Christmas, Bombs and the ER (Don't worry, they're not related)

Last Monday: PART II

I was getting impatient as the woman bubble-wrapped up my Nativity set.  Although grateful that she was trying to keep the precious carvings protected, my chest was hurting and I was getting dizzier by the second.  "You're scaring me," one of the sisters said as we stepped outside into the snowy Oberammergau afternoon.  It was said in that time that I looked like something out of "The Walking Dead." That night when we returned to our apartment at 9:30, I stepped on the scale and gasped.    

I had dropped 7 lbs in the space of 4 days.  

A few minutes later I started coughing and *reader discrepancy: grossness* coughed out green 
gunk as well as a bit of blood. The amount of blood was small so I knew it was likely not from my lungs but rather from my poor throat being coughed raw, but still I was startled.    I had already called the nurse this morning, but now I texted her informing her of my new symptoms (not expecting to hear till morning).  It was 10:20 and I went to bed.  Then she called us, extremely worried.  At her instruction we threw on some warm clothes and caught the next tram to the emergency room.  I'll let you know I have never been to an emergency room.

Because of difficulties in making contact with people, it was decided that the zone leaders would travel down here from Munich.  I felt terrible about that, but they at least seemed ready for the adventure of it all.

We arrived at around 12 and them around 1. It probably was a 3 hour process of filling out paperwork and waiting in the waiting room, but our zone leaders were absolutely hilarious.  I of course was totally out of it.  I entertained myself by watching the dots in the ceiling tiles crawl like insects. No, I was not on meds at this point.

Finally they called me into the room, where they apparently corkscrewed a needle into my vein and drew out blood for a test.  After I had waited for a time, Sister Franchino ushered the elders into the room with us. We proceeded to wait for probably another two hours with me laying on the hospital bed and the other missionaries sprawled out on the floor, laughing.  At some point a lady came in and asked if they had done a blood test, we said yes, and then she just nodded, did nothing about it, and we were left alone for another long time.  It was probably 5 in the morning by the time the doctor finally came in to listen to my breathing.  He asked me if I smoke ("rauchen") but I in my deliria forgot German and thought that "rauchen" meant "to breathe" so the elders quickly had to correct that mistake haha.  The doctor diagnosed me with bronchitis and then hooked me up to the breathing machine and gave me really really strong antibiotics. 

We were in the hospital till 6 AM, and didn't get home till 7 AM.  Those zone leaders are such troopers-- they were in charge of zone training at 12!   As for Sister Franchino, I don't think she will ever forget her first pday.     

So yeah.  Though I imagined spending my only week of Christmas in the field out sharing the good news, I was actually mostly under house arrest.  I will count my blessings though-- if I had lived just a few streets over in downtown Augsburg, I couldn't have stayed home if I wanted! Many people were evacuated this weekend upon the discovery of a one of the  biggest undetonated bombs dug up since World War II (1.8 tons). I believe it was found during a building project, and though it has rested in peace for 70 years, its exposure to the elements can be extremely dangerous. We were on our toes all day till they finally announced that it had been safely dismantle, but the transportation for the whole city was shut down.

As for Christmas, the celebrations here last three days. The 24th is Heiligabend, and we spent it at members' house, singing songs, opening presents, playing games, and eating potatoes and wurst.  On Christmas morning I woke early and opened all my packages (THANK YOU 6TH WARD YOUNG WOMEN'S AND FAMILY) and then we went to church for the Salt Lake devotional broadcast.  Afterwards we joined the awesome Markus and Alexa for some more delicious German food, a stroll through their several-hundred-year-old village, and learning how to play poker.  Today, we shall be spending time with another member family, and I am excited to see what else lies in store.  I won't lie though, my favorite part of the whole holiday was skyping my family!  I can't express enough how grateful I am for the knowledge that my family can be together forever. Though I definitely miss them, I am willing to miss seeing their beautiful shining faces for a little bit if it means that maybe I can help someone else be with their family for eternity as well!

