Around the World

Monday, May 09, 2016

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)

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