Monday, April 30, 2012

This week, Munich decided it is summer!

Hello dearest family and friends!

I don't know if it is because I'm outside more than I am back home or if Munich's weather really is just crazy, but the past week has thrown me for a loop. Friday and Saturday were really warm (30 degrees Celsisus = 86F). It has cooled off a little now, but my question is where did spring go?

Last P-day we went to Neuschwanstein! I can report that it really is worth it the third time around. The weather was perfect, a little cool with clear skies. I love hiking up to the bridge behind the castle and seeing the beautiful view of the German countryside. It was so fun to just take a day with the rest of the missionaries in my district to enjoy ourselves. And, of course, we ran into some American members of the church while we were there.

Tuesday morning we got the call that we have all been dreading: Sister Behrndt's visa was approved. Now she just has to go to an interview at the American consulate, and then once everything is processed she'll be gone in a week or two :( It has been so great to have her here. She brings such a great spirit to our companionship and helps us so much with our German. Hopefully we haven't corrupted her German too badly with our Denglish.

One of my favorite days this past week was Thursday, so I will just give you a quick blow by blow--
Thursday at about lunch time we went to the park to try and catch A. A is one of our few German speaking investigators. He will only meet us in the park, and fixed appointments stress him out, so we always try and surprise him when the weather is nice. When we got to the park, we saw him just sitting on a blanket enjoying the sun. Perfect :) We taught him about the plan of salvation. Our big struggle with A is convincing him to come to church. He is reading in the Book of Mormon, he prays daily and he loves meeting with us, he just says that he is not a 'church going person.' Meine gute (good grief). Despite that, we had a very good appointment. Sister Pingree asked him "What is the purpose of life for you?" which really made him think. We then were able to teach about how we are here on the earth to make the choices that will help us return to our Heavenly Father (Alma 34). I hope we get him to church soon!

Thursday afternoon we stopped by some former investigators who own a gelato shop :) They are so nice. They spend summer living in Germany and winter living in Italy. How perfect is that? They are so warm and friendly AND they gave us free ice cream. 

Thursday evening we had an appointment with S, a new investigator. She has LOTS of questions. The funny thing is she is German, but she lived in England for three years so she loves to speak English with us! We gave an introductory lesson and set up an appointment for this week! Hooray for new investigators! So all in all, Thursday was a pretty great day.

The past couple Sundays I have been helping in Nursery (with the little kids who are 18 months to 3 years old). It is so fun. There are a couple of international families in our ward whose children speak English, so the nursery leader is really glad to have me, because children are hard enough to understand in your own language. It has been great to just sit on the floor and play with them.

Ich habe diese Woche viel über das Gebet gedacht. Gott verheißt uns, dass er immer die Tür öffnen wird, aber wir wissen nicht, was hinter die Tür steht. Wir müssen Glauben habe. Er weißt, was wir brauchen. Ich weiß, dass Himmlische Vater uns liebt und das er uns den Weg immer zeigen wird, wenn wir ihn fragen.
(I have thought a lot about prayer this week. God promises to always open the door, but we do not know what is behind it. We must have faith. He knows what is best. I know that Heavenly  Father loves us and will always show us the way---if we ask.)

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Stewart

Monday, April 23, 2012

Castle Day

All I really have time for this week is an "I'm not dead" e-mail because we are going to Neuschwanstein today for our district p-day! The weather is really nice, so it should be beautiful. This will make the third time I have been to Neuschwanstein! We'll see if anything has changed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Weekend in the Life of Sister Stewart

Hallo zusammen!

I feel like so much happens during the week and then I get to Monday and writing my e-mail and I don't even know where to start. I think I will mostly just tell you about Saturday and Sunday, because both days were AWESOME---except for the rain. I'm pretty sure it has been raining on and off every few hours for about a week now---out come the boots!

On Saturday we did our normal morning routine (wake up, exercise & get ready, study) then went to go teach W. We haven't been able to teach her for a while because she has been sick/moving. We met her at the church and taught her about the Plan of Salvation. My favorite part of that lesson was when Sister Pingree was explaining about the Celestial Kingdom. W asked "So what do I have to do to get there?" We were then able to explain about baptism and invite her to be baptized. Since she comes from a non-Christian background, she isn't familiar with baptism, but luckily we were in the church so we were able to show her the baptismal font and explain how we get baptized. She said "I'll have to think about it." The great thing is that she understands so much of what we tell her. AND at the end of the lesson she gave the prayer! It was just about the sweetest prayer you've ever heard.

