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!


Sister Bushman

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