Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry and Bright

Hallo, dearies!

This week was lovely and long. When I first came out I was told that like no work gets done the weeks of Christmas and New Year's because you just go to parties and nobody is really out on the streets to talk to, but President Kohler encouraged us to try and use this sacred time to find people, and we actually had a couple really cool experiences.

So I mentioned before that we had these really cool, beautiful "Er ist das Geschenck" ('He is the Gift") cards that correlated with the video. We had given out a ton but still had too many left on Christmas Eve-Eve, so Sister Threlkeld and I decided to use that time to try and talk about Christ with as many people as we could fine. Like, power-hour contacting. We chose to go to Königstrasse, right next to the Christmas Markets, where there were tons of people. As we went out and started talking to people, we noticed that like, 10 people in a row rejected us right off the bat. What the heck? Then Sister Threlkeld pointed out that we were at the HEART of commercialism in all of Stuttgart. Oops. We continued to stroll down the street, half-heartedly trying to talk to a few people, feeling that our plan might not work after all. Then, all of a sudden we heard...drums? Pan flutes? What the heck? We walked closer to the spectacle and found this group of like 3-4 people decked out in full-on Native American garb singing this Native American/pop music. (Don't ask, but it was cool.) I was so amused about this random America flash in Germany. We watched them for a second until we realized that they were selling leather bracelets. Sister Threlkeld loves leather bracelets. We were tempted to buy some, but it wasn't P-day and we felt kind of guilty. And then we were like, hey! What if we both are able to have good convos/give out 10 of these cards, each, and then we can buy bracelets! So we got all excited and scurried about talking to the hoardes of people. And we had some success! The best part was that we felt SO energized, that we ended up forgoing our tentative plans for the evening and just kept talking to people and talking to people - and we gave out 59 of those little cards in the process, and found some cool potentials! It was so fun! (And now we have cool lamanite bracelets, too.)

In Germany Christmas is 3 days, and we were spoiled on all 3 of them. Christmas Eve we were invited over twice - and I got to eat delicious Deutsche Weihnachtskekse, sing lots of Christmas songs (they're really into that here,) and feel all warm and bubbly and stuff (mensch, I love Christmas.) At our evening appointment St. Nikolaus himself showed up to bring all the missionaries presents and it was hilarious. That evening in our apartment Sister Threlkeld and I sang "Stille Nacht" together, because it's an Austrian (and kind of German but mainly Austrian) thing to sing it on Christmas Eve. Christmas day was just as lovely - we both felt spoiled by home (and our Wohnung is like 10 scarves heavier, no joke) and it was so fun to just be outside. On Christmas. In Germany. My favorite contacting that has ever happened was during the few days of Christmas. I yelled 'Frohe Weihnachten" at like, erryone that I saw. We also had some meaningful conversations with a few people which I thought was really nice - it was nice to feel like we had really uplifted some of these people. 

Delicious Deutsche Weihnachtskekse (German Christmas cookies)

Elder Sharp and Sister Bushman at Christmas Eve dinner

Christmas morning with Sister Threlkeld

Oh yeah! I almost forgot. Sister Threlkeld and I sang together this week. They had tihs really cool Andacht (fireside) on Christmas Eve and Sister Threlkeld and I were asked to sing. We literally followed a guy that works at the Stuttgart Opera (lol) but I think it went well and everyone was really nice afterward. It felt so good to sing again. Obviously singing in a church in Germany on Christmas Eve is a litle different than being on a stage, but it was closer and I missed it! On Sunday someone asked us if we were singing again...uh...let's wait a few weeks.

Also, cool thing. So we have this really lovely investigator who was a referral from another set of Elders. They had found her contacting and she said how she had wanted a Book of Mormon for years, but she was in our area so we went over and taught her. We gave her a book last week and came back this week to teach her again. One problem - she speaks no English and hardly any German. So teaching involves a lot of pointing to similar passages in the Bulgarisch (her mother language) Book of Mormon and playing charades and stuff, but what was really cool is that we all totally felt the Spirit nonetheless. I love how the Spirit can speak through different languages!

Oh, yeah. We had also been talking soooo much about how we longed for a White Christmas...but it was too warm, so it never happened. And then, on the 26th, (day after Christmas,) we got dumped on. It's absolutely beautiful, so no complaints.

Beautiful Stuttgart, dressed in white

Schnee!!  (Snow!!)



To close, I really wanted to share something that President Kohler sent in his email last week, which I found beautiful. We always focus on Christ so much during the Christmas season (makes sense,) but shouldn't we always think of him so much?

"The Christmas season is a beautiful time of year. People love the excitement found in the spirit of giving, the relationships of family and friends, and the special activities and decorations. This spirit of Christmas can be celebrated on many, all good, but not equally significant levels. 

One level is the “Santa Level.” This is the level that children really love. It’s the level of Christmas trees, wrapped packages, secrets, special food, and parties. It is filled with carolers, excited children and exhausted parents. We are generous to the less fortunate. It is a special time in which we eat too much, spend too much, and do too much and enjoy it without seeming be able to get enough. We love this level of Christmas for good reasons. 

But there is a higher, a more beautiful and significant level. This is the “Silent Night Level.” This is the level of our sacred Christmas carols and the scriptural account of a crowded inn and the Savior’s birth in a lowly stable. The angelic proclamation of good tidings of great joy and a new star in the East that wise men follow in search of the Holy One. Without this level, the season is hollow, shallow, and commercial.

The trouble is, that these levels on their own don’t last. They can’t. They are too much, too intense, too extravagant. The tree dies, the candles burn down, and the weight gets put on. The wrapping is thrown out and the carolers burn out. We line up to exchange gifts and the dieting begins. The decorations get put away and the cleanup begins. But the lonely, the hungry, and the poor are still with us, perhaps more so than before. Even if we strive to keep the baby Jesus in the manger all year long, in the end we will be disappointed and empty.

