Monday, March 31, 2014

Will I stay, or will I go???

*** Note from Mom- Kori did not send pictures last week, but she sent both weeks today. If you'd like to see her one year celebration pictures, go back to read last weeks post here


     The week leading up to transfer calls is always super stressful, really long, and very exciting for me. I have been under the assumption that when Sister Ackerman left I would get another companion for one transfer, and then leave Linz for another area. But as the week went on and transfer calls got closer and closer, I began to remember that transfer calls NEVER go as you think they will! 
I haven't seen Frey chocolate since Freiburg :)
      This is especially true right now because there are not a whole lot of missionaries coming in over the next few months, but there's a lot going home! I have heard through the missionary grapevine that there will be a lot of areas closing right now too. For a while, I was really worried that Linz would either be closed for Sisters or white-washed (area closed). This thought gave me a lot of stress, because there are so many good people here in Linz, and some making really good progress.  
     Surprisingly, the thought that most frequently came into my mind was "what if you train? It is totally possible that you train again."  
     Every time this thought came into my mind, I would laugh to myself and think ''Sister Peterson, are you CRAZY? President has officially fired you from training! You have trained 3 times- nonstop-! You are done being a trainer. 
     Training again would also mean that I would still have 2 more transfers (12 weeks) in Linz in order to complete the training program of a new missionary. That would mean 9 MONTHS in Linz; that's half of my mission! I just totally did not see how that was even a realistic thought. I brushed the thoughts out of my mind every time I thought them and would proceed on my merry little way doing missionary work.
We made cupcakes with M
      Well, Saturday morning came. The phone rang and President Miles gave Sister Ackerman the final send off phone call with her ''Thank you for your service, you have been a wonderful missionary and now you may officially pack your bags to go home''. 
... And then he asked to speak to me. My mind was swimming with all of the other sisters serving throughout the mission. I was trying to think quick about who else was also probably getting transferred and trying to take a quick guess as to who my new companion would be! I was so caught up in trying to guess who I would serve with and where I might be going, that I was not really paying 100% attention to President Miles. LUCKILY, I was listening just enough to hear him say ''...will  you accept a new companion...from the MTC?''  
Me & MTC?
Wait, what???
Are you serious???

     I was literally shaking on the phone as I told President yes. I was really excited at the time, I mean, I LOVE training, and I LOVE getting new Golden's as companions. But it never gets any easier!! There is always the fear of if we will work well together, if I will be the right person to fit their needs and teach them the right way that they need to be taught. To be a missionary's first companion is a LOT of responsibility. Everything you do is pretty much their first impression about what being a missionary is and what serving a mission is.  
     It was especially tough to think about after this week where I have felt like I was falling into a rut in Linz. So to hear I was staying and would need to be on my 'A' game for a new Golden again, I kind of panicked!
     All I can say about training is that it is a total mix of emotions, and I still haven't sorted them all out yet! It is really interesting though because there are only two new sisters coming into the mission-one coming here to Linz, Austria. The other new sister is going to Wels to be trained by Sister Jenson (my trainer!!) AND we are in the same district, so it will be fun to see how Sister Jenson trains this time and to see if we are a lot the same.  
     I did get some very sad news from Sister Henry last week. She had called me to let me know that Bruder Halder, one of our investigators in Freiburg, had just passed away of a heart attack. He had a baptismal date set in just a couple of weeks, but had died before he got the chance to be baptized. As surprised as I was, I was also surprised that the feeling I got wasn't one of sadness or devastation, but a complete feeling of peace filled my whole body. Of course I was sad that one of the people that I loved and worked with had passed away, but I couldn't help but feel extremely grateful and confident that he was being taken care of. He had a baptismal date, he was on the right path. He has a loving wife who will be able to take his name to the temple and have his ordinances done there. He and his wife will finally be sealed to each other for time and all eternity, which was always their biggest goal in the first place :)  
     As cheesy as it might sound, I am super grateful to know that death really doesn't separate us permanently at all. It really is just another step of life that everybody has to take on our progression back to our Heavenly Father. It definitely does not mean that it is the end of our journey. Heavenly Father's plan is perfect and does not leave anybody out! And for that, I am truly grateful! 
     I am very sorry that there isn't much to tell about this week, we don't have a lot of time for emails today. We are off for  a special sister's p-day- YAY!!! 
     I do want to thank everybody for your prayers and support :)  I love you so much!  Have a good week!

