Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Homecoming Talk

They told me I could pick my topic. I don’t think that was a good idea. I hope this talk isn’t too much of a jumbled mess and that my jet lag doesn’t affect it too much.

My name is Sister Stewart, I mean JeanMarie. I grew up here in Virginia and then went to BYU for two years where I am studying math. I just returned from my mission to the Alpine German Speaking Mission. I served in southern Germany and Austria. I served in the big cities of Munich, Vienna and Stuttgart and the not so big city of Goeppingen.  I’m having a little bit of culture shock with how wide the roads are and how big the yards are, but other than that I am so happy to be home!

There are lots of things I learned on my mission. Fortunately for you, I only have 15 minutes. One of the things my mission President always talked about was miracles. He would always encourage us to write about the miracles we experienced in our e-mails to him and he put them together in a book. The awesome thing about miracles is they happen. In the MTC they taught us that miracles are the natural result of the correct application of true, eternal principles. God has always been a God of miracles, it’s the way He works. He has never worked any other way. We read in Moroni 7: 27-29-

“27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?

28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.”

I know that miracles haven’t ceased. I know that God loves us and that He works miracles to show us His hand in our lives and in His work. Christ worked miracles while on the earth, and I know that miracles continue to happen today. The power of His Atonement is a miracle that can work in all of our lives. I know that there are angels on both sides of the veil working hard to help God’s children.

When I think of my mission I feel like Ammon after he completed his mission to the Lamanites. He says in Alma 26:12-

“12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”

I know that on my own I could not have accomplished everything I did on my mission. God was there every step of the way. I experienced miracles in missionary work and miraculous changes in myself. To see miracles it required humility, patience, repentance, and lots of faith. I had to learn to rely on the power of the Atonement to see miracles.

God works in interesting ways to bring to pass miracles. I know that sometimes we may think we are in the completely wrong place, but in reality, God has put us in the exact right place.  One time my companion and I were in a town trying to find a less active member who we had never visited before. We arrived in the town on the train armed with a map and an address. We set off to try and find their house. It was late February. The sidewalks were covered in wet spring snow and more snow was falling from the sky. We walked up a HUGE hill, our boots getting more and more soaked with every step. We reached the neighborhood only to discover by some trick of German street design that the streets did not in fact connect in the way I thought they did. So, we turned around to head back down the massive hill and come at it from the other direction. But then I had this feeling that we should really ring some of the doorbells in the neighborhood we were in. So we started ringing them. The first few people weren’t even home. Then about three houses in we ring this doorbell and a forty something year old man comes to the door. He starts speaking to us in German with a very heavy American accent. So we ask him where he’s from and turns out he is from Ohio and has lived in Germany for about 20 years. His family is pretty religious back in the States but ever since he came to Germany he hadn’t really found a church he was happy with. He felt that he was drifting away from God. We told him we could help with that J We gave him a Book of Mormon and made out an appointment and were able to return and teach him a few times. I know that God put us in exactly the place we needed to be, even though we thought we were in the wrong place.

Sometimes, we may be just trying our hardest to do what God asks of us and he takes the little bit that we put in and makes a wonderful miracle out of it. When I was serving in Munich, one of the Relief Society presidents in one of the wards there asked us to visit a less active family. We planned it all out. In order to get to their house from our appointment earlier in the day, we would have to take the bus to the subway and then walk for about ten minutes. Not too bad. So we make our way there only to discover that we could have taken the tram for three stops and been there much sooner. The way we came took about 30 minutes when it could have taken 10. We could have chosen to be frustrated by this situation, but we just went forward and rang their doorbell. And you know what? They were home! The whole family had just returned home from the park. If we had come early, we might have missed them. We had a really good lesson with them and answered a lot of their questions and helped them with their concerns. I know that sometimes we try our best and even though we make mistakes, God takes care of us when we are on His errand.

God also works miracles as we pour our hearts out to Him in prayer and then go to work to accomplish our goals. I had the opportunity to experience this sort of miracle just a few weeks ago. We planned what’s called a “Finding Day” with our District in Stuttgart. Because I had two companions at the time, we invited a member to come with us to help us out so that way we could split up two by two and get even more work done! The member we invited, K, just got baptized in November and is thinking about going on a mission. I prayed really really hard that she would be able to see success that day because I know how discouraging it can be when all you hear is “No interest” all day long. So we went to work. The first couple hours I worked with K. And you know what? We had more success in the first 30 minutes than we had had the whole previous week. We gave a Book of Mormon to an awesome family and another one to a man who has had a pretty tough life. Even though K’s feet hurt because of her shoes (comfortable shoes are key to missionary work) she was smiling from ear to ear at the end of the day. Success! I know that when we pray sincerely to Heavenly Father and then get to work, He will help us accomplish our goals.

Hopefully you’re not bored of my stories, because I have at least one more to tell you, possibly one of the biggest miracles I experienced on my mission. God worked a miraculous change in me, a change for which I will be forever grateful. I don’t quite know how to describe it except to say I feel stretched and remodeled, Heavenly Father took the person I was and showed me how I could even better. As President Uchtdorf said in this last General Conference  “Serving God and our fellowman will challenge us and transform us into something greater than we ever thought possible.” I know that’s true because I have seen how my mission has changed me. And I know for sure that I didn’t and couldn’t have made those changes on my own. At the beginning of my mission my mission president told me “The Sister Stewart you have in mind and the Sister Stewart the Lord has in mind are two different people.” At first I was confused by that statement, but now I know that at the beginning of my mission I couldn’t even imagine the person that I would become by the end, the person God helped me to become.

One of the ways God helped me to become that person was by putting me in a situation that forced me to grow. For six months I worked in an area where the work was pretty slow. We rang a lot of doorbells.    At some point, I just got stuck and was going out to not invite people to come to Christ, but to fill time.  It was rough.  Then, slowly, God started to work a miracle in me.  I had an amazing companion, and we talked a lot about what we could do differently.  We received lots of counsel from other missionaries and our mission president.  Slowly God helped me come to the conclusion: to be happy is a decision.  I can look at the situation with doom and gloom or I can choose to be happy.  Once I realized this, my life got a whole lot easier.  I am so grateful  to my Heavenly Father for working this miracle in me.  I know that through the power of the atonement, we can all experience the miracle of repentance and change.

I had to really humble myself and be teachable before I could experience a change of attitude.  Just like Ammon says, we have to acknowledge that we are nothing.  We need help and as we accept that help in our lives, miracles happen.

Faith is the key to miracles.  We do all that is in our power, but at some point, we just have to have faith.  I love the way Moroni puts it in Ether 12:8-12-

“8  But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.

 9 Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.

10  Behold it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God.

 11 Wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled.

 12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.”

