Monday, February 29, 2016

Over and Out. :)

Wow, this is a really weird feeling. I have been packing today and getting a lot of things ready to go. I wanted to share one last thought that I learned this morning as I was studying. I was reading in Luke 24:13-35, which is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. I was thinking a lot about their journey and how it can be a analogy for many of our "journey" For me it was my mission. I feel like I have been walking along this road and have been talking with a stranger and learning so much. And that I am just now realizing just how much I have felt the spirit and the peace from Jesus Christ. There are many many things that I have learned since leaving for my mission. Patience being probably like number one. ;) 
I was able to bear my testimony in church on Sunday and I think one of the things that struck me most as I was standing up there is just the beauty and simplicity of the gospel. We dont have to know every little detail or every little scripture- we should always keep studying and learning more, but sometimes we need to be like nephi and say, "I know that he loveth is children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1 nephi 11:17)

It was so hard to say goodbye to Elias and Vahid and Mohammad, I have learned so much from them. I have been thinking a lot about all the different people that I have met on my mission and how it has impacted me and changed me. I would list them all but then I would start crying again... so I wont.  
Im done with my mission, and I have changed a lot- I am for sure not the same Michaela that left 18 months ago- But I am also not done learning and changing. Life is full of surprises and also full of beauty. I am so thankful for every moment, the tears and the laughter. Im glad that it is that way. 

Every day may not be good, But there is something good in every day. 

I love you all and I cant wait to see you soon!!
mit einem Herz voll Liebe

Sister Shurts! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

We all connect on our broken edges.

"We all connect on our broken edges." 
I think that was the quote of the week. This week I went on a special-president-approved-split with Sister Leimer. A member in the Frankfurt ward who has been very active in helping us teach our New Converts from Iran- We picked up two other ladies and drove for an hour and a half to a refugee tent camp in Limburg. Once there we hopped out of the car and we walked through the gate into the camp. We were not allowed to go back into their living quarters but there was a big tent where they could come and do German classes and let the children play. They just stay here in the cold/rain-slush-snow and wait to see where they will be assigned next. We walked further in and started setting up some tables to do some German study and also to help the kids water color. 

As soon as I sat down and got the water colors out the little children flocked to me. Most of them come from Afghanistan, Iran and Serbia, there were toddlers and also teenagers. But everyone was so desperate for something to do. It was a tender moment to sit there and watch the children. I would walk around and help them color- point out the colors in German, and also draw things for them to paint. Little girls and boys would come running up to me to show me their little master pieces. All they really wanted was someone to tell them that they were special that they did a good job. I would kneel down and smile and just dote over their paintings. And they would smile and run back to their mothers just glowing. It is amazing how none of us could communicate linguistically but through smiles and lots of miming and a little bit of broken English we were able to communicate. I was struck with the desperate situation of many of these people- and how many of them were still smiling. A young man told me about his journey coming here to Germany. They packed all their belongings into a couple bags and began to walk for many many kilometers, in order to get here 50 people pilled into an inflatable boat as they traveled towards Greece. In the middle of the sea the boat began to loose air- so they had to throw all their belongings overboard. And it almost came to the point where all the women and children were going to gather in the middle of the boat and the men swim along side. 
There was one moment where I was just standing at the edge of the tent watching when I was just overcome with a feeling of love. The tent was SO loud- you could hardly hear yourself think. There were tables set up with german teachers. There were people playing ping pong, there was a long table of children glued to their art projects. Even adults who were sitting there coloring- some of them were so focused on their paper they didnt notice anything else around them. At that moment as I gazed at everyone in the room I just felt Gods love for each of them. And I felt that this is something that I want to do for the rest of my life. 

On the car ride home I was talking with sister Leimer about the situation of many refugees here in Germany and also how we can help. We began to talk about charity as the pure love of Christ. How only through Christ can we hope to understand the circumstances of these people- who have a complete different language and culture and upbringing. Because Christ understands them perfectly. We also talked a lot about pain, both physical and emotional and mental and how it helps us to grow and become someone better.

I have been struggling with depression for the past 4 months and that can be like a broken edge, a sharp pain. But it is that pain that helps us connect with other people who are going through the same or similar situations. Sister Leimer said that "We all connect on our broken edges" and if we try to hide what is broken inside of us then we will not be able to help others. Why pretend that we are perfect? There is no point to that. I rejoice in the fact that I am mortal- that I make mistakes, that I can sin, that I have weakness- because that shows me that Gods Plan of Salvation is in effect. That I can change and become someone better. 

