Süßes oder Sauers!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, folks!  I've heard the holiday isn't as big here, but hey, we'll check things out today anyway!

   Our week went basically something like this: For most of the days we spent hours at a time out streeting. And then came Friday. Despite the near-lack of appointments the whole rest of the week, the 28th was JAM-PACKED with an appointment every 2 hours on all opposite sides of town. When one of them started late (outside our control), it was like a domino effect. Needless to say there was much sprinting that day. ON THE PLUS SIDE, Sister Slack and I are improving so much with streeting. We are really starting to make it fun! Not only do we have some good conversations and occasionally meet people who have interest to learn more, but we get to discover the hidden gems of Vienna along the way. Example: We accidentally found a palace when trying to go to a park.

Notable notes:
- I had to figure out how to use my German to speak to the police at like 8:45 at night. ahhh
- We have this awesome new friend who is literally so nice that he bought a giant pizza for us all at game night, and even came with us to church on Sunday
- After talking about the Plan of Salvation we asked him to read 2 Nephi 2: 22-28.   Somehow there was a mix up and he instead read 2 Nephi 23 (an Isaiah chapter including the violent prophecy of the destruction of Babylon). *Facepalm
- We saw Vienna from the top of Stephansdom.
- I had a picture of a pirhana on my iPad. When some members' baby saw it, he pointed to the sharp-toothed fish and called it "Mama!!!" His mother was not too thrilled by that haha.
- We got to go to the Primary Halloween party. I want to be a kid again.
- I figured out my Ward Mission Leader Emmanuel is also friends with Erik whom I hiked across a reef at Chinaman's Hat with in Hawaii #smallworld
- I got an extra hour of sleep because of time change, which is not a thing in AZ
Wednesday was Austria's Independence Day to celebrate when the Allies left.
- We visited the Manner chocolate factory. #nevergoingbacktoUSchocolate
- Before my mission, my sisters, mom and I would freak out over actors we recognized. I still do that... Just with church movies. *watching A Search for the Truth. Squints. Why does Wilford Woodruff look so familiar?  ...Imagining him with long hair, no shirt and a spray tan.... Points and shouts "THAT'S JACOB FROM THE TESTAMENTS!!!!!"  Companion raises an eyebrow.*
From the top of Stephansdom (St Stephen's Cathedral)

I am continuing on with the Apocrypha in my German study.  10 chapters into Judith, I think she is literally my favorite woman of the whole Bible. So the Jews are in a panic because the enemy has cut off their water supply, and soon they will be destroyed. Judith confronts the high priests and then after throwing down all her God-fearing wisdom, dolls herself up with all her fineries; and from then on pretty much every other verse describes how every man who sees her is just "enchanted" by her beauty and can't stop staring at her.  She convinces the awe-struck Israelite guards to open then gates and then she courageously marches with her maidens into enemy territory. And then my favorite verse: "Einer sagte zum andern: Wer kann dieses Volk verachten, das solche Frauen in seiner Mitte hat?"  
Which I will ROUGHLY translate as, One of the enemy soldiers said to another, "Well SHOOOOT! Who can hate a people who have got ladies LIKE THIS ONE???!"
That's about as far as I got, but man am I excited for language study tomorrow.

In all seriousness, I invite you this week to really try to learn from your scripture study.  I was once promised that I would grow to love the scriptures, and that has definitely come true as I really try to use them as a resource for my own growth.  When they are no longer just a part of my daily checklist, when I actually read them to READ THEM, then can I see that there are some truly incredible stories written within.  There are stories of REAL PEOPLE, some of whom went through unimaginably difficult experiences but trusted in God and came out courageously in the end.  I hope I too can develop such faith.

Happy Halloween! Enjoy the trick or treating for me :)

Chestnuts Roasting

This week began with the Vreugdenhills, on the mist-blanketed top of Kalenberg.  We watched their little dog race ahead through the leaf-strewn path, and squinted over the edge of the mountain where the view of Vienna was devoured by white nothingness.  

We wore thick coats and gloves whilst we pointed at the villas of millionaires, explored the chapel built as a wedding gift to Empress Sissi, and stood reverently on the hill where Austria was dedicated.  The steaming bowl of soup (and not to mention the birthday cake!) was definitely welcome  afterwards. While home is hot as 97, it's been dipping down daily into the 40s here. 

