Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

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

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