Monday, December 30, 2013

Time to Get Back to Work

Hello All,

     I still can't believe how wonderful it was to get to talk to my family on Christmas Eve. We talked about some of the traditions that I hope to bring home from Germany & Austria to incorporated into my own family. Now that things are starting to unwind from the holidays, I definitely hope to celebrate the gift giving portion of Christmas completely separate from the celebration of Christ's birth. I think it is interesting that my mom had these same feelings this year- but I guess it shouldn't surprise me, she is ALWAYS better at knowing what is best for me before I do. For those of you who haven't met her, take my word for it! This is one of those things that drove me crazy before my mission and now I am gaining a huge appreciation for just how much this means she prays for her children. Friends & Family- please always keep that in mind, when you pray for those you love and serve, Heavenly Father WILL give you the counsel and instruction you need to help them most. 

     I did realize that this is the only Christmas I will get to spend in Germany! I don't know how this didn't sink in before, but now that this has connected I have found myself a little disappointed about spending only one Christmas and New Years on my mission. Actually, maybe it's best, I don't think I would be able to handle two Christmas'! My mom's fears would really be true and I may not ever want to come home (how can I convince everyone I love and care about to move to Austria with us). 
Christmas Decorations for our apartment
     We have had so much fun. We have spent a lot of time with different members and investigators, attended a ton of different activities and events and had dinner EVERYWHERE! But in all honesty, we are all ready to start doing missionary work again! I will just have to convince my family and friends to come to Austria next year to have another Christmas as a non-missionary :P

     For Christmas Eve, we had lunch at "R's" house and then went to a Christmas Devotional in the church, and then headed over to "M's" for the night. We played Secret Santa, sang songs, watched 'The Blind Side' (we got permission, I promise!!) and ate saurkraut and sausages, which I guess is a traditional Austrian meal for Christmas Eve.  
     For Christmas day, we went over to the Hess family and watched 'Paul Blart, Mall Cop' (don't ask me why, all the Europeans were so excited to see it!) and then ate a really big lunch together. We continued to spend time with members and investigators, 
Christmas with M
made and received cards for everyone, 
My FAVORITE Christmas Card EVER!!!

ate our body weight in cookies and cakes,
Talk about instant weight gain
and about fell asleep on peoples couches on multiple occasions. Whew, I am ready to get to work again!

     We did get to go Schwester S's house finally.  It was so much fun, she made a lactose-free Tiramisu and we listened to fun New Years music. We definitely got to know her a bit better, and met her husband. Her husband is actually really funny, but I have never met him before because he is a non-member. Apparently, they used to do a lot with the missionaries on P-days and such, but then they stopped having contact with the missionaries for some reason until us. I cannot tell you how grateful I am and how blessed I feel to be a part of her life and that she has such a warm heart towards us. I feel that in this relationship she is really the blessing to me and my life right now, so I feel very guilty when members of the ward express what I blessing we are to her. She will forever be known in my heart as my personal angel! I cannot tell you all the ways she has helped lift my spirits when my heart feels heavy. I will pray to be blessed to stay in this area through the summer so that we can go on fun hikes with the S family when it gets warm again :)

     Yesterday we went over to the Erlachers house after church to have ANOTHER Christmas lunch.  Sister Erlacher is from England, so we got to learn a bunch of English traditions, like the surprise christmas crackers,

British Christmas Crackers
and fun little chocolates. Another tradition of theirs that I thought was very cool is that every year they craft tiny little gift boxes and make them into Christmas tree ornaments. On the inside, they write on a little piece of paper a gift that they want to give to Jesus that year, and then hang it on the tree.  Cool, gel?
Sister Hess got to make cupcakes
     Transfer calls are this Saturday, where did this transfer go? Wait, where did this YEAR go by?  We are all really curious to see if we will stay together as a dritt or whether we will get split.  But I will know by next week!

     I hope everyone at home had a fun Christmas and has fun (safe) plans for New Years!  I love you all!
The traditional new pajamas for Christmas Eve... thanks mom!