I'll admit, this week flew by and I can't remember much to report. But along with getting caught in the rain, traveling around town giving stake conference invitations to those who haven't been to church in a while, and waiting 30 minutes for a guy who never showed up (#ithappensmorethanyouthink), here are some random   
Notable Notes: 
- We accidentally went to the U.N. when trying to find stake conference

- Chestnuts roasting on an open fire are a legit thing.  So are gingerbread cookies and Christmas lights in October! #canitbedecemberalready . 
- We had eating appointments with SEVEN MEMBER FAMILIES (and it was even actually supposed to be nine!).  Our ward is the best!  I love getting to know them.  Our conversations ranged everywhere from Christmas traditions to the low food supply during Depression/War times to phycological tricks like the Linker Method which help you remember long lists of random words.  
Friday was exchange with Sister McClellan as well as Teodora's birthday dinner and YSA waffle night.  We agreed that that evening was the awkwardest of awkward, a comedy of mishaps, an utter social disaster.  But even despite the hour-late guest, the stolen food and all the absurdities in between, the night was salvaged when (after we got home) our sweet friend whom we had invited texted us saying that she had had a fun time and that she was grateful for us. Awwww!
- We ran into another friends on the subway TWICE this week.  We also ran into one of our members twice.  This city is so huge I don't know why it happens.
- Is there a third Divergent movie out or something because I thought I saw it out on DVD at the store.... I didn't even know they had so much as a PREVIEW out for that thing. Have I really been out that long?
- There were five sisters in the apartment on Saturday night. Ya know, spontaneous exchanges, like my third transfer.  'Twas fun.

- I have been getting nineties songs stuck in my head all week.  Don't ask me why, all I listen to is Christian Rock and EFY music.
- During language study I finished reading the German Old Testament's Book of Tobit.  I have been thoroughly entertained, and only slightly weirded out.
- We had an appointment where we talked about the Plan of Salvation, which is my favorite gospel topic.  I know it for sure helps ME understand this crazy world a little better!

Well this week we had stake conference, so all the members in this half of Austria had the chance to meet at the huge Austria Center Vienna.  The highlight for me was listening to a British member of the Seventy.  To loosely quote him: 
"You may be kind and they will be rude.  Be kind anyway.  You may be happy and they will be jealous. Be happy anyway.  You may be honest and they will cheat you.  Be honest anyway.  You may give your best and it will never be enough.  GIVE YOUR BEST ANYWAY."
I invite you this week to be your best self, to continue working hard and seeking Christlike-attributes no matter what the world throws back at you. You have so much potential, don't let it be squandered by those who try to tell you otherwise.
As he finished, "In the end it's between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway." 


Oktober Fest

    I remember the first time I had ever heard of Vienna was in the song Vienna Waits for You.  I had always been charmed by the idea of the city; it sounded beautiful and classic in an artsy European sort of way, but I had hardly dreamed of ever seeing it.  When I was assigned to serve here, I was of course thrilled.  I had no idea why (to be honest I knew hardly anything about this capital of Austria) but Vienna was the one city I sincerely, sincerely hoped I would have the opportunity to serve in after being called to the Alpine Mission.

 Six months later, my heart is captured; I am head over heels.  I love Vienna, and the idea of leaving this place where I have fallen not only in love with the ward members but with the random people we speak to on the streets, the meshed cultures, the Greco-Victorian architecture, the crazy subway system, the Wienerisch dialect, the classic arts, the incredible war-torn history... It's hard.  I still have AT LEAST another three weeks before I leave here and already I am trying to brainstorm ways to return.

"Exotic" decor

     But that's the wonderful thing about a mission.  I knew before I left that there would be times that were hard.  And that is true.  But I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how much my heart strings would be tugged by the people who's stories I would never have had the chance to hear otherwise.

Things that went down this week:

- lots and lots of streeting through random neighborhoods and leave-strewn parks

- a number of opportunities to meet up with the COOLEST young people
- a sports night and a game night (I played chess for the first time in my life)
-  a beautiful garden-side lunch with the Bishop's family (LOVE THEM)

-  a Pakistani buffet where we sat on the floor and talked about traveling Greece (among many other things)
- a stroll past the Opera and a three-story H&M in a Victorian venue
- a lot of backtracking and rerouting and running through the station to catch the subway and otherwise just having to completely scrap our original plan
- an AMAZING fireside featuring Susan R. Madsen

Too short.... Story of my life...

