This week Germany has been bursting with all sorts of and flavours and colours.  Sugar-dusted Krapfen, town-square concerts, rainbow-assorted streamers, glittery masquerade masks, tie-cutting traditions, straw-witch burnings.... it's all a part of Faschings, a holiday I can only compare to Mardi Gras.  We made the most of it by celebrating with primary kids.  
One day we were on a train overflowing with people in creative costumes, where one guy dressed as a garbage man lugged around a giant metal trashcan filled with cans of beer and a stereo blasting crazy carnival-sounding German music. 
Welcome to Bayern. Was kann ich sagen?

Quotes of the Week
- "I don't wanna smell like Chubacca."
- "You're drinking tea from a bowl?"
- "Sass level: moon."

Was Wir Getan Haben: 
- Went on a walk with a member; we strolled past ducks and the Danube and a big castle-looking building that might have been a retirement home?
- We talked with three different families about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what we can do in this life to return to our Father in Heaven 
- I thought my companion was being dramatic about how terrible it was to get down from her top bunk bed..... and then I tried to get down and next thing you know we just heard this terrifying riiiiiipppp, my scalp was in pain and for the next 24 hours so much of my hair fell out, I don't even know what happened....

- In the space of a single hour on exchange we assembled a vacuum, played with cats and dealt with a scammy insurance company 
- We went finding in Kissing
- We learned a lot of Star Wars vocabulary from the bishop's adorable kids
- Plans for next week: My year mark on is Thursday, when we shall travel out to another far-away town in hopes of sharing the message!

MTC Memories

MTC Memories

Seriously, I cannot believe it's been a year since I left. I mean, I can but I can't. It feels like an eternity since I have seen my family or done "normal person" things, but yet it's just wild to think that I am already 2/3 done with this crazy adventure of a mission!

To be honest, I thought I would have "mastered the mission" by this point. That my German would be perfect. That I would be a fantastic teacher. That this shy/soft-spoken part of my personality, which frankly makes me nervous to talk to people, would just go away. 
But as the prophet Alma said, "It is by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass." Our Heavenly Father has blessed us all with our own strengths by which we can work. He has never asked us to move a mountain, but to simply work hard, serve others, and continually strive to become better. That is the first step to making an impact.  As Apostle Jeffery R Holland said, "The best thing about the gospel is that it gives you credit for trying... So keep trying, keep trusting... heaven is cheering you on, today, tomorrow, and forever!"    

Love Always,
Sister Lundgreen

Some People Have Absolutely No Shame

My favorite part of Augsburg is Innenstadt at night.  As we walk home past the closed-but-still-glowing shops, through quaint alleyways and across the cobblestoned town square where the silhouette of Rathaus dominates the skyline... it's peaceful. Some days are incredibly frustrating, filled with all sorts of fallen-out appointments and downright mean people. But some days as we walk home, I just cannot rid the smile from my face. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling that the gospel is bringing joy into people's lives, a little bit at a time. 

For fun, here is a list I made before my mission of why I love the gospel so much!

- we gave out 2 Books of Mormon in ten minutes! Well, almost. The second lady in the end decided that the script is too small for her eyes to read so we will bring her back a book with bigger print.
- We led the mutual activity and made a mini MTC experience! I got to act out the part of a "nice" person, so when the youth knocked onto my door pretending to be missionaries, it was so awesome to hear their testimonies!
- We met with the same family again this week; we did a few hours worth of service and then they fed us Macedonian food! Since the parents are baptized but the children are not, we then taught a short white-board version of the Plan of Salvation.  T
heir friend who was there remarked, "When you hear this, you know there is no reason to fear death!" The next morning, we were able to take the kids to church again!! 


- We've been spending a lot of time trying to help our landlady figure out how to convince the government that her 97-year-old mother (whom we also visit every week) is actually not dead and actually still needs her retirement money..........
- Turns out a different elderly lady we bring the sacrament to every week is the grandma of a German celebrity who has literally acted alongside Brad Pitt 
- There are frequently stories that people will bring up from last December that I'm just like wait what that happened? I was so ill and out of it that I literally forgot everything. For example, the elders having to get permission from the APs to come and give me a blessing?... I had no memory of any of it. Or Sister Franchino telling our zone leader he reminded her of a short fat dinosaur from the Land Before Time because it was 3 AM at the ER? Apparently a lot of weird things happened those few weeks when I was sick in lalaland. 
- 19% sales tax on my conditioner whoohoo 
- I'm hitting my 6-month countdown on Thursday....... WUT

On my mission I have met a number of people who are bitter with Heavenly Father about the difficulties in their lives. They wonder why, when they pray so much, God still allows them to have problems. 
There is a part in Mosiah 24 that really stuck out to me:
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

The reality is that this life is the time to be tested, to do our best no matter what. We should pray to our Father in all times, good or bad, and whatever comes in our path we must continue to have trust in Him. Prayers will not always make the trials go away... But through our faith in God, He will give us the strength to endure it! 

