Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pictures of my apartment

me at my desk

our study area

another view of my apartment

Monday, February 27, 2012

Excerpts from a letter to Bryan!

[I complained about how Ariel moved as soon as I had her old address memorized! Now, I have to forget that and memorize a new one! ;) She replied:] 
Sorry to have changed addresses on you. If it makes you feel better I have to look at my address when I write it too :)
Driving is coming along okay. I am starting to be able to recognize where I am and what roads to take, but I still need the GPS to get to all the other little dorfs. The other night someone almost hit me and I told sister Openshaw I didn't want to drive anymore. It was just a very stressful day and when the car almost hit us it threw me over the edge. I feel really comfortable driving now and I'm very safe. I promise! We do a lot of walking around since most of our kilometers are eaten up traveling to the other dorfs. So we're still safe.
We only have three investigators right now. They were all found by other sister missionaries. One of them is amazing. We saw him smoking ten minutes before our lesson and then we went in and taught an amazing lesson about the word of wisdom and we committed him to quitting and he said YES! It was amazing. He is still going strong not smoking. We have asked him to think about getting baptized on March 25th. In our last lesson we asked him what he was feeling about getting baptized and he said he feels like a kid at Christmas. It was really neat. He loves reading the scriptures, the gospel principles manual, and we just gave him a Liahona [a Church magazine published in German] about Christ.
Thank you so much for my package! It was amazing! I opened up the goldfish at lunch during President's interviews. Elder Wagley, our district leader, asked where i got the goldfish. I said my boyfriend sent them to me and then he said, ''man, i need a boyfriend.'' You're making them jealous Bryan Dale, way to go! :)


The top of the Dom

The Rat Haus in Halberstadt (like the capital, government offices)

Sunny Day!

Hi all,

I haven't learned too much about Halberstadt, only that it was bombed really bad right before the war ended and that John Cages 639 year long piece is in the Dom here. Hopefully we will get to go see it sometime. I think Halberstadt is over a thousand years old, I'm not sure of what else. Halberstadt is definitely in the boonies. But it is beautiful. When we're in the city you can't tell that you're surrounded by farmland. Since we are though, that's why we have a car. A lot of the other areas we cover are about 20-50 km away. Driving to all the other dorfs is such a beautiful drive. There are rolling hills or ''mountains'' all over and fields of some grain all in the valley. Usually on the edge of the hills that's where the dorfs set up. On sunny days I often feel like Maryanne (Sense & Sensibility reference) wanting to run through the fields to catch a bit of sun. The roads here are very narrow through the fields and hills but driving is not bad. The church has a driving safe DVD that didn't really help for Europe but I watched it anyways and then our mission has made a packet about the signs we will see on the road and such and that was really helpful. After a couple days it was really easy to get used to. I am starting to be able to find my way around without our GPS. 
   Mum, I had no idea that it was just two families that made up your ward as a kid. That's really neat. Sister Openshaw says that everyone speaks a lot. As soon as I got here they asked if I would play a musical number but I don't have any music prepared or music other than hymns.
    On Sunday we had pfahl konferenz (stake conference) and it was a broadcast from Salt Lake City. It's funny to hear the broadcasts in German. The Church does a really good job of finding men in the 70 who speak German so they didn't have to translate over the speakers. Elder Uchtdorf didn't speak though and the man sitting next to me yesterday leaned over to me and said that he would of thought the church would have had Uchtdorf speak since he is German. Elders Nelson and Eyring spoke. Elder Nelson did a great job of talking about teaching our families to be firm in the Gospel. Elder Eyring shared stories about his Great Grandpa and Grandma but I can't tell you what exactly they were about. My language is still coming....
   Part of the reason I was sent to Halberstadt is because I haven't been in the country over 6 months hence why I can drive for free or without buying a German license which isn't too hard just costs a bit of money. Dad  - there is so much beautiful stained glass!! The building we live in has a cove that sticks out from the front of the house with green and clear glas windows and then going up the second staircase is a huge window of stained glass. I'll be sure to take a picture sometime this week! Your stained glass window for Elvira is looking wonderful! I have my little Germany stained glass hanging up behind me in our apartment.
   Every Tuesday we hold a ward FHE to help strengthen the members and just have an activity. It's so funny to interact with all the members. They all bicker like they're siblings. They love each other but they fight too, it's just too funny. Our spiritual thought was about patience and you would have thought we started a very controversial war or something with the way they started arguing. They're a wonderful group of people. I love being able to serve them.
Everyone asks me what kind of dog I have at home. They love dogs here and cats. A member last night pulled out a dog book so I could point out a picture of Darcy (he's a German Short-Haired Pointer).
   Have a great day! LOVE YOU ALL!
-Ariel Nell

