Monday, September 28, 2015

The Sister Show

Na, Servus!  (Hello!)

I don't have tons to say this week, just because the week was a whirlwind. I wouldn't even know where to start! Like, we are supposed to do in-depth planning every Thursday or Friday for the next week every week...and we are doing it today for our proselyting time. Because we seriously just had NO other time to do it. Crazy. It's fun to be busy, though.

Yesterday was by far THE most verrückt (crazy) Sunday I've ever experienced my whole mission. First of all, the cards somehow fell that Sister Bishop and I taught the combined priesthood/Relief Society lesson, AND I gave a talk. Since it's a baby branch there are only two speakers in Sacrament meeting each week and there are only two hours of church, so basically it was the sister show. Luckily somebody stepped in to conduct the music so I had a bit of a mental break, but it was pretty crazy how much we had planned on doing. AND with this crazy week we didn't get in all of our studies a couple of days, so we were down to the wire getting all of our stuff prepared. (I think I told Sister Bishop "my stress senses are tingling!" Like 5 times. Haha. She's so long-suffering. :)) AND everyone and their dog showed up at church. All the active members, as well as some WONDERFUL people we are working with, and some Americans on vacation, and the missionaries...there were like 30 people! It was like twice as normal! It was so fun. I think all the lesson-y talk-y things went okay too. Sometimes when I get flustered the German stops working, aber nichts SO schreckliches ist passiert. :)  (but nothing dreadful happened)

In our lesson we talked about Elder Gerald Causse's talk from last General Conference, "Is It Still Wonderful to You?" It was really fun because we got some good class participation. We started out with the question "Was ist Ihr Lieblingslied?" (What is your favorite song?) written on the board. We got answers ranging from hymns to pop to Josh Groban. We then asked someone specific how often they listened to that song - he said like, every day. And we were like "but why? You've heard it SO many times!" And he said that it was still good, and he noticed new little things about it each time. We talked about how that was like the Gospel - we go to church each week and learn about the same topics, but it's still wonderful and we can always learn something new. At the end of the lesson we gave every person there (we almost ran out!) a brand-new Book of Mormon with the challenge to do one of two things - either to try and re-vamp their scripture study by studying the whole book for something specific, or to renew their excitement and love for the gospel by giving it to a friend. It was fun!

In my talk I read Mosiah 2:9 (which is the beginning of King Benjamin's big address) and talked about General Conference and what we can do to prepare. We can liken King Benjamin's advice to listen with our ears, hearts, and minds so that we get as much from it as possible.

Can you believe it's already time for Conference? I feel like it was yesterday when I was eating Marzipaneier with Sister Threlkeld in Stuttgart and Sister Freimann randomly showed up. Be sure to write down a question that you need an answer to and ponder it while watching!

I love you all, have a great week!

Sister Bushman

Photos from the week:

A new German "Trachten" skirt
"High on a hill stood a sister missionary . . ."

Sister Bushman and Sister Bishop were enjoying their invitation to dine!

A little bit of home -- Sister Bushman came across
some sunflowers -- the state flower of Kansas

Monday, September 21, 2015

Everything is Still Awesome!

Hello lovely loves!

This week in Passau was PERFECT. Sister Bishop and I don't really know how it happened, but it seems like all of a sudden all the stars are starting to line up and Passau is beginning to bloom. We have these "standards of excellence" for the mission -- they aren't a quota by any means, but a set of numbers for how many lessons taught, etc. to help us measure how we are doing. They are set pretty high, so they are sometimes tricky to hit. But we hit like half of them this week. Woohoo! We're hoping to keep nurturing this lovely area so that it keeps growing. :)

Beautiful Passau

The Elders are back in Passau! We were grateful for Elder Faux's piano playing skills in sacrament meeting yesterday. And we got to know Elder Faux's golden, who is from Switzerland! He's super cool. He also sounds Swiss which is cool because I haven't had much exposure to Schweize Deutsch. He has been speaking Hoch Deutsch with us, but he has a really different accent. Sister Bishop and I determined that it sounds like he's speaking German with an Irish accent. So just think about that.

