Monday, May 25, 2015

Trains & squeals & Automobiles

Hey everyone!

I just got back from the Mercedes-Benz museum. Neither Sister Bishop nor I actually care about cars all that much, but it seems like one of those things that you just have to do if you're living in Stuttgart. (And it took me 6 months to get there - despicable!) It was pretty cool, though.

Sisters Bushman and Bishop with Mercedes-Benz test dummies

I remember before coming on a mission feeling kind of stressed about the idea of teaching. I think it's kind of a universal fear - simply because I felt (and feel, to be completely honest) like I don't know the Bible and the Book of Mormon well enough to just pull out scriptures to casually answer the questions of people who we would be meeting with. I guess an underlying fear to everything is the prospect of getting caught up in a Bible bash--and losing. 

But that fear went away pretty fast coming into the field. Like, you share scriptures that help teach people about Christ and the Plan of Happiness and answer questions, but we had a really cool District Meeting this week when Elder Ringger pointed out something really beautifully obvious. When we, 20-year-old punk American kids approach people on the street and tell people that we have a message that can lighten their burdens and make their lives better, because it has made our lives better, it doesn't seem super credible. ("It helped you through what, high school?") Like, we don't have 50 years of life experience under our belts, or know all of the Bible well enough to bash if we even wanted to. But it doesn't even matter. Because that's not why we're here. We're here to present this message that we believe is true, and then it's their job to read the Book of Mormon as well and to pray about it and decide whether they think it's legit or not. It's not our job to "bash" with them or to "prove" that what we have to say is true.

That takes a lot of stress out of teaching.

We had to mention all of this and read 3 Nephi 11:29 with someone this week when he wanted to Bible bash us...luckily it remained pretty cool, but at the end of our talk he said he would pray for our souls so that we would repent and follow Jesus Christ. (Uh?) We left a "Gospel of Jesus Christ" pamphlet with him when we left.

Transfer day was also this week...I was SO SAD because we didn't get to be part of it (you get to meet new faces when the mission is being shuffled, so I always look forward to that,) but since we were both staying here, we weren't going to be able to go to Bahnhof. Dangit. BUT THEN we got a call in the middle of the day that Sister Earnshaw (who's working in Freiburg) needed to be with some sisters while she waited for her new companions...and lo and behold, we got to not only work with her that day, but go to Bahnhof to greet the missionaries! Man, I was so stoked. There was this hilarious situation when we found out last minute (after all of the transfers were scheduled) that Deutsche Bahn was actually going to be striking -- so last minute everyone was put on buses! (3 cheers for the mission office.) And then they had too much luggage so they were put on a train anyway...but came in a while later. Anyway, long story short it was crazy. But luckily everyone made it home safely. (eventually.) :)

The Stuttgart District before transfers

With Sister Earnshaw at the Bahnhof

Sister Bishop and I did some great goal setting this week. I love Stuttgart and was very happy to stay, but I was kind of worried that I would get "Stuttgart-trunky" from being here for so long. I reeeeeeeeeeeally don't want to get lazy or stagnant or run out of ideas while I'm still here in Stuttgart. But then, at the same time, I know the members and the people we are meeting with really well, so it's much easier to do the work here. Dilemma. But I'm here for the next month either way, and am going to try my best to do some good things here with the beautiful Sister Bishop while I'm still here.

Frohe Pfingstenmontag!

Sister Bushman

Monday, May 18, 2015

Was fur eine Überraschung...

Uh, hey everyone! I have a surprise...

I'm staying in Stuttgart?

That wasn't expected. Sister Bishop and I were in mourning all week about the possibility of being split up, but I was feeling that maybe it was my time to leave since I've now been in Stuttgart for 6 months...Saturday morning we got our calls. Elder Ridd called us and was like "who should go first?" And I said Sister Bishop (I was putting it off, haha) and Elder Ridd was like "Sister Bishop, your companion I've known for a while now, she's way awesome. Her name is...Sister Bushman! You're staying!" And we both just stared at the phone, completely speechless. It was SO unexpected, but we're really happy about having another transfer together. Also, Elder Ridd is becoming the new Assistant to the President, which is kind of fun. So I've seen the entire Zone Leader reign of Elder Sharp AND Elder Ridd. And I'm still here, just holding down the fort, I guess. :)

Sister Bishop and I had the opportunity of teaching big groups of people not once but twice this week, which is always fun/incredibly scary and stressful, depending on which moment you ask us about it. We had Zone Training this week, where Sister Bishop and I were asked to speak about the "4 Safeguards" that have to do with our technology training before we receive iPads. (Still no direct word - but we've heard that they may come sometime in May, and Frankfurt is getting them on it really IS coming up!) We talked about how these safeguards were similar to the equipment you use in rock climbing, which was really fun for Sister Bishop because I've never been and she had to teach me about belaying and ropes and stuff and she thought it was cute. Ha! 