Friday, February 24, 2012

Excerpt from a letter to Bryan!

On my first day in Halberstadt, we got home at 8:30 in the evening, and we ran into one of our neighbors inside. He grabbed one of my bags and carried it up the three flights of stairs for us. We talked to him for a little bit, and he told us that he works at the Halberstadt opera; he is a bass. I asked him what they were performing or rehearsing. They are performing La Traviata,I think, this coming week and then Wagner's Loengrin at the end of the month. Cool huh? I told him all about you :)
In East Germany its full of these hoch häusers, really huge apartment buildings. I did my first one, over 120 doors in one hour. It's impressive how many people live in one building! Sadly no appointments were made.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Excerpt from Ariel's email to Andre

Transfers actually did happen two weeks ago but President called me this week and transferred me to Halberstadt so I could be the designated driver. Now I have a step-mom, Sister Openshaw. I was really sad to leave Celle and the amazing people there but I know I'm needed here. My first appointment with an investigator in Halberstadt the investigator said he wanted to tell Sister Openshaw after their last lesson to not come back with the other sister because she scared him and then the next lesson they had I was there. Weird how things work out huh?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pictures from Halberstadt

Me - sad and packing to leave Celle

Sister Openshaw and I in our red mushroom costumes

Sister Openshaw and I as red mushrooms for our Fasching activity

Baby it's cold outside!

  Surpirse! I'm not in Celle anymore! Don't worry, it was a surprise to me too. On Tuesday, after Sister Stewart and I had been riding around delivering Valentines' to investigators and going to appointments we noticed President had called. We found a bus stop to sit down in and called him back. Sister Stewart and I thought we would be discussing one of our investigators with him but when she called him he asked to speak to me. Uh Oh? What did I do? President explained that he had prayed lots about it and feels very uncomfortable each day that the Sisters in Halberstadt (a very small city in our district) weren't driving legally. Sister Openshaw is from California and Germans don't accept their licenses and the other Sisters' American license expired (she's 25) and couldn't renew it. He said he is transferring me to Halberstadt to make me the designated driver since I still have 6 months in the country on my American license and that the transfer would take place immediately. After that phone call sister Stewart and I sat dumb founded and quite sad to be leaving one another and for me to be leaving Celle. Normally transfer calls happen on a Saturday and you don't actually move until a Tuesday so you have all that time to say goodbye to people and do all the things you had wanted to do but never had the chance. Sister Stewart and I finished our day out and then went home so I could pack my things and we could get everything organized for the new sister. It is very weird to see all your earthly possesions fit into two bags. 
   So welcome to Halberstadt. We live above the church in this huge house. The church takes up the bottom floor, all 4 rooms, and then there are 5 apartments above it and we are on the third floor. My new address is Sister Abamonte, Kirche Jesu Christi, Mozart Strasse 7, 38820 Halberstadt, Deutschland. Sister Openshaw is my new companion. She is very fun and is from Houghson, California. In Halberstadt we have a little branch of 15 active members. One family makes up half the ward. Its really quite a testimony builder to come together as such a small group to take part in the sacrament. We only have two hour church so that it gives some people in the branch a break. They trade off weeks of having Elders Quorum and Relief Society and then Sunday School. To be a missionary here is completely different than working in Celle. The whole branch really relys on us. It's fun and will be a very good experience. I'm excited to have my first full week here.
   Sister Openshaw and I do service at an old peoples home for those with dementia. We play games and talk to them. Sister Openshaw wore red lipstick and an old lady sang her a song, ''roten lippen muss man kussen'' ( red lips, a man must kiss), it was quite funny. 
  The Branch had a Fasching activity on Saturday, like Halloween but corrisponds with Carnival and Mardi Gras, and Sister Openshaw and I went as red mushrooms. It's was a bunch of silly games and old people dressed up in costumes. It was sure funny :)
   Talk to you all later! Love you,
-Ariel Nell

