Monday, November 25, 2013

Snow for The Holidays

Hallo -

     It's snowing today!! Did you hear that??? IT'S SNOWING TODAY!!!!!!!!!

    After weeks of running up to the window in the morning, I can finally say that I am not crazy!! I knew we'd get snow even if the doubters tried to convince me otherwise.
And the Christmas markets opened up on Saturday, so we can officially say that it is Christmas time here in Linz :)
     So we got transfer calls on Thursday- how did this transfer go by so fast? I feel like I just got here in Linz! 
     I will quickly explain how transfer calls work here.  So the zone leaders call anytime between 6:30-8 am to let you know if you are both staying together, so nothing is changing within your companionship.  Then the AP's and president start calling at 8 if something is changing, so you know who in the companionship is getting transferred and where they are going.  
Sister Wunderli and I woke up, 100% sure that we were going to stay together. Then all throughout morning call. All during call. 8:00 rolls around and still no call. So, obviously, Sister Wunderli and I start freaking out, "Who is leaving? Where do you think we are going? Where do you want to go?" And getting totally excited to find out what's happening. All through personal study, no call. Companionship study rolls around at 9 and still no call...10:00 and no call. 
     Finally at 10:20 we send the zone leaders a text and ask how long it takes for president to make the calls.  Then Elder Aardema calls us, apologized, says that they forgot about us and that we are staying together. CAN YOU SAY ANTICLIMACTIC?? 
Ugh apology NOT accepted mister! But Sister Wunderli and I are both excited to be staying here in Linz, there are so many more miracles left here for us to see!
More time together in Linz
     I think one of the hard things about being a missionary- or maybe just one of the hard things about being Sister Peterson (I have no idea which)- is knowing that there are some relationships that missionaries have had with members or investigators in the past that you will never be able to live up to. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to have the same connection that Sister Jaynes (or Sister Jenson or Henry etc..) have had with people. 

Ready for the train ride to Salzburg
This has been something that I have really struggled with here in Linz, especially because the previous sisters have been so loved in this area. 
     On Sunday, after having kind of a rough weekend, The Lord showed me in His kind way that there are people who I, Sister Peterson, am helping here that previous missionaries haven't touched in the same way. There is an elderly lady in the ward in Linz who I like to say 'hallo' to every Sunday morning before sacrament meeting. She sits in the back, so I've always just talked to her while waiting for our investigators to show up. Yesterday, she came up to me at church and said "Guten Morgen Kori Peterson!!" Which kind of threw me off guard because nobody ever calls me by my first name! I said good morning back and asked how she knew my name. She said (in German of course) "you told me your first name your very first Sunday here. I always remember the names of the nice missionaries!" She then went on to name the other sisters who had an impression on her, where they were from and how long ago they went home. I was deeply touched to know that just by saying hi to this sweet woman every Sunday, I was still fulfilling my purpose as a missionary to take care of the lords children.
Brother & Sister Didenhover
    So that leads into the spiritual thought that I'd like to share this week! So there have been a lot of things that have been testing my patience these past few weeks, dumb little things that don't matter in the eternal scope, but for the here and now have, for some strange reason, been boiling my blood!! 
     I was sitting in bed one day wondering how I could nicely ask some people to correct some of these "ridiculous behaviors". As I was pondering, one of my favorite scriptures came into my mind. I thought of the story of Jonah in the Bible, and how he was furious when God spare Nineveh.
   Jonah stomped away absolutely furious. I can just imagine him throwing a little temper tantrum (sometimes I picture it was a pretty full scale temper tantrum :p)
  Jonah starts telling The Lord that it would be better for him to die than to "suffer" by watching Nineveh be spared, and "then said The Lord, 'Doest thou well to be angry?'" (Jonah 4:4) I thought a long time about that story, and how ridiculous and stubborn Jonah is, and I realized how ridiculous and stubborn I was being. How easy is it to justify our getting angry with some sort of "misbehavior" that someone else is doing? How easy is it to choose to be angry rather than accept that the person who needs to change their attitude is ourselves? 
    Especially for me, I think just by nature of being a woman I love to complain! But does being angry EVER do us any good?
   Well, we are going to go dirndl shopping now and enjoy the fact that we are living in Austria for wintertime :) 
Have a good thanksgiving and a merry merry first few days of the Christmas season! Take time every day to recognize God's hand in your life, to see His creations in all their beauty and to share your testimony of His greatness to those you meet.

