Monday, March 26, 2012

The week of two journal entries

I don't even know where to start the past week was so crazy. 

First off an embarrassing/hilarious story---since we can work all over Munich, sometimes we end up across town from our apartment. That was the case last week. We had a dinner/lesson appointment with one of the sisters who doesn't live in our ward. We had a great time and left her house in plenty of time to get home before 9:00. To get home, we had to ride the Bus, to the U-Bahn, to the S-Bahn. We made all of our connections and were so proud of ourselves. However, when we arrived on our doorstep, we realized that we did not have our keys. This is a problem because right now there is only one set of keys for our apartment. Luckily, we called the sister we had dinner with and she found them in her apartment. Unfortunately, we couldn't go all the way back across town to get them from her. So we had to find somewhere to sleep. We ended up going to the mission home, which is fairly close and easy to get to from our house. It was actually really funny. We slept in the basement and then the next morning had breakfast with President and Sister Miles. Pres Miles said "You should come every Tuesday!" Needless to say, we will be making a copy of our key ASAP.

This past week Heavenly Father has blessed us a lot. Since it has gotten warmer, people are a lot more willing to talk to us. In our mission, we have a goal that every companionship should give out one Book of Mormon every day. This goal was really hard to meet in the winter. Our Zone Leaders have encouraged us to always have a Book of Mormon in our hands and to have one more in our backpacks, so all companionships should have four Book of Mormons at all times. I am very thankful that Heavenly Father inspired our Zone Leaders to gives us that counsel and that Sister Pingree and I have been trying to follow it, because lots of days in the past week, Sister Pingree and I have been able to give away one, if not two or three Book of Mormons each day! It has been an incredible week. I know that the Lord is preparing the hearts of these people, we just need to find them.

I picked up my residence permit this past week! I officially can stay in Germany until August 2013. Switzerland and Austria are another issue, if I get transferred there, I'll have to get another visa. Fun stuff.
On Saturday we helped at the "mini MTC." The stake put together a mini MTC for the youth to help them do missionary work. Sister Pingree and I helped them practice how to invite their friends to church. It was really fun to be there, but I had forgotten how hectic activities with teenagers can be. At one point it started hailing outside (March can't make up its mind). We were in the cultural hall where there are these HUGE windows, and one of the kids just hopped up on  the window. oh well.

I realized I haven't described a lot of what daily life looks like in Germany. I'll try to do a better job of that. First I'll describe some things that are different about our apartment. In Germany, there is no central air conditioning/heat. There are individual heaters in each room that you can turn on and adjust. And there is no air conditioning. In the summer they just open up the windows. I find it odd that the windows don't have screens on them, but maybe that's just because I come from Virginia, where if we didn't have screens on our windows, the house would be full of all sorts of interesting bugs. In Germany washers are a LOT smaller. And we don't have a dryer, so we hang everything out to dry, even socks (I am of the firm opinion that socks should go in the dryer, but I guess the Germans don't think it's a big deal). Refrigerators are smaller. Basically lots of household appliances are smaller than their American counterparts. There are some things I miss about America, but I am definitely starting to appreciate that there are some things I can live without (however, I will be very excited for the day when I can put my socks in the dryer).

Ich liebe euch!

-Sister Stewart

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last P-Day of my 1st Transfer!


It is transfer week! (Every six weeks missionaries get sent all different places, you never know what will happen.) Sister Pingree and I will be staying together for the next transfer, as will Elder Seidl and Elder Clark. We will be getting a new district leader and one of the areas in our district will be white washing AND training (just like Sister Pingree and I had to).

This past week has been pretty great because the sun has been shining nearly every day. Wednesday was one of my favorite days. There is an investigator (well, really the ONLY investigator) in our ward that the Elders are teaching named Sister M. She is just one of the sweetest people I have ever met. On Sunday, Sister Pingree had asked her if there was anything we could do to help her and she said we could maybe come and help her clean because she is starting a new job and is really stressed about it. We said of course we'd love to do that. Then she called us on Monday with an idea. We (Sister Pingree and I) would come over to her house on Wednesday afternoon and help her clean and then cook a dinner for her family and for the Elders who were coming for a teaching appointment. So that is exactly what we did! I cleaned the living room and vacuumed while Sister Pingree helped wash dishes. Then we all cooked together. It ended up being 8 of us all crowded around the M's tiny table (Sister Pingree and I, Sister M, the two M boys, the Elders, and a member the Elders brought to teach with them). It was so fun just to spend the afternoon helping her out. I wish I could have taken a picture of Elder Seidl and Elder Clark (who are both about 6'3") sitting on the M's couch with J (who is 12 and pretty small) squeezed between them.

