Monday, May 25, 2015

Goodbyes and Hellos

Well everybody I seem to have just landed myself in a little piece of paradise. It is so beautiful- I have been glued to the window all day. My first day here in Heidelberg we went running to a castle- that's right folks... A castle!!! Our apartment is in the old part of the city right on the banks of the Necker river. We are sitting among beautiful green hills dotted with classic German houses and ivy

This week was full of saying goodbyes and then a lot of hellos. The hardest goodbye was probably on Wednesday. It was the funeral for Barbara Quada and her daughter. That was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Sister Davis and the the elders and I were asked to sing
the first song at the funeral. We decided to sing, "I know that my Redeemer lives" elder stout played a beautiful rendition of it on the piano while we sang. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The chapel was full all the way to the back of the cultural hall- and the spirit that was there was so beautiful and special. I know that a lot of people were hurting and needed to feel the comfort of their Heavenly Father. As we sang I looked out and watched the eyes glistening with tears. And I know that they were feeling comforted.

This week I also said goodbye to Besmir and Familie Ciu Ciu- it was hard to say goodbye, but it was also fun to see how much they have grown. Besmir told me, "without you sister Shurts... I never would have found the church- or made any of these changes in my life" Saying goodbye to Herne was so hard. I can't even put it into words. I will remember these people for the rest of my life. They have made such an impact on me and changed me for the better.
On Thursday morning I said Goodbye to Sister Davis and headed down to Frankfurt- where we all gathered and then caught another train all the way to mannheim, where we caught another train all the way to Heidelberg were we took a strassen bahn and a bus to get home.... and all that with ALL my luggage.... my arms are soooo sore!!! Sister Wahlquist is my new companion! She is so sweet. I can tell that we are going to get along just fine. She is from Idaho, and has a German mother- so her German is great too. We both made a goal to ONLY speak German! It is a really hard goal. But completely doable. We already have a lot of goals and ideas planned for this next transfer. We had our Mission Leadership Council on Friday. Which was really inspirational amazing. I was impressed at the desire that each person there had to serve the Lord.
So far I love Heidelberg. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for me here.

Sister Shurts

ps. I have an Ipad!
Bruder Riebe and Me

Bruder and Schwester Tewes and Me

Schwester Doering me and Tante Inge

Goodbye HERNE!!!

Thats a castle... right next to my apartment... yeah

Sister Wahlquist and me

Monday, May 18, 2015

Von Herne nach Heidelberg!

Well everybody after 7 months in one area I am being transferred this week to the other end of the mission. I am so torn- I am going to miss sister Davis and this ward so much. On Sunday I bore my testimony to our ward and as I was standing there it hit me just how much I love them all. yep I cried. All four of us missionaries sang "High on a Mountain Top" Looking out at the congregation as we sang- my heart was so full. Each of them has taken me in and loved me, and their testimonies have strengthened mine. After church most of the ward members came up to me to give me hugs and wish me well.
I am very humbled though as I prepare myself to go to Heidelberg- President has called me as a Sister Training Leader. So I will be helping and going on splits with sisters in both the Heidelberg zone and the K-Town zone. Honestly I know I will be learning the most from the sisters there- and that they will lift me up- every missionary is such an amazing example to me. Can't wait to experience this new place.

You all remember Sister Williams? haha my half mom (half trainer!) I get to go on splits with her! I am so excited to see her again. We had such a great time together here in Herne- she is an amazing missionary and a great friend! I also will be able to go on splits with Sister Helmick- (from our dear old Dairy Creek ward!) Basically this is a dream come true. :)

Oh this is a great story! Ok so this week on our way home from our split I was talking to a cute old couple on a Bahn (train). And I was asking them about where they were from and what their favorite part was about living in Germany. I then told them about the amazing work that I get to do here in Germany and how I get to work with people and bring them closer to Christ. I guess I was getting a little excited (which is of course completely out of character ;)  because all of a sudden at the next stop a lady stood up to get off and interrupted our conversation and in some not very nice German words told me to be quiet and that no one wants to hear about my religion! I just kind of stared at her a little shocked as did the couple I was talking to. When a man in front of her said, "may I ask you a question? are you afraid of something?" She shook her head mumbled something and hurried off the train. The young man then sat next to me- and started talking to me about our Church- and then the people across the isle from us joined in. What started as a small conversation became a large discussion! It was so cool to see how that lady's plan to stop us from talking about the gospel actually backfired and all of a sudden the people taking part in the conversation tripled. Heavenly Father has a way of blocking all of Satan's attacks! *mic drop*

I have thought a lot about Leadership and Service all week. We are all in essence servants of the Lord- In Doctrine and Covenants 50:26 it says, "He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest not withstanding he is the least and the servant of all"

I feel pretty overwhelmed to have this calling but I know that the Lord will help me to know how to strengthen the sisters that I will be working with. A little later in the Doctrine and Covenants it says, "I called you servants for the world's sake, and ye are their servants for my sake" (D&C 93:46) The entire purpose of any calling is to serve- regardless of what we have been called to do. We are here to serve for our Savior Jesus Christ. For his sake. I bore testimony on Sunday that I believe the greatest fulfillment and joy comes from serving, when we turn away from ourselves to seek to lift others. As President Hinkley said, "The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired"
Goodbye Herne
Liebe Grüße
Sister Shurts

from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary

FYI: About Sister Training Leaders from Mormon Newroom:

The role of sister training leader has been created as more female missionaries serve in missions around the world. Sister training leaders will be responsible for the training and welfare of female missionaries assigned to them and will be members of and participate in, the new mission leadership council. Assistants to the president and zone leaders will also participate in the council, and those roles will remain unchanged. Missions will continue to be organized by zones and districts, with district leaders being responsible for baptismal interviews, but the mission leadership council will replace the zone leader council.
Sister training leaders will continue to proselytize and will also spend time each week training and evaluating the needs of female missionaries. They will report directly to the mission president on the needs of sister missionaries. Additionally, the wives of mission presidents are now being asked to play an enhanced role in training and caring for sister missionaries, subject to their individual and family circumstances.

