Monday, June 23, 2014

Diligence is the Key

Dear Friends & Family,

Have you ever had a day where you have so much to do, and you are running around from place to place, yet get nothing done?  
My goodness, that was like our entire week! 
Be Happy
For some reason, we always had so much to do, so many people to call, places to be, yet our key indicators were some of the lowest I have ever had. Those are the weeks that I wish that service projects and smiling at strangers could count as key indicators. But it was really cool to see how the Lord blesses us because of our diligence, and not by the number of items we crossed off of our 'to do' lists.  
Sister Erdenetsogt and I were on our knees more than ever this week to know where to go, who to talk to, and what to do; and we were constantly talking to people, but nothing seemed to go through.  Sunday rolled around, and of all of our invites, not one person was planning on coming to church! 
We were a little discouraged, thinking 'Not ANOTHER week of no investigators at church!' 
I remember praying so hard, knowing that if I want the members to get excited about missionary work and helping us, then we have to first set an example and bring people to church to get them excited-  and I just plead that somebody would be there.  
We came to church, and saw one of our investigators, an 8 year old boy whose sisters got baptized a few years ago. He had decided to come to church for the first time in a very longggg time.  
He gave me a huge hug and made me promise to sit next to him in sacrament meeting- it seriously made my day!  
And then, later on in the day, I was running down the halls before Sunday School to find sister Erdenetsogt.  
I had run past a man a few times, and he had given me a funny smile each time I passed by. After the 4th time I passed him, he finally stopped me and asked to shake my hand. I probably squealed so loud as I finally made the connection as to who the man was- -he and his wife are less actives that sister Erdenetsogt and I have been visiting. They haven't been to church in 20 years, and there they were, right in front of my eyes! He was laughing pretty hard as I was having my little heart attack of excitement! 
She got a care package with TONS of sweets
It was cool to see how even though nothing that Sister Erdenetsogt and I had worked for had ended up working out, but we still saw miracles and blessings because of our diligence. It made me realize how important it is to never give up! We just never really know when the fruit of our labors will be ready to harvest- but if we give up, there is no way our harvest will ripen. 
Transfer day was this week, and it was nice to sit this one out with NO changes! It was really weird to pass by Hauptbahnhof (the Munich train station, which is always chock full of missionaries on transfer day!!) on a tram and realize that so many missionaries that I know and love were only a flight of stairs above me, getting new companions and going to new areas, and I was just on my way to get ice cream :) 

Our stake president has encouraged all of the missionaries in the Munich Zone to call a member a day, even if just to ask how they are doing (which is pretty weird in the German culture; if you are calling someone it usually means you have a question or need help.)  
Sister Erdenetsogt and I were trying to figure out how to make our phone calls less awkward, when she came up with an idea that probably only made it MORE awkward, but so much more fun!  
We have determined to sing a fun, upbeat hymn to the members that we call each night. It is funny to hear their reactions when they pick up the phone and hear the sisters singing on the other side; some laugh, some get super confused, and some just awkwardly say thanks and hang up. They are going to remember us for sure!
Eating lunch on our outside couch
After Thursday (transfer day) Sister Erdenetsogt and I were officially the Sister Training Leaders. It was kinda weird- we had a meeting on Saturday with the Zone Leaders and District Leaders in the Zone, and we were asked to talk about appropriate Elder-Sister relationships, and how the District Leader's can still support the sisters in their district without being awkward.  
We started out by asking for some examples of their concerns- I didn't realize that the Elders had so many!  
We got questions like 'How do I talk to a Sister so that I don't seem like I'm flirting?' and 'Am I allowed to give the Sisters compliments?'  
Man, I didn't realize that we were so scary!  We tried to answer the questions the best we could, but I think I just ended up scolding the Elders and telling them that Sisters and normal people too...
I came into the mission back when there was hardly 2 sisters per zone and when Elders still thought talking to sisters was socially destructive, so I think I am very passionate on this subject. 