For Christmas to last all year, for its message to grow in beauty and meaning and purpose, for it to have the power to change lives, it must be celebrated on another level; the level of the “Adult Christ.” At this level – not as the infant child – our Savior provides his gifts of lasting joy, peace, hope, and salvation. It is at this level that he provides examples of love, giving, and forgiving. This is the creator, savior, and redeemer who weeps at man’s lack of affection and hate for one another. It is at this level we remember that he willingly suffered and gave his life for all men so we could repent and live again. This is the level where we take upon us his name, always remember him, and follow him in keeping his commandments. Accepting this invitation to follow him is the way – the only way (2 Nephi 31.21) – to celebrate Christmas all year and all lifelong."

As we head into the New Year, let's remember "Adult Christ". 

Alles gute im neuen Jahr!  (All the best is the New Year!)

Alles Liebe,

Sister Bushman

Monday, December 22, 2014

Im Stroh in der Krippe

FROHE WEIHNACHTEN, y'all!

It hadn't felt super like a regular Christmas since I'm in another country and missed out on Black Friday madness, (perhaps for the best,) but in the last week, all of a sudden it's been like Christmas ALL THE THINGS so that has been a lot of fun. It's also a fun way to talk to people. Yay! It has therefore been my least Christmas-y AND most Christmas-y Christmas, ever. Actually focused on Christmas, but not waking up at 5 to go to Target. It's nice. 

Not saying that we haven't had some fun, though. ;) Last P-day, we got permission to leave our area and go to Esslingen, which has a Medieval Christmas market. It's kind of funny - about a month ago I was at the Christmas market at Rathaus in Wien, (my first), and raving about the experience with some Elders we had run into there. Elder Hancey was like, "Oh, this is nothing. You have to see the Christmas market in Esslingen." And I was thinking, "what a shame that I won't be able to see it...maybe one day!" But here we are. A month later. In Esslingen.

With Sister Threlkeld in Esslingen
Anyway, Esslingen is ADORABLE. Stuttgart was bombed out during WW2, so while a lot of buildings have really cool, old basements...most of the construction is fairly new. Esslingen was spared, so they have a city gate, walls that surround the city, precious churches and buildings - Sister Threlkeld and I felt like tourists. It's how you imagine southern Germany. The Medieval Markt was SO cool. I ate bread on a stick, there were people dressed up as old-school beggars, hand-made swords for sale, a tent with fairy-princess story time, and demonstrations of juggling and sword-making and such. It was actually kind of funny - watching this man show these children and the crowd how to make swords, Sister Threlkeld remarked how it was a lot like Nauvoo...but like, Medieval Germany version? Way fun. We also ran into EIGHT different Elders there. I guess it's a fairly popular attraction in Stuttgart Zone.

Bread on a stick!

I experienced a full-on MIRACLE this week. So I need to get a visa for Germany. (obviously.) I had already Anmelded (basically registering with the city that you indeed live there,) and needed to be shipped some paperwork from the office so I could actually go and get my visa. (This mission is a bit weird in that you get your visa WHEN you get here - not before.) I went to my usual place to get my passport so we could go, and it was GONE. I always keep it in the exact same place, but it wasn't there. I took a deep breath and kept looking...but still couldn't find it. And I kept looking and kept looking...and started to PANIC. There are procedures for this kind of thing and Sister Threlkeld assured me that nobody would die in the process, but I didn't want to face the possibility of getting emergency transferred back to Austria (or HOME,) since I lost a gosh darn little paper book. I prayed and prayed and went to bed. The next morning I got up and went to my Manner Schnitten stockpile (stop laughing at me,) and FOUND IT. It was the exact place I had looked 20 times, but had somehow not seen it. I was SO happy. Heavenly Father answers prayers! (And then we enjoyed some Manner, so that's good.)

We also Tausched this week! I got to work with Sister Baugh in Stuttgart. She's brand new - only in her 3rd or 4th week in the field, but she is a boss. She's from Utah and played basketball in college and is so incredibly bold with people. It was so fun to work with her. Story - we had planned to go by on this less-active that we want to meet with, but kept playing phone tag with. She lives pretty close to the church, so it wasn't too hard to go. But the thing is - we could not for the life of us find her street. It actually turned into this hilarious (and hilariously effective?) finding technique - it was dark and kind of cold so there weren't tons of people on the street, and we found ourselves literally running strangers down to ask them where this street was. Everyone was super friendly and helpful, and we gave out a few "Er ist das Geschenk" cards on the way. One lady even walked with us the WHOLE way to the house so that she made sure we could find it. It was so cool. 

Another fun thing from this week - the Weihnachtsfeier, or Ward Party! Funnnnnny story...so a week or two ago, we (the missionaries) were all asked to sing something for the Christmas party. They said it didn't have to be super serious - just something fun. Through a couple miscommunications, we ended up literally not having a chance to figure out with the Elders what we were going to do. Sister Threlkeld and I came up with an idea - do 'Once there was a snowman" (total classic) with all the PV (primary) kids and all the other missionaries, and then dismiss everyone, and Sister Threlkeld and I sing "Winter Wonderland," because we had been playing around with it and found a fun little arrangement that we could easily do a cappella. We bounced our idea off of one of the people in charge of the party, who said it was perfect. Phew! The Elders walked in just as we were going on becuase they had something they had to do beforehand (Zone Leaders are so busy,) and we literally told them the game plan AS we walked to the front to the room. We then invited up the kids and started to sing...and NONE of them knew the song!!!! We then decided to do it again and told them to try and follow us, but it ended up being a handful of American/Aussie missionaries singing in "Denglisch" (we only knew some of the words auf deutsch,) with a lot of confused German children behind us. It was super funny - Sister Threlkeld and I then let everyone go and we sang, and it actually went pretty well! Everyone clapped really loud and said nice things afterward. It was just really funny. How could these kids NOT know "Es war einmal ein Schneemann"?!

