Monday, April 21, 2014

Deja Vu

Guten Morgen Freunde und Familie,

     At the beginning of my mission, everything was so fresh and new! I was always on my toes, learning new things, trying new foods, and experiencing a lot of ''firsts"- "my "First" winter, my "first" Christmas, "first" General Conference in a new language. It's kind of funny to be experiencing all of these firsts again with Sister Pentz, but this time, most of them are my ''lasts". I am constantly being hit in the face with the weirdest feelings of deja vu, and fighting desperately against falling into the trap of working and teaching based on habits that I've create, doing what is familiar and comfortable, and getting stuck in a missionary 'rut.' I think this is especially true because I've been in Linz so long that everything is familiar and I have created a lot of habits here. Maybe that is one reason why I keep getting new Golden's. Because everything about missionary life is so new to them, they just keep teaching me new things. 
Beautiful Train Rides Never Get Old
     I was starting to feel a little guilty that these feelings of 'deja vu' were causing me to look forward to the end of my mission more than just enjoying the moment I am in right here, right now. But this week, I have figured out that some of these feelings of deja vu can actually be a very positive and can have a very rejuvenating impact on my life and my mission.  
     We got to do another Austausch (exchange) with the Sister Training Leaders in Salzburg this past week. After 3 transfers of trying, Sister Henry and I were finally able to work together again!! I was so excited. I have loved working with all the Sister's, both my full time companions AND the sister's I've met on exchanges, but I was excited to get to work with Sister Henry again. 
Ahhh, it's been awhile- happy to see her!
      It is really cool to see how the Lord's hand is in literally every aspect of the work, including Tausches. Up until this point, it had never felt right for Sister Henry and I to work together on the Tausch. But last week, working with her was exactly what I needed at exactly when I needed it. I was starting to feel over burdened with so many feelings of inadequacy, doubt and stagnancy. The questions of 'What in the world am I still doing in Linz?' and 'Why why why why WHY am I training again? I cant do this!!' and 'What purpose do I even have here?'  were swimming in my mind, and it was starting to get hard to focus on the work and on the people because of all of these distracting and unproductive questions.  
     From Tuesday to Wednesday evening, Sister Pentz went to work in Salzburg and Sister Henry came to work with me in Linz. It was refreshing to just work with somebody that I admire and love so much, and it was so cool to see how she has grown as a missionary!! I had forgotten how quirky she is. It was freezing cold one morning, and Sister Henry had heard that a member of our ward owns an ice cream shop and that missionaries get free ice cream cones. So we were walking home from an appointment, and she begged to go get free ice cream, just to say that she had been there! We got ice cream and walked home in the cloudy and windy weather, shivering as we were licking our ice cream cones...but we were laughing the entire way home, of course!!  
Shivery day + Ice cold Ice Cream + 2 friends= a warm feeling inside
      At the end of the tausch, we talked a bit about what we had each learned. I was shocked to hear Sister Henry say the things that she did, and just express her gratitude for what she learned from me as a trainer before, and the things that she still sees that I do now. All of my fears and my doubts about everything were answered, and I knew that this tausch, where we had been allowed to serve together again, had been saved until that very week that I needed Sister Henry the most. It renewed the excitement, motivation, and confidence that I needed to keep going forward and just work on being the best companion for Sister Pentz that I can be! And being the best missionary I can be!! And the best support and influence for the Linz ward that I can be!!! Sister Pentz is really awesome- she deserves the best that I have to offer- and that's what she's going to get :)
Just a cute couple walking in the park- but it solidified we are right were we are supposed to be
      Which actually brings me to a thought that I had this week, it was kind of a cool thought. Sister Henry was telling me how she feels like I was exactly the person that she needed to train her, and how much of a testimony that she has that we are paired up with our trainers for a reason, and how I am exactly who Sister Pentz needs right now. It got me to thinking a lot and I realized that I could have easily trained Sister Pentz anywhere. I mean, this is my 5th transfer in Linz! I had already been in Linz for 6 months when I got the call that I was training again AND that I would be staying here. President could have easily moved me out of Linz and into a new area after my 2nd transfer, which would have been totally normal. But being in an area for 5 and 6 transfers, half of my mission- that is pretty odd.     
A lovely view from my days here in Linz
      And for a while, I was stressing out, trying to figure out what in the world I was still doing here, what on earth I still had to offer to Linz! It was then that I realized that the Lord has kept me here in Linz, partially because my work here isn't done yet, but because Sister Pentz's work here is just beginning! She really needs to be here AND I really need to be her trainer. Though I could have trained here anywhere else, SHE needs to be here!! So I was kept here, so that I could train her in this spot;  RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW! 
Sister Pentz
     This thought really changed my perspective so much, and its made me a lot more selfless. It has helped me to really focus on how to teach Sister Pentz to love this area, get to know this ward, and to take charge. It has also helped me view her as more of an equal, and to focus on including her in every aspect of the work, just remembering that we are both called to be in Linz right now. Isn't it funny how a little perspective changes everything?
Easter messages from Sister Pentz- she is so sweet!
     With summer coming up and the sun coming out earlier and earlier every day, I really have no excuse to just stretch for Frühsport (morning exercise) anymore. I keep setting goals of actually working out in the morning, but it has never really happened before. It's too late to start the 6 months to sexy missionary diet, but I have decided that it's never too late to start the 5 months to fit diet!!  And if I continue to procrastinate, there's always 4 months to fit, 3 months to thin, 2 months to toned, and 1 month to...well...if I wait until 1 month to start working out than lets be honest, it probably won't end up happening :P  But Y'all would be proud of me, I mustered up enough energy to jump rope this morning! And then I rewarded myself with some lactose free Easter chocolate...teeheehee ;)  Missionary life is fun!