Love Always,
Sister Lundgreen

"Spanien ist wie Bananien"

....said the four-year-old on the tram.  Translation: Spain is like banana.  Because "Spanien" almost sounds like "banana." It was funny to me at least..........

While out finding we came across the biggest cat EVER.....  She got her claws stuck in my tights!


6:30 - get up, plan for the day as soon as we can roll out of bed, and get ready to go! "I think people talk about politics too much because I just had the weirdest dream about President Trump last night," Sister Franchino says, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.  "What??! No way, me too!" I reply. 
7:45 - time to go! We catch a tram to catch the 8:13 train, which takes us out to Aichach. From Aichach we catch the bus.  American 80's rock plays on the radio as we ride through the rolling and empty countrysides to Griesbeckerzell.  We are buddies with the bus driver; since we are the only passengers at this time every week, he has asked us about our church and we have given him pamphlets.  
9:00 - A fellow member meets us at the bus stop and takes us to his apartment where his wife and three young children live.  They are from Nigeria, and we met them because the husband really wants his wife to have the same opportunity to get baptized as he did.   We show the Restoration video, and the husband testifies excited to his wife in Igbo during the First Vision scene.
12:00 - Lunch on the go. Pizza pretzels at the train station! Go Germany!
1:00 - Last night a family whom we frequently visit asked if we could help.  We have no idea what the service project will be, but we knock on the door excitedly and are invited in by the pregnant wife whose one-year-old clings to her leg. She ushers us into a bedroom which is basically filled from top to bottom with laundry.  We spend the next 2.5 hours sorting and folding. It honestly feels pretty good to do a normal-person project!
4:00 - We meet up with the elders to visit an elderly member in our ward.  Usually we visit Schwester Weingart on Saturday morning, but our Saturday is supposed to be booked. When we knock on her door at the old folks home, she isn't there, but instead a nurse ushers us into the game room where Schwester Weingart beams in surprised elation when she sees us.  They invite us to join everyone at the table, where we converse with four elderly women. The young nurse asks us many questions about the church and what we as missionaries do.  It is a blast!
5:30 - We get home, eat dinner, do our studies, and go to bed smiling.

"Kissing" is the name of a town here!
The Very Next Day 
6:30 - wake up way pumped. This day is gonna be awesome!  We have so many appointments with people we love, it will be great. Plan, personal study, workout, get ready, eat breakfast.  
10:00 - by the time companion study starts, EVERYONE has texted us to cancel. We call the elders, whose day is also now completely empty. Activate backup plan.
11:30 - We take a train with the elders to a far-away town we have never before visited.  Since our area is basically the size of some whole missions, we have a lot of responsibility trying to share the good word to people far and wide!
WHOO-HOO FINDING. We split up, ready to knock on lots and lots and lots of doors.
4:45 - We catch the train headed home, noses red, hot chocolate in hand, beat.  "How was it for you guys?" The elders ask.  
"A grumpy old guy threatened us and said not to touch any of the apartments in the vicinity," we chuckle. "Also, even a Jehovah's Witness asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses. And I spilled my smoothie in my purse."
"Anyone interested?" 
"Not in the slightest.  For you?"
The elders break out some candy bars.  "Nope!  But a lady has Mormon relatives in Chile so she gave us chocolate."

Well tomorrow is Valentines Day!  In honor of this special holiday which I will not be celebrating, I would like to share a little verse:
Deuteronomy 6:5  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

God loves us so much that he gave His Only Begotten Son.  We can return that love by striving to follow Him to the best of our ability... We will not be perfect, but that is the wonderful thing. His infinite love and mercy will make up the difference. 

Sister Lundgreen

Call the Cops

While y'all ate burgers and guacamole and watched the Super Bowl with all its funny Doritos commercials...  The missionary work went on! All the trams here were packed with people on their way to the soccer and hockey games but as an American I am just of the opinion that it is not the same. GO PATRIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some other interesting things about Europe aside from its lack of football:
- I've probably already told you that McDonalds is so hipster and literally all the cool chaps hang out there; it's always brim-full and outside the teenagers blast hiphop on their stereos. No one believes me when I say that a lot of Americans consider it a trashy place.
- We get to teach European elders slang like "let's blow this Popsicle stand," "goofball," "let's bounce" and "cool beans"
- everyone is freaking out about the American politics and luckily I am American so it's like this big elephant in the room with every person we talk to
-  I hear so much Turkish music here; I think I will have to look it up when I get home because it's actually pretty good
- Every time I think the chocolate can't get better I find a new brand that I love
- Europe has gotten me to like bubbly water - what

Notable Notes:
-Our ten year old best friend Skyped a bunch of other ten-year-olds in to watch the restoration video with us haha
- Her parents also let her and her 7-year-old brother come to church with us cause they begged and it was such a blast together! 

