Day 500 and Counting

Happy almost Pioneer Day! 

We just returned from Stein am Rhein (which we had no idea was in Switzerland until the bus crossed the border) where we enjoyed a beautiful riverside daytrip with some of the best chocolate I have ever tasted.

We are booked-- this week will include 2 days in Munich for MLC and then every week after that will include exchanges.  We're pumped!

It's been interesting to notice how we went from a super frustrating week where we got stood up by 4 separate people and literally everyone was mean to us (not even in the rejection sense, they were just flat out rude to us as people)... to then, in contrast, an absolutely FANTASTIC week. It makes you appreciate the good things.

Some things that went down lately:
  • - we rode a ship 
  • - we had the most lit ward party I have ever attended. From an astounding view to grilling to a bounce house to Benji's band, everyone had a blast. Several people came (including many old faces not seen for a while) and the next day the chapel was filled with more people than ever before! 
  • - Played soccer with a bunch of competitive Germans #stillsore
  • - Played barbies with the kiddos. They love us and we love them-- every time we see them we get tackle-hugged. Probably cause we give them cookies
  • - There was a new lady working the cash register and she was so excited to see us!  Turns out she met the sisters a few years back and really liked them.
  • - We celebrated our bestie's birthday-- oh man she always makes us feel so loved
  • - We had a lesson about learning to find God's influence in our lives... the Spirit was so so strong! It is truly a humbling to be able to teach.

Quotes of the week:
  • - Me: "What an incredible scripture story that is!  The Brother of Jared had such faith that, upon asking Him to light up the stones, he saw the finger of the Lord." Schwester K: "I have faith that one day you will speak perfect Spanish."
  • - "Is there anything we can do for you?" "Yes sisters, we would love it if you took our dogs on a walk through the woods." 
  • - *in Sunday School* "We are living in the last days.  There is not a single country that isn't plagued with conflict" "Except Switzerland." 
I am so grateful for the time and the place in which we live.  In a world where so many are persecuted for their beliefs, it is such a blessing to be able to practice freely.  It was only within the last 2 centuries that my ancestors faced the treacherous journey across the sea from Europe and across the wild terrain of the American continent... and yet to this day others still risk their lives to worship their God.     

We have so much to live for, and we cannot take these sacrifices made by others for granted. Instead, we have so many opportunities to strengthen ourselves (and others) by expounding upon our faith. We cannot afford to be wishy-washy, choosing to follow our religion based on, say, tradition.  Rather, we must build for ourselves a firm foundation!  Let us decide for ourselves what we believe and then act on it.  We need not be "pioneers," although many will be even in this day and age.  But we can always follow the pioneers' excellent examples of faith and dedication to their God.   

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

Etwas Grimmes (Post from July 11th))

I love Germany. 

As we drove into Triberg I could only gasp at the beauty of "traditional" Deutschland; yes it was rather touristy... but from chirping cuckoo clocks and lederhosen to Black Forest cake and Weißwurst, it flaunted all the stereotypes that make this country UNIQUE.  

We hiked through the lush Schwarzwald to a gushing waterfall, picking fresh strawberries along the way as we but imagined the Grimm Brothers' stories coming to life-- for you see, Schneewittchen (Snow White), Rapunzel, Rumpelstilzchens and Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood) were all born here in Schwabenland! 

Transfer calls: I shall end my mission with a bang, remaining here in my third area to be a Sister Training Leader for the Zürich zone with Sister Harwood! So pumped! 

To be honest, after the call I was filling in the dates of my last planner and started to cry when I wrote in the day on which I will fly home. 

But it's more than just missing the country (and oh how I will miss it).  I will miss the spirituality. The hour every day to study the scriptures. The way people-- strangers-- open up to us. The diligence in trying to dedicate every hour towards the Lord. The chance given every day to testify that Jesus is the Christ and that God loves all of us!

Quotes of the week
  • "The shine of my forehead is brighter than my future." -Elder Raemon 
  • "Wow Sisters, you are really good at walking!" #alldaye'ryday
  • "How old are you two sweet girls? 12?"