Love to you all,
Sister Peterson

M made us cookies- isn't she beautiful

R made us a cake

Now that's what I call waffles

S's mom made him this cool hat

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It feels like Winter... But Where is the Snow?

Hallo, friends & family-

     Part of the reason I was praying to come to Austria for winter was because I was really looking forward to a white, Austrian Christmas!  But after several older women- actually, pretty much EVERY woman I have talked to since I got here in Linz- has told me that it really doesn't snow until spring and that a white Christmas is pretty much impossible, I guess I have kind of accepted the fact that there will be no snow Christmas morning.  But that doesn't stop me from jumping up every morning and looking out the window!  You never know, women (not my mom) can always be wrong! First of all, they don't know who is praying for a White Christmas just like good ole' Minnesota Christmas'! And second of all, even if it doesn't snow by Christmas- it's almost 2014- so a New Year with new snow covering right? Wait... did I just say is almost 2014?? Where did 2013 go?

Goodbye Fall, Hello... almost Winter
A beautiful park near our apartment
     On Tuesday we had Zone Training in Salzburg, and I cannot get over how beautiful it is there!
I would gerne live there.  We were in such a hurry, so I couldn't take more pictures. We are going back on Wednesday for Zone Conference. That will be a double "YAY". I get to go back to this beautiful Austrian treasure AND I get to see President and Sister Miles! I will plan plenty of time for extra picture taking!  
Salzburg, could anywhere be more beautiful?
     This Zone Training was probably one of the most spiritual experiences I have had on my mission. At the beginning of this year, the mission set a goal to baptize 290 people this year. So far, we have baptized around 110. 
     The goal of 290 was always something that we would look at and say "Yeah, that is a good motivating goal, but let's be honest, that's a really lofty goal and it just might not happen!"  
     Every month, the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders discuss a topic for the whole mission to fast about on the first Sunday, and we learn about it in Zone Training. As the ZLs and STLs started talking about the mission fast for December, the spirit came so strong that it was almost like a slap in the face! They talked a bit about this goal of 290, and said what better topic for a mission fast than to fast and pray that we actually reach our goal?  
     Instead of laughing at how ridiculous this sounded, the only thoughts that came into my mind was how MIRACULOUS it sounded.  As much as my mind wants to tell me its impossible, I know it is possible.  I keep thinking of all the miraculous things that this mission is expecting to happen: 
     * creating a stake in Freiburg
     * building a new temple in Vienna
     * for the work to literally EXPLODE in this beautiful land amongst these wonderful people
So really, baptizing 180 people in December is TOTALLY doable! 

Sister Wunderli & Ich
     I just can't help but be completely excited to be serving in an area of the world that is on the brink of so much success!  I can't even express my feelings of excitement to see what is going to happen within this next month and a half!

     That is our big mission miracle, but Linz is seeing miracles all on it's own.  

     Sister Iris Miesbauer had her open house last night, and she left today as an official missionary! It will be very weird not to have her around. Sister Wunderli and I will have to find another person to do joint teaching with! As much as we will miss her, Salt Lake City is going to LOVE her and she will be a wonderful missionary. 

