Monday, September 8, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen

Hallo Familie und Freundes,

     Here is a great thing about the German language. When saying goodbye to people, there are numerous things you can say:  Ciao! Tschüß! Pfurdi! Bussi! Tschüßie baba! Auf Wiedersehen!  
     I have always before said Tschüß or Ciao; but I have switched to Auf Wiedersehen this week. Do you know what Auf Wiedersehen literally means? 'To see again', isn't that a beautiful sentiment? When I say Auf Wiedersehen, I feel like it is equivalent to the American version of telling someone "see you later!"  or "goodbye, until we see each other again." It's not an end, it's just a short pause between visits.
     Isn't that the beautiful part about the gospel? Isn't that the amazing part about the world that we live in today? With technology and with our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, it never has to be a good-bye forever. There is always a 'wiedersehen' hanging in the air, whether it will be on Facebook or Skype, or through phone calls, letters, and vacations; there is always an opportunity to see people again.
     Yesterday was my last day of church as a missionary; my last Sunday, not only in Munich, but here in the Alpine German-speaking region. I was expecting it to be super, super sad, but with a 'wiedersehen' perspective, it was okay! Yeah, there was a few times where I was near tears; especially when Sister Motto and Br. Miller (the ward mission leader here) got up to bear their testimonies- both included how much they will miss me and how grateful they are for my service. I was almost a bawling baby at those points, but zum Glück, no tears have been shed..yet! 
     I will be sad to go, it will be hard to take off the missionary name tag, but on a pair of jeans, and go to the movie theater and ice cream shop alone, or even worse, with a boy! (gasp!) But hey, I have had a great 18 months; really the best 18 months I could have ever dreamed of and some of the best experiences. I have laughed so hard that I have cried & I have cried so hard that I have laughed. I have eaten more Swiss chocolate and marzipan balls as comfort food than I ever will the rest of my life. I have met so many amazing people, worked with inspiring servants of God, and learned more than I ever expected. How grateful I am to have been here, but...   
     I need to look forward with faith and look back with gratitude. 
     I do not want to say much about leaving, I am trying to stay focused on Germany while I am here and I do not have much time... But, I do want everyone to know that I love my mission! I love these people, but more than anything, I love my Savior. I am eternally grateful that He paved the way for me to not only come to this world, but to return to my Father after this life. I am grateful that He made it possible for me to repent, and not to just repent from sins, but to align my life and my habits with His. His love has made it possible for me to be more loving, more kind, more patient, more diligent; to have more faith, more knowledge, and more hope. 
     So I want to close my final email home, to all of my friends and to all of my family, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord and I'll be what you want me to be." For the past 18 months, He has needed me as Sister Peterson in the Alpine German Speaking mission, but now, He needs something else from me; He needs someone else to do different things. I don't know what that is yet, but I have faith. And, as a very smart man (namely our prophet) would put it, ''The future is as bright as your faith.'' So lets make it shine.

-Sister Peterson

A P.S from Sister Peterson's mom- 
     Even in our private emails between one another, Kori has been adamant that until she gets on the plane on Friday, she is Sister Peterson and has refused to discuss matters of coming home. Though this has been somewhat frustrating to me, I admire that she has wanted to remain dedicated to serving The Lord until the final moment. She has been an example to me in a way that she will never truly see or know. I consider her growth and hope that through her testimony each week she has brought you a little closer to Christ- for truly that has been her purpose as a missionary- to bring the light of the gospel and our Savior to the lives of those she touches.
I received this message from the mother of another Sister serving in this mission:
     "I had the chance to work with Sister Peterson, who will be heading home this week. It was really nice to finally work with her. I've heard so much about her (she was one of the only Sisters I hadn't met before coming here and she was the one I replaced in Linz). She is hilarious and really cool! We saw lots of miracles just talking with everyone, despite all of our plans falling out."
     Thank you for your prayers and your love in supporting Sister Peterson and, in turn, supporting us in sharing her with the people who live in that beautiful part of the world. 
*** No pictures this week, so I wanted to share a few of my favorites:

Sister Peterson and the sisters of her travel group

Sister Regneir & Sister Peterson- last night in the MTC

Sister Peterson & Sister Jenson- her trainer!
Sister Peterson's trainee turned great friend, Sister Henry

One of my favorite pictures from the entire mission

Sister Peterson's second trainee, Sister Wunderlii

Sister Erdenstogt (training in a Driit), Sister Wunderlii & Sister Peterson

Sister E & Sister Peterson were a match made in Heaven

Sister Peterson's greenie buster- Sister Ackerman

Sister Peterson's fourth trainee, Sister Pentz

Sister Peterson reunited with Sister Jenson and Sister Erdenstogt

Munich at last 

Sister Motto & Sister Peterson, the beginning of a beautiful friendship! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Small Wrinkle in Time...

