Monday, April 27, 2015

Elder Bednar - "This is not about iPads."

Hello everyone.

We got to hear from Elder Bednar this weekend, which was all we had hoped for it to be. The whole mission came together for the event, which is a thing that literally never happens, so it was so crazy to see all the missionaries in the whole mission together instead of just a half or a quarter or something. The whole event reminded me a lot of Alma 17:2, where Alma and all the Sons of Mosiah finally meet up back together again after splitting up 14 years prior to go among the Lamanites to preach the word of God, and they're all just filled with JOY. Not only are they seeing their friends after such a long time, but it was magnified because they had all been serving God and had seen miracles and were all still faithful. It felt like that seeing everyone. It was so cool.

The six Alpine sisters from the MTC -- reunited.
Our conference was incredibly interesting and beautiful. It was almost completely unscripted -- Elder Bednar would pose a question and ask people to just answer it -- and not to try and guess what he was thinking, but really answer it for ourselves. The poor office Elders were practically running laps getting the mics to everyone. But I got the opportunity to contribute and he listened to what I said and responded to it, which was cool. But one of the first things Elder Bednar said was simply, "This is not about iPads. Let me repeat. This is not about iPads." That seemed a little odd at first since this meeting wouldn't be occurring if we weren't going to be receiving iPads, but we talked the whole time about our purpose as missionaries, and partly how we can use this new and beautiful new tool to help bring even more people closer to Christ. They asked everyone to bring questions we wanted answered (like you would for General Conference or something,) and I got mine answered, which was cool.

So, iPads. They aren't here yet, but they're officially coming. There is this whole thing with how they'll come in phases (when we receive them, they will be more for scriptures and media usage, but we won't be on Facebook in the beginning, for example.) Also, the more-media-for-missionaries program (my name, not the church's,) is still very, very new -- so they told us that they're still testing how this is all working. So we're not exactly sure how they'll be implemented, or how we'll be trained -- but it's all new and exciting and I'm glad that I get to be part of this really cool step in hastening the work of the Lord. But one kleinigkeit (little thing): in Europe, the iPads won't actually belong to us. They'll be the church's, and we'll get to borrow them, and when we go home they'll go to other missionaries. So it's like using the laptops in high school, which I thought was great. I think it will help people take even better care of the iPads since they belong to the church.

That whole beautiful weekend was by far the most exciting part of the week, although some other fun stuff happened. Like, I did something super scary and went to a German doctor! I'm fine, I just needed a prescription and they wouldn't fill my American prescription at the Apotheke (drug store), so I had to go and get it converted. But man, did I not know medical-vocabulary. That charades doctor's appt. was pretty funny. And Sister Bishop and I got lost in this tiny dorf (village) because we didn't have adequate maps but then randomly found a castle, so it was fine. (what the heck, Germany? I love this place.) And we got stood up for an appointment with someone but when we realized that she wasn't coming, we ordered some Pommes for an Imbiss (snack) because we were starving -- and ended up having a half-hour conversation about the gospel with this man who was in front of us in line. All over a dish of french fries. And I realized that the food-stuff I miss most from America is super random. Like, someone asked this week if we wanted anything from base, and do you know what I asked for? Cream of chicken soup. Half of the delicious recipes ever made need cream of chicken soup, and we haven't seen it. Cracks me up.

But to end on a more serious note, there was a really beautiful topic of conversation at Mission Conference that I wanted to share. Media had been a large topic, and an Elder (who was about to go home,) asked how he should respond when he encountered Anti-Mormon and false information about the church on Facebook and other internet sites. And Elder Bednar talked about how the absolute best thing to do was to ignore it - and just fill the internet and the world with light. And it made me think a lot about life itself. If you're in a dark room, can you just take out the dark? Of course not. It's physically not possible. What you do is light a candle and fill the room with light - and it shuts the darkness out. And that's what we should do as missionaries, as parents and children, friends and disciples of Christ every day. 

Have a light-filled week!

