Wednesday, September 28, 2016

So Long, Stadthagen! (Week 36)

Walking out to Claire's on Monday (Claire is the Taiwanese sister)

Tausch with sister Harger

Tausch with sister Harger at the Schloss

Rittersport stairs at Hannover hbf (ft funny guy at the top)
Hello Family,

As a zone, we've been doing this thing where one companionship has a day where everyone prays for them to find people to teach, and this week was our day. We had planned to bike out to a lady's house, but one of our bike chains had popped off. So we ditched the bikes and started walking. Apparently going to that lady was not God's plan for our day, because Sister Koch got pooped on by a bird. (I got a good laugh and told her your story, Dad. And then I was on the lookout all day for the karma bird, but he never showed up.) [Here's the poem: Birdie Birdie in the Sky, dropped a turdie in my eye. I don't fret and  I don't cry, I'm just glad that COWS don't fly]
Birdy birds in the sky...
We got a return appointment with a man (Herr Dohne) who had met with elders in the past, and klingled a million people. We had a cool conversation with a young mother and gave her a Book of Mormon. We also fasted, and walked Stadthagen all day, so by dinner time, we were exhausted. Thankfully, we had an essen termin with a lady in our ward who is a amazing cook. It was a good day of hard work, and I felt good because we did our part the entire day long. It was cool, because the next day, I was looking through our area book and found a lady who we had gone by on. I called her and she was super sweet. She had moved to another apartment in Stadthagen, but she had seen us around and said she would say "hi" next time she saw us. Not one hour later, as we were walking down the street, a lady pulled over, jumped out of the car and ran up to us. It was her! Super cool. She is really cool and has a friend that is a member, so we are excited to hopefully get to work with her.

We had out termin with Herr Dohne. We brought an awesome sister in our ward and taught the first lesson. The spirit was there, and he understood everything intellectually, but not spiritually. We asked him to pray and he told us at the end that it was interesting to meet with us, but he doesn't want to meet again and doesn't feel like he needs a relationship with God. For a while, I felt bad because I thought that maybe I hadn't explained well enough why it is important to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father, but the spirit was there and we bore our testimonies, but he had the choice and he chose not to. And that is how things go sometimes.

We did have an appointment with Herr Nicola. He also came to church, which was great because it was my last Sunday so I got to say goodbye.He was busy and didn't read the Book of Mormon this week, so we recommitted him to read and pray. In a few weeks, he's going to Romania for a month. So we found the branch in his area and it's only 30 minutes from his house! He drives about an hour to get to church here, so that's a blessing. And we'll make sure the missionaries there know that he's coming and he'll get to hear the gospel in his Heimat and in his muttersprache.

We had Tausch this week, so Sister Koch went to Hannover and Sister Harger came to Stadthagen for a day. Tausch is always fun. Unfortunately, we had no appointments, so  that meant a lot of finding. Friday night, we went by on a Taiwanese sister, who is new to our ward and is trying to learn German, because she told us she would be home.. But she wasn't. It was a 40 minute walk to get to her house. Haha. Saturday, we went out to Nienburg to go by on some people.. There was a giant beer festival/carnival right in the middle of Innenstadt (where we were going). It was Saturday morning, so it wasn't too crazy and there were lots of families/kids there, but I felt super uncomfortable because we are representatives of Jesus Christ and even if we weren't even there for the carnival, people didn't know that and it just didn't look good. No one was even home (because of the giant party right outside their doors).

Well.. We got our transfer calls. First of all, I hate transfers. I freak out because I don't know what will happen, then once I get my call, I stress out because I do. Then we have to coordinate everything and it is such a hassle. Hah. So, I'm going back to Altona. I felt like I was leaving, but I definitely didn't see that one coming. My new mitarbeiterin is Sister Daines, who was in my MTC group, and we are going to be STLs together. I'm super excited to go back to Altona, but it will just be really weird. Sister Koch will stay in Stadthagen and will finish a sister's training. I'm super proud of her and she will be a great trainer!

Anyways. This next week will be crazy. I'm thankful to be here, doing what the Lord wants me to and serving where he wants me to.