    We did finally get the second Christmas package you sent to us. We were all so grateful for that little extra touch of love from home. Both Sister Wunderli and Sister Erdenetsogt would like me to tell you thanks for the Christmas presents AND they both think that I have a really pretty mom (that truly is from them :).  
     Oh, and the EOS chapsticks you sent...  I gave the pack of 3 to" M" for a Christmas present, and she was so excited! I guess Miley Cyrus uses one in a music video, and she just thought it was the coolest thing to have the same chapstick as a celebrity.  And Sister Wunderli and Erdenetsogt thought it was very cool too. American chapstick, who knew people would get so excited about that stuff?

     And Sister Smith did give me a hug when I was in Salzburg gave me your hug! I am not sure if I already told you that, but it was nice to get a 'hug' from my mom!
    Also, one of the members here, Achim Erlacher, knows Richard Hawks!  He came up to me a few Sundays ago and randomly took a picture with me and said 'by the way, Richard Hawks says hi!' It is a small world after all!

It was way fun to talk to y'all on Christmas :) 
Love you, miss you, but wouldn't want to be anywhere else than where I am right now!

-Sister Peterson

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to All-

Dear Friends & Family,

Well first of all, after we sent last weeks emails, we took some time to go shopping in the marketplace. I wanted to look at Dirndl's and we had some other small things we wanted to get before our Zone Conference. We had a great day and it was fun getting to show Sister Erdenetsogt around this beautiful little Austrian town! 
Introducing Sister Erdenetsogt

Shopping for Dirndls
Can you believe that it is finally Christmas??  I woke up today giggling like I was a young child. Sister Erdenetsogt asked what was so funny and I said, "Tomorrow is Christmas!" 
She said, "Yes, but what is so funny?" At this, I told her "My poor family in America still has to wait 2 full days! We just have to wait 1!!"

It's weird how quickly my mind has adjusted to the fact that Christmas is on the 24th, not the 25th. Between all of the eating appointments, Christmas parties, and activities we will be doing, I think I can say that by the end of this week I will definitely NOT feel like a missionary. With so much activity combined with the opportunity to go to the movies with our investigators to see 'Silent Night', we will need to work hard to avoid all feelings of normal, every day life.

Austrian Cookies given to us by a ward member

The Elders and their bells...

... Learning to make fufu

The fufu master...

A truly delicious African feast
On Saturday, President and Sister Miles came to Salzburg and our whole Zone had a big Christmas Conference.  It was so much fun! We sang a a ton of songs together, had a gift exchange, ate lunch, and then had a really good Christmas devotional. Anytime with President and Sister Miles is a gift. Anytime with the entire zone in one place is a privilege! And definitely combining the two is the recipe for a perfect and wonderful day!

At our Zone Conference

My companions and I in Salzburg

All of the Sisters from our Zone in Salzburg

Sisters in our Dirndl's

The District

Elders Szvoboda and Abel in Salzburg
Afterwards, our whole district went to the Salzburg Christmas market, which was absolutely gorgeous!  Even though Salzburg is a relatively small city, it is very popular for tourists, which made it hard to keep track of both of my companions. Yikes, I dont know how mothers keep track of all of their kids, especially in a Salzburg Christmas market!!  Respect, mothers.

Holiday Shopping in Salzburg

The lights in the Marketplace

A bridge in Salzburg under locks! I love this tradition

Welcome to Salzburg Weihnachtsmarkt
Mozart's Geburtshaus
I saw my first convert baptism today!  It was for a man that the Elders in Linz have been teaching.  His name is 'M', and he has been coming to church for a year now, but has had to wait for his Azul (which allows him to legally stay in Austria) before he could get baptized. He was baptized on Sunday after sacrament meeting, and the whole ward was there to support him. He was so happy! His face was literally beaming with joy. When he came out of the water it was the coolest thing to watch. 

I guess a lot of people could look at me and say "You have been on your mission for 9 months and still haven't seen one of your investigators baptized yet?" "Don't you feel like a failure?" "I told you Europe would be hard!"

