struck off into the wilderness of the American frontier. They did not know exactly where they were going, precisely how many miles lay ahead, how long the journey would take, or what the future held in store for them. But they did know they were led by the Lord and His servants” (“Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 33).
They knew how it was to look ahead and believe. A decade and a half earlier, some of these members were present when a revelation was received:
“For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation” (D&C 58:2–3).
Then on Friday, our Ward had a Missionary Fireside that we helped the Youth put together. It was really great! Very small and relaxed. The youth came up with some scenarios that we face in evryday life and the members practiced bringing up Gospel topics and inviting them to Church or to an activity or to their weekly Family Home Evening. It was so inspiring to see these members recognize that they are not very good missionaries and that they want to figure out how they can improve. There were people of all ages there and I was very inspired. This is how the work will go forward in Germany: first with just a handful of people, and then – eventually – more and more.
Sunday was also a very special day. It was the PV (Primarvereinigung… Primary) Programm. It was so sweet! Something I have been using more lately – not really out of choice but because of time restrictions – are short, simple testimonies. Teaching only simple, basic doctrine. I have seen the power of this in our teaching this past week and in the testimonies of these children – which had probably been practiced and re-practiced several times! Right after, the Bishop took time to let his son, who is leaving on his mission on Thursday, to say a few words. It was such a very special moment. It reminded me of my own farewell. I had to try so hard not to cry – not because I missed my friends and family, but because the feelings there were so tender. People I have never seen lose control of their emotions were so sad (and happy) to see him grow up and become a missionary. He is going off to the Leeds ENgland Mission and I know Elder Jordan McGee will take care of him!
On Saturday, we dropped off a Book of Mormon for, yes, another man from Nigeria. We are Nigeria magnets. As we left to go home, his roommates stopped us and had us come back. He expressed interest and we told him that, if he came to the appointment we had with his roommate, we could bring him a Book of Mormon, too. We came back for our teaching appointment last night and they were both there. We sat down, got to know eachother, prayed, and then we started teaching about the Book of Mormon and its origins, the Restoration, and how we can know that this is all truw. The second man (that stopped us earlier) stopped us and said that he already knew all this and that he had read the Book of Mormon since we left the one copy with his roommate. In order to better understand, we asked how much he read. He said through Ether. This man had read about 500 pages of the Book of Mormon. He has about 20 pages left. We were so shocked! He thought we didn’t understand. to be honest, I didn’t know what to do. Normally we have to pull teeth (figuratively, people) to get people to read the scriptures! And he asked the most perfect questions! How can we know the Book of Mormon is sacred? Can we be baptized twice? How do we know that the Church is true? And what is the role of the Savior in my life? It was all just so perfect. We cannot wait to meet with him again and see what he learns! He has a perfect understanding and has definitely been prepared by God to meet with us.
I am looking forward to the tender mercies of the Lord this week; I think there is a lot in store! I love Neukölln and I love Berlin!
Picture: Treats from America and my Grandmother!! We are making cookies today!!!
Picture: This was the baptism of a boy that the Sister Missionaries taught. It was last Saturday. We play soccer with him every Sunday and have become good friends with him. He is eleven now. Since he got bapzized, the rest of his family has started coming to Church more now. They are such a blessing!