Monday, September 30, 2013

A Day of PJ's and Cleaning Supplies with a side of Compliments for a Treat


I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that today is the last day of September! How does time pass by so fast?

Oddly enough, the thought that came through my mind was the meme that normally starts with ''Brace yourselves!'' as I realized that I am about to experience my first October here in Germany.  You know you are a missionary when the reason why you are excited for Oktoberfest is the big variety of Dirndls and Lederhosen!!

You also know you are a missionary when you look forward to Fall Cleaning (mom would like to take this minute to say, who is this girl? She did NOT feel this way at home).  
Our mission set aside last Saturday as a day for us to deep clean our apartments, to get rid of junk, and reorganize things if needed.  
I cannot tell you how excited Sister Henry and I were to wear pajamas all day, and spend the entire day cleaning and working and getting dirty.  And we spent the WHOLE DAY cleaning!  But it was way fun, and now we both finally feel like the apartment we are living in is our own :)  It's good to feel zuHause!

My toothpaste says Frisco :)

Look Grandma, We had an inside picnic after we cleaned
So for our last transfer, our district placed a lot of emphasis on doing 'personal touches' for each other to build up district unity, and it was pretty much the coolest thing ever!  It has been a lot harder to keep that going this transfer, because we have more missionaries and we are all so busy and hardly ever see each other.  
Y'all are probably sick of hearing how great our Elders here in Freiburg are, but it's so true!  I have no idea what I am going to do when I get transferred to an area that is just Sisters.  
Anyways, we had just finished cleaning on Saturday and were finally sitting down to eat some dinner, when the Elders called us.  They asked how we were doing and how cleaning was going, yada yada yada, and then they said ''we are doing companionship inventory right now, and we just got to the part about talking about each others strengths.  Ok Sister Peterson, your strengths are...'' and they both listed 3 things about Sister Henry and I that they really appreciate.  They hung up as soon as they were done saying 3 things (probably because they knew that if they stayed on any longer, we would shower them with compliments right back)
Let me tell you, compliments are the coolest things ever!  The smallest thing can end up making the biggest difference.  They aren't hard to give, but they mean so much!

One of our Amazing Investigators
So Sister Henry and I ended up finding a family of potential investigators, but it was the weirdest experience of my life!  Sister Henry and I were waiting for the bus to go to the church on Tuesday, and we saw a woman sitting on the bench.  
She looked familiar to both of us, but neither of us decided to go talk to her.  We got off at the same stop, and we rushed by her, but still decided to slip in a friendly 'hello'.  
After we said hello, she stopped us and said she wanted to talk.  We got to know her a little bit, and in the middle of the conversation she pointed to the apartments behind her and said 'That is my house, here is my name, I am busy now, but I am mostly free, and I want you to come by and visit me!' 
This totally threw Sister Henry and I off guard!   It was way funny.  
We went by the next day, and Z's (the lady) teenage daughter answered and said her mom wasn't home.  We turned around to leave, but her daughter called after us and asked if we wanted to come inside and have tea.  So we came in and met Z's kids, had tea together, and pretty much just had a normal conversation for a while.  
We went to leave and said we would come back later when Z was home, and her daughter quickly gave us their number and told us to come back another time so we could all have dinner together.  I have no idea what the Lord has in mind for this family, but he has made it pretty clear that this family is ready for us to visit them, and he's not going to let two blonde girl's obliviousness get in the way of their progress :P

We also went by on a less active member that one of our ward members asked us to check up on, and she lives in the most gorgeous part of Freiburg I have seen so far!  
Its a place called Merzhausen, and it is breathtaking :)  

Pretty much all of my pictures this week are from there.  
I saw these little streams along the side of the road that reminded me of all the little streams in Logan and of being at Grandma's house in the summer time. I had to take a picture for her!
A little taste of meine Kindheit
There is no bus or Straßenbahn to get there, so we pretty much had to walk along a gorgeous back road for 15 minutes to get to her house. 
Even the graffiti is beautiful

Sister Henry. This walk was totally worth it

Look Mom, here I am in beautiful Freiburg, Germany

Sister Drury said that all the little dorfs in Freiburg look exactly like Italy.  So here you go, a few pictures of little Italy in Germany :)  I live in a beautiful place!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Anniversary Celebrations & Beautiful Switzerland