We had a FABULOUS lesson with someone new this week! It was SO cool how we found her. We were in Vilshofen (we aren't in that city super often) and waiting for a bus. This lady sat down next to me who was wearing fabulous hot-pink rimmed glasses. So I told her that her glasses were fabulous, obviously. Then we ended up talking and having this incredible conversation, and she told us how she believed in God, but has had a lot of hard times and it is sometimes hard for her to believe that God really is there, because so many hard things happen. We testified to her about how much God loves her, and how we teach people about God and how she could strengthen her relationship with her Heavenly Father. She said she would love to meet, and a couple days later we did! It's so incredibly wonderful, because she said that her husband is super sick and she's about to move to Spain because the climate there is better for his sickness, and she's moving next week and is super stressed - and then she sat down next to us at the bus stop. She wants us to Skype-teach her when she leaves. The coolest part is that Elder Gantner's brother (the Swiss Elder) is serving in Spain, so what would really be cool is if the stars aligned and he got to teach her in Spain - because she only speaks German and Dutch! It was so obvious that God's hand brought everything together that day. So cool!

Passau is a small-ish town, so we ended up befriending one of the bus drivers, who is named Paul. He's way awesome. As we got to know him more, we found out that he has a Book of Mormon from way back in the day from old friends of his. But he couldn't find we gave him a new one. :) But Paul is SO. COOL. He was in the German army for 35 years and is now retired. He drives a bus around Passau so that he can go to Sri Lanka every year and change the lives of impoverished school children. He brought us some pictures of where he has been, and it's incredible how many lives he has blessed by driving his bus. I felt so, so, so strongly that I want to do something like that some point in my life. Whether big or small - volunteering at the soup kitchen or bringing rice to impoverished folk in Sri Lanka - I felt so good looking at those pictures and I didn't even do anything. Man. All I can say is that if Sister Lineback is still going to Honduras to offer dental services each year and she could use a non-spanish speaking not-familiar-with-dental-work set of hands, I would loooove to come. ;)

A couple random tidbits. I have a new theory about dialects, especially Bayerisch. I just feel like people at home don't understand how different these dialects are than actual Hoch Deutsch. Like, other Germans can't understand them sometimes. But I've decided that listening to heavy Bayerisch is a lot like playing that one game Mad Gab. Like, if you listen to the exact words being spoken, you're going to have a hard time. But if you don't listen too closely and just try to follow the ark of the words, you can kinda figure out what they're saying. It's pretty funny.

Yesterday we were knocking on a couple of doors while waiting for the bus, and nobody had really answered. I was getting antsy about making our bus, so Sister Bishop said we should just knock on one more floor and then go. Nobody answered - until the very last door. A middle-aged man and woman answered, and the woman wasn't wearing any pants. So casually. It didn't seem to bother her at all - we had a lovely talk about God and gave them pamphlets about the Restoration and they said we could come back to teach them. So that was pretty funny.

OH one more quick story. There was a day this week with unbelievable wind. Like, cyclone scene from Wizard of Oz level of wind. Sister Bishop and I were both wearing pretty flowy skirts, so we had a couple of Marilyn-Monroe-moments when we had to just stop everything and hold all of that billowing fabric down. There is an overpass that goes over the railroad tracks that we have to cross in order to get home, and we thought that the wind would be better inside. False. Oh my false. It made a total wind tunnel, and my skirt was just blowing here and there and everywhere and Sister Bishop and I just started laughing so hard because if I held it down from the front it would fly up in the back, and then if I held down the back it would fly up the sides, and we were just in hysterics trying to get through this wind tunnel. A couple of people passed us during this whole scene and we exchanged knowing glances and chuckles a few times. I hope we made their day. It was pretty funny. Note to self: don't wear the navy with pink flower skirt on windy days...

Hard-working, jubilant sisters . . . in skirts!

