Monday, November 28, 2016

Erste Advent (Week 45)

Thanksgiving Dinner!

Matt, Sam and I (I Mean Elder Powell, Elder Bennett and I)

MVHS Reunion (Sister Wayment, Elder Powell and Elder Bennett)

Happy Thanksgiving and first advent!

I don't ever know where to start. We had two Austausches this week.  Sister Haynie came to Altona with me and we taught Ana, worked at the international School and helped a less active sister in our ward. We also had a couple member eating appointments this week, so it's been good to be able to work more with the members. Also, I just really love them because they're amazing. :) We tried to invite a lot of people to the ward Adventsandacht (Christmas Party), so we took a lot of invitations around.

On Thursday, we had Zone Conference with the west half of the mission.  It was awesome. They did it in English as a Christmas gift to us and it was einfach a powerful meeting. I learned a lot and I'm very thankful for a wonderful mission president and his  amazing wife. It was fun to see and visit with so many missionaries. Some ladies from our stake cooked lunch for all of us - almost 100 missionaries.  Thanksgiving night, a super nice family in our ward brought us thanksgiving dinner!

We had our normal weekly planning on Friday and then went to Stade for a super Tausch. I was with Sister Jackson and we had an appointment with one of their investigators and went finding and tried to share the new Christmas video with people. I love Sister Jackson and it was super fun. After Tausch, we had our ward Christmas party. One sister brought two friends with her, so that was awesome. We listened to/sang Christmas songs and stories, then ate cake and punch afterwards. We helped clean the church.

Sunday was great! We had an sacrament meeting focused on the basics of the gospel for people who are new or investigating the church, like we were challenged to in general conference. Unfortunately, none of the people we invited came. Schade, because it was an awesome meeting. I translated (so that part was not so awesome.. sorry English speakers).  FHV (relief society) was interesting, like always. It was about President Monson's talk from Conference about the Word of Wisdom. I was translating for Ana, a 20-something year old girl from Croatia, and we just laughed because it was a little ridiculous. There was a debate between bio produce and buying locally, as well as the change from "eat meat sparingly" to it's okay to only eat meat as long as it is expensive/high quality (aka, not the stuff that we buy 'cause we're broke). Haha. Basically, not a lot of doctrine and a lot of speculation. After church, we had an eating appointment with Schwester Faber, aka the sweetest person on this planet. We ate Schnitzel and potatoes, then talked about how Christ is our light and sang Christmas songs for advent. Love her. Later that day, we had thanksgiving dinner/Gemiko with the Lopez's. I love them. Also, it was super delicious. And I'm still full.

In one of the sacrament meeting talks yesterday, President Schmidt explained how covenants work like insurance. When we have faith in God, we desire to follow Christ. When we are baptized, we promise to always follow Christ, keep His commandments, and take His name upon us. (So that's like our insurance payments). God promises us in return that we will always have His spirit to be with us. The thing I like about this analogy is that just as insurance doesn't always seem worth it until we are receiving more than we could've asked for, our baptismal covenants may seem like a big sacrifice unless we recognize all the blessings that God is giving us. I am thankful to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for this time to wear his name on my name tag, but I know that after these 18 months, it won't end because His name is written on my heart. His peace fills me when I am empty. I know He is there. And I am eternally grateful for His life and atoning sacrifice for me.

Well then. Sorry for the weirdish email. I hope y'all had a great thanksgiving. I am thankful for you, my dear family. I miss you, but I'm not homesick. Haha. Don't worry about me. :)

Love ya!
Sister Simpson

Side note: we were doing family history yesterday, and I got back to the 1200s. Apparently, I come from a danish royalty line. I just thought it was funny because the guy's title included "king of the Danes". I just thought it was funny because my companion is Sister Daines. Obviously I'm the dominant one in this companionship.
Hamburg at night

Monday, November 21, 2016

A few more pictures (Week 44)

(The Alster is a right tributary of the Elbe river in Northern Germany.  joins the Elbe in central Hamburg. The Alster is Hamburg's second most important river.)


Christmas decorations at the mall

District Pday at Christmas market plus ZL Bennet and Halbleib

Christmas Market

Christmas Market

Craziness (week 44)

Me at church featuring warm, free coat


This week was probably our busiest week so far. And craziest. Holy cow. I learned a lot about being flexible. And dealing with stress. I plan when I get stressed. So basically, I planned this entire week multiple times and it didn't work out any of those ways. Looking back, I can see how the Lord was in charge when no one else was. But yeah, I'm working on trusting in the Lord and being flexible. Haha.

