It hadn't felt super like a regular Christmas since I'm in another country and missed out on Blackmadness, (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 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,