Monday, March 30, 2015

Because He Lives!!!

It seems only fitting that preceeding the week where we celebrate the greatest miracle that occured on the earth, namely the resurection of Jesus the Christ, I seem to have found myself in the midst of miracles here in Herne. This week we have been meeting with all the people we ahve been teaching and they have all made so much progress. Frau Hellhammer keeps us both on our toes by asking so many questions, Familie Ciu Ciu is doing good, they are waiting to see when their daughter can join them from Romania- so that they can all be baptized as a family.
Specifically we met with Besmir, a man from Albania and taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ- as we spoke with him Sister Davis invited him to be baptized on the 18th of April and after pondering for a moment, he said yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOLKS!!! Including the Elders investigators thats like 10 baptismal dates in Herne ALONE!!!!!!! :D :D :D
We had such a fun week! Sister Davis and I got caught in a thunder rain storm, but we avoided most of it by sitting in an old bus stop, and singing our favorite songs from the Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof! We also blew out eggs and tried to dye them red with old beet juice... yep, it was an epic fail- we just ended up with smelly eggs. 

I wanted to share a small moment that happened to me on the bus this week:
Sister Davis and I were sitting on the Bus when a mentally disabled woman got on the bus as well- I had spoken to her already several times and we fell easily into conversation. We didn't talk about much, just the weather and our Easter Plans- when a woman from behind me touched my shoulder and as I turned around she looked at me and said, that she was completly fascinated, she had known this handicapped woman for almost 25 years and had never heard her speak or had a conversation with her. I was surprised but, managed to say something like, It's not so hard, we just need to take the first step. Both women got off at the same stop and as I turned to look out the window I saw the woman turn and speak to the handicapped lady- with a smile on her face they began to walk down the street together. That was such a small little act, but it made such a big difference- to think that now those two women will no longer be strangers but have taken the first step to becoming friends.

This is the new Easter Video that the church has produced for Easter- I would like to challenge you all to watch it and share it with someone this week who needs to hear the message of hope that the gospel brings.
Liebe Grüße

Sister Shurts
playing a game with Familie Ciu Ciu 

Our little easter Tree 

A rainy day in Hattingen 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof! or is it?

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof... this is a well known idiom in German that translates into "Life is not a Pony Farm" or as Americans would say, "Life ain't a bed of roses" basically it isn't easy- This week I would beg to differ- well at least after a lot of hard work- it can be very rewarding.

2 weeks left in this transfer aaaand we just set another Baptismal Date!!! :) That’s right folks... remember that last family we started meeting with- the ones with the epic last name? Familie Hellhammer? yep! this week we met with them aaand SET ANOTHER BAPTISMAL DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D Oh people! AHHHHH this is seriously so awesome and amazing and I can't handle my life! like at all... like really. :) We sat down and taught the first lesson with her- and she was all over it. She had read everything that we had given her. She had questions and wants to learn more and just ate everything up. I invited her to be baptized on April 18th and she said yes! :) She has been through soo much in her life she just needs the comfort the gospel brings. We were giving her a tour of the church building and another member was there as we were showing her around. The member asked us- Sisters, when is the next baptism in our ward? and Frau Hellhammer raised her hand and announced "I am! on the 18th of April!" haha as you can tell she is kind of excited
One day this week as we were waiting for our bus, we talked to this old lady, she was all dressed up and ready to go "wandern" (hiking) and she eventually sat down next to us and just talked about her life. At one point she was about to leave and realized that she had just talked about a lot of personal things with us. She started to apologize and didn't want us to think that she was just chatting. But that everything she said was honest and precious. I grabbed her hand, looked her in the eye and told her that I treasured every word that she spoke, and that every story that I hear has an impact on me. I was surprised by how much I really meant it.  I've thought about all the people that I have come in contact with here in Herne and how so often they each seem to offer a story of gold, a pearl of their faith,- so willingly and so readily. And I now have this treasure that doesn't even belong to me! A collection of emotions, a woman’s sorrow for a wayward son, a man’s passion of Jesus Christ, a child’s laugh looking up at me, a wrinkled old ladies weary smile as she told me, "Es gibt immer etwas dass Freude bringt" (there is always something that brings joy) I've prayed with students on a train as they nervously prepare for exams, I've hugged complete strangers, I've befriended those who had no one. And they have given me so much more in return. I used to think it was something about me that made people share their stories… but the more I have thought about it the more I have realized that it is because I am a representative of Jesus Christ. There is nothing special about me, on the contrary- it is the message of hope that we bring that catches people’s attention.  If this is not the greatest treasure I don't know what is.
Liebe Grüße
Sister Shurts

From the scribbled notes of a sister missionary
some important advice from the land of Germany... translation: "life is not a pony farm" 

Sister Davis and I meet the Essen Sisters at Zone Conference

Sister Davis and I at a bus stop- and my cute new scarf (thanks mom!)