Hello One & All, 

     In Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood session, he recounted the story of Rip Van Winkle; a man who fell asleep on a hill one day and woke up years and years later to see that everything had changed! The crazy thing about time is that in the moment, time doesn't seem to go by all that fast, but looking back, it is amazing to think of how quickly time passes and in an instant everything can change dramatically.
German pride and gratitude for this mission!
      I was able to go on an exchange with my MTC companion, Sister Regnier this past week; she is someone that I have always ADORED, so this was truly a wonderful blessing for me! Though we have been able to see each other occasionally since I got to Munich, this was the first time that I was able to really talk with her ever since we came to Germany. It was really cool to see what has changed in her and what hasn't changed; but it was especially fun to see the areas that we have grown. 

... and Now!
     For example, Sister Regnier has always been a very bold teacher, even in the MTC. But to see her now, still bold, but with a whole new spark to her, it was very cool to see. And it was really good for me to see how dedicated and diligent she is, even in these final few weeks that the two of us have left. Lots of the missionaries were teasing me before our exchange, saying ''You two are just going to have a gigantic trunk fest and talk about home the entire time!'' In reality, we probably only talked about home for about 15 minutes during dinner, and the rest was mission, mission, mission. She has been and still is a really good example to me; it reminded me how blessed I was in the MTC and have continued to be blessed throughout my entire mission to be surrounded by wonderful companions! 
     To share a little humor from our talk of "home" I can tell you a story that shows both my blonde personality AND the fact that I've been on a mission for awhile... 
    As Sister Regnier and I were talking, she asked me if I was excited for my first date back home. Thinking she was talking about my literal FIRST DAY back home (instead of a date with a boy) I proceeded to talk about my excitement and my nervousness. I told her that I am a bit sad that my Grandma won't be there to pick me up and spend the day with me, but at least my parents will be there; I told her I expected that the first few days I was probably just going to sleep and cry the entire time and everyone would have to deal with it!  
     Finally, Sister Regnier started cracking up and said ''Well, I'm glad you love your grandma that much, but I hope you aren't planning on bringing her along on your first date!!'' 
Ooops...hmmm, I guess I am not too sure how to answer the REAL question that she was asking :) 
Elders Spencer and Vitel
     We were also able to have a Finding Day with our district this week. After district meeting, our district leader picked two areas in Munich for us to spend an hour in each and simply talk to people on the streets and go finding! Sister Motto and I were super stoked, especially about the areas we would be going to, we set high goals, we studied, we practiced, and our faith was high...and then we had a really anticlimactic finding day. 
That's a really big pretzel!
      We gathered back up at the end to hear all of the other missionaries talk about the cool miracles that they saw that day, all of the Books of Mormon that they gave out, etc. I am not gonna lie, I was kinda discouraged to say that we only found two people, and they live in the other missionaries area, not ours!

     For the rest of the day, I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, if my lack of success has been an obedience or a diligence issue and to try to understand why we didn't find anyone. Well, that night, we decided to call the Munich 3 Sisters, just to see how they were doing. As soon as they answered the phone they said ''Sisters, we have some awesome miracles to tell you about!!'' They told us about 3 miracles they had seen that day. Sister Harman was explaining that they had had a discouraging couple of weeks, how they were talking to everyone, handing out cards, offering the Book of Mormon, going on the streets, and nobody had ANY interest- they had had NO success. But then that day, out of nowhere, 3 amazing people dropped from the sky and came up to THEM, with amazing questions and actually thirsting to know the truth. They said it was cool to see how they still get rewarded for their hard work, they still saw the benefits of diligence, but they had to wait a week or two to see it. They realized that because of that week gap, they were able to grow in their faith and in their endurance, and become more humble and hard working missionaries in the process.  
Relaxing on the train ride back to Munich
     This was EXACTLY what Sister motto and I needed to hear after our rough finding day! I guess the Lord is using other people to answer my prayers, because that happened a lot this week. We were at a members house on Sunday, and she was talking to us about her mission. She had served in Japan, and had had an amazing time, served great, but nearing the end of her mission, she had started to get a bit upset that she was never able to see any of her investigators get baptized. Her very last night in the mission home, she was able to see one of her previous companions (who always seemed to serve in the same areas as her shortly after she left) who told her how much of an influence she not only had in the lives of the investigators, but in the lives of the members and other missionaries as well. Her previous companion had told her that she was sent to that mission specifically to bless the lives of the Japanese people, BUT she had also been sent to that specific mission to bless the lives of the missionaries as well! 
I am going to miss V
What a blessing it was to hear that!  Little did she know that that story was exactly what I needed to hear. I am not sure what will happen on my last night in the mission home, but some miracles aren't noticed by us until years later. I am learning and trying to remember that just because we don't notice the miracles doesn't mean that they don't happen.
First in our area to get the Germany 4 STAR Weltmeister jersey's

