Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Let it Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the work is soo delightful- and since we've got lots of places to go... Let it snow! let it snow! let it snow!!
It SNOWED!! :D This morning (for PDay) right after jogging in a winter wonderland (which was fun, except for the fact that I almost slipped like 4 times) Sister Williams and I grabbed our gloves and before it was even light outside built a huge snowman! (and a little baby one to match!) We are pretty darn awesome- aside from the fact that it got knocked down 3 hours latter… that awkward moment some little kid destroys your winter dreams…

This week was really something magical though- Christmas in Germany... one down, one more to go. We were invited over to members houses for Christmas eve or Heilige Abend and also Christmas day- it was so fun to see how the spirit of Christ was in each of their homes. We sat next to Christmas trees and sang songs about the birth of Christ and shared stories together. Although it was different than home, it was still special to see the celebration.

But I have to say that the climax was the 60 minutes that I was able to talk with my family. (just have to say you guys are the best) It was so fun to be able to talk with you and hear your voices. I was worried that I would get more homesick after skyping but the complete opposite happened- I just got more excited to do missionary work. Earlier in the year I was having a hard time, I would get distracted thinking about home all the time and missing you guys. But after praying for strength I began to realize that Heavenly Father would help me. I received the assurance that thinking about home would not be a distraction to me, but a strength. And seeing you all at Christmas confirmed that for me. It made me realize just how much the Gospel has blessed my family- it is because of Jesus Christ that we can be together forever, and that joy that I feel is something I simply can't keep to myself! Now whenever I look at our family picture instead of wanting to go home, I want to go outside and share this glad message with anyone who will hear! 

Liebe Gruße
Sister Shurts
From the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

Our matching Christmas sweaters

 the unfortunate amount of chocolate we have recieved for
sister williams birthday and christmas... because how horrible
would it be if we got too skinny! 

Christmas Dinner

Opening presents

Christmas Eve

Sister Williams and I have a fun little Christmas party

Christmas  day with the elders at familie bruhn!

Our Snowman...and child

Our snowman dies

Snow day

Christmas morning

Monday, December 22, 2014


Soo I am warning you all that I am in a VERY christmassy mood right now... so I'm not sure how this email will turn out because I am sooo distracted and will be able to see your beautiful (and slightly crazy) faces in approximately 80 hours 16 minutes and 25 seconds!!..... AHHHH :) Can't wait for my Skype time with my FAMILY!!!!!

I really don't even know where to start! But remember that awesme miracle story from last week as we went dooring and met the Familie Wichman?! We met with them again and showed her the He is the Gift video and she LOVED IT! We had a fireside at the church yesterday about what the meaning of Christmas is- and she actually came! and brought her husband! :) I am so happy about this Christmas miracle. I know that the lord will bless us as we continue to have faith that he will touch the hearts of the people we meet!
I have been impressed this week by how many cherrished Christmas traditions have to do with skype... I mean light! (gah see people that was an accident!) The candles on the advent wreath, the Christmas markts alight, the glowing Christmas tree, the warmth of the fire, the star of David. But most importantly the light of Christmas is the light and love that comes from Christ.
I was thinking a lot about how light is a comfort something that we naturally seek out, from the little sister who needs her night light or the warm rays of the sun. A lot of people don't understand who God is. They say he is in us around us and near us- but the concept that is not understood is that he is a literal person. Think about the light from the sun. We all feel the rays on our skin individually- but they all come from a physical and real thing in the sky. Just like we can all feel Gods love as the rays of the sun, we can know that he is real, that he cares about each one of us individually and that because he loves each and everyone of us, he sent is son to give us a way to return to him.
With our big push of handing out more HeIsTheGift cards we have talked to a lot of people this week. From abstract art therapists to computer engineers, but no matter what walk of life these people are in- they still feel the excitement of Christmas (side note- some old lady on a bus was so excited about Christmas she popped out her dentures and showing them to me explained that they were her Christmas present to herself...awkward..)
 The weather here in Germany is like Oregon right now- no snow but a lot of rain! feels just like home! :) Find ways to enjoy the Christmas season and think about what gift you can give. The one true gift that I can give to repay the Savior is to give him myself. Wholly and completely- and that's the thought I wanted to leave with you guys!
Merry Christmas
I love you all
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

A few pictures from Michaela's ward Christmas Party (the rest can be seen at: Herne Ward Christmas Party)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Little Christmas Miracle!