Our Study Board
     Next week, the Salzburg and Vienna Zones are gathering in Vienna on Monday and Tuesday to do a massive finding day, and then to have Mission Tour. So I won't be able to do emails until Wednesday.  But until then, have a good week, and I love y'all so much!!

     I know by the time y'all get this email or read the blog, it will be past Easter, but I wanted to share this video. I have watched it so many times already, it is very much worth the watch, even if it is after Easter- Watch the Easter message here

Hugs and prayers from Austria!
Sister Peterson

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friendship & Kindess Go A Long Way

Hallo All,

After last week, I think ANYTHING would feel less crazy, but I can honestly say that it was nice to have things back to normal this week. 
I think that the Lord felt really bad for how crazy busy things were last week, so He made this week really...really....slow....Poor Sister Pentz, I kept telling her on the train ride home from Vienna how busy we are in Linz and how much we have to do! And than we got to planning this week and we have really struggled to schedule any appointments at all. It was probably a blessing in disguise for many reasons, but definitely one blessing is that we got to spend a little bit of time going contacting.  

In all honesty, contacting hasn't really been one of my favorite things to do on my mission. I enjoy contacting on the buses and Straßenbahns, talking to strangers and just finding something to start a conversation. But street contacting and going door-to-door has never been my favorite. Because it just doesn't come naturally to me, I have just kind of pushed those things aside and hoped that my wonderful Golden's would learn from other companions how to street contact. 

It must be really important to the Lord that I train Sister Pentz the right way (including all kinds of contacting) because with all of the extra time we had, we were able to put a good deal of focus and energy on contacting. 

I don't know why, but for some reason it is easy for me to assume that everybody else knows the things that I know or thinks the way I think. I have noticed that there have been so many times recently that I find myself talking to somebody and when I turn to ask Sister Pentz for her thoughts, I see a blank look on her eyes that feels all too familiar from when I was a new missionary!! I love these moments, not because I feel so smart- but because it is a reminder to slow down and to stop worrying about doing everything perfect! It is a reminder that it is best for me to just focus on helping Sister Pentz not only learn to do missionary work, but to LOVE it. 
This really is one of the greatest blessings of training- being able to just watch a wonderful new missionary grow from being 100% dependent on you to feel comfortable in the area, the language, the travel systems and the ward to having courage to be a 50/50 partner in the work. And of course, to see them completely walk around outside their comfort zone and to LOVE doing things that were scary to them just a few days before!!!  I feel a little bit of absolute joy every time I see these little things because when I was new, these weren't LITTLE things at all! It's actually the fastest way to make my day :)  
I love to see the progress that the new missionaries make, but also I love how their fresh perspective and approach are a constant reminder that after all is said and done- it's the people that really matter in missionary work. I will be sitting on a bus trying to get organized; I will be stressed out about how to make everything work out that week and looking at a long list of people we need to call- than sure enough, I will hear bubbly Sister Pentz talking to a stranger on the bus, saying ''Excuse me, I am new, I can't speak much German, can I practice with you? You see, I am a missionary here, and this is what I do...''  Seriously, I can't help but smile :) 