The Elders are just a little jealous that we got 'em first!

     Well, love to you all! 

     Sister Peterson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hello Family & Friends,

This is the Neuschwanstein castle (which is the castle that the Disneyland castle is based off of),
Neuschwanstein Castle
and although I didn't get to see it this week, we are planning to go sometime before I leave! However, I feel incredibly blessed because I did get to go to two other beautiful places. 

It has been a week full of tender mercies! Sister Motto and I went to Nymphenburg schloss, one of crazy King Louis' works of art. 

It is only about 10 minutes away (by bus) from a lot of investigators that we have. I can't believe how blessed I am to live so close to so many beautiful things here in Munich! 

There is this beautiful area called Garmisch, which includes the Bavarian Alps, that is in our ward boundaries. 

Even though it is in our ward boundaries, it is a three hour train ride, so getting there during the week is pretty impossible. And the probability of being able to take the time out of a P-day to go to Garmisch, with everything I still have to organize and do, has seemed out of the question for me.

As my time is drawing to a close, I was getting pretty upset about the fact that I would never get to see the Alps on my mission- which would be sad considering I am serving in the ALPine German Speaking Mission!

Well, the Elders called us up on Sunday night and asked if we had Thursday evening free. We said yes, and they told us that one of the member couples in our ward wanted to invite us over for dinner, but that they lived far away and didn't want to pick us up. BUT since the AP's have a car (and we are conveniently in the same ward as the AP's) they invited us all over- and we were able to drive with them. The Elders didn't tell us where the members lived, they just said it was about an hour away by car and was on the border of our area. As we got closer and closer, it just kept getting prettier and prettier! Finally, we started seeing mountains...and beautiful green pastures...and signs saying ''Garmisch Partenkirchen'' and ''Zugspitze'' and we about FREAKED OUT!!!  

I had been praying to go to Garmisch, but knew there just wasn't enough time for a p-day! And then randomly, this close to the end of my mission, a member couple living in Garmisch decides to invite the missionaries over for dinner. Talk about tender mercies! It was the best eating appointment ever. Not only because of the experience and location but also because the Haueter's are amazing AND we ate American food like hamburgers, root beer and oreos!! 

As missionaries, we talk with so many people every day, and we even get a lot of phone numbers and addresses. But sadly, sometimes we will get phone numbers, but they never pick up, or addresses, and they are never home. It's kind of frustrating. Sister Motto and I had a really cool experience a couple of weeks ago- we had an appointment with an investigator (T), but when we showed up he was still getting his family ready for the day, and asked us to come back in about 15 minutes. We were trying to figure out what to do with 15 minutes, and Sister Motto asked if we could look for a bakery because she was hungry. Normally, going to a bakery for a 15 minute break isn't counted as the most effective use of a time, but we felt good about it and went. 

