Monday, March 10, 2014

Gate Control- The Theory

Dear Family & Friends-

I got to ride a bike this week-
      In psychology, there is certain pain-control theory called the 'Gate-control theory.'  Contrary to popular belief, it is actually impossible for our brain to multitask.  We can think of a million different things really, really fast, but our brain cannot focus on two things at exactly the same moment.

     The gate control theory takes advantage of the fact that the brain cannot focus on pain in two separate parts of the body at once.  If your arm itches, you might feel the itch- but if you cut your hand while your arm is itching, your brain will forget the itch and focus on the cut. 
     I've warned y'all to be careful what you pray for before. But if you think about the Gate Theory, you will see why I will now caution you to be very, VERY careful what you pray for!

     I would never say that I have been trunky or homesick at any point on my mission, I have been really blessed by this because I know many people just really miss home or miss their familiar surrounding. What I HAVE struggled with is the fact that I AM VERY excited for life after my mission; just life in general- 'growing up'! 
     So sometimes I do get distracted thinking about what I will study, the clothes I will wear, what I am going to name my cute little children in the future; not bad things, but distracting things. And my distractions have only gone up since I became companions with Sister Ackerman- not that she is super distracted, but she is on the brink of ''death'' as a missionary- so we talk about post-mission life a lot more than normal. At the beginning of this week, I prayed that I would stop focusing so much on these distractions. I just wanted something to take my mind off of all this other 'stuff' that really doesn't apply to me right now. With this prayer I got:

Gate number 1:
     I woke up Monday morning feeling so SICK!  My throat was hurting, my neck ached, and I could definitely feel a cold or flu coming on. It was awful. Luckily, it was P-day, so we could rest a bit and it wasn't too bad. But there was definitely no thinking about home or distractions that day, all I was thinking about was how to get better so that I wasn't at home sick all week. Being sick as a missionary is HORRIBLE- not only can you not go out while you feel horrible, but neither can your companion. It is horrible for the sick missionary, but it is nothing short of torture for the HEALTHY missionary. So of course, Monday night, I prayed that I would either feel better, or be able to take my focus off of my sickness! 
Yes, you guessed it- so here comes...
Gate number 2:
     I don't get too competitive. Anybody that knows me well knows that I am NOT a competitive person, especially when it comes to recreational sports or games or anything. But, I was walking down the stairs one day, and Elder Croft runs by my side, except he starts walking a bit faster down the stairs.  I don't know why I did it, but I sped up to follow him.  Then he sped up faster and before we knew it we were both running down the stairs--- 
UNTIL- all of a sudden WHOOPS! 
     I tripped on the last stair and fell down, completely twisting my ankle. It didn't hurt too bad at first, but after walking around all day and not doing anything to help heal the injury, I got home and could not even stand up because the pain and swelling was so bad. We had to stay in the apartment all of Tuesday evening and most of Wednesday just to ice my ankle, and then take it very easy for the rest of the week.  
     Let's just say I gained a whole new appreciation for missionary work and that I am able to be out working all day, and NOT home babying a swollen ankle, a silly cold or any other infirmity that could ail me at any given moment!  
With the swollen ankle, I completely forgot about how sick I was. Sneaky sneaky Lord, never answering my prayers the way I wanted Him to- but always getting His point across!
     But we actually still had a pretty good week. Amazingly enough, we were still able to have lessons every single day, even the days where we stayed inside most of the time. We still saw miracles, we still met amazing people, and got work done :)
     I also realized that I have absolutely NO IDEA how to be a missionary!!

The swollen ankle... OUCH!
     I thought my method of contacting on buses and Straßenbahns was very effective- optimal words are "I thought". I would start up a very friendly and casual conversation with whoever was sitting next to me, and then right before I had to get off the train, I would just kind of blurt out, ''Oh hey, by the way, the reason why I am in Austria is because I am a missionary and we meet with people about what we believe, and I want to exchange numbers with you so we can meet sometime. Wha'ts your number? I will call you tomorrow!''  
In my defense this has worked a lot! We got a lot of numbers that way. But we didn't get a whole lot of potential investigators that way. After being asked out on dates a few times by men who didn't quite understand the quick 'I'm a missionary'' part, I realized that this was probably NOT the most effective way to contact.  
     Well, a few weeks ago, I found a cute little girl on the Straßenbahn who I did the same thing as I have a lot before and she gave me her number. We have been texting back and forth to just kind of get to know each other. I found out that her name is' M', she is 18, she speaks very good English and is a sweet girl :)  
     We normally get invited to Family Home Evening on Monday nights with a member family, and I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to have her come along and get to know a family with some kids around her age. I texted her and asked if she had time Monday night to have dinner with us. (And normally when we as missionaries get invited to dinner, it is common knowledge that that means dinner with a member family, a spiritual thought, and then leaving and going on our merry little way.)  

     Well, what I consider 'normal' is not what most people are experiencing! Especially those who are NOT missionaries- they just don't have that common knowledge! So she texted back saying that was a great idea and asked what time we should meet and what restaurant would we like to meet at? 
     I had to backtrack a bit, and tell her that we were invited to a families house, and they were going to make us dinner and then we would have time afterwards to talk and play games. 'M' happily agreed, we made plans where and when to meet beforehand, and that was it.  
     Sister Ackerman, after hearing the story just laughed and asked, ''Sister Peterson, does she know that we are missionaries?'' I had to think about that ''Well, I think so! I kind of quickly said it on the tram and I was wearing my name tag!'' She asked ''Does she know there is going to be a spiritual thought involved and that we are going to talk about Jesus?'' I had to think a little bit. ''Um, I said we were going to have time after dinner to talk together, so I'm not sure!!'' She just laughed. 
What a great companionship
      Man, I just kind of assume that everybody knows that I am a missionary and what that means! So this will be a very interesting lesson tonight! It will either be one of the best lessons of my mission and 'M' will turn into an awesome Golden investigator, or she will be really confused and it will be super embarrassing for everyone. Lets pray for the first! Even after being on my mission for a year, I am still getting humbled down every day and learning new things. But that is the beauty of missionary work! 

Dinner with the Elder's and us
Didn't grandma have Easter Eggs like this hanging from a tree??

     Well, it is a beautiful day in Linz, the sun is shining, and we have to do fun things before Sister Ackerman goes home!!  Have a great week, y'all are in my prayers! 

Sister Peterson


  1. She is just the sweetest treasure. I love how well the members keep them fed! What a blessing to have our daughters serve in this mission, I hope they get to work together this week!

  2. She is so positive and upbeat! I don't think she is forgetful, I think she just focuses on how good it is all going to be! Also, I think the Lord has a sense of humor and I think her ankle will probably heal fast!