Side note: As we were setting up for W's lesson (getting the white board in place to draw the plan of salvation) I ripped my tights. So I had to take them off. Since it was so cold, after W's appointment during our lunch break we went to go buy some more tights.

After we taught W, we went out to try and bring some potential investigators Books of Mormon. The woman we wanted to visit wasn't home. So we hopped back on the U-Bahn* and then took a bus to get to a less active family we have been trying to get in contact with. Both the parents work, so we thought Saturday would be a good time to try and catch them at home. When we rang their bell, the husband said "Oh it's the missionaries!" and he let us right in. It turns out he and his wife have some questions about the temple that have been bothering them (the wife got baptized a year ago). The husband said "I think you were sent by the Holy Ghost. We only just got home and Saturday is really the only day that we are home together." The funny thing is, is we didn't realize that earlier in the afternoon we had been much closer to their house than we thought. We basically went about 30 minutes out of our way to get to them. But if we had gone more directly, they might not have been home yet! Heavenly Father definitely has a sense of humor.

Sunday before church we had a meeting, so we got to the building early. As we were getting ready for the meeting I ripped my tights AGAIN (the ones I had bought on Saturday). That meant I went tightless for the rest of the day, which was fun because it was rainy and cold. I have definitely learned my lesson to carry emergency tights at all times.

After church there was a ward potluck. I think I ate my weight in Spätzle. It is soooo gooood.
After the potluck, we went to go teach T, a recent convert. What was awesome about that lesson is we were able to have Te, a member from T's ward, come with us. We have been telling T that she needs to do those everyday little things like reading the scriptures and praying to keep the Spirit with her. Te was able to bear testimony to that fact as well, which I think made it even more powerful than just the missionaries telling her to do something. And T and Te live in the same village, so they can help each other make the long trek into Munich for church and YSA activities!

Sunday evening we had an appointment with M, the man we met on the tram  tracks! We thought he was in Greece last week, so we were going to call him this week to set up an appointment. But then he called us on Saturday and asked us if we could come on Sunday! We said of course! We taught him about the Plan of Salvation. I don't know how to describe M, he is just amazing. He lives in very humble circumstances, but that doesn't seem to bother him. He has such a strong faith in the Bible. He tells us "So far everything you are telling me makes sense with what I already believe." When we invited him to get baptized, he said "When I find out that the LDS church is the place I am supposed to worship, I will do everything I can to become a full member." He has a great desire to share the gospel with others, too. He calls us "his" Sisters. His prayer at the end of the lesson was amazing; the Spirit was there so strong. Unfortunately, we really have to give him to the International Ward missionaries to teach. Arrggh! We will definitely keep in contact and see how he is doing.
So that was my weekend. 

Ich liebe es, das Evangeliium mit anderen zu teilen. Ich weiß, dass wenn ich Glauben übe, kann der Herr mich mit Wundern segnen.
(I love sharing the gospel with others. I know that when I have faith, the Lord can provide miracles.)
Alles Gute!
-Sister Stewart

*Sister Behrndt and I accidentally left Sister Pingree on the U-Bahn platform (she was talking to someone) and only realized it once we were halfway up a VERY long escalator, which we then rode to the top and then took the down escalator back to the platform in time to see the woman Sister Pingree had been talking to get on the train with a Book of Mormon. Way to go Sister Pingree!

Monday, April 9, 2012

It snowed on Easter

Hola! (I am channeling Elder Stewart for today's greeting)

So, just as we thought we were safe with Spring weather, we woke up Easter morning to SNOW. The whole weekend has been rainy/cold/very wintery. But despite the cold weather, we have seen some amazing miracles!

It is amazing how many prepared people we find, our problem is just holding on to them! It has been hard for us to get a lot of second appointments with people. Things always seem to come up that prevent them from meeting with us. Sister Behrndt said the other day "Here's what happens. We meet them, they are really excited about our message, but then Satan starts working on them and they cancel their appointments. We just need to scare Satan off!" So that's what we will do-work hard and fight against Satan and find the people that are ready for us! Hopefully as our "new investigator" pool expands we will be able to have more "return appointment" investigators.

