Monday, February 24, 2014

Greenie Busted

Hallo All, 

This was transfer week, which is always a mixed emotion time. It's the time we say goodbye to our current companion

Goodbye Sister E
and welcome our new companion-

Welcome to Linz, Austria Sister Ackerman
Well, I'd like to take this opportunity to give you a little lesson in missionary lingo: 
Frau P and I

Frau P and Sister E
Your first companion is called your trainer and your second companion is called your ''Greenie Buster.''  Everything that you learn about missionary work you learn from your trainer. You spend your first three months in the mission field with them. You might be shy, or a little timid or intimidated by this new country and new language, so you just really ABSORB everything your trainer says and does. You really end up thinking that everything that they do is perfect! 
After your trainer, you get ANOTHER companion who does things very differently, and all of a sudden you have to learn to adjust, compromise, and really work in unity together. It's a time when you have to really learn to be flexible and not compare your trainer to your greenie buster- or at least, so I am told!
Sister E and "O"
You see, I never had a greenie buster, I have just been training and training and training for 11 months, so everything I learned from Sister Jenson is what I have been teaching to my Golden's! Teehee...until now. Sister Ackerman says that being companions with me is kind of weird, because she feels like she is greenie busting someone who is an old rookie on their mission. Well, yep, that's exactly what she is doing!! So after almost a year of missionary service, I am finally being greenie busted! 

As much as I miss Sister Erdenetsogt, Sister Ackerman is the perfect person to be with me right now.  We have so much in common, it is just so natural to be her companion. The only dangerous thing is that we are both blonde forgetful little nuts, so we spend a lot of time getting lost and distracted :P 

I am actually super impressed with her work ethic. I was kind of worried about this transfer honestly, I mean, she only has 6 weeks left on her mission. I had no idea if she would even try to learn the buses, the members names, even try to connect to the area, and I had no idea how 'trunky' she would be. But she has jumped in with both feet on the ground running!  I am excited to see how this transfer turns out.

I never really understood how big Facebook was until just this past week. Even as a missionary, I cannot escape Facebook!  
We have an investigator who works at the music theater here in Linz, and he keeps inviting us to his plays and concerts, but we have never had time to go. He invited us to one this past week- ''Die Fledermaus'' and Sister Erdenetsogt and I thought it would be fun to go with Melanie one night before she left. We got permission to go, asked him how long it was and what it was about, explained that we were missionaries and tried to make sure that it was an okay opera to see, and then our investigator got us tickets to go. 
Our View
At first it was super exciting, we got VIP seats on top, we were going to see an Opera, it was Sister Erdenetsogts last night, it was all good! 

Ready for the show VIP style
Well, then the Opera started, and it became quickly very clear that the play was not appropriate for us to be at.
Not that it was bad, I mean, I probably would have been okay staying if I wasn't a missionary. But with the standards that we have as missionaries, there was no way we could feel the Spirit. It was the hardest thing to decide what to do-stay and support an investigator, who was so excited that we were there, and just tough out the bad scenes until the end, or go?  
We ended up leaving the theater early and going home, which I felt really good about. Sister Erdenetsogt decided it was good to leave, we would forget about it, and move on with the work the next day.  
Haha, totally forgot that we were tagged on Facebook as going to an opera :P  
I had a lot of people come up to me and ask how the opera was and teasing me for being there!  Its so crazy to think that even though I am on the other side of the world, and I thought I was only known to these people as a missionary, they could at any point know about any part of my life because of the internet!  
Yikes, that is a scary thing! And all the members and investigators that read my blog get to realize how ditzy I actually am :P 

Finding has never been one of my favorite things to do as a missionary. I mean, I love talking to people, especially on the buses and trains, but stopping people on the street has never been my favorite and I have never had a big testimony of it before. 
One of the Sisters in this mission shared her testimony of finding with me, she told me ''Every night and every morning we plan what we are going to do the next day-who we are going to visit, where we are going to be, what buses we are going to take, how much time to give ourselves between appointments, etc. In so doing, I know that every single bus we get on, every single road we walk is FULL of people that the Lord has put in our path because we planned that we would be there!''  
As cool as that sounded when she told me, I wasn't really sold. But this week, I got to personally see it for myself. There is a referral we got from church headquarters a few weeks ago, and we have tried time and time again to go by on them, to set up appointments, but every time we go over, they aren't home or don't have time or they are sick, etc.  
Sister Ackerman and I went by on them just last week (we actually had an appointment this time) and they still weren't there! I started to get a bit annoyed and frustrated, starting to wonder what the purpose was in going by on them. 
Then I realized-every single time we have gone over to their house, we have found people on the street who have been willing to meet with us. No joke-every single time. I think we have 7 people in that neighborhood who we have met and agreed to let us come back over and share what we believe, a few of which we actually have appointments for this week. The Lord knew where we were going, He knew the family wouldn't be home, but He put people in our path anyways.  I don't know if we will ever get to teach this referral we got, but I am so grateful that they have led us to other families who ARE ready to hear our message.  
Man, isn't being a missionary just the coolest?

