Monday, April 14, 2014

Friendship & Kindess Go A Long Way

Hallo All,

After last week, I think ANYTHING would feel less crazy, but I can honestly say that it was nice to have things back to normal this week. 
I think that the Lord felt really bad for how crazy busy things were last week, so He made this week really...really....slow....Poor Sister Pentz, I kept telling her on the train ride home from Vienna how busy we are in Linz and how much we have to do! And than we got to planning this week and we have really struggled to schedule any appointments at all. It was probably a blessing in disguise for many reasons, but definitely one blessing is that we got to spend a little bit of time going contacting.  

In all honesty, contacting hasn't really been one of my favorite things to do on my mission. I enjoy contacting on the buses and Stra├čenbahns, talking to strangers and just finding something to start a conversation. But street contacting and going door-to-door has never been my favorite. Because it just doesn't come naturally to me, I have just kind of pushed those things aside and hoped that my wonderful Golden's would learn from other companions how to street contact. 

It must be really important to the Lord that I train Sister Pentz the right way (including all kinds of contacting) because with all of the extra time we had, we were able to put a good deal of focus and energy on contacting. 

I don't know why, but for some reason it is easy for me to assume that everybody else knows the things that I know or thinks the way I think. I have noticed that there have been so many times recently that I find myself talking to somebody and when I turn to ask Sister Pentz for her thoughts, I see a blank look on her eyes that feels all too familiar from when I was a new missionary!! I love these moments, not because I feel so smart- but because it is a reminder to slow down and to stop worrying about doing everything perfect! It is a reminder that it is best for me to just focus on helping Sister Pentz not only learn to do missionary work, but to LOVE it. 
This really is one of the greatest blessings of training- being able to just watch a wonderful new missionary grow from being 100% dependent on you to feel comfortable in the area, the language, the travel systems and the ward to having courage to be a 50/50 partner in the work. And of course, to see them completely walk around outside their comfort zone and to LOVE doing things that were scary to them just a few days before!!!  I feel a little bit of absolute joy every time I see these little things because when I was new, these weren't LITTLE things at all! It's actually the fastest way to make my day :)  
I love to see the progress that the new missionaries make, but also I love how their fresh perspective and approach are a constant reminder that after all is said and done- it's the people that really matter in missionary work. I will be sitting on a bus trying to get organized; I will be stressed out about how to make everything work out that week and looking at a long list of people we need to call- than sure enough, I will hear bubbly Sister Pentz talking to a stranger on the bus, saying ''Excuse me, I am new, I can't speak much German, can I practice with you? You see, I am a missionary here, and this is what I do...''  Seriously, I can't help but smile :) 