But honestly, I don't feel that way at all, and surprisingly enough, it doesn't discourage me at all. Of course I want all of the people I teach to eventually be baptized so that they can have the same look of joy as "M" did when he was baptized, but that is my motivation to keep going, not the disappointment the slows me down.
Remember the elderly lady I mentioned in my email a few weeks ago? The one who always comes up to me at church and calls me by my first name? I honestly believe that she is more of an angel to me than I am to her. I gave her a card 2 weeks ago, just a little note to tell her how much I appreciate her and how grateful I was for her friendship.  
Well, she came up to me after sacrament meeting on Sunday and asked what we were doing for Christmas. I told her all of the days that we had appointments and when we were free, and she invited us over for next Sunday to enjoy a little Christmas dinner together after church.  
Afterwards, our ward mission leader also asked me what members we were visiting throughout the week, and when I told him that we were going to the old ladies house on Sunday he seemed super surprised.  
At first he was really confused and said, "You're going to her house? But she has been less active for a long time, and NEVER invites people over!" 
And then he had a big smile on his face, and said 'that is really great. Thank you, Sister Peterson."
I have no idea what kind of angel this lady is, but she always does something on the weeks that I am feeling down, depressed, or straight up unworthy to be a missionary.  
I honestly believe that there are people that the Lord puts in my path to remind me to keep working, there are people to help and hearts to touch! 
Thank you to everyone for the Christmas wishes, I wish all the best for you this Christmas and for the upcoming year!  I love you all so much :)

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Peterson

Friday, December 20, 2013

... and now there are Three!

Dear Mom,

     I am so sorry I didn't get to email on Monday! We moved our Pday to today because we were getting ready for Sister Erdenetsogt to come in. I was surprised that you didn't show up in the Austrian airport or the mission home to search us down :)

Love Sister Peterson 
*** Little does Kori know, I had started looking at next day tickets- 9 days is too many to wait to hear from this beautiful kiddo!

Dear Friends & Family- 

    It is so strange how our lives get so routine. One little change seems to really throw everything for the week askew! Having P-day (prep day) on different days is always the weirdest thing! We couldn't have our P-day on Monday because we were CRAZY BUSY setting up the apartment and getting ready for Sister Erdenetsogt to come in.

A warm welcome for Sister Erdenetsogt
We decorated Mel's apartment too
     Sister Erdenetsogt got in yesterday, she came in straight from Vienna where she had been living. We are super excited to work with her!

Three Beautiful Companions
     I have no idea what will happen next transfer (next transfer is on 9 January). We are thinking that Sister Wunderli will move on to a new area and I will stay to finish up Sister Erdenetsog'ts training.

Making the apartment feel a little more like HOME
     Sister Erdenetsogt is awesome and I am very excited to get to know her. My only concern is that I am going to have a hard time teaching Sister Erdenetsogt about the importance obedience to the mission rules. She didn't go to the MTC, which means she came straight from normal life to here! She has no idea how anything works, and Sister Wunderli either doesn't know about certain mission rules or doesn't like to follow them. I am definitely hoping that they both don't end up HATING me after 3 weeks because of how much of an 'obedience freak' I am. Hey, I like and need all the blessings of the spirit I can get, and being obedient is the only way that I know how to get them!  I think we are all excited to see how these next 3 weeks will go! It will be fun to see how a companionship of three works out-

I finally made homemade knodel
... and they were delicious
     You asked me what makes a good trainer?? This was a hard question because I tried to come up with a nice, powerful answer. But the only answer is NOTHING!! You are asking the girl who got a Golden right after she finished training herself; I had been in Germany 12 weeks when Sister Henry became my first "child". I actually would like to know how the President Miles determines that as well. You learn how to be a trainer as you train, maybe it's a lot like being a parent- you just try your hardest, learn what your golden needs and what types of things work best with them. Even though this is my 3rd golden, Sister Erdenetsogt needs different things than my other Golden's, so I have to relearn how to be a trainer all over again! I appreciate your words of encouragement, and I promise I definitely am grateful and humble that Heavenly Father trusts me with His new Sister Missionaries. Is this how you feel being a parent- just so humble that Heavenly Father trusts you to be the first support and example for your children?
Sister Powell & I on Tausch (exchange)

