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

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