President and Sister Miles were at our district meeting this week so that President could do interviews. For the past few interviews, I have had a pretty specific question that I wanted to talk with President Miles about. 
This interview was kind of hard for me to prepare for. I didn't really know what to say. I kind of wanted to walk in and say 'President, I am confused! I don't know what I am still doing here in Linz, I feel a little like maybe Linz would be better with someone completely new; I don't know why on earth I am training again. I am confused, I am feeling inadequate, I just need love!'  
But how do you go into a conversation like that? But again, I received a confirmation that President Miles is really in called from the Lord! He was able to sit down and answer the questions of my heart before I even asked them. I was able to leave district meeting with a renewed sense of what I need to do to fulfill my callings as a missionary in Linz and as a trainer. 
It was one of those days where it really hits you that Heavenly Father knows each one of us so personally. And He knows the people who will touch our lives each day. President Miles couldn't read my mind- but Heavenly Father knew what was in my heart and on my mind. Because of that, He could give President Miles exactly the right words to say at the exact right moment. 
Please don't be afraid to speak what's on your mind (if it's kind or uplifting). There is a good chance that the thoughts that pop into your head are words that are very much needed to the person you are chatting with. Remember we are intended to be instruments in God's hands, so open your mouth and open your arms- you WILL touch someone's life, I promise!
We did have a really cool miracle this past week. For the past few months, every time we have gone to visit R, her friend 'E' was always there as well. But E would either come in at the very end of a lesson, or she would go to another room while we taught, even though we invited her to join us. After one lesson, R gave us E's address to go by on her, but E was never there. She even told R that she had no interest in meeting with us. Even though we weren't ever able to teach E, we continued to get to know her, ask about her family, and be friendly every time we saw her at R's. Just last week, we were about to teach R a little lesson when E came in. To our surprise, E stayed, and actually participated in the lesson a little bit. At the end, right before we said the closing prayer, E looked at us and said that we could come and visit her at her house if we'd like. Of course we would!! R of course got all excited, and we set up a new appointment for after Easter vacation (ugh, you learn to hate vacation time as a missionary...) and that was that!  
It was just a witness to me that if we do our part, which is love the people we meet regardless of if they are interested in our message or not- and we continue to invite them to ''come and see'' us at church or activities- we won't have to convince or force people to learn anything! Just by feeling loved, they will feel the spirit and through the spirit, they will just naturally develop an interest. Our interest and love for them helps spark their curiosity to what we do and how we live. 
It is simple, really. But it requires a lot of patience and trust. And prayer, and humility, and diligence, and everything else that goes along with missionary work!! 
On a more serious note- I need prayers!! Lots and lots of prayers...

The senior couple serving here is also in charge of planning Young Single Adult activities. Sister Didenhover, the senior sister, came up to me a few weeks ago and said she wanted to plan a Mexican themed YSA activity for Cinco de Mayo  and thought it would be fun if I taught how to Texas line dance. I just kind of laughed and agreed that it would be a very fun activity. I told her I didn't dare commit because I wasn't even sure if I would be here still in May. Well, now that the transfer has started and we know for sure that I will be here for the May 3rd activity, Sister Didenhover decided that was my answer (or the Lord's answer that I can teach line dancing)!!  
At the YSA activity on Saturday, I had so many people come up to me telling me how excited they were that I was going to teach everyone line dancing in May.
Just because I lived in Texas on and off for a few months doesn't mean I know how to Texas line dance!! I have never even owned cowboy boots-

The whole scheme just gets better because Sister Didenhover also asked one of the elders here in Linz to help out, because he has gone line dancing before.  So Elder Croft and I are going to have to figure out how to teach line dancing and be dance partners...and still maintain dignity in our callings. I haven't listened to music in so long, I don't even know that I will be able to keep a beat, let alone dance to one. 
So please pray for my success and ability to pull this together for the activity. It would mean so much to me (and the Didenhovers, and all of the YSAs in the OberÖsterreich region...thanks!!!)