The little "set" for the Primary kids Nativity
presentation at the Ward Christmas Party

The party was absolutely LOVELY, though. Oh my goodness. There is nothing more magical than Christmas in Germany. They had homemade Spätzle, oranges pierced with tons of cloves, this adorable Krippe thing they did with all the kids (they played this cool song and all the kids came in as Wise Men and shepherds and walked around the whole room and ended up around the manger - it was so cute,) and then they had a DANCE. Before my mission, dances stressed me out so much (ha) but they are so different here. They put on all this Christmas music and all the adults danced with each other (or sometimes their kids - it was so cute,) and just waltzed around the room. Holy cow, Germans can dance! My favorite was when that John Lennon "war is over" song came on and everyone was full-on waltzing...that was way cool. I wished I could join, but I think it was just because I couldn't that I wanted to, haha. :)

With Sister Threlkeld, Elder Smith, and Elder Sharp

I'm so excited for Christmas...people have been very generous in opening their homes to us, so we'll be very well taken care of. The Elders and our ward started spending our chunks of time without appointments caroling together. We did it last night at the main Christmas market in town and it was a really cool experience - a few people stopped just to listen to us sing about Christ. :) And I am so excited to SKYPE!!!!!!!!!!! 

I'm so grateful for this opportunity to share my testimony of our Savior at this sacred time of year. I love you all so much. Merry Christmas.

Lots of love,

Sister Bushman

Monday, December 15, 2014

Er ist das Geschenk!

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

This week had SO many cool moments - there were a good handful of times when Sister Threlkeld and I would look each other and be like, "is this real life?" As a missionay, there's nothing better. Nothing beats being busy and making good stories to tell later. :)

Like, for instance, earlier last week we had a chunk of time with no sicher plans, so we prayed about where we should go to do some finding as well as introduce ourselves to some members and less-actives, since I don't hardly no anyone yet, and Sister Threlkeld has only been here 5 weeks longer, so we're both still pretty new to the area. After our prayer, I felt like we should go to the area of a certain U-Bahn stop, kind of out of the way, but still very much in Stuttgart. Sister Threlkeld agreed, so we headed out. We didn't see a ton of fruits with talking to people or dooring, but we were able to make contact with this sweet older woman who is mainly inactive because of health reasons, and share a spiritual thought with another member who lived nearby. We were happy that we had met with those people, and then went back to our side of town around an hour later, when we had another appointment. That night we got a call from Elder Sharp in our ward, who asked if we had gone by on that certain member that day. We said that we had, and asked why he was wondering. He said that Elder Smith had had an impression that they should go visit that member as well! It was the craziest thing, becuase it's even farther away from where they live. I suppose that member really needed to feel the Spirit that day. Crazy! (Also, another time this week when Elder Sharp called I answered the phone with "G'day, mate" and he laughed and didn't seem annoyed, so if anything, Elder Sharp is a really good natured person.)

Also, we were recognized TONS this week. It was so weird. I think the missionaries in the states get recognized a lot more than we do here. Often people think we are Jehovah's Witnesses, but it's not super often that people recognize us as Latter-day Saints. On Monday evening we went to the huge Christmas market near the center of Stuttgart because a member had said that she was selling Kinderpunsch and would give us some for free (sold,) but we weren't able to find her, because it was CRAZY. The Christmas market here is a lot different than the ones in Wien, but I can't really name all the reasons why. First of all, I think Stuttgart just has one big market, instead of the 29-or-so like in Wien. It was so incredibly crowded, and the roofs are DECORATED. It was so cool. Animatronic bunnies, rotating Nativity scenes, Santas on sleighs...it was crazy to look up and see everything. All I know is that I had tomato herb crepes and it was the best. But, as we were standing there, (me eating my crepe and Sister Threlkeld trying to choose a type of wurst or something,) a man came up to us and in a very American accent, said "Hello, Sisters! I served here in Stuttgart 35 years ago." It was so cool. He and his wife and son had been in France, and popped over to Stuttgart to visit his old mission. And here we were, doing the same thing! It was so cool. Later that evening on the Bahn, a man standing next to us said "I know who you are and why you are here. You're Mormon missionaries and serve for a year and a half," which was totally out of the blue. He's Italian and apparently worked in Florida at Epcot when he was younger, and had a friend who was Mormon. Crazy! AND, 2 days ago on the Bahn, Sister Threlkeld pointed out to me that there was a couple speaking English together. So, acting on one of my fave contacting techniques, I asked them where they were from. The guy was like "Tennessee. How long have you been a missionary?" He had recognized us the WHOLE time. They both had had friends who served missions. So crazy! That's totally out of the ordinary. We also talked to this lady at the Bahn stop one day who said she had seen the Elders walking around before, and described them as looking "very friendly...but very serious." Haha.

But the definite highlight of the week was...CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE! It was on Wednesday and we were combined with Munich Zone, so we got to ride to Munich that morning. The Tübingen sisters had spent the night before, so the 4 of us went to Bahnhof in the morning with...you guessed it...like 20 Elders. I ran into Elder Phillips and Elder Pingel there, both who used to be in Wien but got transferred to this area, so it was fun to catch up, and tell Elder Pingel all about the baptism that had just happened in Wien. :) I really like travelling in big groups of missionaries, because it's hilarious. I may have mentioned this love before...but we STICK OUT. Like, SO much. There is nothing less casual than 26 Elders in suits and 4 Sisters in skirts walking in a big clump down the streets in Germany. I just love it. We get a lot of looks. 



The actual conference was lovely, President pulled out all the stops and I learned a lot and just loved it. Also, I got to see a whole new group of missionaries - including my dear "Fairy God Mother" Sister Smiley and my "fairy-god-sister" (she's training,) and Sister Smith whom I came in with, and Elders Killpack and Carr, both of whom I haven't seen since we first got here. It was so fun to catch up. In the morning, Sister Kohler and President Kohler both gave beautiful messages about Christmas, and then we got a special treat. In Switzerland there was a group of missionaries that developed these really, really good firesides that cover a lot of the doctrine in the first 3 lessons. They've become super successful, apparently the last one had like, over 500 people (absolutely crazy,) including a couple hundred non-members. President had 2 of the Elders over it come and we got to see a big chunk of one of their firesides, that is called "The Light of the World". I don't know what I was expecting, but I was blown away. Dad would have swooned for it. Beautifully filmed scenes punctuated by musical numbers (ranging from hymns to EFY to pop music accompanied by ukelele.) It was seriously so cool. We may try and talk to the ward about putting on a fireside; it was that good. 

