What It All Boils Down To


Question: If I had known when I received my call that my mission would be one of what many would say is of little "success," would I have had the guts to go? 

I remember as I turned the corner of the security line, waving goodbye to my teary family for the last time, it began to hit me how long it would be till I saw them again.  I couldn't comprehend what lie ahead.  I knew only what I had left behind.
18 months is quite a time, you know. In the space a year and a half, my brother Eric grew taller than me, my sister Rachel completed her freshman year of college, and my other brother Adam competed in national rugby championships (although I never once saw so much as his first rookie game). 
I came on a mission expecting something great.  I wanted to change lives.  How? .... I had no idea.  I just knew that the gospel mattered to me and I was going to share it. Leaving behind loved ones was the sacrifice I was willing to make.
Now, at the end of 18 months there is no way to change anything that has happened.  The past is the past, the clock cannot be rewound.... and perhaps to some, numbers wise my mission would be considered a failure. 
BUT I AM SO HAPPY THAT I SERVED A MISSION. 
It is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me.  From hours trying to talk to people who didn't want to hear it, to discovering new cultures, to growing to care so much for those who chose to follow the path of faith, the mission has shaped me in every way.  My person has been criticized, my religion attacked, yet through thick and through thin I have developed not only a stronger testimony, but a stronger sense of WHY the gospel matters and with it the person I want to become.    
Of course, I still have a long way to go. But I can't IMAGINE everything I would have missed out on had I taken another route and not put on that badge.  
So forget what others may think. Life is not about numbers -- my mission was my success. And I will remember it every day for the rest of my life.





I think Heavenly Father is just pouring out blessings and miracles at the end so that I will go out with a bang:
  •  We missed our bus, but it was for a reason-- we ended up meeting these two young guys who wouldn't stop staring at us.  I thought they were making fun of us when they asked for a card, but when I actually did they were SO EXCITED. They flooded us with questions such as, "Do you have anything for us to read?" And when we handed them a Book of Mormon they asked if we could meet that very day to discuss it! One of them has actually been SEARCHING for the right church! 
  •  We met a family with previous contact to missionaries; we asked the sweet young daughter to explain a scripture to us. She teared up as she bore testimony of Christ. At the end, she practically begged us to return! 
  •  We have been able to out dooring for hours without feeling tired 
  •  We have so many appointments every day with lovely people 
  •  We had a good number of friends with us at church 
  •  People have been calling US to meet 
  • There are other miracles, too beautiful and private to share! BLESSINGS


2 Nephi 2:28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit.


Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

Zucchinis and Steam Engines


   One evening in prayer, I asked my Father in Heaven: "Is it too late to ask for another miracle?" 
     The next day, it came.
    The day before, we had gone dooring for a couple hours, trying to follow the spirit, coming up with a new approach at every door till we were completely sunburnt. It felt so satisfying to work hard-- even if 50% of the people wouldn't even let us finish the first sentence, and the other half still said no.  But we had definitely hit a point of utter exhaustion in our daily lives. It's kind of just 18 months of going-going-going.  The pace accelerates as you learn to love the work, but it takes its toll nonetheless.
      We had received a notification that someone had ordered a Book of Mormon through mormon.org, so we set up an appointment.  We travelled out to the very last town in our area, crossing our fingers it was legit... and boy were we in for a surprise.
     This was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL family who just glows. LONG AMAZING STORY SHORT: The father works for an American company with LDS employees and has basically had tons of contact with the church for the past many years.  We were shocked as they asked us question after wonderful question, and we taught about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.  Even the nine-year-old took part as we discussed the gospel. For them, an everlasting family is the most essential thing.  
     After they drove us to see a famous basilica (just for fun!) and then to the train station, Sister Harwood and I could hardly contain our happy dance/gratitude prayer. We couldn't believe it.  THIS IS WHY WE ARE HERE. This is why we come out to a foreign country and go finding and get sunburnt.  Because wherever they are, whether we find them or they find us, there are people out there open to the gospel..... a gospel which can and will change their lives for the rest of eternity, if they will let it.

  Today for Sister Harwood's birthday, some members got permission to switch our Pday.  All aboard!  We traveled like good-ole-fashion Damen und Herren, touring the rain-glistened countrysides of Germany on an antique locomotive. 









