Monday, August 25, 2014

Hello Family & Friends,

This is the Neuschwanstein castle (which is the castle that the Disneyland castle is based off of),
Neuschwanstein Castle
and although I didn't get to see it this week, we are planning to go sometime before I leave! However, I feel incredibly blessed because I did get to go to two other beautiful places. 

It has been a week full of tender mercies! Sister Motto and I went to Nymphenburg schloss, one of crazy King Louis' works of art. 

It is only about 10 minutes away (by bus) from a lot of investigators that we have. I can't believe how blessed I am to live so close to so many beautiful things here in Munich! 

There is this beautiful area called Garmisch, which includes the Bavarian Alps, that is in our ward boundaries. 

Even though it is in our ward boundaries, it is a three hour train ride, so getting there during the week is pretty impossible. And the probability of being able to take the time out of a P-day to go to Garmisch, with everything I still have to organize and do, has seemed out of the question for me.

As my time is drawing to a close, I was getting pretty upset about the fact that I would never get to see the Alps on my mission- which would be sad considering I am serving in the ALPine German Speaking Mission!

Well, the Elders called us up on Sunday night and asked if we had Thursday evening free. We said yes, and they told us that one of the member couples in our ward wanted to invite us over for dinner, but that they lived far away and didn't want to pick us up. BUT since the AP's have a car (and we are conveniently in the same ward as the AP's) they invited us all over- and we were able to drive with them. The Elders didn't tell us where the members lived, they just said it was about an hour away by car and was on the border of our area. As we got closer and closer, it just kept getting prettier and prettier! Finally, we started seeing mountains...and beautiful green pastures...and signs saying ''Garmisch Partenkirchen'' and ''Zugspitze'' and we about FREAKED OUT!!!  

I had been praying to go to Garmisch, but knew there just wasn't enough time for a p-day! And then randomly, this close to the end of my mission, a member couple living in Garmisch decides to invite the missionaries over for dinner. Talk about tender mercies! It was the best eating appointment ever. Not only because of the experience and location but also because the Haueter's are amazing AND we ate American food like hamburgers, root beer and oreos!! 

As missionaries, we talk with so many people every day, and we even get a lot of phone numbers and addresses. But sadly, sometimes we will get phone numbers, but they never pick up, or addresses, and they are never home. It's kind of frustrating. Sister Motto and I had a really cool experience a couple of weeks ago- we had an appointment with an investigator (T), but when we showed up he was still getting his family ready for the day, and asked us to come back in about 15 minutes. We were trying to figure out what to do with 15 minutes, and Sister Motto asked if we could look for a bakery because she was hungry. Normally, going to a bakery for a 15 minute break isn't counted as the most effective use of a time, but we felt good about it and went. 

On our way there, we met an amazing lady from Egypt with the cutest daughter! We talked to her a bit, told her who we were and what we do, and invited her to our German class so she can learn to speak with more German. She was super excited, gave us her number, and we continued on our way. We got a little snack from the bakery, and went back to our appointment, super excited for the miracle we had just seen! But when we called a few days later, her husband angrily told us that his wife doesn't need to learn more German and he demanded that we never call again. I have to admit, I was a bit upset. She was such a miracle, how come it ended so bad; what was the purpose?  
After a few days I had forgotten all about it. But last week, Sister Motto and I were back at T's house to teach a lesson. He asked us if we met an Egyptian lady on the bus a few weeks ago. Confused, we said yes.  He then asked if we had called, and her husband told us to not call back. Again, confused as to how he knew this information, we said yes. Apparently, T and the Egyptian lady are neighbors, and the lady and her husband see us all the time coming into the apartment to visit T. The lady had always thought there was something special about us and was curious. But because her husband had also been watching us, He knew we are, which is why he got so upset when he found out that his wife given their number to us. This is also why he kept saying that they are Muslim and will always stay Muslim. The Egyptian lady had been very upset by this and went to T to ask for help. T was able to share with her his situation; he and his wife were Buddhist, and his wife was also really upset when he started meeting with Christians. It has taken time, but after a while she warmed up to his investigation and now she even sits in during some of the lessons. T gave her advice that she desperately needed to hear from a friend and someone who understood. He told her to respect her husband and that peace in the family was more important than anything else right now. He also told her that if she wants to learn more, she can always ask T her questions; promising her that one day her husband will come around. It was so cool to hear that story, about the background of WHY her husband told us no. In most cases we never would have known, we would have thought that it was just a mistake in finding her or doubted ourselves. But T was also an angel that the Lord has carefully put in her path in order for her gospel learning to continue, even if NOT with the missionaries. As missionaries, our role was small and subtle, but God knew what she would need and when. It wasn't us, BUT it was someone. And that someone was prepared when his time to shine came. That is all we need to do- prepare ourselves in all ways so when the Lord calls, we are ready to answer "Lord, here I am" . It really proved to me how the Lord's hand is in every aspect of the work, and He works everywhere!  It is awesome to be a missionary and see so many miracles that are worked through me; but it is just as awesome to see miracles that are worked through other people as well. Actually, it is even more fantastic to see miracles come through every day life, because I am going to be living in everyday life pretty soon! 
There are times when the spirit is pretty intent on helping us find our way, other times the spirit is pretty quiet and there are times when the spirit is neutral in our decisions. It can be hard to navigate what the spirit is trying to teach us in any of these times. Does He not care? Want us to make our own choices? Think we are making a mistake?? 
I think the trick to understanding what the spirit wants from us is humility and diligence. Humility so that we can recognize that our will might not be His will. It doesn't matter how neutral or opinionated He is or how loud the spirit is speaking, without humility, we wont hear His voice. And diligence, so that if it is neutral, we can still act without being told everything to do; we can still make a decision and move forward. If it is neutral, great, we keep going forward and we have made a wonderful and perfectly righteous decision on our own, exercising our free agency to become our own person. But if our course is wrong, I can promise you that the spirit won't be silent any longer!!  It is good to wait and study and listen, and there are answers that won't come for a while. But there is also nothing wrong with saying "okay, Heavenly Father, I would like an answer. I have been listening, and I have been studying, and I am going to try walking on water for a bit and moving forward. Please give me the faith to walk, and if I start to sink, please help me recognize your outstretched hand.'' I have offered that prayer so many times on my mission and anticipate offering that prayer many, many more times throughout my life. 
Well, love to you all! I've got a p-day to enjoy. I'm NOT counting down, but if you are, you know I don't have many left :(

Sister Peterson

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