Lunch was awesome - some of the women in Munich made us the most delicious Deutsch lunch ever, including pumpkin soup which made me happy because I thought it was a just-Austria thing and I missed it. (Yay!) We also had a hilarious gift exchange - I ended up getting these fun antlers and Santa backpack and peanut butter from Elder Harvey in my district. All I know is that those antlers may make an appearance at the Ward Christmas party.

Sister Threlkeld and Sister Bushman
After lunch President Kohler had this big dramatic lead up to our next activity, saying he had an idea of something special but didn't think he could make it work...and then procured the only copy of Meet the Mormons in Europe! We were so excited. For those who don't know, Meet the Mormons is a church-produced film that came out in October and actually did really well - the purpose of it is to show the world who Mormons actually are by following the lives of a few in particular. It's SO good - absolutely beautiful and stirring (in the end a Mom who had gone through unthinkably hard challenges before she found and joined the church said goodbye to her missionary son - I remember that soo well,) to just hilarious (they showed a couple clips of TV shows and movies mentioning the Mormons, including the Simpsons and South Park. Go watch it!

And THEN (this e-mail is getting obscenely long, sorry about it,) President told us all about the He is the Gift Christmas Initiative that the church has put on this year. It's gotten to the point where so many people just don't like Christmas because it has become so ridiculously commercialized and it seems like there isn't any point - and they made this beautiful video about how Christ is the real gift. (Watch it here: http://www.mormon.org/christmas) So many people are searching for truth and meaning, especially this time of year. The church has also done tons to promote it - including taking over the banner on YouTube for a WHOLE DAY, and bilboards in Times Square. (NYC family - send me some pics! I want to see. :))

Then we all got our Christmas packages (thanks parents!) which was really fun. It also says in the White Handbook not to carry bulky items that make it look like you could have items of value...we all broke that one. Oops. OH, and Sister Threlkeld and I bought THE biggest soft pretzel that I have ever seen in the Munich Bahnhof. It was the best. 



We got these really beautiful "Er ist das Geschenk" pass along cards that we have been giving to members, challenging them to give one to a friend who needs the hope and love of Christ in their lives this Christmas season. It's been a huge success so far. It's so beautiful, and so true. Go watch the video right now, and then post the link on your FaceBook page, or send it to someone you love. 

Ain't Christmas great? I love you all.

Sister Bushman

Monday, December 8, 2014

Herzlich Willkommen in Stuttgart!

Servus, everyone! 

Greetings from Stuttgart, Deutschland! I made it here in one piece, luckily. Thursday was absolutely crazy and I was totally sore the next day from lugging all my belongings across 2 countries, (remind me to cut back what I bring next time,) but everyone ended up in the right area and nobody lost any fingers or toes, so I guess we´re good. 

The ward here is WONDERFUL. There is no doubt that I would be incredibly Wien-homesick if they weren't, but after only one Sunday I've absolutely fallen in love with the area, so I'm grateful for that!

My last few days in Wien were absolutely bananas. The nice thing about being transferred is that you get to make lots of appointments with investigators and friends and members to say goodbye...but that`s also the bad part. We were SO busy, which is great, but was also really stressful. Let`s just say that I wasn't packed by TuesdayThursday morning Sister Cherrington made me a lunch for the trip (what a dream,) and I said goodbye to the apartment I first arrived in and we headed to Bahnhof...where we cut it close on making the train on time. (Oops.) Best thing ever - some of my favorite members in Wien (you know who you are-and I don`t have your email, so if you`re reading this then email me!) surprised me at the Bahnhof with cookies for the journey. They were gluten free, but still good. ;) Even better...on the way I was on a train with a Sister who forgot to bring a lunch...when I offered her a cookie, her face fell...because she was GLUTEN FREE. She was so excited she could actually partake in the deliciousness.

So we had a train ride about 2 hours to Salzburg and 2 hours to Munich and 2 hours to Stuttgart...with only abut 30 minutes between each train. Agh! It was fun to meet new and legendary missionaries and hug/hand shake old friends. Sadly our umsteigs were a smidgen verrückt, aber was können wir tun? :) Luckily, I could always keep an eye on all of my luggage. Then, I made it to...

...STUTTGART! I think when you refer to citizens of Stuttgart you`re supposed to call them Stuttgarte or Stuttgarter...but I`ve taken to referring to every breathing soul outside of our window as "Stuttgaurdians", or "Gaurdians of the Stutt". Leider, "Stutt" doesn`t actually translate to anything. Dangit. Also, there are plants in Stuttgart. I REPEAT: PLANTS. I haven't seen this many trees since the Wiener Neustadt days. And the streets are made of real cobblestones, with moss growing between the bricks. It`s so sweet. And I love all the red A-line roofs on many of the buildings...it`s absolutely charming. BUT, Stuttgart is big enough to have Primark, so that`s sweet! We also live next to this precious little church, so we hear church bells going off all the time from our apartment.



In Stuttgart, there are 2 wards and 8 missionaries. There are the Zauggs, who are an Ehepaar (yay!), as well as Elders in the International Ward, and Elders/us in the German ward. The International ward consists of a lot of Americans because there is a huge army base here...they have apparently been SUPER nice to us in the past with buying us stuff from base...I came home and found Easy Mac and good peanut butter and brownie mix in the kitchen! It was so nice (Although that brownie mix is now actual brownies. We wanted a post-fasting treat. :)) It was super weird to show up for church as the International ward was finishing up because it felt like I was back in America, hearing English and seeing these huge families! It was way fun. 

In our ward we have the Zone Leaders, Elders Smith and Sharp, and then there is Sister Threlkeld and me. She`s going home in April, and both Elders are going home by that time to, so I`m definitely the "youngest" of all the missionareis in our ward. Not going to lie, I was a little nervous for my first week in the ward. That's like always - as a missionary, you want nothing more than for the ward to love you and to want to help with the work. A supportive ward can seriously make all the difference for a missionary. The Stuttgart ward is SO nice - it`s huge, with tons of kids and a good amount of youth, and I cannot count how many "Herzlich Willkommens" I received with handshakes and hugs and big smiles from members. We already have appointments for Christmas and Christmas Eve. One Sister even was like "Sister Bushman, I hope you feel very wanted by the ward!" I certainly did. It was so nice.

