Thursday, May 29, 2014

Will You Marry Me???

Dear Mom, 
 (This is Kori's response to my thoughts on the possibility that our family may be leaving Texas after only a short time here. I wanted to share it because her perspective is one that applies for many situations)

       As I read your thoughts about leaving Texas now after it seems like you are finally breaking in and making some connections with people, it made me think of when Sister Pentz and I were together. I was in Linz for a very long time, and if you remember, I really struggled when I first got to Linz. I didn't feel wanted, I didn't feel like I had a purpose, and I kept praying that I would not stay there very long. But slowly, really slowly, I started to recognize why I was there and I could see the people that the Lord wanted me to bless and serve. When I was told I would be training again, I was confused all over again. I had already been in Linz for 6 months, and by assigning me to train again, that meant I would either be in Linz for 9 months or that I would only be training Sister Pentz halfway, both very odd situations. A few weeks after being with Sister Pentz, I got the strongest impression and confirmation of what the Lord the was thinking. I was in Linz to serve my time, to love the people, but that my time was coming to an end. If the lord had really wanted me to finish Sister Pentz's training, then he would have moved us together to a new area. I could easily have been transferred earlier and trained Sister Pentz in a different city. But the lord kept ME in Linz for the sole purpose that when Sister Pentz came in, SHE would be in Linz. My time was up, but hers was just starting.       
     We weren't in Texas for very long, and it also took a long time to know why we were there. But I believe that our family has served a good amount of time, and you have all done amazing things to the ward, your friends, and to bless the people in Frisco. But if your time is coming to an end, its okay! There are others in Frisco who will take the baton from you and keep running even when you are gone. Your time might not be over, but its okay if it is.  
     Remember the hair of our heads are numbered to the Lord. He knows where we need to be and who we need to touch- trust His guidance and follow His lead. And always, always remember He loves you! 

Well, I have decided that I will never, ever be able to become a translator. I am also pretty sure that the Lord has a wonderful time humbling me. 
Just a little look into my morning study time
Since I am getting more fluent with my German, I can pretty much understand everything that is said in sacrament meeting without having to constantly be in 'interpret mode'. Because of this, I have noticed that I have stopped really focusing my attention on understanding what the speakers are saying and have caught myself starting to doze off just a bit....(just so you know, Sundays are exhausting as a missionary).
Beautiful flowers from a friend
      Well, a family from Provo came to church yesterday to visit, and asked if I could translate for them. I have never been so mentally exhausted in my life! Because of the German word order, there are times where I have to listen to entire sentences, paragraphs and concepts before I can translate in a comprehensible way.  This poor family!!! I am still pretty sure that at least 2 out of every 15 words that I said were still German...On the bright side, I listened to the entire hour of sacrament meeting :) 

