Monday, February 16, 2015

Mission Tour!

This week was craaaaaaaazy, because we had MISSION TOUR! It was so fun. But I'll get to that in a second.

Since we got to trek off to München for a few days, we tried to cram and conquer as much as we would do in a normal week into 2 less days and ALMOST DIED. Well, not really. But Sister Threlkeld and I concluded that Tuesday was the busiest day that either of us have ever had on our missions. We had 4 appointments scheduled PLUS a really important person we needed to go by on and talk to PLUS Gemeinderat (Ward Council,) so we made a bunch of pizza the night before while planning and cut it into strips so we could just chew on pizza between appointments because we literally didn't have time to eat. Luckily one appointment had to be moved so we were able to do all of our studies and then eat proper lunch before we skidaddled out the door, but when we got home at 9:15 that night--having somehow successfully conquered everything that was planned--Sister Threlkeld and I did the mightiest high-5 that has even happened. And then crashed.

The day after we had an appointment with this woman named Frau Baur, whom Sister Erdenetsogt and I met while on tausch. She's 80 years old and lived through the war, and told us all about it. It was so crazy - she's from Augsburg (shout out, Sister Smiley!) and she talked about when she was a little girl, all the school kids were shipped out away from the city into the countryside to protect them from bombs. She said that a nun tried to leave her with this one family but she refused to stay because they had had a daughter die in the exact bed she would have to sleep in...understandable. So she went to a different family. But it was really cool because when we were teaching her she said she was Catholic and staying Catholic - and that we all believed in Christ, and what was the big deal if people were Katholisch or Evangelisch or Zeugne Jehovah or Mormone or whatever. I answered with a story. When I was a kid, I LOVED vanilla ice cream. Peter always liked chocolate, with chocolate sauce on it. People would always ask if I wanted chocolate sauce, but I said no, because I didn't like it. (I had never actually tried it - I just had somehow convinced myself that I would hate it. This is a totally true story.) One day, I gave in and put hot fudge on my vanilla ice cream and almost DIED because it was SO GOOD. The Gospel is a lot like that. People often say "I have my faith and I'm happy." And it's a difficult place to be, because you don't want to be all like "Nu-uh," because they do have faith and they do feel joy. But it's like hot fudge. They're eating the delicious vanilla ice cream of the Bible and of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. But what about the hot fudge of The Book of Mormon and modern-day revelation and eternal families sealed in the beautiful temple?! You never know until you taste it! It was really cool because she totally understood my point. 

But the biggest excitement of the week was definitely MISSION TOUR! We woke up early on Thursday, overnight backpacks in tow, and headed to München. It was really fun to chat with all the missionaries on the way. We don't actually see each other that often - so this was like, the most social 48 hours of my whole mission so far. We arrived in München, where I got to see a huge chunk of my MTC group (including Sister Angeloudis who took my place in Wien and whom I haven't seen since we first got here,) and have a beautiful day with Elder Patrick Kearon of the Europe Area Presidency. He took the time to meet every single one of us, which was super cool. He knew the Bushmans, which was really cool. He had lots of nice things to say. He focused on 2 primary themes, which were both really beautiful and inspiring and uplifiting.

The first thing was obedience. He talked about how when obedience becomes our GOAL, it becomes less of a "stumbling block" and more of a "building block." It was really fun, because he not only brought the Spirit, but made it very discussion-oriented and laughed a lot. He talked about how a lot of things on a mission are out of our hands, but the one thing that is 100% in our control is our mornings. He went on this really funny rant about how we should not only be obedient, but obedient with real intent, (so like, really meaning it.) He was like - "We're up at 6:30! And then we pray! Pray with real intent! And then what's after that? Exercise! Exercise with real intent - you need to sweat! And then SHOWER. Shower with FULL INTENT. And eat a breakfast with VITAMINS!" We were all laughing with him as he went because it sounded really funny but was actually totally true. We can control how obedient we are with our normal routines, and they make a difference over time.