Sister Bushman and Sister Threlkeld

And, best of all, it's CHRISTMAS TIME. Sister Threlkeld and I are doing almost all of our contacting as it relates to Christmas. We have this idea of using singing as part of our contacting (we`re both fairly musically oriented,) so if someone doesn't want to listen, we`ll ask if we can sing them a carol. :)

I'm so grateful that I can spend this sacred time of year in such a beautiful part of the world. I love you all so much.

Alles Liebe,

Sister Bushman

Monday, December 1, 2014

Auf (Wien)ersehen

Holy cow - I do not even know where to begin.

This was easiest one of the craziest weeks of my mission to date. Sister Cherrington and I have discussed that like, 3 times already. "How are we still on this week?" I'll go chronologically because I have no idea how else I would be able to sort through all of the events that have happened. But first things first:

I'm going to Stuttgart!

Yeah, transfer calls were this week. We were hardly thinking about it becuase we figured that we would stay together another transfer and things were generally busy and we just forgot...and then calls came. But I`ll get back to that!

Monday after I sent my last e-mail we went and had 'Missionary Thanksgiving,' which was incredibly festive and incredibly fun. The Parkers, the Ehepaar ("married couple" or senior missionaries) in Wien, put together this big meal so that all the Wien missonaries could have a traditional American Thanksgiving. It was so fun - we all brought dishes, but it was really the Parkers that did it. It was so nice of them. It was actually pretty funny though; Sister Parker was like "we hope this is half as good than at home," and while I miss my famiyl (natürlich,) we have a pretty small klan and we don`t live near any family, so Thanksgiving is normally a pretty low-key affair. It was by far the biggest party I`ve ever had. (We then ended up eating plenty of leftovers, and ended up with 5 Thanksgiving-esque meals during the course of the week. No complaints!) I have to share "The Miracle of the Food Storage" as I've decided to dub it. So we had signed up to bring sweet potatoes to the meal, but through an oversight had forgotten to buy any. Gah! Sister Cherrington received a package last Saturday from home which was 'Thanksgiving' themed. It was full of lots of Thanksgiving-y foods...almost food-storage. Inside was a big box of Stove-Top stuffing (gosh that stuff is good). We called Sister Parker and asked if we could bring that instead, and she said it was fine. She then made the most delectable Sweet Potato casserole I have ever tasted (just not as good as MY mom's, of course ;)) but we all marvelled over these wonderous potatoes the whole day. It totally worked out in everyone's benefit - we wouldn`t have been able to make such delectable vegetables.



Tuesday we went on TAUSCH! Since there are only 2 sets of sisters in the zone, we decided to do 2 tausches this transfer, just for fun. I got to go to Graz with Sister Bishop! It was so fun! Graz is adorable. It's like a cross between between Wien and Wiener Neustadt, I think - because it`s a small city. Their straßenbahns are seriously so little and adorable. And Sister Bishop is only in her first transfer, but she`s an absolute powerhouse. She`s totally mature and already SUCH a good missionary. I really love tausching. I always am excited to go back to my comp, but they're really energizing, and it`s fun to have stories and jokes they don`t already know to tell each other. Also, Sister Bishop had lived in an apartment in college for a few years before coming out on a mission, and so she has like, life skills. Do you remember how all the Elders around us are super impressive in the kitchen while we just make like, grilled cheese and pasta? Sister Cherrington and I have been determined to improve ourselves, and Sister Bishop taught me how to make stir fry! After tausch we made it and it didn`t totally fail. We were actually so excited. Baby steps to adulthood! 

Sister Bushman with Sister Bishop on their tausch.

Sister Bushman with her new culinary dish-- stir fry

Thursday we had REAL thanksgiving! Hooray! We had our real meal with this really super wonderful couple in Wien - I`m going to miss them a ton when I leave. Also, on Thursday we realized that there was a keyboard at the YSA Center that wasn`t really being used a lot, so we asked Elder Parker if we could borrow it to practice our hymn skills...he said yes! Score! We were so excited to use it, except...that I`m leaving.



I wasn`t really sure what was going to happen etiher way. It`s pretty typical that a missionary can stay up to 4 transfers (6 months) in an area, and I was expecting that to happen. But, at the same time, maybe it was time to leave Wien? When I had my interview with Präsident Kohler, he told me pretty candidly that he hadn`t decided what he was going to do with all the Sisters yet - and it could go any way as far as staying or getting transferred or training went. Calls happened Saturday morning, between 7 & 8. The longer we waited and the phone didn`t ring, we knew something was up. Something was changing. When one of the assistants finally called at 7:45, we sat down on the couch together with it on speakerphone and listened. I had prayed and prayed and prayed to be at peace with whatever happened and to feel the Holy Ghost saying that it was right - but the idea of actually leaving my home in Wien made me sick to my stomach. When he told me my transfer, he said "Sister Bushman. This Thursday, you`re going to get on a train. And you're going to go...and keep going...and go a little farther...until you reach STUTTGART, (what!?,) where you`ll be companions with SISTER THRELKELD (double oh my goodness!), and be a Sister Training Leader! (holy cow!)" My heart was breaking at the idea of leaving, but, at the same time, I felt that confirmation. Stuttgart is right. I know where I`m going where I need to go, and, even more, I already know and like Sister Threlkeld, so that`s less scary. It will be hard to be transferred to where I don`t know any of the missionaries around me, but I know I'll survive. :) :) As for Sister Cherrington, Sister ANGELOUDIS is coming...FROM Stuttgart! We`re literally switching. I'm so excited for my dear Aussie pal from the MTC to come here - I'm buying extra Manner Schnitten to have on her desk for when she gets here. :) Sister Cherrington and I are bummed about being split up after only a 5 week transfer, but right after we got our calls she ran into the other room and was like "I was going to give this to you for Christmas, but we`re being split up, so here you go!" and gave me this incredibly snuggly knock-off Disney Princess blanket that I had been eyeing at a local store for weeks. She bought it for me while we were on tausch. Ugh, she`s the best. 