Add caption


Mosiah 5: 7-8
7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

Love to you all!
Sister Lundgreen

More pics from Oberammergau:

Oberammergau Town

Today, we traveled many hours to visit the snow-frosted Oberammergau.

I have never seen anything like the frescos splayed in dramatic detail across the outer walls of buildings; nor have I seen such beautiful wood carvings, which the town has been famous for for centuries. We wandered though many shops before I chose which Nativity set to purchase.  In one, we spoke to a man whose picture was framed on the wall on the front page of a newspaper.  His brows were creased in concentration as he whittled away his masterpiece, wood shavings left and right along with other completed proofs of his amazing talent.  He told us about the once-a-decade Passion Play, put on by the residents of Oberammergau, a beloved tradition begun in THE SIXTEEN HUNDREDS. "The people here must be very religious," guessed Sister Gach. He agreed with a solid yes.

*stay tuned next week for more pics*

The best way to sum up this week is that the morning after Sister Franchino got here I tried to get up and then immediately had to lay on the floor before I passed out. It's been a fun few days of fevers, coughing, freezing, and struggling to breathe. But all is well in the land of the Celestial language, at least it's pretty here. As a trainer, one has to try and give their golden a good first taste of the mission she has been called to. For the first dinner hour we visited the Christmas markets. I also had to make sure she tried a döner. I felt bad that I was so out of it but we worked hard anyway.

The golden fire is REAL.

Notable Notes
- I look forward to this following week of knocking on as many doors as possible before Christmas is over.
- Sometimes in tiny towns the buses come very rarely so you just get to take an hour walk through the rolling hills.
- It was so depressing saying bye to Sister Howsmon.
- I was showing 5-year-old Spanish twins all my pictures and for those of you who understand Spanish they were calling all my pictures feo and estupido haha
- Accents are a struggle when learning a language. Nobody wants that super-American "ar", but sometimes it's hard to do the German R than to just skip the R altogether. For example, I was trying to talk about how in Arizona we have spicier ("scharfer") things like how we grew jalapeños in our garden... But in my attempt to not sound American she thought I was talking about sheep ("Schafe").
- We got a have a nice chat at an Irish pub
- A flirty guy slipped his number to my golden #awkward
- We have gotten so many little gifts from members, they are the best.

This week I have been reading lots in the New Testament as well as in Preach My Gospel.  There are two quotes that I found: "Pure religion includes caring for the poor." and "By caring for the poor we help fulfill our baptismal covenant and retain a remission of our sins."  I love that. I was so proud of the young women's and young men's groups this week as they brought what they could together, to decorate for Christmas the home of a family who's father recently lost his job. We don't have to do much to show others that they matter, and I think that really shows all the difference.

Love Always,
Sister Lundgreen

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

It was a winter wonderland.  Although lacking in snow, the city of Munich was bejeweled with crimson flora and laden with Christmas markets stretching from street to street. 

Just when we'd thought we'd found the end of the markets, we would turn into an alleyway and discover a whole new realm of Christmas magic in the form of Medieval-themed shops or waltzing bell-tower cuckoo-clocks. Sister Howsmon thought we'd store the precious memory in a pair of beautiful Nativity music boxes.

Transfer calls!  5 week transfers are the worst because I feel like I only just got here and yet Sister Howsmon is already leaving.  *sobbing* But as it turns out I will soon be a mother of three. #timeforaminivan. But yes I am training again IT SHALL BE FUN.
Notable Notes:
- In Germany, St. Nicholas doesn't give naughty children coal.... But rather he brings along his buddy Krampus.  He is so terrifying; at dinner appointments I have seen kids be disobedient, the parents warn them of Krampus coming to get them, and then the kids sitting up wide-eyed and obedient in terror.  Haha.  Last year I saw a preview for a horror movie about Krampus but didn't know he was actually a thing over here in the Alpinlandische region! Also, St. Nicholas dresses more like the pope here.
- We had our ward Christmas party and it was Bethlehem themed!  Lots of people came, dressed up in old-Jerusalem-looking apparel and ready to "buy" olives and flatbread with gold chocolate coins.  The program followed the nativity story of Luke 2, and we joined the Young Women as a choir of angels to proclaim the birth of the swaddled Savior.  