     Last week was one of THOSE weeks. Our key indicators were not too impressive to report, but Sister Erdenetsogt and I were SO BUSY!! One of the things I have had to get used to about Munich is that there are so many wards and missionary companionship's here. This makes finding a little complicated. In my previous areas, I used to be able to talk to whoever I wanted to, exchange contact information, and if they were interested, they'd be a new investigator within a week.
     But here is a bit different. When we find people, we have to make sure that they live in our area before we can begin teaching them. Most of the people that we find live in other ward boundaries, so we are constantly having pass-off lessons and swapping investigators with other missionaries. It is very different from my other areas! But I guess we are all participating in the same work, and it doesn't really matter which companionship ends up teaching someone, as long as they are getting taught and taken care of!
Do I look like a Texan?
      Summer is slowly, slowly creeping in...I love being a missionary in summer! There are so many more people on the street and in the parks; and so many more families!  It seems like everyone has so much more time and they are so much more open. But we also have a lot of really, well, funny experiences in summer.      
      Sister Erdenetsogt and I realized that we have never really gone dooring together, and we had extra time one day, so we went door-to-door. Now I understand why it is recommended that we only go door-to-door if we have nothing else to do ---> it's because we have TOO MUCH FUN!!! 
     The responses we get and the people we meet are nothing less than funny and memorable. We did find a few people though who are letting us come back :)  
     There is this amazing Italian family that Sister Erdenetsogt and I are teaching right now. The mom and dad are HILARIOUS, and they have 4 kids-G (16 yrs old), R (12), Maria (8) and G (2.)  'M' and 'F' have both agreed to be baptized, and 'M' is working his way on feeling ready. Last week, after teaching a lesson in church about the temple and eternal families, we found out that 'F' and 'M' are not married, which put a big damper on our excitment (before people can get baptized, they need to keep the law of chastity, which includes not living with a member of the opposite sex). Couples living together either need to live seperately, which were NOT about the ask this couple to do since they have kids, or to get married.
     Getting married is a pretty big thing to ask someone to do. Sister Erdenetsogt and I were just praying, praying, praying that 'F' would understand when we told her that she couldn't get baptized until she got married. We went over a few days later and taught about the law of chastity and eternal marriage, and told her straight up what she needed to do. 'M' walked into the lesson a little later, and she immediately called to him and said ''Honey! We have to get married.'' A little confused, 'M' asked what she was talking about. 'F' said ''The missionaries said we have to be married before I can get baptized. So we have to get married.'' 'M' looked as if he was thinking really hard about something. After a few seconds, 'F' shook her head and said ''See girls?  I told you he wouldn't do it. He doesn't want to marry me.'' As soon as she said that, 'M' marched over to us and said ''Now hold on a minute!!''  He walked to 'F', got down on one knee, took her hand and asked her to marry him. Of course, with 4 girls in the room, we all started to squeal. 'F' said yes of course ;) 
     So we are gonna have a marriage!!! They don't want a big wedding, they will just sign the papers at city hall and get baptized; BUT they are really looking forward to being married in the temple! The only problem is that they need to get their papers from Italy before they can get married, and the entire process of applying and waiting and having it be official can take a while...we still want them to get baptized with 'M' in a few weeks, so it will take a miracle!!! 
     Good thing that we live in such a way every day that we are able to call down the power of heaven and demand miracles, because the Lord has promised us them if we are obedient. Keep them in your prayers please, I know Heavenly Father will bring a blessing to this amazing family.
All in all, it was a good week- I hope yours was too.
Also, I know it's a little late, but I came across this video for a lesson and I wanted to share it with all the mother's out there! You do more than anyone truly realizes.

Love to all,
Sister Peterson

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tissues & Testimonies


My first full week in Munich flew by! Things are starting to pick up and we are getting busier every single day. Sister Erdenetsogt says that they were not too busy before, mostly just area book work and baking and delivering cookies- which I am always willing to do! But I am so grateful that we have other things to do now as well!  I will say it seems like there are miracles here everyday- if we open our eyes to see the hand of God in our lives, I promise that we will see it and marvel at just how great He is in our lives.  
Munich is a lot different than anywhere I have ever been, but all in good ways! I hope to keep up to date with what is happening in Linz too- so many people there that I grew to love like family- I just feel like I need to know the rest of the story!  
Munchen Bridge

I think the theme of this week has been that a little tissue and tea will help the task seem lighter. Lemme tell you, missionary work is NOT easy when you are sick! I made the goal at the beginning of my mission to never get super sick for the next 18 months (is that even a goal you can make?).
Well, I have only gotten majorly sick twice and sprained my ankle once, so I would consider that a mild success! This week was super rainy and cold, so Sister Erdenetsogt and I were both feeling kind of sick. We were probably a funny sight to see, with our scarves wrapped around our faces and used tissues coming out of our pockets and teary eyes from all the sneezing.  
No wonder we couldn't get anybody to sit next to us on the bus :)

