Monday, July 30, 2012

At the ward picnic there was potato salad :)


This past week has been great, in part because it has mostly stopped raining! It has also been really hot, though. And unfortunately Europeans don't believe in air conditioning.

Serving in an international ward is lots of fun for many different reasons. The ward is very diverse. We have a large Filipino contingent, most of whom are related to each other in some way. There are three older Filipino women who really are the "Mamas" of the ward. They are so cute and so little, but so strong in the gospel. We also have lots of Africans. And then of course there is a smattering of Americans. The UN has some offices in Vienna, so some of the members of our ward work there. The food at ward functions is delicious. At the ward picnic on Saturday there was (among other things) Filipino noodles, burritos, brownies, sticky rice and homemade popsicles. So far I have taught lessons that have been translated into Chinese and Tagalog. For many of our investigators and members, English is not their first language. They are just more comfortable in English than in German. We teach so many Chinese people! Right now four of our investigators are Chinese.

This past week we rode bikes to District Meeting :)  It is a long walk from the Bahnhof and because of my ankle, Sis Taysom asked the Elders if we could borrow their bikes. We have District Meeting in Wiener Neustadt, a smaller town outside of Vienna, so we got to ride down this beautiful path that runs alongside a creek. So much fun!

This week we taught about Alma 32 to one of our Chinese families. The Mama was so cute. She told us (through her daughter who was translating) that since we have been meeting with them, she really has felt her faith grow. The daughter who was translating is a member, and it has been so cool to watch her share her testimony with her family members.

I am getting more used to living in Vienna. There is a church down the street from our apartment, so the church bells always let us know what time it is. Vienna also has a lot of street cars, or Strassenbahns, many more than Munich. It is always a gamble which one will come though, because some of them have air conditioning, but some of them don't.

Ich liebe es, auf Mission zu sein. Ich weiß, dass der Herr seine Missionare schickt, wohin er sie braucht. Ich bin dankbar für die Gelegenheit, die Menschen hier in Wien kennen zu lernen. Es gibt so viele, die bereit sind, diese Evangelium anzunehmen. Ich weiß, dass Gott wirklich Wunder wirken kann. Deshalb ist es so wichtig, dass wir immer bereit sind, sein Evangelium zu teilen. Wir müssen unsere Münde einfach öffnen. Wer weiß, wenn etwas wunderbares passieren wird?
(I love being on a mission. I know that the Lord sends his missionaries where he needs them. I am grateful for the chance to get to know the people of Vienna. There are so many who are willing to accept the gospel. I know that God can truly perform miracles. That why it is so important for us always to be willing to share the gospel. We just have open to our mouth or in other words:  We have to speak up. Who knows when something wonderful will happen?)

mit lieben Grüßen
--Sister Stewart

Monday, July 23, 2012

The first four days I was in Vienna it rained. Natürlich.

Hallo Leute!

Well, I have successfully made it from Munich to Vienna! The train ride was about 4 hours, and thankfully I did not have to Umsteig! (Transfer trains, sorry for the Denglish). There were lots of Elders on the train, Elder Steed and I played Battleship and I was thiiiis close to winning! As the train pulled into Vienna, it started POURING down rain, and then we had to go right to ward council from the Bahnhof.

My new companion is Sister Taysom, from Idaho. She has been out about a year. She has been very patient with me as I have been getting used to a new city, new transportation system, and a whole new ward and group of investigators. And she has been helping me remember to put my foot up (because I forget a lot that in order to heal, it should be up as much as possible). It is very strange to be serving in an English speaking ward. Giving a prayer in English was so strange; I had almost forgotten what to say! Even though I miss everybody in Munich, I am excited to start getting to know the people here. One thing that is cool about this ward is that the members come from all over the world. We have lots from Africa, but also lots from the U.S. and places like Nepal and the Philippines

The last few days have been pretty good. Saturday we had an appointment with a less active member named B (who we call 'Mr. B'). However, the appointment wasn't that fest, as we would say (we weren't sure if he would actually remember, his phone was off). But then on Saturday morning, we saw him in the Strassenbahn! He told us he was on his way to get a new phone (he lost his) and we were able to confirm our appointment. And then he actually came! We had a really good lesson with him about enduring to the end. Check out 2 Nephi 31.