Dealing with depression has been very difficult- because I always assumed I could overcome everything- that I don't need to ask anyone for help. But as the scary reality hit- and the confusion began to overwhelm me I swallowed my pride and reached out for help. I talked to my mission president and to many other people. The last three months have been a roller coaster of finding the right balance of rest and medication and therapy. But today looking back I don't want to hide my broken edges anymore because there are people out there who can benefit from knowing that someone else understands at least a little bit of what they are going through.

There were a lot of amazing moments that happened this week. And a couple of amusing moments too. 
Lets start with the amusing ones shall we? so because of the depression I have been having a really hard time sleeping. Like a couple hours a night- and this week in a sleepy coma at like 3 in the morning I thought the only logical thing to do was make toast. In the morning my companion walks into the kitchen and a couple minutes later walks out and asks, "Sister Shurts.... why is the bread in the fridge and the butter in the utensil drawer" .... I just threw my hands up and said. "It was a rough night ok!" haha

anyways this week Liz was baptized. She is an investigator that the elders have been teaching but she and I are basically sisters. She asked me to speak at her baptismal service. She has a really cool story. She met the elders on the street and the first sunday that she came to church she knew that it was right. Actually the very next day she bought a dress to wear for her baptism. 

Also this saturday I found out that someone that I contacted on the street and taught in Heidelberg got baptized!! SO that was really exciting! :) 

Basically I love you all and I can't wait to see you all in 11 DAYS!!!!!!!! GAHAHHHHAHHHHH

Sister Shurts

Monday, February 15, 2016

3rd Nephi 17:2-10

Dear Family and Friends. This week was great. It was a little bit slow- and we are working on picking the area back up but it was still full of a lot of memorable experiences. 
I can't believe how quickly this transfer is flying by. It is kind of freaking me out honestly. I am not going to lie- I am excited to come home haha :) But I really have to say though that I am torn. I really love the people here in Germany. I have honestly given them my whole heart and soul- and then some. 
This week I had my "Leavers Interview" with President Stoddard. That was so cool- we talked for like two hours. I told him about my life goals and where I want to go and where I see myself- and then asked for his advice. It was special for me to recieve advice from someone that I respect so much. 
We also had zone training this week. It was great to hear from the testimonies of all the other missionaries. I did have this wierd flashback moment though. Because my very first Zone training was actually here in this zone (full circle) and I thought about all the different goals and antipication and dreams that I had for myself. I for sure did not expect what happened to me on my mission. So many crazy experiences and crazy people. haha but I have changed in a way I never would have expected. 

This week I was able to bear my testimony to a woman on the street from Romania. She was very sweet- and said she would love to hear more about the gospel. :) we are going to go by on her tonight. 

People that we met from different countries in just one week. 
oh yeah and Germany. haha 
seriously people. It is amazing!!! 

I wanted to end with a scripture that I shared at zone training as I was able to stand and bear my testimony. It is in the 3rd book of Nephi in the Book of mormon. 
In Chapter 17, verses 2-10. 
Jesus Christ had an agenda, and things to do. As he visited among the Nephites he said that he needed to go and visit the other children. But he looked at the people- and was filled with compassion towards them and stayed. he stayed and healed them and blessed them. 
This is a lesson to me to not get so busy with agendas and to-do's that we miss a beautiful moment to simply embrace the savior and serve others.

I love you all 

Sister Shurts

Monday, January 25, 2016

Imagine If...