Sister Peterson

I decided to wear pig-tails- the look didn't last long

Riding the dinosaur

Taking a little bit of silly time
Take what you need poster- we all need one of these in our homes

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Marriage Proposal & A Lesson in Gratitude

Hello all my friends and family,

     The long awaited day has finally come!! 
     I woke up Thursday morning, still completely groggy and confused, walked out of my bedroom into the living room to do some morning sport, and found out that Sister Ackerman had completely decorated the entire apartment with colorful post-it notes and toilet paper streamers in honor of my mission birthday :) 
Sticky notes- a missionary's best way to decorate

One Year Princess
      We took ourselves out to lunch at a schnitzel place to celebrate my 1 year and Sister Ackermans 18 month mark. It was way fun, but also very very scary. I only have 6 months left- wait, let me say that again-- I Only Have SIX MONTHS left!!!
Birthday Lunch
      Holy cow, I have been in Linz for almost 6 months, and it feels like I just got here!! Watching Sister Ackerman prepare to go home has thrown me into a tornado of emotions. When I first met Sister Ackerman on Tausch in Pforzheim, she had 9 months left on her mission, and now she has one and a half weeks. It's crazy to think of how the time has passed by. 
     I have started to read my old journal entries from the beginning of my mission. It is so funny to see how much I have grown and changed. My German was absolutely awful, I was so nervous to begin my mission and had no idea how to be a Sister missionary; I remember telling myself to just take life one day at a time to avoid the stress of thinking of how long 18 months was going to be and how little I knew!!  
     Now, my journal entries are written in slightly less awful German, I am nervous and have no idea how to be anything but a missionary, and I have to tell myself to just take life one day at a time to avoid the stress of thinking how fast the next 6 months will fly by!!  
     So off the subject of my temporary nervous breakdown and on with the real report of our week: 
Making a delicious dinner
     We had a pretty good and busy week. We have worked with the Linz Elders a lot to get some activities coordinated in our area; things like teaching a German class, us going to institute to support the YSAs, organizing activities for our investigators to come to church, etc. ...And then Saturday came and knocked everything into the air. Honestly, it was one of those days where everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong! We had a Finding Day scheduled in the Haag Elders area, which means that all of the missionaries in the district go to one area and go by on old investigators and less actives, and spend a few hours simply contacting and trying to find new people. The Haag Elders were really excited about this finding day and had done a TON of preparation so that we could be as effective as possible. They had everything completely scheduled out and had made the plans for where we would all work. Because we were all coming in from different areas, their plan had us all catching different trains and going to different parts of their area to contact. They were specifically really excited about the area that they were sending Sister Ackerman and I. 
     We got to the Linz train station at a good time, but had a lot of problems with the ticket machine, which kept making us pay again and again but wouldn't print any tickets. So I ended up paying for my ticket 3 times, but never got a ticket, and we ended up missing our train, which only comes every hour. We finally got on the train an hour later. We got off the train in Neumarkt to catch a connecting train to the area. Well, after waiting a bit, we looked at the train times and found out that the train we were supposed to catch in Neumarkt came every hour, but the train for that hour didn't come on Saturdays! So we had to wait another hour in a random city for our connecting train to come. 
     We finally got in the area, but realized that we only had 30 minutes to go by on the 27 people that the Elders had given us before we had to catch the train home. Needless to say, I was starting to lose my nerves a bit. When we finally got back to Linz, we started to head to an appointment with one of our investigators. I kept praying in my heart, 'Heavenly Father, I know I am stressed, but I really need the spirit in order to teach this lesson. Please give me the strength and peace that I need in order to teach this lesson.'  
     Luckily, I was able to calm down a bit, which helped prepare me for what was going to come next. Our investigator opened the door, and basically proclaimed his love for me and asked me to marry him. My heart just dropped. I just stood at the doorway in shock while Sister Ackerman started to talk to him, and the next thing I knew, she was guiding me across the hallway, down the elevator, and back outside to the bus stop. I couldn't really think straight, I just sat there, angry at God, wanting to shake my fists up in the air and ask 'Why me?? What did I do wrong?? Why did you have to have all of this happen TODAY? You know that I am too weak to handle this!'  
     As I sat there, drowning in my angry and heartbroken thoughts, the thought came into my mind, ''Ask what there is to learn from this situation.''  