AWESOME. HILARIOUS. You name it: 


 - On exchange with Sister Cain, we said hello to a guy in a random Swiss neighborhood. Then he practically shoved into our arms 2 of the most ginormous zucchinis I have ever seen on any continent. "I GAVE AWAY TWO OF THEM!" he exclaimed triumphantly to his wife. They were so huge that I thought my backpack would rip holding just one. We actually had to turn around back to Germany to drop them off cause there was no way we could go finding with these massive beasts-- as we walked back, EVERYONE stared at us and laughed in utter bewilderment. 



 - I tried to ride the sisters' bike. This was adult sized. The last bike I got was in middle school, and though I was petite already for a middle schooler, I have hardly grown since then! So now I tried to ride this bike and LITERALLY COULD NOT GET UP ON THE SEAT. IT did not help that I was in a skirt. Here I was in the city, making a fool of myself as I tried time and time again to jump onto it, climb onto it, step over it, etc. FINALLY I got on and then nearly crashed as I had to use my tiptoes to pedal. Ughhhhhhhh 
 - The border between Switzerland and Germany is a little white line painted on the bridge halfway across the river  
 - About an hour away from home something went wrong and all the trains stopped running so we were stranded in Überlingen until the senior missionaries could pick us up. Who do we run into? Our good friend we've been meeting with!
 - The Ice cream servers asked us what our badge meant and then tried to seem cool by telling us in flawless German they are Californian 
 - A Nigerian guy asked us for our # cause a friend took him to church in Heidelberg 
 - Sneaky lil Russian Schwester Schäffer. I adore her.  She can't get her friend to come to church, so she schemed to invite this friend to lunch at the same time as us!
 - There is a family we have been trying to contact for MONTHS and they called saying they all want to come to church 
 - Ultimate gerlishing: "Other Mitgliers we'll be besuching this week" (my failed attempt to either ask my companion about "other members we'll be visiting this week" or "andere Mitgliedern die wir diese Woche besuchen werden") 


Moses 1:
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

August Don't Rush


Ich weiß nicht was zu sagen, aber einfach wie glücklich ich bin, dass ich immer noch drei Wochen habe. Ich könnte ein Tausende mal sagen, wie schön Deutschland ist, aber ihr würdet doch nicht verstehen. Mensch, ich bin erschöpft. Meine Schuhe haben Löcher. Aber ich bin so so froh. Die Missionsarbeit strebt voran, und wir geben Körper und Seele, um das Evangelium zu predigen. Warum? Weil die Erkenntnis des Erlösungsplans hat uns so sehr gesegnet, dass wir ihn einfach weiter teilen müssen. Wie schön und kostbar eine Möglichkeit-- ich werde die vermissen. Wenn Mann seine Zeugnis teilt, dann spürt er so stark den Geist, und muss er einfach lächeln!  

Google translate as you will. 

Quote of the week: 
"If you hear me talking to myself, I'm not crazy. I'm just trying to figure out how Anakin Skywalker and King David are connected." 
                                                        -Sister Harwood 

Notable Notes:

*We missed our train and got stranded in this random town.... which happened to have a HUGE FAIRYTALE CASTLE. Backup plan: weekly planning at the base of it
*My diet = fruits, veggies, gelato. And the occasional pretzel. Gotta enjoy em now!
*We called 74 people in 24 hours. Excited for some new appointments! 
*The police caught the lunatic with the chainsaw 
*Wednesday was interviews, district meeting, zone training, zone conference and missionary choir practice all crammed into 9 hours. As STLs we led a discussion of the missionary's various experiences with different religious groups... so cool!
*We've been trying to just talk to so many people. We've met folk from Togo, the Philippines, the former Soviet region of Germany. We were approached by 2 Gambians who travelled 6 dangerous months across the Mediterranean and by land. It's fascinating seeing how the regional up upbringing really affects a person. Ex: Africans tend to be much more open; Middle Easterners seem to be very family-oriented; East Germans were often raised entirely without religion. 



