From the Top

  The happiest moment of my mission thus far occurred last Saturday with the baptism of two of our great friends!  We could not be more proud of them for their courage and conviction, their endurance and their faith, despite the many trials they have faced. The Spirit was so strong as we watched them emerge from the water.  They are such an example, and I know their new future is bound to be bright.
    Last week for P-Day we took an elevator to the top of Donau Tören for an excellent view of Vienna and a lunch in the spinning cafe.  

Trying to dress cute for all the pictures backfired because that was the windiest day of my life, and wind + flowy dress = really really bad.  
   My German is definitely improving, and I couldn't be more happy about that.  I can converse with the members, participate in lessons (and put in my genuine thoughts, not just robotic MTC-taught responses), and understand even more than that.  Obviously it's still a long time coming, but I have hope that I will actually figure it out someday!  Except it's extremely frustrating because I know a couple Peruvians, and every time I try to speak with them in Spanish my sentences are just this depressing train wreck of Spaman/Gernish because apparently my brain doesn't know how to separate out the two languages. 

   I've decided that my favorite types of lessons are those in which we just answer the investigators' questions (whether it be about the purpose of life, the reason for the fall of Adam and Eve, the history of the Book of Mormon, the relationship between the Godhead and the people, etc).  I remember in junior high I always wanted to go into deep discussions with people, and obviously no other thirteen-year-old enjoyed that, so I'm pleased that I get to do that for a living now haha. Really though, it's so great to be able to help people understand just a little bit better those things that can help them draw closer to Christ and achieve happiness in this life.  I'll admit that people tend to ask the strangest questions sometimes, but I highly recommend that anyone who plans to serve a mission study the Old Testament.  It has the most bizarre stories, but it has helped me address so many peoples questions and concerns!  
  We have set our lesson goals high this week.  Though the beginning of last week we were a little discouraged by the vast rejection we received, we later on were so blessed to find a bunch of new potentials and I cannot wait to hopefully meet up with them and share our message.  

We are about to head out the Natural History Museum, so on a last note I would invite you to read Dieter F. Uchdorf's talk, "Of Regrets and Resolutions." He speaks of building a life for yourself, about which you can smile when your time on earth draws to a close.  I know nobody gets to choose their circumstances, but I believe that we can exercise our agency to choose to find the positive.  This has helped me a lot on my mission when I face insults, or when I get nostalgic thinking about my family and friends back home.  There is always beauty to be found around us; there is always something to learn from and something to be grateful for.   Here in Austria I am thankful for the challenges, the new friendships and new knowledge, all of which help me to grow stronger.   Our time is precious, so we must strive to live up to our full potential by focusing on the journey and never its end.


    Gospel Girl
           (aka Sister Lundgreen)


May is in full swing, and the blazing sun has finally decided to announce summertime.  Right after emails last week, we headed out to see the fun Time Travel Museum with some members, and then we visited the 1000-year-old VirgilCapelle, an underground church which was thought to be lost until it was discovered again with the building of the subway!

   This week has been one of the most exciting and exotic weeks of my mission.  On Tuesday our Iranian friends took us to a Turkish mart and then on Wednesday treated us to delicious Iranian food and the sweet tune of their traditional music.  

That night we ate an African dinner and celebrated a girl's 10th birthday with her French-speaking family from the Ivory Coast.  Thursday was a very relaxing evening at the home of members Richard and Baagii (from Mongolia), who always treat the missionaries like family. Then we spent Friday night with a family from Syria, and we shared Kurdish food on the floor using our hands.  Twice this week we also met with some of the members at a rest home, who shared war stories and sang hymns with us.  We had two additional meals with kind Austrian members on Sunday! This doesn't even include all of our lessons-- what a week!  