A big chunk of our morning on Saturday was spent at a "Bizarre," a couple weeks ago the Zone Leaders called and told us that the missionaries every year did service at the "Bizarre", and that we should come and help. We had no idea what that actually meant but knew we got to wear jeans, so showed up to the Vienna International Center on Saturday, pretty clueless. It was JAM-packed, and really cool! There were tons and tons of stands from countries all over the world, selling goods and food and stuff, as well as a huge flea market and book sale. All of it was for charity. Sister Cherrington and I got put at the Info Desk which was pretty hilarious, since we also had no idea what was going on. We figured out the answers to the common questions pretty quickly though (the closest ATM, etc.,) so it was fine. They also gave us a voucher for lunch, which was unexpected and really nice. We walked around and sampled 3 different countries - we got this stuff from "Arab Corner" in honor of Sister Cherrington, (she said it tasted just like home,) these cabbage & apple stuffed bread things from Russia (sampling my past? I don`t know,) and these really tasty fruit meringue things from Australia in honor of Sister Angeloudis who was coming. For America they had "Real American Hot Dogs", which I found to be hilarious. It was really cool!

With Sister Cherrington, snacking at the Bizarre

Sunday was by far the best day of the week - first of all, it was my last, which was really hard. It was painful for me to say goodbye to everyone, but there were many people who seemed actually saddened that I was leaving, which meant a lot. Elder Pugmire, who is going home this transfer, gave a talk since they knew he was leaving, but I just gave my testimony in sacrament meeting since I was a surprise. But that's not important. What is important - THERE WAS A BAPTISM IN WIEN 1!! It was of this wonderful man that the Elders have been working with since I got here this summer. The ward had already planned a potluck for straight after church that day, but when he was committed to baptism, they planned the service for right after the food. (Speaking of - we brought potatoes also from the Thanksgiving package - thanks, Sister Cherrington's mom!) We were still helping to clean up from the potluck as people were starting to sit in the chapel for the program for the baptism to begin. Someone was playing the piano and there were a lot of people reverently sitting - when we walked in, it was like the Spirit was a wall that hit us. It was so strong - and it was so touching to see him sitting in the front in white. The missionaries had gotten signed up to sing in the program, so we pulled something together last minute and sang "Näher, mein Gott, zu dir" ("Nearer My God, To Thee") in 4 parts with Baagii (one of our ward missionaries,) and Francesco, (our GML, or Ward Mission Leader.) Looking out over the congregation as we sang, I got teared up looking at all of these faces that I've come to love in the past few months - and the newest member of the ward. It was so beautiful and wonderful and also bittersweet because it was my last time - but that's just how missions are. I'm just really grateful I got to come to such a wonderful area as my first area. I just love Wien 1 so much!

The baptism itself was so beautiful - after they got out, Bischof Soucek, (who is really awesome,) said "Anyone else? The water is still warm!" which was actually hilarious because there were some non-members there. We all laughed. After the service, I got to take a lot of pictures and give and get a lot of hugs to/from the wonderful members in the ward. Our whole week since then has been pretty crazy - we have so many appointments to tie things up and say goodbye and such. Today (Monday) we were pretty stressed out because there are a lot of logistical things that have to be done before I leave, but we also went to another round of Christmas markets with one of our favorite members. I said good-bye to Schönbrunn, my favorite tourist-y place in Wien. Gosh, I love that place. While we were there, we asked this random couple to take our picture, and ended up striking a conversation. They are Russian and super cute...and we ended up chatting with them. They were impressed with my connection (it`s endlessly useful) and they freaked out when I said I was from Kansas...because, you guessed it, The Wizard of Oz. (Some things never change, eh?) But they wanted their picture with us and we got our picture with them, and then the girl and I realized that our names were really similar, and the man grabbed both of our hands and closed his eyes. I wasn`t quite sure what was going on...but afterward they explained that it`s a tradition in Russia that if two people have the same name, you can grab both of their hands, stand between them, and make a wish. It was really sweet.

At Schonbrunn with new Russian friends

In three days, I`ll be on a train to halfway across the mission. It's exciting and stressful...there`s a lot to do and it`s hard  and scary trying to fit your life into 3 bags, (especially when 3 different Elders grab them off Bahnhof and start walking off...wait!!!!) But I`m excited for this new adventure and trying my hand at missionary service in Deutschland.

I`ll miss my Manner Schnitten, U-Bahns, Sachertorte, and Schönbrunn...but here I come! Auf Wienersehen!

Love,

Sister Bushman

Monday, November 24, 2014

Newton's Laws

Morgen!

Sister Cherrington and I hit up the Christmas Markets last weekend...holy cow, it was magical. We drank Kinderpunsch which tastes like Christmas feels, saw giant trees full of light that looked like snowmen and cupcakes, saw enough Lebkuchen to feed a third world country, and bought a couple Christmas presents to send home. (I know you said not to send anything, Mom...but come on! Christmas markets!)

Sister Cherrington and I were at this stand buying something for both of our moms (no spoilers!) when we started talking with the guy who ran the stand. He saw we were missionaries and said "Missionaries?! I`ve been baptized 3 times! Once in Brazil, once in India..." and he went on. It was pretty funny. But he was super nice. After we had paid and were ready to go, he said "Warten! Warten! Geschenk!" and ran outside and cut down these two angel ornaments. He said "Engeln für Engeln!" (angels for angels), and gave them to us. It was so nice! We both have them hanging from our desk lamps now. Some of the Elders who were also there that day were able to give out a Book of Mormon...someone asked THEM about it! We`ve been planning a lot of activities to do around Christmas Markets this season...caroling, talking to people, etc. Also, a fun thing that makes me feel good about humanity - I saw far more Nativity scenes than Santa Clauses there. :)