President and Sister Miles were at our district meeting this week so that President could do interviews. For the past few interviews, I have had a pretty specific question that I wanted to talk with President Miles about. 
This interview was kind of hard for me to prepare for. I didn't really know what to say. I kind of wanted to walk in and say 'President, I am confused! I don't know what I am still doing here in Linz, I feel a little like maybe Linz would be better with someone completely new; I don't know why on earth I am training again. I am confused, I am feeling inadequate, I just need love!'  
But how do you go into a conversation like that? But again, I received a confirmation that President Miles is really in called from the Lord! He was able to sit down and answer the questions of my heart before I even asked them. I was able to leave district meeting with a renewed sense of what I need to do to fulfill my callings as a missionary in Linz and as a trainer. 
It was one of those days where it really hits you that Heavenly Father knows each one of us so personally. And He knows the people who will touch our lives each day. President Miles couldn't read my mind- but Heavenly Father knew what was in my heart and on my mind. Because of that, He could give President Miles exactly the right words to say at the exact right moment. 
Please don't be afraid to speak what's on your mind (if it's kind or uplifting). There is a good chance that the thoughts that pop into your head are words that are very much needed to the person you are chatting with. Remember we are intended to be instruments in God's hands, so open your mouth and open your arms- you WILL touch someone's life, I promise!
We did have a really cool miracle this past week. For the past few months, every time we have gone to visit R, her friend 'E' was always there as well. But E would either come in at the very end of a lesson, or she would go to another room while we taught, even though we invited her to join us. After one lesson, R gave us E's address to go by on her, but E was never there. She even told R that she had no interest in meeting with us. Even though we weren't ever able to teach E, we continued to get to know her, ask about her family, and be friendly every time we saw her at R's. Just last week, we were about to teach R a little lesson when E came in. To our surprise, E stayed, and actually participated in the lesson a little bit. At the end, right before we said the closing prayer, E looked at us and said that we could come and visit her at her house if we'd like. Of course we would!! R of course got all excited, and we set up a new appointment for after Easter vacation (ugh, you learn to hate vacation time as a missionary...) and that was that!  
It was just a witness to me that if we do our part, which is love the people we meet regardless of if they are interested in our message or not- and we continue to invite them to ''come and see'' us at church or activities- we won't have to convince or force people to learn anything! Just by feeling loved, they will feel the spirit and through the spirit, they will just naturally develop an interest. Our interest and love for them helps spark their curiosity to what we do and how we live. 
It is simple, really. But it requires a lot of patience and trust. And prayer, and humility, and diligence, and everything else that goes along with missionary work!! 
On a more serious note- I need prayers!! Lots and lots of prayers...

The senior couple serving here is also in charge of planning Young Single Adult activities. Sister Didenhover, the senior sister, came up to me a few weeks ago and said she wanted to plan a Mexican themed YSA activity for Cinco de Mayo  and thought it would be fun if I taught how to Texas line dance. I just kind of laughed and agreed that it would be a very fun activity. I told her I didn't dare commit because I wasn't even sure if I would be here still in May. Well, now that the transfer has started and we know for sure that I will be here for the May 3rd activity, Sister Didenhover decided that was my answer (or the Lord's answer that I can teach line dancing)!!  
At the YSA activity on Saturday, I had so many people come up to me telling me how excited they were that I was going to teach everyone line dancing in May.
Just because I lived in Texas on and off for a few months doesn't mean I know how to Texas line dance!! I have never even owned cowboy boots-

The whole scheme just gets better because Sister Didenhover also asked one of the elders here in Linz to help out, because he has gone line dancing before.  So Elder Croft and I are going to have to figure out how to teach line dancing and be dance partners...and still maintain dignity in our callings. I haven't listened to music in so long, I don't even know that I will be able to keep a beat, let alone dance to one. 
So please pray for my success and ability to pull this together for the activity. It would mean so much to me (and the Didenhovers, and all of the YSAs in the Ober├ľsterreich region...thanks!!!)

I love you all so much- 
I feel your prayers every day. I wish I could tell you how much they sustain me when things feel tough. I love being a missionary and am so grateful for all the support I receive from everyone! Just remember, no thought and prayer for love goes unnoticed by those you pray for.

Sister Kori Peterson


Monday, April 7, 2014

April Fools and so much more

Hallo Friends & Family-

     Buckle up, this is a jam packed email.
     This week, hands down, was the funnest, craziest, scariest, most stressful week of my entire LIFE!!! 
     In total, I think I spent 15 hours on trains, traveled to Salzburg, Munich, Vienna, and the border of the Czech Republic; went without a companion for 24 hours, and only spent about 8 hours doing missionary work in Linz. 

Holy Moly you say? Well let's start from the beginning...

