Tuesday, February 26, 2013

God cares enough to make snowflakes

Hello everybody! 

This past week has been great!

We met this week with Frau S, who is what we like to call an "eternal investigator." She has been meeting on and off with missionaries for about 8 years. We had a really great lesson with her about the Plan of Salvation, she basically taught it to us. She has starting reading again in the Book of Mormon; right now she is in Alma and LOVES it.

We also met with R, who is Italian! She talks A LOT, but this time when we met with her we actually were able to keep the conversation centered on the gospel :) She has seen answers to her prayers in the past and we talked about how God shows His love for us. Her problem is she doesn't really like Germany, and says she never feels loved here, that it is a cold, unfriendly place in comparison with Italy. Well, hopefully as she learns more about the gospel she will see that it doesn't matter what country you live in or what language you speak, God's love is available to everybody!

This past week we have been visiting a lot of the older sisters in our ward. We try to make the rounds as often as possible. There are lots of older divorced/widowed sisters that just need a little extra love. They always have stories to share and I love learning from them. Sister B, one sister who we visit every week, made me a scarf :) She knits all the time and so I just asked her if she could make me a scarf and she said sure! (You never know until you ask!). We did an activity with the Relief Society this past week where we knitted together. It reminded me how much I like to knit. Now I have a little ball of yarn and some needles so I can practice :)

The weather has been cold, cold, cold and we are still getting snow. The other day when Sister Ackerman and I were out ringing door bells I was looking at the snowflakes. As the flakes landed on our black coats and on mailboxes and railings I could see how every single little tiny flake had an intricate crystal structure. No two were alike. Then I started thinking about how many billions of snowflakes were around us at that moment. I thought about how these little crystals just fall from the sky and pile up on top of each other forming piles of snow that then have to be shoveled off sidewalks and plowed from streets. But God cares enough to make each snowflake beautiful. He cares enough to make them all different from each other. We are talking billions and billions of snowflakes! If God cares that much about snowflakes, just imagine how much more He cares about us!

So even though the weather is cold and I am looking forward to the end of winter, the snowflakes taught me an important lesson :) 

Ich bin dankbar für meinen Erlöser, Jesus Christus. Er ist das Licht, das uns den Weg zeigt. Wenn wir ihm folgen, können wir nichts irren.
(I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the light showing us the way. When we follow we can’t be wrong.)

Ich wünsche euch eine schöne Woche! Tschüss! (I wish you all a wonderful week! Bye-bye!)
--Sister Stewart 

Monday, February 18, 2013

February is a very short month

So today we had lunch with one of the members and then afterwards she basically kidnapped us and took us to some outlet stores, including Lindt and Gummi Bear Land. Oh it was so much fun. Needless to say, today I consumed far too much sugar. Also, in the last week I have baked brownies twice and cookies once (they were all for other people, I promise!)

This past week was pretty great. Sometimes the days just run together, but I try to separate them out again when I get to e-mail time.

Monday- We went to our Branch President's house for his birthday.
Tuesday- We had District Meeting and then "Area Book Finding." President Miles has decided we need to clean up our records and really go through them and see who we can contact. So that involved sifting through a lot of papers, trying to decipher handwriting (sometimes it was so bad I couldn't even tell if they were writing in German or English...) and then calling people up on the phone. Definitely a different kind of missionary work than I'm used to.
Wednesday- We did lots of tracting. Not much success numbers wise. BUT that morning we were walking through a nearby Dorf when we saw someone jogging down the streets toward us, wearing black leggings, a black long sleeve shirt, and a black hood. When he got closer, he said "Sisters! Hello!" It was B. W., one of the members! What is funnier is that he was about 10 kilometers from his home, just jogging to work! 
Saturday- We went out to Heidenheim, a city that is in our area but is 1 hour and a half away by train. Except for now they are doing construction on the train tracks, so to get there instead of taking two trains we took two trains and a bus and it took half an hour longer. So fun.

This past week I have learned (again) the value of prayer, of really pouring our hearts out to Heavenly Father and telling Him what we need. We never know what He is willing to give us until we just ask! He is waiting and willing to answer us if we will just get down on our knees and ask Him. I know He is always there for us. 

Ich weiß, dass es die richtige Entscheidung war, auf Mission zu kommen. Es ist nicht immer leicht, und ich weiß, dass ich viele Fehler mache. Aber ich weiß, dass mein Himmlische Vater mich trotz meinen Schwächen liebt. Er ist immer bereit, mir zu helfen. Er kennt meine Potential, deshalb hilft er mir, mich zu verbessern. Ich bin einfach dankbar für die Dinge die ich auf Mission gelernt habe und die ich immer noch lernen werde.
(I know that I made the right decision to come on a mission. It is not always easy and I know that I make many mistakes. However, I also know that my Heavenly Father loves me despite my weaknesses. He is always willing to help me. He knows my potential which helps me to improve myself. I am thankful for the things I have learned in the mission field and I am still learning.) 

Mach's gut! Ich hab euch lieb! (Take care, I love you!)
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Less effective versus effective

Sometimes you have weeks that could be seen as less effective. But I think it's mostly in our attitudes, whether we look back on the week and say "Wow, we hardly accomplished any of our goals, that stinks" or we look back and say "I really learned a lot last week, I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here." To be effective and successful missionaries, all we have to do is be obedient and give our all to the work. That's the secret.