Christmas is just around the corner!! And I can't wait! This week it was soo fun to talk to people on the street about christmas. All the people at the Christmas Markts with their Gluhwein and old man pipes (gotta love germans) would let us stop and chat with them for a bit about what christmas was and I would get the opportunity to bear testimony of Jesus Christ and of the gift he is to us.

So, short little christmas miracle story- this week Sister Williams and I were walking to an appointment and we had about 15 extra minutes. I saw a cool yellow building and nudged sister williams and said "Hey lets Klingle (what we call ringing the doorbell) that apartment building" So we walked over to it, hit the buttons under everysingle name. But everytime someone let us in we got in about one and a half sentances before they shut the door on us. We didn't have that much time left- but for some reason I still felt like ringing some doorbells. We kept walking I was just like- lets do one more- there was a number 1 and a number 24- and I asked sister williams which one I should pick- she shrugged her shoulders. I looked up at the sky- and said in my heart, heavenly father- we have 10 minutes. There is someone to meet or something to learn here but I don't have time to ring  both buildings- which one should I go to.. and I felt like doing number 24 (it may have been because the house was cute - I am my mothers daughter) but regardless we klingled one name and got nothing... we were about to walk away when I felt like reaching up and ringing the name above it. The door buzzed open and we walked up. To our surprise there was a teenager standing at the door- we talked to him for a bit, he said he wasn't religous but his mother was- so I asked him if his mother was home. He walked into his apartment and then this lady comes out, in one hand she had a lighted cigarette and with they other hand she beckoned us in and said the most magical words I have ever heard. "kommen sie bitte mahl rein" Come on in... Sister Williams and I stepped in after we got over our shock and sat and talked to her for a while. Since we didn't have that much time we asked if we could come back next week... AND SHE SAID YES!!!! AHHH :D
That was just one of the many small miracles that happened this week. The hearts of the people are softening just as the weather is getting colder! We met with new investigators this week, and less active members who all want to come to church! All that I can say is that heavenly father is blessing us here, and as long as we work hard to do our best I know that miracles will happen. Thankyou for your prayers and support!
I love you all

Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Contacting!

Dear friends and family...

We have had a week of contacting! But we have kept it fun. We do surveys at the Christmas markets and ask people what christmas means to them. Almost always we get the answer stress, or presents or family or celebration of peace.. but so far- there was only one little old lady who put it so simply and perfectly. I asked her what christmas meant to her. And this cute little german lady looked at me and in a matter of fact way said- well obviously the birth of Jesus Christ the hope of the world. I just wanted to give her a hug right there! Because for her it was soo clear, We celebrate christmas to celebrate the gift of hope. The gift of Jesus Christ, and the light that he brought into the world. I know that he was more than just a prophet and more than just a righteous man- he was the savior of the world and the redeemer of mankind!
The other day Sister Williams and I were taking the train home and there were two old drunk men singing some serendades to us in french... needless to say we got off at the next stop- bless their hearts. Even though we meet lots of wierd people- there are the awesome golden ones in between haha- As we were contacting people in the the city earlier this week a man came up to us and asked us what we were holding in our hands (the christmas #He is the Gift cards) He told us he has been in Germany for one year now with his family. He was so excited to talk to us- then all of a sudden he saw our name tags and laughed and threw his hands up and said, "WHAT!! there are women in your church too??" We were so confused then, he went on and said that in Brazil he lives next to this big church building thing, where there are a ton of men in suits and name bagdes... but they all have the same name- sister williams and I smiled at each other and I said, 'Elder?' He clapped his hands and shouted "Yeah! thats the one!" ... we are pretty sure he lives next to the Brazil MTC.... I have no idea how he doesn't know anything about mormons yet! But... that means we get to teach him!!!! YEESSSS!!! I was thinking a lot about that experience and about how the spirit prompted us to go contacting that day- in the FREEZING COLD! we could have contacted on warm busses or trains, but we decided to go into the city- and that is where we met Cecir. We got his information and have already met with him once! :D  Tender Mercies of the Lord
Anyways this week has been great- I am excited to see what the next week brings
all my love
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

