It's super trippy.
Flipping through this camera seeing Stuttgart photos, I was just kinda like, "was that THIS week?" because it feels like this weird dream that's so far away. I think leaving Stuttgart was the closest I have ever felt to heartbreak in my entire life. It was like my heart was being ripped into a bazillion tiny little pieces that were stomped on on the ground (when people asked about how I felt about being transferred, I acted that out.) But honestly I'm glad that it was so hard, because I think it would have been worse if I had spent 7 months in a city and it wasn't hard and painful. SO I'm glad I have reasons to miss it. I just feel so passionately that Familie Bushman WE MUST VISIT. I want to show you the Opera house and our favorite hipster burger place, and 3 different families even said we could stay with them if we visited... :)
|Contacting in her favorite place in Stuttgart one last time|
|Saying goodbye to Sister Bishop at the Bahnhof|
But now I'm in Passau! When we were walking around the Innenstadt today, a lot of people greeted us/said goodbye to us using "Servus" which made me happy since it's super Austrian/Bayerisch, and I haven't really heard it since I was in Austria. It was nice. Passau is BEAUTIFUL. It's referred to as the "Dreiflüssstadt" ("City of Three Rivers") because 3 rivers come together and there's a huge castle on a hill and it's the home to the biggest church organ in all of Europe (I figure Cade is drooling by now,) and since it wasn't really bombed out during the war it's ACTUALLY old. It's pretty touristy, especially right now. There's a lot of tourist shops...anyone who knows me knows how dangerous that is. (I LOVE tourist shops, they're my weakness.) Also, in some parts of the city, you can see mountains that are WAAAAAAAY far away...but they're there! I can hear the music of them hills! There are only busses here, it's that small. But they run on the quarter hour at least, so there's that. Weirdly enough, Passau probably reminds me of Wien more than any of my other areas. Like a tiny, green, river-y Vienna. Who'da thought?
|In the Old Town of Passau|
|The Passau countryside and mountains|
I'm working with SIster Berry, who came in with Sister Bishop! Sister Berry is incredible because she re-opened this area for sisters only 3 months ago. And she's from Alaska! So that's cool in itself. And she plays basketball and loves caramel and is all-in-all a really cool person who I like and mellows me out. (She's pretty chill - thank heavens.)
|Sisters Bushman and Berry|
Probably the biggest miracle we've experienced in Passau to date is that the Passau Elders carried my ri-DICULOUSLY heavy suitcases (I should have downsized better...yikes) up THREE flights of stairs to our apartment. I owe them bread or something. We work with Elder Gibbs and Elder Faux. Elder Faux just came from Wien 1 where he was trained (we bonded about that - and I got to hear about everyone from my first area!) and Elder Gibbs is one transfer younger than me. They're both from Utah. Elder Faux was able to convince us for a good 10 minutes that his first name was LeBron. We actually believed him. I trust him a little less now, but they're both still pretty cool.
This area is certainly different than my other areas. In the last two areas I have been able to travel to district meeting in 20 minutes - and I saw other missionaries all the time. We have to take an 1 1/2 hour train ride to Landshut for district meeting - and the other area in our district, Neuötting, is 2 1/2 hours! And there's no Ehepaar (senior missionaries) here. I am certainly grateful for all the Ehepaars that have blessed my districts over the past year - Elder and Sister Parker, Zaugg, and Bos. I miss you all!
|With Sister Cherrington at the Munich fireside|
Anyway. I got to meet the Passau branch yesterday! I. LOVE. IT. The entire ward was together in one room forSchool, and the lesson was lovely - the way everyone interacted with each other reminded me of the quasi-testimony meeting we always have as part of the Bushman family reunion each year. (P.S. My heart is breaking that I can't go this year - one of the first times I'm actually kinda bummed about missing something at home.) But the way everyone just bantered and laughed and felt the Spirit together made me feel very at-home at once. It's lovely. It was exhausting, though, since I was fresh blood I got lots to do, of course...and literally lead the music, prayed, translated, lead, partook of the sacrament, translated, lead, translated, lead, and listened to the closing prayer. Phew! It was a lot. BUT it was good.
It is a thing, though, that this is a small city. And many doors have already been knocked. We're content with knocking a few, but would rather not do it every day for the next few months. We're trying to think of some different and interesting and fun finding ideas. We're already thought of a few, but if you have any creativity flowing through your veins, send them my way!
Also, if anyone has ideas of fun P-day things to do here besides the organ and the church, let me know. :)
Oh, mensch! How could I forget this? We've been involved in a very unique situation in the past few days. The Sisters were involved for a week and a half, and I just barely got involved since I got here. There was a sad situation where the husband of an American member passed away. They were on a river cruise and her husband got sick. When they stopped in Passau they went to the hospital, and his wife contacted the mission who contacted the Sisters, so that we could help her get around the city, since she doesn't speak any German. Her husband passed . We've just come to love Sister L - she came and did laundry at our house and ate with us , and we came with her to all of her meetings with the mortuary people, because they couldn't speak English. We hung out with Sister L and ate ice cream and looked at Passau until the mortuary people called us and asked if we could come into the office so she could sign some stuff. It's complicated because they have to coordinate with the embassy and the country to have his body flown back to the States. We were there when she picked up the coffin. It was interesting, because it was so sad - and also not. Sister L is incredible and so strong and has such strong faith. We ended up having an incredible experience with the man that was helping make all the arrangements. We were sitting in his office translating, and the church ended up coming up, and we got to share a lot with him about the Plan of Salvation. We gave him one of the little booklets about it, and she said: "Tell him the reason that I'm at peace with all of this is the teachings from that book." It was super cool, and he ended up giving us a ride back to her hotel, which was super kind of him. We got talking and he talked about how his job was somehow hard - but also kind of beautiful, because he felt like he could help people. He said it was technically a business, but never really felt like a "business" to him. It was just helping people. He also said he would never forget us - this unique situation where some Mormon missionaries came to try and help this wonderful woman in a predicament. It was certainly memorable.
I love you all a lot - sorry this email is 10 miles along. I would really appreciate it if you could pray for Sister L and her family. :)