Sunday was amazing too. We ended up going to two wards. There is an investigator who is visiting Vienna from Salzburg, so we went to a German speaking ward with her and then we went to our English speaking ward as well. Lots of new names and faces, but I'm sure it will all become familiar with time.

Oh! And we set a baptismal date! Well, Sister Taysom really set the baptismal date. But I'm excited to start helping teach her!

Something I learned this week was while I was preparing and teaching the Sunday school lesson for the gospel principles class. I had done some good prep work, but for some reason the material I had wasn't stretching far enough to fill the time. Before the lesson as I was preparing I had prayed for Heavenly Father's help and felt like I was well prepared, so it was a little scary to be standing up there without enough to say. Thankfully, as I was teaching, I had an idea for an activity that I could use to help the lesson fill the time. So the moral of the story- prepare well, but if you need it, the Spirit will help you out.

Wien ist eine wunderbare Stadt. Ich bin begeistert, alle die vorbereitet Leute hier zu finden. Sister Taysom und ich werden eifrig arbeiten, damit wir Himmlische Vaters Kinder helfen können.
(Vienna is a wonderful city. I am so excited to find so many prepared people. Sister Taysom and I are working hard se we can help all of Heavenly Father’s children.)

--Sister Stewart

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ich gehe nach Wien! (I am going to Vienna!)


First big piece of news- I got transferred to Vienna! I will be serving in the Vienna 4th Ward, which is an international, English speaking ward. Hooray for Austria! Sister Pingree will be staying in Munich and getting a new companion. Sister Roffler will go to the MTC in two weeks.
I bet you all are probably waiting for a new address. Here it is-

Sister JeanMarie Stewart
Kirche Jesu Christi HLT
Hormayrgasse 59 top 9
A-1170 Wien

You can also continue to write me at the mission office, it will just take longer to get to me now, since I won't have direct access to the mission office.

Well, after we got the call on Thursday, things got a little crazy. Actually the week was crazy before that, too.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we did splits with one of the young woman from the international ward. She came out with us as part of a Young Women Personal Progress Project. Isn't that a cool idea? We didn't have any appointments set up for the time she was going to be with us, so we did some tracting. Since we were four, we could be in two places at once! So Sister Roffler and Sister Pingree worked together and I went out with K. Now, I was kind of nervous, because tracting can be pretty hard the first time when no one listens, and I had no idea if we were going to run into any one who spoke English (K.  is American). But I said a prayer and off we went. Tuesday night we talked to a woman for a while (who spoke English) who wasn't too interested but was very nice and asked some good questions that K was able to explain. And then on Wednesday we talked to another woman for a while and K was able to give her an English Book of Mormon! It was so cool to see how excited she was. She's a great missionary, and if she decides to go on a full time mission, she won't have any problems at all.

Tuesday we had Interviews with President Miles. Sister Miles talked to us about improving our teaching skills, and we did some role plays taking the roles of our investigators. It is always awesome to be able to benefit from the wisdom of President and Sister Miles.

This week we had two appointments with H! He is from Nigeria and had a bad accident three years ago. He can walk some, but mostly uses a wheel chair to get around. For the second appointment we brought the international elders (because H.  speaks English). They had an appointment with him today, and I hope it went well! H. is so ready for this gospel. He swallows our lessons in great big gulps, and is hungry to know more.

I think one of my favorite days this week was Saturday. We went out to the end of the S-Bahn, to Petershausen to be exact, to help a less active family do some cleaning. They live way out in the boonies. We got to enjoy the countryside on the way out and back. Man, do I love Germany!  The skies on Saturday afternoon were a perfect shade of Bavarian blue, with puffy, white clouds. It just pulled on my heart strings a little to know I am leaving this place, and all the people I have gotten to know here. I know Vienna is a beautiful city, but I sure will miss Munich.

Sunday was crazy, as it always is. Sister Pingree and I wore our Dirndls. I gave my testimony. We had two eating appointments, both of which served us some sort of ground beef dishes, which were delicious, but also pretty heavy for a warm summer day.

This week we also
-made a Potter Puppet Pals style rap with Elders Melville and Clark.
-played Fußball with the young single adults
-never really finished Weekly Planning
-got free Gelato, again :)

This afternoon we played soccer, and I twisted my ankle (oops). It's not too bad, but I will be wearing a wrap for the next few days. I'll just pray I won't have to umsteig (transfer trains) to quickly on my way to Austria, or that I will be traveling with some strong Elders who can help me with my suitcases. It will be an adventure!

