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


  1. What an experience she had. I can't imagine the horror of visiting such a place, yet the importance of never forgetting the terror that can reign when we silently allow evil people to hurt and torture others. I am sure she will never be the same. I appreciate that she mentioned Sis Henry, I didn't even know she helped lead Zone Conference--"that is what my mission journal is for..." I miss having her companion's letters so I know what is going on! I love your sweet daughter and I am looking forward to what assignment the Lord has for her next!

  2. What an experience. I bet she was exhausted after just 3-4 hours of visiting that place. I wish all the Elder/Sisters could visit one while they are. They need to never forget and they also need to realize just how good they really have it - it's moving to think that there were people in there that never doubted God! I like her perspective on having good days and bad days close together. What an insightful young sister missionary!