- Whilst on tausch, Sister Eden and I got to help do taxes 
- I don't usually wear my glasses out cause they can give me a headache, so when I wore them to church for the first time the ward mission leader's wife asked Sister Howsmon if I was the new missionary, cause she didn't recognize me at first hehe

-  Eggnog translates literally to egg liquor - you can't find it without alcohol here what a tragedy 
- Our Sunday school lesson was a mix of German, Romanian, Spanish and English 
- I make the weirdest grammar mistakes in my English nowadays 

On Tuesday we were saddened when two members texted to cancel appointments in the space of ten minutes.  So we went out finding.  It was fairly chilly as we went from door to door, asking everybody if they we could share a Christmas message, being told "no interest" more times than I could count.  But after skipping past one certain house I just felt a little uneasy, like maybe we should go back. Does it really matter? I thought.  It will just be the same as every other house.  But Sister Howsmon also turned back, commenting that she could see a young lady with a baby.  "Let's go back!" I said.  So we rang the doorbell and the lady answered super frazzled and busy.  "Should we come back another time?" Sister Howsmon asked.  I was expecting her to say no, but she legitimately paused, thought about it, and then said, "Tomorrow at the same time!" We were like whattttttt.  After she went back inside we were both ecstatic.  "This was the reason that those two appointments were cancelled, so that we would meet this lady!" If the first appointment hadn't been cancelled, then we wouldn't have been out and doored her house.  If the second appointment hadn't been cancelled, then we wouldn't be able to meet her at the same time the next day! 
  But when the next day came and we ringed her doorbell once again, she wasn't there.  Her husband was, and he was super nice and said that if his wife said it was ok then we were totally welcome to come back.  But after he closed the door we were confused. Was that NOT supposed to be the reason that those two appointments were cancelled? 
So we continued dooring.  After ringing almost all the bells of one apartment, a man let us in.  
"This is the first time I have ever been let in before!" I whispered.  
"Wait, nobody has EVER said you could come in to share a message before?"
"Well, there was ONE other time..."

                                              *4 MONTHS EARLIER*

The swelling August heat squandered any hope of autumn as Sister Selph and I klingeled a Viennese apartment.  Literally every single person either didn't answer or said no.  There was one left, and I clung to the faith that maybe this would be the one.
"Hello?" a man answered through the intercom.
"Hello!  We're on our way and we're sharing a short message about the purpose of life!  Do you have five minutes that we could share that with you?"
"Well OF COURSE!" he answered, with more enthusiasm than I had ever heard.
 So we hiked up to the very top floor of the apartment.  We were panting by the time he opened his door. 
"Hi, we're missionaries--" gasping for breath "--from the Church of--"
"Oh, um..." The guy's cheeks flushed; his mouth hung a little.  "I'm so, so sorry... But, uh, my friends and I do this thing where whenever we ring each other's doorbells, we ask each other deep questions and uhhhh............" His face contorted in pity as we realized that this young dude's friends legitimately pretend to be missionaries at each other's doorsteps.  We were literally the butt of their joke.  "I'm sorry that you walked all the way up here, but I don't actually have interest." It was too unfortunate and ironic and funny for us to even be mad.

                                              *PRESENT WEEK*

So the man rung us into the apartment complex, and we walked up to his doorstep.  He seemed very surprised to see Sister Howsmon.  "Don't you remember?!" he said.  "We talked to each other a few months ago on a tram!  Normally I wouldn't have interest but that's just so cool that we ran into each other twice!" So he let us share a Christmas message right there on his doorstep; we showed the new video and testified of the importance of Christ and how we can follow Him especially in this holiday season.  He wasn't interested to learn any more about the church but he was really nice and he took one of the service advent calendars.  
Who knows- maybe the two appointments were supposed to be cancelled, so that we would go by on that woman, who wasn't supposed to be home, so that we would knock on the door of this man.  Maybe the message we shared helped him somehow.  Or maybe it was all just completely random and the appointments were cancelled for no destined reason and we just lucky running into that man again.  I don't know.  But it's good to have faith that we can make good of whatever circumstances we are thrown into, and try to be a tool in the Lord's hands wherever we are at.