On our way there, we met an amazing lady from Egypt with the cutest daughter! We talked to her a bit, told her who we were and what we do, and invited her to our German class so she can learn to speak with more German. She was super excited, gave us her number, and we continued on our way. We got a little snack from the bakery, and went back to our appointment, super excited for the miracle we had just seen! But when we called a few days later, her husband angrily told us that his wife doesn't need to learn more German and he demanded that we never call again. I have to admit, I was a bit upset. She was such a miracle, how come it ended so bad; what was the purpose?  
After a few days I had forgotten all about it. But last week, Sister Motto and I were back at T's house to teach a lesson. He asked us if we met an Egyptian lady on the bus a few weeks ago. Confused, we said yes.  He then asked if we had called, and her husband told us to not call back. Again, confused as to how he knew this information, we said yes. Apparently, T and the Egyptian lady are neighbors, and the lady and her husband see us all the time coming into the apartment to visit T. The lady had always thought there was something special about us and was curious. But because her husband had also been watching us, He knew we are, which is why he got so upset when he found out that his wife given their number to us. This is also why he kept saying that they are Muslim and will always stay Muslim. The Egyptian lady had been very upset by this and went to T to ask for help. T was able to share with her his situation; he and his wife were Buddhist, and his wife was also really upset when he started meeting with Christians. It has taken time, but after a while she warmed up to his investigation and now she even sits in during some of the lessons. T gave her advice that she desperately needed to hear from a friend and someone who understood. He told her to respect her husband and that peace in the family was more important than anything else right now. He also told her that if she wants to learn more, she can always ask T her questions; promising her that one day her husband will come around. It was so cool to hear that story, about the background of WHY her husband told us no. In most cases we never would have known, we would have thought that it was just a mistake in finding her or doubted ourselves. But T was also an angel that the Lord has carefully put in her path in order for her gospel learning to continue, even if NOT with the missionaries. As missionaries, our role was small and subtle, but God knew what she would need and when. It wasn't us, BUT it was someone. And that someone was prepared when his time to shine came. That is all we need to do- prepare ourselves in all ways so when the Lord calls, we are ready to answer "Lord, here I am" . It really proved to me how the Lord's hand is in every aspect of the work, and He works everywhere!  It is awesome to be a missionary and see so many miracles that are worked through me; but it is just as awesome to see miracles that are worked through other people as well. Actually, it is even more fantastic to see miracles come through every day life, because I am going to be living in everyday life pretty soon! 
There are times when the spirit is pretty intent on helping us find our way, other times the spirit is pretty quiet and there are times when the spirit is neutral in our decisions. It can be hard to navigate what the spirit is trying to teach us in any of these times. Does He not care? Want us to make our own choices? Think we are making a mistake?? 
I think the trick to understanding what the spirit wants from us is humility and diligence. Humility so that we can recognize that our will might not be His will. It doesn't matter how neutral or opinionated He is or how loud the spirit is speaking, without humility, we wont hear His voice. And diligence, so that if it is neutral, we can still act without being told everything to do; we can still make a decision and move forward. If it is neutral, great, we keep going forward and we have made a wonderful and perfectly righteous decision on our own, exercising our free agency to become our own person. But if our course is wrong, I can promise you that the spirit won't be silent any longer!!  It is good to wait and study and listen, and there are answers that won't come for a while. But there is also nothing wrong with saying "okay, Heavenly Father, I would like an answer. I have been listening, and I have been studying, and I am going to try walking on water for a bit and moving forward. Please give me the faith to walk, and if I start to sink, please help me recognize your outstretched hand.'' I have offered that prayer so many times on my mission and anticipate offering that prayer many, many more times throughout my life. 
Well, love to you all! I've got a p-day to enjoy. I'm NOT counting down, but if you are, you know I don't have many left :(