Hello Family & Friends,

This week we got to do another Austausch,
Sister Henry went to Lahr  and I stayed here and worked with Sister Drury.
Sister Drury and I
I was super intimidated to work with her at first, probably just because she has been here so much longer than me, but I learned a lot from her and we had a LOT of fun together!
We also got to celebrate both of our Anniversary's together!
Sister Drury celebrated her 1 year mark as a missionary on Thursday,
and I celebrated my 6 month mark on Friday.
Crazy how fast the time goes by!
Naturally to celebrate, I planned two eating appointments on Thursday with investigators.
Poor Sister Drury, she said that she's never had more than one eating appointment in one day. 
Teehee Herzlich Wilkommen in Freiburg!
When we first started teaching "P" and "S" and their family, we thought that Philip said that his brother is a recent convert to the church, but after later meetings he made it sound like his brother was  investigating the church and meeting with missionaries.
Sister Henry and I were super confused as to who his brother was and what exactly his status in the church is.  Well, this week we got a call from the Elders telling us that they set another baptismal date with a man named "Pe". They said they have been teaching him for a really long time, but he only makes progress off and on.
Than they told us that "Pe" is "P" brother!
WHAAAT?  Apparently, "P" told "Pe" that he was taking lessons with the missionaries.
"P" told "Pe" how they were feeling and that they are super stoked to be baptized.
Because of his brothers example, "P"'s excitement for the church was ___(erneuert? English word inserted here?)  renewed!
So that was cool to see how small of a world we actually live in, and how even our investigators can be a good source of missionary work!
We have been trying to stop by on "P" and "S" a few times throughout the week, especially to build up our relationship with "S".  I think it has really helped, and I think that "S" finally understands that when we visit, we are not only there to teach "P", but to teach her because we love her!
She asked me if I was dating anyone before I came on my mission (which is actually a question that I get a lot!) and when I said no, she said ''Darn, I wish I had a brother so that you could marry him!'' Haha so I think that means that we are friends now :P

"S" gave us cola
I have been kind of sad for Sister Henry the past few weeks, because I realized that she would probably never get to see Switzerland, especially because we aren't in the Zürich Zone anymore.
But there was a ''Sisters Day'' for the relief society and young women age 16+ on Saturday in Zürich, and President Miles gave us permission to go!  We got to go to Switzerland again!
White Dresses: Past, Present & Future

... in front of the Zurich chapel

Sisters Cooper (serving in Switzerland), me, Graf (also in Switzerland), Allman, Drury, Henry, Jencks & Freimann
Man, as much as I love Freiburg, and as much as Freiburg will always be my ''home'' on my mission, there is a small part of my heart that belongs in Switzerland.
Frucht Eis has no milk!
We LOVE us some Swiss Desserts!

More and more desserts!

I get so happy every time I am able to go back, and there is just something about the soft colors of blue and green together, and wisps of clouds resting on quaint Swiss cottages :)  Man, I love my mission!

Swiss license plate- I love everything Swizterland
Sister Henry and I had another blonde moment this week, and I am really starting to question how smart it was to put two young blonde American girls together!
We kind of locked ourselves out of our phone....teehee!
We couldn't call anyone, nobody could call us, and we had no idea how to unlock the security code! We only went 2 and half days without the use of our phone, but we felt so isolated from the mission! We didn't realize how much we use the phone to set up appointments, call people, and how much we interact with the Elders.
We finally found the codes and unlocked our phone (turns out that the pin numbers were in our Area book in our apartment the whole time!) but it was fun to go a few days without the use of a phone :P

French Brownies for Companion Inventory

Elder Davies didn't give me my personal touch before he left, so he wrote me a poem- I think I will forgive him
Sister Henry modeling her new red boots

Our investigators are doing really well.  There are some times where I am really grateful that the Lord's hand is in our lives, helping to guide us in this work, but there are sometimes that are just hard to accept that the Lord is guiding us.  We have had to drop a lot of our investigators, which is always sad and hard to do, but it gives us more time to take care of the people who are actually ready to accept the gospel, and to help the people who actually need our help. It is the most heartbreaking thing to put someone in the 'Former Investigators' section of the Area Book!  But we have to keep reminding ourselves that because of that, we are able to visit "S" multiple times a week, we are able to visit more less actives, and we have more time to take our time.  Man, blessings in disguise are great, but they sure are hard!

