Monday, May 28, 2012

Pfingsten (Pentecost)

Hallo zusammen!
Since we live in Bavaria, all the Catholic holidays are celebrated. This past weekend we had Pfingsten. Monday (today) is also a holiday, so the city is very quiet.

This past week we had Zone Conference! Even though I've been here for almost three transfers, this was my first one. We heard from our Zone Leaders, the Assistants, and President and Sister Miles. Some of the things we practiced were giving church tours, talking to people on the street and talking to people on trains. Every time I go to a meeting with the other missionaries, I realize just how much I have to learn. There are lots of things to learn and sometimes it seems overwhelming, but then I remember that God doesn't expect me to be perfect all at once.

Sister Roffler is doing great. I am so impressed at how well she (and Sister Behrndt before her) is adapting to missionary life without the MTC. Last week on the street she talked to a priest! It was funny because as she walked away (after he had declined her offer of a pass-along card) Sister Pingree and I told her how impressed we were at her courage. "Why?" she asked. "Because that was a priest!" "Ohhh, I didn't even realize that!"

K has been doing really well this week. We met with him on Tuesday and taught him about the Plan of Salvation. Then on Sunday he cooked Goulash for the Young Single Adults! He took extra care to find the freshest meat and vegetables available in Munich. He is so willing to help and loves to do things for people. I hope we can set a baptismal date with him this week.

A also came to church again on Sunday! He was so cute; he brought a bag packed with his song book, Book of Mormon, and Bible. Just adorable. We have another appointment with him and his mom this week.
As Munich moves into summer, I can't believe how fast time is going by. When I first arrived here, the streets were covered in snow. Now all the trees and bushes have leafed out, it hardly looks like the same city anymore. When Sister Pingree and I first got here, we were lucky to teach a couple of lessons a week. Now we have so many appointments we may have to start doing splits soon. Transfer calls are on Friday, I wonder if they will send me somewhere new!

One of the things I appreciate the most about missionary life is the opportunity we have every day to read in the scriptures. I know that once I return home, finding that time will not be as easy. I am so grateful that every day we have an hour to read. It really helps me to feel the Spirit and get the right focus for the day.

Diese Woche habe ich bemerkt, wie wichtig es ist, dass wir gute Leute in unserem Leben haben. Wir brauchen die gute Einfluss von gute Leute. Ich bin so dankbar, dass egal wo in der Welt ich bin, kann ich immer Leute finden, die glauben genau so wie mir. Zusammen können wir viel mehr erreichen als alleine, und wir brauchen einander um auf den Weg zu bleiben.
(This week I have learned how important it is to have righteous people in our life. We need their good influence. I am so thankful that no matter where I go in the world I can find people who see life the same way I do. Together we can do so much more than we could do separately and we need each other to stay on track.) 

Ich hab euch lieb! (I love you!)
Eure Sister Stewart

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bayern München lost

Hallo zusammen!

Wie geht's? Ich hoffe, dass es euch alles gut geht, und dass ihr nicht traurig seid, weil FC Bayern München die Finale veloren hat.
(How are you? I hope everything is well with you and that you are not sad because Bayern Munich lost in the final. --- Note Chelsea beat Bayern Munich for the Champion’s Cup in a penalty shootout on Saturday, May 19 in Munich.)

Maybe I'll just tell you about Sunday, because really, that was the most packed day this week.
Sunday morning we went to church early so we could meet A, the 11 year-old son of one of the less active sisters we visit. We were supposed to meet him in the U-Bahn, but we couldn't find him! Church was about to start so we just had to go and hope that he would be okay.

For the first hour I was in nursery, and then the next hour I went to Sunday School. And there sitting by Sister Pingree was K, one of our investigators! K is Hungarian and he spent most of Sunday School reading in Mosiah 18 :) Sister Pingree passed me a note that said "A is here!" Hooray! Apparently he came to the U-Bahn stop, but didn't see us, so he just starting to walk around and try to find the church. We walked through the neighborhood for a while before sitting down on the curb and giving up. Then he said a prayer and looked up and there was the church! Hooray for A!

Right before sacrament meeting started we got a phone call. Sister J and three of her daughters had come to church! She and her family lived in the US and had a lot of LDS friends there, and they really miss the sense of community. I sat with her and her kids during Sacrament meeting, which lasted an hour and a half! (Thirty minutes longer than normal!) That was really hard for H., the five year old. I had to pull out my origami making skills to keep her occupied.