Ich hab euch lieb! Ich weiß, dass wir heir auf diese Erde sind, um uns zu entscheiden, ob wir Gott folgen wollen oder nicht. Wir habe die Entscheidungsfreiheit, aber es gibt immer Folgen. Ich weiß, dass wenn wir Gott wählen und die Gebote halten, werden wir die Segnungen sehen.
( I love you all. I know that we are here on this earth to decide whether we want to follow God or not. We have free agency, but there are consequences. I know that, if we decide to follow our Lord and keep the commandments, we will blessed for that.)

Alles Gute!
--Sister Stewart

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sommer in München

Hello dear family and friends!

I'm writing this at the end of a pretty good P-Day. Today we went to the Concentration Camp in Dachau. I had been feeling a little guilty that we hadn't been there yet, because we live only three stops away with the S-Bahn. It was a really interesting experience and I highly recommend going and taking the guided tour if you are ever in the Munich area.

This week was full of fun stuff. Monday we had an abbreviated P-Day because we had three appointments scheduled that day.

On Tuesday after District Meeting we ate Raclette. Basically you take really good Swiss cheese (not the kind we have in America, the actual, good stuff from Switzerland), melt it, and eat it over potatoes and bacon and other tasty things. mmmmmm. Then after that Sisters Pingree, Roffler and I joined some of the senior missionaries and took a walking tour around Munich (using the time we didn't get on Monday) and learned about Hitler and the beginnings of the Nazi Party. Kind of nerdy, but I really enjoyed it. Then Elder Tauche (who is serving in the Munich first ward) and I taught German class. German class is a new thing they have started up again here in Munich. Right now Elder Tauche and I have two students. It's super fun though. This week we taught the Alphabet and how to introduce yourself.

Wednesday was the fourth of July! Unfortunately, we didn't really have time to celebrate. To show our American pride, Sister Pingree wore red and white and I wore blue and white. Sister Roffler wished us a "Happy American Day!"

On the 4th and 5th of July I learned a pretty important lesson. Lots of times as missionaries, people appeal for our help, and sometimes we are not able (because of the rules and also time/physical limitations) to help them. On Wednesday night we were trying to help one of our investigators with something, but it just wasn't working and we could all feel that the Spirit wasn't there. We left and told her we would come back in the morning to try and finish. We talked about the situation on the way home, reminded ourselves of our purpose of missionaries, and made a plan for how we would move forward. Then on Thursday we went back to the investigator, said a prayer together, and were able to finish helping her. Leaving her that day I felt so happy because not only were we able to help her, but the Spirit was also there, just because we made that attitude switch and focused again on our goal and our assignment as missionaries. I hope this story is understandable. Basically the gist of what I want to say is that it is always important to focus on the goal, and to remember the commandments God has given us. Then we will not be lead astray and God will help lead us to the place we need to go. This experience reminded me of 1 Nephi 18, when Lehi and his family are sailing toward the Promised Land and Laman and Lemuel got fed up and started complaining. The Lord then sends a big storm until they get their act figured out. Once they realize their mistake and focus again on the goal, then they are able to be guided again to the Promised Land. I know that the Lord will always help us get to where we need to be if we heed the commandments.

Thursday and Friday were packed with appointments, which is always nice. We met again with W! We taught about repentance and she promised to come to church again this Sunday, but unfortunately, she slept through her alarm :( She is making great progress, though.

Probably my favorite day of this week was Saturday. We were able to contact a potential investigator, give him a Book of Mormon, and set up an appointment with him! Then we went to a concert at the Stake Center (a flautist and a harpist from the orchestra on temple square) and we dropped by the birthday party of one of our investigator’s kids. The B family is from Cameroun. They are amazing people, so nice and friendly. The funny thing is, they are a referral from someone whose name we don't know, but who gave them our names and telephone number! Sister Pingree and I really are quite confused about it, but hey! a whole family that is interested! There is a mom and a dad and a one year-old baby.