I know that when we have faith, God works miracles. There are miracles around us every day, we just have to look for them. I am so very grateful for the opportunity I had to serve a mission. I am grateful for my parents and the leaders who helped shape me into the person I am today. I know that God lives and that He loves us. Each and every single one of us. He has a plan for us. It is amazing to see what God can make out of us, if we let Him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The last melon

Well, this is it, the very last e-mail home. In some ways I am so ready to come home. It's strange because I feel like I have been a missionary forever, but also it has gone by so fast. It's hard to believe all the things that have happened on my mission. God really is so good, He has blessed me so much over the past 18 months, and I know He will continue to do so.

This past week was HOT and sticky, but it was also a great week. I went on my very last Austausch. Sister Jencks and I went to Freiburg to work with Sister Peterson. I have wanted to see Freiburg my whole mission, and I got to go right at the end!  We had an action packed day. When we came back to Stuttgart we were pretty exhausted, but sleep helped with that.

We visited a less active family on Friday and baked brownies with them. The mom of the family is awesome, but her kids and husband are less interested at the moment. We did get to have dinner with most of the family all together, though, so that was awesome.

Saturday by some trick of fate we ended up with two eating appointments. That doesn't happen very often. We had lunch with a less active member of the German ward and then went to the home of one of the American families for dinner.

Oh, and today was an awesome P-Day. We went on the Army Post.  We ate Taco Bell at the food court (and I got twizzlers for the plane ride home, very important) and then we went to the Ritter Sport factory! That was pretty awesome, a very good last P-Day.

I hope you all have enjoyed my ramblings over the last 18 months, I hope that I have been able to help you in some way to feel God's love and to see how awesome missions are (even though some days it is tough). I feel that my mission is more of a blessing than a sacrifice. I have gotten to know and love so many people and have grown a lot closer to my Heavenly Father.

Ich weiß, dass Gott uns liebt. Er ist da und er liebt uns. Manchmal hier auf der Erde sehen wir nicht so genau, was Gott vorhat. Aber er hat immer einen Plan, wir müssen ihn einfach vertrauen.
(I know that God loves us. He is there and He loves us. Sometimes here on Earth, we do not see exactly what God has in store. But he always has a plan, we must simply trust him.)

Bis bald!!!! (See you soon!!!!)

--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm not dead yet!

Hi everybody! This is my second to last weekly e-mail home on my mission, can you believe how fast the time goes by? I certainly can't!

This past week was a little on the ridiculous side, but I feel like my whole life right now is a little on the ridiculous side, so I guess it was nothing out of the ordinary. 

We did two, count them two exchanges this week! I got to work with Sister Clark and then with Sister Reid, both of whom I trained! That was a tender mercy to my soul but not very good for my body because I stayed up very late talking and catching up with former companions, oops.

This past Monday we taught S about Faith in Jesus Christ. We read with her in Ether 12, one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. She has given up coffee and has started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning! Hooray!

Then on Tuesday we had Zone Training Meeting and afterwards I headed out to Göppingen! I worked with Sister Clark for a day and it was epic! Since things have been so hectic in Stuttgart and I feel like I don't really know much, it was nice to be back to the basics of missionary work in Göppingen and realize that I actually do know things! I know the area and the members so well in Göppingen, it was a pleasure to be there. We definitely had some adventures, including giving a Book of Mormon to a shirtless man out walking his dog (for some reason I was just full of all sorts of courage on Tuesday).

Wednesday we returned to Stuttgart, and then Thursday morning we did exchange with the sisters in Ludwigsburg, Sister Reid came to work with Sister Green and me! We had two pretty great appointments with less active members of our ward.

This past week I have been thinking back over past areas on my mission. I learned so much in each area. The only regrets I have are when I didn't take advantage of all the opportunities I had. Every time I stretched myself and did something outside of my comfort zone, I grew so much and I ended up with some pretty great stories.

We are continuing to work here in Stuttgart! Even though every day isn't full of rainbows and sunshine, life is pretty good.

I am enjoying missionary life, there are just a few things I am really looking forward to when I get home- my family, sleep, and the temple. I am also looking forward to using my mission experience as a spring board for the rest of my life.

Ich bin so dankbar, auf Mission zu sein. Ich bin dankbar für die Liebe meines Himmlischen Vaters. Ich bin dankbar für Jesus Christus. Ich bin dankbar, dass er uns hilft, die Person zu werden, die wir werden sollen.
(I am so grateful to be on a mission. I am thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father. I am thankful for Jesus Christ. I am grateful that He helps us to become the person we want to be.)

Ich habe euch lieb! Bis bald! (I love you! Later!)

--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sometimes you stop writing in your journal

Hello everybody!

I hope your last week was amazing and full of miracles! I know there are miracles around us everyday, if we just look for them.

This last week was go, go, go. I haven't had time to write in my journal for about two weeks. On Tuesday after District Meeting we did an Austausch with the sisters serving in Pforzheim. Sister Green and I went to Pforzheim to work with Sister Holman. It was a pretty amazing experience, let's just say God puts you in the place you need to be, at the exact right time that you need to be there.

We came back on Wednesday and the Pforzhaim sisters slept over at our apartment so Sister Holmstead could go to the dentist. (That was fun.) Then on Thursday Sister Jencks and I headed to Munich for Mission Leadership Council and Sister Green stayed with the Sisters in Ludwigsburg. We spent a couple days in Munich with President and Sister Miles and the other Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders in our mission. There was a barbeque for the 4th of July!  And I got to see Sister Ackerman, who I served with in Göppingen! Hooray! We learned a lot and hopefully we now will be better able to help the missionaries in our Zone learn as well.

Then when we came back and on Saturday we did a Finding Day with our District. On a Finding Day we go out all together as a District and talk to people. We invited a recent convert from the International Ward, K, to come with us, so that way we could go two by two. Divide and conquer, I had been praying really hard because I wanted K to have a good experience, because she is thinking about going on a mission. We started off the day with Sister Green and Sister Jencks working together and I went with K. During about a half hour period we were able to talk to this awesome family and give them and Book of Mormon, and then we talked to another man and gave him a book, and he gave us his contact info. Sister Green and Jencks saw the family later in the day, and they were already reading the Book of Mormon! Hooray! Then later Sister Green worked with K and together they gave away 4 Books of Mormon in about an hour! I was so glad that the day turned out successful. The weather was perfect and we were led to the people we needed to talk to.

Sunday we did double church again. Afterwards we ate tacos with an American family.

This coming week we are doing two Austausches, in order to fit them in before the transfer is over. It will be exciting because I get to go back to Göppingen and work with Sister Clark for a day!

Something I learned this week from our meeting in Munich: Make sure your mind is where your feet are. Your thoughts should be here, in the present, where your feet are. I was also thinking about how my feet are in Germany right now, so my thoughts need to be here as well. I haven't had much of a problem day dreaming about home, because we have so much to do I barely have time to breathe, let alone day dream. It's good to remember to focus on where I am right now, not on problems I may have had in the past or things that might happen in the future. Of course I need to repent from past sins and make plans to be better in the future, but I live in the present, not the past or the future! God will take care of me if I just trust him.