After church was a ward potluck. Sister Roffler made Zopf, a type of Swiss bread---soooo tasty. Then after the potluck there was a triple baptism! An eight year-old boy from the ward, plus two convert baptisms, a mother and her son, were baptized. There were so many people they had to move the service from the baptismal room to the chapel.

After the baptism we ran out to meet H, our Moroccan investigator. She told us she wants to quit smoking! So we are going to start doing the Church's stop smoking program with her.

Sunday evening we went back to the church to make dinner for the young single adults with W, our Chinese investigator. We made Spinach lasagna and regular lasagna. It turned out great!

I totaled it up. On Sunday I spent 8.5 hours at the church.

Today we went to the zoo! It was perfect weather for it.

Ich bin so froh, auf Mission zu sein. Es gibt nirgendwo anders, dass ich lieber sein würde. Dies Woche habe ich bemerkt, wie schnell die Zeit vergeht. Ich habe gelernt, München und die Leute hier zu lieben. Dadurch spüren wir mehr von der Liebe Gottes in unser leben und lernen unser Himmlische Vater besser kennen.(Question=Mosiah 5:13  Answer=Mosiah 2:17)
(I am so happy to be on a mission. There's nowhere else I'd rather be. This week I noticed how quickly time passes. I've learned to love the people and Munich. I know that when we serve others, we learn to love them as our Heavenly Father loves them. As a result, we feel more of God's love in our life and come to know our Heavenly Father better.)

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Stewart

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We just call ourselves the pre-MTC!

This week has been all sorts of crazy; let me tell you just how crazy-
Monday- We sent Sister Behrndt off to the airport and then did the rest of our P-Day activities in a zombie like state because of lack of sleep. That evening we contacted the J family, which were a referral from and set up an appointment with them for Friday.
Tuesday- We had District Meeting. After District Meeting, Sister Pingree and I went out to do some work but ended up sitting on a park bench for over an hour just calling people because we were so far behind. One of the calls we got was that we would be getting another companion! The mission office called us and told us that there was another Sister waiting for her visa to go to the US. She is Swiss and has been called to temple square. That evening we had a meal appointment with a member and then ward council.
Wednesday-We picked up an Apfelstrudel that one of the sisters in the ward made for another sister who just had a baby. We taught a lesson to A in the park. We ate lunch. We taught a lesson to K (with a member present!) and invited him to come to all the young single adult activities. We delivered the Apfelstrudel. We ate dinner. We taught Herr S (with another member present!) and then we came home.
Thursday- Was "Finding Day." All the missionaries in our mission spent all day Thursday out looking for people to teach. It was very, very hot. Sister Pingree and I worked hard, but did not see a lot of success. That evening we cleaned our apartment in preparation for our new companion.
Friday- We picked up Sister Roffler! We took her and her luggage home, ate some lunch, and then went to go meet a less active. Unfortunately that appointment fell through, BUT we met with Sister J (the woman from the referral). She and her family moved to Munich in December from the US. She had lots of LDS friends there and they participated a lot in the ward, and she really misses it. We are going to start teaching her and her family and help them get integrated with the ward here. They're awesome :)
Saturday-We did weekly planning. Then we met with Maxi. Then we ate dinner. Then we went and visited P since she had the week off.
Sunday- I played in Nursery during church :) We did some study and then went to a member's house to eat dinner and call our families. Then we went to sleep.
Also keep in mind that all of these activities are spread out all over Munich, often travel time between appointments using public transportation can take around an hour.
I've been thinking a lot about sacrifice lately. When we sacrifice something, we give up something. But it's more than just that. Through the act of sacrifice, we have the opportunity to sanctify ourselves. When I first came on my mission, I viewed it as an opportunity for me to show Heavenly Father how much I love Him by giving up this time in my life to serve Him. And that's true, but it's much, much more than that. The Lord has given me this opportunity to sanctify myself through making the sacrifice. The saving act of the Atonement was the greatest sacrifice of all, so it makes sense that sacrifice is one of the most important tools Heavenly Father uses to help us become more like him.
I also thought of this quote from Joseph Smith (sorry I just have it in German, hopefully you can find it in English)--
"eine Religion, die nicht verlangt, dass man alles opfert, niemals genügend Macht hat, um den Glauben hervorzubringen, der zum Leben und zur Errettung notwendig ist."
(“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation”, Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith)
Ich weiss, dass wir auf diese Erde sind, um zu lernen wie wir zu unserem Himmlischen Vater zurückkehren können. Er hat den Weg vorbereitet, wir müssen es nur finden und dann darauf bleiben. Er erwartet von uns dass wir um Hilfe bitten, wenn wir sie brauchen. Er hat Menschen und Mittel für jeder einzelne von uns vorbereitet, die uns helfen kann, die richtige Entscheidungen zu treffen und das Rechte zu wählen.
(I know that we are here on earth to learn how to return to Heavenly Father. He has prepared a way, we just need to find it and stay on it. He expects us to ask for help when we need it. He has prepared other people and the means to help each of us make the right decisions and choose the right.)