Here's a cute excerpt from Michaela's journal (she sends us her journal separately from her letters):
December 1st 2014 - Montag
DORTMUND!!! zone p-day! woot-woot! We did emails and then some shopping and then caught a train to Dortmund where we ate some delicious bratwurst, I bought some christmas presents... aaaand we walked around forever to enjoy the atmosphere. My cheeks hurt so bad, i was smiling so much! I mean like I AM IN GERMANY!! aaahhhh There was a stage in dortmund, with this old bayrish dude singing old german folk songs and a bunch of germans dancing polka around! and little lebkuchen shops and lots of beer! :D I LOVE it! I also liked all the little fairy tale displays, they had Tischlin deck dich, and Die sieben Ziegelein and Hansel und Gretel. We walked around with the Herne Elders for a while and then met up with Gelsen Kirchen. I didn't spend that much- I just hate spending money! That evening we did FHE for the ward at the church. We showed them the cool new Christmas Video that the church put out!  
Me and Sister Williams

The biggest Christmas tree in Germany

Setting up for the ward Christmas party

a knitted sleeve for a post outside.. in case it gets cold


Monday, December 1, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!!

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.. Everywhere we go!
there's a tree in our windowsill, one in the town as well
and were teaching people everywhere we gooooo!"
there... thats all my creativity for this week! haha but it also most of what I have been thinking about. As most of you probably know the church is doing a world wide "Christmas Initiative" for this next month and IT IS SOOO COOL!!!  this is the website of amazingness ----> http://www.mormon.org/christmas  or just christmas.mormon.org
Check it out and share it with your friends.. Gah! I can't even describe it- it is awesome. Christmas time is wonderful! We had dinner with a cute old german lady on sunday to celebrate the first Advent and she brought out some delicious soup. Oh it was so good, we talked and ate it- and when my stomach was pleasantly full, and the timer went off in the kitchen- she excused herself and then came back in with a pot of Goulash, then a plate of Knödle... then a bowl of Rotkohl... and then a pot of veggies.... I guess the soup was just an appetizer but I was already full. So somehow I downed another plate of food and then she told us we were both too skinny and she loaded our plates again!!! hahah but wait! theres more- she then came out with a bowl of fruit salad and a dense german apple cake! Oh my goodness... I have never been so full in my entire Life! To finish it off she handed us each a chocolate bar for the road! hahaha Let the Christmas season begin!

This month is the perfect month to invite people to learn more about Jesus Christ, I've been spending a lot of time studying the life of Jesus christ. This month we are inviting people to discover, embrace and share the Gift of Jesus Christ- and I have been thinking a lot about what that means to me personally. This week on the train home from Dortmund, we were sitting in a quad with the elders and just talking about the new Christmas initiative when after a while a girl sitting on the other side of the isle asked us what church we were from. I spent the next 15 minutes talking to her about joseph smith and the restoration and the Book of Mormon! Before she got off, she gave me her number and we are going to call her back this week! But it taught me that there are people who are ready everywhere, and I can't just wait for them to start talking to me- I need to talk as well. I mean, what would have happend if she had not said anything and I had not said anything- I would have missed to chance to teach her!
This Christmas I want to take the idea of discovering, embracing and sharing the gift of Jesus Christ to the next level. I don't want to do what is a 'realistic' number- I want to have goals that requre faith and hope to be accomplished. But I know that with the lords help, we will touch the lives of many people here in Germany! Remember in your hearts that the now is a time when peoples hearts will be softened and they will be more open to learning about their savior and redeemer Jesus Christ.
Fröhliche Weinachten!
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

The local Christmas Market!!

Christmas in Germany is AWESOME!!