Officially Sister Miesbauer
     We were teasing 'M' last night about how she has to hurry up and be baptized already so that we can start taking her with us to lessons, and she said that she would love to be able to serve a mission! But considering she is already 24 and she would have to wait a year after her baptism before she could go on a mission, she just doesn't think that's a possibility for her.  
    I suggested the idea of serving a mini-mission- which I had never heard of before I came here, but I guess you can serve a mini mission for 6 or 12 weeks. As 'M' was driving us home, she told us about how excited she was and how much she would love to serve a mini mission, and how excited she is to get married and raise her family in the gospel.  
     It is one thing to watch your individual investigators progressing, but teaching 'M' is so much more than teaching any other investigator I have ever met. Ever time we talk with her, I am so amazed at how strong her testimony is and how strong she is as a person and as a daughter of God!  
     It is one of the most rewarding things to think about how big of an influence 'M' will have on the people around her for the rest of her life. It really is the greatest thing to watch these people change their lives, and then to see them continue to change the lives of others around them! 
Proof we spend a lot of time on our feet... holes in my Clark's
     Although I love being able to share the gospel, to testify of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation and to show people the love that our Heavenly Father has for them through my love and service each day- I REALLY love to see the change in peoples lives as they grasp hold of something so big, beautiful and marvelous. It is a miracle every day as people's lives are changed, not because they got more money, a bigger house or whatever else the world has to offer- but because they finally found the best thing there is to find- the love of their Savior and the power of the Atonement applied in their own lives. Is there anything better??? I think NOT!

     I found some canned pumpkin in our apartment that Sister Jeynes left behind, and I was so excited I just HAD to bake something!  Considering I had no recipe and it was late at night, I would say that my failed concoction tasted relatively edible :P 
I will remember that for next time, it is always good to have a recipe.  
Well, wouldn't having access to Pinterest be nice? Do you think pinterest will be part of the church's plans to allow internet access to the missionaries?? I could find a convincing argument maybe- or mom, why don't you get working on that?? 
Just kidding- but Mom, I would LOVE it if you'd send some recipes. With the holidays approaching, I do have the urge to do some baking! As much as I loved to cook at home, I've never realized how much I NEED a recipe to make something YUMMY!!! Also, I have an investigator, 'Ma', who is a chef, and she has been begging me to teach her some American recipes ever since I got here!  I'm not sure what she has in mind, but I am sure she will be fine with anything :P  
Oh, these silly people thinking America is so cool- don't they know this is Austria, beautiful, wonderful Austria :)

I found more maultaschen

I love you all so much, and you are in my prayers every night!  Have a great week :)

Oh, I don't want to forget- Here are some quotes of the week:

"Ooh, that is a nice door ornament!" -Sister Didenhover
"It's Austria, everything is pretty, get used to it!" -Elder Didenhover

Me: "I haven't gotten a call about my visa yet, I am starting to get really worried!" 
Sister Wunderli: "..oops!  A lady called last Wednesday, your visa is ready to be picked up!"
what will I do when Sister Wunderli is gone?  Never laugh again, I guess...

Lots of Love and Laughs :)
Sister Peterson

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That awkward moment... when you're the only American!