Ich habe euch lieb!
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Don't tell me how many Sundays I have left

Hello everybody! Oh man, I know it probably sounds like a broken record by now, but I seriously cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. I calculated how many Sundays I have left, and it's not pretty. Let's just say I can count it on one hand and still have fingers left over. I am so excited to see my family, but I feel like I just barely started to figure out how everything works here!

This past week we had the lovely opportunity to get to know more of the members in the International Ward. We are just so blessed to be able to serve here with them. Guess what Americans like to feed missionaries? Tacos! We are enjoying it!

We also were able to meet with one of the less active members from the German ward and get her excited about family history! We are going to see if we can do family home evening with her and her kids (who are also members). In our lesson Sister Green bore a really powerful testimony about family history work, and I was just so proud of her.

This week we had interviews with President Miles, my last one (well except for the day I go home). As always it was lovely to see President and Sister Miles.

One of my favorite days was Sunday; we got to see the new broadcast from the church about missionary work. I think it is spiffy. It is so well done, it really gave me great motivation to continue on with the work I have started on my mission when I get home. 

It has been rainy and cold, cold, cold. No fun.

This coming week will also be a blur, Sister Green and I are going to Pforzheim for Austausch and then Sister Jencks and I are going to Munich for Mission Leadership Council. So much to do!

Ich habe gelernt diese Woche, wie wichtig es ist, dass wir einander lieben und verzeihen. Wir sind alle Kinder Gottes, wir haben mehr gemeinsam als wir Unterschiede haben. Gott möchte, dass wir einander helfen und unterstützen.
(I have learned this week how important it is that we love and forgive each other. We are all children of God, we have more in common than we have differences. God wants us to help and support each other.)

I love you lots!
--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This week it was hotter in Germany than in Africa

Hi everybody!

This last week was pretty great! We were definitely kept hopping here in Stuttgart. The weather was toasty; the Germans were telling us that apparently it was hotter in Germany than in Tunisia this past week. I can testify of that. Luckily it has cooled off a bit now.

Our apartment is really coming together, I actually have a closet now! We also have worked out all the kinks with our washing machine and have figured out how to run the dishwasher. Now we just need a vacuum.
This last week we got to meet with some of the awesome members in both the German and English speaking wards. We had dinner with an American family and they had cheddar cheese! It was amazing! We also met with a sister who is less active who lives right around the corner from the church. She is so sweet, she has two grown up kids and her daughter has a son who is almost a year old who she is helping to raise, I really hope we can help them out.

We also met with S! We watched the Joseph Smith movie with her. She has started to read the Book of Mormon all on her own! Her main concern is coffee. Literally she could talk about it for hours.  But she is willing to listen and I really think as she starts to read the Book of Mormon more, it will help bring the Spirit into her life so she can find answers to the questions that she has. She is getting so close.
This week, well really the last couple weeks, I have been praying a lot to have charity. Charity and love is one of my most favorite topics in the gospel. Really, without love, where would we be? Without God's love for us, without Christ's love for us, without our love for each other, all of it would be useless, it wouldn't make any sense. I am so grateful for my testimony of God's love for me and for the opportunity I have to develop that love for others.

Ich habe euch lieb!
--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

6 hours of church

Hi everybody! I hope you have had a lovely week! Do me a favor- take a minute and think of something that made you happy this week.

Got it? Feeling warm and fuzzy inside? Good.

So, I have moved 40 minutes away from little Göppingen to the bustling city of Stuttgart! We live in a brand new apartment, so new that I don't really even have a closet yet, so I'm living out of suitcases at the moment. I may not even really unpack since I'm going home in 6 weeks, GASP. The apartment is in a really cute part of town called Weilimdorf. We live a 10 minute walk from the church, so it is basically perfect.

I am serving with Sister Jencks and Sister Green. Sister Jencks came to the field about 3 months ago and Sister Green got here last week! They are both 20. Needless to say, I am feeling old, since I have been on my mission for almost 17 months and I am a whopping 22 years old. Well, I may be a dinosaur, but they can't quite get rid of me yet! So far things have been going great, serving with two other missionaries instead of just one always adds in an extra dynamic, but I think we will get along just fine.

Also, we are serving in both the German and the English speaking congregations! This means, among other things, that we go to two 3 hour blocks of church each Sunday. I am adjusting since in Göppingen we only had 2 hours of church (no Sunday school) but it should be fun. The German ward is adorable, our ward mission leader is Italian and it feels just like a cozy family. The English speaking ward is basically a military ward. Even though it technically is an international ward, 99.9% of the members are American and either in the military or work for the military. That was a little strange, it was like we were back in America for 3 hours yesterday.

We will be going on 4 exchanges this transfer, as well as going to Munich for our Leadership meeting. In case you were wondering how we are going to get everything done, don't worry, I'm asking myself that exact same question. But you know what? We just have to take it one step at a time.

This last week I have been realizing how fast time does go by and how we need to take advantage of the time that we have been given. I don't want to be super stressed about using absolutely every single second of every day (because that would be exhausting) but I am just trying to be more aware of how I spend my time. Especially because we are so busy, time really counts. I have been learning to take those little times throughout the day that I need for just me, to do something that makes me happy, for example writing in my journal or just enjoying every bit of my cereal in the morning (I really like cereal). I have also been trying to use my time efficiently so that I don't have to be stressed with last minute stuff. We will see how well that goes!

We have a couple of really cool investigators, one of whom came to church yesterday! She is American, a single mom with two kids. She became good friends with a member family in the international ward and has been coming to church on and off since December. She is awesome! She just has a couple concerns (related to the Word of Wisdom) but I think as she gains her own testimony of the gospel, those concerns won't be so bad to help her overcome.

Summer has officially arrived, took it long enough. The day we moved was very, very hot (doesn't that always seem to happen on moving days?). Today is also warm and sunny.

I Also LOVE this quote from Neal A. Maxwell-

"Though of themselves life's defining moments may seem minor, our wise responses can gradually increase our traction on the demanding path of discipleship. For instance, we can decide daily or in an instant, in seemingly little things, whether we respond with a smile instead of a scowl, or whether we give warm praise instead of exhibiting icy indifference. Each response matters in its small moment. Afterall, moments are the molecules that make up eternity, affecting not only ourselves but others, because our conduct even in seemingly small things can be contagious."

Ich bin dankbar, auf mission zu sein. Ich habe vieles gelernt und ich weiß, das ist noch mehr lernen soll, bevor ich nach hause gehe. Ich weiß, dass unser Himmlischer Vater uns liebt und uns kennt. Er lässt uns nicht allein. Niemals.

(I am grateful to be on mission. I have learned a lot and I know I am supposed to learn more before I go home. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and knows us. He never has left us alone. Never.)
Ich hab euch lieb! Bis bald! (Love you, see you soon!)