This past week we starting teaching a woman named H. She is from Morocco. Even though her life hasn't been the easiest (bad relationship with her ex-husband, caring for her son on her own) she is such a happy and positive person. She grew up Muslim and is very familiar with the Koran, but says she is always happy to learn about what others believe and she is searching for the truth that is right for her. We taught her in English and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon in Arabic. Since she speaks better English than German, we will probably have to give her to the Elders in the International Ward. BUT hopefully we will still be able to visit her sometimes :)

This past week we experienced one of the coolest miracles I have seen so far on my mission. We were crossing some tram tracks. There are tracks that go both directions and in the middle of them is a grassy island. Right as we got to the middle, we ran into (not literally) a man who was crossing in the opposite direction. Sister Pingree offered him a card in German, but he only spoke English. Then she started to explain a little bit in English, but he said "I'm sorry, I don't have much time right now." Then I said "Have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon? Do you want one in English?" He said "okay, but I really have to go." All I had time to do was scramble in my backpack for the English copy that I have been carrying around and hand it to him. He walked off before we could even explain anything about the Book of Mormon. I thought for sure that he wasn't go to read it and that he would either throw it away or just put it somewhere and forget about it.

BUT  THEN, On Saturday HE CALLED US. He said "So, you gave me this book, and I've been reading it, I just need someone to explain to me where it came from. Do you think you could do that?" We said "of course!" So we have an appointment with him today!! (That means we switched our day around a little, so we will have to go grocery shopping on Wednesday). He is going to Greece this week, so we really wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to meet with him. After he comes back we will probably have to give him to the International Elders (again another one of our problems, we are finding these amazing people, they just don't speak German!)

Serving in a Dritt (that's how you saw threesome in German) is lots of fun. We have made a goal as a companionship to speak German when we are out and to speak English at home. Sometimes it works better than others. What ends up happening is that Sister Behrndt will say something to me in German, which I will completely understand, and then I will reply in English, which she completely understands. It makes for some very funny conversations. I'm sure if someone else was listening to us talking, they would scratch their heads in confusion. But it works for us :)

Sometimes I am amazed that I get to serve in a wonderful place like Munich. I have been here for two months!
Ich liebe dieses Evangelium. Ich weiß, dass Jesus Christus lebt und dass er das Sühnopfer für uns vollbracht hat. Er kennt alle unsere Schwächen, und kann uns helfen, sie zu überwinden.
(I love this gospel. I know that Jesus Christ lived and atoned for us. He knows all our weaknesses and can help us overcome them.)

Frohe Ostern! (Happy Easter)
-Sister Stewart

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jetzt sind wir drei (Now we are three)

Guten Tag!

The most exciting piece of news from this past week---we got a new companion! Her name is Sister Behrndt. She is from Freiburg, Germany. She got called to the Temple Square Mission, but she doesn't have a visa yet, so she gets to work with us for about a month until her papers comes in. It is verrry nice having a native German speaking companion. It is also more fun to cook things together, because cooking for just two is hard sometimes. Now we have the power of not just two witnesses, but three!

On Tuesday of this week we taught W. Oh my goodness gracious I love that girl. She is a Chinese student studying here in Munich. We taught her the first lesson. When we asked her what questions she has in her life that she has always wanted the answers to, she told us that she would really like to know where her mom is (her mom died when she was 21). The Spirit was so strong; it was amazing how she just opened up to us. My favorite part was when we were teaching her how to pray. She asked us "Does God have a nationality? Will he understand me if I pray in Chinese?" I was so happy to bear testimony of the fact that God understands everyone on this earth, because we are all His children. No matter what language we speak, He understands us perfectly. He knows us and wants so badly for us to speak to Him. I was so happy to be able to teach that to W. The next day we texted and asked her how her prayer went. She said "The feeling of prayer is great and holy. Thanks for teaching me to do that"

This week we got to do more bureaucratic things, which is always fun in Germany. The mission asked Sister Pingree and me to get German Driver's licenses (both Virginia and Colorado have full reciprocity with Germany, so we don't have to take a test or anything). This involved going to get our licenses translated (which cost 50 euro!) and then going and applying for the license. Hopefully we will get them in a couple weeks. I don't think I want to get put in a car area, because it is much easier to talk to people when you’re in the train or walking on the street.

This weekend was really great because it was General Conference. Since Germany is eight hours ahead, we got to see the sessions from Saturday Morning and Sunday Morning live. We watched part of it in German. I was able to catch most of it, but I will definitely be glad when I can read the talks again later. I loved watching Conference. It's something that I've done ever since I was little, so it really felt like being home---especially when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing.

Ich kann kaum glauben, dass es schon April ist! Ich kann merken, dass die Leute mehr offen und freundlich sind im Frühling. Ich liebe es, dass ich nicht mehr meine Mantel tragen muss. Ich bin so dankbar, dass Gott mich hier nach Deutschland geschickt hat.

(I cannot believe it is already April! People are more open and friendly in Spring. I love that I no longer have to wear my coat. I am very thankful that God has sent me to Germany.)

Sister Stewart