Sunday we got to teach H, a new convert in our ward. The Elders had an appointment with her, but they couldn't come, so they asked us to step in. It was really fun to teach her. I hope in the future we get to teach her more often. She even told us "I like lessons with the Sisters" :) Can we help it if we're just more fun? ;)
This Thursday we get transfer calls! I don't want to speculate, but I have been in Munich, with Sister Pingree, since February, so anything could happen! I'll let you know next week whether I go or stay!

Es ist jetzt sehr heiß in München! Wir arbeiten eifrig trotzdem, und versuchen die auserwählte Menschen zu finden. Auf Mission is es sehr wichtig, die Zeit gut zu benutzen. Es gibt viele Ablenkung, aber Himmlische Vater hat uns dieser Zeit gegeben, und deshalb will ich sie ausnutzen! Ich weiß, dass Gott uns kennt. Er weißt, was wir brauchen, um unser Ziel zu erreichen. Konzentrieren wir uns auf das Ziel, wird er uns helfen.

(It is now quite hot in Munich! We are working hard to try and find the elect. On a mission it is very important to use time wisely. There are many distractions, but Heavenly Father has given us this time so I will take advantage of it! I know that God knows us. He knows what we need to accomplish our goal. If we focus on the goal, he will help us.)

Tschüss und bis bald!
--Sister Stewart

Monday, July 2, 2012

A suitcase full of Swiss chocolate

Hallo zusammen!
Stay safe with all those crazy storms in Virginia! We've had some thunderstorms here, but luckily nothing too bad.
This past week has been great! I can't believe how much we have been blessed this week. It is amazing to see how the work has grown here in Munich and how the Lord continues to help us in ways I couldn't even have imagined before.
Tuesday after District Meeting we sent Sister Roffler off to Switzerland for her visa interview. Then Sister Pingree and I had an appointment with K. We taught him about repentance. When we asked him how he feels after he does something he knows is wrong he said, "But I try not to do anything wrong." K is the best. He is going on vacation to Hungary for a month. He has promised to read the Book of Mormon and we are giving him the number for missionaries in Hungary so he can continue to get some lessons. He already loves coming to church and activities, he just wants to be "100% sure before he signs the contract" I hope and pray that as he reads in the Book of Mormon, he will gain that testimony.
Wednesday Sister Pingree and I slept in three hours to recover from our colds. That helped a lot. Then in the afternoon we went to go pick up Sister Roffler. She brought back a whole suitcase full of food from Switzerland! Tomorrow at District meeting we are having Raclette (melted cheese over potatoes and bacon, verrry tasty). She even brought the cheese from Switzerland!
Thursday we had an appointment with J and A. J is a less active sister and A is her son. He came to church three Sundays in a row, but he haven't seen him there in a while :(   We had a really good lesson on Thursday, though, and A has decided to start teaching us Spanish. Me llamo Hermana Stewart.
Thursday evening we were allowed to watch the semifinal of the European Cup! Germany played Italy, and it was a very, very sad game.
Friday and Saturday were HOT. Luckily, we have a couple fans in our apartment (Europeans don't believe in air conditioning).
Sunday was a pretty cool day. In church we had three investigators there! The Elders also had 5 more! It was awesome! Also, ten minutes before sacrament meeting, who walks in but E, who was my roommate on Study Abroad in Berlin! She has been studying for the past few months in Stuttgart and is now visiting Munich for a week!  Small, small world.
This week we have taught a lot of appointments out of Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk The Merciful obtain Mercy. I highly recommend it. Go check it out!
Ich habe gelernt, dass wenn man versucht, andere zu sehen, wie Gott sie sieht, dann muss man sie einfach lieben. Wenn wir andere wirklich als Kinder Gottes sehen, dann sehen wir ihre Potenzial und wie wichtig sie dem Herrn sind. Wir sind alle Kinder Gottes, und deshalb haben wir alle die Fähigkeit, eines Tages wie ihm zu sein. Die Liebe Gottes kann uns helfen, seine Kinder zu sehen, wie sie wirklich sind, und dadurch Gott auch zu sehen.  Moroni 7:45-48.
(I have learned that if you try to see others as God sees them, you should love them. If we really see others as children of God, then we see their potential and how important they are to the Lord. We are all children of God and have the ability to be like Him one day.  The love of God can help us to see His children as they really are and as a result, see God as well. Moroni 7:45-48.)

mit lieben Grüßen
--Sister Stewart