Bis bald! Tschüss! (See you soon! Bye-bye!)
-Sister Stewart
*Swiss greeting. When Sister Roffler speaks Swiss German, I understand about 50% of what she says. Hopefully I will be able to learn some more.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We set a baptismal date :) Sister Behrndt left :(

Hallo liebe Familie und Freunde!

I apologize in advance if this e-mail is a bit loopy. Sister Behrndt got her visa in the mail on Saturday. We then thought she would be leaving on Tuesday or Wednesday, but President Miles called us yesterday and said she had a flight for this morning! So yesterday we had to scramble to get her packed and then take her to the airport this morning. I am a little tired. We were really sad to see her go, but we know she'll do great things in Salt Lake. She will be in the Provo Missionary Training Center for about a month and then she will be on Temple Square! So if anyone is in Salt Lake, look for her and tell her hi from me :)

This week we have been mostly focused on one person: M. We hadn't heard from him in a while, so we planned to call him on Wednesday to see how he was doing. But he called us before we had a chance and accused us of forgetting about him! We assured him we had not forgotten about him and set up an appointment for Thursday. We went over and taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end). At multiple points in the lesson, we would ask him questions and he would explain things with perfect understanding. Then he said "Oh, and I quit smoking. Since I've been meeting with you I’ve decided to put God first in my life. I prayed and asked him to help me. Since then every time I want to smoke I feel sick to my stomach. And I think next week I will give up drinking." We hadn't even gotten to teaching him about the word of wisdom (D&C 89) yet! I just cannot believe how prepared M is for the gospel. He also told us that normally he doesn't listen to people who want to talk to him about religion, but for some reason he decided he should meet with us. We just keep seeing miracle after miracle with him.

At the end of the lesson I asked him "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?" After we explained a little more about baptism, he said "When and where?" We told him the service would be at the church and then invited him to be baptized on June 2nd. And he accepted! There are four Sundays before that date, and in order to be baptized he has to come to church at least three times, so he can only miss once!

The problem is that he has no legal job, hence he does a lot of odd jobs to make money and he doesn't have enough money to buy the ticket he needs to get to church (church is in central Munich and he lives on the outskirts, it takes about an hour to get from his village to church with the S-Bahn). Since he speaks English and will be going to the international ward, we called the Elders from that ward to help us. The solution they came up with was that they would go out to where M lives and then take him to church with them on their ticket. When we called M on Saturday night to confirm he was still at work and said we wouldn't be home until late and he said "That is very early for me, but I will try." I don't think I've ever been as stressed as I was Saturday night and Sunday morning worrying about whether the Elders were able to meet M, whether M decided to come to church, whether everything went all right.... It was very unpleasant not to really know what was going on!

Luckily on Sunday afternoon we talked to the Elders and M and everything worked out! M said church was "marvelous." Now we just have to get him ready to be baptized!

Other than that we gave out a lot of Books of Mormon this week and talked to a lot of people. Many of our appointments cancelled on us which is always unfortunate, but this week is a new week!

Random notes-
-Like Sister Caramella, I think I am also getting a Mary Jane tan on my feet
-I wish all my skirts had pockets. I have two skirts and a dress with pockets, but it is very annoying not always having jacket pockets to put things in now that the weather is warmer
-W, our Chinese investigator, had us over for dinner and I got to eat with chopsticks. It made me very happy :)
-H, our Moroccan investigator, found a used Deuter backpack (the same brand I have) for 2 Euro. Can I take her shopping with me?

There are so many other things that happened this week, but I cannot get my brain to put them into words.

Ich weiß, dass Himmlische Vater all seine Kinder könnt. Ich hoffe, Ich can ein Werkzeug in seine Hände sein, um seine Kinder zu segnen.
(I know that Heavenly Father knows all of his children. I hope that I can be a tool in his hands to bless his children.)

Ich wünsche euch alles gute!
(I wish you all the best!)

-Sister Stewart