And before I start, I probably should have done it last week, but Happy Birthday Aspen, and Happy Birthday Dad! Dad, your birthday was my 2 year mark, which was made extra special because that was the day that R was baptized. Pretty neat, huh?
This week was… turbulent. We had the intensive language course, which was, you guessed it, intense. The schedule every day was this: Wake up at 6:30 (of course), take a 45 minute tram ride to O’s house, eat breakfast, plan the classes I was supposed to teach. At 10, classes started. After one 2 hour class, we had lunch, then 4 hours of class, then dinner, then another 2 hours of studying. I would say about 80% of the time I was teaching, but sometimes I was learning too.
It was fantastic seeing Elder Weber again. He is one of my favorite companions, and we are definitely going to be hanging out a lot at BYU since we both are studying German and another language. In the same classes. So we are together at least 2 hours every day.
I stayed at a hotel all week, which was terrible. I didn’t have enough clothes to last all week, and it was extremely hot. There was no iron, nor were there hangers, so my shirts were more wrinkled than an old missionary’s forehead.
We were in O’s apartment about 12 hours a day, and it just so happens to be just about the hottest, least ventilated apartment I’ve ever had to be in. Just miserable. And there were 7 missionaries there. And we were getting blasted in the face with a billion language things.
So there were a few spats.
One time, I was eating dinner, and I had just sat down and started it. I had been doing other things, preparing, etc., and there were the aforementioned 7 missionaries all in the kitchen all trying to find something to eat. The day before I had not eaten much lunch because I was too busy making lunch for everyone else, and they ate it all.
I skipped dinner that night too, because Elder Weber and I had to go grocery shopping for everyone (We felt like moms.
“Oh little Jimmy won’t like those vegetables. Better get a more safe flavor of mustard. Do you think the kids will eat this?”),
and then the next day it happened again that I didn’t get much food because everybody ate what I made before I could sit down. So I was starving, and was eating boiled potatoes and gravy, when we saw that time was up, and I was supposed to start the next class. I decided 5 more minutes to finish eating was a necessary sacrifice. Then a (actually really very nice missionary) – the group leader – kind of backhandedly cattily made a comment about how I was being irresponsible and disrespectful. Ooh, I was steamin’ mad. I dropped my fork with a clang and whipped around and stared him down and told him he’d better shape up, mister, and mind his own business.
Maybe a little loudly.
Everyone got real quiet after that.
Ah well, no one said you’d come home perfect from your mission, so I guess I’ll just have to work on that temper when I get home. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he totally deserved it, but I still shouldn’t have done it. Sometimes I think I’ve become a little too spunky . . .
But the rest of the time was really good. I made some really good friends with some missionaries I stayed with in the hotel. I stuffed them full of the language too. We covered in a week what took Elder Weber and I at least 3 months to do. They get a huge jump start in the language, which is really cool. Also, Elder Weber and I will probably be teaching classes later on with Skype.
After I got back, we had appointments with some new families they had found while I was gone. It didn’t work out, but an Albanian family did. I got to use my sweet knowledge of Albanian, which consists of three words: Hello, good, and very good.
But they are really neat, and I’m excited to meet with them in the upcoming week. We had some time to find, and it was awesome. Everybody wanted to talk.
One of my favorites weren’t even the ones that become new investigators. We started talking to two very elderly women on a bench. (Think 90.) Eventually, it was clear that they weren’t ready for the Gospel, but they were lonely. So we just sat down next to them and asked about their lives for the next 10 minutes or so.
We seemed to lift their spirits, and we just told them we thought it was amazing that they never gave up through all their trials (one of them had lived through WWII). We told them that God was waiting for them on the other side and when they got there, He’d give them a hug and tell them He was proud of them.
Like I said, they didn’t want to learn more, but I felt like we helped them. And I came away feeling a love for the German people I’ve tried my whole mission to develop. I’ve always loved them, but I feel like I know now how much I love them, which I didn’t know before.
There are very few cultures on the planet that have experienced so much heartache, so much trial, so much guilt and pain and fear. Very few peoples have had such a rocky, turbulent history and have still come out human afterward. I’m proud of them, and though they have a long way to go, I have met true Germans who aren’t bogged down with the fear of the past that so afflicts so many. They are amazing, caring, direct, and bold. They are truly agents unto themselves.
If there is a problem, they fix it.
A trial, they overcome it.
They do what must be done, never grimly, never frustratedly, only determinedly. I love that about them. I’ve become more like them. By living among them, talking with them, and significantly, by starting to speak and think and even feel in their language (which is so descriptive of their culture), I have changed for the better. I hope, and I believe, that I’ve changed others here for the better as well.
I believe that very few things in this life can bring as much joy as giving 2 years of your life for a people, and really just falling in love with them as you do it. I’m am so grateful for these last 2 years.
I have a lot to do with this week and a half.
A quote I like (and will paraphrase) from Dieter F. Uchtdorf goes something like this:
“When serving your mission, you are in the middle of your mission until you’re home.”
I’m really enjoying this part of the middle of my mission. I’m pumped to hit the ground running, lift some hands that hang down, and leave it all on the court. I feel like I’m just hitting my prime, so it’s going to be good. 🙂
I love you guys! Have a great week!