Sister Simpson

P.s. Food from appointments this week: super yummy Scandinavian food on Tuesday, broiled spinach and fries on Wednesday, and mashed potatoes, giant super german meatball things, and chile/tortilla chips on Sunday (we ate with 2.5 families all together after church on Sunday, so it was a weird mix of food. Also, we have received a lot of A&W root beer from members. Haha. The members always think it is super cool, but can't stand how sweet it is, so they only drink half a can. I just don't like it, so we give it away to other missionaries. 
Claire and her hausmeister, who are super awesome

There are so many dirtbikes in Stadthagen.. It's like Arco, but I have
no idea where they go ride them. Haha

Pics from the Schloss

Pics from the Schloss

Pics from the Schloss

Schw. Hegemann (aka my ward missionary role model. She is probably the
sweetest woman to walk the planet)

Apartment in Stadthagen

***This is from Lynette.  Mariah sent a bunch of pictures of their apartment in Stadthagen.  I told her this was probably the nicest apartment she'll ever live in.  For sure nicer than any poor college student apartment that she'll have in college. ;)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Schon 8 Monate! (8 Months Already!)

Elder and Sister Gill after church yesterday. We love them!

Sister Koch and I

We found a trail while in Hameln

Hello liebe Familie -

Time flies. Tomorrow I will have had this wonderful name tag on for 8 months. I love being a missionary.

On Wednesday evening, we were going to go grocery shopping with Monika for the stop smoking workshop (to buy grapefruit juice and stuff like that) but she didn't show up. And because our eating appointment fell out as well, we had a free evening. So we decided to go by on her, because her phone is broken and we hadn't heard from her all week. As we walked out there, I was praying to be led to where the Lord wants us to go. We got to her street and we saw her get out of the car and go inside. She was with a friend, so we figured we'd go by on a contact who lived nearby and stop by on the way home. When we got to the contact's house (who was a 16 year old girl who had set up an appointment with the elders and then cancelled), there was a lady In the garage. We were able to talk to her and get to know her (She's from Iraq but has lived here for most of her life). She let us sit out back and we taught her about Joseph Smith's first vision. We gave her a Book of Mormon and we read Moroni's promise with her. As soon as Sister Koch finished, she grabbed the book, folded down the corner of the page and said, "I want to read this. My heart did something as you read that." It was amazing. Her interest completely changed as she felt the spirit, and we promised her that as she read The Book of Mormon, that she would feel that again. There is power in the Book of Mormon to bring the spirit of God into our lives. It was very cool to see how everything lined up so we could be where the Lord wanted us to be. This truly is His work.

That was kind of a pattern this week; our appointment would fall out and then we would end up being able to help someone, whether that was a member, less active, or an investigator. It was very humbling to see that as we planned and tried to do what the Lord wanted us to do, we were in the right place at the right time. I am trying to rely more on the spirit as we plan, prepare and teach. We also got to work with members a lot this week because we had a ton of eating appointments. We met with a young couple who have been off their missions for a couple years and we practiced teaching with them and it was so fun. There are so many people here who I love and have learned so much from.

We went out to Hameln, a big souther city (also the origin of the Pied Piper of Hameln, hence the rats everywhere) to go by on some less actives, because there are a lot of them. We walked for forever and no one was interested. We were walking the 45 minute walk back to bahnhof and a member pulled up and invited us to dinner. We accepted, and ate dinner with their family and another man in our ward who was there. It wasn't until we got home that we realized he was also less active. So that was cool.

HERR NICOLA CAME TO CHURCH! Yesterday was literally the best day of my life, because he finally came to church and he brought a friend. Also Schwester Heumann came because she finally had work off, and so did a less active family that we've met with a few times. The Ehepaar Gills (senior missionary couple) spoke in Sacrament meeting, as well as the stake president, who is also part of our ward, so it was a super solid meeting. Sister Gill is Deutsch, so she spoke auf deustch, and Elder Gill gave a very animated talk auf englisch and had a translator. He bore his testimony in German at the end, and even though his German was not very good, you could feel the love that he has for these people and that these people have for them. And that's what is most important about this work and this gospel: love. We are here because God loves us. We can return to live with Him because Jesus Christ loves us, so much so that He carries all of our weight on His shoulders. The two greatest commandments are 1) love the Lord and 2) love thy neighbor. When we do both of those things, there will truly be peace in the world.