An old umbrella and a beautiful view!
Luckily, we had a few slower days at the beginning of the week, which we were able to use to take things slow and do area book work at home so that we could get out and be BUSY the rest of the week. 
You can't take care of other people if you can't take care of yourself! That was always my philosophy BEFORE my  mission.  Although I still believe that, I have learned that sometimes I just have to say "If are too sick and have no energy to do work than make some tea, blow your nose, and let the Lord give you strength to talk to people when you are outside!"  
I know this is true because I've had to do it many times, but I forget how tired that means we are at the end of the day when we come home. Tired is a good sign that we are working hard though!
This is what we look like at the end of the day!
I can't control if I am sick on my mission, but Sister Erdenetsogt and I have decided to set some other goals that we CAN control. Und zwar, eating healthy!! We were together for Christmas when we both gained a little bit of holiday weight, and we finally mustered up the motivation to set some goals! We wrote down a few of the problems we struggle with and set some goals on how to be healthier. Well, we all know how hard it is to keep New Year's Resolutions! So we needed some motivation! We both agreed that whoever doesn't keep the goals that we wrote down has to call the Elders in our ward (who just happen to be the APs...gulp!) and serenade them with song. We've never been so motivated to keep goals in our lives! The traditional missionary "4 months to fit" , here I come!!
That's a tough consequence
It's been very cool, and yet very humbling, to work with Sister Erdenetsogt again. So many times I have commented on how proud I am of her or pointed out something in her missionary work (like what a great finder she is, how personal she is with investigators, working with the members, etc etc) and she will respond right back with "Sister Peterson, I learned that from YOU!"  
I love this companionship!
It is very interesting to watch what parts of my missionary work she has observed and watched, and then adopted into what she does. The phrases she says, her method of finding, so many things... 
I never noticed before because I was training her and of course she followed me. But now, she has become her own missionary, and she has chosen to do things I taught her. It's fun and exciting to think about, but it's also very humbling. I know that she still watches me, and if I am talking to people in the bus, so is she; if I am staring out the window, so is she; if I am stressed and nervous, so is she. Yikes, that's still a lot of responsibility! 
There is never a break in the work, we are with each other 24/7. Its a lot of motivation to be a good example and be diligent all the time, not just in an appointment and on the street, but really all the time. It's hard work, but I have also become a lot happier because of it.
Real Italian food for dinner-- YUM!
We also had a very interesting lesson this week. Our bishop introduced us to a family who belongs to the United Church- commonly known as the Moon church. He has been trying to get them to meet with missionaries forever, and so many companionships have tried, but they all say that this couple is not interested in listening, and just tries to convert them whenever they go to teach.  
We showed up to a lesson at their house, and they ushered us up to their living room with a big whiteboard, sat us down with some snacks, and told us that they invited us to their house so that they could teach US. 
It was really awkward at first, Sister Erdenetsogt and I didn't really know what to do. We thought, ''Oh no, it's happening! They are trying to convert us!!'' 
We are taught so many times that WE are the teachers, and that our purpose is not to be taught by others, and that we need to handle situations where other people try to convince us. But for some reason, we both felt that we needed to just sit down and listen. Which we did, for 2 hours.  
For 2 hours, they talked with us about their church, what they believe, who Reverend Moon is, and even compared our churches a bit. Sister Erdenetsogt had to go to another room to call her family in Mongolia (she was not able to reach them on mothers day) and the couple talked with me about what I felt about the presentation.  
I was able to honestly and kindly tell them, although I have no desire to join their church and I am still 100% faithful to my beliefs, that I do have an increased respect for them and a better understanding of their faith.  When I said that, I could almost see a great burden lifted from off their shoulders. And in that moment, I realized that they weren't trying to convince or convert us. They just desperately wanted somebody to understand.  
I thought of how their situation even relates to mine as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I mean, we believe that Joseph Smith, when he was 14, saw God and Jesus Christ. That he translated the Book of Mormon, and restored the true church of God in these latter days. That's a pretty crazy sounding claim. The nickname 'Mormons' used to be really demeaning and offensive. We get people coming up to us all the time asking us about our secret underwear and polygamy. We may not be persecuted like we were before, but even the misunderstanding that people have about us sometimes makes it hard to stand up for what we believe. And that's exactly how it is for them. They also have some pretty hard to believe claims, they have an offensive nickname (Moonies) and there are a lot of misunderstandings and rumors about their beliefs which brings them a lot of sadness.
In that moment, where I told them that I understood and respect them, they could breathe. And the coolest part was that after I told them I was glad that they shared their testimonies with me (even if it was a 2 hour testimony!), they were a lot more open to what we believe. 
They were asking questions about prophets, about our opinion on the 2nd coming of the Messiah, about the fall of Adam and Eve, even about the nature of God. And they were listening. Because they finally knew that we respected and loved them, they were willing to hear us. It was a cool pivotal point in our relationship with them, and a huge learning moment for me as well. I am so grateful for the unexpected learning moments that I have had on my mission, and I know that these principles of tolerance and understanding will not only help me on my mission, but will help my relationship with people for the rest of my life. Isn't it cool how a mission can do that? Maybe even just service in general- when we serve and love (the most important aspects of missionary work), doors open for us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ- the "Good News" so many want to hear! 

