Ein frohes Fest!!
At the beginning of my mission, I thought that Christmas would be the laid back, slow part of the year where all we did was bake cookies and visit members. Boy, was I WRONG! We have been so busy this last week, and it will only keep picking up until January. I am so grateful for lunch time, naps and P-days!!
This week we had a really cool Krippen Ausstellung at the church! This is a display of nativity sets from all around the world. A member in our ward organizes everything and gathers a bunch of nativities and then holds a display every year. This is year is the last year she is going to be able to do it, which is very sad because she does an amazing job at coordinating, organizing and welcoming people in to such a beautiful evening.
It was absolutely gorgeous and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to see it and be a part of it! Most of the nativities are hand made with everything made from scratch, except for the figurines (some people do make their own figurines as well). From what I've seen and what people have told us, it's pretty common to make your own nativity set.
It takes a lot of time and requires a creative mind, but the Krippen are absolutely GORGEOUS! I want to learn! Maybe one day when I actually have time! We were asked to be at the display for two of the three days,so we spent a lot of time looking at the nativities, talking to people, eating cookies and cake, and learning a lot about the symbolism of the nativity. Oh, the things I am learning on my mission :)
Another interesting thing I learned about the holidays here is how the Austrians celebrate Christmas! Actually, a lot of the Europeans celebrate this way, but I live in Austria right now so that's the only one that I know for sure right now.
December 5th is Krampus day, which is where the bad man named Krampus goes around and gives all the naughty children spankings. Lots of people dress up in demon masks and costumes and go running around the streets in the main part of the city for fun, it's actually kind of funny to see them all.
Then, December 6th, is Nikolaus day. St. Nikolaus (sound familiar? Santa Claus??) gives little toys and candies and chocolates to all the children who were good that year. If you visit anyone's house on this day, they will normally give you oranges and peanuts, which are somehow related to Nikolaus day.
And then December 24 is Heiliger Abend, which means Holy Evening.
Most people celebrate Christmas on this day rather then on the 25th. On this day, no Santa Claus is celebrated, St. Nick has already come and gone, and people celebrate the birth of the Christ child. The gifts that are opened on this day are the gifts that the baby Jesus brought into the world at the time of his birth. All the fun and games and fairy tale creatures are celebrated early on in December, and the person who is praised on Christmas Day is actually Christ. How cool is that?
Well class, now that I am done with my cultural lesson, I can share a funny story. So once upon a time, Sister Wunderli and I were waiting for the Straßenbahn, when we get a call from an unknown number. Sister Wunderli picks up the phone, talks a little bit, and then her face gets pale and her eyes get very wide.
I kept trying to figure out what was going on, but she kept waving her hand at me to shush me. After she hung up, she said, "That was President Miles. He wants to know if we have room in our apartment for a 3rd person...I think we are going to work in a dritt!!" Well, goodbye to any of my focus for the rest of the day! We kept talking about whether or not we would want to work in a companionship of 3, how things would be different, how things would be hard, and who we thought we would be getting. During language study, I suddenly realized it was very possible that we could be getting another Golden. I told Sister Wunderli, who just laughed and said that would be fun. But that would mean that once I was training this new sister, I will have been in the training program for a year straight!!
Well, later that night, President Miles called again and told us that on December 17th, we will be picking up a brand new Golden!! Her name is Sister Erbenetsogt, and she is from Mongolia. She was studying in Vienna when she was called to come to our mission. She was supposed to come in this last transfer, but she didn't have all of the paperwork to get a working visa here in Europe, so she has been waiting in Vienna for all of her paperwork to come in. So we will be working in a dritt for a few weeks until transfers come again, and then we will see what happens. So in missionary training terms, that means I will have "twins", training Sister Wunderli and Sister Erbenetsogt at the same time! What a sight we will be, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, and an American! 3 cultures, 3 languages, 3 different continents!! I am excited! And how cool is this?? I may be a trainer for the rest of my mission!
Thanks so much for the letters and emails from home and for the pictures you sent this week. It was so nice to "see" everyone. Everyone looks so gorgeous! When did Karli get old? When did Kenedi start dressing nice with that cute little yellow skirt? When did Kam grow facial hair?? jSo pretty, it's nice to see everyone changing and growing.And the snow storm in Texas- I heard about that!
We have an investigator family who knows I am from Dallas so when we got to their house to teach them, they dragged me into the living room, turned on the news and showed me all about your little ice storm. After laughing at the impossibility of snow in Dallas; I had a little mini heart attack and then found myself a little jealous that you have a lovely winter wonderland and it's still green here! Basically, I think I felt enough emotions that night to last me for a while. Have you had to stay indoors the whole time? Wowwaaa! You have more snow here than we do! We get a little snow and then it melts the next day or so. So we are still pretty fall looking-
When did Karli get old? when did Kenedi start dressing nice with that cute little yellow skirt? When did Kam grow facial hair?? Gah! so pretty :) Thanks for the pictures!
I also got and love the recipes- thanks so much. It looks so, so good, and super easy! And I can actually find all of the ingredients here in Austria, yes!! (Except for nutmeg, I have to look a bit harder to find a store that sells nutmeg...) It is just not the holidays without self made desserts! One of our investigators families invited us over this week to make Austrian Christmas cookies-yes please
I wanted to post a link to a cool Mormon message video, but I can't figure out how to get it to work on this i-pad...so I will just write down one of my favorite scriptures. Doctrine and Covenants 11:8
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation."
And Doctrine and Covenants 4:3
"Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;"
|The city at night...|
But many times, we are given talents and desires so that we can pursue our dreams! If we desire to do good by being the cute little woman who bakes cupcakes for her neighbors with a scripture in them, that is no better or worse than the mom who decides to stay at home and do good by raising her children in a loving and spiritual environment.
There have been so many ways that I have seen people "go about doing good", and it all starts with a desire. Just think, I desired to serve a mission in my youth, in a place where I could learn German and visit many countries in Europe, and look at where I am now ;)
I am eternally grateful for all of the blessings that The Lord had given to me, even all the ones I do not feel that I deserve!! I just hope that one day I can be as good of an influence in the lives of others as others have been to me.
I love you all so much, and have a great week!
15 days until Christmas! But who's counting? :p