Sister Bushman and Sister Cherrington at the Christmas Markets

Sister Bushman with the "Engeln" from her new friend


I don`t know why but I have all these super random thoughts I want to share this week, but that`s why they invented bullet points, right? Just food for thought:
  • I ate Wiener Schnitzel 3 times in this past week. I`m not quite sure how that happened, but it did. And it was magical. 
  • Attention to all prospective missionaries, pay strong heed to my following words: LEARN. THE. PIANO. I`m dead serious. I've never felt so useless in my life than when I became a non-piano-playing missionary. Even if all you can do is learn 5 hymns out of 'hymns made easy', then do it. You'll be glad you did.
  • I hit my 5 month mark this week. I actually didn`t realize it. Sister Cherrington was like, 'Aren`t you 5 months today?' and I was like '...whoa.'
  • I`ve grown weirdly fond of handshaking since I began my mission. It was super weird at first since most 19-year-olds greet people with a hug or ''sup", but I`ve quite grown fond of handshaking. I`ll be around BYU greeting people with handshakes and weird out all my non-RM acquaintances. 
  • Peter and I made marzipan sometimes as a kid, which was freaking delicious and just the best. Marzipan is SO big here - it`s definitely my favorite treat here. I`m quite a fan of Mozart Kugeln - these truffle things that are filled with layers of marzipan and covered in chocolate. Yum. :)
One last thing before I sign off. I don`t know how to segue into this, but I think it needs to be said. I think I sound pretty hunky-dory in my e-mails home. Everything I say about the joy of the work and wonderful experiences are 100% true - but missions are hard. I`ve avoided talking about the hard parts because I want people to see how beautifully joyous this work is, but holy cow, they`re hard. I got an email from my dear friend on a mission in Southern California and she said something that literally made me laugh. She wrote: "Missions are hard. You think someone woulda told us."

But EVERYONE did. I`ve never talked to a single RM who said that their mission was easy - they almost always say it was one of the hardest things they had ever done. I get pretty stressed out by nature, but a lot of that time it had to do with marks. (Grades, cast lists, to-do lists, etc.) Since there aren`t grades for missionary service, I figured it would just be easy to just do your best and not have a grade for it.
But the OPPOSITE is true! This is the most important work in the world. Eternal life is at stake! Joy people can`t even fathom until they listen is at stake. And it`s easy to feel small and defeated when the first 39 people you talk to in a day won`t listen - and then the 40th you can`t understand. 

But that is exactly why we have the Atonement. It doesn't  just cover for sins - it`s our pains and shortcomings as well. I received a letter this week from Sister Fenton and her wonderful companion this week. I had shared with Sister Fenton some of the frustrations and struggles I had been having, and her companion sent me this quote, which is now one of my absolute favorite quotes about the Savior:

"We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism. (...) He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief."
-Chieko Okazaki

We can face the hard things, because we have a friend who has literally felt every pang of disappointment and frustration and inadequacy and pain that we have ever, ever felt. My pains and frustrations as a missionary are miniscule in the scheme of the sadness and grief experienced by this world, but He is there for our huge heartbreaks, and the small heart aches. He`s there for everything.

Have you seen the new Mormon Message yet? http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages?v=3897359657001  It is heartbreaking, but so beautifully done. I won`t say much more about it, just go watch it. I love what she says about Newton`s Laws. Watch for that.

I know this took a turn for the poignant, but I'm just really thankful for a Savior who has walked every path with us.

All my love,

Sister Bushman

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All That, and a Chocolate Cake

Before I dive in about this week, let me just say that for P-Day today, Sister Cherrington and I are going to Christmas Markts. In Vienna. What is life. There's apparently like 29 of them, but we're starting with a handful. Last week we just lounged about and cleaned a TON and watched movies from the church and made Marzipan Muffins (shout out to Sister Freimann's mom for the recipe, we`re addicted), so that we`d have time to just spread Christmas cheer today. Yay!

But anyway, we had a great week! This week was different because we had our monthly Zone Training as well as a Super-Tausch with the Graz Sisters! At Zone Training we did all these roleplays to help make us better teachers - and it was so mindblowingly-awesome that it almost hurt, but Sister Cherrington and I have been practicing this week, so now it`s not AS hard. :) We then had a Tausch! Both Sister Pentz and Sister Bishop (who is in her first transfer) stayed with us for a night. While eating lunch we realized that we were all American, but had all lived outside of America at different points of our lives. (Sister Cherrington - Saudi Arabia, Sister Bushman - Russia, Sister Pentz - Switzerland, Sister Bishop - Germany). Except Sister Cherrington is the only one who vividly remembers being exotic, but oh well. :) 

Sister Bushman, Sister Pentz, Sister Bishop, Sister Cherrington
I got to work with Sister Pentz, which was SO fun. She`s an absolute rockstar of a missionary. We had so much fun just trying to connect with as many people on the street as we saw! She's about halfway done with her mission. I love tausch - it´s so energizing to just learn from another awesome missionary for a day. Kind of a funny story...while Sister Pentz and I were out working, Sister Bishop & Sister Cherrington went to contact a referral that we had received. When people go on Mormon.org and request a copy of the Book of Mormon, (http://www.mormon.org/free-book-of-mormon), it comes through as a referral to us. We try to go within 24 hours to bring them the book and meet them. We had received a referral in my last days with Sister Freimann, and on one of my first days with Sister Cherrington, we went to the address...which was a university! Apparently he worked there. We figured out when his office hours were, and Sister Cherrington and Sister Bishop went to try and meet him. Well...when they told us the story later, they told us how the man they found had no idea who we were or what the Book of Mormon was. He was like "how did you get my contact information?" Haha. Awkward. He thought that one of his students referred him as a joke, and apologized profusely for taking their time. We all laughed about it later. Missions are full of fun stories. :)

Sister Pentz and Sister Bushman with cupcake-in-a-cone treats.

Anyways. So while contacting recently, I`ve found that if people aren`t interested in our message, their answers fall into one of two categories. It's generally either "Ich bin Katholisch und ich bleibe Katolisch" (I'm Catholic and I`m staying Catholic,) or they say they're atheist. I've started asking the people who are atheist why they don`t believe in God. It renders some interesting responses. What`s interesting is it feels like there`s answers to a lot of their reasons why they don`t believe. If they still aren`t interested, I like to just bear my testimony that if they don't at least I know that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them more than they can imagine. And we tell them to have a nice day.

