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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To Stuttgart!

So, the past few weeks it seems like we have spent a lot of time in Stuttgart. We have gone twice for P-Day, once for Stake Conference, once for Zone Conference, and we will be going again tomorrow for another training meeting. It has been fun to be back in the "big city." 

The past week was pretty great. The weather was WARM. There were some days we didn't even need jackets! I am certain that March will get cold again, but it was nice to have a little break from winter over the past week. 

Tuesday was Zone Conference. We learned a LOT about member missionary work. We practiced a lot helping members to do missionary work, so hopefully we will be able to implement our new skills here in Göppingen. 

On Wednesday we were able to meet with J again! He had read in the Book of Mormon! He talked about how important his family is to him. When we asked him why he decided to meet with us, one of the first things he said was "Well, you're American!" Fair enough :) I think he misses home. His family, especially his grandma, gave him a really solid religious foundation in his life, but I think he has lost sight of that a little bit. He loves baseball and spends a lot of time playing/reffing in various places, so when spring comes I am sure we will have a harder time nailing him down for appointments. 

Saturday was the big cleaning day in the mission. All the missionaries were instructed to not schedule appointments and to just spend the day cleaning out their apartments. Sister Ackerman and I scrubbed and scrubbed, and now the place is sparkling clean. The one thing we have left is the basement storage unit, basically anything we didn't know what to do with we stuck down there... Hopefully though some of the members will be able to help us cart things away. At least for now everything is out of sight :) 

On Sunday we went over to a nursing home to visit some of the older sisters that live there. That was a very nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I think we will try and get over there about once a month or so. 
This past week Sister Ackerman really helped me to understand something. Hopefully I can express it well without it getting too muddled. It is something that I have heard a lot, but that I have never really understood with my heart. In this life, we are all given trials and problems. Some of us have the tendency to lean towards committing certain sins, some of us never have a problem with those things. Sometimes I feel like my testimony came "too easy." Because I have watched others struggle with things that I never really had a problem with, I wonder sometimes if I really "worked hard enough" to gain my testimony. But you know what? That's false! As mom wrote me recently "Fair does not always mean equal." God is perfectly fair. He gives us the experiences we need in our lives to learn and grow. Because we are all different, those experiences will be vastly different and may look unequal to our mortal eyes, but it doesn't mean that we don't learn as much as others. God treats us all with fairness, because He loves us! 

Ich weiß, dass ich an der richtige Ort bin, wo Gott mich haben will. Ich weiß, dass wenn wir einfach auf Gott vertrauen, wenn wir beten und in den Schriften lesen, können wir nicht fallen.
(I know that I am where God wants me to be. I know that if we simply trust in God when we pray and read the scriptures we can’t fail.) 

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

God lives.

Hello everybody!

Last Monday we had Family Home Evening with one of the member families in our branch. The dad gave us an "almost" referral, he has a friend he wants us to go visit, but he couldn't remember the address :) 

On Tuesday we were trying to visit a couple less active members in one of the nearby towns. However, we got very, very lost. On the map it looked like the streets connected, but in real life that was not so much the case. So we were about to turn around and go back to the main area of town when I had the feeling we should ring the door bells of the houses in that neighborhood. So that's what we did. We found an American! His name is J, he was telling us how he used to go to church in the US but since moving to Germany hasn't really found a church to go to. We gave him a Book of Mormon and we are going to go by again on Wednesday! That evening we had an appointment with A, who is from Afghanistan. The list of countries from which my investigators come from is just getting longer! It now includes Afghanistan, Nepal, China, Poland, Italy, Columbia, the U.S. and Nigeria, and that's not all! Oh, I have also taught a few people that are actually German :)

We did an Autausch (Exchange) this week! I went to go work in Pforzheim with Sister Garrett! It was a lot of fun. It is always a treat to go to another city and just do missionary work without worrying about all the other stuff. It was almost like a little vacation. We found three people that were interested. They all lived at house number 10, just on different streets :)

Yesterday was Stake Conference. It was held in the stake center in Stuttgart. It basically looks like any of the churches I grew up with back in the states, which is super weird. The talks were great. The funny thing is we will be going to Stuttgart today for P-Day and then again tomorrow for Zone Conference! Three days in a row! 

This transfer is one week shorter than normal, which means we will be getting our transfer calls on March 15 and transfers will then take place the following week. Crazy! Sister Pingree, my trainer, goes home this transfer! Our mission is getting 14 new sisters and only 2 are going home (or so I've heard), so the likelihood is high that I will be training sometime in the very near future.

I have been thinking lately about "knowing" versus "believing." We were doing a role play and one of the Elders said "I know God is there. It's just true. Just like the table is there, God is there." There are some things that I have to rely on my faith for, some things that I just have to believe for now because I can't see them from my earthly perspective. But there are other things that I just KNOW. I can't really explain it, but I could never deny the fact that God is there.

Ich weiß, dass Gott da ist und das er uns liebt. Davon bin ich überzeugt. Egal was kommt, ich weiß es.
(I know that God is there and that he loves us. This I know for sure. Whatever happens, I will still know it.) 

Tschüss! Bis später! (Bye-Bye, Later)
--Sister Stewart