Cicero (our Brazilian investigator) and I after a lesson

Monday, March 16, 2015

That moment your investigator beats you to the punch line and asks to get baptized…

Dear Friends and Family,
This week was a roller coaster ride.  We met with Familie Ciu Ciu a couple times this week and during one of our lessons with them we felt impressed to talk about covenants instead of what we had planned. We started talking about the importance of families and how through promises or covenants with God we can be sealed together as a family forever. We were leading the conversation to the point where we were going to ask them if they would prepare to be baptized and then Schwester Ciu Ciu interrupted us and said, (translating for her husband) “So my husband wants to get baptized but he wants to know what he still needs to do to prepare himself” … And sister Davis and I are just sitting there like… uhhh haha ok!  I just felt so happy, as I looked at the family- each little brunette and their bright brown eyes looking up at us- I felt such an overwhelming love for each of them. Little Adrian (8) was sitting right next to me and I had my arm around him and was showing him the pictures in the book of mormon. Loridanna (11) was asking questions about the Holy Ghost,  little Larissa (6) was playing with my scarf, and Vanessa (3) was snoring on the couch behind me. Our ward doesn’t have any primary kids… so it has been over 5 months since I have been able to be around little people. And if anyone knows me even a little bit- they know just how much I love being around my siblings- and it was just so special for me to be able to sit and teach them the most important thing that they can learn in this life. What they need to do to be a family forever. We set the date for April 18th- we are hoping that their other daughter, Fernanda (9) will be able to make it to Germany before then. She is in Romania right now with her Grandmother. But I have a lot of faith that God will cause miracles to happen to help this family enter into his fold.
On top of that miracle Sister Davis and I started teaching ANOTHER FAMILY!!! This is Familie Hellhammer- a mother with three young kids. She is so amazing and just wants to feel like she belongs somewhere. We sat down and taught her about the restoration… but then all of a sudden in the middle of the lesson I got the feeling to talk about baptism- which wasn’t in our plan at all… I still don’t really know how that happened, but before I knew it I had asked her if she would be baptized and she said that she can defiantly see herself doing that. She is just so hungry for knowledge about God and Jesus and her purpose here on the Earth. It taught me a lot about how precious what we know truly is; and that we should never take it for granted.
This week was full of canceled appointments and missed buses! Oh my word! Thursday was the worst! Haha We missed so many trains and busses and ended up going the complete wrong direction and talked to creepy people and then missed another train, which left us waiting in the cold for an hour which made us get home soo late we had to call the mission president… haha but- it also involved me teaching sister davis how to waltz at a bus stop! (I knew all those years of dance would be helpful for something!)

I was talking to a young man in our ward. His name in Lucas and he was baptized just over a year ago. He always comes up to me and says, “Sister Shurts! Sister Shurts! I have an important question!!” So naturally I sat down next to him, and this time he asked me- why I came on a mission… wow—haha what a question. I told him that I had always wanted to serve a mission- but I only realized why once I got out here. Because of the Joy. I told him at home I was a happy person, I was social and loved to be around people and smiled and laughed. But I also said, that I have never been as happy as I have been out here. It is a different kind of joy; an overflowing sensation that comes when your happiness stems from your love for other people. It is deeper and more real. That’s why Lucas- because I can see the joy I have for this Gospel reflecting in the eyes of those I teach.

I love you all
Liebe Grüße
Sister Shurts

From the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

My split with Sister Parker- under some awkward statue on D-Berg

Kandra's birthday cakes in Germany

Happy Birthday Kandra! Sister Davis and I had a party for you!! :)

Familie Ciu Ciu - Oh my Goodness I love these people so much!!! 

Sister Davis with Familie Ciu Ciu

Rosie from the Lebens Hilfe

Hanne Laura from the Lebens Hilfe... this little lady is my absolute most favorite person ever..
check out that adorable smile! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

A whole family plus cousins and friends at church? Don't mind if I do!

Quote of the week:
"Sister! I am just so darn happy right now that if I were a marshmellow cloud in the sky I would eat myself!" ... yes... what you say when it is super late and you just had the most wonderful day. :) To be more specific this sunday was one of the happiest days of my life. I was able to see so many miracles happen. The week started off a little bit rough-  Sister Davis was sick and a little bit down emotionaly as well. But even with those hurdles we were able to see miracles happen this week.