--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Get ready for a 6 week adventure!

Guten Tag! 

President Miles gave us our transfer news in a very unusual manner this transfer. Normally he calls us on the Friday morning before transfer week. But this time he announced it at our Mission Leadership Council! Want to know what happened? Sister Clark is staying in Göppingen and training! I am going to Stuttgart to serve with Sister Jencks and we will also be training a new missionary! Craziness! I never thought I would serve in an area for just 6 weeks, but that's how long I will be in Stuttgart before I head back home. We will be living in a brand new apartment and will probably be serving both the English and the German speaking wards. Luckily Sister Jencks has already been in Stuttgart for a couple months, so she will just have to lead me and our other companion around the first couple days. It should be fun! Buckle your seatbelts!

One good/bad thing about this transfer right before I go home: It is forcing me to get to pack and go through my stuff right now, as opposed to in 6 weeks. I was hoping to be able to put that off a little longer, but I guess this way maybe I won't be so stressed right at the end. Hopefully there will be enough room in my suitcases to bring home some chocolate :)

This last week was crazy. Wednesday and Thursday we were in Munich! We got into Munich a little early and were able to run and go see the Rathaus on Marienplatz, Sister Clark hadn't ever seen it before. I can hardly believe that it was a year ago that I was in Munich, it all looks so familiar. Then we had two days of meetings, luckily I snagged a place on the couch. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had on my mission to learn from President and Sister Miles and the other missionaries serving here. Most of them are younger than me, but they know so much and have such strong faith. One of the things we talked about was about love and charity. We talked a lot about how it is easy to love our family and friends, but harder to love those we don't know or who may seem a little strange at first glance.

After we had talked about this we were on the S-Bahn platform waiting to go to the Bahnhof and Sister Clark and I started talking to a couple. She is just starting to learn German so we started off talking about that. Then we got to what we as missionaries are doing here in Germany. She shared how she went to a Catholic school where they focused a lot on how you get punished for doing bad things. I just shared my testimony that I prefer to focus on good things. I know we are all children of God, and that we all have something good in us, even if it is buried very deep down. As we were speaking we them, I could feel God's love for them and the confirmation that we are all children of God. I am so grateful for the opportunities I get everyday to share my testimony and feel of God's love.

It has still been a little rainy the past few days, but we have been getting glances of some nicer weather. I am hoping that we get to see some real summer before I go home!

Ich weiß, dass Gott unser Himmlischer Vater ist. Er will, dass wir glücklich sind. Deshalb hat er uns zu dieser Erde geschickt. Er lässt uns nicht allein. Wir dürfen immer beten und in den Schriften und den Worten der Propheten lesen, um seine Stimme zu hören.
(I know that God is our Heavenly Father. He wants us to be happy. So he sent us to this Earth. He did not leave us alone. We must always pray, read the scriptures and the words of the prophets, to hear His voice.)

Tschüss! Bis bald!
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What makes your life rich?

We survived another week in Göppingen. I can hardly believe that it is Monday again!
It is cold, cold, cold here. On June 1st we were wearing jackets and tights and the rain was coming down diagonally. No fun.

This past week we did our last Austausch for the transfer! Hooray that means we are done with Austausch for a couple weeks! It does not, however, mean we are done with trains. Tomorrow we go to Ulm for the District Meeting then on Wednesday we go to Munich for the Mission Leadership Council, then we come back on Thursday, then we have a street display in Ellwangen on Saturday, and Sunday is stake conference in Stuttgart. We will be on trains at least 4 days this week and will only be in our own area for two full days. I don't know how much money this mission spends in train tickets, but the costs must be astronomical.
I went on Austausch with Sister Peterson, who is currently serving in Freiburg. Everything with the travel plans went well, so that was a blessing. We were able to go and visit a member who is 92 years old. To get to her we basically had to climb a mountain, my calves are getting a good work out here in Göppingen. Schwester Hardtmann was 18 when World War II started. Her house got bombed in the war, her brother and her dad were both killed fighting for Germany. After the war she fled East Germany with three young children. Basically she is living history and I am so grateful for the opportunity that we had to visit with her.
This week was pretty great. I was really able to see the Lord's hand in our work this week, mostly because I was looking for it. The best example I have is Thursday. On Thursday we had no appointments scheduled, not one. So we thought and prayed a lot about what we needed to do that day and then went out and did it. We were able to make contact with a member referral and teach them so they became new investigators! And then we went out to the village where our ward mission leader lives to track down some less active members and former investigators. While there we were able to talk to a woman whose mother had recently died, give a Book of Mormon to a man who had the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen in his yard and we were interviewed by a woman for an article in her church newspaper. It was awesome! The Lord just put us in all the right places that we needed to be to help everyone out that day. 

The woman who interviewed us asked us this question "What makes your life rich?" I thought it was a pretty interesting question to think about. Right off the bat I talked about my family and my mission. As I was thinking more about it later there were a couple other things that I added to the list-

-The opportunity I have to learn new things every day, about the gospel, about myself, about the world around me
-The community of people I have gotten to know over my life, people from all walks of life and all over the world who have taught me so much
-My talents, as I develop them, I am better able to serve God and those around me
-My weaknesses, as I work to overcome them, I grow closer to God and learn so much

What makes your life rich?

Ich bin von Herzen dankbar für alles, was ich auf Mission erlebt habe. Es ist nicht immer leicht, aber jetzt weiß ich, dass ich es mit Gott schaffen kann! Er hat uns so viel Erfolg geschenkt. Ich bin gespannt zu sehen, was in den nächste Woche passiert!
(I am very grateful for all my experiences of this mission. It is not always easy, but now I know that I can do it with God!. He has given us so much success. I am excited to see what happens in the coming week!) 
Mach's gut! (Take care!)

--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And another Austausch! (exchange)

Guten Tag!

I hope you all had a great week! This past week I feel like I have learned a lot. I am so grateful for the chance to be on a mission. As I have learned this week to put aside my pride and fear and just go to work, I have found so much joy. 

Sister Clark and I have officially become the "Austauschers." As Sister Training Leaders we go on three exchanges every transfer. We will be doing our last exchange for this transfer tomorrow with the Sisters in Freiburg. They are a 4 hour train ride away from us! We are meeting halfway at the Bahnhof in Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe just happens to be in the Frankfurt mission. No worries, we cleared it with President Miles. The train connections in this part of the mission just use Karlsruhe as a big transfer point, it would add a couple more hours of travel to avoid it. I am excited to work with a Sister I haven't even met before. This is her first transfer here in Germany. Hopefully I don't corrupt her too much.