Herr Nicola's friend is also Romanian and doesn't speak much German, so I'm not sure how much he got from church. Our Gospel Principles class, which was supposed to be about how God is our Heavenly Father, got a little deep.. C'est la vie. They had a really good experience at church, at least Here Nicola did. In our lesson this week, we talked about how this life is our time to prepare to meet God and taught him about the gospel of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end).   We are working towards baptism: he wants to come to church a few times and also he's going to Romania for a month in Oktober, so we are going to try to work something out with missionaries there. But basically, he is super awesome and we love him.

Life is good. We get transfer calls this weekend, so we'll see what will happen. I've heard that missionaries stay out here for a long time, so probably nothing big. (Sister Wayment has been in Bielefeld since April haha..)

Alles gute! Ich liebe euch!

Sister Simpson

P.s. You asked about my German. I can understand basically everything. My grammar isn't great when I speak, but I can say what I need to.  Having an hour of Sprach and training has definitely been a blessing for my German. Haha I pulled out a französisch BOM the other day to see if I could understand it and I still can!

Elder & Sister Gill are like our grandparents here, and they drive us around Nienburg, feed us, come to lessons with us. We are really going to miss them.
The Gills' suitcase FULL of chocolate

Hmmm... Wedding anyone?

We found a lizard while contacting in Hameln

Monday, September 12, 2016

Legal (Week 34)


Hallo liebe Familie!

Well, this week was pretty good. Last Pday, we went to the Bückeburg schloss, and we got there 20 minutes after their last tour. So we went first thing today and it was super cool! It is amazing to see how much work they put into this building. It is very impressive to see the art and detail in every room. It was a lot of work. I actually thought about the temple, because it is probably the only other place I've seen more detail. The castle was very cool, but in the end, it is just a pretty building where very fortunate people lived. I love the temple because it is the house of the Lord. It is made with the upmost attention to detail and with the best of everything because it is His house. And we are blessed eternally with the blessings found in the temple and with His spirit that you can feel there. Temples are kind of like our lives. We do our best and serve God, and he pours out blessings upon us and we are changed by His spirit. A temple without the spirit is just another  pretty building, but when the Lord accepts it as His house, then it becomes something more than we could ever build.

I anmelded this week and am finally legal in Stadthagen! Happy day. I hadn't ever anmelded, so the government didn't know I ever lived in Altona. Oops.

We now have sisters in our ward to Visit Teach, so we've been working with that and trying to get everywhere in our area to take care of and find new people. That means a lot of time is spent traveling, but it's good. We spent an entire day walking around Hameln, which is a large city south of Stadthagen. Apparently that is where the pied piper brought the rats (or sent them away).. Not really sure,  but he's everywhere, and there are giant rat statues everywhere.

We met with Herr Nicola and talked about the Book of Mormon and why we read it, because he hadn't been reading. Granted he does work from 5-19 or later, so he's super busy, but I don't think he really understood why. The lesson was great though and we've tried to stay in contact with him more this week.

We met with Monika twice.. We taught her the whole Restoration of the church (i.e. Prophets, Jesus Christ, the apostasy after His death, Joseph Smith's first vision), and then the next day, we met with her and a sister in our ward and watched The Restoration film. She reads in the Book of Mormon and believes it is true. She has a lot of problems with the word of wisdom so we figured it would be okay to introduce it. She decided to start the stop smoking workshop again this week after we told her we would try to teach her English and the piano so she wouldn't sit at home all day.

We went around with one of our ward missionaries, Schw. Hegemann, to go by on some less actives and old investigators in Nienburg. No one was home, but she knew an old lady in one of the buildings who was 96 years old, so we visited her and sang her a primary song. She's super Catholic and super old, but it was very cool to visit with her (she lived through WWII) and serve her. Schwester  Hegemann is probably one of my favorite people in this country. She humbly serves and loves EVERYONE. We also have a senior missionary couple in Nienburg, who are awesome and they share the gospel with everyone. They are like our grandparents out here and take super good care of us. They go home this month, which is sad because they have been a huge help to the Nienburg branch before it was added to the  Stadthagen ward. They actually might come visit you, family. Their daughter lives in Meridian and I gave them your address.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week!