We also got the opportunity at speaking at the baptismal service in our ward yesterday! It was really fun, because there were a lot of what we would call "language barrier problems." We had a like, 3 day notice for the talk that we were supposed to give about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost in English AND German. Ha, what? I think it went well - there's no doubt that the Spirit was there, because we never would have made it through without that. We brought in a clean white plate and talked about how when we come to this earth, we are perfect and clean, but then when we make mistakes (we colored on the plate with chalk,) we become imperfect, and these mistakes make us feel sad, and we aren't so perfect. But, when we repent, we can be baptized and have everything washed away. (We washed the plate.) And it's like a fresh slate! The little 8 year old was watching really closely, so I think she understood it, which was cool. It was just a beautiful service. 

Sister Bishop and I have been talking a lot about the Spirit this week, because Sister Bishop and I have been trying to do more things to really invite the Spirit in our lessons. This past week, we had a first lesson with these two women we had never met before. We were really nervous since we didn't know what to expect - but just prayed and kind of tried to do our best and hope for the best out of it. We talked about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and bore our testimonies of it being true. One of them asked how we knew what we were saying was true, and we just simply talked about how we knew. For me, I talked about how I noticed in my life that it simply always felt better to pray than to not. And it felt better to read in the scriptures than to not. And it felt better to go to church than to not. And how I've felt peace at times of when friends and family members die. And one of them said "I feel like I'm about to cry right now!" And the other said "I have goosebumps." And Sister Bishop and I were just astonished at how strongly they felt the Spirit, because we didn't feel like anything particularly crazy was happening. But they felt it. As recipients of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I don't think we realize the warmth that comes from having the Spirit - but it made a difference to them. That Spirit, the Comforter, however you want to call him, can bring comfort when nothing else can.

I know that when we stop people on the streets, the message we have to share with them is true. Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration. God loves each of his children. Because of Christ's Atonement, not only can we be resurrected and be forgiven of our sins, but Christ felt all of our pain and sorrow - and will therefore help us through our trials. I'm greatly grateful for the "daily bread" God blesses us with to help us make it through.


Sister Bushman

Sister Bushman's Mom here:

1)  Translation of the title of this post:  "What a surprise . . ."

2)  Pictures of life in Stuttgart:

"The most wonderful, magical hole-in-the-wall burger place in all of
"Eating delicious Spatzle at a ward (congregation) member's home."

Stuttgart transit bus

"There's a huge chess set set up in the middle of town.  Why not?"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Still Rolling in Stuttgart

Happy Mother's Day!

I translated again in church yesterday, on Mother's Day. I very quickly realized why translating went so well last week: it was testimony meeting. Translating "I know that God lives" is a lot lot lot simpler than talks. I think I translated a few sentences that weren't quite coherent, but at least the gist of it was the same. FUN story I forgot to tell last week: translating generally went well, except for one particular testimony. She was talking about how in Primary that day, they had talked about how Lehi went into the wilderness. And she asked the children if they could only bring one thing into the wilderness, what they would want to bring with them. One said "my family," another "the ward," and another "the whole world". She talked about how there was one thing even above all those other worthy causes that she would bring with her into the wilderness, and she said that that was "her character," but I misunderstood. I thought she said "my carrot". So that was pretty awkward until somebody helped me figure out the real translation.

Besides that, church was pretty fun. Every single male 12 and up got up and sang a song for all the women, and they gave roses out to all the moms after sacrament meeting. (They had extra so Sister Bishop and I got some too. :)) So that was pretty fun. And Skyping was lovely! It was weird because we kind of forgot that it was happening, and then to just randomly get to see and talk to our families after church was super fun.

We also had interviews this week with President Kohler! I always love interviews; there's always something I want to pick President's brain about. We sat down and he was like "So, Sister Bushman, you've been in Stuttgart for 4 transfers. Is it time to leave yet?" And it was like "that's YOUR call, not MINE!" But I told him that I honestly love Stuttgart and Sister Bishop and would be sad to leave, but at the same time I can kind of feel that I have been here for a while. So maybe it's my cue to go. At the end of the day, I'm thrilled that it isn't my call.

I keep getting stressed out though, because so much of my mission is past and there are just SO MANY things I want to learn and study now. An hour of personal study sounded like an eternity before my mission, but now I'm racing to try and read and study and think about all the things on my list. Sister Bishop can see when I'm starting to get overwhelmed at my learning to-do list I make for myself and she reminds me to see just one or two projects to completion until I move on, which is encouraging. 

We had a really funny moment this week while teaching our first lesson to this man that was contacted during a finding day in Stuttgart. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation with him, and before we started this man was like "if I don't agree with what you're saying, I'm going to tell you." And we said that was okay, but this man kept going on tangents...that were complete doctrine. For example, he was like "People think the fall of Adam was bad! But it was necessary! There are opposites in all things!" And we were like "..................yeah. That's totally true." So that was pretty funny. And then a young-ish guy with long hair and a beanie rode right up to us on his bicycle and started freaking out that we were a sect and that we needed to believe in the Bible, (and Sister Bishop pulled out her Bible and was like "we do...?") and how we needed to believe in Christ to be saved, and we were like "we do..." and then the man with whom we were meeting was like "Can you leave, I'm trying to have a nice discussion with these ladies" and he seemed legitimately surprised that we said that we believe in Christ... so I'm glad that that was cleared up.