- I love this new schedule! Since planning time plus half of the lunch hour got moved to the morning, we have way more time in the morning as well as the night to get things done. For example, this week I did 45 minutes to 1.5 hours of workout every day -- I just split my workout between the night and the morning and IT FEELS FABULOUS.
-We visited a member who not only inspired my to try out acrylic painting but also was telling us about what it was like for her family members who were stuck in and escaped East Germany after the war; another member was telling us how she had to flee to Denmark during the war.
-Speaking of Denmark, the new elder in my ward is Danish and though my ancestors came from Denmark he says my name Lundgreen is Swedish...? 

So my new favorite scripture from the New Testament is Luke 12:32
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
I believe that Heavenly Father really wants what is best for us! We may not always understand the path that is laid out for us, but if we trust that our Father in Heaven is there, cheering us on, then we can get through anything!

Have a lovely week!!

Here are all the pictures from Christmas and a bunch of other random events since November!

Mountains to Climb

pc unknow

Perched on the peak of a mount which is swaddled in snow is a castle, born by the dreams of a king.  

Neuschwanstein ("new swan stone"), the inspiration for the iconic Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland, overlooks a magnificent view of pine forests, glass lakes and yet another castle on just the opposite mount. 

Europe is just a dream, I'm telling you. 

Some Notable Notes:
On Thursday we had THREE PEOPLE IN A ROW WHO ACTUALLY SAID NICE THINGS TO US AT THE DOOR EVEN THOUGH THEY WEREN'T INTERESTED.  "Hope you're successful!" "Hope everything goes well with you!" And "Sorry you had to climb the stairs all the way to the top of the apartment for me!"
- Brilliant idea from our landlady to keep the snow and leaves off the property: build a plastic dome around the house.  Unfortunately... the HOA said no.  
- After 5289 attempts I have learned that you just can't make American recipes with European ingredients and vice versa. 
Sometimes we get caught in the middle of sketchy situations:
- we were on a tram and the guy right across from me was WASTED.   He started taunting and shouting lots of slurred, cruel, horribly racist comments at these two young men and after a while one of them jumped up in defense on his friend.  I also jumped out of my seat just as fists/beer started flying.  I got mildly hit in the process of them trying to slug each other; Sister Franchino got beer on her coat.   I just bailed out the door.  Then I looked at my comp in a panic-- I realized that she would have to go THROUGH the fight to escape the tram.   Somehow she managed it. The two guys who had been picked on also jumped out-- they didn't want to get any more involved in this fight.

Cheesy Metaphor time:
 There is one song called "Mountains to  Climb" which brings back memories of my favorite year of Girls Camp, when we hiked the Grand Canyon.  It was the most physically-exerting thing I ever did; despite having trained for months in advanced, I got to a point where every muscle and joint in my legs just screamed in exhaustion. The dusty cliffside trail seemed like it would never end.  

Yet it finally did. All of us girls just collapsed on the asphalt at the top of the rim and didn't get up for like an hour; we felt crazy tired but oh-so- accomplished. We actually did it!  and the view was ABSOLUTELY. POSITIVELY. ASTOUNDING.

On Tuesday we went finding for like 5 hours and yet not a single person showed the slightest of interest.  That day was so cold that despite wearing feet warmers, my feet were still so numb that I couldn't even feel the feet warmers.  This was a pretty good example of the transfer, throughout which we had surely knocked on hundreds of doors but never by such means found someone who wanted to be taught. Meanwhile members here will tell us about their missions when they would have 8 teaching lessons in a single day....

Is it something I'm doing wrong? I wondered. Is my German bad? Can people not take me seriously because I'm as short as my twelve-year-old brother?  The classic quote that someone gave us through the intercom was "I couldn't hear what you just said but I'm not interested."

So I'm not sure the answer.  But I think of that song-- "give me mountains to climb, give me rivers to cross, give me something that's gonna make me better than I was!" I remember that Girls Camp and how despite its difficulties, we ended the trip so incredible happy... our muscles built... our relationships with one another AND our faith in our own capability both strengthened by this feat which we had accomplished together.  I think of that gorgeous view of the color-streaked, plummeting-drop canyon and how worth it the pain all felt.   

I'll admit it's not always easy facing rejection out in the cold when I'm missing my family over on the other (not-to-mention-warmer) side of the world, but I'm excited to see what experiences lie ahead.  What people am I going to meet? How am I going to grow? 


                                        Sister Lundgreen

**About Neuschwanstein Castle from Wikipedia:

Neuschwanstein Castle is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest BavariaGermany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds.
The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886.[2] Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle.[3] More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.[4] The palace has appeared prominently in several movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Great Escape and serves as the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle[5] and later, one of the castles that inspired Disneyworld's Cinderella Castle.

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