One of the Elders that went home came back to Linz with his parents on Sunday. It was the weirdest thing! I have always known that going home from a mission is just a part of life, but it has almost always existed on a different world in my mind. I meet missionaries, they go home, and to me, they just drop off the face of the Earth and live normal life on a different planet. But to see a missionary I knew and worked with again as a normal person with parents-it was kind of weird. This happens?  We turn back to normal in a blink of an eye? I think especially with having Sister Ackerman at the end of her mission has really freaked me out with how fast time actually goes by. I feel like I talk about this a lot, it must really give me a lot of stress!  Breathe in, out, (and maybe a little down dog for mom) 
I still have another 7 months left! 
Love to you all, I feel your prayers and your love,
Sister Peterson

Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Hard to Say Goodbye


      Transfer calls.  Normally the most exciting day of the transfer.  Last week, it was the most dreaded day of my mission :(

     I don't like changes. At the beginning of my mission, I thought that I would want to get a new companion every transfer (6 weeks) and that I would want to change areas every 3 months. To me, at the beginning, change was exciting; new faces, new areas, new wards, it is a fun thing. Man, how short time 6 weeks really is.

     Sister Erdenetsogt and I were really really praying to stay together. Especially after last Sunday and the feelings I got there, I was sure we were staying. I was calm, we continued on our merry little way throughout the week.  

     We called the office on Wednesday to order some supplies, and since I was on the phone with them, I asked what the situation on Sister Erdenetsogt's visa was, and if they wanted us to order tickets to Germany so we could apply for an extension. The office Sister took a little pause, as if she wasn't sure what she was allowed to say, and then said "Well, Sister Peterson, I am going to ask you to hold on until Saturday. You will find out more then." At that moment, it was painfully clear to me what was going on. Sister Erdenetsogt was getting transferred. The decision was made, there was nothing more to do. We had already both sent letters to the President, begging to stay. I just remember looking at Sister Erdenetsogt, who was still totally unaware, and just wanting to give her the biggest hug and never let go.

     Saturday morning rolled around, and when the Zone Leaders didn't call us by 8, we knew. Finally, Elder Orchards (one of the APs) called, full of excitement as normal. He told Sister Erdenetsogt to pack her bags, she is coming to Munich!!  ...Silence. I feel bad for the guy, normally people answer back with excitement as well, but we just sat there. After some awkward silence, I said "I promise we will be excited, but can we have a few minutes to be sad first?" Confused, he answered back "uh, ok.  Well, have a good day!!" 
9 weeks went by so fast, and the ward wasn't happy to hear that Sister Erdenetsogt was leaving so fast either! Well, she is needed in Munich. They are gaining a great missionary there!

     The silver lining-I am getting an AWESOME new companion. Her name is Sister Ackermann, I went on an exchange with her before, and it was one of the funnest exchanges I have ever had. The weird thing is that she only has one more transfer left on her mission, so she will also only be here for 6 weeks. Which means that I am probably going to stay for at least one transfer after her as well with another companion, and then leave. 7 months in Linz, not bad at all!! If I had to pick anywhere to be in for 5 transfers, it would be right here!  

     This week was one of those weeks where you have to learn to count your blessings. We had a lot of appointments fall out and a lot of investigators drop off the face of the Earth,which means there wasn't a whole lot of lessons taught this week. But a lot of time on streets, buses, and Strassenbahns finding people. And did we find people!! Our Zone Leaders challenged us to set a goal of how many potentials we wanted to find in the 2 weeks leading up to the end of the transfer, and Sister Erdenetsogt and I set the goal of 30 potentials, which at the time seemed impossible. It was so humbling to get on our knees and pray to know what number we should set, ask for the Lords help, and then do everything in our power to accomplish that goal. And we did it :) Opportunities to share the gospel were opened up to us in the coolest of ways.  