All the sisters in our zone

Monday, November 24, 2014


I'm going to start with a conversation I had with sister williams on the Bus earlier this week leaving our apartment..
"Sooo... Sister Shurts... guess what I just forgot.."
"... a book of mormon..?"
"nope.. remmebered that, something worse"
"...ummm what?..."
"The keys. on the kitchen table"
*dramatic pause.. with a touch of awkward*
"well sister Williams... This will be fun!"
Don't worry, we were able to get in touch with someone and after a long time of waiting and wondering some wonderful senior missionaries brought us an extra set of keys and some warm chocolate chip cookies! and then we got our heating fixed so we arn't freezing in our apartment! WOO-HOO!! its the little things that make life worth living! For example this week, like 3 people asked me what part of Germany I come from!! Im so gratefull that I can speak and communicate in the German Language and that Heavenly Father has helped me learn so much.
Our area has not seen very much progress for a while- and we are trying to get the ward excited about missionary work- but it has been harder than I thought it would be. I am learning a lot about putting trust in God. We do a lot of contacting because we need to find more people to teach- and sometimes we just don't know where to go. Sister Williams and I have been spending a lot of time praying and thinking about where we should go to find people to teach. One important thing that I have learned is that our attitude is everything. If we start our day, with the thought 'maybe someone will want to listen to our message..' we won't try to contact as much, or seek people out. But if we step out our door with the idea in mind, that Heavenly Father has prepared any number of people today for us to talk to- we will be anxious and excited to go and find them! I have been studying the parables of Jesus- specifically the parable of the lost sheep. We are leaving our flock (our family and friends) for a year and a half to find the symbolic one. On our front door, we have a big piece of poster board that says- FIND THE ONE - and then underneath we wrote down what attributes we can work on to be able to accompish that goal!
So even if a lot of our appointments fall out, or we get lost, or its freezing, or we get locked out of our apartment. It is so reasuring for me to know that Heavenly Father is in charge. Because he takes every single one of those experiences and teaches us something! I know that he is aware of where I am, and where my heart is, and the things that I desire- and I can't wait to see what this next week will bring!!!
Love sister shurts
from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

josefinenstraße 19
44628 Herne

we bought a christmas tree!! Sister williams is the home decor lady! haha

Here's a excerpt from Michaela's journal about his sweet little lady (pictured above): OH MY GOODNESS!! today we had an appointment with THE CUTEST OLD LADY EVER!!! :D She is 84 and her name is Schwester Oydowski! She fed us cake and noodles and just talked our ears off. It was amazing, I felt like I was walking with her through the pages of a history book. She was telling us stories about how the 2nd world war started and how she was a refugee with her 7 siblings and her mother. She remembered her dad being part of some secret military group and how he left them. One time they were in town when a bombing raid started and they had to dive from ditch to ditch- she got really quiet when she said she can still remember the cold chill on her back as she saw a little boy on a porch holding the hand of his mother who had just been killed by an explosion. One aweful night they were in their small home when a bombing raid started - she was 13 or 14, and all that she remembered was that her Father had once told her to always stand in a corner if the house was being bombed. Miraculously their family was safe but they watched their house go completly to ruing right before their eyes. That night they took what they could carry and left all their belongings behind. One mother with 8 children and the trecked into Czecklaslovakia and then down into bayern. They were so poor- she remembered that any sort of food was delicious to her! Her Father found out that his family was a refugee and left his military group to try and find them for over a year! Finnaly he was able to find them and they made their way to Marl (which is where she lives now) 
... crazy story right? I love this opportunity that I have to be a part of this history- when will I ever get the chance to hear these stories from the mouths of those who lived them? 
us getting locked out, our new set of keys and the cookies they brought :)
how we look at the end of the day... well maybe its an exageration

Monday, November 17, 2014


I can't believe November is almost half way over! Sister Williams and I are nearing the end of our first transfer together in Herne! We have had a ton of fun adventures and experiences here together.
I am learning a lot about finding people and talking to people. I think one of my favorite things to do so far, is watch peoples expressions. For example, I'll be sitting on a bus, and a lady will get on and sit right across from me- I'll smile at her, and when she smiles back I usually say hi and ask her how her day is going. It is so funny to see how they react! Because it is always one of two things, they just look annoyed, and I can imagine the conversation in their head goes "why are you talking to me? normal people aren't nice! stop it!" or - and this is more frequent they are surprised and smile really big, and say its great thank you! <--- that right there is a favorite moment of mine. Because then we can actually talk and have a conversation and almost always it leads into missionary work. I have been thinking a lot about the preach my gospel chapter, "teach when you find, find when you teach". And how important it is to share your beliefs where ever you are. We don't need to set apart a specific time to find people if we are finding people all the time. I was thinking about the example of the savior- He took every opportunity to teach, he didn't wait until he had scheduled the time for it. That is one of my goals- to teach the way the savior taught.

