Monday, July 29, 2013

Grace in the Church

Liebe Familie,
As transfer weeks are always something for the crazy category, so was this one. On Monday, Sister Smith and I went on a walk around the Ludwigsburg gardens (not in, around) and took pictures through the fence. We just enjoyed nature and being outside in the shade. It was really nice to have some time to relax. After that, we got on a bus to try to find a place Sister Smith had discovered before a few days while she was on splits with a member. We accidentally got on the wrong bus and wound up a lot closer to our eating appointment that night, so that was nice:] 
On Wednesday, we had an appointment with a woman named Maria. She is so cool. She is from Italy originally, but she moved to Germany when she was 7, so she speaks great German. She has two little boys who are 6 and 3 (?). She was raised Catholic, but really loves the teachings of our church. We were talking about repentance in this lesson. We asked her if she knew what that meant. And she said, ''Absolutely. You go and talk to the priest or pastor or bishop, or however he is called in your church, tell him what you did, say a few 'Hale, Maries,' and you're good!'' We explained how repentance actually works, that it's a process. Every night you report on your day, and every morning you pray for help in the coming day. The repentance process is simply that we are trying every day to be just a little better than the previous day. We talked about how sometimes you do have serious sins (we defined what that entailed), and you do talk to the bishop. But you council with him, and he helps you to get your life back on course. She really liked that and kept saying that she likes the way we do things in our church way better than the Catholic church. She is so cool, and we are so excited to keep meeting with her!
Thursday morning, Sister Smith finished packing, and we headed into Stuttgart. I knew I was going to get hungry before we would get back, so I threw a few rolls in the oven. They would be done in 10 minutes, and we had to leave in about 12. But, of course, with the craziness of getting out the door, I forgot about my rolls. Luckily, the bishop's family has a key to our apartment, so I called his wife and asked her to go turn off our oven. We came home to two rolls that would almost make Moses proud (they weren't burned up, but one could just about hammer nails with them. Needless to say, I did not eat them), but the apartment was still intact, so that was good:] Anyway, the train we took to Munich started in Frankfurt, so it was already kind of full by the time it picked us up in Stuttgart. We had to stand in the doorway area the whole trip. We kind of made a barricade with our suitcases in front of the bathroom, and we were so thankful there was a bathroom gegenüber so that we could direct people to it when nature called. But Sister Smith, Sister Holmstead, and I stood by each other, and we had a great chat. The train had a ten minute delay, so Sister Smith's 16 minute Umsteig got turned into 6. Then the doors wouldn't open for a few minutes when we landed in Munich because somebody probably hadn't paid. So we got off the train, and Sister Smith and I started booking it down the Gleis. She caught her train, we hugged good-bye (but in the other order), and I went to join the big crowd of missionaries in the center of Bahnhof. I like being in Munich on transfer days because a lot of missionaries pass through Munich, so it's fun to see everyone. But my Umsteig wasn't much longer. I only had time to exchange a few pleasantries before I had to hug my dying (now dead) mother good-bye, grab my golden, and get on the train back to Stuttgart. My new companion is named Sister Brinck and comes from California. We had dinner with the elders at the bishop's house that night. 
On Friday, we were supposed to have a service project for a pregnant woman in our ward, but her kids got sick at the last minute. We decided that we would return some tupperware, and then come back home to do weekly planning. We stopped at the first home (an older couple in our ward) and said, ''We're just dropping this off...'' but they still invited/encouraged us in. We had a lovely chat with them for a little while. They told us that they were going to set up for their grandson's birthday party but that it was too hot to do that now. We asked if we could help. They said we for surely could and asked if we had any appointments. We told them we did not. So they told us to stay for dinner, and we could set up after that. We left for a little while to get some other work done, but we came back and enjoyed a real Schwäbisch (the area of Germany here) meal. We mostly had to water their plants and help them empty their kiddie swimming pool so that they could put new water in. But it was good to spend some time uplifting the members, anyway:]
Saturday, we had an appointment with Grace. She is so so cool! We talked about the first two steps in the Plan of Salvation. We really focused how we are here to have our faith strengthened. She was practically teaching us! She said, ''A lot of people get good things from God and say, 'Thank you.' But when the bad things come, they say, 'Why me?' or 'No, thank you!' God knows what it is we need. We need to accept everything he gives us with, 'Thank you, Lord!''' It was so cool that Grace just got it. We talked about some other things and ended up setting a baptismal date with her for the 18th of August
She came to church yesterday - the bishop picked her up. Because she is from Nigeria and has only been in Germany for 8 months, she really doesn't speak German yet. So Sister Kleiner had to translate Sacrament Meeting for her. Then she had to go to primary, so I had the translate the other two hours! It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was quite relieved:] Grace really liked church a lot. She also said, ''You know? I had no idea white people went to church...'' 
It has been so hot this week again - around 38, 39. On Saturday, it was just plain miserable. We were with the bishop for a little Saturday night, and he commented that they would probably only hold church for one hour if it was hot again. In Germany, we don't have air conditioning, and it would be downright miserable if you weren't in the basement of the church. But, it rained all Saturday night and Sunday, and it is still raining now! We were so thankful that it cooled down so that we could have all of church! And also so we won't perish in the heat. 
Wellp, that should sum up this week! I hope all is well! The Lord knows what's up, and He has a plan. Trust in Him, and all will be well.
Sister Stephanie Reid

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