Vienna's mini Oktober Fest
     Confession time: I am not the best missionary out there (haha). I am a natural introvert, and speaking with strangers is definitely not made easier when clumsily using a new language.  It is not uncommon for me to, for example, chicken out when Sister Slack says I should talk to the person walking past, or for me to just absolutely wing it when a lesson doesn't go as planned.   Besides this, my brain is an disaster-of-an-attention-lacking mess, I still accidentally call people "dude" (what can I say, I lived in Hawaii!) and I got way too excited when I heard "Rolling in the Deep" at the store the other day. But I am learning so much.  I am learning better how to follow the Spirit.  I am learning better how to see people for more than just how they look on the outside.  I am learning about gratitude, about facing fears, about strengthening testimony, about other points of views on religion and even politics.  I am learning about myself!
     I absolutely loved listening to Susan R. Madsen because she really hit home with how we as women can really step it up and use our unique attributes to influence the world for good.  We need to get educated, she said, both in the university and in the doctrine of gospel, because that is the way to truly impact the generations ahead of us.  She also pleaded for us not to be silent nor to confuse "humility" with "low self-worth." This reminded me a little of the parable in Matthew 5:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Let us be strong.  Let us not think that are too small or insignificant to make a difference, but rather let us be a light to shine forth in the darkness around us.  Let us see ourselves as our Father sees us, and live up to that potential He has given.

Schöne Woche! Tschüss!


365 days ago I celebrated turning 19 by exploring the glitzy tropics of Waikiki.  With bare feet and sandy hair I asked Lexi if we could scout out the Cheesecake Factory and try the pumpkin flavor cheesecake, even if just to get a tiny taste of fall while living living on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Last year in Waikiki, Oahu on my 19th Birthday!
This year my breath crystallized and my boots crunched on cobblestone whilst I lost myself in the grandeur of Franz Joseph's glorified city. Truly there is nothing like autumn in Vienna, where the auburn trees provide contrast against the bright architecture.  With the rest of our district we tasted the famed Sache Torte Cake, entered the ancient Stephansdom and saw the city from upside down at Prater Amusement Park.  I couldn't have been happier for the inbox full of emails, the mailbox full of packages, or the cute hearts Sister Slack left all over my desk.  Missionaries treated me to blueberry pancakes and pumpkin muffins and later tonight we are meeting Baagii downtown!  Honestly, it's just crazy how much everything changes in a year.

There are some days as a missionary where you will be out in the chilled rain, your nose red, your fingers numb, with nothing to do other than just talk to anyone who will listen. After one finding session I was admittedly happy as we were turning the corner into our apartment complex, after all I was cold and tired. But I saw a guy walking quite a ways off and had a feeling that I should talk to him. "Nah," I told myself. "I'm already home." As Sister Slack started opening the door I felt again like we should keep walking to talking to him. "He probably wouldn't wanna listen anyway," I justified. Then as I walked into the building and she pushed the button for the elevator, I could feel it in my gut and it was like a voice shouting in my head, "YOU NEED TO TALK TO HIM!" "Sister Slack, come with me!" I said quickly. I am so grateful that we were given the extra courage to talk to just this one more person... Because we have since met with him, and he is amazing. To think if we had chosen to follow the desires of the "natural man" to just go home and kick our shoes off rather than follow the prompting... Wow.

Some other notable notes:

On Thursday we taught the German class where we played the question game, and then later all the missionaries got together had a game night. We had a number of people we invited show up and it was such a blast for everyone!
- Sister Slack had the unfortunate mishap of standing under a bird whilst we were talking to a lady in the park...... I was really proud at how well she managed to keep her cool despite all the yuckiness that landed in her hair.
- We visited a Turkish mart, where hundreds of vendors lined up together on a street so packed that one could hardly move. My eyes could hardly absorb all the colors (of food, tapestries, and jewelry alike!) and the aroma of exotic spices hanging in the air was delicious! We bought a couple of things: Baklava, hummus, and this savoury pastry stuffed with feta and spinach.

- We celebrated Baagii's birthday! She is the BEST.  One day when I am an RM I will just return to Vienna and lay on her floor.
- European holiday milk drinks should be on your bucket list. The apple-cinnamon-caramel flavour literally tastes like the epitome of fall.  Also, the world can take a lesson from the Viennese fall fashion. They all look like they came from a magazine. One of the elders mentioned how happy was that it is acceptable for manly men to wear scarves here haha.
- We have gotten back in contact with 4 people whom I met with when I was a golden. So excited to see them again soon!

