If the world were to all come crashing down, my testimony of Christ would still stand. 
This was not something I realized before my mission.  Of course I believed-- what I mean is that I didn't realize how crucial that belief for me was! 

I thought that coming out to serve as an LDS missionary meant declaring to people that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is a true account of an ancient people, that by adhering to the Word of Wisdom one can acquire both physical and spiritual health.  Of course, all of these doctrines and many more are mega-important, and they can and will bless our lives.... but at the end of the day, even they only serve to point towards one great eternal truth: 


That is what we are REALLY here for. 
Never has a greater man walked this earth. I have talked with atheists, Muslims, and Christians of every denomination.  Whether one believes He was an influential philosopher, a prophet, or the Son of God, no one can deny that Jesus, Son of Mary, the Carpenter, the Galilean, changed mankind forever. He did not need a sword to conquer the planet, because He created it, and because His message of peace could unite people with faith in His Holy Name. 

How incredible to think that the Great and Almighty Being -- by whom the very seas were parted in order to lead the captive Israelites out of Egypt -- was so humble as to then subject himself to the very afflictions of the flesh. He left the mansions of the Father, and unlike Moses He was not raised up in a palace... but laid to sleep in a manger, although Isaiah proclaimed he would be called Prince, yea, Prince of Peace. 

Whilst on this earth, suffering all manner of mortal infirmities, the Son of God learned "how to succor His people." Yet from an incredibly young age He taught those around Him by example. His service extended from providing a more pleasurable wedding party for his acquaintances by transforming water into wine... to healing the son of a stranger whose faith was weak but whose desire to believe was strong. He broke through a culture of justice (eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth) by showing the meaning of mercy.  Every soul is of worth in His eyes.  

I won't pretend to comprehend the magnitude of His magnificent Atonement. Jesus Christ empathizes perfectly with us.  That He bled from every pore, taking upon him the heartaches and pains of every person who ever had or would walk this earth -- WHETHER OR NOT THEY WOULD ACCEPT HIM-- is absolutely mind boggling to me.  A perfect Being!  Why? Because that is how much He loves us.   

This mission is not the end of my spiritual journey.  I plan to spend the rest of my life striving to understand Him better, learning more of His life, His teachings, His will, until finally I can say that I really do know my Savior. I hope there are yet many years left ahead of me, but one day when it is all said and done I hope to fall to my knees before our great Judge and Mediator, knowing that I tried my hardest to follow Him.  

Katherine (not much longer) of the Alps 
See you oh so soon.

What It All Boils Down To

Question: If I had known when I received my call that my mission would be one of what many would say is of little "success," would I have had the guts to go? 

I remember as I turned the corner of the security line, waving goodbye to my teary family for the last time, it began to hit me how long it would be till I saw them again.  I couldn't comprehend what lie ahead.  I knew only what I had left behind.
18 months is quite a time, you know. In the space a year and a half, my brother Eric grew taller than me, my sister Rachel completed her freshman year of college, and my other brother Adam competed in national rugby championships (although I never once saw so much as his first rookie game). 
I came on a mission expecting something great.  I wanted to change lives.  How? .... I had no idea.  I just knew that the gospel mattered to me and I was going to share it. Leaving behind loved ones was the sacrifice I was willing to make.
Now, at the end of 18 months there is no way to change anything that has happened.  The past is the past, the clock cannot be rewound.... and perhaps to some, numbers wise my mission would be considered a failure. 
It is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me.  From hours trying to talk to people who didn't want to hear it, to discovering new cultures, to growing to care so much for those who chose to follow the path of faith, the mission has shaped me in every way.  My person has been criticized, my religion attacked, yet through thick and through thin I have developed not only a stronger testimony, but a stronger sense of WHY the gospel matters and with it the person I want to become.    
Of course, I still have a long way to go. But I can't IMAGINE everything I would have missed out on had I taken another route and not put on that badge.  
So forget what others may think. Life is not about numbers -- my mission was my success. And I will remember it every day for the rest of my life.

I think Heavenly Father is just pouring out blessings and miracles at the end so that I will go out with a bang:
  •  We missed our bus, but it was for a reason-- we ended up meeting these two young guys who wouldn't stop staring at us.  I thought they were making fun of us when they asked for a card, but when I actually did they were SO EXCITED. They flooded us with questions such as, "Do you have anything for us to read?" And when we handed them a Book of Mormon they asked if we could meet that very day to discuss it! One of them has actually been SEARCHING for the right church! 
  •  We met a family with previous contact to missionaries; we asked the sweet young daughter to explain a scripture to us. She teared up as she bore testimony of Christ. At the end, she practically begged us to return! 
  •  We have been able to out dooring for hours without feeling tired 
  •  We have so many appointments every day with lovely people 
  •  We had a good number of friends with us at church 
  •  People have been calling US to meet 
  • There are other miracles, too beautiful and private to share! BLESSINGS

2 Nephi 2:28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit.

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

Zucchinis and Steam Engines

   One evening in prayer, I asked my Father in Heaven: "Is it too late to ask for another miracle?" 
     The next day, it came.
    The day before, we had gone dooring for a couple hours, trying to follow the spirit, coming up with a new approach at every door till we were completely sunburnt. It felt so satisfying to work hard-- even if 50% of the people wouldn't even let us finish the first sentence, and the other half still said no.  But we had definitely hit a point of utter exhaustion in our daily lives. It's kind of just 18 months of going-going-going.  The pace accelerates as you learn to love the work, but it takes its toll nonetheless.
      We had received a notification that someone had ordered a Book of Mormon through mormon.org, so we set up an appointment.  We travelled out to the very last town in our area, crossing our fingers it was legit... and boy were we in for a surprise.
     This was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL family who just glows. LONG AMAZING STORY SHORT: The father works for an American company with LDS employees and has basically had tons of contact with the church for the past many years.  We were shocked as they asked us question after wonderful question, and we taught about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.  Even the nine-year-old took part as we discussed the gospel. For them, an everlasting family is the most essential thing.  
     After they drove us to see a famous basilica (just for fun!) and then to the train station, Sister Harwood and I could hardly contain our happy dance/gratitude prayer. We couldn't believe it.  THIS IS WHY WE ARE HERE. This is why we come out to a foreign country and go finding and get sunburnt.  Because wherever they are, whether we find them or they find us, there are people out there open to the gospel..... a gospel which can and will change their lives for the rest of eternity, if they will let it.

