Posted by Sydney

Berlin has been really interesting!  It has been neat seeing all of the ways that this city has come back from the devastation of war.  The most interesting things we have seen has been the Holocaust memorials and museums.  We have seen the cars, pulleys, cable boxes, air balloons, etc that people would use to try to escape East Germany. 

The Holocaust museum and memorial is very well done.  It emphasizes the people – survivors and those who did not survive Nazi rule.  They showed families and you could see that many times only one or two would survive of a family.  It was sobering and heartbreaking that any of Heavenly Father’s children had to endure such cruel circumstances.  You could have heard a pin drop – people were so reverent in honor of the people we read about on the plaques found throughout the museum.  Many times our eyes filled with tears knowing that the victim we were reading about was someone's parent, spouse, or child.

The memorial was so unique, but very moving.  There are hundreds of large cement blocks of different heights on a large plaza.  The ground rolls like little hills so the blocks all look different.  It was interesting to think that they are all the same, but different.  Just like the people and families so deeply affected by the war – they were the same in their circumstance in many ways, but each is a unique individual.  A child of God.

Church was wonderful.  As we walked to church about 45 minutes away, we saw two darling Sister missionaries ahead of us.  One was from Texas and the other from Guatemala.  They speak Spanish, German, English, and are learning French because they “have a guy to teach and he only speaks French”.  :). We’ve been in Berlin during a heat wave (easily 100 degrees – most places don’t have air conditioning) so church was cut to only Sacrament Meeting.  It was so touching to hear the testimonies of the members here.  The Spirit was strong and the members valiant.   They testified of miracles and tender mercies.  We loved singing the hymns with them and feeling of their spirit. 

We also visited Checkpoint Charlie.  It was wonderful to watch the speech from President Ronald Reagan when he told Mr. Gorbachov to “Tear down this wall”.  This quote was found on the subway walls and in museums.  It is clear that this speech was a true defining moment for the Germans.  We watched amazing footage of people pouring over the wall and through the barriers when they were told they were free to leave East Germany.  It was neat to think about the time that President Monson spent in East Germany with the saints there.  What a blessing that must have been to those Saints!

The thing I have come away with from Berlin is how wonderfully resilient the German people have been.  They have come through hard times and prevailed.  It is so neat to see that freedom is something that the human spirit truly wants.  Most of all, however, I am grateful for my freedom - especially Freedom of Religion.  What a gift!