Sister Erdenetsogt made us Mongolian food for dinner
(***Mom's note here: this is a coincidental message because I had sent her a message asking about how she felt about making goals like this and if she felt like it added to her success. I was struggling making some missionary goals of my own, and struggling to make some specific goals. I have noticed that I am pretty timid in making my own goals for missionary work, but now I know I need to be bold and 'go big or go home')
Another pair of shoes bites the dust!!
     Sister Erdenetsogt was asked to cook Mongolian food for the Young Single Adult activity on Saturday. We actually used it as a finding method-asking people if they have ever eaten real Mongolian food before (the answer usually being no) and then inviting them to the dinner :) Hey, there are many honorable ways to find people to teach, Preach My Gospel somewhere!!  We actually had a few potentials from Afghanistan show up, and they met one of the recent converts here who speaks their same language, and they hit it off right away! They came to church the next day and loved it :)  Man, aren't members the best?  
We had the Didenhover's over for dinner
     I was super afraid that I was going to get really relationship homesick on Valentines day. It's already super hard to go over to someones house that is a big happy family with young kids, because it makes me so excited to have a family someday!! Luckily, Valentines day is not quite as big of a deal here as it is in America :) Whew, dodged that bullet!  
We made Elder Szvoboda a super-missionary cake for his birthday

     Thanks everyone for your love and support!  Have a great week!

Sister Peterson

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Emotional Ups & Downs

My dear friends and family-

     This week was definitely an emotional roller coaster ride. I've heard that it is good to have really, really good days and really, really bad days close together. I'm here to say, I think that is madness! I know that this is part of the purpose of the fall, that we might taste bitter so we can enjoy the good- Well, this week, I felt the pure joy of the spirit as well as the absolute absence of joy! It was all good, but definitely an emotional roller coaster I won't soon forget.
A beautiful sunrise in Linz, Austria
     On Monday, we had an investigator couple offer to make us lunch and then take us to see Mauthausen, which is a really well preserved Concentration Camp and Museum. I was super excited, I haven't been to a concentration camp yet, and it's a part of the culture and history of Germany and Austria that I have really wanted to experience. So we got in the car, super excited, ready with our cameras, full of smiles, looking forward to an amazing and fun P-day.
BOY were we WRONG!!! It was amazing and it was P-Day--> but FUN?  not the right word at all!!
Bunk Beds: two people slept on each top and bottom

Remembering the lives of those who died here

The names wall
     As soon as we got to Mauthausen, the smiles were gone. 

The cemetery

Entering the gates
     I think that there are certain spirits that we feel in our lives, especially when we are engaged in the Lord's work. We feel the Spirit of Elijah when we do family history, we feel a special spirit when we are with our families, we feel the spirit of truth and light when we are in church or reading in the scriptures.
    But the spirit we felt at Mauthausen was just...sad, empty- really absent of all joy- completely and totally void of happiness at all. Really, it is simply and indescribable feeling. We were there for at least  3-4 hours, just looking around at where everything happened, learning about the things that happened in secret, the horrors that happened behind closed doors. 
     As we left and got back in the car, the "P"family looked at us, as if we were now a part of some big secret. I can't believe that there are still some people in Austria and Germany who personally experienced WWII, whose parents actually had to make the choice whether to help escapees or whether to protect themselves. Whose relatives have had to make the choice to become a Nazi, or flee the country. It's a part of history that we all learn about in school, but I don't think we can truly comprehend how it was. 
     I don't think I have truly realized (and appreciated) how blessed I am to have been born into an amazing family with standards that protect me, with loving support, and in a country and age when I am allowed to grow and express myself. 
     It was a wonderful experience, but honestly, I was glad to be able to get back to missionary work and be encircled about with the light of the Lord's work!
    Luckily Tuesday was a lot more exciting and uplifting than Monday was! We had Zone Training AND Zone Conference in the same day, so were in Salzburg for a very, very long time.  It's always fun to see President and Sister Miles and the AP's! They get me so excited to do missionary work!!  It was also way fun to have Sister Jenson (Kori's trainer), Sister Henry (Kori's first greenie), and Sister Erdenetsogt (Kori's current companion) all together again. It was so cool to see Sister Henry up front leading everything as a Sister Training Leader, man, it was cool to see her spunk and excitement again.    
Our beautiful church building
       The Elders are kind of making fun of us for this part, but we have actually been having a lot of success with the YOUTH over these past few weeks. I can honestly say that our investigators who are progressing the most are 14, 16, and 24.  
     We met with a young man named 'J', and we invited another young man and his mom to help us with the lesson. 'J' is seriously the coolest- at our very first appointment he told us straight up that he doesn't believe it was a coincidence that we met each other in the bus. "No, it sure wasnt!!"  Well, this time, we taught him the 1st lesson and the message of the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith.  At the very end, we were talking bout the Book of Mormon and how it is a witness of the restoration, in that it testifies of Christ and proves that Joseph Smith was a latter day prophet.  We asked him to pray that night to know if the book of Mormon is true. He looked at us really confused for a bit, and then said ''Okay, I guess I can pray about it tonight. But, I already know that this Book is from God!''  Sister Erdenetsogt and I looked at each other kind of surprised, thinking 'did that really just happen??' 
     My goodness, it was the coolest thing.  After the lesson, we introduced 'J n to Elder Szvoboda and they started talking to each other in Hungarian (oh yeah, J can speak pretty much every crazy language out there!) 
We asked Elder Szvoboda later what they were talking about. He said ''we just talked a bit about why he is meeting with you. This really means a lot to him. He really likes meeting with you guys. I know he is just 16 and we kind of laughed at first, but he is a really amazing guy. You two are doing awesome.''  Yes, that's why I am on a mission!!