  Today for Sister Harwood's birthday, some members got permission to switch our Pday.  All aboard!  We traveled like good-ole-fashion Damen und Herren, touring the rain-glistened countrysides of Germany on an antique locomotive. 


 - On exchange with Sister Cain, we said hello to a guy in a random Swiss neighborhood. Then he practically shoved into our arms 2 of the most ginormous zucchinis I have ever seen on any continent. "I GAVE AWAY TWO OF THEM!" he exclaimed triumphantly to his wife. They were so huge that I thought my backpack would rip holding just one. We actually had to turn around back to Germany to drop them off cause there was no way we could go finding with these massive beasts-- as we walked back, EVERYONE stared at us and laughed in utter bewilderment. 

 - I tried to ride the sisters' bike. This was adult sized. The last bike I got was in middle school, and though I was petite already for a middle schooler, I have hardly grown since then! So now I tried to ride this bike and LITERALLY COULD NOT GET UP ON THE SEAT. IT did not help that I was in a skirt. Here I was in the city, making a fool of myself as I tried time and time again to jump onto it, climb onto it, step over it, etc. FINALLY I got on and then nearly crashed as I had to use my tiptoes to pedal. Ughhhhhhhh 
 - The border between Switzerland and Germany is a little white line painted on the bridge halfway across the river  
 - About an hour away from home something went wrong and all the trains stopped running so we were stranded in Überlingen until the senior missionaries could pick us up. Who do we run into? Our good friend we've been meeting with!
 - The Ice cream servers asked us what our badge meant and then tried to seem cool by telling us in flawless German they are Californian 
 - A Nigerian guy asked us for our # cause a friend took him to church in Heidelberg 
 - Sneaky lil Russian Schwester Schäffer. I adore her.  She can't get her friend to come to church, so she schemed to invite this friend to lunch at the same time as us!
 - There is a family we have been trying to contact for MONTHS and they called saying they all want to come to church 
 - Ultimate gerlishing: "Other Mitgliers we'll be besuching this week" (my failed attempt to either ask my companion about "other members we'll be visiting this week" or "andere Mitgliedern die wir diese Woche besuchen werden") 

Moses 1:
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

August Don't Rush

Ich weiß nicht was zu sagen, aber einfach wie glücklich ich bin, dass ich immer noch drei Wochen habe. Ich könnte ein Tausende mal sagen, wie schön Deutschland ist, aber ihr würdet doch nicht verstehen. Mensch, ich bin erschöpft. Meine Schuhe haben Löcher. Aber ich bin so so froh. Die Missionsarbeit strebt voran, und wir geben Körper und Seele, um das Evangelium zu predigen. Warum? Weil die Erkenntnis des Erlösungsplans hat uns so sehr gesegnet, dass wir ihn einfach weiter teilen müssen. Wie schön und kostbar eine Möglichkeit-- ich werde die vermissen. Wenn Mann seine Zeugnis teilt, dann spürt er so stark den Geist, und muss er einfach lächeln!  

Google translate as you will. 

Quote of the week: 
"If you hear me talking to myself, I'm not crazy. I'm just trying to figure out how Anakin Skywalker and King David are connected." 
                                                        -Sister Harwood 

Notable Notes:

*We missed our train and got stranded in this random town.... which happened to have a HUGE FAIRYTALE CASTLE. Backup plan: weekly planning at the base of it
*My diet = fruits, veggies, gelato. And the occasional pretzel. Gotta enjoy em now!
*We called 74 people in 24 hours. Excited for some new appointments! 
*The police caught the lunatic with the chainsaw 
*Wednesday was interviews, district meeting, zone training, zone conference and missionary choir practice all crammed into 9 hours. As STLs we led a discussion of the missionary's various experiences with different religious groups... so cool!
*We've been trying to just talk to so many people. We've met folk from Togo, the Philippines, the former Soviet region of Germany. We were approached by 2 Gambians who travelled 6 dangerous months across the Mediterranean and by land. It's fascinating seeing how the regional up upbringing really affects a person. Ex: Africans tend to be much more open; Middle Easterners seem to be very family-oriented; East Germans were often raised entirely without religion. 

My 18 Months: Things I have learned and ways I have changed

  1. How to stick to my principles 
  2. How to pay more attention to the needs of others 
  3. How to forgive and move forward
  4. How to stand strong in the face of opposition
  5. How to recognize the Spirit-- He speaks in ways you don't expect!
  6. How to make decisions for myself 
  7. How to study the scriptures 
  8. How to be humble enough for critique 
  9. How to truly enjoy service 
  10. How to look for and appreciate the good in others 
  11. How to manage precious time 
  12. That the Lord has His own timing and plan 
  13. How much my family means to me 

“We are not preaching the gospel with the idea of trying to save people in the terrestrial world. Ours is the salvation of exaltation. What we are trying to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring people back again, through the power of the priesthood and the ordinances of the Church, as sons and daughters of God, receiving a fulness of the Father’s kingdom. That is our endeavor.” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:190–91.)

Liebe Grüße, 

Sister Lundgreen 

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