In all honestly enough, as excited as I always was to be a Sister Training Leader, I wasn't too excited right after President called us, but I am feeling more confident and excited now.  
I don't know why, but I actually got kind of scared as I started thinking about all the other sisters in this zone who are better leaders, better teachers, and who have been STL before. Why me?  What do these sisters have to learn from me?''  
...and then I was flipping through my old missionary journal, and realized that those were my exact same thoughts in Freiburg when I found out that I would be training Sister Henry.  It was my 3rd transfer, I was still new, and there were so many other sisters who could have trained. Why me?  What did I have to teach, what example did I have to give? And yet, whenever I ask Sister Henry how she felt about how I trained her, she says she is super grateful that we just worked things out together.  
Yes, sometimes we were the silly blonde sisters who had NO IDEA what we were doing, but we saw so many miracles together, and we had fun!  
I have to say, even after 4 times of training, my very first time was probably my favorite because I felt like I was giving my best. I was so concerned about what I didn't know that I didn't take my responsibilities lightly at all. 
Utah Chamber Choir singing in St. Lukas Church
So, quatsch with not knowing everything! Quatsch with not feeling adequate! I am going to take this new calling the same way that I took training Sister Henry, I don't know anything, and I make a lot of mistakes, but I want to laugh and learn when i make mistakes, and not be embarrassed and ashamed because I cant be perfect. So onward and upward in Munich.
Cool Building
Love to you all,
Sister Peterson

Monday, June 16, 2014

Swim Team & Missionary Work

 Gro├če Neuigkeiten aus Deutschland

     As my time on my mission is wrapping up, I am feeling more nervous about becoming trunk-y. I think I'm more worried about avoiding feeling trunk-y than I actually FEEL; regardless, it is a big worry for me!
     I want to make sure that I am working with an ever increasing fire and excitement, even to the very last minutes on my mission. But sometimes, the goals and things that we are expected to do are just too big:
       How are we supposed to talk to every single person we see?  
       How are we supposed to extend the baptismal invitation to total strangers on our first meeting?          
       How am I supposed to keep my thoughts and mind focused completely and 100% until I take my name tag off after my release?
How do I stay focused when I know my days are numbered. I want to avoid these thoughts, but sometimes it seems like that's too much, too scary! 
In missionary work, and really in life, there are goals that we set or expectations we need to live up to that might seem too big; it happens to me all the time. But when it does, I remember something that my swim coach, Coach Mike, would say to me all the time..

As a swimmer, I naturally hate any sort of sport that is done on dry land. I really don't like running or jumping jacks, and I can't even start to explain my deep hatred for climbing stairs. But whenever we were asked to do something that seemed hard at first, Coach Mike would always say ''You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds.''  
And its true. When put like that, anything can be endured for 30 seconds! And the amazing thing is that after 30 seconds, it gets easier. It gets easier to keep going, to muster up more energy, until I have been running up and down stairs for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, more!!  
I might not think that I can succeed at talking to every single person I ever see, but I CAN talk to the person who is sitting next to me on the bus. I might have difficulty staying focused for 3 more months, but I can control my thoughts for the next 5 minutes until we get to our next appointment.  And then it gets easier, even exciting, to be diligent :)  
Thank you, Coach Mike!

And another transfer calls come and gone! (Sister Peterson has two more transfer calls left, the second transfer calling being the one that sends her home)
I feel like they keep coming faster and faster..eep!  
Well, Sister Erdenesogt and I are staying together for another 6 weeks! We are super excited!! The funny thing is that when Sister Erdenesogt first left me and went to Munich, we had only been together 9 weeks and she was the companion that I spent the shortest amount of time with. But after this upcoming transfer together, our total time together will be 21 weeks- that's about 6 months together! Crazy! By then, she will definitely be the companion that I spent the most time with. 
The Lord has continued to answer my weird prayers and requests. I remember praying to go to see Switzerland just once on my mission, and the Lord sent me to Freiburg. Then I asked to go to Austria for Christmas, and he sent me to Linz. Well, last year, I found out that for the July MLC, President Miles scheduled it for the 4th of July, and so all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders had a fun little 4th of July party in Munich.  I remember setting the goal that I would be STL for the 4th of July.  Just a silly goal, but I always teased about how I would be made STL in July.  Well, President called us Friday to tell us we would be the new STLs for the Munich Zone.  And this transfer happens to cover July! The Lord really does care about us; the big things and the little things- they all matter to Him if they matter to us!  
Remember last email I told you that I had the weirdest feelings that we might be put in a driit. My dreams were weird because sometimes I felt like it was going to be Sister Henry I served with again and sometimes it was Sister Pentz... even though it was in my dreams, it felt so real that I was super confused. Well, I understand now what the dream was about- Both Sister Pentz and Sister Henry are going to be STLS!!!! 
This is so cool to me- I will get to see ALL of my babies (well, except sister wunderli, but she is a step child) at Mission Leader Conference! Aww, I am the proudest mama in the history of the world :)