Thursday Sister Pingree and I were on the UBahn. The car was pretty empty. All of a sudden, the train pulls up to a stop and this whole group of Lederhosen clad men gets on the train. They sat down all around us. Apparently they are a dancing group from Austria. Es war komisch. (It was very strange.)

Saturday was Sister Pingree's birthday! We wore our Dirndls to the Stake Relief Society party. It was really fun.

Sunday Sister H (the Chinese new convert in our ward) cooked dinner for the young adults. She (and some of her friends) made LOTS of dumplings. Sister Pingree and I helped (although mine did not look nearly as good as those made by the Chinese). They were quite delicious. Who knew I'd come to Germany and be making Chinese dumplings?

This past week I have realized how it important it is for me to personally take responsibility for my mission. Yes, the Lord can work miracles through me, but only if I am willing to let Him work. I need to become the type of missionary he wants me to be. This past week we had a training session where President and Sister Miles talked about faith and obedience. I hadn't really made the connection before that obedience is an act of faith. As we are exactly obedient, we exercise our faith and then the Lord can work miracles through us. Sister Pingree and I have made it a goal to obey ALL the mission rules with exactness. I know the Lord will bless us as we strive to follow our leaders. Just like the Stripling Warriors- Alma 57:12

Diese Woche habe ich einen Teil von der Einleitung zum Buch Mormon auswendig gelernt. Es sagt "Später wurde die Platten Joseph Smith übergeben, der sie durch die Gabe und Macht Gottes übersetzte." Ich bezeuge, dass Joseph Smith ein Prophet war, und dass er tatsächlich Das Buch Mormon für uns übersetzt hat. Deswegen bin ich hier in Deutschland, um andere zu helfen, diese Erkenntnis zu bekommen.

(This week I have memorized a part of the introduction of the Book of Mormon. It goes: “In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God.” I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he truly translated the Book of Mormon for us. That is why I am here in Germany, to help others come to the same knowledge.)

You all are amazing, thank you for all your prayers and support!
-Schwester Schtewart

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ritter Sport turns 100!

Oh my word, so much to say and so little time to say it in. Today was a crazy P-day. We bought Dirndls today!! woohoo! Pictures to come :)

I'm so excited to hear that Rhiannon has arrived!!! Congrats Charles and Jessie, she's beautiful!
So first off, Ritter Sport is having their 100th anniversary this year. This means that there are huge ads for Ritter Sport in the Hauptbahnhof (Central Train Station), which we walk through nearly every day. Man it has been tough.

This past Sunday in Church was an interesting one. There was a woman there named Precious, who is from Zimbabwe and is working as an au pair here in Germany. Since she speaks very little German, I translated Relief Society for her. Then, as we were going from Relief Society to Sunday School (church here is backwards from how it normally is in the States) another unfamiliar woman walked in the door. Her name is Susanna and she is an American soldier on leave from Afghanistan for two weeks. She doesn't speak German, so I translated Sunday School and Sacrament meeting for her. Needless to say, my translating brain was dead by the end of church. I'm so glad Precious and Susanna found us though. They both are relatively new converts and I know that when you're in a new place it can be hard to find church and/or go all by yourself. I'm just grateful my German is good enough that I can roughly translate for them!

As Elder Stewart was saying in his last e-mail, one of my favorite things to do on my mission is to tell the story of the First Vision to investigators. It has only been since I've really had to learn the words and recite them to others that I have gained a testimony that Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and Jesus Christ that day. And really, once I knew that, everything else fell into place.

As we were teaching one of the new converts the other day, I had a realization. We asked her the question "Why has God commanded us to love other people and to show it?" (Sorry for the awkward phrasing, it made more sense in German). As she considered her answer, I suddenly had a thought. And it was this---God loves everyone. We are supposed to become like God. Therefore, it is essential that we love everyone around us because it helps us to become more like God. The commandment to love others is not just another commandment. It is absolutely essential to our eternal progression. We have to show and tell others of our love for them because as we do this, we become instruments in the hands of the Lord for those around us to feel His love. We can be the means through which Heavenly Father's children can feel of his love. Sometimes it's not easy to love others, but luckily God can help us with that (Moroni 7:48).

The other day as we were walking down the street some men who were standing on the side walk called after us "Tatsächliche Schönheit!" (Good Looking!) yup, we are, thanks.

