This week was full of “going home” for 18 young sister missionaries and one elder that we were fortunate enough to be part of in Freiberg.
It is such a blessing in this mission that when missionaries go home, they spend a couple of days with the mission President and his wife in the lovely old town of Freiberg. They are fed delicious meals, attend the temple and go to the special place of Radebeul overlooking Dresden.
It was here that President Monson, an apostle at that time, rededicated the work of the Lord in East Germany. He promised that they would have the blessings of the temple….the opportunity to be sealed as families, something they had not been able to have up to that point because a whole family could not leave East Germany…someone always had to stay behind. That was just one of many freedoms that they did not enjoy. Miraculously the Freiburg Temple was built ten years later in 1985 in East Germany before the wall came down. To think about that, it would be tantamount to any Christian church being able to go into North Korea today. Nothing is impossible with God!
It is a lovely spot, with trees and benches and a view of the Elbe River Valley. We all stood together and those lovely missionaries sang “Come ye fount of every blessing”, read the dedicatory prayer President Monson had given and said a prayer. Then we stayed for around 15 minutes, just to experience the quiet reverence that is found there.
Being in the temple with the young missionaries was a wonderful experience. Afterwards, we all went to the church right next door and they had a testimony meeting where each one shared what she/he had learned on her/his mission. They had invited friends to attend and some family members had traveled over to Germany to accompany their daughters home and tour a bit. Those were wonderful reunions to behold. They had not seen their parents for 18 months with only speaking on Mother’s Day and Christmas via Skype, so many tears were shed and hugs exchanged and bright smiling faces all around!
Our wonderful mission president President Fingerle and his dear wife
I was so impressed by their testimonies. I will share about just one…Sister Ha who is from Korea. She played a beautiful piece on her viola: “Nearer my God to Thee” and it was as if the heavens were opened as she so skillfully and masterfully expressed her testimony of the Savior through her instrument. She later shared how hard her mission had been and how she came to depend on the Lord more than ever before. She was the first Korean to ever serve in Germany She knew no English when she came, so had to learn English AND German! She felt a cultural pressure to perform well because of this. I don’t imagine that anyone was putting pressure on her..I would say that was from within, but it certainly did endear her to all of us.
This meeting was all in German, and those of us who wouldn’t be able to understand were provided headphones and our own Elder Skidmore translated beautifully for us. We would not normally have been able to go have this wonderful sacred experience until we leave ourselves but because of Gentz’s association with Sister Föger who is deaf and her companion, we were invited to be a part for which we were just thrilled. Freiberg is about 5 hours from Rostock, so it is quite a trip, but always worth it to be able to attend the temple. I felt so very grateful for these treasured experiences we are having and that we are in a
mission that has such a lovely farewell for their missionaries.
With the subject of going home, I don’t think a person ever witnesses these joyous family reunions without thinking of how joyous it will be to move onto the next life and be reunited once again with our family members…our mothers, fathers, children, ancestors who have moved on. What a glorious day it will be to see them all again! Right now, we are sitting daily with our dear Sister Schlünz who I have written about before. She is 93 years old, broke her elbow and is now back in the nursing home just waiting to die. It shouldn’t be too long now as each day she seems to sleep more and more. But she is peaceful, she eats a bit of chocolate once in a while like a good German and often chats and smiles and laughs. I want to be just like her when I am old!! She says that Heavenly Father promised her that she would die without pain and she is ready to go…to meet her husband and her stepson who died before. She is such a faithful soul. When I asked her on Sunday’s visit what she had learned during her long life, she said: “To forgive. Don’t take offense. Give your problems to Jesus Christ. Then she shared a quote by Goethe: “We should live our lives so that the world is a little bit brighter because of us.” I can say that Sister Shclünz has certainly done that. When I leave her room, I kiss her forehead and say “Ich liebe dich Siste Schlünz” and she says in broken English: “I love you!” I am so grateful to have been able to know this dear, wonderful woman and to have been a part of her life for just a short time.
So, life is good here. The weather is beautiful. The scenery is stunning. The people are kind once you get past the tough exterior and my testimony grows every day that Heavenly Father loves his children everywhere. Prayer works and draws us closer to that Perfect being who has a perfect plan for us! Life is short, so very short, and I hope indeed that all of us can say no matter when we are called home that we can leave the world just a little bit brighter. Tchüss