Monday:  All of the Sisters in the Salzburg Zone got permission to go to Salzburg to have a Sisters p-day together. We had so much fun! Sister Henry and Sister Clark showed us around Salzburg; we went shopping, sight seeing, and then had a fun Sisters Finding day together :) 
I love my first baby
Sister Henry and I were able to go on splits and work together for a few hours, which was really good for me. I was having a lot of worries and doubts and feelings of inadequacy about training again, and I got to ask her for advice. What she thought I did good about training? What she thinks I could have done differently? It was just really comforting and uplifting to have my very first Golden ever tell me that she still admires me. It was interesting and very helpful to hear the things that she said she really liked about me training her, especially how I made her feel needed and like an equal. Well, that wasn't hard to do, I was in my 3rd transfer, of course I needed her help!! Now I am going into my 9th transfer, and I am hoping that I can still make Sister Pentz (my new companion) feel just as important, loved and needed as she is!

Sister's p-day in Salzburg

A silly group of Sister missionaries
Tuesday:  We slept over in Salzburg because we had Zone Training on Tuesday. The Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders pulled an AWFUL April fools joke! We were going through some mission business and rules, and they told us that our email time was being cut down from 2 and 1/2 hours to just one hour. It was super hard to accept that rule gracefully, I have to admit! I think I could even venture to say, I was pretty mad about it! But at the very end of Zone training, Sister Henry stood up and told us that it was just an April fools day joke, we still have 2.5 hours to do emails! Boy, was that a relief! But those sneaky, sneaky missionaries had me worried for a while! 
We drove back into Linz that night, made it just in time to eat dinner and than off to go to a meeting with our ward mission leader- after which we crashed into bed.
Street Shopping

Sister's slumber party
Wednesday:  We drove to Salzburg AGAIN to drop Sister Ackerman and Sister Threlkeld off in Salzburg.
I'm really going to miss Sister Ackerman
From there, Sister Jenson and I got on a train bound for Munich so we could go to the Golden/trainer meeting. We were super excited, talking about our goals for training, what we were nervous and excited for. En route, we got a text from the mission office telling us that they have bad news for us. Because of the bad reception on the train, we weren't able to get a hold of the office for about 30 minutes. Sister Jenson and I were basically freaking out trying to guess what could be the bad news coming in from the mission office! Let me tell you, a girls imagination can get a little crazy when she reads the words "BAD NEWS" with no other explanation.
I haven't seen Elder Stirling since the MTC; he is training this transfer too

So beautiful
Sister Smith and I on transfer day
We finally got in touch with the office Elders, who told us that the Golden's had missed their plane from England to Munich, that the English airline workers were on strike, and so the soonest time that our new Golden's could come in was next week. All of the trainers still arrived in Munich so we had a wonderful dinner with President and Sister Miles. We still had our trainer meeting and brainstormed ways that we could get the Golden's to us as fast as we could. We also discussed how we could work in our areas until our companions came. Basically, we were told to find the closet missionary companionship in our area and work with them for a little bit until further notice.
Thursday:  This was supposed to be the big exciting Transfer day!! But alas... I had no companion!! Luckily, Sister Jenson was also scheduled to be training this transfer and she is in Wels which is only 15 minutes away from Linz by train. So we were told to work with each other for a little bit until our golden's got into town. It was so nice to get to spend time with my first companion in Germany and to see how we've both grown in the past six months. 
After a crazy day in Wels
We traveled from Munich back to Wels, went to Institute in Wels, and then drove back to Linz to spend the night. We got the news late Thursday night that our Golden's were going to be flying in to 10:30 Friday night! So we packed our bags again, moved around some appointments, and went to bed.
A super old castle
Friday:  We had an appointment with a pretty new investigator family who lives in Aigen...which is on the border of the Czech Republic! It is actually only a 15 minute hike through some mountains to get there, but hiking through the mountains would be against the rules :P  
Czech Republic
Instead of a beautiful mountain hike (we did still take pictures) we had to run to catch so many trains that day!! We almost missed our train to Aigen, but caught it- literally by the hair on our chinny chin chins! We sprinted to catch the train to Wels and made it with 10 seconds to spare. We had a few appointments in Wels, so we also had to run like the wind to catch our train to Vienna. The Elders in Vienna picked us up from Bahnhof and took us to the airport to pick up our Golden's. Their plane was a little late, so we didn't actually meet them until 11pm. It was such a relief to finally meet Sister Pentz! The week had been so stressful and emotional, it was like a breath of fresh air to finally have her by my side! We traveled to the Sister's Apartment in Vienna to spend the night, but didn't arrive until 1 pm! Needless to say, we were exhausted and fell into our beds ready for some serious slumber.
Waiting at the airport in Vienna
Saturday: Sister Jenson had the brilliant idea that we still wake up at 6:30 am! She thought it would be a fantastic idea if our Golden's woke up at 6:30 for their first day of training! Even though in situations like ours we are allowed to get a full 8 hours of sleep! So yes, on this ONLY day we would be allowed to sleep in and we probably really needed it! Luckily we are missionaries and we love each other- or I think she would have had a serious dog pile as we held her down for more sleep. We all groggily woke up, got ready, and took a train back to our areas. We got back just in time to eat some lunch and then watch some General Conference. I have to confess, it was the hardest thing not to fall asleep! But I will say, Sister Pentz was a trooper- she has such a great attitude.
We have twin watches, we were meant to be together