I'm also continually amazed by the gift of tongues, and how I see it working in myself. As a kid, I remember hearing about the gift of tongues and honestly thinking yeah rightI can`t just speak Chinese or something if I feel like it. Well, that`s true. Last week Sister Cherrington and I taught Sunday school about die Gaben des Geistes, or the Gifts of the Spirit. One of the points of the lesson is that when we seek spiritual gifts to just get attention or make us cooler people, they won`t come. But when we seek them for the sincere reason of building the Kingdom of God and helping others, they come. We struggle and struggle to learn this language. And even then, we can`t always understand everyone. But I`ve had these cool experiences of having full-on conversations with people on the street, who are shocked when I tell them I only started to seriously study German this year. (I had some in high school, but not much.) I feel like my German has jumped since I became comps with Sister Cherrington. It`s as if with Sister Freimann my German didn`t need to be that good, because Sister Freimann could speak. Now that it`s just us, the Holy Ghost has helped us step up to the plate a little more. It`s beautiful stuff to feel a part of.

On a not-as-spiritual but still totally-wonderful note, remember how I mentioned before how the Elders in our ward bake really well? When at a member`s house a week or two ago, we tipped them off about how Elder Pugmire in our ward can make really good chocolate cake. Like, so good. Mind-blowing. They invited them and an investigator over this week...and asked them to bring chocolate cake. At 8:30-ish that night, we got a call from the Wien 1 Elders, who asked what we were up to. We told them that we had just gotten home and were updating the area book & sending some needed text messages and such. They told us that they had half of a chocolate cake that they'd love to give us if we met them at the bus station. We scurried there, handed it off, and made it home by 9. Holy cow, were we happy. Don`t get me wrong - missionary work is awesome. But sometimes, half of a chocolate cake just makes it all that much better.

Sister Cherrington and Sister Bushman with chocolate cake!


I love you all, have an absolutely wonderful week.

Sister Bushman


To friends of this blog from Sister Bushman's mom:  Sorry I'm late again...have been in a location without WiFi.  Will be on time again next Monday!  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sind Sie in Deutschland geboren?

Hi everyone!

So, we do a LOT of contacting as missionaries. A lot of people really hate it. It can be kind of scary to like, approach random people on the street or on the Bahn or whatever. It wasn`t my favorite in the beginning, but I've learned that youcan make it fun, and when you do that, it's a total blast and you get a lot of fun stories. We actually had a ton of really fun stories this week. Here are some of my faves:

 So I`ve found the easiest thing to do is to say hello to everyone. Sometimes when you just initiate contact, people will be super friendly and you can have a conversation. This happened this past week when we were heading to the U-Bahn, I said hello to this woman, and all of a sudden she was telling us about her sons that play classical piano and spent 10 minutes writing down all of her contact info to visit her...in Romania. Whoops. But, she gave me THE best compliment I`ve ever had. We were just chatting on the Bahn, and she said "Sind Sie in Deutschland gebornen?" In other words, SHE ASKED IF I WAS GERMAN. I almost died. What she doesn't know is that I run out of vocabulary after about 20 minutes...but still. Good stuff. She was so nice! And then as we needed to go (we were late for an appointment,) she said "Beten wir!" and grabbed both of our hands. And we prayed with this Romanian lady in the middle of the train station. Good times.

 We were using this same approach on the streets, when one guy seemed taken back by the fact we had said hello to him, and he reached out his hand to shake both of ours'. He asked how we knew each other. We said that we didn't, we just had a message to share. He then shook both of our hands like, 2 more times before we parted. He performed a total of like, 6 handshakes within 2 minutes. We laughed for the rest of the day about it. 

 One of my new faaaaaaaaavorite ways to contact is by using languages. Wien is a super international area, so you here people speaking not-German all the time. It's great though, because most of them can speak German as well. If they're speaking English or some other language you can't make out, it's so easy to be like "Excuse me, where are you from?" and then they're super friendly and after you've had this nice language about they're home country and you said that German isn't your second language either, they're all like, "Why are you here?" Ding ding ding! Perfect question! :)

I did this earlier this week when I heard this couple speaking something I didn't recognize...I talked to them and they were speaking Russian! When I told them I was American the man seemed a little skeptical to continue our conversation, but when I told him I lived in Moscow as a kid he was totally impressed! They were both super, super cool. The guy said he had actually read a lot of the Book of Mormon and had even heard of the Pearl of Great Price! They wished us the best with all of our work. My little Russia connection has been such a handy ice breaker with so many people. Dad, why didn`t you ever teach me anything?? :) That'd be pretty nifty.

Speeeeeeeeeeeaking of nifty. Remember how Sister C speaks Arabic? We were at an internet shop doing e-mails the other day when she overheard the men in the front speaking Arabic. So when we went up to pay, she spoke to them in Arabic! They were both totally caught off-gaurd and totally impressed. They were like, "but you`re blonde!" It was so funny. They were both really cool. Yay for cool companions!

Last Monday for P-day we were classic tourists and went to the inner-city to go to Stephansdom and the other cool stuff there. We ran into the Wien 1/4 Elders there! That was fun. Afterward we walked over to Peterskirche, where we saw a sign for an organ concert that started in 20 minutes! So obviously we stayed. It was absolutely beautiful.

Sister Bushman and Sister Cherrington outside of Stephansdom


We also had this really great ward activity last Saturday! I have come to really appreciate those since I came on a mission...not only are they simply fun, but it`s a great opportunity for members to get to know each other better, and people we`re meeting with to come and meet tons of ward members. I also ate the most scrumptious pumpkin-creme soup that has ever come to pass. I'm going to buy an immersion blender after my mission and live on that stuff for the rest of my life. THE BEST.

Anyway. I found a new favorite passage in the Book of Mormon. (How's your reading coming? :)) It's Mosiah 24:10-16. The people with Alma were in bondage, and poured out their hearts that the Lord would strengthen them. I love how it says that because of their faith and patience, they were delivered from bondage. Everyone is in some kind of bondage, oder? To sin, temptation, selfishness, sadness. But God hears all of our cries, and will always stay with us. :)

I love you all! Have a wonderful week and share the gospel!

Sister Bushman

More Photos:

Sister B. & Sister C. found the soon-to-be-spots for the Viennese Christmas Markets!

GO ROYALS!  (Mom sent her clippings of our almost-World Series champs)