Sister Bushman

Monday, April 20, 2015

Helping Hands

Hello, world!

This week was SO FUN because we were outside a whole lot. Spring has finally full-on sprung here in Germany, and it is beautiful. There are simply flowers everywhere. Beautiful yellow dandelions, other yellow flowers, purple, favorite is that there are these mini-daisies that just pop up EVERYWHERE. There are flowers covering lawns, on the U-bahn tracks, everywhere. There will even be full-on daffodils and tulips that just casually pop up in the middle of peoples' yards, but that's not a problem here. People freak out about flowery weeds in America, which I now think is really silly because it's much prettier when they spring up EVERYWHERE. :)

Man, I love Germany. I had a moment of freaking out this week because I realized really how close it is until I go home. All of my freaking-out-about-going-home moments in the past have always been about being a missionary. I just don't want to take off my tag. But this week it was like "I cannot imagine never living in Germany again." So I guess I'll just have to come back some day. :)

Man, Sister Bishop is so fun. She loves "adventuring," so we trekked up to a schloss (castle/palace) last week. She's definitely making me more adventurous. She backpacked around parts of Europe one time. I'm like the least-spontaneuos person on the planet, but I've been starting to put a lot of things in my 'Für Später' (for later) box so I can be cool one day too, haha. :)

But we also got to be outside this week because we had a service project! We've been stoked for a while because we got to wear jeans and the super cool "Mormon Helping Hands" vests and pick up trash around the city. It was a combined activity of both Stuttgart wards (English and German speaking,) so we deep-cleaned the Stake center and cleaned up outside a bit. Sister Bishop and I brought pass-along cards with us and were able to talk to a few civilians, who saw us all cleaning, about who we were and the gospel, so it was super cool. Right after that we had a BBQ with the American ward, and all my dreams came true. They had pulled pork. I repeat: they had pulled pork sandwiches. I forgot how much I miss barbeque! But then at the same time, some of the American food seemed super weird to me. I'm just not used to it anymore. So funny!

There was a day this week when we literally didn't have anytime to eat dinner - but a member of our ward had recommended an ice cream place somewhere near, but not on Königstraße, and so we figured that we could just eat ice cream for dinner real quick. But we couldn't find it...and were in a time crunch. So we started using it as a way to start contacting people...but it was really funny because some people saw that we had Books of Mormon and as we would approach they'd just say "Nein" and walk away...but we were like we literally just want to find this ice cream place!

It was pretty funny.

Speaking of funny things, Sister Bishop and I were talking this week and had a really interesting conversation. Basically, the church must be true, because the whole story of the Restoration is kind of a crazy story. Like, we walk into a stranger's home for the first lesson and throw all this talk about angels and golden plates and prophets and visions at them and ask them to get baptized, and we're just these 20-ish year old American kids with broken German. Like, what on earth? Yet people feel the Spirit, and find that the Book of Mormon is true, and many even get baptized. If this message wasn't true, there is NO WAY that this would work. Interesting to think about, ge?

Sister Bishop and I are pretty busy this week - we have like, 3 or 4 teaching appointments scheduled for each day until Friday when we're going to MÜNCHEN! We're so excited to hear from the General Authorities that are coming. And, of course, the announcement of technology would completely change and update our missionary service 180 degrees. So let's go!


Sister Bushman

Shelley's mom here -- more photos of beautiful Stuttgart:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bushman 'n' Bishop


This was a week of some changes, mainly in my companion - which of course affects everything else. But I'll get to that in a second. Stephan got the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday - on April 12th. It dawned on me a little ways back that on April 12th, 2003, I was baptized and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. And now, here in Germany, 8 years later was Stephan. It was the most beautiful coincidence. He said he has just felt this warmth since he got baptized. It's the coolest, most beautiful thing. 