Sister Peterson

Monday, August 18, 2014

Peach Rings and Angel Wings

Hello Friends, Family, & Awesome Missionaries I haven't Met Yet,

     I can't tell you how many of the new missionaries have come up to me in the past few weeks and said "Sister Peterson! This is going to sound really creepy, but I read your blog! It's so cool to finally meet you!" I don't really know what to say...I never read blogs before my mission, so I didn't realize that people other than family read them... I really just assumed mine wasn't being read either!
ubahn station; our main from of transportation
     So to all of you who read my weekly emails and blogs, I promise you that I actually do do missionary work!!! Sister Motto and I have a lot of fun for sure, but we are getting stuff DONE! That's one of the things that I really enjoy about working with Sister Motto, is I really feel equally yolked. It's been very nice to have her help me in the work without completely taking over. It's not that I am doing all the work because I know the area, or her doing it all so she can take over, but it's both of us working together- it is a pretty nice arrangement we have :)
It is August and we are wearing scarves, tights, and jackets
Speaking of companion unity...
     I have had people tell me my entire mission how similar Sister Motto and I are, and throughout our time together it has almost been spooky at times how similar we are. We went on another exchange last week with the Passau Sisters, which put me in Passau with Sister Wunderli (more about that in a bit). Sister Wunderli and I were waiting in the Passau Bahnhof for the other sisters to get there, so I went into a store to buy some snacks for the train ride back to Munich. I saw some Peach Ring candies and remembered that Sister Motto likes Peach Rings; I bought some and hid them in my bag. The Sister's showed up and Sister Motto and I hopped on the train to go back home. We were hardly sitting down for 2 minutes, and Sister Motto gives me this big, proud grin and says ''I have a surprise for you!!' and pulls out a bag of Peach Rings. I started cracking up and pulled out my bag of Peach Rings.  
We had two delicious bags of Peach Rings for the train ride back :) 
Elder Bootcher was in Munich this week
     I have never really understood Austausches (missionary exchanges) before. I've always enjoyed them and I have always learned a lot, but I had never had a miracle experience on Tausch before. The one exception was working with Sister Henry again in Linz- I had really needed time with her as she was probably the only one who could have given me confidence about training again! But I have always considered that a blessing for me, more than a miracle of the moment. Well, when Sister Wunderli got transferred to Passau and we were made Sister Training Leader's at the same time, I knew that I would eventually do a tausch with her. Things were kind of rough our last transfer together and our companionship ended on a sticky note, so I was really nervous about working with her again. After praying a lot about it with Sister Motto, we felt really clearly that I was supposed to stay in Munich with Sister Wunderli. We tausched after Zone Training working together great but it was kind of weird and awkward. 
Members make me smile
     However, when we got home and made dinner, Sister Wunderli just acted like she had a lot to get off of her chest. She went off about how sorry she was for some of the difficult parts of our companionship; how much she learned in our time together, how much she loves me and how grateful she was that we got to work together again! At the end of the tausch, she told me how much she had learned from those 24 hours that we had gotten to work together again. But at the end of the tausch, I knew that it was I who had had a really humbling and very needed learning experience. My goal for the tausch was to forgive her-what ended up happening is both of us forgiving each other and walking away with an increased love and appreciation for each other. It is incredible to see how we have both changed. That is truly the power of forgiveness, not only to stop holding hard feelings, but to actually have an increase in love and appreciation for our Brother's and Sister's. 

Together Again
     I have been studying a lot about sowing and reaping; especially whether God predetermines who will be sowers and who will be reapers. I have concluded that I am both a sower and a reaper, but for these past few years (especially these 17 months on my mission) I have been a sower. I will reap and recognize the fruit of my labors, but maybe later down the road. But for now I am sowing and giving others the opportunity to reap the fruits of my efforts.

Perfect example of this:
     About a month ago, Sister Erdenetsogt and I tried to visit all of the members and commit them to pray to find 1 person each year to bring to church. We encouraged them to pray for an opportunity to share the gospel, pray for names, and then invite invite invite! 
     We went over to this one members house and had a really awesome conversation. She was super stoked to do it so we asked her to make a commitment and to follow up with us to share her experience. Well, she came up to me at church yesterday and was super excited!!  She said ''Sister Peterson, do you remember when you and your companion came to my house a bit ago and did the family mission plan with me? About working with one person to bring to church this year? Well, I have been praying, just like you said, and looking for opportunities, just like you said. And guess what? I was over at my in-laws the other day, and there was this lady who kept asking questions about the church and we talked for a few hours about the church and our teachings! It worked! How cool! So I went home, took a Book of Mormon and wrote my testimony in it! And guess what?...'' 
I was so happy, seeing her excitement to share the story with me, the miracle of it all, the joy of having a golden member referral.... that I didn't really HEAR what she said next. It took me a minute to realize that when she said after "guess what?" was ''so I gave the Book of Mormon to the Elders and told them to go visit her! And they will be teaching her! How cool is that?!!''  
She thanked me for the lesson and said she would continue to pray and have her family pray for opportunities as well, and walked away as happy as she could possibly be... 
leaving me staring after her and wondering, 
THE ELDERS???? What! 
Planning Day Game

What a beautiful neighborhood
     Well, I guess it all works out for a reason and it really should be the Elders who teach her friend, but oooh, I wanted to grab Elder Bellersen and Elder Nielson's ties, pull them real close and say ''your are WELCOME!''
     The life of a sower is rewarding in a very different way. I like to say that I might not be having too big of a party in this life, but I will be having a ball in the next life, watching the big movie of my life on a big screen and seeing the small influences that I left behind. 
Take my word for it, we are all sowers and we are all reapers, but just as important as sowing and reaping is enjoying the harvest of each growing season! 