I had to give my very first talk while serving as a missionary in church yesterday. I have always served in big wards, so I have avoided it for 15 months. I started to boast about that fact (I thought it was pretty impressive!) to the other missionaries, and of course, that's when bishop called me and asked me to speak. It was very short notice, but I was able to whip something up and I felt good about it.  
Sister Miles and I

The Miles' with the Munich children
That is Until I showed up the next day at church and saw President and Sister Miles, who were also giving their going-away talks! (President and Sister Miles' mission service is complete and they will be returning home) Gulp!  But it went okay I think! Not too scary- I don't do very well with ''soap-box'' teaching so I kept forgetting that I wasn't allowed to ask the congregation interactive questions!  They got to sit and watch me teach about the spirit and use fish analogies to explain my jumbled thoughts.   The good thing about being a cute American blonde girl, is that even when you look dumb, the people think you still look sweet ;)
Slack Lining

Popsicle time

Such a fun day

Trying it alone
 Thanks for all of your prayers and support!  I love you all so much :)
Sister Peterson

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Life Size Chutes & Ladders

Guten Morgen, 

Yesterday was a Catholic holiday so we took our p-day/email time today instead. Transfer calls come on Friday and normally I would think there is no way I will be transferred because I just got to Munich, but I have a lot of feelings that SOMETHING is coming with this upcoming transfer and I need to be ready to accept whatever the AP's say when they call. I have had a couple of dreams about this as well, so I am a little curious to see what happens- it could be nothing or it could be something really cool. 
Our sweet little friend

Sending a little peace and love...
One of my favorite games when I was a little kid was a fun little board game called 'Chutes and Ladders.'  There was nothing more exciting than landing on a ladder that took you all the way to the very top, and yet there was nothing more frustrating than being at the very top, and slipping on a chute that took you all the way back to square 1.  
The cool thing about that game was that it didn't matter how slow or fast you climbed the ladder, because there was always the possibility of slipping on a chute or stumbling on a long, long ladder. As long as you kept rolling the dice and playing the game, progress was always being made, no matter how slowly. 
I feel like my mission is just one big game of Chutes and Ladders. There are times where all that my companion and I are doing are knocking on doors, dying of heat, and making cookies to bring by to people.  There are times where we are busy, teaching, and seeing miracles around every corner, even preparing for a baptism. But just like in the game, we never know when a chute is going to come our way, or how deep the chute is going to go.
We were doing companionship study one morning and were trying to organize everything for the 'A' family's baptism (which was scheduled for this upcoming Saturday.) It had been kind of hard to get in contact with them for the past week, because F's mom is really sick, they have been having a lot of family stress, and they have just been busy. We went by with a card to let them know that we were thinking of them, rang their bell, and got no answer. F answered her phone though, and said she was home, but didn't want to let us inside.  My heart sunk as I heard Sister Erdenetsogt talking with her on the phone, trying her best to console F, offer our help, and bear testimony of every truth that we so cherish. 
I didn't need Sister Erdenetsogt to explain it to me- I knew that we had just been dropped. They don't want us coming by anymore. It really is heartbreaking, especially to see them experience a total 180 change, and then decide that they are too stressed to meet with the missionaries. It was kind of a challenging day and a very challenging experience.  
But the thing about sliding down chutes, is that there are always stairs that lead right back to the top again. 
We moved the furniture so we could have room to exercise
Overall, we kind of struggled this week as we tried searching for the stairs that the Lord wanted us to take.  We had put almost everything on hold to give all of our time to this family. And then to just be dropped out of nowhere-all of a sudden we had nothing. We searched in our area book, mustered up more of an effort to talk to as many people as we could, and prayed for guidance to know where to look to find people to teach.
A little time for silliness
It was pretty amazing how the miracles started to fall into place, one by one. It was a slow process for sure, and we had to work really hard this week.
It wasn't until after we had pulled up our bootstraps and had determined to prove to the Lord through our diligence and patience and faith, that we finally started to receive answers to our prayers. 
We got fresh milk straight from the dairy cows