Mirabel Gardens
Sunday:  More General Conference!! It was the very first full day that I had spent with my own companion in my own area all week! And it was Sister Pentz first full day in Linz. Most of it was spent studying and watching General Conference, so needless to say, we were still pretty exhausted.

Monday (today):  Our very first p-day! What to do with my new companion on her first p-day in her first area on the second full day of her first area? 
I was listing off some fun things that we could do in Linz and mentioned that there is a Haribo factory here. Seriously, Sister Pentz about had a heart attack! So we made that our first priority for the day, it felt like we were in the middle of a heavenly candy wonderland :)  You may have heard that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but if that is what you think I can guarantee you have definitely never been to a candy factory!  
Sister Pentz and I at Haribo candy factory
Well, that was my crazy week! As stressful as it was, I could feel the Lord pulling me through. even in the moments where all I wanted to do was collapse and just cry. I'm pretty sure that I even broke into hysterics on the phone with some of the Elders (sorry Elder Allan!!) But every time I started to get upset or discouraged, somebody was always there by my side.  Whether it was a member, a companion, or the kind stranger on the street who gave me a flower because they felt like I needed it- there was always SOMETHING or SOMEONE to remind me to buckle up my bootstraps and keep going! Please remember that- to you, it might be a simple smile you share to someone as they get off the bus, but to them- that smile is their saving grace for the day! You just seriously NEVER know who you are helping and impacting for good. 
They wanted to go dooring

A church in Salzburg
If anything, this week has just made me REALLY GRATEFUL that I get to go back to missionary work this week! I love the travel, the trains and the fun stuff we get to see and do, but I miss just simply teaching  and serving people! 

Thanks for your patience in reading through this rant.  I am sure that I wouldn't have been able to make it through this week if it wasn't for everyone's prayers and support. I am finally catching my breath, I'm not living out of my backpack anymore, and I am ready to start this transfer and take Linz by storm! And Sister Pentz is great, I am excited to work with her. She is from Colorado Springs, her family sounds awesome and I hear her sister has already made contact with my mom! We really do live in a small world after all :) 

Have an amazing week!  I love you all!
Sister Peterson

Monday, March 31, 2014

Will I stay, or will I go???

*** Note from Mom- Kori did not send pictures last week, but she sent both weeks today. If you'd like to see her one year celebration pictures, go back to read last weeks post here