German Fun
  • the only difference between the words humid and gay is schwül and schwul don't ask me which is which
  • Gift in German = poison 
  • die See = the sea ...however... der See = the lake 
  • Hell  = bright 
  • Donner & Blitzen = Thunder and lightning 

What I Have Learned 
You know, I think one of the biggest things I have learned on my mission is that God works through us as INDIVIDUALS.  
Things were mildly hectic as I prepared to serve my mission-- when my call date actually WAS as early as I put my "availability," it became a mad scramble trying to squeeze in all the doctors appointments and police checks over Christmas break; my little sister had to try on half my clothes for me since I couldn't buy them from the island.   In February I had to ask permission from all my professors to finish my final projects and exams early so that I could actually return home to Arizona for the meager 10 days before flying to Preston. 
On one of the last mornings on Oahu, my friends and I headed to Electric Beach to snorkel.  As most of them pushed past the waves and swam out, I was tossed to and fro and kept losing my gear whilst trying to recover for breath. After about ten exhausting attempts, I swam back to shore sandy-haired and frustrated.  
"I was worried I was gonna have to come rescue you," a guy friend said from the beach. "You ok?"
"You know, I'm worried about this whole mission thing," I replied, ignoring the fact that he was referring to my physical wellbeing. "What if I'm not really cut out for this?"  
At the time I was hanging out with a number of newly returned missionaries.  As we sat on the beach he reminded me of their biggest advice for me, "While you're out there serving as Sister Lundgreen, don't forget to still be KATIE."
Those words of wisdom have gotten me through the past almost-year-and-a-half.  
I thought a good missionary had to be someone who was super skilled at learning a language, an extrovert talented at picking up conversations with strangers, a brainiac scripture master and a spiritual giant.  But there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter missionary.  

The moments on my mission where I have really connected with people are when I am myself. I have had fun and bonded with teenagers by throwing back handsprings in a park.  I have developed closeness with elderly women by asking them for advice on acrylic painting. I love history and culture, so I ask people about that and they love to answer.  I have sung.  I have been blogging since age 11 and of course, here I am, sharing my mission via blog. These are just silly examples. But they mean something! 
So if you are considering serving a mission but you don't know if you are up for the challenge... I PROMISE YOU IT IS WORTH IT.  God has blessed you with an individual personality and only you have the unique characteristics to influence certain people in your unique way.  
The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.  Your soul is great.  And so are those of the people you have every potential to influence for the better. 

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen

Happy Birthday America! (Post from July 4th)

Last week I claimed that the Alpine Mission is the prettiest in the world-- but that was even BEFORE I traveled two hours into draw-droppingly-beautiful heart of Switzerland (for an exchange with Finnish Sister Multamäki).  If you in your wanderlust can't decide between a love of majestic mountains, green forests, glistening water, city glam or fairytale castles... I would recommend taking a stroll through Luzern for a taste test of it all. There we went streeting along the bridge, encountering people from every imaginable country. 

Really it's incredible to think about the biblical prophecies of the gathering of Israel. Who would've thought that in the 21st century, people from around the globe would be flooding lands like our German-speaking region?

Some cool people I've met with this week:
  • a young Indian Sikh whose empowering belief in God was his anchor when his father died but three years ago. Sikhism teaches selfless service to others, and this principle radiates from his very core in his kind smile and in his gracious hospitality. He seems to know and adore half the people we pass on the streets as we walk with him! 

  • a Gambian Muslim who will be the first to tell you that respect is the most important principle for man to live by. It doesn't matter the religion of his neighbor-- man should simply be open and friendly, and choose his own religion according to his own conscience. He tells us about the culture of the Gambians, from the rice-heavy food to the Christmas traditions among a tribe of mixed faiths. Together we have a great discussion of Christ's Sermon on the Mount.

  • an elderly Russian lady whose life of hardship never turned her heart bitter. Her conversion to the Church happened but ten years ago with a vision-- unseen and perhaps I believed by those around her-- which testified to her of Christ's individual love for her
Other Notable Notes
  • Remember that crazy 5000 calorie eating appointment with Schwester Schäffer? We visited her again. She is the sweetest thing in the world, and she can cook some pretty good stuff. My problem? I was going into this appointment after already having stomach pains and problems for the past 10 days. MY STOMACH MUSCLES HAVE NEVER BEEN SO STRETCHED OUT IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. #ilookedpreggers #iwassosickthewholenight  

  • We celebrated America's birthday with some Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest. More on that dream-of-a-Pday next week.

To Cast Out All Fear 
Yesterday whilst out streeting, we met a man who said he was too afraid to wear a cross. "It's dangerous for you two girls to be wearing that badge with Christ's name!" he said. He is not the only person I've met with paralyzing fear of the world we live in. 
After having worn a name tag for almost a year-and-a-half, I had to disagree with the man that it is "dangerous" (or at least here in Germany). Does the nametag make us a target? I guess you could say that. People tend to stare and sometimes gossip rudely 2 feet away from us. I have had more than one disturbing instance when, for example, a group of men have filmed me on a tram.  These rather humiliating things happen because people think we are weird. But I have never felt that it was dangerous to profess my Christianity. 