  However, the most terrifying moment of my mission occurred on Saturday.  We and the elders had just left the rest home and were walking towards the bus stop when suddenly this man right next to me on the sidewalk started stumbling towards the oncoming traffic.  In a moment of apparent-split-second-instinct, I dove into the road after him.  I don't know if I thought I could catch him or something (he was way bigger than me), but he collapsed in the empty lane just inches away from a horrifyingly-fast vehicle.  But my fear only escalated-- his eyes stared blankly and blood gushed from his head.  "He's dead!" someone exclaimed.  It might have been me.  I don't remember.  This all was only occurring in just a matter of a few seconds, but time just stood still.  I had no idea if we were supposed to move him (is that dangerous in the case of head injuries? and again, not like I was big enough anyways) but some other men raced into the road and picked him up to lay him on the sidewalk.  "Call an ambulance!" I shouted.  Somebody was already on it.  My hands trembled. He's dead.  I just watched a man die.  And then suddenly-- he was breathing.  I have never felt more relief in my life.  I searched my bag for some sort of tissue to maybe put pressure on his forehead to stop the bleeding, but I had nothing.  Luckily the police and ambulance arrived quickly and took control.  With alcohol-slurred speech, he argued with them against going to the hospital because he didn't want to pay for stitches.  Oh well.  At least he was alive.  
  When we finally left, Sister Price said, "I've already seen my golden walk in front of a tram, and now she jumped into the road!"  
  "He practically collapsed on top of her!" Elder Robertson responded.  Then he laughed.  "He probably just saw her long blonde hair and then lost all consciousness. Sister Lundgreen, you are the only one among us who can say that you've had someone literally fall for you."
  No.  Just......... no.    

Gospel Girl
(aka Sister Lundgreen)


   It is the weekend of Pentecost and the streets of Vienna are quiet.  It is peaceful, to have a bustling city sit still for the revered anniversary.  

We hope to celebrate by visiting a history museum with some members and perhaps trying out a Lebanese or Indian restaurant.  

    This week we have ventured into yet more ancient churches and also discovered dusty war shops, faded Star of David patches a testament of the city's tragic past.  It's been neat living in such a diverse and historic city because the people have truly been shaped by events which my little southwest hometown couldn't comprehend.  


Speaking of history, an embarrassing story of the week: We were walking through the subway station when suddenly I spotted a glass case with some arrowheads and tiny clay figurine.  I absolutely freaked.  "That's Venus von Willendorf!" I exclaimed.  As I learned in an art history class, this crude little statuette was sculpted around 25000 BC and is proof of Wien's Neolithic beginnings.  I went on for several minutes in my excitement until finally Sister Price said, "You know that's just a worthless copy advertising the real thing at the museum right?" I stopped, blinked, and then slapped my forehead.  Of course.  Why on earth would they place such a valuable relic, tipped over and completely unprotected in the middle of a subway station?!  Come on, sister, common sense.   

    Coming on a mission has taught me to be grateful for the little things. For warm sunny days (this week has been freezing), for ward members who take us in, for three new potentials in the very same 24 hours that we had just been feeling discouraged.  It's funny thinking back to my first night when we received 3 potentials in an hour, because I hadn't realized how wonderful that was until we went a solid three weeks without exchanging information with a single person.  We would stop everyone on the streets and often had deep conversations, but nobody was interested in our message.  When we were finally able to find these new potentials just a few days ago, Sister Price and I couldn't stop smiling and now continually pray that it works out and that we can do something to help these people.  It's also interesting how we wouldn't have met some of these people without our other appointments falling out last minute!  I have learned to be grateful for good health on days when we are constantly on our feet, for email communication which allows me to see pictures of family birthdays and graduation events, for time to thoroughly study the scriptures, and for Sister Price's abilities to rescue us when people ask the most bewildering questions or perhaps say something in German that I completely cannot understand (this happens frequently). And of course, I am grateful to have been raised in the church with a knowledge of who I am as a daughter of God.  We will continue to work hard, talking to everyone who will listen and trying our best to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being loving, serviceable and patient even in the face of rejection.   

Gospel Girl
(aka Sister Lundgreen)

P.S.  Here are some more pictures from last week!

Around the World

Guten tag, Fruenden!  I have just returned from a lovely trip to the gardens of Shönbrun!

This sunny palace is a wonder radiating beauty and wealth, and as we strolled past glistening pools, Grecian statuary, and even a labyrinth, I could hardly stop myself from skipping.  Could Austria get any prettier?  We climbed to the top of the hill for a gorgeous view of the city and then collapsed in the grass, closed our eyes and soaked up the golden May afternoon.

     Vienna never ceases to surprise me, and this week it was with the weather. Who would think that only a day after we were bundled up in heavy coats, the hot sun would beat down and the parks would be filled with people laying out in swimsuits? Besides this, most stores close around 5, and on holidays NOTHING is open and the streets are completely empty {and apparently they have lots of holidays here too}. 