This past week we did Austausch with the sisters in Pforzheim. I got to work with Sister Holmstead! This is the third Austausch I have done with her. We went to the MTC on the same day, but since I was fast tracked I came to Germany before her, but we will be going home on the same day! She is one of the best friends I have made on my mission. It was a joy and a pleasure working with her for the day. We rang A LOT of people's doorbells, and Sister Holmstead seized every opportunity to teach and bear testimony. She is a big example to me. It was also nice to relate to another missionary who is going home soon.
We continue to make slow but steady progress on visiting every member on the ward list. The ward is also trying to clean up the records and find out if people still actually live where it says they do on the ward list, so we will be reporting back on our efforts to the Branch President.  Sister Clark and I have been working lately on planning effectively, and it is amazing how many good things things we find to do.  The Lord has blessed us a lot. We have had new ideas come to us of things to try and we have been able to get in contact with some people that we weren't able to reach before. 

Yesterday a family in the branch invited us over for lunch after church. We drove home with them. There were 7 people (all of them adults or teenagers) and 5 seats in the car. It was a bit of a tight squeeze; luckily they don't live too far away. 

The weather is crazy, crazy right now. We are wearing jackets and scarves, and it is almost June! The members say that some parts of the area may be getting snow next week! Where is summer?!?
I want to say thank you for all the prayers that have been/are being said on our behalf. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your faith and for your good examples to me. 

Ich weiß, dass Gott mich liebt. Ich mache jeden Tag Fortschritt, um zurück zu ihm zu gehen. Ich weiß, dass wenn wir gehorsam sind, segnet der Herr uns mit Frieden und Freude.
(I know that God loves me. I'm working every day to go back to him. I know that when we are obedient, the Lord blesses us with peace and joy.)

Ihr seid super! Bis bald! (Your are the best! Take care!)
--Sister Stewart

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Austausch (exchange) Angels

 Hello everybody!

This past week was great, we have been kept hopping with all the things we have to do. 

This week we did Austausch (exchange) with the Sisters in Stuttgart! I went to Stuttgart to work with Sister Jencks. We visited an older member who lives in a nursing home, and she gave us some bead angels she had made. A funny story: one time I was on Austausch in Graz and one of the members gave me a little angel! So this was the second time that I received an angel on Austausch. They are both sitting on my desk. As I look at them I just think about how much God loves us and how He will always send people to help us. He sends angels, from both sides of the veil, to help us to feel of his love. As Sister Jencks and I were visiting with this sister, I couldn't help but feel how much God loves her and how precious she is in His sight. 

Working in the city was weird because it was so familiar. I have spent so much of my mission in big cities that I feel so at home there. It's funny because after serving in Munich and Vienna for a while I just wanted to get out of the city, but now I miss it. Don't get me wrong, I love serving in Göppingen, but I also miss the hustle and bustle of the city and the smooth glide of the U-Bahn as opposed to the bumpy buses we take all the time here. Sister Jencks and I had a good day, we taught a less active member and we found a new investigator! The apartment in Suttgart the sister missionaries live in  has been redone (they replaced the Elders there, so there was a lot of work to do :) ) but it is a lot smaller than the apartment here in Göppingen. Stuttgart is a beautiful city, its set into some hills that are covered with trees, and everything is green now that it is spring! 

Thursday we watched the Restoration DVD with one of our investigators. No matter how many times I watch that movie, I always learn something new and feel the Spirit. That was really nice. On Saturday we were in Ulm to help the Elders with a street display. Basically we just went to downtown Ulm and talked to as many people as we could about Jesus and the Book of Mormon.  It was a long day, and we didn't see a whole lot of success, but I still feel good about it. The morning was hard, but then after lunch Sister Clark and I went down a quiet side street and prayed and from then on I felt a lot better. I know that Heavenly Father is proud of us, even when others use their agency not to listen. 

Sister Clark and I have decided that we really need to find new investigators. We are going to be focusing on that by visiting all  the members on the ward list and former investigators and then tracting around those addresses. I have found that finding works better when you have a specific place in mind to go rather than when you just show up in a neighborhood and start knocking doors. So our goal this week is to conquer the ward list! There are lots of people on there I have never heard of/seen before, so I am sure it will be an adventure! 

Ich weiß, dass wenn wir zum Himmlischen Vater beten, antwortet er uns. Er schickt uns die Frieden und Trost, die wir brauchen. Ich habe gelernt, dass ich mehr oft beten soll. Er ist immer bereit zu helfen, ich muss ihn nur bitten! Ich weiß, dass unser Himmlischer Vater uns alle liebt. Er will, dass wir zu ihm zurückkehren. 
(I know that when we pray to Heavenly Father, He answers us. He sends us the peace and comfort that we need. I've learned that I should pray more often. He is always willing to help; I just need to ask him! I know that our Heavenly Father loves us all. He wants us to return to Him.)

Ich hab euch leib! Mach's gut!
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mission Tour and Leadership Meetings and lots of fun stuff !

Sorry if this is a little shorter than normal, we are doing P-Day in Stuttgart today! 

The highlights of our week:

·         We met with one of the members in our ward and then called on a less active who lives in the same town. We were able to go by and see her! That was awesome because we hadn't seen her since February!
·         We met with Destiny, our very favorite African! We read in the Book of Mormon with him, and he is loved it.
·         We went to Munich for the Mission Tour! Elder Teixeira from the Area Presidency came and talked with us. We stayed in the Mission Home on Thursday night and then went to Rückert Straße, the same chapel where I went to church for the first 6 months, for the meeting. It was great.
·         Sister Clark and I along with the other new Sister Training Leaders, took part in what is now called the Mission Leadership Council (formerly the Zone Leader Council). It was great!

·         We got to talk to our parents! Hooray!

 I learned a lot this past weekend, but something that really sticks out in my mind is how important our calling as missionaries really is and how important it is that we give ALL our might, mind and strength to this work. There is a lot expected of us, but that's okay because God is there to help us. As we dedicate and consecrate our lives, He will help us. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to learn so much on my mission and I know I will continue to learning for the next 2 and a half months. 

Ich habe euch lieb! (I love you!)
--Sister Stewart

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Frühlingfest (spring festival) = very full trains

Guten Tag!

I really enjoyed this past week, even though we weren't able to actually meet with any of our investigators. But you know what, that's okay.

Monday we went to Ulm. The other people in the District weren't too excited about climbing the Munster, so we went to IKEA instead. It was lots of fun :) There's food there and everything. Then we did family home evening at our ward mission leader's house, which was pretty awesome. He and his wife are the best.
Tuesday we went back to Ulm for District Meeting.

Wednesday was a holiday in Germany. The celebrate Labor Day on the 1st of May. We went to the ward picnic and played some Uno. Then we went and visited with Schwester Hausmann, one of the new converts. Then we went from door to door for a little while.

Thursday we had to sort out lots of fun stuff involving visas and bus tickets in the morning. Then in the afternoon we went and visited Schwester Demel, one of the old ladies in our ward, and then we went from door to door for a little while.

