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.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 übingen 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.and we were combined with Munich Zone, so we got to ride to Munich that morning. The T
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.