My 18 Months: Things I have learned and ways I have changed

  1. How to stick to my principles 
  2. How to pay more attention to the needs of others 
  3. How to forgive and move forward
  4. How to stand strong in the face of opposition
  5. How to recognize the Spirit-- He speaks in ways you don't expect!
  6. How to make decisions for myself 
  7. How to study the scriptures 
  8. How to be humble enough for critique 
  9. How to truly enjoy service 
  10. How to look for and appreciate the good in others 
  11. How to manage precious time 
  12. That the Lord has His own timing and plan 
  13. How much my family means to me 

“We are not preaching the gospel with the idea of trying to save people in the terrestrial world. Ours is the salvation of exaltation. What we are trying to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring people back again, through the power of the priesthood and the ordinances of the Church, as sons and daughters of God, receiving a fulness of the Father’s kingdom. That is our endeavor.” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:190–91.)

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

Companions

A fellow missionary was asked if being in a companionship was like being in an arranged marriage, and she replied it was much more like being each other's parole officers. Hehe. 

No, it's not always the easiest thing on the planet. Differences arise from political beliefs to family backgrounds to teaching styles to energy levels to eating habits. But in the process of overcoming struggles with your companion you really learn a lot about humbling yourself, taking a step back, and seeing what good lies in others. You learn what they need, what makes them happy. Or perhaps what maybe you, yourself, can improve on... rather than get defensive about. 

Luckily, I have not encountered many companion struggles on my mission. It has honestly been so good. I have gained so many friends on my mission as I have worked 24-7 with these girls, laughing and crying, building trust while talking about life, experiencing Austria/Germany, and together seeking to bring people into the Kingdom by the sharing of testimony. 

Really I have been blessed with 11 incredible comps who have all been such a lights to me. 


My first companion was beautiful Sister Gines (Utah).


Her 19th birthday was that very first jetlagged day in the MTC. Although it was really quite a stressful and exhausting day, I never heard a peep of complaint out of her. She always kept her cool, even when I would botch our mock lessons with my toddler German; I could always count on her to sneak upstairs with me to grab some Oreos when we were getting too antsy in class.


Sister Price (Utah) was the best trainer a golden could hope for. 

On the long train ride to Austria, everyone told me that she was "the coolest," and they were so right. To this day I'd say my first two transfers hold my most treasured memories, because with Sister Price we could have spiritual experiences and yet have fun at any time and in any place. She was incredibly patient and encouraging, despite the fact that I felt like a deer in headlight in just about any experience. She has a way of just loving the people and making them feel special. She connected with them-- for example, if they were from Iran, she would light up with excitement and exclaim hello in Persian! 


Sister Fast (California), one of my two beloved blondies and greeniebusters.

The first night she arrived, she made cinnamon roll pancakes at like 10:20 PM; her sweetness radiated outward in every way, from the to-die-for treats she would bake to the kind words that came from her mouth.  She has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. She just needs to skip forward a couple years and be a mom already because she can make anyone feel right at home. 



Sister Selph (Utah), my other greeniebuster Blondie. 



She is intelligent, beautiful, kind and diligent, someone who I trust will accomplish anything she sets her heart on.  She loved the land of her mission.  With her talent for languages she could connect with people both German- and English-speaking. As well, her fascination with the history and the culture was both obvious and admirable to those she served. The uniqueness of Vienna was certainly not lost on her! 




Sister Slack (Texas), my firstborn daughter (golden). 


She is such a sweetie-- she has a glowing smile and really knows how to make someone feel special.  What a heart of gold.  I will never forget how much she spoiled me for the duration of my entire birthday!  She is genuine, and she knows her purpose.  I was so proud of her as she bravely went about trying scary missionary tasks for the first time, and now, as she trains a second time I know she has grown into such an influential missionary!


   Sister Moore (Utah), my foster child.

We were only 10 days together but we sure had a party in our trio! She is one of quiet dignity, not one to talk poorly of those around her.  Despite being such a young missionary, she was diligent in trying to talk to everyone and had a skill in speaking to those, for example, on the subway. She could just strike up conversations!



Sister Howsmon (Colorado) always had a smile on her face. 



Despite some of the weirdest things that we experienced, she could turn anything into an adventure with a positive spin.  She loved her mission and she was going to make the best of every second of it-- oh we had a blast!  And best of all, the first thing that one will notice about her is how much she loves her Heavenly Father.  Because that's how she talks about Him: like her Father!



Sister Franchino (Washington), my youngest daughter.