Here's another funny story that requires a little bit of background---Sister Pingree and I serve in the same ward as our Zone Leaders, Elder Seidl and Elder Clark. We have taken to hiding little notes and baked goods in their backpacks as little tokens of our appreciation. So the other day Elder Clark asked us "What do Sisters eat?" We replied "Uhhh, normal food? Soup, salad, sandwiches, stuff like that" Then Elder Seidl said "Really? You eat sandwiches?" Apparently the Elders didn't think that Sisters are normal people too. So the funny part is that the other day when I got home and looked in my backpack, there were some paper bags with Disney Princesses printed on them and a note in Elder Seidl's handwriting that said "For your sandwiches" That alone made my day.

Ich bin so dankbar für die Zeit, die ich habe, jeden Tag in den Schriften zu lesen. Ich habe so viel gelernt und ich weiß, dass ich viel mehr lernen muss! Wenn ich mich wirklich auf den Worten Gottes konzentieren, spüre ich den Geist mehr in meinem Leben. Ich ermahne euch, die Schriften jeden Tag zu lesen!
(I am so thankful for the time I have every day to read the scriptures. I have learned so much and have much more to learn. When I concentrate on the word of God I really feel the Spirit in my life. I encourage you to read the scriptures every day!)
Alles Gute!

-Sister Stewart
p.s. I am sorry for the scattered nature of this e-mail. I sit down to write and my brain goes fifty different directions at once.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A convert from Australia and a Döner

Servus!  (Hi!)
Munich is starting to experience spring! It is so exciting! I can finally see streets and sidewalks that I didn't even know existed when I first got here, there was so much snow.

Funny story: last P-day I showed Sister Pingree the Rathaus in Munich (Google it if you don't know what it looks like, it's pretty cool). It is the main tourist attraction in town, and we've been here for a month and Sister Pingree hadn't seen it yet! Now she has "seen" Munich. It's funny how your priorities are so different as a missionary. I've been to Munich a couple times before, but I can honestly say that until this past month I hadn't really "seen" the people here. Now I know and love the people of Munich much more than the beautiful buildings (although the buildings are still cool to look at).

This past week we got the opportunity to meet with a new convert, Tami. We met Tami right after Stake Conference last week. After the meeting was over we went out to go catch the bus. She came running after us and said "Are you Sister Missionaries? I'm so glad I found you! I just got here from Australia!" Tami's story is pretty amazing. She just got back from Australia where she lived for over a year. For part of that time she lived in Perth with an LDS family who she went to church with. A few months later she moved to Broom. The family from Perth gave her number to the missionaries in Perth, who sent it to the missionaries in Broom, who found Tami and taught her and baptized her! We met with Tami and her friend Sara, who is not a member. We taught about the Plan of Salvation. Sara is pretty skeptical, but I think she can see how the gospel has positively affected Tami's life. If I have learned anything so far on my mission, it is that one person can have a big influence for good.

This week I finally had a Döner! (Google it, it's like a Gyro) We went out to get them with one of the less-actives in the ward. We ate them as we walked along the river. Best. Lunch. Ever.

I feel like all I do in these e-mails is write stories about the people I meet and teach, but really, that is such a huge chunk of what occupies my thoughts. On Saturday we taught a woman named Jazna. She was a former investigator whose record we found in our area book. We went by a couple weeks ago. She didn't let us in, but we gave her a card and told her to call us (which people never do). But then something amazing happened: she called us! We set an appointment with her and went over. She has very strong faith in Jesus Christ and a strong relationship with God. We taught her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. She wouldn't take a Book of Mormon, but we were able to set an appointment with her to give her a tour of the Church (setting firm appointments is key!). Unfortunately, something came up and she couldn't come. We will keep her in our prayers and try to make another appointment.

And now for some funny Denglish phrases (Deutsch+English mixed together). These are some of the things that Sister Pingree and I say, which will probably only be funny if you speak German, sorry-
"Let's go by on them"= "Let's drop by", in German the verb is "vorbeigehen" or literally "go by"
"Both our appointments fell out"="Both of our appointments were cancelled", in German you say "ausfallen"="fall out" for cancelled
"We can call them underway"="We can call them on the way there", in German you say "unterwegs"=literally "under way"

Ich bin so froh, hier in Deutschland zu sein. Diese Woche habe ich gelernt, wie wichtig es ist, geduldig zu sein. Ich muss geduldig mit mir selbst und mit anderen sein. Ich muss mich auf den Herrn verlassen. Alles wird in seiner Zeit und Weise passieren.
(I am so happy to be here in Germany. This week I learned how important it is to be patient. I must be patient with myself and with others. I have to rely on the Lord. Everything will happen in his time and way.)
Ich habe euch lieb! (I love you!)
Matt 5:14-16

-Sister Stewart