E and V  (not putting their names out on the internet) were baptized this week. How to even begin with that story? Picture this. You have left your family, your career, your country... Everything that is familiar to you. You spend a month traveling on foot through the desert, for a week you don't even take off your shoes, and you barely survive off the food you receive. You even go days without food and water, and then you come into a country where you can't speak the language were you stay in a gym, with sheets hung up to make makeshift private living spaces for over a hundred people. And you endured all of this because you were searching for something. Something that you were not able to find in your home country, because of dictatorship and terrorism. Now imagine that you were invited to a church service where the things taught were totally different from what you were familiar with. There you learned about a son of man, who was also the son of God. You felt the light of Christ touch your heart for the first time. You then met the sister missionaries and they began to teach you about this man, Jesus Christ and about his restored gospel. And as you read the Book of Mormon you began to feel the truth in its words. You meet other people of your same nationality who help translate the message of the restoration.
Then you decide to accept the invitation to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority. This is a huge step for you, your life will forever be different. In fact by doing this you lose one of the things that means the most to you. Your whole culture, your history, your family. You gather your courage and tell your father that you have decided to choose to follow Jesus Christ, and he then tells you that if you ever return home you are not welcome and that you would be killed. You then gather up all he faith that you can muster and trust God and decide to be baptized anyways. And it becomes one of the most beautiful and amazing moments of your life. And then you realize that this was the right path for you all along, and that God has a great plan in store for you.

I believe that God has touched the hearts of these men. There is a divine dance on the earth as we speak. And beautiful choreography of people and cultures and races... And as we dance among one another we have the chance to share this good news of the gospel with those who never would have had the chance to hear it before... The world is changing and the dance steps are picking up speed.

Liebe Grüße

Sister Shurts

Little Miracles

Well.... this week, :) where to begin?
I think I'll just cut to the chase and tell you all about our amazing investigators. 
So we are teaching 4 men from Iran who are here as refugees in a camp. They are learning the language and the gospel at the same time. I am amazed at their willingness and excitement to learn about Jesus Christ. It is dangerous for them but they have such a strong desire they are basically teaching themselves. We have been juggling lessons and translators for the past 4 weeks. And this week they are going to be baptized. 
I am really excited. It is a miracle and blessing that I did not expect. These men, have such strong faith. They are teaching me more than I am teaching them. When we taught about the laws and commandments they accepted them without hesitation. saying that if God says it is important they will follow. Their testimony of the book of mormon and Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ grows more each day.
But I think for me one of the biggest miracles is the kindness and love that the German members show them. They have been welcomed with open arms in our congregation. They have been invited over to homes, offered rides home from church, been given meals, people have been teaching them german. Seriously... I brings me to tears when I think of all the selfless love and charity that people here are showing these refugees. Of course there are always those who oppose it. But on the most part they are doing their best to follow christs example and serve the homeless, hungry, naked. 

I am excited to tell you all about the baptism next week. 
all my love

Sister Shurts

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hello again!

Well hello everyone, this is me sister shurts. Wow! It has been a while since I've written a weekly... I would apologize, but I'm not really that sorry sooooo.... Yeah. :) life has been an interesting roller coaster of transition for me... I am actually still trying to decide how much I am going to write in this letter. Meh! We'll see what happens!
Anyways, my life. So I am in Friedrichsdorf now, and I am about a 6 minute walk away from the temple which is awesome.... Except that it is closed for renovation. But hey that is cool, I'm not bitter- ;) actually a lot of people ask us questions about what kind of construction is going on- and that opens a lot of doors to sharing the gospel.
My companions name is sister Meyer. She is awesome- from California and this is her second area on her mission. We have already had quite a few adventures together, which include but are not limited to...
Getting stuck in a tram underground in Frankfurt, being invited to an African over 21 party, ugly dancing in the apartment, opening Christmas presents, and burning countless meals... Yep. Life is a party.

We have had a lot of miracles happen though as we have served together this month. One of the biggest of those is that we have been teaching some of the most amazing people. 3-4 men from Iran. Who came here to Germany for religious freedom, who are look for God, and have found him through the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. :) they have their baptism scheduled on the 23rd of January! I am so excited for them. I am also learning a little bit of Persian on the side!
Other cool thing that happened,  So we take trains trams and busses everywhere in Germany... and they fall out a lot. Like it is ridiculous... And except for zone leaders no one has a car... So it is pretty easy to get stranded at a train station for a solid 2 hours.
Anyways... During one of these incidents we decided to go out and door a neighborhood near by, and my whole mission I have had a silly little  tick of knocking on yellow houses.  Even if it is super inconvenient, haha my companions love me ;) but it has to be a certain shade of yellow. Anyways... I saw this yellow house and I was like, oh yes! So we knocked... Nothing happened, started to walk away, then someone called out- and this German lady invited us in, and then her husband walked in! And then her daughter. and they are all super interested in learning about the gospel! :)

Anyways! Hope you all have a good week. I would appreciate your prayers :) Love Sister Shurts