Just a girl finding her way and sharing her story.
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Züge, Busen, Treppe...
... und frohe Weihnachten!
Before I get into details about Germany, let me just say how much my district and zone mean to me. I love them so much. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were sad days. Saying goodbye to my teachers was a bittersweet moment. Saying goodbye to the Sisters headed to Frankfurt was yet another bittersweet moment.
Monday morning was very, very, very exhausting. The Berlin group reported to the MTC travel office at 3:50am. From there we hopped on a bus that took us to the train station. We had 3 minutes to get all of the missionaries leaving the MTV that morning and their luggage into the train. We arrived at the airport and the longest day commenced. Honestly, Monday and Tuesday are just one gigantic day for me. I barely recall most of it... I just know I was exhausted.
We flew from Salt Lake City to Chicago to Frankfurt to Dresden. The flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was supposed to feel like an eternity but it didn't. Sister Tucker and I sat next to each other for that flight and she can attest to how 'out of it' I was. You'd think that I would have just fallen asleep for a good portion of that flight, nope. I managed to get 2 hours of sleep. We spent the last 2 hours of our flight speaking to the person sitting next to us and that made my day. By the time we got to Frankfurt we were all exhausted.
We were on a shuttle headed to our plane in Frankfurt when I realized what my life had become. It hit me. It finally hit me. This is my life. This is where I'll be living for the next 17 months. This is the language I'll be speaking. We hadn't even taken off to Dresden yet when my eyes started to get all watery. I was astounded by the fact that I was about to cry. I shed a tear or two and shook it away. I know I made the right decision, and rather than cry I decided to sleep.
We arrived in Dresden and met our Mission President and his wife, our new parents. We were all greeted with love and a lot of German. Upon leaving the airport, we were taken to Radebuel. This is the place where Elder Thomas S. Monson gave a dedicatory prayer in 1975. We read the prayer and were given time to meditate. To my surprise, I cried again. The tired, hungry, and anxious me surrendered herself to God. I cannot do this alone. I would be insane if I thought I could do this on my own. I know He is with me as a I learn the language and culture. He is with me every step of the way.
Following our historic visit, we were taken to the temple. It was such a blessing to be able to go to a completely new temple. Missionaries are able to go every 6 weeks (the duration of a transfer) so long as they take new members. The remainder of our day consisted of filling out papers, interviews, and dinner. Can I just say, I love German food.
Wednesday and the days leading up to now have been insane, the good type of insane. I met my trainer and was told what area I would be in on Wednesday! Drum roll please.... my trainer and new companion is Sister Dempsey! And we are serving in the Hamburg area!!
At the train station headed to Hamburg
Getting to Hamburg was an adventure. We took 3 trains and 2 subway cars to get to where we are. We were very blessed to have had random people help us lift my bags along the way. At one of the train stations I met the member I had my first Skype TRC with! Sister Dempsey and I ended up missing one of our trains, but it turned out to be a miracle. The entire day we had been trying to give out chocolates as a way to talk to people. It was a great plan except, nobody wanted chocolate. Well, it turns out we ended up sitting with a mother and her daughter's on the train we ended up taking (due to having missed our scheduled one). We felt like we needed to give them the chocolates, so we did. Seeing how happy those girls were made all the rejections worth it.
Our week was filled with crazy stories like these. We were headed back from an area and our subway train stopped. They announced it would take a couple minutes for us to begin to move forward again. Minutes passed and they repeated the message. Then, it was announced we needed to get off of the subway train because apparently there was a protest or a strike blocking the rails. Sister Dempsey and I didn't know where to go since we were in an unfamiliar area, so we started to walk back to our area. We had called the senior couple in district and they returned our call telling us to just find a store to wait inside so they could come pick us up. We waited, got into their car, and within less than a minute we drove into a rated R area. In that moment we realized if we had kept walking in the direction the map was telling us to... we would have walked straight into the Reeperbahn, the red light district or what we call the the Vegas strip. God really does protect his missionaries.
In total we've missed a train at least one time a day. I also managed to be yelled at by a German man because I hadn't realized I was walking in the bike lane, fun times. As a result of this, Sister Dempsey has begun to pull me out of the bike lane when there's a bike nearby. This week we also went zone caroling. All the missionaries in our zone gathered together and went to different areas we all serve in and sang Christmas carols. It was quite an enjoyable missionary activity where we not only spread the Christmas joy, but also managed to lose some Elders when the train doors closed before we had all made it in.
Germany is beautiful. There is no snow in Hamburg, but we do get a daily mist of rain. Germany is also very unique. Germans celebrate 3 days of Christmas. The 24th is Heiligen Abend, the 25th Christmas day, and the 26th being the second day of Christmas. We have been given sooooooooo much chocolate. I think you think I'm overexaggerating, but I'm not. Our whole table is covered with chocolate. I'm grateful members love us so much, but it's been frustrating because we give people chocolate and then they give us chocolate back. I don't know how this chocolate is going to disappear because Sister Dempsey and I have been out-chocolated. I am loving every single minute of this work. I love all the people I've met so far. I love the language. I love it all. I know this is where I'm needed.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas full of love, laughter, good food & a lot of it, family, and joy. Liebe Grüße, Sister Quintana