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 K√∂nigstrasse, 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

1 comment:

  1. What an absolutely beautiful letter. Love this missionary--and love seeing her with Sister Threlkeld and Sherry's "son" Elder Sharp! He's an outstanding missionary too.