Friday we planned! Then we went from door to door for a little while. Then we had dinner with a member.
Saturday we went to Stuttgart! We helped out with a stake youth activity about missionary work. The train on the way there was pretty full of people on their way to Frühlingfest (pretty much like Oktoberfest, except in the spring and in Stuttgart, not Munich). They had decided to get a head start on their alcohol consumption, so that was fun. Then on the way back home, the train that normally goes was broken so they put us on a little bitty train. It was packed to bursting, literally no room to move. It was a fun adventure on German trains. 

On Friday we will be going to Munich for Mission Tour! Elder Texiera from the area presidency will be coming! I am very excited, the meeting will be held at the building where I went to church for the first 6 months of my mission!

Something interesting that happened this week --- We got a call one night from an "Unknown" number. Whenever that happens, 9 times out of 10 it is President Miles calling. And whenever President Miles calls, you know your life is about to get a lot more interesting. As I looked at the phone, I wondered if this meant we would be getting another visa waiter. Sister Clark was in the bathroom. I answered:

"Hallo, hier spricht Sister Stewart"
"Hi Sister Sister, hier spricht President Miles. Wie geht's?"
"Gut, wie geht's Ihnen?"
"Mir geht's wunderbar! (he always says that) Are you two working hard?"
"Oh, you know, we try our best, President."
"That good, because that's what we need. Hey, can you put me on speaker phone so I can talk to both of you?"
"Well, Sister Clark's in the bathroom right now..."

So I talked to President for a couple minutes until Sister Clark came out of the bathroom. Then I put President on speaker phone and he said ---

"The structure of mission leadership is changing. There is a new position being created called Sister Training Leader. I would like to call you, Sister Stewart, to be the head Sister Training Leader for the Stuttgart area and you, Sister Clark, to be the assistant. Will you two accept this calling?"
"Well, sure President!"

I have no idea what this means. I do know that we will be attending the Zone Leader Council which will now be called Mission Leadership Meeting. We are also in charge of organizing exchanges for the sisters for whom we are responsible, which includes the sisters in the Stuttgart zone and the sisters in the German part of the Zürich zone. Fun times! We have our first meeting on Friday, so wish us luck!

Ich bin dankbar für die Zeit, die ich habe, auf Mission zu sein. Es ist wunderbar! Obwohl ich nicht perfekt bin, ich weiß, dass ich einfach mein Bestes geben muss.
(I am grateful for the time that I have to serve a mission. It is wonderful! Although I am not perfect, I know that I just have to the best I can.)

Ich habe euch lieb!
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rain, rain go away

Guten Tag! 

Well, this transfer is officially over. Sister Clark and I are staying together in Göppingen for at least another 6 weeks. We have a calendar in our planners that shows the next two transfers and I was realizing as we were planning that it has the day I go home on it! Komisch (weird). 

This past week we had some good days and some not so good days. We baked cookies again. I feel like we are always baking. We brought some to one of our investigators and also to one of the recent converts. Then on Friday we met with D again! He had some really good questions about the Godhead and about what happens after we die. We talked about the Plan of Salvation pretty thoroughly with him. Unfortunately, he couldn't come to church yesterday, but he is still making good progress. 

Saturday we went to the Stake Relief Society Activity in Stuttgart and Sister Clark's wallet got stolen.   It was really sad, and it was a rainy day. Not one of the happiest days of my mission. 

It has been raining the past few days here in Göppingen. I know rain is good for the plants, but still, it's been a week straight of rain! I guess that's spring in Germany. The ward is planning a picnic for Wednesday (the first of May is a holiday in Germany) so hopefully the weather will clear up. We are going to Ulm today for P-Day, we wanted to climb the Munster (a HUGE church) but maybe we will wait for a day with better weather. 

This week I am working on putting one foot in front of the other. All we can do sometimes is just keep moving one step forward. Sometimes all the things we have to do seem overwhelming at the first glance, but as we start to walk forward, one step at a time, it becomes manageable. I'm learning a lot about the power of keeping a prayer in your heart. As I have opened my heart to Him, I have felt the peace and the strength that I need to keep moving forward. Don't get me wrong, being a missionary is awesome, but it is not always easy. Sometimes I forget that I don't have to do it alone. Then I remember that He is always there for me. 

Ich bin dankbar für meinen Himmlischen Vater und für seinen Sohn, Jesus Christus, und für den Heligen Geist. Ich bin dankbar für die Heilige Schriften. Ich bin dankbar für lebenden Propheten. Ich bin dankbar, auf Mission zu sein!
(I am thankful for my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit. I am thankful for the scriptures. I am thankful for a living prophet and am grateful to be on a mission.) 

mit lieben Grüßen (Best wishes)
--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just come to church!

Hello everybody!

This past week I feel like my life has become a series of lists of things that I need to check off. But you want to know the awesome thing? Almost all of those lists are names of people that we are trying to help come closer to Christ!

One of the most exciting things---D came to church! Hooray!!! That is the first time any of our investigators have come to church since I have been in Göppingen.  It was an awesome feeling to see him walk up to the church building on Sunday morning.

This past week we had interviews with President Miles and then the three companionships of sisters in the Zone did an Austausch (Exchange). It was a minor disaster. The Sisters going to Pforzheim didn't change trains and ended up outside the mission. It took them approximately three other trains to find their way back. And their cell phone died. And the Stuttgart sisters accidentally had the key to their (Pforzheim's) apartment. Luckily nothing too terrible happened and it all sorted itself out, but I am sure we will all be laughing about it for years to come. Moral of the story: make sure you have your key and make sure you know your train connections!

The weather has gotten a little colder again this week, but nothing too terrible. We just have to make sure to bring our umbrellas with us when we leave the house.

Yesterday we had a ward potluck, which we do once a month. I brought Brownies, and they were gone in two seconds. Next time I think I will have to make a double batch.

I am really seeing the value lately of keeping a journal. I keep a journal where I write about what happens during the day and then I also keep a study journal where I write down things I learn from the scriptures, conference, district meetings, etc. I have been going back over my journals the last couple days and they help me a lot. There are experiences that I had completely forgotten about, but luckily I wrote down what happened, so I can learn from it. I am sure my mission journals will continue to help me for the rest of my life.

Ich liebe es, auf Mission zu sein. Wir müssen hart arbeiten, aber dann kann der Herr uns segnen. Ich bin dankbar für alle die Segnungen, die ich von ihm bekommen habe. Ich werde mein Bestes geben, ihm gut zu dienen, bis ich nach Hause gehe. 
(I love being on a mission. We have to work hard, but then the Lord blesses us. I am thankful for all of the blessings I have received from Him. I will do my best to serve Him until I return home.)

Tschüss! (Bye!)
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

And another week bites the dust

Hello everybody! 

This past week went by so fast! I can hardly believe that it is Monday again! 

We were able to meet with R and D this past week, with members at both lessons! That was great. We made R a CD of music from General Conference (you can download it for free!). We watched the Restoration video with D; he has already read a little in the Book of Mormon and to quote him "I think I fell in love with this book" :) He didn't make it to church yesterday, but our hopes are still high for him. This week we are going to teach him about the Plan of Salvation. 