     As confused as I was as to what I could possible learn from that day, I silently offered a prayer that I would somehow be able to learn the lesson that the Lord wanted me to learn. As I pondered the day and everything that had gone wrong, it became clearer and clearer to me what the Lord had wanted me to learn. 
     I had been putting myself in such a pity party because I thought that I was going through everything alone. But when everything was happening, when everything was falling apart and I wanted to cry, I was never alone. For one, Sister Ackerman was there for me the entire time. She was there to make me laugh, she was there to buy ice cream with me, she was there for me to talk to, and she was there to let me be silent. And the coolest part? I always have a companion with me. I actually always have 2 companions with me-my missionary companion (and no matter who that is, they are exactly the right person for me at that time), and the Holy Ghost. 
     Because God loves me, He has given me one of the greatest gifts that I can obtain in this life-His promise that His spirit will always be with me. And He sends His angels to be there with me as well.
The entire time that I was shaking my fists and asking God 'Where are you? Where did you go?'  all I had to do was realize that that He hadn't left me, but that He was simply working through another one of His servants, my companion, to help guide me until I was back on my own two feet. I guess I am a pretty stubborn egg to crack, because it seems like God sends me a lot of really difficult trials in order to learn some pretty simple truths. Maybe one day I will learn to be more teachable!
An old house in Ried
     I also learned a very important lesson about gratitude. I was reading through my old journal, and I had written about a miracle story that Sister Regnier and I had experienced. It was a very simple experience-it was in the MTC and one of our fake investigators had made a connection to one of the principles that we were teaching, but I was so excited about this amazing miracle that I had seen!! 
     I started to laugh at first at how easily impressed I was back then, but then I stopped to think a bit. An investigator making a spiritual connection was a miracle then, so why wasn't I see it as a miracle now? Those simple things that I experience every day as a missionary are still things that I should be giving my thanks for. I made a goal to be more grateful for the blessings that I do see everyday, instead of coveting everybody else's big miracles stories. 
      Well, on Sunday, Sister Ackerman and I didn't have any appointments scheduled, and so we decided to be typical sister missionaries and make some cookies and bring them by on some people. The thought came into our mind to bring them by on the Rippl Family, who is actually a referral from Church Headquarters. We have gone by on them a few times and tried to call, but all of our appointments have always fallen out, and they are way hard to get into contact with, and they live kind of far away.  
     We knew that going by on them to deliver cookies would take up the rest of the time we had that day, but we decided to go anyways. When we got there, we totally expected to just drop off the cookies and leave. As it turns out, they had just gotten home 15 minutes before we got there, the entire family was there, they invited us in, and we had an amazing introductions lesson with them!  
     The mom is from Mexico and the dad is Austrian, and they have two wonderful 17 year old daughters. They met the missionaries in Mexico and were taught for a while and even went to church in Mexico. But when they left, they left all of their Books of Mormon and pamphlets in Mexico, and had gone to the church website and requested to meet with missionaries in Linz. 
     The entire time they kept asking us questions, asking us if we had Spanish pamphlets and DVDs that we could bring by, and they are one of the most jolly families that I have ever met. I left the appointment smiling, knowing that the small miracle was given to us because our hearts where full of gratitude for what we already had. Because we were grateful for the small things, the Lord was able to bless us with bigger things. God really does work line upon line, precept upon precept, in many different ways, but especially so with gratitude!!  
     I am so grateful for the time that I have been given to learn, to grow, to get to know all of these amazing people in this amazing part of the world! I am grateful for the time that I still have to continue to progress and learn, for I am far from done learning! I am grateful for the small blessings, like sunny days and free ice cream and Grammelkn√∂del, and I am grateful for the big blessings, like watching investigators progress or members feeling the blessings and excitement of participating in the work of salvation. I am grateful for my friends and family at home, and for those people that I still have yet to meet :) and I am grateful for the gospel, and the opportunity that I have to be a crazy missionary and run around on the streets in skirts and hideous Mary Jane shoes and for this very wonderful 18 months of my life. It truly is a wonderful time to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
     I hope you all have an amazing week! As I prepare to say good-bye to Sister Ackerman, I will prepare to give my all for the next six months. It will go by fast, I know that, but there is a lot of work in God's kingdom and it's up to me to touch this little corner of His world. Look at your little corner of the world and make sure and touch His children that are within your reach as well. 