     The week leading up to transfer calls is always super stressful, really long, and very exciting for me. I have been under the assumption that when Sister Ackerman left I would get another companion for one transfer, and then leave Linz for another area. But as the week went on and transfer calls got closer and closer, I began to remember that transfer calls NEVER go as you think they will! 
I haven't seen Frey chocolate since Freiburg :)
      This is especially true right now because there are not a whole lot of missionaries coming in over the next few months, but there's a lot going home! I have heard through the missionary grapevine that there will be a lot of areas closing right now too. For a while, I was really worried that Linz would either be closed for Sisters or white-washed (area closed). This thought gave me a lot of stress, because there are so many good people here in Linz, and some making really good progress.  
     Surprisingly, the thought that most frequently came into my mind was "what if you train? It is totally possible that you train again."  
     Every time this thought came into my mind, I would laugh to myself and think ''Sister Peterson, are you CRAZY? President has officially fired you from training! You have trained 3 times- nonstop-! You are done being a trainer. 
     Training again would also mean that I would still have 2 more transfers (12 weeks) in Linz in order to complete the training program of a new missionary. That would mean 9 MONTHS in Linz; that's half of my mission! I just totally did not see how that was even a realistic thought. I brushed the thoughts out of my mind every time I thought them and would proceed on my merry little way doing missionary work.
We made cupcakes with M
      Well, Saturday morning came. The phone rang and President Miles gave Sister Ackerman the final send off phone call with her ''Thank you for your service, you have been a wonderful missionary and now you may officially pack your bags to go home''. 
... And then he asked to speak to me. My mind was swimming with all of the other sisters serving throughout the mission. I was trying to think quick about who else was also probably getting transferred and trying to take a quick guess as to who my new companion would be! I was so caught up in trying to guess who I would serve with and where I might be going, that I was not really paying 100% attention to President Miles. LUCKILY, I was listening just enough to hear him say ''...will  you accept a new companion...from the MTC?''  
Me & MTC?
Wait, what???
Are you serious???

     I was literally shaking on the phone as I told President yes. I was really excited at the time, I mean, I LOVE training, and I LOVE getting new Golden's as companions. But it never gets any easier!! There is always the fear of if we will work well together, if I will be the right person to fit their needs and teach them the right way that they need to be taught. To be a missionary's first companion is a LOT of responsibility. Everything you do is pretty much their first impression about what being a missionary is and what serving a mission is.  
     It was especially tough to think about after this week where I have felt like I was falling into a rut in Linz. So to hear I was staying and would need to be on my 'A' game for a new Golden again, I kind of panicked!
     All I can say about training is that it is a total mix of emotions, and I still haven't sorted them all out yet! It is really interesting though because there are only two new sisters coming into the mission-one coming here to Linz, Austria. The other new sister is going to Wels to be trained by Sister Jenson (my trainer!!) AND we are in the same district, so it will be fun to see how Sister Jenson trains this time and to see if we are a lot the same.  
     I did get some very sad news from Sister Henry last week. She had called me to let me know that Bruder Halder, one of our investigators in Freiburg, had just passed away of a heart attack. He had a baptismal date set in just a couple of weeks, but had died before he got the chance to be baptized. As surprised as I was, I was also surprised that the feeling I got wasn't one of sadness or devastation, but a complete feeling of peace filled my whole body. Of course I was sad that one of the people that I loved and worked with had passed away, but I couldn't help but feel extremely grateful and confident that he was being taken care of. He had a baptismal date, he was on the right path. He has a loving wife who will be able to take his name to the temple and have his ordinances done there. He and his wife will finally be sealed to each other for time and all eternity, which was always their biggest goal in the first place :)  
     As cheesy as it might sound, I am super grateful to know that death really doesn't separate us permanently at all. It really is just another step of life that everybody has to take on our progression back to our Heavenly Father. It definitely does not mean that it is the end of our journey. Heavenly Father's plan is perfect and does not leave anybody out! And for that, I am truly grateful! 
     I am very sorry that there isn't much to tell about this week, we don't have a lot of time for emails today. We are off for  a special sister's p-day- YAY!!! 
     I do want to thank everybody for your prayers and support :)  I love you so much!  Have a good week!

Sister Peterson

I decided to wear pig-tails- the look didn't last long

Riding the dinosaur

Taking a little bit of silly time
Take what you need poster- we all need one of these in our homes