So I'm half of a week into a new dawn and a new age with Sister BISHOP. She's from Colorado, was at/will return to BYU after her mission, and just finished 6 months in her first area, Graz. It was fun since we've tausched before and could just kind of jump in because we half-knew each other already. On her first evening here after I picked her up from the train station and we took her stuff home, I took her to Königstraße, the big center shopping-street of town so she could see it and we could start contacting, and then took her to Udo-Snack, this corner-in-the-wall, where-all-the-hipsters-go burger joint Sister Threlkeld and I were told about by some Americans a few weeks ago. (We're super obsessed with it.) And we just sat down next to this fountain with our burgers and had this heart to heart about what we want out of this transfer and where we feel we are as missionaries and where we want to go and who we want to become. It was a super great way to start the transfer. Also, she has an excellent vocabulary (something I struggle with) and I'm decent with grammar (something that's hard for her,) so we're going to help each other out a lot. :)

Sister B & Sister B!

It still kind of feels like a super long tausch, though. Like, where's Sister Threlkeld? Haha. It was sad to say goodbye, but I know I'll see her again so It wasn't really SO sad. That's why we have skype, oder?

Saying goodbye to Sister Threlkeld at the Bahnhof

But in the days leading up to Sister Threlkeld leaving...the scripture "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" has never felt so real. People were super kind and everyone wanted to have Sister Threlkeld and I over before she left, so we did a lot of eating this week. We also learned how to make Maultaschen!

One of the farewell dinners with the Stuttgart District

So Maultaschen is this German yummyness which is basically like biggish raviolis stuffed with meat and spinach and onions and garlic and stuff. Then you eat them with a bit of broth or cooked up with eggs.  We had had an appointment a few weeks ago with this lovely Schwäbisch woman who made us homemade maultaschen...mannnn it was good. And she said she would teach us how! So we learned! It wasn't super hard, but it takes a little time. But we made this little assembly line and made them. I can imagine myself after the mission just setting up camp in the kitchen with "The Sound of Music" on and just churching them out (even though schwäbisch food doesn't really mix with an American musical about the Austrian alps...but it's fine.)

Making Maultaschen . . . 

. . . and eating Maultaschen

I've been thinking a lot about finding people to teach recently. There are lots of methods - but I mean the old-school plain-Jane just talking to people on the street and on the Bahn and this and that or whatever. I have a theory for myself as far as finding goes. When you just start out, the first 10 people you stop make you want to barf. It's just hard. Then, if you talk to those 10 people about Christ, then the next day it's only 8 people you have to talk to before you feel totally comfortable doing it and it's easy. Then if you succeed, the next day is 6, and then 4, and then 2, and then you reach the point where you just wake up and go talk to people without feeling even a hint of hesitation or anxiety. But if you don't hit that 6 or 8 people, then the next day it goes back up to 8 or 10 people you have to talk to before it's not uncomfortable. Like, it's like getting a huge icy snowball rolling. If the finding snowball is rolling, then everything is great. If you get lazy for one day, it's that much easier to be lazy the next day...and then it's hard again. I'm so happy that the vast majority of the time the ball is rolling, and it's easier. Missionary work is more fun that day. 

Next Saturday we're going to München (Munich) AND STAYING THE NIGHT and then SEEING ELDER BEDNAR. And some other really cool General Authorities. It's basically 99.8% sure that it means that we're getting IPads. Or, at least the announcement is happening. I wonder what it will/would be like incorporating them in. In the next transfer? Next 3 months? Would some zones get it and then others? What about IPad training that would definitely need to happen? No idea. It will be fun to see what happens, though. Also the WHOLE mission is coming together (not just half like Mission Tour,) so I'm really excited. There will be very little time to actually track down friends and take pictures and catch up I think, but it will still be nice to see people. It makes me think of Alma 17 when Alma and all the Sons of Mosiah meet up after splitting up completely and venturing out into the unknown of the land of the Lamanites to preach, especially with my MTC group. I just loved (and love) those sisters that I came in with - I imagine in December when our time is really up a great joyous reunion - and we'll know that we've all grown so much and seen so many miracles since we all left each other and ventured out into our own beautiful corners of this beautiful part of the world.