We went early Sunday Morning to pick up Laura Ciu Ciu and her daughter for church- she had told us before that her husband was not interested. But when we got there her husband and 3 more of her kids and some cousins had decided to come as well!! We walked into church and everyone was sooo warm and welcoming and perfect. (on top of that Besmir our other investigator came as well!) During Fast and Testimony meeting the Bishop got up and bore his testimony and said that he had been fervently praying for over a year that we would have a new family in the ward (because everyone is much older) and he looked right at Familie Ciu Ciu and with tears in his eyes told them over the pulpit that they were an answer to his prayer and he said that he hopes they will come often and always feel welcome. I heard Laura Ciu Ciu whisper "Ja, dass machen wir gerne" as you can imagine my heart just exploded. Then the most beautiful moment came when another brother got up to bear his testimony. He said he remembered being in England as Laura Ciu Ciu was baptized and how he was the Elders Quorum President there, how he knew her mother and father and how all the children would come in their old van and pile out dark eyes shining. He bore testimony of how the Lord cares so much for each of his children that he sent the missionaries to England and then to Romania and then to her here in Germany. He then said that hopefully now that she is here she will want to give her children and family the opportunity to be baptized as well, and sitting behind Laura I heard her say once again "Ja, bestimmt". I was so happy I want to laugh and cry at the same time! Then after Sacrament our Bishop asked the family to come into his office with us. I sat there and watched the presiding priesthood holder of this ward work miracles. He sat there and his eyes sparkling asked the mother and father if they needed anything; and then proceeded to arrange for a job, food, and travel. Walking home Laura told me that one of her daughters is still in Romania but that once she gets here in April she would like all her children to be baptized. I wanted to fall to my knees right there and praise God with thanksgiving. What a blessing, what a family, what a miracle! I will forever remember this family- and the way that they have touched my heart.
So you could say I'm a happy camper. This week I was studying a lot about faith and I came across a scripture that carried me through the week,
Mormon 9:21 "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth"
God loves us all so much and cares so much about each of us. If we will but ask him in faith- doubting nothing. Trusting that God will fulfill the promises that he has made then nothing is impossible. I've decided that when it comes to doing the Lords work here in Germany- the only thing that is impossible is the idea of impossibilty as long as we put our faith in Jesus Christ.
Liebe Grüße
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

Monday, March 2, 2015

Count Your Many Blessings

Dear wonderful everybody! :) My week has been crazy! It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs that is for sure. As I have thought back on this week and actually on the whole last 2 or 3 transfers I have noticed how almost every time we have a set- whether it is someone canceling an appointment or saying they don’t want to meet anymore, Heavenly Father waits for us to keep going and to show our faith… it’s almost as if he is just waiting for us to come to him and say, “Alright God, I don’t know what to do anymore, and I need your help” and then he sends down blessings that outweigh the disappointments by miles. This week we meet a family… let me rephrase.. THIS WEEK WE MET A FAMILY THAT LET US IN AND WANTS TO KNOW MORE AND THEN ASKED US IF WE COULD COME OVER TWO OR THREE TIMES A WEEK TO TEACH THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AHHHHHHHHHHH :D If any of you know my excited face- please picture it now… because it is pretty dang happy.

On top of that we found another new investigator- an Albanian man named Besmir who has already met with us 3 times this week! And he came to stake conference! It was supposed to start at 19:00 and at exactly 19 we got a call from him and he was all like, I am here! and we're like WHAT? WHERE? So we sprinted all the way back to the train station, and met him and then ran all the way back, and got there just barely in time to run up for the choir that we were in. haha I just remember laughing and turning around as we were running and thinking- wow, I love being a missionary- here in am in Dortmund, meeting a strange Albanian man at a train station and running down the street to get to a fire side that we are singing in so that he can feel the spirit and then get baptized... what a life.
I am praying and hoping that I will be able to teach them in a way that will touch their hearts; that they will come to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior. I just can’t express in words how much happiness this work gives me. It truly is the greatest work anyone can be involved in. Whether you are a missionary with a name tag or not- bringing people closer to Christ brings so much joy it is beyond comprehension.

Side note: This week I talked to a pirate. At least he looked like a pirate- I shall name him Captain Hook for convenience.
Anyways- I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers and support

Liebe Grüße
Sister Shurts

From the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

Such an awesome postcard

District all eating sushi together on our last P-day. All I had was some juice.