Traditional Mongolian decorations
    To end off our week, we visited a baptism of a family that the Linz Elders have been teaching. I used to get really upset whenever I would visit the baptisms of other missionaries, thinking ''Why haven't I been able to see an investigator of MINE get baptized? I have been on my mission for almost 11 months and have STILL not had a baptism!!'' and I would get really upset and, I am ashamed to say, jealous.  
     The last baptism the Elders had was in December or early January, and I remember sitting down, and getting a really overwhelming feeling of peace. The thought that came into my mind was ''Sister Peterson, it doesn't matter if you never see a baptism while on your mission. You are still doing my work, and I am pleased with you.'' At that moment, I felt comfort, and I accepted the fact that I might never see an investigator baptized. 
     Well, just yesterday, I was sitting down again, watching the baptism, listening to the talks and testimonies, and I got another feeling of peace and comfort, but for a different reason. I know that Sister Erdenetsogt and I have kind of been stressing out that one of us will get transferred this next week, and that the miracles we have been seeing together will come to an end.  
     But yesterday, I got an overwhelming feeling of peace and excitement that the people we are teaching are READY, and that there are people in Linz who are waiting for us to find them, AND who are ready to accept this gospel. I couldn't imagine being anywhere next transfer but in Linz, and serving with anyone but Sister Erdenetsogt. I asked Sister Erdenetsogt about it later, and she said she felt the same way.

     I have no idea what this next transfer will bring, what will happen, or if we will stay together, but I finally felt peace. Transfer calls are this Friday, but we are looking forward to them with excitement and confidence that whatever will happen is meant to happen.  
Lord, thy will be done. It will just be really, really, REALLY nice if thy will is the same as mine ;)  

     Thanks for all your support!  Pray for the missionaries, write a nice note for someone you love today, and have a great Valentines day!!  I love you all :)

Sister Peterson

Monday, February 3, 2014

Oh, Beautiful Vienna

Dear Friends & Family- 

     Wow, what a week! I am sorry I was unable to send a big email out last week. We were on a full blown missionary field trip!! What, you didn't know missionaries took field trips, well neither did I, but that's what happens if you are given the right companion :)

     Last Sunday, Sister Erdenetsogt and I took a train to Vienna so that we could pick up her visa on Monday. She has had a lot of complications with visa stuff, especially because she is the first Mongolian missionary to serve in this part of the world, so NOBODY knows what kind of paperwork she needs! She already has her Austrian visa, but because she lived in Vienna before her mission, President Miles told her that as soon as she gets her German visa from the embassy than she will be transferred to Germany and spend the rest of her mission there. We were always kind of nervous for the day her visa would be ready to pick up, because we knew that meant that we would only be together for a limited amount of time.  On the bright side though, that meant we also knew that we'd get to travel to Vienna to pick up her visa from the German embassy.Which was the purpose of our hiatus from normal P-Day activities. 

     So, I'm just going to say... HELLO, VIENNA!

     Hands down, Vienna is the most amazing place I have ever been. I will still say that Switzerland is the most gorgeous and beautiful, but there is just something about the business, the artsi-ness, the atmosphere of Vienna that just makes you want to sing. We did not have much time, only one day, but we went and saw as much as we could!  We saw the Schönbrunn castle, Belvedera, City Hall, Parliament, the International Library, Stephamsdom church; we went shopping and to the missionary famous Wienerschnitzel restaraunt. Honestly we tried to do EVERYTHING!

