Christmas Markets and Advent Delight


 It was a Thanksgiving like none other.  Although rather unsuccessful (most of the time was spent walking in the cold and attempting to track down those yet to receive a Christmas party invitation) we had our fair share of interesting conversations including a lesson about freedom of choices and a chat with a thick-accented elderly man who was telling us something serving in the war at the time of Stalin.  Whilst signs everywhere advertised Black Friday sales, there wasn't a single hint of this day of gratitude. But we were grateful nonetheless, and celebrated our beloved holiday by making the most of where we were at and visiting the Christmas Markets.

     The Christmas Markets are absolutely magical. The whole town center of Innenstadt is strung with twinkling lights, and gentle music trickles out from the bell-tower.  

Little stands, built to look like log cabins, are packed side-to-side selling everything from Nüsse to Nativity sets.   

The air is thick with the smell of garland and bratwurst and bier. Instead of a turkey, we shared "Nudeln mit Sauerkraut und Speck" and "Spießbratensemmel." Oh how we counted our blessings!

     Sister Lundgreen

Thanks, Danke, Gracias

  Whilst the city of Augsburg woke to the sweet smell of Leberkuchen and pine needle, we rode the rail jet through a frost-tipped wilderness.  Today the Christmas markets began, but instead of joining the crowds for a taste of maroni, we as a district climbed past tumbling waterfalls and crumbled ruins.  

The forested hike was absolutely gorgeous.  At the tip of the mount awaited a view of rolling hills and azure lakes, of majestic snow-decked Alps and even the famed Neuschwanstein Castle.    

This week we have really tried to pray and follow the Spirit whilst finding. Before my mission I probably used an umbrella few enough times to count on my fingers; now that umbrella is my best friend. I would not exactly say it is easy getting people to listen when it is freezing and wet, but we keep working, keep trying. A few months ago I had such a fear of talking to people whether it be on the street or at the door. But by pushing through these fears I have really come to improve! We have had some wonderful experiences getting to know people whom it would have been so easy to let pass by. 

Notable notes
- we were conversing with an elderly lady on a tram. When we told her we were from  our church, she gifted us with vegan eye cream and organic used Chapstick.
- We could see our breath inside a cathedral 
- A German woman told me I look Austrian
- A few months ago when we went to Graz and I was shocked how people would say hi back to us when we greeted them. Here, THE PEOPLE LEGIT WAVE AND SAY HELLO TO US FIRST
- I had a seven-minute phone call with a random guy who called us... He must have been speaking the Bayerisch dialect cause I hardly understood diddly-squat 
- We played UNO with an elderly lady
- We pulled vines for like 2 hours in the pitch black, thanks dad for sending me with a headlamp
- The train wasn't coming for an hour so instead we just walked to the person's house, past harvested fields and beneath rolling clouds, oh it was so majestic 
- I got to practice my Spanish with some South American members in my ward. It was rocky, but I think I successfully managed to get across that my dad served his mission in Peru and I visited there four years ago. If italics is German, bold is Spanish, and underline is English then it probably went something like this: "Mi papa warI meanfuinofue??  Un missionar-- Wie sagt Mann das auf Spanisch???" *turning to my confused companion as if she will know the Spanish translation for the German word missionar. Peruvian member gives me the word.* "Oh yeahDankeAlsoyo fui en Peru cuatro años pasado con mi hermana und mi padre."   Ok, so it was only slightly terrible.  But I'll get my Spanish back... One day.... Literally it was so hard, I swear there is only one slot for languaging in my brain. At one point the Peruvian even asked me something in English and I responded IN GERMAN, because I was just at the point of such mental mix-up that I could comprehend what he said but couldn't distinguish what language he was using / what to respond in.   

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share a quote from stake conference: 
"You will never be more happy than you are grateful."
Isn't this so true? I have definitely noticed that it doesn't matter how cold or rainy or dismal the circumstances. As long as I take a look around and appreciate the blessings I have been given, I can always find a reason to smile.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sister Lundgreen

Eis Cold

Hello from Augsburg!  As I type I am listening to Christmas music, and whilst normally I would say no holiday tunes before Thanksgiving, I think this choice is well warranted for a number of reasons: 1) there is no Thanksgiving here 2) the town is decked out for Christmas already and 3) IT SNOWED THIS WEEK! Yes it is true.  Fun as my last holiday season was, building sandmen and what.... I'm pretty excited for this year.

SO this transfer I am greenie-busting Sister Howsmon AND SHE IS THE BEST.  

This week has been just as thoroughly-exhausting as the last, but already we have laughed so much. I have hardly seen anything in Augsburg because we spent most of Saturday and Sunday traveling up to Munich for stake conference.