At the Christmas conference this week they talked about the difference between knowing about Christ and KNOWING Christ.  Yes, it's easy to read in the New Testament and learn facts about his life.  But do we KNOW Him?  Will we recognize Him at the Judgement Bar, having followed Him with all our heart might, mind and strength?  I know this is a concept I myself am trying to understand.  But something I love so much about this year's Christmas initiative is that it doesn't focus at all on His birth, however miraculous it was.  Rather, it concentrates entirely on His life and ministry!  Christ was a perfect example for us, through His Love, His service and His great sacrifice.  I hope we can remember that this Christmas season.

Love Always, 
         Sister Lungreen

Children's Punch and a Ninja Cat

Pday shenanigans :)
     The crisp winter air was warmed by Christmas melody.  Though our purple fingers struggled to flip through the hymn books, we grinned like children. Though our little choir was far from perfect, our lilting carols lifted the spirits of many passing shoppers.  As a Munich* Stake youth activity focused around missionary work, it was for sure a highlight of the transfer.  Youth handed out cookies and Christmas party invitations as people exited the grocery store; many people smiled while some even joined in singing! What a way to feel the Christmas spirit.

*As a question, what do you call the natives who live in Munich? Munchkins? Idk.

     Well, folk, I have officially been out nine months. YOU HEAR ME? The whopping 9, the great halfway.  How can it possibly be?  It has gone so fast!... But here I am.

Notable Notes:
- Somehow we allowed our landlady's STINKING NINJA-OF-A-CAT to escape and get lost for 24 hours. Those were some agonizing 24 hours, we felt terrible. I don't even know how it happened because, in the space of the one minute which we walked just a couple feet into the house...he legitimately opened AND THEN SHUT BEHIND HIM a gate and two doors, without us seeing or hearing him once.
- For pday we took a stroll through the woods. I wish I could bottle up not only the view but the smell... The sounds... The FEEL. So peaceful.

- We visited a backstreet Christmas market with an AWESOME member. She is hilarious! She ordered us hot chocolate, kinderpunsch, and these delicious Panama flatbreads which you HAVE TO TRY (spread sour cream on a flatbread, slice some banana on top, sprinkle with curry power and cover in white cheese and then bake. Yumyumyum).
- We watched a symphany of angels at the Rathaus
- We continued handing out the service Advent Calendars and I think people were pleasantly surprised. Quote of the week: "You're giving these out for free? But NOTHING IS FOR FREE THESE DAYS!(??)" I just hope that people use these calendars because, really, what an excellent opportunity to celebrate the birth of the most serviceable Being-- by doing good every day!
- Kids speaking German is just the cutest. The primary program was ADORABLE
- We visited a 100-year-old woman. I went to shake her hand and then she clamped on strongly and didn't let go for a number of minutes.

     This week my dad sent me some typed-out journal entries from December of my eighth grade year.  It's funny to look back to age 14 (when my concerns were about cheerleading and singing lessons and final exams) and remember what sorts of hopes and goals I had.  I talked about how crazy it was that "in only four Christmases" I would be out of the house and in college.  I certainly could not have pictured life 6 years down the road, an old 20-year-old, only a meager 1.5 inches taller, out on a mission speaking German (especially because the age change had not yet happened).
     In one of these journal entries I recorded a realization.  Something that I thought to be a loss in my life before then had actually turned into a blessing, allowing me to expand my horizons and discover new talents.  At that young and hopeful age it dawned on me that while, yes, I did have to give something up... we often must take the steep hike upwards before we behold the beautiful mountain-pinnacle view. Sometimes our limbs will ache and our lungs short of breath.  But when we keep trusting and hoping that there is a reason for everything, when we continue following on the path God has laid out for us.... It will be worth it.

Popular Posts