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Excerpt from a letter to Ellen

Sister Stewart and I don't have any companionship goals but its something I'll definitely talk to her about. I think that's a great idea and will really help us come together.  I do enjoy a good fast and testimony meeting. I think its one of the easiest meetings for me to understand, except for when they start telling stories. I love being uplifted by others testimonies and the spirit they bring. I had never thought that I brought the spirit to places. I knew it was with me but I guess I never recognized it. This week, one of our investigators told me and Sister Stewart that she could see it and feel it when she first met us at the door. That was a really moving thing for me to hear and to have someone else testify to me that they truly can see the light of Christ in me and my companion when they are seeking it themselves. I think that is the most important part. The other individual has to be seeking it too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Excerpt from Ariel's email to Andre

I like the thoughts of Jonathan Edwards. He is right. Being self-reliant doesn't mean not needing anyone else. We still have to rely on the gospel and Heavenly Father and those around us. Sometimes anwsers to our prayers come in the form of others help.
I am the primary pianist and I absolutely love it. Especially the sharing time lesson. Because it is simple German I can get something uplifting out of church each Sunday. Sacrament meeting is getting better, but i still am only getting the gist of everything. It'll come so I'll just keep learning bigger words :) Anyways, in primary we talked about Matthew 4:18-20 where Christ invites Peter and Andrew to be fishers of men. They had one of the kids be Jesus and all the other kids where given stuffed animals that all come from the sea. They ''swam'' around the primary room doing their own thing and then the kid playing Jesus said come follow me and all the fish kids dropped their fishes in a net and ran to Jesus. It was just a wonderful example to me of how many of the Lords fishes are swimming around the world without a purpose just going to and fro and sister Stewart and I are bringing the Lords words to the fish of ''come follow me''. We are herding fish! I am excited my plaque has been ordered. When it goes up make sure that you polish it like I polished yours every Sunday :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Excerpt from a letter to Lyndel

So we have a British family in our ward here because our ward takes in two British military bases. A little boy from the British family was baptized on Sunday. His Grandma came and spoke about Baptism and the Holy Ghost. She had this accent like Julie Andrews mixed with what everyone's imaginary grandma sounds like. You know, the one that reads you fanciful bedtime stories as she tucks you in? Anyways she was telling Joshua, that ''If Jesus Christ was baptized, you can bet your bottom dollar that you should be baptized too!'' It was just too funny. I truly loved sitting and listening to a talk in English but also to her lovely accent.
   Here's a story Mike will appreciate. In Groß Hehlen, a suburb north of Celle, we stopped and talked to two men sitting outside of a barn smoking. They asked us what we were doing and we explained. We asked how they knew each other and one of the men explained that they were 2 of eleven kids. He said their parents didn't have a TV so what else where they supposed to do in the winter time. It was just too funny and gave us a good laugh in the morning.