   In the short 12 days between me returning home to Arizona from BYU-Hawaii and then setting off for England, I tried to stuff myself with Mexican food because I assumed I wouldn't have it for a year and a half.... Yet I have been fed more tacos than native Austrian food. What even is schnitzel or wurst? Don't ask me!

   Some other things: we randomly stumble upon palaces, the crows are ginormous, a good number of streets are cobblestone, stores sell vanilla sugar not vanilla extract, eggs/milk/whipped cream are often sold unrefrigerated, and seemingly everyone is trilingual. Graves are only rented-- AKA there are so many people who have lived in this ancient city that after a few years they have to give the burial space up to someone new. We have seen people ride bikes in lederhosen and others playing the accordian on the subway. When finding out we are American, people like to bring up their dislike for an *unspecified* American presidential candidate, and another time, someone asked us how our mission is picked. We explained that we send our papers in to our president {meaning president of our church}, but the man exclaimed, "Obama sent you here to Österreich?!" We frequently have people signing the cross before us, or asking if we are nuns. A lot of people like American football and thought it was the coolest thing ever that one of our family friends played for the Patriots.  Also, before my mission, I never once had someone question my last name.  But now? People are flabbergasted by the name "Lundgreen" and act bewildered that I come from the U.S. You'd think that in a city with so many immigrants, it wouldn't be that difficult to comprehend that maybe America is also a melting pot and that a couple centuries ago my ancestors took the name over from Denmark.  Anyways, it's pretty funny.  

This week we had five lessons as well as several deep conversations with people on the streets.  Even if we don't get any potentials, it is always so fulfilling to walk away from a person having gotten to know just a little about who they are and what makes them smile.  There are billions of people in this world, and it's interesting to look back a year ago to when graduation seemed like the biggest leap of my life so far... and now, having lived in the Pacific Islands and in Austria, I have come to discover so many new perspectives from those who have been raised with entirely different languages, religions, and cultures, than myself.  But something wonderful about leaving home is that you learn to appreciate it so much more. Yesterday was one of the most exciting days of my mission so far,since I got to Skye my family for Mother's Day.  I loved every second of the conversation with my beautiful smiling family!  I'll admit it was hard to say goodbye since I won't be able to Skype again till Christmas... but not being able to see them for 18 months is worth it when I think about the  families I can help bring together forever. 

Gospel Girl
(aka Sister Lundgreen)


At last, the springtime warmth emerges with the ribbons of May Day, and the city comes alive. Finally, people are willing to stop and talk to two young American girls on the sidewalk rather than just speed walk through the chill. Although despite our finding efforts we were unable to find anyone new to teach, we have had some interesting conversations with strangers about the purpose of life, and we had fun doing service projects and meeting with members/less actives. I never imagined all the random things that I would experience as a missionary, but this week I have seen a turned-down marriage proposal between people who don't really know each other, I have heard a synthesizer version of Come Thou Fount and a live informercial on workout equipment, I have strolled past Beethoven's house , and (Mom close your eyes) I have walked in front of a tram. Right now we are sitting at a bakery enjoying Austrian cinnamon rolls; we just took a hike past rolling vineyards and through sweet-perfumed forests to the top of the mount for a gorgeous view of Vienna. 

On a more serious note,  I didn't realize until I left on my mission just how lucky I was. How lucky I was to be born into a loving family... To be born in the church, in a town where there are so many members who have so firm a foundation ... To be a citizen of a country where there is peace and where those of certain religious or political groups aren't persecuted ... Why me? Previously, whenever I saw the news, it seemed too far away to be real. But after coming to the city of Vienna where so many refugees have fled, I have grown that much more grateful for my friends and loved ones, my home, and my freedoms. It's certainly not something to take for granted. Meeting these brave people has been so incredible, and as I continue to meet more I hope I will learn from their example of strength. 

We have a lesson tonight, and this week I want to be continually courageous in opening up my mouth to speak. It's a huge city, and so many have already told us of their desire to know where they've come from, where they're going, and why they're here. It's a marvelous work. 

Here is a bonus picture of a bunch of tourists who whipped out three cameras each when we were trying to take a group photo with the district:

    Gospel Girl
           (aka Sister Lundgreen)

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