We also had lots of Zone activities this past week. Zone P-day on Monday and Zone Training on Tuesday. Want to know something funny? So I don't know who remembers, but back when I served in Munich, I had a Swiss companion named Sister Roffler who had to wait for her visa before serving her mission on Temple Square. Well, her brother got his mission call to Brazil, but also doesn't have his visa yet, so he is serving in Waiblingen, one of the others areas in the Stuttgart Zone! It was so funny, we took a picture of him to send to Sister Roffler :) 

Saturday we had a Finding Day here in Goppingen, where the Elders from our district came and we all went out together. We went to this Dorf about 15 minutes outside Göppingen. The weather was a little crazy, it would rain and then be sunny, but we saw a lot of success. Plus the German countryside is beautiful, so I can't really complain. 

The weather here in Germany has finally warmed up. In fact, it got warm really, really fast. Yesterday we wore jackets to church in the morning but then by the afternoon it was so warm we didn't even need them anymore. Today is also sunny :) It is a good change of pace. 

Yesterday we visited Schwester D in the hospital. She is an elderly member of the ward. She has trouble seeing and hearing. Recently she fell and broke her leg, so she had to get surgery and now she is in the hospital for a couple weeks. We went by and read her a story out of the Relief Society manual. Then she prayed before we left and in her prayer she said "Bless the missionaries that they can be cheerful even though it is hard sometimes." The Spirit just filled up the room and I got tears in my eyes. I have so much respect and love for her. The fact that she prayed for us to be happy touched my heart. Here she is in the hospital with a broken leg, with poor eyesight and vision (did I mention her arm is also in a cast?) and she just radiates peace. She is a perfect example of how the gospel can influence our lives and help us through hard times. 

Ich weiß, dass Gott immer da ist. Manchmal merken wir es nicht, weil wir einfach nicht zuhören. Wir müssen unser Herzen öffnen, dann werden wir die Liebe Gottes spüren. 
(I know that God is always there. Sometimes we do not notice Him because we do not listen. We must open our hearts then we will feel God’s love.)

Tschüss! Mach's gut! (Bye! Take care!)
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The one time we went to Stuttgart four days in a row

Hi everybody! 

I hope you all enjoyed General Conference! Here in Germany we got to watch three of the four sessions, two of them live! It was awesome and I enjoyed every minute. We even had one of our investigators come! Our ward mission leader drove her in to Stuttgart and she watched the Sunday Morning Session (broadcast on Sunday evening) with us!

So, we went to Stuttgart both Saturday and Sunday for Conference, and we will be going again today for P-Day and then on Tuesday for Zone Training. It's crazy, we get to see the other missionaries in the Zone a lot!

This past week we had lots of things fall through, which was unfortunate, but we also had some pretty awesome days and miracles. One of the best days was Thursday, and so I will tell you the story of Thursday. 
So, we had an appointment set for Thursday afternoon with J, but we hadn't been able to confirm with him and the member that was going to be able to come couldn't do it until later anyway. We woke up Thursday morning with that appointment completely up in the air. I remember thinking in the shower "What in the world are we going to do?" Of course, all normal people who aren't missionaries are at work during the day, so it was super hard to get a hold of anyone. We planned our day very tentatively (written in pencil) and decided to try our hardest to make the appointment work. Around 12 we went out to take some Books of Mormon to some people we had contacted last week in a little town about 20 minutes by bus outside Göppingen. While there, we got a text from J saying he couldn't meet, BUT THEN we got a phone call from one of our potential investigators saying he had time to meet that evening! So we scrambled to pull together a joint teaching appointment (the member who was going to come help with J was able to meet with us at the church) and went about our way. We were able to give a Book of Mormon in Albanian to this awesome family and hopefully we can go by again this week and start teaching them! Then we went to a different town and rang some doorbells and were able to give away another Book of Mormon. Then we went home quickly so Sister Clark could use the bathroom (no public restrooms in Germany) and guess what was in our mailbox! A media referral from! We almost never get those! (It’s the third one I have gotten on my whole mission) 

Then Thursday evening we taught D, the potential investigator who called us. He is from Nigeria. When we met him, I asked him where he was from, and he told me to guess. I said "Nigeria?" And he said "How did you know? Most African people here aren't from Nigeria, they are from other places!" Which is funny, because almost all the Africans I have met on my mission are from Nigeria :) Since coming to Germany, he feels like he hasn't really found a church to worship in, so he wants to come and see how we do it. He is a little apprehensive about reading the Book of Mormon, but we just encouraged him to pray about it.

All in all, Thursday was great. What I learned: sometimes, you try your hardest, but you still need a little extra help. It was amazing how all the pieces seem to fall into place that day. The timing of our appointment worked out perfectly. We were able to find buses that left at good times (sometimes that can be a problem) and we were able to reach lots of our goals for the day! I know it would not have been possible without the Lord's help. I am not saying that every day is as awesome as Thursday (because there are lots of days that are pretty discouraging, I am not going to lie) but when a day like Thursday comes around you just have to treasure it. 

Ich liebe es, auf Mission zu sein. Ich freue mich, meine Familie zu sehen, wenn ich nach Hause komme, aber ich werde meine Mission vermissen. Ich bin gespannt zu sehen, was in den nächsten Paar Monate passieren wird!
(I love being on a mission. I will be happy to see my family when I get home, but I will miss my mission. I'm curious to see what will happen in the next couple months!) 

Lots of love,
Sister Stewart

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It snowed on Easter again!

Frohe Ostern! (Happy Easter!)

So, we woke up Easter morning and guess what, it was snowing! Just like last year in Munich. It made me think about what we did on Easter last year and how much has happened since then and now. 

Today when we got to the church to do e-mails, the internet was down. We said a prayer that Heavenly Father could help us fix our problem. We were really sad and worried that we wouldn't be able to do e-mails because 1) today is a holiday so nothing is open and 2) we don't know where the internet shops are anyway. We called the Branch President and he didn't know how to fix it. There was no instruction manual for the router to be found. Then Sister Clark got down on her knees behind the router and said "I'm really tempted to just unplug it and then plug it back in." She did that and hooray! It works now! That's why we have companions. I was out of ideas and was just feeling sad that the internet was down. Meanwhile, Sister Clark had thought of something we could try and then it worked! So today I am more grateful than usual for the fact that we can use the internet to communicate with everyone :)

This past week we have been tearing it up here in Göppingen. Sister Clark and I have really just been going to work and we have been blessed to see some of the fruits of our labors. 