So on Monday evening it was -15 Celsius outside and our appointment fell through so we rode out to Alten Celle and did doors. Man it was REALLY cold! I asked Sister Stewart if we could stop at the McDonalds on our way home and warm up. She was cold too so we were both happy to stop and warm up. And we found out that the McDonalds had a cafe so we got some hot chocolate to warm up our insides too :) One lady we doored into asked us why we were out in the cold and that we should only go out in the summer. She was kind enough to let us come in for a few minutes to warm up, gave us some chocolate, and then sent us on our way again. Dad you mentioned that you were sorry when we have to spend time finding or going door to door but I really enjoy it. Or just when we get to talk to people on the street. Most people turn us down but as long as I tried to talk to them about the Gospel, then I've done my part. It's really fun going up to people on the street and when they don't speak German pulling out English. They think they can get away because they don't speak German. Speaking English is like a secret weapon here. When we tell them we speak English they're stuck! They have to talk to us :) We stopped an English man this past week on the street and he said ''Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut'' but with a thick English accent so I said we speak English and he said, ''Oh buggar!''. He he, tricked him! :)

   Every Tuesday we work at the Tafel, a place that receives old food from grocery stores and gives to those who are refugees or very low income for free. We sort fruits and veggies there but we also have been making friends with some of the other workers. Since working there we have run into two other Tafel workers when we have been going door to door and it definitely helps us to make appointments when normally I don't think these people would have let us in. It's neat to see how one little thing like volunteering at the Tafel can open doors all over the place.
   Every Wednesday we have our district meeting. I really look forward to it because its a time where we can interact with other missionaries, get ideas on how to teach something better, and to uplift and edify one another. We got a new dristrict leader and he is just very excited to do missionary work and is very motivated. I really enjoy having him as our leader to help us all achieve the goals we set and to stay positive. I think many missionaries get into a groove and start to have a ba humbug attitude. I have been working very hard to stay positive through the cold and I think it has been paying off. When we can just look for the good or the things that are funny in situations it makes getting through maybe what would be a long day much easier. In our district meeting we decided to name this transfer ''The Big Picture'' so that we focus on the ultimate goal in the long run, to help eveyone get back to live with Heavenly Father. Then with each investigator we have to break it down to see what little things we can work on to build up to the bigger the things to help them return to live with Heavenly Father.
  So this week we had an AMAZING lesson with a girl that we have been teaching. We orinigally planned to teach her the Plan of Salvation but when we got caught up with one another she asked us the basics of what we believe and so Sister Stewart and I began on the Restoration lesson. We went really thoroughly and slowly. I think it is the best lesson we have ever taught together. She was so excited the whole time and just soaked everything up! At the end Sister Stewart and I both shared our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the church with her. She told us that when Sister Stewart and I first knocked on her door she normally would have been afraid to talk to anyone but she felt something good when she saw us and knew she needed to talk to us. It is so amazing to teach her. She loves learning about this Gospel so much. At the end of the lesson I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry, scream, shout, laugh, jump up and down or what. It was just too amazing. The most amazing part for me is being able to look back in my journal to the 14th of January, when we talked to a man on the street for 45 minutes who ended up being interested in a Book of Mormon. He gave us his address, and the next day we dropped off a Book of Mormon and then klingeled or rang doors of the rest of his building. He lives in the same building as our investigator does. If we hadn't stopped to talk to this man we would have never found her. We definitely cannot judge what little actions will lead to we just need to make sure we take the oppportunity to talk to everyone.
   I ate my first döner this week. It's a big popular thing to eat here. It's a Turkish twist with a German twist on the Gyro. I'll be sure to send a picture of it later. There was enough food for a small nation. I'm not sure if I'll eat one of those again but it was fun to experience.
   Well I love you all! I hope you all are having a fabulously warm week. It's supposed to start getting warmer here, like 0 Celsius. Sister Stewart and I are very excited! :) Thanks for all your love and support! Remember to do good work and not to stress out too much! Love you!
-Ariel Nell

Monday, February 6, 2012

My bike!

My Apartment building

A funny German translation on a door of an apartment building

Me and Sister Stewart in -8 weather. If you zoom in you can see the temperature under the clock...