Love to you all,
Sister Peterson

A picture from Mom's photo challenge

Friday, August 15, 2014

City of Miracles

Hello All- 

Every week, the missionaries in Munich organize a big soccer game; we invite members, less actives, investigators, potentials, YSAs, and people bring their friends. It turns into a big fun mess of people who come together simply to play soccer.  
We have never been able to go because of appointments, but the other missionaries always beg and beg and beg us to come. This is funny to me- don't they know that I can't play any sport involving running and balls?  That's why I swim!! And sister motto is in my same boat!!! 
But we were finally able to go this week, so we decided to go. It started out really awful- not only am I not naturally coordinated, but missionary work does not necessarily build physical prowess! I don't know how to play soccer; I'm not really competitive, and my coordination is awful. I got kinda frustrated, feeling like I was just an annoyance on the team, and started to walk away to make phone calls.  
But then a YSA said to me ''No, Sister Peterson, we need you on our team. You cant go, we need you!''  and I got all confused. I asked ''why? I can't kick the ball, I can't shoot a goal, and I don't know the rules.  why do you need me?'' He replied (in all seriousness, I must add!) ''if an Elder ever has the ball, I want you to run straight at them. They aren't allowed to touch you and will be scared. You dont have to block them, fight for the ball, or anything. Just run straight at them, and we will do the rest!''  
So I gave it a shot. And it worked!!!! It was the funniest thing to see the Elders' faces as this dorky little Sister came running right at them (have I mentioned before just how freaked out the Elder's are by the Sister's). I can't say I was the biggest (or even slightest) benefit to the team, but it was just proof that everyone in their own weird little way can help and participate on a team!
Proud to be able to share
Another funny story...I am pretty sure that Sister Motto will be including this story in her weekly email as well, so it'll be funny for y'all to read the differences in our major exaggerations:

So Sister Smith (the new sister in Munich 3) had a birthday last Monday, and Sister Motto and I had the brilliant idea to heart attack and decorate their apartment while they were out for P-day. We went to to the office and got permission to take the spare key to their apartment, and went on our merry little way. Keep in mind, we had no idea what the sisters were doing! When they would be back, how far away they were, nothing! We just knew that the Zone Leaders were going to try to keep them busy for a time. 
So we got in their apartment, already super stressed, frantically cutting out hearts and placing them on the walls, decorating our gifts and making everything look nice. We were on our way out, and cleaning up our mess, and Sister Motto notices a big window that the sisters had left WIDE open, and closes it real fast. We head out the door, Sister Motto has her hand on the doorknob, and as the door is halfway shut, we hear the doorbell ring. Sister Motto and I looked at each other in panic, and the first thing that came to my mind was ''Oh My Goodness, the sisters saw us through the window! We are BUSTED!'' So I pushed the button that opens the door to the apartment complex, and we book it up the stairs!  
We made it to the top, and we hear two feminine voices laughing...I kept thinking 'man oh man, they caught us, they are laughing so hard right now, we are busted!' We looked down the stair well..and see two ladies standing right in front of the sisters door, but not going inside, just simply waiting. I looked a little closer, and then realized it wasn't the sisters. It was the Jehovah Witnesses!!!! Sister Motto and I made little gasps, then cupped our hands over our mouths so that they wouldn't hear us.  
I wanted to laugh so hard- it was hilarious. We desperately tried to keep quiet, but they wouldn't leave!!  For about 2 minutes they just stood at the door, knocking and ringing the doorbell again, but nobody answered because nobody was inside! We heard the two ladies say to each other 'how weird, they let us in, but they wont open up! How rude! before finally turning around and heading back down the stairs and go outside. 
As soon as we heard the door close, we busted up laughing! Oh, the irony of it all! The worst part is that we had to leave the apartment as well, and they were still there, klingling other peoples doors! So they probably saw our name tags and thought we were the München 3 sisters..mensch, they probably hated us! 
So now whenever I will go dooring, and the door opens up but nobody is inside, I will just imagine two giggling girls at the top of the stairwell :P
A beautiful landscape in our area
 On a spiritual note, we also had interviews with President Kohler last week. It was super good. I have never really had too pressing questions to ask during interviews, but this time I had SO MUCH! I hope I didn't overwhelm President Kohler...but I was able to get a lot of answers that I really needed to hear.  It was nice, that even though President Kohler and I don't know each other very well, he was able to listen to my mess of a question, understand what I was really trying to say, then listen to the spirit to know what kind of an answer I needed to hear.
The American room at Old Rathaus
We are still having a bunch of fun here in Munich!  Sister Motto is hilarious, I don't think there is a day that goes by without us completely cracking up.  We have already gotten yelled at by one of our neighbors for laughing too loud at night :P  Whoops! 