Probably our craziest day this week was Thursday. We studied in the morning. Then we had to run to the grocery store during lunch to grab some groceries (side note-Did you know that in German grocery stores eggs are not necessarily in the refrigerator?). Then after lunch we went to go apply for Sister Clark's visa. They told us that we would have to come back this week because she isn't in the system yet! I don’t know why she would not be in the computer since we registered her on Monday.  Don't ask me how German bureaucracy works. Then after that we took some cookies and a conference talk to a less active member (and were able to make an appointment with her, yes!). We took some more cookies to an investigator and they were home and we were able to teach a lesson to them (double yes!). Then our next appointment fell out, so we went home to eat some dinner quickly before Ward Council (side note- Our Relief Society president attends ward council via Skype; it's pretty cool). After Ward Council we went home and planned for the next day and then we were done. It was just awesome to see how the Lord guides our work and how many things we can do if we just make the plans and then follow through.

Our mission is really putting a big focus right now on working with the members. We have this program where we visit the families and help them make a family mission plan. I am really excited to go around the branch and see what ideas everyone comes up with. Everyone is so different, so I am sure all the Family Mission Plans will all look different, but that's the best part! There is no wrong way to do missionary work, the only wrong way is to do nothing at all! 

Ich weiß, dass mein Erlöser lebt. Ich habe seine Liebe gestern so stark gespürt in der Kirche als wir über sein Sühnopfer geredet haben. Es ist wunderbar, daran zu denken, was er für uns alle getan hat. Ich bin so dankbar, dass er alle meine Sünden auf sich genommen hat und dass er von dem Tod wieder auferstanden ist, damit ich auch ewiges Leben haben kann. Er lebt!
 (I know that my Redeemer lives. I felt his love very strongly yesterday in the Church as we talked about his atonement. It is wonderful to think of what he has done for us all. I am so grateful that he has taken all my sins upon Himself, and that He rose again from the dead so that I can have eternal life. He lives!)
 mit lieben Grüßen (Best Regards)

-Sister Stewart

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Winter does not want to give up!

Hello everybody!

It is snowing as I write this. Doesn't Germany know that Spring is supposed to be coming? Oh well, last year it snowed on Easter, so this should really come as no surprise.

I am training again! My new companion is Sister Clark from American Fork, Utah. Just in case you were wondering, she is 21, not 19. She put her papers in just before they changed the age limit. She is awesome, she has so much faith. We have been practicing talking to people and even though I know it's scary to talk to people in a language you don't know very well, she has been doing great so far.

Also, I got to go to Munich to pick her up! I didn't get to go to the mission home, just to the Bahnhof, but that meant that I got to see Sister Pingree one last time before she went home! I cannot believe she is home now, that means my days are officially numbered. I have three transfers left, which is still a fairly good chunk, but it is a lot less than the 10 transfers I have behind me. I am just going to try my best to sprint to the finish!
On Sister Clark's very first day in Göppingen we taught a lesson to a less active member and were able to give away a Book of Mormon on the street! It was an awesome afternoon! The next few days we spent a lot of time on trains, going to Stuttgart for a training meeting and then going out to our Relief Society President’s house to help her in her garden. She lives in a town that is 1 1/2 hours away by train from Göppingen, but it is still part of our area. So Sister Clark got to see a lot of the German countryside!

This past Sunday in Relief Society we discussed President Uchtdorf's talk about regrets. In it, he talks about the choice we all have to be happy. In addition to that, in our Book of Mormon reading we read Alma 62:41. Sister Clark and I discussed how it is also a choice to be humble. It doesn't matter what our circumstances are, if we humbly accept the Lord's will in our lives, we will be a lot happier. Especially as winter is hanging on for dear life and everybody in the streets seems to say no, we just need to remember that our will is not what is important. It is the Lord's will that is important. 

Ich bin sehr dankbar für alles, das ich auf Mission gelernt habe. Ich weiß, dass ich noch mehr lernen werde. Gott kennt mich und weiß, was ich brauche. Ich muss einfach auf ihm vertrauen. Ich weiß, dass mein Erlöser lebt. Wenn wir zu ihm kommen, wird er unsere Last auf sich nehmen. Ich bin dankbar für Das Buch Mormon und dass ich es mit anderen teilen darf. 
(I am very grateful for everything that I have learned in the mission field. I know, that I will learn even more. God knows me and knows what I need. I need only trust him. I know that my Savior lives. When we come to him he takes our burden. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and the opportunity to share it with others.)

Mach's gut! Tschüss! (Take care!, Bye-bye!)
--Sister Stewart

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Get ready to train again!

Hello everybody! 

First a piece of news: we got our transfer calls! Sister Ackerman is going to Graz and I am staying here and training a brand new missionary! That means I will be here at least until May. Who knows I may stay in Göppingen until I go home in July! It will be interesting to see what happens as we get more and more new missionaries in the coming months. Because there are so many new missionaries coming this transfer, the mission home doesn't have space to host all the trainers, so we will just be meeting the new missionaries in Stuttgart. So I don't get to go to Munich, which is a little sad, but I am so excited to meet my new companion and to help her get her mission started off right :)

Funny story: Sister Ackerman LOVES German potato salad (Kartoffelsalat) with an undying, passionate love. Since she is getting transferred, the members want to have here over to eat one last time, and they asked her what she wanted to eat. She said: Kartoffelsalat! So this week we are having Kartoffelsalat at least two days in a row.   I am sure it will make Sister Ackerman very, very happy.

Last week we had a little bit of a rough time on Wednesday.  For some reason or other we were just a little sad. But then I remembered what my mission prep teacher taught us about overcoming sadness. One of his tips: count your blessings! So while we were tracting, we started playing the "Grateful Game" We took turns naming categories and then the other person had to name 10 things in that category they were grateful for. For example "Name 10 living people you are grateful for" "Name 10 foods you are grateful for" "Name 10 prophets you are grateful for" and one of my personal favorites "Name 10 smells you are grateful for." We hadn't been playing very long before we were both smiling and laughing again. Try out the "Grateful Game!" It will put a smile on your face, guaranteed.

We had lots of good lessons last week. We met with J again. He hadn't had time to really read in the Book of Mormon :( He still has lots of questions, though which we are looking forward to answering. We also met with Frau S and talked a lot about love, which is always one of my favorite things to talk about. 
This past week we had some training from our Zone Leaders, and one of the things they talked about was Virtue. They made the analogy that we need to be like a river, not a pond. When bad thoughts come, we need to just wash them out with good clean thoughts, like a river, and not let them stagnate in icky water, like a pond. I liked that and have been trying to keep good thoughts filtering through my mind all week, hopefully they wash out some of the not so good thoughts. 

Ich weiß, dass das Buch Mormon wahr ist. Ich lese jeden Tag darin, und darin Tag lerne ich etwas neues. Es ist für uns geschrieben, damit wir lernen können. Ich bin so dankbar, dass ich auf Mission bin und dieses Buch mit anderen Menschen teilen darf.
( I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I read it every day and every day I learn something new. It is written for us, for us to learn. I am so thankful that I am on a mission and can share this book with others.)
Ich hab euch liebe! Mach's gut!

(I love you! Take care!)
--Sister Stewart