This past week we were both sick at one point or another. I had a nasty cold (I'm still getting over it). Just as I was starting to feel better, Sister Ackerman got sick as well (luckily not with the same cold). She was so sick she really couldn't focus on hardly anything, not even to read. We called the Elders from Ulm to come and give her a blessing. It was amazing: as soon as they put their hands on her head, she calmed right down. I could see the priesthood really WORK.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how God really is our Heavenly Father (check out this video, its awesome). He sent us here to this earth and has given us everything we need to succeed. We only see a tiny little sliver of His plan for us. But just like our fathers here on earth, He knows what we can become, He knows where this all is going. I think there is a lot to be learned about God in our family relationships, there is a lot more of the divine in our everyday lives than we sometimes realize. There is a lot to be learned in the little moments that make up each day.

Sorry this e-mail is more on the philosophical side. Here are some random tidbits from our week-
-The Elders in our district really like McDonalds for some reasons, we eat there a lot after district meeting. Not this week, however! We will be making pasta :)
-We went to visit a less active family on Saturday and she fed us big plates full of rice, just a few hours after we had eaten lunch, and then we went to another appointment and got fed a really tasty yogurt dessert. Needless to say, we did not eat dinner that night.
-This past week was interviews with President Miles. We are getting lots of sisters soon! Somehow I get the feeling that I may be whitewashing/training pretty soon...
-Transfer calls were on Friday- Sister Ackerman and I are staying! This transfer will only be 5 weeks long as opposed to 6
-We went to visit one of the less active sisters in our ward with her home teacher. Turns out her washing machine is broken. And by broken I mean there was a flood of water in her kitchen, luckily we cleaned it right up, so no damage done
-The weather goes up and down, we get tons of snow then it warms up and the snow melts and then we get snow again. Winter is really holding on tight! 

Ich liebe meinen Himmlische Vater und seinen Sohn Jesus Christus. Ich versuche diesen Monat, mehr über Hoffnung zu lernen, und wie ich mehr Hoffnung entwickeln kann. Ich mag Römer 15:4, die sagt, dass wir durch die Schriften Hoffnung bekommen können. Die Schriften habe mir Hoffnung gegeben, und ich werde sie weiterhin lesen demit ich einen "vollkommenen Glanz der Hoffnung" erlangen kann (2 Nephi 31:20).
 (I love my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. I have tried to become more hopeful this week. I like the passage Romans 15:4 which states that we can have more hope through the scriptures. The scriptures have given me hope and I will continue to read to develop a “brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20.)

Ich liebe euch! Mach's gut!
(I love you, take care)
--Sister Stewart

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Es ist wieder Februar :) (It’s February again!)


Well, it is officially February again. This coming week will mark one year since I have been in Germany. And the weather is right back where it started :) Luckily it isn't quite as cold as my first few weeks in Munich, but we shall see what the rest of February has to offer :) 

This past week we tried our best, but sometimes other things get in the way. But you know what? I'm not even mad about that. I know that the work is WORK and that it goes through ups and downs. I did gain a stronger testimony this week of that fact that God is always looking out for us, no matter what.

I think I told you last week that I lost my planner. Well we are on a roll because this week Sister Ackerman left her backpack at the train station. She realized just as the train doors were closing and she watched it as the train pulled away from the station. We called a member who lives near the station to run and see if it was still there, but it was gone by the time she got there. We got out at the next town, but since it was Saturday, there were no trains back for the next 45 minutes. It was really sad, because Sister Ackerman's scriptures, wallet, and camera were in there. The office at the train station was closed (it being Saturday, Germans really take weekends seriously). The saddest part was losing the scriptures and the memory card in the camera that had all the photos on it. When we went to church on Sunday the members were so sweet and offered lots of help, but Sister Ackerman was still feeling down in the dumps. We had lunch after church with one of the families from the ward, and that was fun and helped to cheer her up a little. Right after we left their house, we looked at our phone and saw that we had 3 missed calls from our ward mission leader. Turns out someone had called the branch president (whose number was on a home teaching list in the backpack) who then called the ward mission leader, who called us. The backpack was found! A man found it at the train station and since the office was closed, he took it home and looked to see if there was contact information inside. We met his wife at the train station (she drove in from a dorf outside Göppingen, how nice is that!) and she gave Sister Ackerman the backpack with everything, money and all, inside! It was awesome! It turned a sad day into a miracle day. We will have to do something to thank them. 

I am really enjoying being on a mission right now. I think this past week I was realized anew how important it is that I really give my all. Ultimately, that's the only thing that I can control. As Preach My Gospel teaches us, our success as a missionary really in based not on numbers, but on our commitment to the work. So, I am determined to be a committed missionary. 

Ich liebe meinen Himmlische Vater. Ich werde an ihm festhalten, wie Jakob es sagt (Jacob 6:5). Manchmal fühlen wir uns allein, aber wir sind nie allein. Er ist immer da. Das weiß ích.
(I love my Heavenly Father. I will cleave unto him as Jacob teaches (Jacob 6:5). Sometimes we feel alone, but we never are. He is always there. This I know.) 

Bis nächste Woche! Mach's gut!
(Till next week! Take care!)
--Sister Stewart