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