That's a lot of cows- and a lot of cow smells
A member came up to us after church last Sunday, saying that she was struggling with her testimony and wanted to be strong in the church again. She requested to meet with us frequently and go through all of the Preach My Gospel lessons again.  
And not only have we been able to practice the lessons and teaching them to her, but we have been able to feel a love for her and serve her in a very unique way. We have felt the spirit of conversion, even though it will not end in a baptism. And we have received an incredible amount of strength from our lessons with her, strength that we so desperately needed after some very long and hard days.  
We also swung by on a part member family to deliver some cupcakes to a young woman who just had a birthday. They invited us into their home, and their 8 year old brother who is not yet baptized, wanted us to play a little bit with him and his toy cars. He whispered to us ''I love it when you both come. The Sisters are always so kind to me, and I wish you would come more often!''  
We asked him if he had thought at all about his baptism, which he has always answered back with 'I am too shy to get baptized, I don't think I want to quite yet, can I wait a little bit?'  but this time, after thinking a little bit about it, he said 'sure, I think I am ready.' His sister walked into the room and he exclaimed ''Hey, did you hear I am going to get baptized this Sunday?'' Sister Erdenetsogt and I started cracking up, and then tried to tell him that he would have to wait a few weeks so we can teach him all the lessons first! He seemed pretty determined to get baptized this Sunday, but we luckily we were able to convince him to wait a bit.
A little glimpse of Munich
It has just been crazy to me to see how the Lord works. He works in miracles, He works through tender mercies, and He works by answering our prayers in unexpected ways. 
It has been a pretty rough week, but then again, I have felt the Lord so strongly on my side, guiding my every word and step. Though I do not much care for the hard times, I do know that it is through our struggles that we can truly feel our Heavenly Father's love for us if we are looking for it! That is the key- we have to keep our chins up and look for His hand. We will see it, I know, for Heavenly Father never leaves us alone. 

Remember, transfer calls are this week-eep!!  Pray for me 
Have an awesome week!  It's summer!  Woohoo!
Love to you all,
Sister Peterson

Monday, June 2, 2014

Munich = Miracles

Meine Freunde et Familie,

Wow, oh wow!! I have a lot of things written down to talk to you about today (I have to keep notes all week too mom, so don't feel like it's old age that you can't remember what happens in a week). I will try to keep it all short- but you know us Americans, we love being long winded and flowery about everything, at least that's what I have hear  is our reputation!!
Mariensdome church in Munich
Is it really raining?
Now we are just being silly

"Sister Peterson, can this be the last picture?"
This week was a really BUSY week. We had another Austausch with our sister training leaders in Passau, and they pulled one of their favorite tricks and made me take over Munich after only 3 weeks of being here!!  Sister Erdenetsogt went to Passau and I stayed with Sister Holman. We didn't get lost (luckily) but we did spend a lot of time on wrong trams, subways, and trains, and doing A LOT of backtracking. 
In my defense, the map of all of the Ubahns (subways) and Sbahns (regional train type things) are color coordinated, and since there are so many of them, they have to use a lot of different shades of colors.  
Well, anyone who knows me knows that I have trouble differentiating between colors sometimes. 
So I would see a color and think it meant we needed to take one Sbahn- it wasn't until we realized we were headed in the opposite direction that we realized I had misjudged the color!  
Oh goodness, luckily Sister Holman was patient with me and my blondness (or my color illiteracy). 