We made bon bon's
     This week has actually been a weird week in general. We were told that we are allowed to go to the theatre and see the movie 'Silent Night' with our investigators and less actives. A member here in Austria actually directed the movie, and it was filmed right here in Salzburg. It was an amazing movie!!!  It was a bit weird to go to the mall and be in a movie theater...but it was good and definitely well worth the adventure. I definitely encourage everyone to go and see it!

At the movies with R

We definitely stand out when we are all together at the movies :)
     The Didenhovers (the senior missionary couple here) took us out to lunch last week after helping us organize a few things for the apartment. We were looking at the menu and saw that one of the meals came with Zwiebel Ringe (onion rings) and so Elder Didenhover ordered that meal, thinking that he was going to get nice, crispy onion rings. Instead, he literally got chopped up onions. He was really looking forward to some good ole' American greasy, battered, thick onion rings- needless to say, he didn't touch them :P 
My spicy Thai dinner
We found a Subway
     It is kind of fun to work in a companionship of 3, especially since we all have different native languages. I looked around during personal study today, and we were all reading the same thing (Preach My Gospel) but I was reading English, Sister Wunderli was reading Hungarian, Sister Erdenetsogt was reading Mongolian, and then when we come together we read in German.  Oooh, languages!

     Sister Erdenetsogt actually already speaks amazing German, she was studying in Vienna for a year before she came here. Normally, with my companions what we have tried to do is speak English in the apartment and German when we go outside. It has always been hard to remember to speak German outside the apartment because it has always been easier for me to speak in English, but now its hard to remember to speak English in the apartment, because German is just easier for all of us! We are a pretty funny group.
     It has been a pretty intimidating thing to be Sister Erdenetsogts trainer...She was in Vienna studying for a year, which is still in our mission boundaries, so a LOT of the missionaries know her and love her. The week leading up to her coming to Linz, we got a lot of calls and texts from missionaries all over telling us to take good care of her. Yikes, if I mess up at all, the whole mission will know! 

Photo- bombed at the Mall

Baby,,, it's cold outside
     The office is holding all of our Christmas packages hostage! Well, until Saturday at the Christmas conference, so I will probably get the package there. Thanks for sending a package to Sister Henry and Woods, I am sure they will love that :)  I told sister Powell about the cute little Facebook mom group and how I get letters and packages from random moms I have never met, and she got super jealous. Teehee I have you to thank for that (actually, she needs to Thanks all the amazing moms of the Alpine Mission Missionaries- they are an amazing group of moms & dads)!
A delicious dinner

... in the kitchen
     Probably one of my favorite things about reading the scriptures is that I notice something different every time I read them, no matter how much I have read them before. I was reading this week in 1 Nephi 11, when Nephi asks to know the meaning of his father's dream. What really stuck out to me was 1 Nephi 11:9-23.  If you have some scriptures, take a few minutes to read through those.  Notice how the first time the angel asked Nephi about the tree, Nephi didn't know what the tree meant.  Instead of telling Nephi directly what the meaning of the tree was, the angel SHOWED Nephi what it meant. Nephi saw the virgin Mary, and then he saw the birth of Jesus Christ. Just imagine for a moment about what Nephi must have been feeling after witnessing the birth of our Savior, the peace, the love, the spirit he must have felt. After seeing and experiencing these things, the angel asked again if Nephi knew the meaning of the tree. This time, Nephi was able to answer and say 'Yes, the tree is the LOVE OF GOD.'  Christmas is coming up, and it is so easy to forget the true spirit of Christmas.  Take a few minutes to remember the baby Jesus that lays in the center of all of our nativity sets, and think of what Christ's birth means for us.  If we really want to feel the love of God in our loves, all we have to do is get to know Christ. 

     With that thought, have a great week, and merry Christmas :)

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Peterson