I love you all so much- 
I feel your prayers every day. I wish I could tell you how much they sustain me when things feel tough. I love being a missionary and am so grateful for all the support I receive from everyone! Just remember, no thought and prayer for love goes unnoticed by those you pray for.

Sister Kori Peterson


Monday, April 7, 2014

April Fools and so much more

Hallo Friends & Family-

     Buckle up, this is a jam packed email.
     This week, hands down, was the funnest, craziest, scariest, most stressful week of my entire LIFE!!! 
     In total, I think I spent 15 hours on trains, traveled to Salzburg, Munich, Vienna, and the border of the Czech Republic; went without a companion for 24 hours, and only spent about 8 hours doing missionary work in Linz. 

Holy Moly you say? Well let's start from the beginning...

Monday:  All of the Sisters in the Salzburg Zone got permission to go to Salzburg to have a Sisters p-day together. We had so much fun! Sister Henry and Sister Clark showed us around Salzburg; we went shopping, sight seeing, and then had a fun Sisters Finding day together :) 
I love my first baby
Sister Henry and I were able to go on splits and work together for a few hours, which was really good for me. I was having a lot of worries and doubts and feelings of inadequacy about training again, and I got to ask her for advice. What she thought I did good about training? What she thinks I could have done differently? It was just really comforting and uplifting to have my very first Golden ever tell me that she still admires me. It was interesting and very helpful to hear the things that she said she really liked about me training her, especially how I made her feel needed and like an equal. Well, that wasn't hard to do, I was in my 3rd transfer, of course I needed her help!! Now I am going into my 9th transfer, and I am hoping that I can still make Sister Pentz (my new companion) feel just as important, loved and needed as she is!

Sister's p-day in Salzburg

A silly group of Sister missionaries
Tuesday:  We slept over in Salzburg because we had Zone Training on Tuesday. The Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders pulled an AWFUL April fools joke! We were going through some mission business and rules, and they told us that our email time was being cut down from 2 and 1/2 hours to just one hour. It was super hard to accept that rule gracefully, I have to admit! I think I could even venture to say, I was pretty mad about it! But at the very end of Zone training, Sister Henry stood up and told us that it was just an April fools day joke, we still have 2.5 hours to do emails! Boy, was that a relief! But those sneaky, sneaky missionaries had me worried for a while! 
We drove back into Linz that night, made it just in time to eat dinner and than off to go to a meeting with our ward mission leader- after which we crashed into bed.
Street Shopping

Sister's slumber party
Wednesday:  We drove to Salzburg AGAIN to drop Sister Ackerman and Sister Threlkeld off in Salzburg.
I'm really going to miss Sister Ackerman
From there, Sister Jenson and I got on a train bound for Munich so we could go to the Golden/trainer meeting. We were super excited, talking about our goals for training, what we were nervous and excited for. En route, we got a text from the mission office telling us that they have bad news for us. Because of the bad reception on the train, we weren't able to get a hold of the office for about 30 minutes. Sister Jenson and I were basically freaking out trying to guess what could be the bad news coming in from the mission office! Let me tell you, a girls imagination can get a little crazy when she reads the words "BAD NEWS" with no other explanation.
I haven't seen Elder Stirling since the MTC; he is training this transfer too