(Yes, Mom, we switched bunks this week. It is lovely. Getting in and out of bed is so easy now.)

The craziness started on Tuesday night, after getting a call asking us to pack our stuff for a few days and go to Bremen. So we did, and got there around 22. We ended up going to their district meeting with them, then Sister Briggs and I came back to Altona and sister Daines stayed in Bremen with Sister Maier. We met with Ana Wednesday night, then had service on Thursday, then early Friday morning, Sister Briggs and I got up early to make it back to Bremen. Like 5:30 early. We had a full day of appointments, which is why we tausched back so early, but we ended up having to stay in Bremen for a few more hours. Eventually, Sister Daines and I made it back to Altona, met with the mother of a member who lives in a nursing home, went to a Zone leadership meeting.

Saturday, we had our own district meeting, then a bunch of appointments, but all but one of them cancelled. Our appointment with Eunice was kind of rough. We were exhausted from the whole week and it ended up just being an awful lesson. It just felt very impersonal and the spirit wasn't there. After it was over, we were both frustrated and talked about how we can be better teachers. It was good to remember why we are here and how important this message really is.

Sunday, we had church and the primary children's program in sacrament meeting. None of our friends came (except for Eunice, who is regularly at church), so that was frustrating, especially because we were working towards baptism with two people. It was fun to see the little kids bear testimony of the basics of the gospel. Sunday night, we ate dinner with the Chinese sister in our ward and her husband, who isn't a member. She made some super yummy authentic Chinese food - really spicy chicken and sweet ribs. We really really like them. Afterwards, we did a family home evening lesson and taught the plan of salvation (using your visual aids, Mom:). Ironically, it was the same "lesson" that we had taught the night before, but it was worlds different. He had a lot of really good, logical questions. The spirit was very strong and we were able to testify boldly about God's plan for us. Qiongying shared her testimony and how she started to believe, and he said, "your experiences haven't convinced me yet." We explained to him that no one's experience will ever convince him that there is a God and that He has a plan for us. You have to find our for yourself. God will give us spiritual experiences if we seek for the truth. I know that and believe it with all of my heart. - It was nice to end the week on a high note. This work is hard because it's selfless. If we are focused on ourselves, we won't be able to teach with the spirit, and if we don't have the spirit, there's no point in teaching. The spirit has to be there to touch their hearts, so they will open their hearts and be able to have their own spiritual experiences. The gospel is personal, and it becomes so through the Holy Ghost. I've learned that consistently in the last however many months I've been here.

I am thankful for my own spiritual experiences. I am thankful for the knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that we have a purpose for our lives. God is in the details of our lives. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, takes our meager efforts and sacrifices and can make it enough.

Happy thanksgiving this week! My heart is so full of gratitude that I get to be here. I really feel so SO lucky. I love it. I am thankful for the ways God blesses me every day, and for Christ's support in all of my shortcomings. I am so thankful for this time to serve and the opportunities that He blesses me with. I am thankful for my amazing family. I love you so much. Life is good, but more importantly, God is good.

That's all for now! God knows you and He loves you very much! (And so do I)

Sister Simpson

P.S. Other questions:
We have 3 splits this week (aka more crazy). This transfer is only 5 weeks, and our Tausch schedule got completely messed up from the this last week. Haha. We have two the week after, and then only one the last week. Good riddance. It's fun being able to work with and get to know all the sisters. They are all really awesome. We have 5 sister companionships we are over and we go on Tausch once a transfer with each companionship.
P.P.S. I got Lizzy's letter and your postcard! I love mail! Thanks guys! It normally takes about 7-10 days for mail.. I normally plan on 9.
Cool church by a bus stop that we quite frequently get stranded at.
Stupid Agathe-Lasch-Weg.

Us and the Bremen sisters after 3 days of tausch

Monday, November 14, 2016

Snow, Temple and Tender Mercies (Week 43)

Hello all!

We woke up to snow on Tuesday morning! I danced around the apartment at 6:45 and played Sister Daines Christmas music. I love it. It's also gotten a lot colder this week, and I've gotten good at layering all my clothing on.

