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 Mormon.org! 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