Excerpt from Ariel's Letter to Lyndel

This week has been really cold but really busy. We have 9 progressing investigators which is like unheard of here since it's hard to find people but we have just been very blessed. I don't think we have any activities planned for our P-day today. There is a field behind our apartment building that flooded when we got a whole bunch of rain and then the mini-lake froze over when we got all these negative temperature numbers. I think Sister Stewart and I are going to go sweep off all the snow from the ice and go ice skating in our tennis shoes :) It sure is going to be cold but it'll be fun.

Hey friends!

This week has been a cold, busy, and very successful! We have so many progressing investigators now it’s crazy. We don't have much time for finding anymore since we're teaching all the time. Our Ward Mission Leader in our correlation meeting yesterday asked us how we found all our investigators since they live all over the place. I told him that our area is huge and so we make sure to get to all the areas, since that’s our job. I guess he was shocked that we bother going all over the place. But there really is only so much you can do when you've doored (knocking doors) a whole area

One of our investigators is so excited to learn about the Book of Mormon and he is so ready for the Gospel he just doesn't know it. He has read the Bible since he was 15 and so he strongly believes in everything that is written. That can get kind of frustrating when the Bible say no man can see God and then in other places man can see God. The Joseph Smith story is a lot harder for people to understand or accept than I ever thought. Regardless of the issue, if man can see God or not, our investigator really likes the Book of Mormon and he reads all over in it. Our lessons are always filled with his questions which make it hard to teach one idea, but it’s really neat to see because he is so excited to learn. We will be going back to him later this week to talk about the Plan of Salvation. He keeps asking us if we believe in hell but we haven't had a chance to even get to answer it.

We have another investigator who’s a young woman. She's 20 and she told us from the beginning that she is looking for the truth. She says she is Catholic but has been studying with the Jehovah Witnesses for a year now. It has been difficult to teach her. We will clarify something and it'll make sense to her. Then she will present it to the Jehovah Witnesses and they get her all confused again. She is really frustrated that there are so many different interpretations of the Bible and doesn't understand why it just couldn't be written simply and straight-forward.

Ready for a miracle story?? So we doored into a girl who asked us immediately when she could study with us and we set up a time. The day came for our lesson and she never showed up at the Church building. We waited around  for 30 minutes and then left. We stopped by her house to make another appointment. She said she arrived at the time we left and we figured that’s why we missed her. We set up our second appointment and the day came, we waited for an hour and she never showed. She called us later the next week to say that a family member passed away and she had to go to the funeral in a different city. We were starting to think she wasn't really interested. We set up a third appointment. The day came and she was really late, she still hadn't come so we called her house and as I was on the phone to her sister,  our investigator came home upset. She said she went to the church and no one was there. Come to find out, she had been going to the wrong church the whole time! So I told her we would be to her house in 5 minutes. We got there and taught her and her sister about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. It was an amazing lesson. The family is Muslim but the Mum gave the girls the freedom to investigate about Christianity. A little boy in our ward was getting baptized on Saturday so we invited them to it. They were both very excited! Sister Stewart gave her a tour of the church before the meeting and she said it felt good in the church and that she was feeling something she couldn't describe. This family has gone through so much. They're refugees here and have no friends. Our only young woman in the ward happens to go to the same school as the girl that came to the baptism. They became friends right away and our investigator kept telling us, 'vielen vielen dank' (thank you very much) for giving her a friend. It was really touching. Our one Young Woman invited the investigator to Young Women’s on Sunday and she came! We luckily have another ward baptism this coming Sunday so hopefully her sister can come to this one. It really has been a testimony builder for me to see how the Lord uses people to help his children.

For the baptism Sister Stewart and I were able to get three investigators there. It was awesome. One, a young man, was Muslim and then studied the Bible for 12 years and then joined an Evangelisch Kirche. I talked to him after the baptism and he goes, ''I love Jesus''. It was too funny and very cute. He also brought a Muslim friend who is investigating Christianity. Our investigator said that seeing a baptism is the first step to believing in Christ. After the Baptism Sister Stewart and I stayed and helped clean up the entire ward building. It’s been snowing everyday here this week so the salt that gets laid down to melt the snow gets everywhere and leaves a nasty residue on the church tile so we vacuumed and mopped everything.