Dear Family & Friends,

     There are a lot of things that I love about living in a different country with a completely different culture.  
     I love learning about the differences in cultures around Europe, 
          learning a new language, 
          eating new foods, 
          and kissing people on the cheeks when you great them (although I struggle to remember which members like giving just one kiss, who kisses both cheeks, and who will keep kissing your cheek until you back away!) 
     But probably one of the best parts about living in a new country is hearing what other people have to say about America :P  
     Especially the stereotypes that people have about BYU!  It's the funniest thing!  Elder S was talking last night about how nobody should have to be worried about finding a husband/wife because of how easy it is.  
     We all looked at him kind of confused, and he said "All you have to do is spend one semester at BYU and BAM!  You're engaged!"  He was talking later about his older sister who isn't married yet.  He said "She is 26 and not married.  It's not like she never had the opportunity to get engaged, I mean, she was at BYU for 3 years, she was just really good at enduring!"  Ladies and gentlemen, I want to tip my hat to everyone who has attended BYU for more than a semester and is not engaged, according to Elder S, you have accomplished the impossible ;P
     I have also started to realize all of the little language quirks that English has.  I have never learned so much about English grammar before, but it's amazing to realize how weird we talk when you all of a sudden have to speak super simple!  Sister Wunderli's English is really good, but English is by no means the same as Hungarian.  
     I think I spent 5 minutes the other day trying to help her hear the difference between 'boss' and 'bus'.  I felt so ridiculous, saying "Bus, B-U-S.  B-UH-s.  Boss, B-O-S-S.  B-AH-ss."  But I am sure that the Germans (and Austrians) feel the same when I am trying to learn how to pronounce my umlaut letters.  Lets just say I will be a lot nicer to the people for whom English is a second language when I go back home :P  
     We had another companion exchange this week, which was so wonderful.  
     Sister Wunderli stayed in Linz with Sister Powell and I went to Salzburg with Sister Garrett (who actually trained my MTC companion.)  
     Highlights of the Tausch are probably 
          -how amazingly GORGEOUS Salzburg is! 
          -going to an eating appointment with all of the missionaries in Salzburg (8 of us...thats a lot of missionaries to fit around one table!) 
          -being back in Germany for a bit! The Salzburg Sisters work in Austria, but their ward covers a small part of Germany and their apartment is in Germany.  I stepped off the train and felt instantly at home!  The see the logo 'DB' and not 'OBB', to see ads for 'Aldi' and not 'Hofer', and to see spitzle again :)  It was a good few days!
     Aside from all of the fun that I had in Salzburg, I actually learned a lot as well.  
     I have been having a really hard time for the past few weeks feeling like I am not a good missionary because of the lack of results. Sister Jenson will write me from Munich and tell me "Yeah, I hear so many good things about you. Everyone says how nice and sweet you are, and people are super impressed by your ability to love and care for people."  I have started to get really down on myself, thinking "How does being a loving missionary make a difference if you don't know how to work hard? I want to learn how to be the hard working, get things done missionary! Maybe then I will see success!"  
     So I went into the Austausch with the goal of learning how to be a harder working missionary.  But during the time I was in Salzburg, I really observed Sister Garrett. As impressed as I was with how hard she worked, the thing that really impressed me was how sweet she was, and how much she truly and sincerely loved the people she worked for. It was an answer to my prayers in way I wasn't expecting at all. I learned the importance of having love in the work, and that being the "sweet and loving" missionary is nothing to be ashamed of!  God has given us all various talents and gifts, no gift better or worse than the others. Sure, we should always be seeking to develop other gifts, but we should never discredit the talents we already have!
     To close, I wanted to share a really cool scripture.  
     I have read this scripture a million times, but I noticed something different as I read it this week. I have been really studying over the past few months about how to recognize our answers, and how to identify when the Holy Ghost is speaking to us. In Doctrine and Covenants, it says "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?"  -(Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23.)  
     What greater witness can we have of an answer than PEACE?  Isn't it amazing that, as many names as the Holy Spirit has, probably one of the most common names is "The Comforter"?  How can we know that we are on the right path?  How can we know that the things we are doing are pleasing to God?  Simple-we will feel peace and comfort. We don't need a vision or to hear a voice, simply to feel the comforting confirmation of the Holy Ghost.  
     I cannot express how grateful I am to be here, serving The Lord for these short 18 months! I am so grateful for everyone back home who prays for me, writes to me, and to everyone who was ever a good example to me and supported me in coming on my mission.I love everyone so much!  Have a great week :)  

Sister Peterson 

P.S.Sorry about the shortage of pictures this week- my camera died :(

Just one side of M's shoe closet!

We made the Austrian equivalent of Hamburgers

We made an investigator a jar with scriptures and motivational thoughts

Monday, November 4, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude

Dear Friends & Family,

     There have been some moments off and on throughout my mission where I have thought 
"Oh my gosh, I live in Europe!  This is soooo cool!" 
But there haven't really been any moments where I have realized that I am not in America...
I guess I have just always assumed that America is still only a hop, skip, and a jump away! 

We were at a members house for lunch and she was showing us some pictures from her trip to America, and it was the weirdest thing!  
She went to Provo, Salt Lake, Vegas, and Idaho. 
It was so weird to see pictures of places I have been, 
places I have LIVED! 
The "A" Family is so wonderful

"E" And I
And than to have her and Sister Wunderli sigh at how amazing all of the places were!
It just boggled my mind to realize how something I had lived with my whole life,
was completely new and foreign to these women. 
Yet what they have always had is so new and wonderful to me!!
It just makes you realize how much we take what we have for granted. 