Ich habe euch Lieb! Sehr schöne Woche. :)    (I love you all.  Have a lovely week.)

Liebe Grüße,

Sister Bushman

Shelley's Mom here -- more pictures from the past week:

One last hug with Sister Threlkeld
Sister Threlked on the train . . . on her way home to America.

With Sister Zaugg, one of the senior missionaries

Beautiful Stuttgart at night

Monday, April 6, 2015


Dearest family, friends, etc, - 

This week was incredible. The main thing that pops out is STEPHAN GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!! I haven't really talked about many people who I've met in specifics, but Stephan said I could share his story with you. :) Sister Threlkeld and I actually met him together - just at the U-Bahn station. I remember the day super specifically; we had been struggling to find people to work with and I remember resolving personally that that day I was going to spend absolutely every minute I could speaking with every person I could find. (Well, it wasn't that perfect - but I certainly tried,) and while waiting for the Bahn we saw this man who had a Raiders hat and a camo jacket - looking kind of American. He saw us looking at him and he actually talked to us first - and we ended up talking about the gospel and giving him a Book of Mormon and inviting him to learn more! In our first lesson we brought up baptism and how it's the first step in a life of following Christ, and how to know if the things we were saying were true, he needed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. 

We weren't quite sure what to expect because you start teaching people all the time - but then in our next appointment he said he had read and received a sign that it was true, and Sister Threlkeld and I'll never forget the words he then said: "I think it would be okay if you baptized me." We were pretty surprised but so happy for him that he wanted to make that commitment. He's come so far since we met him; it was such a blessing to have the privilege of teaching him - and beginning to end! It's strengthened my testimony watching him strengthen his. He said that his life has completely changed and he's been able to do things he never even thought were possible, (like stopping smoking after 30 years!) 

Elder Sharp, Stephan, Sister Bushman, Sister Threlkeld
at the Taufe (Baptism) 

This was the first baptism I've ever had to completely plan, and it's amazing how many little things have to come together. Luckily Sister Threlkeld is better in pressure-situations than I am, (although I've become so much calmer in stressful situations thanks to her - thanks girl!) and everything came together beautifully. Lots of people came, the talks were lovely, and Stephan asked if Sister Threlkeld and I would sing, which was way fun. (We did "Ich bin ein Kind von Gott" ["I am a Child of God"] because what else do you sing at a baptism? :)) The one almost-hiccup was with filling the font. Our cool GML/Ward Mission Leader got there a few hours early to fill the font; we heard it takes about 1 1/2 hours. Well, we showed up after it had been running for about an hour (and there was an hour left,) and there were six inches of water at the bottom! Ahh! So the three of us worked together and filled up all the huge cauldrons we could find in the kitchen with water and dumped them into the font. It was taken care of in a half-hour, no problem - so it was kind of fun participating in such a classic "When I was on my mission..." story of filling the font by hand.

Right after the baptism was General Conference! Can you talk about a big day? In Germany because of the time difference we just watched the Women's session on Saturday afternoon, and then the morning session live that evening. Then on Sunday the men watch the Priesthood session, we watch the Saturday afternoon, and then the Sunday morning live that evening. I still haven't seen Sunday afternoon. But I digress. What was your favorite talk of Conference? From what I saw, I really loved Elder Michael T. Ringwood's and Wilford W. Andersen's talks. I want to be more Shiblon-y. Also, how about those NEW TEMPLES?! Sister Threlkeld and I were crossing our fingers for Vienna, Austria, but the whole chapel gasped at Bangkok, Thailand! So cool! (Mom - I guess we'll just have to go there and go to the temple and eat Thai food, huh? :)) All of the missionaries were laughing though because so many talks had a focus on strengthening families and the blessings of marriage and stuff. It was making all of the missionaries feel a little trunky. Haha! Everything in it's time. So that was pretty funny.