Saying goodbye to Schwester Mitschke
This is a traveling bar outside our apartment... you're welcome

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wir Sind Zehn!

Wir sind Zehn!
That was my favorite quote of the week. Yesterday I got to skype my family. Oh my word... I thought it was hard waiting for christmas when I was little- this is nothing in comparison! I sat there and watched the clock tick by all day long. It was so fun to see everyone, and it reminded me once again why I am on a mission. As I saw all their faces and spoke with them- I thought about just how much I miss each and every one of them. In fact I talk about them all the time- when we are on subways or busses or trains, and usually the person asks, "well, don't you miss them" and I always answer. Well of course! But I see my family, and I see what has made us so close. And that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it makes it so much easier to be away from home with the knowledge that I can give that joy to another family.
The rest of this week was also full of miracles. After a month of not being able to contact one of our investigators, Frau Hellhammer. We had the thought to try again. We had first wanted to drop off flowers by a lady who had a birthday today...but she wasn't home. So we decided to bring the flowers to Frau Hellhammer... and so we klingled... and the door buzzed open!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I was so nervous and my heart was pounding so loud! We stood there for a second pretty awkward and then she let us in and we sat down and started talking to her. Pretty quickly we realized that she had just been really busy lately, and that her life has been crazy... (too busy for your baptism? haha oh well, I can't judge) We could have just sat down, given a thought and left. But I looked around and the Spirit prompted me that the best lesson we could teach today was one of service. So I rolled up my sleeves and asked here where I should start cleaning. She was SO grateful for the help! So we spent the next hour vacuming, cleaning, folding laundry and listening to black gospel music! haha I was so happy as we walked out that door, that I shed tears of joy. I know that God has heard the many prayers that I have prayed for her in the last 4 weeks! God cares about each and every one of his children.

At the end of my skype call I asked my family to sing "Wo die Liebe Wohnt" which is when there's love at home in English. Listening to them sing that brought tears of joy to my eyes. I am so grateful for a loving parents who have taught me by their example and testimony. When we choose to love those around us, we can have peace in our hearts and joy in our eyes! 

Split pic! Sister Haywood and me

pic of the Ruhrpott Geschichte night.

Us at our Family Home Evening at the Church- celebrating Sister Davis' birthday!

Me Elder Stout and Besmir

Second Pic has Bruder Gollnick and Schwester luczyk and Schwester Allsweh.

Our FHE group as well as the cakes.

Gemeinde Essen!

Monday, May 4, 2015

All is Well!

One more week till I get to see your faces!!!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I'm just a little bit excited. Like my planner has the 10th of May colored in neon pink and yellow and orange.... hehe It'll be awesome.
I had the coolest experience on Sunday. Sister Davis and I decided to go out and go by on people- but then I had the thought to do some Bahn Contacting… which doesn’t make any sense- because in Germany no one rides the bahns on Sunday. We walked down to the U-Bahn, and there was one lady with a stroller. So I was like ok, that limits my options. So we started talking to her- hopped the next bahn and I talked to her for the next 20 minutes. She started by asking us if we were Jehovahs witnesses and I said “Nope, we’re mormons!” and she just laughed and asked what a mormon was, so I was able to explain to her a little bit about what we believe. But I had the thought to start talking about the importance of family in our church. And how we believe that we can be with our families forever. She got really quiet as she was thinking about that, and then said that she had 6 children! Im sorry… BUT SIX KIDS IN GERMANY!!!????? That is insane!! Like soooo out of the ordinary. Here 3 kids is a lot. So we got her number and are planning on calling her in the morning. Cannot wait to baptize them! :)

This week was better than last week. Everyday has brought a little bit more peace into my heart. We were able to visit a lot of members this week and teach about the power of the atonement. On Monday we taught Family Home Evening with a little group at the church. We have done this every week for 7 months, and the group has always included Schwester Quada. This was the first time that we would be teaching knowing that she would never be there again. I stressed about it all day.
I wanted to share something that would really help, and I really wanted the spirit to be there. I was talking to Elder Stout about stuff and tried to talk my lesson through with him. He gave me some good ideas- but then said, "Sister Shurts, it's also important not to think too much about it, because if your are trying to remember all the little things to say, you might forget the spirit." That was an important lesson for me to learn, and it is actually how I started the lesson. And I was amazed at the spirit that was there. I don't think I taught any of that lesson even though I had prepared it. Each person shared such beautiful testimonies and thoughts about how they are comforted through Christ. We also read the words from the song "Come, Come Ye Saints" and then listened to the Tabernacle Choir sing it. That was so powerful it was absolutly beautiful. Just like the early day Pioneers we are like saints on our own journey west- though at times it will be hard, when we trust in our Heavenly Father we can sing "All is well"

I know that when we trust in our Heavenly Father that all will be well.
All my love

Sister Shurts
from the scribbled notes of a sister missionary
A beautiful "Schloss" in Gelsenkirchen

Our district- playing cards for P-Day

Chrom Away... Sister Davis always carries finger nail polish remover in her bag along with cotton pads- to wipe away graffitti! BAHAHA cleaning up herne one wipe at a time! 

Sister Davis and I, getting ready for church 

Us and the Ciu Ciu Family- Basically our favorite people

Pictures with of last weeks mission conference with Elder Bednar.

That's me on the second row in a white sweater standing out in a sea of dark suits.