Monday, September 8, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen

Hallo Familie und Freundes,

     Here is a great thing about the German language. When saying goodbye to people, there are numerous things you can say:  Ciao! Tschüß! Pfurdi! Bussi! Tschüßie baba! Auf Wiedersehen!  
     I have always before said Tschüß or Ciao; but I have switched to Auf Wiedersehen this week. Do you know what Auf Wiedersehen literally means? 'To see again', isn't that a beautiful sentiment? When I say Auf Wiedersehen, I feel like it is equivalent to the American version of telling someone "see you later!"  or "goodbye, until we see each other again." It's not an end, it's just a short pause between visits.
     Isn't that the beautiful part about the gospel? Isn't that the amazing part about the world that we live in today? With technology and with our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, it never has to be a good-bye forever. There is always a 'wiedersehen' hanging in the air, whether it will be on Facebook or Skype, or through phone calls, letters, and vacations; there is always an opportunity to see people again.
     Yesterday was my last day of church as a missionary; my last Sunday, not only in Munich, but here in the Alpine German-speaking region. I was expecting it to be super, super sad, but with a 'wiedersehen' perspective, it was okay! Yeah, there was a few times where I was near tears; especially when Sister Motto and Br. Miller (the ward mission leader here) got up to bear their testimonies- both included how much they will miss me and how grateful they are for my service. I was almost a bawling baby at those points, but zum Glück, no tears have been shed..yet! 
     I will be sad to go, it will be hard to take off the missionary name tag, but on a pair of jeans, and go to the movie theater and ice cream shop alone, or even worse, with a boy! (gasp!) But hey, I have had a great 18 months; really the best 18 months I could have ever dreamed of and some of the best experiences. I have laughed so hard that I have cried & I have cried so hard that I have laughed. I have eaten more Swiss chocolate and marzipan balls as comfort food than I ever will the rest of my life. I have met so many amazing people, worked with inspiring servants of God, and learned more than I ever expected. How grateful I am to have been here, but...   
     I need to look forward with faith and look back with gratitude. 
     I do not want to say much about leaving, I am trying to stay focused on Germany while I am here and I do not have much time... But, I do want everyone to know that I love my mission! I love these people, but more than anything, I love my Savior. I am eternally grateful that He paved the way for me to not only come to this world, but to return to my Father after this life. I am grateful that He made it possible for me to repent, and not to just repent from sins, but to align my life and my habits with His. His love has made it possible for me to be more loving, more kind, more patient, more diligent; to have more faith, more knowledge, and more hope. 
     So I want to close my final email home, to all of my friends and to all of my family, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord and I'll be what you want me to be." For the past 18 months, He has needed me as Sister Peterson in the Alpine German Speaking mission, but now, He needs something else from me; He needs someone else to do different things. I don't know what that is yet, but I have faith. And, as a very smart man (namely our prophet) would put it, ''The future is as bright as your faith.'' So lets make it shine.

-Sister Peterson

A P.S from Sister Peterson's mom- 
     Even in our private emails between one another, Kori has been adamant that until she gets on the plane on Friday, she is Sister Peterson and has refused to discuss matters of coming home. Though this has been somewhat frustrating to me, I admire that she has wanted to remain dedicated to serving The Lord until the final moment. She has been an example to me in a way that she will never truly see or know. I consider her growth and hope that through her testimony each week she has brought you a little closer to Christ- for truly that has been her purpose as a missionary- to bring the light of the gospel and our Savior to the lives of those she touches.
I received this message from the mother of another Sister serving in this mission:
     "I had the chance to work with Sister Peterson, who will be heading home this week. It was really nice to finally work with her. I've heard so much about her (she was one of the only Sisters I hadn't met before coming here and she was the one I replaced in Linz). She is hilarious and really cool! We saw lots of miracles just talking with everyone, despite all of our plans falling out."
     Thank you for your prayers and your love in supporting Sister Peterson and, in turn, supporting us in sharing her with the people who live in that beautiful part of the world. 
*** No pictures this week, so I wanted to share a few of my favorites:

Sister Peterson and the sisters of her travel group

Sister Regneir & Sister Peterson- last night in the MTC

Sister Peterson & Sister Jenson- her trainer!
Sister Peterson's trainee turned great friend, Sister Henry

One of my favorite pictures from the entire mission

Sister Peterson's second trainee, Sister Wunderlii

Sister Erdenstogt (training in a Driit), Sister Wunderlii & Sister Peterson

Sister E & Sister Peterson were a match made in Heaven

Sister Peterson's greenie buster- Sister Ackerman

Sister Peterson's fourth trainee, Sister Pentz

Sister Peterson reunited with Sister Jenson and Sister Erdenstogt

Munich at last 

Sister Motto & Sister Peterson, the beginning of a beautiful friendship! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Small Wrinkle in Time...

