What time is it? Birthday time! Let’s celebrate it! (I hope as you read this, the tune of a High School Musical song came to your head. This is party in honor of one of the elders here who attended East High. Other side note tangent, I was a background extra in HSM3 and my red blackberry phone got stolen. So that kind of ruined HSM for me, but sometimes the songs come back and haunt me during my email time.) Woah. Sorry, I had no idea that I was the queen of tangents today.
This week I celebrated my big ol’ 21st birthday in my big ol’ favorite BERLIN! We had a missionary meeting, and I was able to take a few hours to eat the world’s best ice cream and see some of my favorite member friends. (That’s a shout out to you Christian, Natalie, Maria, and Helena!) My birthday is also a holiday here marking 25 years since East and West Germany were unified. Sister C and I woke up at the crack of dawn and went on a long run through downtown Berlin in the still of the morning. It was simply stunning, and I was able to ponder about the past year I lived and everything I accomplished, and the goals I didn’t quite reach. (mostly too not gain weight, but like I said, Rittersports were on sale this week…)
We eventually reached the Brandenburger Gate (a staple of Berlin) and I ran from one side to the other and kept thinking about how 25 years ago that would have been impossible. Sometimes I think we take history for granted, but when we study the context than the content becomes so much more meaningful. The fact that I am even able to be in East Germany preaching the gospel, is a miracle in and of itself. Had you told me this 25 years ago, I would’ve….not been around to hear it…but had you have told my West German father that his daughter would one day preach the gospel in East Germany, he would have probably laughed.
President Uchtdorf (who I hope you all watched this past weekend at General Conference, he is simply amazing. Also did you catch his use of danglish in the 2nd session?) once shared this story:
We were attending the Swiss Temple one day when Harriet overheard a conversation between two elderly sisters from East Germany. The elderly at the time were the only ones in the DDR who were allowed to travel to the Swiss Temple, as the regime felt sure that they were not a flight risk.
Harriet told me that this poor sister must have been very confused or lost her mind over the continuous wishful thinking to have a temple in East Germany. We felt sorry for these sisters but also a little amused at the same time when we shared the episode with our friends. There wasn’t even a temple in West Germany. How could the Church build one in the DDR?
A few days later, the Freiberg Temple was announced.
In June of 1985, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated in East Germany the Freiberg Germany Temple as a house of the Lord. It was the first temple behind the Iron Curtain. A temple in a communist land that almost everyone (including me) had said would never be possible in our lifetime.
The construction of the Freiberg Temple is one of the great miracles in the history of the Church in Europe. It is a wonderful example of how God can make the impossible possible in any part of the world.
The lesson here is an important one: God knows what we do not. What may seem impossible for us is not impossible to Him. What we mortals may write off as foolishness, may be entered into the book of heaven as fact.
Ladies and Gentlemen, miracles happen, even more than birthdays happen. I love serving here and you best believe I plan on making these last weeks some of the best. Thank you for all of your birthday wishes!