So beautiful
Sister Smith and I on transfer day
We finally got in touch with the office Elders, who told us that the Golden's had missed their plane from England to Munich, that the English airline workers were on strike, and so the soonest time that our new Golden's could come in was next week. All of the trainers still arrived in Munich so we had a wonderful dinner with President and Sister Miles. We still had our trainer meeting and brainstormed ways that we could get the Golden's to us as fast as we could. We also discussed how we could work in our areas until our companions came. Basically, we were told to find the closet missionary companionship in our area and work with them for a little bit until further notice.
Thursday:  This was supposed to be the big exciting Transfer day!! But alas... I had no companion!! Luckily, Sister Jenson was also scheduled to be training this transfer and she is in Wels which is only 15 minutes away from Linz by train. So we were told to work with each other for a little bit until our golden's got into town. It was so nice to get to spend time with my first companion in Germany and to see how we've both grown in the past six months. 
After a crazy day in Wels
We traveled from Munich back to Wels, went to Institute in Wels, and then drove back to Linz to spend the night. We got the news late Thursday night that our Golden's were going to be flying in to 10:30 Friday night! So we packed our bags again, moved around some appointments, and went to bed.
A super old castle
Friday:  We had an appointment with a pretty new investigator family who lives in Aigen...which is on the border of the Czech Republic! It is actually only a 15 minute hike through some mountains to get there, but hiking through the mountains would be against the rules :P  
Czech Republic
Instead of a beautiful mountain hike (we did still take pictures) we had to run to catch so many trains that day!! We almost missed our train to Aigen, but caught it- literally by the hair on our chinny chin chins! We sprinted to catch the train to Wels and made it with 10 seconds to spare. We had a few appointments in Wels, so we also had to run like the wind to catch our train to Vienna. The Elders in Vienna picked us up from Bahnhof and took us to the airport to pick up our Golden's. Their plane was a little late, so we didn't actually meet them until 11pm. It was such a relief to finally meet Sister Pentz! The week had been so stressful and emotional, it was like a breath of fresh air to finally have her by my side! We traveled to the Sister's Apartment in Vienna to spend the night, but didn't arrive until 1 pm! Needless to say, we were exhausted and fell into our beds ready for some serious slumber.
Waiting at the airport in Vienna
Saturday: Sister Jenson had the brilliant idea that we still wake up at 6:30 am! She thought it would be a fantastic idea if our Golden's woke up at 6:30 for their first day of training! Even though in situations like ours we are allowed to get a full 8 hours of sleep! So yes, on this ONLY day we would be allowed to sleep in and we probably really needed it! Luckily we are missionaries and we love each other- or I think she would have had a serious dog pile as we held her down for more sleep. We all groggily woke up, got ready, and took a train back to our areas. We got back just in time to eat some lunch and then watch some General Conference. I have to confess, it was the hardest thing not to fall asleep! But I will say, Sister Pentz was a trooper- she has such a great attitude.
We have twin watches, we were meant to be together

Mirabel Gardens
Sunday:  More General Conference!! It was the very first full day that I had spent with my own companion in my own area all week! And it was Sister Pentz first full day in Linz. Most of it was spent studying and watching General Conference, so needless to say, we were still pretty exhausted.

Monday (today):  Our very first p-day! What to do with my new companion on her first p-day in her first area on the second full day of her first area? 
I was listing off some fun things that we could do in Linz and mentioned that there is a Haribo factory here. Seriously, Sister Pentz about had a heart attack! So we made that our first priority for the day, it felt like we were in the middle of a heavenly candy wonderland :)  You may have heard that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but if that is what you think I can guarantee you have definitely never been to a candy factory!  
Sister Pentz and I at Haribo candy factory
Well, that was my crazy week! As stressful as it was, I could feel the Lord pulling me through. even in the moments where all I wanted to do was collapse and just cry. I'm pretty sure that I even broke into hysterics on the phone with some of the Elders (sorry Elder Allan!!) But every time I started to get upset or discouraged, somebody was always there by my side.  Whether it was a member, a companion, or the kind stranger on the street who gave me a flower because they felt like I needed it- there was always SOMETHING or SOMEONE to remind me to buckle up my bootstraps and keep going! Please remember that- to you, it might be a simple smile you share to someone as they get off the bus, but to them- that smile is their saving grace for the day! You just seriously NEVER know who you are helping and impacting for good. 
They wanted to go dooring

A church in Salzburg
If anything, this week has just made me REALLY GRATEFUL that I get to go back to missionary work this week! I love the travel, the trains and the fun stuff we get to see and do, but I miss just simply teaching  and serving people! 

Thanks for your patience in reading through this rant.  I am sure that I wouldn't have been able to make it through this week if it wasn't for everyone's prayers and support. I am finally catching my breath, I'm not living out of my backpack anymore, and I am ready to start this transfer and take Linz by storm! And Sister Pentz is great, I am excited to work with her. She is from Colorado Springs, her family sounds awesome and I hear her sister has already made contact with my mom! We really do live in a small world after all :) 

Have an amazing week!  I love you all!
Sister Peterson