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

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