Things that One Can Find in Augsburg- Houses. Parking lots. People who own cars. WHAT.
- Cats (I hardly saw any the whole time I was in Vienna)
- Black-out window slats that are SO WONDERFUL. Not like it matters; it's pitch-black outside from like 4:30PM-6:30AM anyway.
- (If you are a missionary) lots of traveling on trains through the beautiful, forested, frosty hills because the area is big and everyone lives spread out

Other Notable Notes:- How I handle cold weather: two shirts, one sweater, one coat (with the hood up), one skirt, one slip (just for the sake of extra layers), two layers of tights, knee-high boots, a scarf, gloves, hair down to cover the ears
- People keep asking if Sister Howsmon and I are cousins or sisters or something
- It's just kinda been a series of unfortunate events. Everyday this week at least one of the missionaries almost forgot something (like an iPad) on the tram. On Wednesday the elders actually lost their phone, so they borrowed our phone for a minute, but forgot that it was ours and took it with them for a very scary 15 minutes before they remembered. The next day a member of our ward called us with important info regarding the elder's lost phone... So with no way to call them and tell them this, we had to go to their apartment at 8AM and tell them through the intercom.  That night, we had sport night and returned home thoroughly exhausted, ready for bed after a long day. To our horror, we realized we left the key! So at 9:00PM we show up once again in the cold at their doorstep,talking through the intercom because they had no phone and we had no way to get inside the church to fetch our house key... by the time we got our key we were just like "you know what, heck," took the tub of leftover ice cream out of the church freezer, stole some spoons, and ate it right out there in the 40degree weather, laughing our heads off while we waited for our tram to finally get home and go to bed. Then on Friday we had dinner with a member. One of the elders checked the bus times beforehand because they only come once every hour... We timed the appointment, and left to catch one of the last buses back to Augsburg. Unfortunately, he looked at the wrong schedule and so as it turns out it wasn't coming for another 40 minutes. So we just walked through the pitch-black town as it snowed. Us 4 also missed some trains this week. It's pretty hilarious.

- Already I can tell this ward is fantastic! Those who I have met are so eager to help with the work, it is incredible.

I am so pumped this transfer to really set new goals and try to work harder. I only have so much to be out here serving the Lord, so I really just want to do my best-- with learning the language, with growing my faith, with refining my person, with going outside my comfort zone and sharing the gospel!
I just flipped randomly and happened to find Alma 26, which applies pretty well:
"27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the [Germans], and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world--not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.....
30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some."

                                                            Sister Lundgreen

The Vienna Chronicles

Although it is but the first week of November, Vienna has come to life with the crimson hints of Christmas.  Already Mariahilfestrasse is strung with lights, whilst the corner of Museums Quartier is packed with the beginnings of Christmas marks. 

Chilly rain and frosty breath cannot freeze the hearts of the Viennese bundled up and ready for the "Christkind" to come. Christmas time officially starts on November 11 here.  Unfortunately, after 7 months of being here I will only miss Vienna's holiday season by 3 days because.....


Remember how the past two weeks I was saying that there was hardly anything on our schedule? This week (and the next two days) felt like fate was trying to make up for those lack of appointments times ten. It. Has. Been. Insane. Literally I am on the brink of exhaustion but it is so worth it because I just want to visit everyone before I go. So a day packed with five appointments all around town including meals with members, last chats with people I first met on the street back in May, and missionary district meetings? Bring it on.  I have fallen in love with this city, and I would be lying if I said I haven't shed some tears giving goodbye hugs to those I care so much about.

Notable notes:

- I got to be in a trio again!  We were with Sister Moore, which meant that I got to basically ADOPT A BABY MISSIONARY.  I was legit training two goldens this week. Last time in my trio we called ourselves the Blondies; in this trio we are all between 5'1 and 5'3 so I guess you could just call us the Shorties

- I bought dirndl (the traditional German dress) and got it for way cheaper than anything else in the store haha because I literally fit into child size


- We went with our Persian "best friend" (she always calls me that, yay!) to the Albertina Museum because it was free for the holiday

- a lady sneezed into my hair on the tram
- Literally so many people are confronting us about this election and telling us how we should vote because we are American
- We were fed so much that both Sister Slack and I were experiencing hot flashes
- We got to ride in a CAR outside of the city whilst going to visit a member family
- We got to read through the baptismal interview questions with a sweet woman who has been meeting with missionaries for ten years now. We are so excited that she has made this decision, it's too bad I won't be there to see it!

Seriously I am so so sad to leave Vienna.

The funny thing is that in August I really just wanted to get transferred out.  Things were not super great so I wanted to just deal with it the easy way-- by leaving it all behind.  But staying here taught me a valuable lesson about how what we think is best doesn't always correlate with what God KNOWS is best.  I have grown in so many ways even within the past few months and along with that I have met new people and also developed stronger relationships with those I knew before.  It pains me to think of if I had gotten my way (by leaving two transfers ago) and of all the wonderful things I would have never experienced!  I love Vienna more than I ever have before.

So with that I invite you all to leave your life in God's hands. Trust in Him a little, that He has a plan for you and that He can see the big picture.  There are things in store better than you could have ever imagined!

Sister Lundgreen

**A note from mom:  Sister Lundgreen's new companion is Sister Howsmon - a cute sister missionary from Colorado - and her new area is Augsburg, Bavaria... One of the oldest cities in Germany!  The largest city on the Romantic Road (and Bavaria's third largest), Augsburg was founded by the stepchildren of Roman emperor Augustus over 2000 years ago. As an independent city state from the 13th century, it was also one of its wealthiest, free to raise its own taxes, with public coffers bulging on the proceeds of the textile trade. Banking families such as the Fuggers and the Welsers even bankrolled entire countries and helped out the odd skint monarch.  Shaped by Romans, medieval artisans, bankers, traders and, more recently, industry and technology, this attractive city of spires and cobbles is an easy day trip from engaging stop on the Romantic Road!

In her new area is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle!!  The real Disney Sleeping Beauty Castle!

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