The other theme is that we are Children of God. I was a little surprised about the theme, but it ended up being absolutely beautiful. He talked about how what we said has a "currency value." Things we say often start to become less valueable to us, because we've heard them over and over and over again. A big thing is "I am a Child of God." We say that so so so so much. But how often do we really think about it? The Salzburg Elders shared an experience where they were teaching this girl and they were like "You are a daughter of God, and He loves you." And she started to cry. And they were both kind of taken back by it because they're so used to that, but she had never thought about that before. When that mere knowledge becomes a part of us - it changes us. Knowing that we are quite literally beloved daughters and sons of a Heavenly Father - that makes a difference. It's an experience more than knowledge. It was absolutely beautiful. It truly got me thinking.

Also, I got to lead the music which was SO FUN. It was really loud as we sang "Auswerwählt zu Dienen" (Called to Serve). I love that song!

This is what an army of Elders looks like . . . 

. . . along with a couple of Sisters!

With the Parkers, from Wien
After Tour, most of the missionaries went home and the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders stuck around to find some dinner before we came back to watch an Elder Holland MTC devotional that evening. I did some math with Sister Freeke in Switzerland - there are  comps of sisters in Switzerland and 11 outside...meaning that this transfer, there are literally 36 sisters in the WHOLE mission. That's crazy. But it fluctuates, so it'll surely come back up. :) Anyway. Tangent. So it's a TINY sliver of the Elders, and almost half of the sisters in the mission that stayed. We went with the Wien Sisters and the Salzburg Sisters to this burrito place that almost tasted like America, and we caught up about life and how Wien is doing and it was just WONDERFUL. That night, watching an MTC devotional in the dark next to Sister Wilkes, I literally felt like I was back in the MTC again. It was really familiar and really nice. That night we went to a hostel - I was really excited because I remember learning about hostels in my German class in high school. It's basically a low-quality hotel that you can rent really cheap. It was nice. We just got there and basically hit the sheets because we were all really tired - but the been-a-while-on-a-mission part of me was like "Oh my gosh we're sleeping in the same building as Elders" but like obviously nothing happened so all is well.

Sisters Angeloudis, Bushman, Fenton, Wilkes, Threlkeld, Cherrington

We had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) with Elder Kearon the next day. It was really wonderful - it was again, pretty discussion oriented and there was this moment where things got super real and Elder Kearon picked up that we were all kind of down on ourselves. And I can't adequately rephrase or restate what he said, so I'll just say that he showed us a lot of love and encouragement and leave it at that. It was nice. We then headed home - but it took like, 3 more hours that we thought because we had to get off our train in a tiny town in the middle of Augsburg area with the Freiburg missionaries because someone had jumped in front of a train down the tracks. :( That seems to happen a lot here. It's really sad.

Wow, this email is getting really long. Did I mention that it's Fasching right now? Well, it's actually tomorrow. Fasching is basically Mardi Gras - except it lasts like, 2 months and you dress up like it's Halloween and eat Berliners and kids have the whole week off. I couldn't figure out what the heck it was for the longest time, but all I know is that tomorrow Sister Threlkeld and I are helping out at the Primary Fasching party tomorrow and it's Frozen that'll be fun. :)

Eating a "Berliner" -- a jelly-filled donut, popular during Fasching
Remember how I mentioned a while back that Sister Threlkeld and I were going to sing in church? haha. Well. We did, but there was a bit of a scurcuffle where we thought we had an accompanist but didn't really adequately confirm and then thought we didn't but couldn't find anyone else because it was last minute and then we were going to do it a cappella AND THEN we thought nobody really knew so we could just like, not do it...and then as we were sitting in church the 3 of us were called up to the stand to perform, so we just explained what we wanted to do right there and did it. It definitely wasn't as polished as what we sang on Christmas Eve, but some people were still really nice and said they felt the Spirit as we sang and that's what is important, so we were happy that it went well.

Happy Valentine's Day from Sister Bushman and Sister Threlkeld!
I love you! Happy Fasching! Happy life! Have a nice week!

Sister Bushman

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