Love you all so much, 
Sister Peterson

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Willkommen in Munchen

Mmmm, I can smell that Bayern pride already!
Surprisingly, as adamant as I was to never ever EVER go to Munich, I actually feel right at home here. Since day one, Sister Erdenetsogt and I have been able to jump right back into the groove of things, it feels really normal and comfortable to be here with her so far. I will say that it does feel a bit weird for ME to be the one who is following HER around everywhere; but I have absolutely no idea where we are or what I am doing yet in this new town! I am not complaining though, it is a fun change!
Back together again- the first time just seemed too short
Munich is HUGE, especially compared to my other areas; I have gone from quaint little Freiburg to a little bit larger Linz to a huge city with lots of missionaries. I've gotta get used to that!
For those of you who I didn't get to Skype with on Mothers day, I got a haircut! It was so impulsive, but I guess not really...I have been planning on cutting my hair ever since I came to Linz, I just didn't know how short I wanted to cut it. Well, after 7 months of debating, I finally decided it was unhealthy enough to get a cute little trim. One of our investigators in Linz is a hair-dresser, and we were over at her house on Wednesday to give one last lesson before I left. At the end, she asked if I wanted her to cut my hair before I left. Ja, freilich!!! Then she asked how long I wanted to keep it and then...
Good-bye's- I am really going to miss her, it seems too soon
I about had a panic attack when I saw how much hair was on the floor. Sister Pentz took some pretty good pictures of my panicked faced. I think I am fine now, but it is pretty drastic! I've always felt that only older people wore their hair short, so I feel like I instantly got 10 years older just because of the haircut.
Matching Missionaries
Munich is a much different city than where I have been so far. First of all, it is a much more modern city with so much International influence. There are so many Americans in my new ward! Well, actually, in this entire area, which is pretty weird to me. I have never realized how much we American's stick out like sore thumbs. For my entire mission, I have heard a lot of English at church just because almost everyone in the world learns English at school. It is very likely to have two people from different countries communicating in English to each other. So it really wasn't weird to HEAR English being spoken, but it has been a little strange to watch the other American families in the ward, observing their mannerisms and hearing the phrases we say, it makes me laugh.
Dinnertime in Munich with an American family eating Japanese food- talk about International
I asked sister Erdenetsogt how obviously American I am, and she just laughed and told me I'm about as American as it gets. Oh, how I have missed working with international companions, they say the darndest things :P

A youth activity in Munich
We have been seeing miracle after miracle here in Munich! 
But I actually wanted to end with a miracle that Sister Pentz and I saw in Linz the day before I left. It started off a few weeks ago, when the Elders gave us a woman investigator of theirs. She only has time to meet at times where most men are at work, so the Elders could never find any one to joint teach with them. Since the Elders can't teach her alone, they asked us to teach her. Well, we have had a hard time getting in contact with her, so we decided to go by her house with a card and some cookies. Cookies and treats are definitely one of the tricks I have learned on my mission! It is hard to resist someone with a sweet Personal Touch, no matter how much they think they don't want to answer they door- really, who can resist a yummy treat?

We got to the address when we realized that we didn't know her last name, so we didn't know which doorbell to ring. We knew she is from Africa, so we looked for all of the African last names on the doorbell box. We found two; one of them didn't answer, and one said that we rang the wrong house! So much for that approach.
Then we decided to ring random people and ask them to open the door so that we could drop the cookies off on her doorstep and leave. Literally nobody was home except the African man we had rang before. But he let us in and asked how he could help, and then he saw that we were missionaries and asked what we believe, what we do, and offered to let us to come by another time and teach him. We gave him a Book of Mormon to read and set up an appointment (for last Wednesday.) Well, we went by with a member, and he is so GOLDEN!  He had already started to read in the Book of Mormon, and he had so many amazing questions, like 'What happens with us after we die?'  'I have a hard time believing the perfect go to heaven and the bad go to hell, what happens with the rest of us?' and 'If God is the same forever, then why are there so many churches on the earth today?' 
It was so cool to hear every question and want to jump up and shout WE HAVE THE ANSWERS!  Man, it was so cool to see how God had prepared such an amazing person to accept the gospel, and how we just accidentally happened to meet him because we were dropping off some cookies to an investigator. Those moments help renew my excitement for finding :) 

I am going to miss this girl!
Hugs from Linz

The Didenhover's

Companion Selfie's
One more for the road
I was struggling to think of a spiritual thought to give a family on Mothers Day, and so I wrote down a lot of my favorite things about my mom and what I learned from her. I looked through the list and decided on a scripture that fit with the list
So in honor of all mom's today, I want to close with that scripture 
D&C 64:33  "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
Well, it is getting late, and I better go! I hope everyone has an amazing week :)

Sister Peterson