Literally the most hardworking person I have ever met in my life.  From the time she got up till the time she went to bed, if she wasn't doing missionary work, she was studying.  She really taught me so much about how to push through even the roughest of times-- just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I could always count on her to leave cute notes hidden for me... and you know what cheered her up? Going finding.  This was when she was at her funniest; man could she crack me up. I also learned so much from her.. to teach simply but powerfully!

Sister Woolsey (California) the lovely!

The perfect future dental hygienist whose backup plan as a "beautiful beach bum" is equally fitting.  
She taught me to chill out and enjoy the ride.  EVERYONE LOVES HER, because from individualized handshakes to genuine compliments, she can make anyone feel special.  I have never felt so confident as with her.  


Sister Saint Laurent (California) is incredible. 


We were only together a couple weeks and yet she taught me so much about endurance.  Despite everything, she rarely complained, striving rather to keep on working.  She is totally selfless and dedicates so much of herself to giving.  She is probably one of the strongest, most resilient gals I have ever met-- both spiritually and physically. I am still amazed by her.  

Sister Harwood (Washington), last but certainly not least. 

I have never met someone with so much in common. I ADORE THIS GIRL. She's caring. She's creative. Although a fellow introvert, she shows me that it is possible to overcome fears and become a powerful and eloquent teacher.  Seriously, she has a talent for being able to understand people on a deeper level and being able to adapt to their needs. I am so excited for our weeks together!


July 24



My heart is so full.  Lately I have just felt so much love... for the goodness of the gospel, the people, the work.  



It's interesting to think back to the hardest week of my mission, in the dead of winter when my spirit weighed heavily with sorrow and due to illness, my physical body weighed less than at age 15.  I opened my heart to everyone, sewing till the point of exhaustion and yet, there were no fruits to reap. 

My life had been going something like this:
  •  I felt like a failure of a trainer 
  • I received a heart wrenching email about the trials one of my siblings was experiencing
  • My body felt still so weak whilst recovering from bronchitis and the antibiotics
  • I still felt lingering guilt for not being able to talk to people about Christ during previous CHRISTMASTIME at which point I had been too ill to safely work. 
  • My landlady stayed in the apartment till 2:45 AM to patch the wall; the man who was supposed to show up at 8 to do subsequent repairs showed up 12 hours late.
  • The next day in my delirious state of exhaustion I felt terrified to go finding, and then when I finally worked up the courage to stop a guy on the street, I thought he would rip my head off (probably deserved it... it was sideways sleeting)
  • We got off the bus two villages too early and the lack of road names rendered our map useless as we wandered practically through the wilderness for 1.5 hours 
  • A woman we tried to compliment just turned around and gossiped about us to her friend as if we couldn't hear her.... right in front of us. Girls were always viciously judgmental on trams when they eyed us up and down. 
  • We had some really sketchy middle-of-the night experience that to this day I cannot explain 
  • If we were lucky enough to schedule an appointment with anyone, they bailed
  • And since we didn't have hardly any appointments ever, we got to have a lot of 6 hour dooring days in the bitter-cold snow instead. It was like walking on needles. 
  • Out of all those people we doored for all those weeks and weeks and weeks we didn't find a single one interested in the gospel 
At the time, life seemed like a dark tunnel that stretched on forever. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks as I wondered if I could possibly go on when it seemed like everything was only getting worse.

Now, I wish I could go back and talk to myself in this time when I had no hope at all:

Dear Kate.....Everything will be OK.....It will be SO good
Chin up, hun!






Now, over 1/2 a year later, it has been incredible push forward in the work of the Lord.  Lately I have had the most wonderful conversations with people on trains, spiritual teaching opportunities, and heart touching moments with those people who, through service, we come to absolutely love. Yesterday the chapel was filled with welcome strangers. We get to watch every day as people discover new paths and learn to find God! I feel so utterly happy.  

In those difficult times I could never have imagined that I would come to love the mission. In those times of excruciating homesickness and self-worthlessness it was so hard to think that all this would be for my good. But I know that now. It's incredible to look back and be able to recognize from a different viewpoint the tender mercies and miracles which the Lord was providing His weary daughter-- the entire time. He never left me. I know that now. 