Wednesday morning, as we were doing morgen sport (exercise), our Hausmeister klingled (rang) us (he lives below us) and said  (in his cute German accent) "sisters, you have a new president! Donald Trump! I'm sorry!" Haha  Herr Weckenbrock. Transfers were this week, so we spent a good amount of Wednesday at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (central train station) with Sister Jackson while she waited for her new companion. It was basically a freezer. Thank heavens for McDonald's, with bathrooms, cheap food, heat and free
wifi. We made a couple trips there. Also, Elder Bennett almost got pooped on by a pigeon. Seriously, there were like 5 plops in a matter of seconds, and they all just barely missed him. Blessings for being a missionary, I guess. Or having to spend all day in Hauptbahnhof. We had an lunch appointment with a quasi weniger aktiv (semi less active) sister in our ward, Schw. König, and her friend Gina Ramm. She was really upset about the election, so we tried to focus on Jesus Christ and how only he can help us find peace in this world. Schw. König gave her the cutest pump up speech. It was awesome. Later that day, we had an appointment with a girl in our ward who has been coming for the last month with a brother in our ward. She is super awesome and we are excited to teach her more! We had an awesome joint teach, and Eunice has already made lots of friends because she tries really hard to participate and be involved at church.

We had district meeting on Thursday, and then left for Freiberg. It was a LONG train ride. We went with the Zone leaders, Elder Bennett and Halbleib, and thankfully, Elder Bennett has a lot of stories to tell, so it wasn't boring. We slept over at the Freiberg sisters apartment.  Eight sisters in one apartment. It was like a flashback to being here for the temple. Unfortunately, we had less mattresses than before, so we slept 4 sisters on one mattress. We put them together lengthwise so we could fit more of us on.. I was on the end and the two mattresses split apart, so I was kind of just sitting on the floor with my legs and head on a mattress. Haha. Also, the sisters only had enough warm water for 2 people to shower. BUT, it was 1000% worth the lack of sleep and showers because we got to go to the temple. It was a HUGE blessing. I haven't been to the temple since leaving America eight months ago. We did our session in German and we were impressed with how much we understood. (Also, in the dozens of sessions I've done, that may have been the only session I've made it through completely without falling asleep. I highly recommend the 8 hours of sleep lifestyle). After the temple, we had our leadership conference. It was good, but they forgot to print our names and give us places, so we sat awkwardly at the corner of one table. I really like learning from Präsident and Sister Fingerle  about how we can be better missionaries and help the other missionaries in the mission. It was a
good conference. Also, a lot of my mission friends were there, so that was fun to see them and catch up. Our Bahn left 35 minutes after it ended, so everyone who needed that train piled into one of the mission vans and drove quickly to bahnhof (train station). So 12 missionaries + luggage in a 10 missionary vehicle with a crazy German driving = Abenteuer (adventure).  We made our train and started the long ride back to Hamburg and made it back 15 minutes before bedtime.

Saturday, we had a few appointments. We met with Ana's "friend", Faro, who is less-active. He mostly just wanted to Bible bash about what day the sabbath is and some other weird stuff. But we don't read the same bible translations, so it was useless. We also met with Ana.. she is still working on figuring out how to live the law of chastity, so we're not sure she'll schaf the December 3 baptismal date, but we'll keep praying and working with her. We also met with Frau Byo, and talked about God's plan and why what we do here is eternally significant. We brought up baptism and it was amazing because it was like everything just clicked. So we are now working with her towards a
baptismal date on December 31! Super awesome.

Sunday was great. A sister in our ward gave me a winter coat after church, because she's moving and had to give it to someone. I was super excited because it's a lot warmer than the one I've been wearing and it was free. Tender Mercy. We had Gemiko/dinner with the Lopez's and the new Ehepaar (senior couple) in Hamburg. They shared a spiritual thought from Elder Maynes from October 2015 that I LOVE.  They showed us a video of a lady making a bowl on a wheel. I love the symbolism that when we are centered on Christ, He can make us into something more. I also like in order for us to grow, there has to be pressure from both sides, the outside and inside. There is opposition in all things and that's part of God's plan. But if we are centered on Jesus Christ and don't give in to the pressures of the world, we can make it! I don't know if that makes sense, but if you read the talk, it will.

Today, we planned on relaxing because I'm sick (which never happens), but we had to send  something early and so that didn't really happen. I found the equivalent of urban outfitters here and it is super cool.  Our mall is completely decked out for Christmas, so we've had fun.  We're excited for Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas fair)!

I love you all! I hope you have a great week.
Alles liebe,
Sister Simpson
Blanksons (our black family)

Altona squad


Car ride with a million missionaries

Car ride with a million missionaries

Car ride with a million missionaries

Monday, November 7, 2016

Another one bites the dust (aka transfers) (Week 42)

It was a process getting all of our knives to the stake center.

my pumpkin in the one on the left, middle row, with nothing on it #lame

sister Jackson, sister Daines

Liebe Mutti und Familie,

Hey y'all! This week was crazy. We were so busy and I swear I yawned every 3 minutes. This work is so exhausting but so rewarding!