It saddens me to meet people who live in fear.  Some are fearful because they have survived war and persecution in other lands-- that is devastating. But others live in paranoia due to rumors they have heard, and suffer deep irrationalized mistrust of their neighbor which leads to hatred within themselves.   I have seen this far too many times. 

The incredible thing about the gospel is that we know that we are all spirit brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father who all, many millions of years ago, elected to follow our eldest Brother Jesus Christ and come to this earth to obtain a body.  Pondering this helps us to seek out the good in people, regardless of ethnic background.  Yes, there are evil people in the world who use their free agency to carry out horrendous acts of violence, sometimes in the name of professed religion. But this can happen within every group. We Christians needs only turn the history book back a few pages to find the stains our own scarlet guilt.  We should be careful, of course, because we are in the last days and terrorism will only increase. But we ourselves should be the better man and live with a full heart. What is the second greatest commandment? LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.

"Fear not, little flock," saith the Lord, who "hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Said President Uchdorf, "Christ’s perfect love overcomes temptations to harm, coerce, bully, or oppress ... allows us to walk with humility, dignity, and a bold confidence as followers of our beloved Savior ... [and] gives us the confidence to press through our fears and place our complete trust in the power and goodness of our Heavenly Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ."

Sister Lundgreen


 I've made up my mind: the Alpenländische Mission is the prettiest mission in the world. Forget the humidity so thick it rests on your skin like a fog-- Baden Württemberg is in full summer bloom, a rich emerald green down from its rolling country hills to the lush Black Forest. Villages dawn a traditional look, with cobblestone streets and colorful wood-paneled cottages as picturesque as the Middle Ages. A treat for a hot day? Fresh cherries sold at a streetside stand. 

Notable Notes: 
  • I keep having nightmares about going home and missing the work 
  • A lady heard my accent and thought I was from Yugoslavia
  • The occasional 2 showers daily make up for the lack of showers in the winter when our heater was insufficient for our freezing, wet scalps. I comfort myself with how nasty/humid/smelly/hot it is, by reminding myself of those days when we wore 6 layers of everything and still felt like we were walking on frozen needles haha
  • For the second time on my mission, I had to call the police at 9PM because of bloody murder screaming outside my apartment 
  • We hiked up to sandstone caves 
  • An elderly man asked me if I "even knew" who Beethoven or Mozart were
  • New favorite form of finding: a survey! Whether on the street or at the door, people are much more open for discussions! 
  • This week we had some lovely, spiritual lessons
  • And a street display in my favorite city, Überlingen
  • As well as some days of no one hearing us out on the street / being hung up on

Some things that will be weird about leaving Germany:
  • No more super picky trash/recycle organizing 
  • No more Catholic bell towers to tell the time 
  • No more streets in one town being named after other towns a few KM over (it's confusing)
  • No more paying for water/restrooms 
  • No more sleeping on trains 
  • No more waking myself up at 2AMwith my brain rapid-firing German thoughts 
  • No more black-out shutters build into every window frame
  • No more cigarette smoke in every public place
  • No more pretzels at every corner bakery, nor sweet mustard
  • No more casually asking the guy on the bus which country he is from. 
  • No more dirndl/lederhosen worn NBD to special events 

A few weeks ago we sat in on an interview of a member couple. Although born in Germany in the early 1930s, their primary language is Russian. As children, the Russians entered their village....gave the people just enough time to gather a few loaves of bread...and then loaded them up on a train and shipped them to Kazakhstan. There they were social outcasts, treated as pigs, forced into the land of foreigners who didn't want them there. They were deprived of an education and as children never learned how to read. Hunger was a constant companion, and in a desperate state of starvation their parents would send them begging from door to door. "People don't understand the price of bread," they whispered, their faces pained at the idea of the food thrown away. It was only 20 years ago that they were allowed to return to Germany. The decades-awaited Freedom is sweet, but now even the tongue of their forefathers is hard to speak! 
For me it was an incredible and a humbling experience. 
Sometimes I think about what it means for me to have come on a mission.  Mostly I think about all the people I would have never otherwise met.  It is a a big wide world, and all of these children of God have a story to tell. I'm so grateful that I could hear just a few!

Sister Lundgreen 

PS Saying goodbye to President and Sister Kohler!!

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