Of course, there are always gonna be the notable notes:
  • a drunk man wandered into Sunday school. He was angry at us for not knowing Portuguese and snapped at Elder Andreason for "speaking English" when he was actually trying to speak to him in German. At one point during our lesson he came up to the board where Sister Harwood was drawing a diagram about the Nephites and the Lamanites, told her all up in her face that it was *explicit word* and then proceeded to take her marker and draw a new diagram with a bunch of wobbly circles before storming out of the church in tears. Huh?  
  •  There is some psycho with a chainsaw in the area bordering mine 
  •  We showed a film about the life of Christ to a young man from India (not Christian) and he told us afterwards "I AM SO EXCITED!"
  • Mission Leadership Council in Munich was FANTASTIC.  We sat in a circle like the Knights of the Round Table and helped EACH OTHER in trying to help improve our dear mission.
 
  •  Since the office forgot we live on the German side of the border, they ordered tickets for us to travel through Zürich. Also, we 12 missionaries missed our bus because we were at the platform of Bus 006 instead of X06 (same destination) so it was a mad scramble to make all new arrangements so we wouldn't have to spend a second night in Munich....the bus traveled through Austria, around Lichtenstein and into Switzerland, where we finally arrived in Zürich at about 10pm.  With two more trains to catch, we didn't get into Singen till about midnight.  ADVENTURE TIME   
  • A member taught us to make Marillenknödel and Käsespätzle
 "Belief and testimony and faith are not passive principles. They do not just happen to us. Belief is something we choose--we hope for it, we work for it, and we sacrifice for it. We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments” (“Choose to Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 38).


Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

Day 500 and Counting


Happy almost Pioneer Day! 

We just returned from Stein am Rhein (which we had no idea was in Switzerland until the bus crossed the border) where we enjoyed a beautiful riverside daytrip with some of the best chocolate I have ever tasted.















We are booked-- this week will include 2 days in Munich for MLC and then every week after that will include exchanges.  We're pumped!

It's been interesting to notice how we went from a super frustrating week where we got stood up by 4 separate people and literally everyone was mean to us (not even in the rejection sense, they were just flat out rude to us as people)... to then, in contrast, an absolutely FANTASTIC week. It makes you appreciate the good things.


Some things that went down lately:
  • - we rode a ship 
  • - we had the most lit ward party I have ever attended. From an astounding view to grilling to a bounce house to Benji's band, everyone had a blast. Several people came (including many old faces not seen for a while) and the next day the chapel was filled with more people than ever before! 
  • - Played soccer with a bunch of competitive Germans #stillsore
  • - Played barbies with the kiddos. They love us and we love them-- every time we see them we get tackle-hugged. Probably cause we give them cookies
  • - There was a new lady working the cash register and she was so excited to see us!  Turns out she met the sisters a few years back and really liked them.
  • - We celebrated our bestie's birthday-- oh man she always makes us feel so loved
  • - We had a lesson about learning to find God's influence in our lives... the Spirit was so so strong! It is truly a humbling to be able to teach.


Quotes of the week:
  • - Me: "What an incredible scripture story that is!  The Brother of Jared had such faith that, upon asking Him to light up the stones, he saw the finger of the Lord." Schwester K: "I have faith that one day you will speak perfect Spanish."
  • - "Is there anything we can do for you?" "Yes sisters, we would love it if you took our dogs on a walk through the woods." 
  • - *in Sunday School* "We are living in the last days.  There is not a single country that isn't plagued with conflict" "Except Switzerland." 
I am so grateful for the time and the place in which we live.  In a world where so many are persecuted for their beliefs, it is such a blessing to be able to practice freely.  It was only within the last 2 centuries that my ancestors faced the treacherous journey across the sea from Europe and across the wild terrain of the American continent... and yet to this day others still risk their lives to worship their God.     

We have so much to live for, and we cannot take these sacrifices made by others for granted. Instead, we have so many opportunities to strengthen ourselves (and others) by expounding upon our faith. We cannot afford to be wishy-washy, choosing to follow our religion based on, say, tradition.  Rather, we must build for ourselves a firm foundation!  Let us decide for ourselves what we believe and then act on it.  We need not be "pioneers," although many will be even in this day and age.  But we can always follow the pioneers' excellent examples of faith and dedication to their God.   

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

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