Happy Birthday America! (Post from July 4th)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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

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