This week I would like to leave with my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints is true.  The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, written by ancient prophets who testified of Christ.  I testify that Jesus Christ lives, and that he and his angels play a very active role in each one of our lives, whether we recognize it or not.  I know that, because I know that there is no way that I, as an inexperienced, unlearned, and extremely imperfect 19 year old could travel across the world, learn a new language, and be able to do this work in which I have been called to do.

Missionary work is hard & exhausting, and physically & emotionally straining!  But I have never done anything more rewarding, and I have never felt God's presence in my life stronger, because I have never needed to rely on Him as much as I do now. I know that every single one of us is loved by God, because he is sending his angles out, one by one, to find the person who needs to be comforted.  

Thank you all for your support, prayers, and letters!
-Sister Peterson

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Sweet Note from Elder Sumsion

** A note from Mom:

Elder Sumsion and Sister Peterson served in Freiburg together for twelve weeks.
Both Sister Peterson and Sister Henry were so grateful for the Elder's that served in their area and often wrote home to tell us how protective, kind and chivalrous the boys were.
Kori felt particularly that she wanted to let the mothers of these sweet boys know how awesome and wonderful their boys were and thank them for raising such amazing sons- not only to be great missionaries, but boys who valued their priesthood and valued womanhood.

Elder Sumsion was one of these elders. However, my only way to get a note to his mom was to email him and ask him to forward the email to his mother- so Kori's kind words about Elder Sumsion were read directly by him.

He was transferred last week to Austria, which is in her zone, but not her district. I received this email from him this morning and wanted to share it with those who love her as much as we do.

There are days when there is no way to doubt that Heavenly Father is keenly aware of who we are, what we need and who is best suited to answer our prayers. I feel this way about Monday p-days. But Heavenly Father knew today that I needed a little "extra" boost from the mission field, so waking to Elder Sumsion's email was absolutely a tender mercy sent to me from above.


Silly face courtesy of Elder Sumsion

Hello Sister Peterson!

I just wanted to let you know that I forwarded that to my lovely mother! Thank you so much for those kind words!! My mom is seriously the best and she raised me so well! I couldn't have asked for a more perfect mom for me! Heavenly Father sure knew how to take care of me best, didn't he? :) 

I was honored to have served in Freiburg with Sister Peterson!! She is fantastic and her Deutsch is SUPER! You should be so proud of her! She is training Sister Henry still right now. Sister Henry got a fabulous of the best actually! :) I guess I can be a little biased, since I know her super well, but seriously, she is fantastic. I wish that she could be in every area that I serve in because she helped me so much with some hard times that I was going through. And it was just nice to have yet another great friend out here in the mission field that I could lean and depend on. :) 

I hope all is well for you and your wonderful family in good ol' Texas! I have a really good friend that is from the Austin area. Your daughter is so awesome and she is a fantastic missionary!! I miss seeing her at district meetings, but we are still in the same zone, so I will see her soon. :) Anyways, thank you again for the email and all of the nice things that you had to say! I appreciate that a lot! Tell her that I said hello and that she's awesome! Thanks Sister Peterson!

Auf Wiedersehen! 

Elder Taylor Sumsion

Buses, Baptisms & Brrrr...

16 September 2013

Dear Friends & Family-

It's finally fall!!!  
My favorite season!

Brrr... it's getting cold outside
I cannot wait to see the change of colors and hope it happens while I am still living in the Black Forest! It has made me so happy to be able to put on my tights, scarves, and fall coats :)  
'Tis the season of tea, melted chocolate, and sweatpants :) 
But also 'tis the season of Rotkohl, Kartoffel Knödel, and interesting German food.  
I don't think Sister Henry will be enjoying food appointments for the next few months :P  
I have had a lot more time to get used to German food than Sister Henry has, but she will learn to love it!  
Considering the fact that Sister Henry and I are together 24/7, I am pretty sure that we tell a lot of the same stories in our emails home.  But its always fun to hear a funny story twice, especially this next one :P
Sister Henry and I were walking to the bus stop after an appointment, and we saw our bus turn the corner ahead of us.  It was later in the day, so if we missed our bus we would have had to wait a long time before the next one came, so we started BOOKING IT to make it to the bus.  
As we were running, a big van drives by and an old German man shouts something out the window at us.  
At first I thought he was just making fun of us, after all, we are two young girls in church clothes running after a bus.  
We almost made it to the bus stop in time, and we saw the bus pulling away before we could reach it...but then slowed to a stop.  Thinking that the bus driver had seen us and stopped for us, we kept running and started desperately pressing the 'door open' button to get in, but the doors weren't opening!  
But for some reason the bus stayed stopped.  I then heard a lot of honking coming from the bus, so we peeked in front, and the van that had driven by us had pulled in front of the bus and parked in the middle of the road so that we could make it on time!  
It was a nice gesture, but the bus driver was still stubborn and wouldn't let us in! 
It was the funniest (and nicest) thing to see the old German man in the van stop a bus for two young American girls.  Teehee, old men love us :P