We had 3 Tausches this week.. Monday, we had Zone Pday and we carved pumpkins. I scooped everything out of mine, but everyone else was done before I carved anything so my pumpkin didn't have a face. Or anything  really. That made lighting it not so fun, but what can ya do? We had to be home by 18 and we spent the night putting people into our area book planner app.

Tuesday, I was with Sister Hançer all day. She is from Turkey and she is so awesome! Our elders had an appointment with a Turkish lady, so we went to that because Sister H could just teach this woman in Turkish. This woman was trying to raise her 2 little kids alone and wants to teach them good principles. I didn't understand anything that was said, but from what Sister Hançer told me afterward, this woman was really sad and exhausted. She was so excited to share the peace that the gospel has brought her with this woman. It's very cool to see that the Lord has a specific plan for each of his missionaries to accomplish. We also helped a less-active woman take down a huge dresser in her cluttered flat. She really appreciated it and it was nice to just do some service that requires a different part of your brain, haha.

Wednesday, we had a Tausch with the sisters in Elmshorn. I was with Sister Garrett in Altona and it was fun! We met with Frau Byo that night and then went to service at the international School on Thursday. At the school, a little 4-year-old French boy told me he loved me. Service is so fun. We accidentally had both phones, so we had no way to call our companions and figure out a way to Tausch back.. we waited in McDonald's at the time we planned on, then said a prayer and they eventually made it. Haha. We switched back and then we went to Ward council meeting.

Friday, we did weekly planning, then met the Bremen sisters and Tausched. I went to Bremen with Sister Hammer (my MTC comp). There were no seats left, so we sat on the ground for 90 minutes. We went by on a less active woman, but we accidentally got on the wrong bus, so it took us a while to get there and we were an hour late. Thankfully, she was super nice. We got our transfer calls Saturday morning.. sister Daines got ours (because I was still in Bremen) and told me that I was white-wash training again as a joke. I totally believed her and was really sad because I am not ready to leave. She's dumb and we are actually both staying here.

After we tausched back, we went by on a Russian woman we met last week and gave her a Book of Mormon. She is super sweet, is very interested and wants to read it. We taught her about prophets, Joseph Smith and the restoration of the priesthood authority. She told us to come back in 2 weeks and hopefully she'll have read it by then. We had an appointment with a man, so the elders came with because we can't visit him alone. He wasn't home, so we decided to go by on the Blanksons (less active African family) in the area because Elder Keck is leaving and wanted to say goodbye. Her father (the girls' grandpa) had passed away that week in Ghana. We sat with her as she cried and comforted her. We sang "Be Still My Soul" for them, and the spirit was so strong. It was an incredible experience. I was so thankful that we could be there to mourn with and comfort them. That has honestly been the most rewarding part of the last 9 months, being able to be Christ's hands to help other people. He has a plan for each of individually and we need to choose to be on His side. He can only bless us and help us to the extent that we let Him. But we have the coolest promise that if we let him, He will walk with us and support us through our trials. He has already walked where we will and because of that, He can help and comfort us when no one else can.

Church was super awesome. We had a ward fast for missionary work, the testimony meeting was  great. Our Sunday school class was full and super diverse. One older African brother in our ward has a girl (she's 26) who is basically his adopted granddaughter living with him. He's been bringing her to church and she loves it! It was her birthday on Sunday and she came alone. We have an appointment with her this week and we are so excited to start teaching her. She participates in the classes and she has made a lot of friends (we have a lot of sisters her age who have welcomed her). Our bishop talked to her and she asked how she could join the church. She is so awesome and we are pumped to teach her!

Alles gut here in Altona. I know this is where I am supposed to be right now and I am thankful that the Lord trusts us with this area and these special people.  Sister Daines is awesome and we have a lot of fun and are working hard. We have a lot of things we are working on for the ward, the people we are teaching, and our sisters.

Sorry for the novel/agenda. This email is basically my journal entry for the week. It's been crazy. I love you all! Thank you for the prayers and mail, family! Happy November.

Sister Simpson
my Latina sisters

my grandbaby

sister Hammer

elmshorn tausch

district lunch at THE CUTEST Turkish potato place. They make twice
baked potatoes and you can top it with whatever you want. Soooo good.

thanks for the package, Mom