I used to think that America was so boring compared to the other countries- 
especially when considering all the history in the European countries!  
After this little conversation time, my heart ached for a little bit. 
America really is a pretty place. 
But, Austria is also very pretty, so that makes it a bit easier to be away from home :)

One of the Young Single Adults here, "I", is leaving for her mission to Salt Lake City, Utah in two weeks, which is weird to think that in two weeks she will be in my home country and I will be in hers!  
We were talking a little bit about what she is excited for and what she is nervous for, and she said that she is not packing any make-up because she wants to be able to buy all the 'cool American makeup'.  I laughed and told her that she will be the hot stuff when she gets to America, because we all want to go to Europe to buy the cool European stuff!
Oh, I did finally get a haircut, GAAAH!  
It feels SOOOOO Short!!
"M" cuts hair and so she offered to cut all of our hair for free.  
As much as I love finally having long hair again, it was so unhealthy.  
The Elders and the Wels Sisters were also getting their hair cut, and the Elders kept laughing at how much Sister "H" and I were freaking out about having to say goodbye to our long hair.  Men, they just don't understand the special relationship between a woman and her hair :P

Alright, on to actual missionary business now. 
Hmm, well, this week has probably been one of the most trying weeks on my mission.  
As often as we would have hard days in Freiburg, this has just been a hard WEEK.  
The only thing that kept me going is knowing that whenever people go through the refiners fire, they always come out stronger.  
I have learned a lot this week about diligence, prayer, humility, and really just relying on my companion.  I have also spent a lot of time reading old conference talks in personal study, and a lot of the talks this week have been about CHOOSING to be happy.  
As stubborn as I am, I finally resolved to make more positive choices.  
To choose to be happy, 
to choose to be faithful, 
to choose to be positive,
and to choose to look outwards.  

One of our investigators surprised Sis. Wunderli with chocolate milk
As many things in life are out of our control, 
one of the things that we always have control over is our attitude.  
Attitude of gratitude, that is the key :)

Funny story, so Sister Wunderli and I were on the bus the other day on our way to an appointment, and she started talking to a lady and I could tell she was talking about the Gospel. 
I started to move towards them to help her out, and I started listening and could NOT understand anything!  I was starting to get frustrated, thinking 
"I know German!  Why can I NOT understand anything, Austrian German can't be that different!" 

And then I remembered that Sister Wunderli kind of speaks fluent Hungarian!
So we have an appointment with a Hungarian woman on Wednesday!  
Yay!  Yikes...wish me luck!  
I might just have to bear my testimony in caveman Hungarian.
The only things I know how to say in Hungarian are "how are you" and "clothespins." Not much to build bearing a testimony off of I'm afraid. 
In Hungarian, this means "What's Up?"
My goal is to be able to hold a pathetic conversation in Hungarian by the end of the transfer :)
So I don't have too much time tonight, but I would like to share a really cool quote that I came across the other day.  Lots of our investigators tend to get frustrated when they pray and pray and pray, but receive NO answer as to what they are supposed to do.  I know there are lots of times where I get impatient with The Lord, expecting an answer NOW.  
Richard G. Scott says "What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited for a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer?  You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is evidence of His trust...when you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision." 
Richard G. Scott talked a lot about this topic as well when he came to the MTC in April, and I remember thinking how cool of a perspective that was.  How wonderful it is that we have a Father in Heaven who not only loves us enough to counsel us when we need help, but who also trusts us enough to let us exercise our free agency and make decisions ourselves. 
   ** If you want to read Richard G. Scott's entire message, click here

I hope I have left a mushy-gushy feel good enough spiritual thought to end my weekly post on a good note :)  I love you all, and have a great Thanksgiving season now that Halloween is gone! Until next week :)

Love You All,
Love the Letters and 
I especially LOVE your prayers,

Sister Peterson