Sister Simpson

District lunch with the Zone leaders


Hameln (there's a giant gold rat on that bridge)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

When it Rains it Pours (Week 33)

Dry Picture. 4:32 p.m.

Wet Picture. 4:58 p.m.
The title of the email is because yesterday, we were going by on some contacts in the middle of nowhere and this HUGE storm rolled in. It was a little freaky to watch. We got caught in it and were completely soaked. But 30 minutes later, it was sunny and blue-skied again. 

Hey fam!

Honestly, this week started out like we were expecting to take a nice walk on the greenbelt but ended up lost high in the mountains in a thunderstorm. I feel like we have experienced far more than we bargained for, and even though it was incredibly difficult, we had some sacred experiences. I don't know why it was so hard, but it was and sometimes in life, you just feel hard-hit. The good news is that God's blessings don't stop when you're struggling (thankfully) and that He doesn't abandon us to deal with everything on our own, whether that means missionary work or real life. And I've found that He is able to teach us more in these times because we are more humble.  (There's no particular reason this week was so hard, but sometimes there are just hard weeks in life.)

We met a man who doesn't like religion because it causes conflict. But that's not true, because just as Elder Holland said in his education week talk, religion as a structure itself inspires and entices men to do good and love one another. (To say nothing of the validity of God and Jesus Christ as our Savior). We met another man who tried to dissect our faith and convince us that seeing is believing. But I cannot deny the feelings that I have felt in my heart. I bore my testimony to him, and it was incredible. He didn't really want to change, so he continued arguing after I was done, but I could see a change in his face as he felt the spirit. My faith is not an imagined crutch/fantasy to help me deal with the trials of life. It is not wishful thinking to help to endure to a happier "Heaven", although it does sometimes do that. It helps me to  enjoy life now, through the good and the bad, it helps me to find direction and purpose, to understand why I am here. I know why I am here on the Earth and here in Germany. I know I have a Heavenly Father who loves me so much, He gave His Only Begotten Son to bear not only my sins, but my weaknesses and infirmities, so I can be freed from guilt and the stain of sin and return to Him. I have felt "yoked" to Jesus Christ more than I ever have in my life. He promises us "rest unto [our] souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:30). "I am with you, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:20). I am thankful for a God who is patient with me, who sees me not for my imperfections, but for who I am as His daughter.

We had the feeling to go by on Monika Peters this week because we hadn't heard from her. We went by and she said "Oh no!" when she saw us, but let us in anyway. :) she told us that it would be too hard to stop smoking and drinking alcohol and coffee, so maybe she wasn't that interested. We had brought by a picture that we'd drawn for her and invited her to the cultural celebration, and she decided to come. We bore testimony to her and I know she could feel the spirit, because she changed and opened up to us. It was a small miracle.

The Freiberg temple was dedicated this Sunday! They had a cultural celebration in Dresden on Saturday night and we got to watch it and Monika Peters came with us and really enjoyed it. It was cool to see how much love these people have for their temple. This temple was built on miracles and faith and it has a special place in my heart. President Uchtdorf was there and spoke auf Deutsch (so cool). Then Sunday morning, we got to watch the dedication via Satellite in our Gemeindehaus. Elder Bednar spoke auf Deutsch (he served his mission here) and President Uchtdorf said the dedicatory prayer. Even though we technically weren't in the temple, you could still feel the spirit of the Lord as our church building became an extension of the temple. Unfortunately, Sister Heumann didn't have time to get a recommend for the dedication, so she couldn't come. We tried our best to work it out, though, and she is planning on going to the temple in a month with our ward.

I love this country and these people in a way that is hard to put into words. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. Ich liebe euch! Habt ihr eine
schöne Woche!

Sister Simpson

P.s. It was Sister Koch's birthday this week, so we made waffles for dinner. I bought sprinkles to put on them. Let me tell you, it is difficult to surprise someone that you spend 24/7 with. I can't say I succeeded, but it was a good day.

This girl in our ward is going on her mission to Manchester England
this week. We love Anna!