Opera House
       I had to keep reminding myself that I was a missionary. As amazing as it was though, it reconfirmed my thoughts that I would NEVER want to be a missionary in a city like Vienna or Munich. I'm afraid that I would just want to play all day, it would be hard to focus, hard to do work.  
    I don't know, maybe I would change my mind once I actually was serving in a city like that. But for now, I am grateful that I get a relatively big, but not too touristy, place like Linz to serve :)

     I finally learned how to cook Mongolian food! I was with Sister Wunderli for 12 weeks and kept begging her to teach me how to cook Hungarian, but she never did.  I wasn't about to let Sister Erdenetsogt get away without teaching me a few things! This week was the start of Asian New Year, and I guess in Mongolia, the way they celebrate New Year is by making one or two thousand dumplings, and then inviting friends and family over for a week or two and eating dumplings together. Because we have a few Mongolian potentials, we were invited over a few times for this simple celebration. I learned how to make Mongolian dumplings and Mongolian fried bread, which is actually pretty easy to make. Did you ever think a person could learn so much on a mission!

Sitting down to wienerschnitzel...

The workers know the missionaries don't drink beer with their wienerschnitzel
... definitely what you feel like after eating wienerschnitzel
    We don't really like to go door-to-door to find people, I mean, we will sometimes if appointments fall out and we have to fill time, but most of the time we try to avoid dooring. Well, we got to learn what is like on the OTHER side of the door this week. Sister Erdenetsogt and I were sitting at our desks doing the training program, and we get a knock on the door. I got up to open the door and see two Jehovah Witnesses, who immediately start their door approach. As they are talking about the Bible and showing me some sort of pamphlet, the wheels in my head start slowly turning, 'Oh my gosh, I just got doored by JWs!'  I try to think back of some nice way that people have kindly told me on my mission that they aren't interested without being rude or offensive, but the thing in Europe is, is that you need to learn to be BOLD and not sugar coat things (not like how us Americans do it!)  
    Luckily, Sister Erdenetsogt came up to the door as well, her name tag clearly visible, and they point at the name tag, say something like 'They're those Mormon missionaries, let's keep going!'  They very kindly wished us a good day, and headed back on their way. Well, you know what they say, if you want to be a good missionary and a good teacher you need to know what it's like on the other side of the teaching!  

     Although Sister Erdenetsogt and I have been feeling like we have been doing good in our missionary work, we couldn't help but feeling that our work would go a lot faster and be a lot more effective if we used the members more. We haven't had any names of less-actives to visit, we struggle sometimes with finding members to come with us to lessons, and we have had the feeling that the Elders are a lot more public with the ward than the Sisters are (partially because there hasn't been Sisters in Linz for a long time.) 
     Well, anyways, Sister Erdenetsogt and I made a goal to work in more unity with the ward, and this Sunday we decided to use all of our time getting to know members, seeing what more we can do, and helping them help us with our work as well. Man, were we TIRED after church!  
     But as a result, we got a lot of names from the Relief Society President of ladies to visit, we matched up a few families to help us with Family Home Evenings to a few investigators we are teaching, and we scheduled a lot of people to come with us to lessons to friendship our investigators. And the weirdest thing, as I asked people to help us out, instead of acting like what we were asking was a burden to them, their excitement to help actually increased. People started coming up to us to ask what they could do and if they could help in any way. The whole attitude started to change.  I think lots of times I am nervous to ask for help from members because they are so busy, when I really forget that members are also called to take part in the work of salvation. We are all doing the same work-to bring people to Christ and then to help strengthen the members we already have-we just have different callings and responsibilities.  I am excited to witness the change in our work as we use the members more and help them learn what their role as friend-shippers are.  I am so grateful for the members of the church-there is NO WAY that I could do this work alone!
     We just never know why someone is in our lives. What is important to know is that the Lord puts us all together for a reason. There is NO mistakes when it comes to human relationships. We all have need of a little love and connection. We may not be teaching or we may never have the opportunity to serve full time, but remember when you look around at who is next you-  you are in their life because they need this connection with you at this time. Remember that your role as the frienshippers is of greater or equal importance to that role of the missionaries 

     Sister Erdenetsogt has dubbed me as the official chocolate chip cookie maker. There is just something about being American that makes my companions think I am automatically the personal treat and touch maker. She told me once that she wanted to make cookies to bring by on less actives and investigators.  I walked in to the kitchen, thinking that she had already started on the cookies.  I saw her sitting on the table, and she said 'I have been waiting for you!  Aren't YOU going to make chocolate chip cookies?'  and she has done that about 4-5 times since then.  Its just a part of life I have accepted 


Sister E trying to make a weird American face :)

My weird American face :)
     Thank you all for your support and help not only to me, but to all of the missionaries that serve in your areas.  We love you and pray for you and your success and happiness every day :)  Have a great week!
It's February, Yikes!
-Sister Peterson