I also know how much people at home love language stories!  One would think that after spending 6 months in a foreign country doing missionary work, the language mistakes would cease to exist.  Nope, NOPE, NOPE!  
We were at an appointment with a less active member, and we had just shared Doctrine and Covenants 6:34-36 (one of my favorite scriptures EVER!) and we talked a bit about how the Lord is our Shepherd and how we should never feel like things are too hard, because the Lord is always there to give us comfort and help.  
The sentence I WANTED to say was 'What brings me comfort is knowing that we are the Lord's sheep', but the word Schafe (sheep) is really close to the word Strafe (punishment.)  
How sadistic I must have sounded to say 'I recieve a lot of comfort in knowing that we are part of the Lord's punishment!'  
Luckily, the majority of my language mistakes take place in members homes, so all she did was laugh.  I guess when you live in a foreign country and all you have to deal with is missionaries who are learning German as a second language, you become pretty used to language mistakes :P  Oh, no...But I swear I have been improving as well!  
We met this older lady this week, and she was convinced that I was German!  
I kept trying to tell her that I was born in America, lived there all my life, have only been here 6 months, and that I didn't learn any German until I came here, but she didn't believe me. 
She kept saying 'You must have ancestors from here, you just look and sound too German, I swear you are a German, look at that beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes!'  
I have never gotten so many compliments on my blonde hair and blue eyes until I got here!  
Its kind of funny :P  But it was a nice compliment to get that I sound like a native!

Our Favorite S-Bahn ride
When Freiburg Zone was first organized, there was (and still is) a lot of emphasis placed on turning Freiburg Zone into Freiburg Stake.  
President Miles keeps talking about how this area is just going to explode with baptisms, and how there is so much potential here!  
This idea has always given me hope and excitement, but this week we actually got to see this promised blessing in action. 
We just recently started teaching a Nigerian family, the husband and wife's names are "P" and "S". Sister Jenson and I would always going by on them, but they were always busy and never really interested.  
Just a few weeks ago, Sister Henry and I went by on them, they invited us in, we had a really great introductions lesson, they came to church (despite not being able to speak German) and told us that they want to keep meeting with us.  
Well, on Tuesday, we taught them the 1st lesson, about the restoration of this Gospel and the Book of Mormon.  At the very end, we invited them to be baptized and strive to become prepared by October 12th.  
They both accepted, saying that they want to learn more about what we believe and find out for themselves, but they would LOVE to be baptized into our church!  
President Miles has asked us to call him every time to set a baptismal date, just so that he can share our excitement with us.  
After we got out of the lesson, we said a quick gratitude prayer, and then we RAN to the church so that we could call President Miles!  
It's only about a 7 minute walk, but we ran the whole way from the "O" family house to the church because we were so excited to call!  We saw the Elders walking out of the church as we ran up, and they told us that they had set 2 baptismal dates for October 12th as well!  
We were all so happy, Sister Henry and I were jumping up and down and screaming and being typical sisters, and calling pretty much everyone we knew and sharing the news.  
It was a really exciting day, and it has been so great to keep working with "P" and "S", and their family.  And what a great birthday party it would be to have 4 people baptized!!  

I will leave my email on this note: Missionary work is the most rewarding and amazing thing I have ever done, and it is such a blessing to see the change that this Gospel makes in peoples lives.  I love feeling the Lord work through me, a weak and tainted vessel, in order to bring His children back into the fold.  There is just nothing else on Earth that can compare :)

Love you all,
Sister Peterson

That's quite the snail

Missionaries aren't always all business