Also, we went to a castle last day for P-day. The story of how we ended up making it down to the castle is pretty crazy, but to keep it simple we saw LITERAL MIRACLES trying to find this castle. And talked with like 5 people about the gospel in the process, so that was pretty cool.

Have a wonderful week! You're great!


Sister Bushman

Monday, May 4, 2015

And He shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor . . .


First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY-O!!!!!! In celebration of your birthday, the Germans had the equivalent of Labor Day, and there's a Maypole set up near our house. Javoll! I made a point of listening to The Messiah a lot this week because I remember how Dad told me he learned and loved the Messiah on his mission, so that was my odd indirect birthday present to him. I've definitely found a favorite song so far - "For unto us a Child is Born" is just beautiful in the way it builds. And now, as I read the scriptures I just notice lyrics to the Messiah as I read and will burst out into singing in the middle of studies, so that's always fun.

To be honest, not much happened this week. But Sister Bishop is super cool - when we were doing our regular call-in report about what we had done that week, Sister Bishop said "We're enjoying the famine before the feast." Which was cool. How 'bout that attitude? I love working with her. There's still so much potential to be reached here in Stuttgart, and we're excited to just keep thrusting in our sickles and inviting everything that moves to come unto Christ. :)

We went back to the Area Book this week. Sister Threlkeld and I spent an hour tearing it apart one of my first evenings we were here, and we literally called about every number we found. We hadn't done much with it since, so Sister Bishop and I wrote down some addresses of people who, at one point, had been interested in learning more about the gospel. The people with phone numbers are called fairly often, but the people where we just have addresses aren't contacted so often. But it's a BIG book, and I'm sometimes scared to contact old people because there might have been a particular reason they stopped meeting with missionaries - and they aren't always so thrilled to see you again. But we had a chunk of time one evening this week, and we prayed to know what we should do, and felt like going by on a family in a particular area. So we went there (even though it was a little far - we even had to take a regional train) and tracked down the home. Not only did the family still live there, but they said we could come back and we made an appointment! AH! It was the coolest. We realized afterward how we had been guided by the Spirit to go there. Super cool!

There was another afternoon this week when we didn't have TONS to do, so we decided to track down a super less-active member on a street called Solitude Allee. We found the street on the map, and trekked out there...but didn't see any house numbers. Hm. We then realized how peculiar the street was; it was pretty rural and SUPER straight. We asked someone about it, and they said that this street was 14 KILOMETERS LONG and was a direct path from Schloss Solitude to Schloss Ludwigsburg. There was a king who ordered that the road was built, and apparently he covered the road with salt so he could be driven around in a sleigh in the summer? I think that's what I understood. But I'm never 100% sure. The only numbers we found were 173 and 39...and the number we needed was right in the middle. It was absolutely beautiful though. I just love Germany in the Spring. Everything is bright green and mossy and covered in wildflowers, and it's exactly how you would expect Germany to look.

Walking along the lengthy Solitude Allee

Funny thing with the language though. Two things actually. First of all, we have a friend of ours who only came to Germany for 6 weeks. I asked Sister Bishop why, and she said "She came here to learn German - she's doing a language course." And then without thinking I blurted out "You can't learn a language in 6 weeks!" And then we stopped. And looked at each other. And LAUGHED because that's exactly what we do but it somehow seems completely reasonable for missionaries to do and ridiculous for other people to do, so... that was pretty funny.

And the second thing: I had to translate this Sunday in church! The last time I was asked to translate was my third transfer in Wien -- it was awful. I remember that I could barely understand myself and just feeling dead afterward with a huge headache. Since then I've avoided it like the Plague, but during testimony meeting someone was just like "Can you translate?" And then it was happening. And I totally didn't die! There was one Schwäbisch woman that I couldn't really understand so I didn't translate her testimony, but everyone else I could generally translate what they were saying. It was so crazy. I'm so so so incredibly grateful for the Gift of Tongues and that Heavenly Father helps us to learn languages, because there is absolutely NO way I would have been able to accomplish that myself. 

Last week for P-day we fulfilled my utmost dream by visiting the beautiful Stuttgart Opera! The Operhaus is right by a park that we contact in a lot, so I've been passing it for months itching to go inside. To just be in a theater. I've missed it so much! Fortunately we have a super cool member of our ward who works there so he took us on a tour and it's just beautiful and grand and perfect inside. We even snuck into a rehearsal of the Stuttgart Ballett for a second and just watched them. And we got to walk around backstage and see where they make everything and it was so funny because I felt so at home just being inside a performing arts center, but at the same time it's so funny how we stuck out in comparison to all of these German performing arts people. Super cool though!

Sisters Bushman and Bishop in the Stuttgart Opera House

Opera House -- where they paint the backdrops and paintings

Besides that...we're going to try and visit Burg Hohenzollern today, and we finally got to try Fufu this week. It's from Ghana. Google it. I even ate the whole thing with my hands like you're supposed to!

I can't believe we're Skyping for Mother's Day next week. Whaaaaaaaaa...............? I feel like Christmas was just yesterday. I can't wait to see your beautiful faces, beautiful family!


Sister Bushman