We called up a man that we contacted last week on the bus and were able to meet up with him at the bahnhof. He is from Togo Africa and wanted a french book of Mormon. I marked one up and brought it to him, we sat down on a bench for about 20 minutes and explained to him what we as Mormons believe. At one point I felt impressed to ask him, why he even wanted to meet with us. Because at first when we contacted he didn't have any interest- but something changed his mind. He said that when I pulled out the book... he began to think. He said it started to make sense that there was another book that went along with the bible- just like the Koran. And he wanted to know which one was true- the Mormon book or the Koran. And that something inside of him wanted to find out more- just like a spark. We gave him the book and he said he would read for a couple days and then call us back!!! As we walked home from that appointment I was so happy. It was a little bit late, and the stars were shining and I turned to Sister Williams and pointing up said,
 "Sister, sometimes its nice to know that God is in charge of his work- and that we are his instruments"
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

Lost at the train station

Marking up Books of Mormon to hand out

A very funny German cigarette ad

What happens to missionaries who don't obey the rules!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Adventures in Herne

Once upon a time... there were two missionaries who had both been in Germany for less than 4 months. They spent their day's in the cities and the train-stations gazing at the confusing routes and bus lines, wondering if they would ever figure it out so that they don't end up in random places they didn't even know exsisted!
But... I never would have guessed that the Lord would use my TERRIBLE sense of direction for a good cause! This week as we jumped from train to street car to bus- We were able to meet SO many different people. I think I am going to start a list of all the people I've met from different countries, (Tibet, Jamaica, Africa, Jordan, Portugal, Brazil etc). I am amazed at what miracles God works in our lives when we open our mouths. While I was on the Bus I felt impressed to go and sit by an old black guy, we talked for a little bit, but as soon as I said I was a missionary he put his hands up and shook his head, saying he was a muslim. I decided right then I could either be discouraged or encouraged. I decided to keep talking to him. The lady across from us joined the conversation and we discussed what faith was and how we get answers to prayers. I pulled out the book of mormon and read Moroni 10:3-5 and explained the purpose of the Book of Mormon. Then this man that I had sat next to after rejecting the idea asked me if he could have my book, and gave me his adress and number so that we can go visit him!!!! I got off that bus and jumped up and down I was so excited!!!! I think Sister Williams might have been a little bit emberassed!

This week people have just come up to us and asked us what we are doing here- what an amazing opportunity to share the Gospel. Heavenly Father helps us use every opportunity to teach, whether it is getting lost in Germany or having a broken bathroom. We had a plumber come over this morning because our water wasn't draining in our old apartment. As I was trying to remember what the German word was for pipe, he asked me about my badge. Then right there in that tiny little bathroom, I taught the first lesson to that old german plumber. Man... I can't even describe it. But being here in Germany has made me happier than I have ever been in my whole life.
It has been a great week, and I am excited to see what this next week brings
I love you all! thank you for you support and prayers!
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

In front of a cool church!

Our cute bedroom

My cute apartment and my even cuter companion!

Making dinner ourselves on a night that we weren't invited
to eat with members.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Stand-in Twin for the Day!