Hello One & All, 

     In Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood session, he recounted the story of Rip Van Winkle; a man who fell asleep on a hill one day and woke up years and years later to see that everything had changed! The crazy thing about time is that in the moment, time doesn't seem to go by all that fast, but looking back, it is amazing to think of how quickly time passes and in an instant everything can change dramatically.
German pride and gratitude for this mission!
      I was able to go on an exchange with my MTC companion, Sister Regnier this past week; she is someone that I have always ADORED, so this was truly a wonderful blessing for me! Though we have been able to see each other occasionally since I got to Munich, this was the first time that I was able to really talk with her ever since we came to Germany. It was really cool to see what has changed in her and what hasn't changed; but it was especially fun to see the areas that we have grown. 

... and Now!
     For example, Sister Regnier has always been a very bold teacher, even in the MTC. But to see her now, still bold, but with a whole new spark to her, it was very cool to see. And it was really good for me to see how dedicated and diligent she is, even in these final few weeks that the two of us have left. Lots of the missionaries were teasing me before our exchange, saying ''You two are just going to have a gigantic trunk fest and talk about home the entire time!'' In reality, we probably only talked about home for about 15 minutes during dinner, and the rest was mission, mission, mission. She has been and still is a really good example to me; it reminded me how blessed I was in the MTC and have continued to be blessed throughout my entire mission to be surrounded by wonderful companions! 
     To share a little humor from our talk of "home" I can tell you a story that shows both my blonde personality AND the fact that I've been on a mission for awhile... 
    As Sister Regnier and I were talking, she asked me if I was excited for my first date back home. Thinking she was talking about my literal FIRST DAY back home (instead of a date with a boy) I proceeded to talk about my excitement and my nervousness. I told her that I am a bit sad that my Grandma won't be there to pick me up and spend the day with me, but at least my parents will be there; I told her I expected that the first few days I was probably just going to sleep and cry the entire time and everyone would have to deal with it!  
     Finally, Sister Regnier started cracking up and said ''Well, I'm glad you love your grandma that much, but I hope you aren't planning on bringing her along on your first date!!'' 
Ooops...hmmm, I guess I am not too sure how to answer the REAL question that she was asking :) 
Elders Spencer and Vitel
     We were also able to have a Finding Day with our district this week. After district meeting, our district leader picked two areas in Munich for us to spend an hour in each and simply talk to people on the streets and go finding! Sister Motto and I were super stoked, especially about the areas we would be going to, we set high goals, we studied, we practiced, and our faith was high...and then we had a really anticlimactic finding day. 
That's a really big pretzel!
      We gathered back up at the end to hear all of the other missionaries talk about the cool miracles that they saw that day, all of the Books of Mormon that they gave out, etc. I am not gonna lie, I was kinda discouraged to say that we only found two people, and they live in the other missionaries area, not ours!

     For the rest of the day, I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, if my lack of success has been an obedience or a diligence issue and to try to understand why we didn't find anyone. Well, that night, we decided to call the Munich 3 Sisters, just to see how they were doing. As soon as they answered the phone they said ''Sisters, we have some awesome miracles to tell you about!!'' They told us about 3 miracles they had seen that day. Sister Harman was explaining that they had had a discouraging couple of weeks, how they were talking to everyone, handing out cards, offering the Book of Mormon, going on the streets, and nobody had ANY interest- they had had NO success. But then that day, out of nowhere, 3 amazing people dropped from the sky and came up to THEM, with amazing questions and actually thirsting to know the truth. They said it was cool to see how they still get rewarded for their hard work, they still saw the benefits of diligence, but they had to wait a week or two to see it. They realized that because of that week gap, they were able to grow in their faith and in their endurance, and become more humble and hard working missionaries in the process.  
Relaxing on the train ride back to Munich
     This was EXACTLY what Sister motto and I needed to hear after our rough finding day! I guess the Lord is using other people to answer my prayers, because that happened a lot this week. We were at a members house on Sunday, and she was talking to us about her mission. She had served in Japan, and had had an amazing time, served great, but nearing the end of her mission, she had started to get a bit upset that she was never able to see any of her investigators get baptized. Her very last night in the mission home, she was able to see one of her previous companions (who always seemed to serve in the same areas as her shortly after she left) who told her how much of an influence she not only had in the lives of the investigators, but in the lives of the members and other missionaries as well. Her previous companion had told her that she was sent to that mission specifically to bless the lives of the Japanese people, BUT she had also been sent to that specific mission to bless the lives of the missionaries as well! 
I am going to miss V
What a blessing it was to hear that!  Little did she know that that story was exactly what I needed to hear. I am not sure what will happen on my last night in the mission home, but some miracles aren't noticed by us until years later. I am learning and trying to remember that just because we don't notice the miracles doesn't mean that they don't happen.
First in our area to get the Germany 4 STAR Weltmeister jersey's

The Elders are just a little jealous that we got 'em first!

     Well, love to you all! 

     Sister Peterson