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 :)
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!!!
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.
|Sticky notes- a missionary's best way to decorate|
|One Year Princess|
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:
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!
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 Grammelknödel, 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,