Love to you all,
Sister Peterson

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Blessings of the Priesthood

***This is not her weekly email; to find that post entitled 'Sunny in Salzburg' click here.

In honor of Kori's one year anniversary in the mission field, I have compiled several emails and messages that Sister Kori Peterson has shared with her family and pictures of her with each of her companions.
As I was pondering a situation that my friend is in, I realized that these messages are powerful and I don't want them archived in my email list. Rather, I want her testimony of the priesthood and the blessings of missionary work- really her testimony in general, to be shared with those she loves the most...

"I think that is always the biggest witness that God lives-not the absence of trials, but the presence of angels when the trials come. God loves us. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins so that we can ALL return to our Heavenly Home. Life may not be easy, but with our Savior by our side, we can and WILL conquer everything our journey brings us through"

"After all the waiting and praying and wondering about why our family was taken to Texas- I knew as soon as you told me about this wonderful family you are getting to know, that they are the reason why our family was moved, not only to TX, but to that neighborhood, that ward! Though we know that God always has a plan, it is such a blessing when you get to see and understand that plan.
I am so grateful that you were worthy and PREPARED to be the friend-shippers that they needed at the time they needed it. The missionaries would not have been able to do it without you for sure. Please, please, please know that with all my heart I believe that being a friend, loving our neighbors and simply serving those who are down or alone is the MOST important thing we can do to show Heavenly Father our love for Him. But just like everything else in this life that He has prepared for us, as soon as we start to obey the principle of missionary work and loving our neighbors we are instantly blessed with this increase in capacity to love and enjoy our friends. We are always more blessed than what we are asked to expend. 
I am so proud of you all, really, I have prayed for you and this family every night. It really is the most rewarding feeling to see people you love and care for take the steps of repentance and change."  

"I love that the love we feel for people is in no way ours, but GOD'S love that He allows us to feel. It really is amazing. I never knew that love could be so unconditional, unchanging, a love the brings about patience, brings about understanding and knowledge, and a love that brings about service and change. It truly is amazing. Even the moments where I am wanting to smack a heavy German hard-cover Book of Mormon against someones face because they aren't keeping their commitments, it is the love that keeps me listening, keeps me patient, and then prompts me to bear testimony of something that will help them."

"It's funny to hear you talk about pride and humility. I have really come to learn what humility means on my mission. The more miracles we see, the more I come to understand that these are the LORDS children, this is HIS vineyard, and just like you said, He is ALLOWING us imperfect and mortal beings to take part in His work. We cannot do it without Him! Even with successes and miracles, I don't think that I have ever ended a day without being on my knees in humility and gratitude. It's an amazing thing to be a missionary, I am glad you and the family get to experience it on the member side of missionary work"

"I wasn't sure whether or not to include this in my blog email home because it is kind of a long story and didn't happen to me but to some Elders in our mission, but it is an amazing story so I wanted to share it anyways with y'all:
Before I start, I want y'all to imagine two goofy Elders, Elder Orchards and Elder Jones. Elder Orchards is the goofiest, funniest kid ever and kinda tall, and Elder Jones is way short, has super big glasses, and looks like a friendly little cuddly mouse. He is also very goofy. I cannot take this companionship seriously sometimes. Well, they were walking down the streets one day in Munich contacting people, and they stopped a man and said ''Excuse me, we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are sharing an important message to the world about Jesus Christ.'' Immediately the man burst into tears. The man started to explain 'I don't know what to do.  My son in the verge of death, the doctors said there is nothing else that can be done for him.'
Elder Jones, being the boss that he is, without knowing the full situation, boldly says, 'Well, in our church, we believe in the healing of the sick. We have the same priesthood that Christ and his apostles had. Could we come over and give your son a priesthood blessing?' 
The man agreed, and they came over a few days later. It turns out that the mans son actually had a tumor in his brain, and it was growing so fast that he would either die of brain damage or die of the cancer, and that it was too fast and too big to remove. He was literally dying. Elder Jones and Elder Orchards placed their hands on the boys head, gave him a priesthood blessing, and left.  
A few days later, the man called them again, and said  'We went into the hospital a few days ago to get the tumor checked out. The doctors could find no trace of the cancer, no damage done, nothing. The tumor is completely gone. My son is completely healed!'  
Two, goofy, 21 year old young men healed a boy of cancer. Of CANCER! Well, I mean, God healed the boy, and his faith helped as well, but STILL!! I have heard stories like that before, but never involving people that I personally knew, and definitely not people my age!  Isn't it amazing how the Lord is able to work through imperfect little beings like us in order to bring about his divine and amazing work? Isn't the priesthood the coolest? Sister Ackerman and I stayed up so late that night telling all the miracles stories of the priesthood that we have read in General conference and Liahona's and stuff. One thing we realized is that the faith begins in the person who says, 'Would you like a blessing?' Can you imagine the faith of Elder Jones to have so much confidence, not in himself, but in the priesthood that he honors and holds? He knows whose priesthood it is and by what authority he is privileged to bear that priesthood. 
Never doubt the priesthood and those wonderful men who get to hold it and bless our lives by it. We may see a young and silly boy, but I assure you that when his eyes close and he begins a blessing or a prayer, that silly young man turns into a representative of God and there is nothing that cannot be done with God on our side."