While planning our trip to Germany, we were really excited to attend church in the ward Matt was a part of as a missionary in Munich. Unfortunately, we discovered upon arrival that the building was being renovated and ward boundaries had changed. Plan B took us to an international ward about 45 minutes away from our hotel, and we enjoyed breakfast from a local bakery as we waited for the U-Bahn (pronounced "ooo-bahn").
When we arrived at the chapel, this sign was such a welcome sight: Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzen Tage, or "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
And an even better sight was walking in the front doors and seeing a man greeting people as they came inside, a man Matt knew well. Ikenna is an African refugee whom Matt had taught the gospel to and baptized five years ago, but whom he had lost touch with since.
Matt approached Ikenna, stuck out his hand, and started to say, "I don't know if you remember me, but my name is Matthew Da..." He wasn't able to finish, because Ikenna had already thrown his arms around Matt in an embrace suitable only for a much beloved friend. Ikenna then turned to me, with tears in his eyes and a giant smile on his face, and excitedly explained: "He brought me to the church! He brought me to the church." It was such a sweet moment between the two of them, and such a special one for me to see the fruits of Matt's labors and experience firsthand the joy that Matt's missionary service had brought to another's life.
The scripture found in Alma 17:2 immediately came to my mind with an increased measure of understanding. After being apart for several years, Alma happened to meet up with his dear friends, the sons of Mosiah. The scripture continues: "Therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God."
(I promise, Ikenna was ALL smiles before and after this picture! Apparently, it's a cultural thing from his African roots to not smile in pictures.)
Ikenna reported that his two friends, whom Matt baptized as well, were both still strong in the faith and active members of the church (one had moved away and the other had to work that day). That experience alone made the entire trip worthwhile and still brings tears to our eyes tonight as we recall it.
That afternoon, we took a little nap (after all, we'd been going non-stop since we got to Europe and were still incredibly jet lagged) and enjoyed a quiet Sunday stroll around Munich. We brought our camera out for a quick picture at the Karlsplatz fountains, but kept it tucked away the rest of the time.
It was really nice to forget we were tourists and instead just walk hand in hand, enjoying the evening together as we meandered around the charming old city. A special Sunday, indeed.