Sister Regnier & I- I haven't seen in her in 13 months
We had an AMAZING musical fireside on Saturday! It was organized by the Augsburg sisters, and put on by the members and missionaries in Munich. The Sisters took all of the points from the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ out of Preach My Gospel, found either videos, songs, or explanations to go along with each of them, and put together a musical evening in order to teach the first lesson. It was so amazing! We were at the church for 6 hours on Saturday to practice, and then we performed that night. It made for a long day, but the spirit was definitely felt and hearts were was absolutely unforgettable!
Fireside luncheon

A beautiful driit
At the end, I kind of got a little surprise. I walked into the church bathroom on Saturday during the fireside and saw...Sister Jenson! She is serving in Wels in Austria right now, which is next door neighbors to Linz!  She and her companion had come to Munich this weekend for an interview with President Miles and then she was put in an dritt with us for a few days- I didn't know until I saw her at the church.  
Our apartment is too tiny for just us two, it was crazy to fit 3 of us in there for a few days- but it was so worth it to squeeze us all together!
Missionary Genealogy: Grandma, mom and daughter
She had had a few hard days, so it was good for her. She had served in Munich 2 (which is where I am now) before, so she was surrounded by people she loves and people who love her- a little bit of home away from home for her! 
It was cool to see how the Lord grants us tender mercies when He knows that we need them. There are some days that having enough money to buy an ice cream cone is the only thing that gets me through the day or where finding an old letter from a friend renews confidence and strength to keep going. We can trust that if things are feeling a little hard, a tender mercy is on it's way exactly when we need it most- of that I can testify with all my heart!
We don't really play the guitar, I guess some things are only true in our dreams

We had another really cool experience this week. Our Italian family, the one who are going to get married and baptized, have been kind of hard to get a hold of the past week. 'F's mom is really sick and so they have spent a lot of time visiting her and figuring things out. Most of our appointments have fallen through this week. Sister Erdenetsogt and I were on our way home from an eating appointment, and we had some extra time before we were supposed to be home, so we decided to hop out of the Sbahn early and visit the 'A' family.  They were just having dinner and watching a movie together as a family, and invited us to join them for dinner. 
They were too stressed for a lesson, but we were able to simply be there, listen to them, get to know them better, and just laugh and have a good time. 'M', the 8 year old daughter, wanted to show us her room. As we walked in, she said 'I cleaned my room today so that I could show you around. I knew you were coming to visit us today!'  Sister Erdenetsogt and I look at each other a little confused, and asked ''but we didnt have an appointment for today, and we didn't call beforehand. How did you know we were coming?''   
Maria just looked at us, shrugged her shoulders and said ''I don't know, but all day I felt like someone was whispering in my ear 'The sisters are coming today!' and I felt all good when I heard the voice so I decided to clean my room!''  
It was such a tender moment, to see how 'M', this young 8 year old girl, who is still learning and growing in the gospel, can already recognize promptings of the spirit. The scriptures teach us that angels speak, even through the mouths of babes and children, and we saw that in truth with her .  
I think that children are more spiritually in tune than we think they are. Sister Erdenetsogt and I both have the feeling that 'M' will be a huge example and driving force behind her entire family being baptized and sealed together. I'm just...speechless.  I am constantly being humbled and on my knees praising God for all of the miracles that I am allowed to experience every day. 
A personal touch gift- we have some creative missionaries in our zone!

We watched some clips of an awesome movie in Relief Society on Sunday. It is called Ephraim's Rescue- if you haven't seen it, I recommend you watch it, it is so amazing. Sister Erdenetsogt and I are trying to devise a plan to watch it with investigators or members...we'll see!

I cannot believe it is June already. I have to say how lucky I am to be with sister Erdenetsogt at this point in my mission. It is just absolutely impossible to be stressed out with her, she is just so calm and composed. She helps me remember what is really important in life and what is not worth my time, energy and thoughts.  Which is good, because normally the 3rd to last transfer is supposed to be the most stressful and emotionally difficult transfer for missionaries! Even a phone call from Salt Lake telling me travel plans are in process couldn't distract me too much with Sister E- I know this is another one of God's tender mercies. He knows what we need even before we do. Trust in this always because He WILL provide! 

Yummy treats for so
My love to you all and much gratitude for all your prayers,
Sister Peterson