Last night we visited a family that we doored into as well. We watched Glauben an Christus finden (Finding Faith in Christ). It was really neat to watch the movie with the whole family. The Dad says he is a free thinker and doesn't like that religion ''restricts'' people but allows his kids to think what they want. He was saying something to the effect of doubting that God and Jesus Christ exist and his 6 year old son goes, ''I believe in Jesus and God''. It was really cool to see this little person stand up for the things he innately knows. I was reading in Alma 32 that morning. Alma begins teaching the Zoramite people and then finds the poor people who are thrown out of the synagogues and begins teaching them. He tells them that God is merciful to all those that believe on his name and that he will impart his word to those that desire. Verse 23 ''little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.'' When I first read this it made me think of Mum’s student, who said that Martin Luther King Jr. was turning the world right side up. And then last night to hear that little boy say to his Dad what he believes was really neat. It really is important to learn from the little ones. They honestly teach so much and know so much as long as we listen.

We had transfer calls on Saturday and Sister Stewart and I are staying in Celle :) We're both excited. We have 206 missionaries in the Berlin mission now. Crazy how many that is but how thinly spread out we seem to be. Sister Stewart will go home at the end of this transfer. I'm not looking forward to that. So this past week we mastered the art of tracting in -9 degree weather. This is what you have to wear: thermals, two pairs of knitted tights, one pair nylons, an undershirt, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a short sleeved t-shirt, a dress, a sweater, a hoodie, a scarf, a hat with ear flaps, a puffy jacket, and gloves. Man was it nice and toasty! I'll be sure to attach a picture of Sister Stewart and I as we are tracting in -8 weather. There is a clock behind us showing the temperature. If you are able to zoom in you'll see the temperature. On our way to church yesterday it was -12. CRAZY!!! But you get used to it. Layering is essential.

Dad,  I really like your idea to get the ward involved in giving the missionaries referrals. I have yet to receive a referral but I do know how much more teaching we would get if the ward members could just open their mouths with their friends and share a tid-bit about the gospel. Our ward mission leader is really good about that. He told us yesterday that he gave all his tennis buddies (as they were drinking their beers) a pass a-long card and talked about the restoration and plan of salvation with him. He really tries to encourage everyone to have pass a-long cards or pamphlets in their suit coats.

I hope all is well and that you continue to have another fabulously fast week!
-Ariel Nell

NY Giants win the Super Bowl!

(Excerpt of an email from Ariel to Andre)

HAhaha!! You're hilarious! Why don't you use a computer next time silly??!! (Just told her that my thumbs hurt from emailing her on my iPhone.)
In Germany it's a bit different. In the MTC they taught us to invite people the first time we meet them but you really can't. We had one investigator with a baptismal date for this past Saturday but he said he still wants to think about it. It seems to be really difficult for him to understand what we are teaching even though he is really interested. It makes me wonder how much smoking really affects your brain. We started going through all the lessons with him. We will finish with the third and go back to the first since he has had it about 3 times now and still can't tell you about Prophets, Christs' earthly ministry, Jospeh Smith, or details about the Book of Mormon.
The Polish guy is doing way good. We had a lesson with him this past week. We planned on teaching the plan of salvation but he had so many questions. It was really good though. He is one of those investigators that really just needs to read the book of mormon cover to cover and he'll love it. He already likes the bits that he has read. He keeps asking us what makes us different than everyone else but we've already told him. When leaving our last lesson he asked us to give him a bit so he can read lots. We plan to go back to him maybe wednesday or friday. Its fun to teach him because he is so prepared and excited for this gospel he just doesn't know it yet.
I'm glad Ellen got my letter. Her email was just too funny. You can really hear Ellen through her writing. I really like that. I always feel like i sound like a robot or something. I think it was really neat that you, Dad, and Mike got to pass the sacrament with Eli. It is crazy to think how much he hs grown. Makes me feel old.