365 days ago I was a design student who spent her time studying, socializing and swimming with sea turtles. A year later I find myself, remarkably, speaking a foreign sprache with strangers on a subway. The most astounding thing about that concept is that 365 days from now I will no longer even be wearing a name badge.  Time kinda just has this weird way of going fast-slow, but I think if we try to live in the moment than we can truly find the greatest satisfaction.  I loved the talk this past General Conference about finding joy even despite all the difficulties.  As a missionary, yes rejection and homesickness can be hard.  But we missionaries also learn to take so much joy in the little things: an example for me, getting texts from people who said they have felt happiness since meeting with us. Being joyful doesn't necessarily mean that your life is easy, but that you are doing what you can to give your best in the moment.

Mosiah 2:41

41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Have a beautiful week!

I'm a Mom Now

 This week began in the hospital.  No really.  And when I say hospital... I mean maze. It was a good thing I had native-German-speaking Sister Gudnason with me, because otherwise there would have been no way I could have known what to do as they ordered us to fill out such and such form and then go downstairs to such and such desk and then go back upstairs to the first desk then to a second desk for more paperwork then back downstairs to pay then back upstairs to give the second desk the receipt to get the appointment before finally sitting in the waiting room for an hour, before FINALLY getting to see one doctor who sent me to a second doctor who did a test and sent me back to the first doctor.  FORTUNATELY - the tests were positive.  Although I had feared an infection, all the hearing troubles and ear pains were only some leftover side effects of last week's illness. A trip to the hospital felt quite dramatic just to find out that little bit of information.  Oh how I miss my American Urgent Care.

Anyway, is the golden fire real or IS THE GOLDEN FIRE REAL.  Sister Slack, my Mitarbeiterin, my Tochter, has a drive to work like none other and is so brave in talking to people despite her newness with the language. It's strange going from being the way-younger junior companion to suddenly being the one to hold the fort down; I can no longer just turn for help when I don't know the German or when I'm not sure how to handle a certain situation.   But we are trying our best together! We are setting lots of goals including talking to EVERYONE and speaking as much German outside the apartment as we can. I can say I am a proud mom.

Some fun facts about German:
- Some English words get integrated in. For example, I have heard both "gebrainstormed" and "geskyped" over the pulpit.
- You get used to not understanding everything on food labels so sometimes you don't just don't even pay attention. Sister Slack wanted to buy chocolate and it wasn't till after we took a bite, noticed a suspicious taste and then looked at the wrapper that we realized it said "rum" on it.

Some notable notes:
- Sister Slack likes "dog contacting," in which she tells someone that she likes their dog and asks if she can pet it, and then we get to chit chatting.  After doing this, a lady actually offered her own phone number to meet up with us again! So sweet.  We also talked to a guy walking his dog who was a self-proclaimed "polytheistic heathen." We also tried to ask a guy how old his puppy was and he ignored our question and went right into some rant in which we learned that apparently America is the Illuminati state.
- We visited the elderly Vodusek couple again. Sister Selph had left behind some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups because they had once told us how much they love American peanut butter.  We had been planning to just drop it off but she let us in.  He had just gotten out of the hospital and they were so happy to see us! Who knew I could understand so much of the Wienerisch dialect?  They loved the Reese's... Although they tried to eat the paper wrapping.
- It's October and now we see SO MANY PEOPLE wearing lederhosen and dirndl for Oktober Fest type events. Also, we got to make pumpkin bread and pancakes.
- I saw Sister Price again!  So sad to say bye to her; this time she was with her family! Still crazy to think that I was trained by her in the same place where I now train Sister Slack.

- Sadly it's my last week to be a teenager - schade! Over the past 7 months of missionarying, when people found out that I was only 19 whilst out here in a foreign country preaching the word, their reactions were actually pretty entertaining. I will definitely miss this age.

Well this weekend was General Conference, and this time I really tried to listen with an open heart. One of the messages that stuck out to me was from Elder D. Todd Christofferson.  He talked about how "the grace of God does not merely return us back to our previous state." Rather, if we are faithful enough to trust, humble enough to learn, and diligent enough to keep working, we can become something so much greater!  Christ sees so much potential for us that we should never remain satisfied with or present state but rather strive to improve at every opportunity.

Schöne Woche!

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