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

1 comment:

  1. What an incredible gift of a lesson! How humble is this dear missionary? To have the Spirit work in her this way in that she is able to stop and listen to this family, unlike any other companionship before, so that they can feel the respect Sister Peterson and Sister Erdenetsogt have for them as children of God. Oh what a beautiful bit of wisdom!