Quote of the week... "Sister Shurts thank goodness you speak German!"
I'm in Herne now!! I can't believe that I'm already in a new area- but we all met at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station) that was a crazy adventure in and of itself- Sister Petersen and I had to carry 6 heavy pieces of luggage down 4 flights of stairs across the city of wetzlar up a crooked cobblestone ramp and then the Bahnhof all while rushing to catch a train!! my fingers and arms almost fell off I was SO tired! Once we got there I met my new companion Sister Williams!! She has only been out one transfer longer than me and just barely finished her training and those were the first words she said to me "Sister Shurts thank goodness you speak German!" haha- and what she has continued with all week! Our new little apartment is SOO much nicer (and cuter) than the one in Wetzlar!! I walked in and could turn around in a full circle and not hit anything!! haha But I really like it, it imediatly felt like home having a real desk to study at is nice too. Our first couple days were a little bit hectic but they are starting to calm down now.
20!!! wow that is wierd to think about- I have to admit it was really hard to wake up and not give my twin a hug, and share the moment with her. I can't believe that this is the first time in 20 years that we havn't shared this day together! On Sunday Sister Williams and I rode our bikes to church (now that makes me feel like a real sister missionary!) and then we stood at the entrance and welcomed the members. There was a cute girl who walked in and Sister Williams ran and gave her a hug and whispered something in her ear- then this girl (Alena) ran up to me and gave me a hug and shouted, "Sister! its my birthday too!!! we can be twins today!!!" After that she ran around all through church announcing that the new sister Missionary was her twin haha- it was quite funny to watch- her family was super sweet and invited us over for cake that evening. Although it wasn't the same as having Kiana there Alena was very sweet about making me feel at home.
During Church I was asked to share my Testimony on the spot (I still havn't quite gotten used to that haha) I stood up and as I was walking to the front I looked at all the people in the ward, Herne is one of the oldest Mormon congregations in Germany- I could see their belief and love for the gospel of Jesus Christ in their eyes- I am so excited to be a part of it!
I know that this church is true- I have felt it in my heart- I had a coach who told me once, that if I give him 100% then I will be amazed at the progess I make! Heavenly Father is like our coach- he knows what is best for us- He wants us to give him our all, and he will mold us and shape us into better people. If we give ourselves to Heavenly Father and his gospel 100% I know that he will work miracles through our hands. Although it is hard being away from my Twin Sister and family i would never trade this experience to be home with them right now. There is something special about being a missionary- something that makes me feel like I am part of something bigger- I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and I am so proud to labor here in Germany in his name!
from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary
Sister Shurts

Missing my twin on my birthday!! Happy Birthday, Kiana!

Saying goodbye to Sister Petersen

Sister Petersen and I had to get all this luggage to the train station.

Saying bye to Sis. Blackhurst

My new companion in Herne, Sister Williams. 

Me, in heaven!! A store full of Playmobils!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Say What???

Well... sometimes as soon as you start getting comfortable life sweeps the rug out from under your feet. Sister Blackhurst and I were just settling in getting ready for this next transfer when we got a phone call from President Stoddard. I just watched Sister Blackhurst as she took the call- and she looked at me and her mouth dropped and then she mouthed 'your getting transfered!' .... WHAT?! I freaked out- because as a new missionary you normally spend 12 weeks in training with your trainer and I've only been here for half of that! Heavenly Father must have something else in mind for Sister Blackhurst and me. I'm getting transfered to Herne- I have no idea what the area is like or who my companion will be or anything! (It'll be a way fun adventure:)

It is sad to say goodbye to Wetzlar- I have grown to love the ward and the people here so much even though it has been for only one transfer. I was talking to my companion about it, and she said something that made me feel a little better- she said that it is better to leave an area sad, because then you know that you have put your heart into it and given it your all, then to be happy to leave. As I reflected on that I realized how true it was, the people we have worked with these past 7 weeks have progressed so much and have come so much closer to the savior. Yesterday we had Tina and Diana and her son Jamie and church! :) I was so happy to see them there. Diana decided not to go to a family brunch to come which was a big sacrifice for her, but she said that she felt like she needed to come if she wanted to get baptized. I am so excited for her- even if I won't be here for it.

Next week will be full of new adventures, and new experiences! I'm excited to see what Herne will bring! :)

Braunfels Castle

Farewell Interview with Wolfgang

Braunfels Castle

Found a huge "Benjamin Bluemchen" doll in shop window.
One of my favorite German childhood cartoon characters.

Bishop Meiser and his wife

My first Schnitzel