But another crazy thing. Right after the Women's Meeting this woman who I didn't really recognize came up to me and was like, "Sister Bushman. I have a surprise for you! Follow me." And took my arm and started walking with me out of the chapel. (I'm thinking "what the heck?") Then we make it outside and THERE IS SISTER FREIMANN. What on earth?! Then of COURSE I realized that the woman was Sister Freimann's mom and of course we screamed and hugged and it was just so random, but her grandpa lives near Stuttgart so they were there to visit him - and she didn't want to tell me so that it would be a surprise. That little sneaker! :) She told me and Sister Threlkeld that she was wearing her dirndl the next day, so obviously we participated. (Even if dirndls totally aren't a thing here - they belong in Bavaria. Or Austria. Whatever! :))

Sister Threlkeld, Sister Freimann (her first companion), and Sister Bushman

Holy cow, I didn't even mention the fact that we got TRANSFER CALLS! I was a little nervous because things have stayed the same (and going into calls we were pretty sure that they were going to stay the same) for like, 4 months - but I get to work with the lovely Sister BISHOP! Who I totally have tausched with before when I visited Graz! I really, really like her already and was actually kind of secretly hoping that we could be companions, so I was just floored. Obviously it's going to be hard to say goodbye to Sister Threlkeld (we've both come SO far together,) but it's nice to know that I already know/like my next companion. It takes the stress off of things. :)

Besides that, it's been a pretty crazy week. I swear, the weather almost killed us. It had totally become warm, and then on Tuesday we had the craziest winds and rain I've ever experienced, ever. Like, cyclone scene from Wizard of Oz conditions. The wind snapped my umbrella! I still tried to use it anyway - even though the jagged metal kept getting caught in my hair and it wasn't actually helping and the locals of Malmsheim, Germany were laughing at me. Whatever. I eventually threw it away - right next to another Regenschirm [umbrella] that had kicked the bucket. Then, the next day we literally experienced total gray skies, hail, a complete stunning double rainbow, and beautiful blue skies and sunshine within 10-15 minutes. Why are you trying to kill us, Deutschland? (But it's fine because I still adore you. :))

I also really wanted to share a sweet experience we had this week with this girl we met. We had had a "power hour" as a district (where we all go hard with finding for an hour at the same time,) and talked to this girl who looked a little distressed. We found out that she's actually homeless right now and is about to get deported. We met her in the park a few days later and she started to tell us about everything that was going on - and just started to cry. Sister Threlkeld and I were just speechless; we didn't know what to do or what to say. After a few minutes of silence I went over and put my arm around her, and she just kept crying. And after a few more minutes, I opened up in the Book of Mormon to Mosiah 24:10-16, (which I've probably shared with you 1,000 times,) because during a certain painful season of my life I remember it being one of the only things in the world that brought me comfort. I tried to just tell her about how much God loves her and how Christ understands what she's going through perfectly because he literally felt it - and how with some patience and faith and trust in the Lord, it would work out. Some day, eventually. And while there was literally nothing Sister Threlkeld and I could really do to help - the Spirit was really strong and it really felt  like we were helping. And I was so grateful for that moment and just pray that her life will be blessed. I'm never going to forget that hour close to Hauptbahnhof.

By the way, how was your Easter? :) We did a lot of Easter contacting this week, understandably. We gave a lot of the #BecauseHeLives cards out ( which was really cool - but then on one day when the weather stopped freaking out for 10 seconds and the weather was shining we decided to mix up our contacting for a while. Downtown there is a beautiful Schloss [castle] next to this giant duck pond. There are a lot of ducks, and some swans. But we saw the weirdest birds I have ever seen. And we couldn't figure out what they were. So we asked random passers-by. Nobody knew. Somebody please solve the bird mystery for us, because we still want to know.

How they decorate for Easter in Germany
Any guesses?

I've never been somebody to be really good at change. It's amazing that I came on a mission without having a total panic attack. But isn't the whole Gospel of Christ about change? Just putting off the natural man a little more and a little more until we're that much closer to becoming what Heavenly Father wants from us? 

I love you so much.

Sister Bushman