I love you all! Have a great week.


Sister Bushman

Monday, September 14, 2015

& the Adventure Continues

Hello everyone!

We had more lessons this week with people who are interested in the Gospel than we have had this whole transfer COMBINED. Woohoo! It was really satisfying to teach so much this week. We hope that it keeps growing through continued effort. :)

Also, on that note, transfer calls came! And the lovely Sister Bishop and I are doing ANOTHER transfer! Squeal! It'll be our 4th transfer - and therefore, we will have spent 6 months (a whole third!) of our missions together. No complaints here. Hopefully I don't drive her crazy by the end of this transfer, but we're excited to have another transfer because it feels like things are really starting to pick up even more!

Eating dinner on their Passau apartment
terrace because of the lovely weather

The view from their Passau apartment terrace

Finding was actually really fun this week. There was randomly this big Töpfer (pottery) fair that came into town, so we went and talked to a lot of people.  The idea of going to such a place to find felt like cheating in the past since it wasn't p-day, but I've since learned that casually walking around such a place leads to a lot of organic opportunities for talking to people. It's fun. We struck up a lot of conversations with craftsmen selling their work, and they almost all asked about our tags, and we had some cool discussions. One guy told us that we both were dressed really nicely - we were both wearing shirts that Sister Wilkes had left behind in the München 3 apartment, haha.

We also got to go to a street Ausstellung! I hadn't been to one in a LONG time. But it was so fun! It was in Neuötting's area, so our whole district went down there with their ward mission leader, and we had this big stand set up with info about the church and pamphlets and Books of Mormon and mini "For the Strength of Youth"s and stuff, and the best part - the GML (ward mission leader) brought this electric keyboard and a bunch of hymnals and he played hymn after hymn and we all just SANG our hearts out, and it was so fun! The weather was absolutely perfect and a lot of people would just stop and listen. There was one guy who was like, "Could I request a song?" Apparently his daughter married a Mormon guy in the states, so he's semi-familiar with the church. He requested "Näher, mein Gott, zu dir" ("Nearer My God, to Thee") so we sang it with him and it was really nice. We got a lot of telephone numbers for the Neuötting elders to teach! We are going to go to Rathaus (city hall) this week to try and figure out how to do the paperwork so we can do one here in Passau while the weather is still so nice. It was so fun!

The Elders at the Ausstellung in Neuotting

Hm, what else. Elder Faux is temporarily in the office, so we were the only missionaries at church yesterday... And there wasn't a piano player. Gulp. I repeat myself - if you want to go on a mission, LEARN. THE PIANO. I BEG OF YOU. Sister Bishop and I were both kicking ourselves yesterday because we aren't Elder Faux and therefore aren't proficient in piano... Sister Bishop plunked the main line while I conducted, and we just did our best. We just thought it was funny, but we made it through the meeting without any major mishaps.

I wanted to share something I've been thinking about a lot in my personal scripture study in this past week. We read in the Bible that we should "love our neighbors as ourselves", and something dawned on me this week. We always focus on the "love our neighbor" part, which is obviously incredibly important, but the other half of that talks about how it's a commandment that we love ourselves. Sometimes we overlook that. I know that I do sometimes. I've been trying to make a more concentrated effort to be kind to myself and not to just beat myself for being an averagely imperfect human. But the secret is that no matter how we try, we're always going to be imperfect. But the enabling power of the Atonement is a real thing - and Jesus Christ invites us all to come unto Him to feel His perfect love.

So if He loves us, we should too. :)

Sister Bushman

More photos . . .

With current and former companions at the Munich Zone meeting:
Sister Berry, Sister Bishop, Sister Bushman, Sister Cherrington
Sister Bushman had blood drawn this week;
but reports are that she will survive.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Everything is Awesome!