Love you all,
Sister Peterson

*** Sister Motto had very little to say about the heart attack, but she shared details about their teaching this week-

Our most exciting miracle is A, the father of one of the Romanian families we are teaching. We began the Stop Smoking program with him the Friday I got into Munich, and on Monday we followed up on his progress. In the three days it had been since we introduced the program to him, A had only smoked one cigarette! We were so proud of A! We were able to teach him and his 16 year old daughter Ad about the Book of Mormon. A was determined to find the stories related to the pictures in the front of his book, and wouldn't let us leave until we had shared everything with him. At the end of the appointment A gave his very first verbal prayer. The Spirit filled the room like a hot air balloon. It. Was. Amazing. A and Ad promised to read in the Book of Mormon, and on Friday when we had our party to celebrate that A was done with smoking, they said they had read the whole first sections of the Book of Mormon before 1 Nephi! A's wife, N, is a little more hesitant to accept the Book of Mormon, but with a little push from her daughter and husband, she also commited to begin reading. The Zone Leaders were at the appointment, Elder Spencer and Elder Vitel, and Elder Vitel is from Romania so he was able to communicate with the Muntean's a little better than we could. It was a very spiritual experience, and once again the Spirit of the Lord filled the room. The Spirit knows no language barrier!

We were able to have 2 last minute miracle appointments with Tenzin this week. He's progressing well, but the one thing that keeps him from progressing fully is his church attendance. He is always trying to help others with their various needs on Sundays and sometimes forgets to come to Church. He's reading in the Book of Mormon each day and is praying each day, and is preparing himself wonderfully for his baptism in December!

Sister Peterson and I had just finished visiting a sister from the international ward (we consider ourselves responsible for the old women in the international ward because they have no sisters) when we got a phone call from our hilarious investigator S. S is often in Hamburg, but requested to meet with the missionaries there when he is up North. After our less active lesson we saw on our phone we had 5 missed calls, spacing within minutes of each other. We called S back and he said "Hi Sisters! I'm with Elder Casper!"  So slightly confused, we asked "You're with the missionaries?" S said "Yes! Here he is!" and promptly handed his phone over to this Elder Casper serving in the Berlin Mission. We had an awkward 3 minute conversation consiting of "How's your mission going? Do you like Hamburg? How's S doing?" before hearing the wonderful news that S is keeping all of his commitments and reading in his Book of Mormon each day. I look forward to meeting S finally in person when he comes back to Munich next week. :)

We had an appointment with M another African investigator, and wonderful Sister Kohler came along! M's mother just passed away, and so he has been very busy with funeral arrangements back in Nigeria. However, he wanted to definitely meet with us this week, so we invited Sister Kohler as a joint teach so we could meet in the church. We gave Ma church tour and had our lesson in the chapel. Sister Kohler is a ROCKSTAR! We love her so much and she has so much wisdom and love. We read in Alma 40 about the Resurrection and were able to teach him the beautiful doctrine of the Plan of Salvation. It is always a humbling and wonderful experience feeling the Spirit and comfort that comes when we bear testimony of the truth of the Gospel. M promised to read in the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. We're hoping and praying that he will want to partake of the great joy that the Lord offers and be baptized.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Missionary Glow

Hello All, 

     The last week of a transfer is always a whirlwind because all of the members and investigators want to meet with the missionaries before someone gets transferred away. Then the first week is crazy because you are trying to get used to a new companion, develop a friendship, take time getting to know each other, and still work hard, show her around, introduce her to people, and start the transfer with our feet running. It can get pretty crazy!
Not a final selfie!!

At the Farmer's Market; we found pineapple and cheese
     Luckily, Sister Motto came into this transfer with both feet ready to hit the ground running!  All I have to do is not slow her down and to somehow keep up with her! It has been great! She is just what I need at this point in my mission. I wouldn't have been able to ask for anyone else to ''kill'' me! ('kill me' is a phrase used to explain the final transfer of a mission). We have been having so much fun together and have already seen so many miracles.
Planning session on the Lake
      There is this Romanian couple that Sister E. and I met a few weeks ago, but their situation is really sad. Their children are still in Romania and they are struggling to find an apartment big enough to fit them all; they are both working like crazy and trying to find a way for all of them to be together. They have been super busy the past few weeks so we have not been able to meet with them recently. Our first day together, Sister motto and I baked some bread, dropped it by with a note saying how much we love them and to let them know we were thinking of them if the needed us for anything.
     Well, the next morning during companionship study, they called us and asked 'what are you doing today? can you come visit?  NOW?'  Excited and a bit confused, we packed up our stuff and went to visit them. When we got there, they told us that Frau Torkos was heading back to Romania to be with the kids, and Herr Torkos was going to stay behind to keep working and support them financially. It just broke my heart to see how humble they live, how many trials they go through, how exhausted they are, but they continue to hobble forward in faith, grasping hold to whatever faith they still have.  
      The very first time I met them, I got the huge impression that my role in their life would be to TEACH them the gospel. I felt the spirit confirm that I would NOT be the one to lead them to baptism or bring them to church. It would be my job to love them and to introduce them to the Book of Mormon and that I would need to let the missionaries in Romania do the rest. I really could not understand it at first why I felt this way, I just knew I needed to love them. Now I feel like I understand it all a little better. It is always such a blessing to look back and see the Lord's hand in my life and the lives of others, especially to see the timing of everything. 
     They live in Romania but speak Romanian and Hungarian. We have a Hungarian and Romanian missionary in our zone right now, so we will still be able to write letters and communicate with each other while they are still here. I think planting seeds is still as important as reaping the harvest! 

I final glimpse before she left the station
     Here is my funny story for the week- actually, it wasn't so funny to me at the time, but it might seem funny to y'all! We visited a member this week, Schwester H, before Sister Erdenetsogt got transferred away. Sister H asked how long she had remaining on her mission, and Sister E. said 10 months. Sister H. then went on and said ''Whew! That is a long time, just wait until you have 6 weeks left! That is the WORST! My last 6 weeks on my mission went by so fast, I was so miserable! Eventually you have to take off the name tag and BOOM it's like half of your heart just got ripped away! Just be grateful that you don't have 6 weeks!''  

Mom's influence on my morning sport
     ... She just went on and on and on; I kept sinking lower and lower in my chair, having a mental panic attack. Would that be true? Would all of that spirit and comfort that I have felt for the past 18 months just go away? Would I all of a sudden become a nobody, with no calling and no purpose? Honestly, I was freaking out a bit.  
     When we got to go to the train station, and I saw all the missionaries going home. They were all of the missionaries that I have served with my entire mission and I have looked up to for the past 16 months. I have seen them frequently over the last year and a half, but when I looked at them on this day, in this moment- something about them was just... odd. I couldn't explain it, there was just something off...
Sister Jenson & I saying good-bye... she's going home!
      I was talking to Sister Motto that night, and she said that it is "the glow"... the returned missionary glow. They had fulfilled their purpose, and they were going home to fulfill another purpose in a different part of the world with different people.  
When I thought about it, I realized how right she was. It wasn't that these missionaries weren't radiating the spirit; they had a different light about them, a different spirit. It wasn't bad, it was just different. I will be different when I go home, I have to accept that. But it is not bad! I will just have different tasks to do, different people to touch, different responsibilities. But I won't lose an ounce of the spirit I have, the strength I have received and I will continue to grow.  
     After Sister Motto helped me see it a little different, it was a lot easier to accept the fact that I am going home. That is a fact and I can't run away from it and I really can't deny it any longer; nor can I allow it to make me sad or can I allow it to demotivate me. Sister Motto has actually been really, really good for me. It was hard to say goodbye to Sister E for sure, but change is EXACTLY what I needed at this time. It has been a lot easier to focus and to not get distracted. There will be some obstacles that I will need to face head on, but I have to accept that this is all a part of life! Sister Motto has agreed to let me have my 'freak out' moments AND I know she is just the right person to beat me back to reality!!
A countdown too cute to be angry about it

Treats from home to help when I feel "B-IZZE"
     Sorry if I talk about going home a lot! If I have to deal with battling with these thoughts then I'm gonna take you all down with me!! I have started to write a list of "moments that have changed my mission or changed ME on my mission"; miracles that I have seen and the lessons that I have learned from them. It has been a wonderful way to reflect and enjoy memories of my mission. In case you are curious, it has been done in a very "non-trunky" way!!
     In all seriousness, I love my mission. I love the people I meet, the miracles I see, the trials I go through, the companions I serve with, and the people on the street that I want to give a knuckle sandwich to; I love the stormy days, the sunny days, the tender mercies, the newly discovered scripture verse needed that day, the children who smile at everyone on the bus, and the realization that this is all possible because I have a Father in Heaven who loves me. If we stop to see the little things, that is where we can truly see God's hand and love in our lives.
     Thank you all for your love and support!