Today is a good day. Do you want to know why? We had Kürbiskremesuppe for lunch - that's right, pumpkin cream soup. It's more of an Austrian thing than a German thing, but since we live so close to the border, we found the soup mix at the supermarket. Score! It's mainly eaten in fall and we both just LOVE it from our Golden days. :) I'm amazed that it hasn't caught on in the States yet. I feel like Americans would LOVE that stuff. Do you know why else it's a good day today? I studied about the Last Supper in John with the Institute New Testament manual and understood the little things about the chapter SO MUCH more. I love the manuals, they're such a good resource! Do you know why else today is a wonderful day? It's my absolute favorite weather outside -- slightly chilly, but not cold. Fall is coming! Hooray! Also we went to visit this big, ambiguous church thing on a hill that we found. Turns out it was a monastery. We didn't see any monks, but we saw monk graves and monk pictures. And tomorrow we have Zone Training and got permission to go up today and spend the night in München, so that's happy too! And Deutsche Christmas cookies have made it into the grocery store and we're currently snacking on Vanille Kipferl, my favorite type! EVERYTHING IS AWESOOOOOOOOOOOME.

OH and Sister Bishop and I got dirndls last week (my second, her first) and they were super cheap at a second-hand shop and we wore them to church yesterday and everyone said that we looked really Bayerisch and I was giddy about it for days.

Elder Gibbs and Elder Faux with the
dirndl-clad Sister Bushman and Sister Bishop

And, work in Passau is going well. We're at the point where we have some weekly appointments with a few people - which we are STOKED about. We're building up Passau! I fall in love with this city and with the branch here a little bit more every day. I don't think I would mind finishing my mission here, honestly. I didn't like the idea of walking into my last area, so I was almost hoping to get transferred one more time - just so that this wouldn't be the end, but the branch members are SO great, so I don't know if I would even mind staying here until the end. Yay Passau!

Last week there was one day where I was sitting at my desk and was just like SISTER BISHOP I CANNOT SIT HERE ANYMORE. I guess when you have been sitting at a desk for a couple of hours every day for a long get a little stir crazy. So we rearranged the furniture in the living room so that we face different walls to study - and it completely solved the problem! I love when easy solutions are enough. :)

We had a really interesting conversation last night. One of the Elders we work with has to go back to the States to get surgery, so we dropped by some cookies last night to say goodbye instead of eating dinner because we ate a huge lunch and weren't really hungry anyway.  On the way we saw this group of 2 couples, talking and laughing really loudly in American-sounding English. This was odd, because most of the time the Americans on the cruise boats are only out during the day, and then they go back to the boat at night. We said hi and asked them where they were from, because it's fun talking to people in the mother tongue. :) They said Sweden, and when they saw that we were missionaries, kind of scoffed with each other, and one made a polygamy joke, and another said that they were "agnostic, thank you very much" and started to turn away. We just smiled and said that we were just being friendly, and continued walking.

It kinda made me think of Lehi's vision of the tree of life in 1 Nephi 8. In the vision there is a rod of iron headed toward this tree full of incredibly delicious, bright, beautiful fruit (which represents the Love of God). There's a dark mist around the rod, and so you have to HOLD ON and keep pressing forward to make it to the tree. Meanwhile, across the way is a huge, beautiful building full of beautifully-dressed people having fun and partying and laughing at the people trying to push their way forward on the rod. I think this was the first time where I felt like I saw his vision represented in real life. I have no idea what made this time different - heaven knows there have been plenty of occasions where people have been rude or offensive or made fun of us or been downright mean, but for some reason it clicked this time. From an outside perspective, we may seem kinda weird. We wear skirts in summer and snow and will stop you on the street - something that isn't too common in Germany. As members of the church, we drink Sprite when others around us drink beer, don't watch a lot of tv shows deemed as okay by the world, and pay tithing. It seems weird. But I guess it just goes to show that the blessings are worth the price, because here I am as well as many other people who find peace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ain't the Gospel great?

Commitment for you: Write a missionary you know a hand-written letter this week (and I'm not fishing for letters - I really do mean ANY missionary you know) because it will make them rejoice. I know they would love to hear from you. :)


Sister Bushman

More photos: