Thursday, March 30, 2017

The One With All the Sunshine!

So, if you are anything like me, you don't know anything about England weather until you are in England weather. It is super cold, rainy, and very humid. 24/7. However, this last week the sun has been out every single day and it has been warm. and by warm I mean 17 degrees. (Celsius, of course because they're British.) But that means its been about 63 degrees. IT HAS BEEN SO NICE. So naturlich, I go outside every chance I get. For physical activity we are allowed to leave MTC grounds as long as we come back on time. So we usually (me and whatever Sisters come with me) go down to the river and walk the river because it is soooooo pretty and also it just feels good to leave the MTC for a while. I'm going to send some pictures from the river, and some of the river because it truly is pretty. and everything here is so green. and also the humidity is awesome and does wondrous things to my mane.

I want to tell you all a little bit about my companions because I haven't done that yet and they truly are some of the greatest and most insightful people I have ever met. 

As y'all know, I was friends with Sister Hunter before coming out here, and we even talked about and planned on being companions for the longest time. She truly is a blessing in my life. She is SO good at German it's absolutely insane but it's also so amazing listening to her bear her testimony in German, and teach the gospel in German. Ahhhh she is soooo funny. Our bowels have synced up and that really took away the whole awkwardness of always going to the bathroom together because we are always doing the same thing so there's nothing really awkward or embarrassing about it anymore. Also, she is a train. She can breathe out and it sounds like a train. (I was going to send videos in this email but they are too long for it to let me attach them but I shared my drive with mum so she should be able to get on and see those if you want to see the videos of our everyday lives someone may have to show her how to even get on drive hahaahhaa  no but really.) Anyway, SIster Hunter is soooo funny and I just absolutely love her to death. We can talk about anything and everything and I trust her with my life. 

As some of you know or don't know, we are in a trio companionship now, which by the way trios are the best. Sister Lau truly brings us together. She has taught me so many things. First of all, she hates being touched and also she hates when people say they love each other. It's funny. But it's really teaching me how to love others in different ways. It was kind of hard at first trying to figure out ways to show love to her so that we could gain a trust and a reliance in each other but we have all come a really long way. In fact yesterday, during companionship study I showed a video I had found in German to show one of our investigators. It was about Christ (it's the Because of Him video that y'all should watch if you haven't) anyway, through Christ we really can feel love and feel united and we can live again. But I guess she felt the spirit so strongly that truly, through Christ anything is possible, because she made me stand up and she gave me the longest hug ever. It was GREAT. Ha, but anyway, she too is full of so much spiritual strength and insight. She is a scriptorian, if that is even a thing. She knows every scripture by heart, and has a scripture for everything. It's so cool. I love her and I love that we can communicate so much.

Also, I just really love this place and everyone in it. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life, or felt so much joy and peace and love. I really am loving it here, I have met so many amazing people, and I have experienced so many amazing things. I really do love this gospel. and I love that through Christ we are able to feel so much peace and joy and love. He brings us all so much closer and gives us the strength and patience to get through whatever we need. 

There are so many things I want to tell you all, but my mind goes blank every time I sit down to write. It's kind of crazy. Hopefully the pictures kind of sum up some of what is going on... (which there are more pictures on my drive as well which if you want to see them, again you'll have to go to mum because I can only send so many...)

We have 2 progressing investigators right now, and I love both of them so so much.) One of them is named Alex, he has a drug addiction and has lost hope in life. We taught him yesterday and used the video to show him that through Christ he can have a new beginning, and we talked a lot about the Atonement. The spirit was so strong, even with our broken German. After we testified we felt strongly to invite him to be baptized and he lit up and said yes. It was really really special. The spirit is amazing. Our other investigator is named Soraya. She is married to a member and both of her children have gone on missions, and yet somehow she still doesn't believe in God. It's been kind of hard trying to get her to even want to believe in God, she doesn't see any reason to. She's only meeting with missionaries because her kids wanted her to... The only thing she's been interested in that we've talked about is an eternal family (who wouldn't want an eternal family??) So we've been really using that to get her to try and form some sort of faith in Christ and God, to use that hope for an eternal family as a reason to pray. But she's very stubborn. Hopefully we can figure out what exactly the real Soraya needs to hear, because the teacher who plays her has a very strong relationship with Soraya and it's very very important to her that Soraya gains some faith and hope. It's also very important to us because we love her. A lot.

On Friday Elder Herbertson (an area seventy) came an spoke with us. IT WAS SO GOOD. Also it was super cool, because since we have such a small group here at this MTC we were all able to actually talk to him for a bit and his devotional was really involved and personalized. It was soooo inspired and exactly what I needed. He also took a picture with all of us and said he was going to put it up on his facebook so our families could see it (Clifford T Herbertson). Anywho, it was a really neat experience and his wife was really awesome and sweet as well. 

I love you all so so so so much, I really do. I appreciate all that you have done for me, and all of the love and support I have felt from you thus far. I can't believe it's almost been 3 weeks since I've been here, it feels like forever, but at the same time it's gone by really fast. It's unreal. Time is a weird concept right now. But I love every second of it. This week has been full of things I have needed, and it shows the Lord's tender mercies in our lives. This week has been absolutely incredible.

If any of you have been wondering about the food situation...I just decided to embrace the fact that everything has 8 coats of sugar and/or is deep fried and eat as much as I can. I usually eat at least twice as much as some of the Elders and it's been a real good time. I'm pretty sure in the last week I've gained like 20 pounds but I literally cannot stop eating. It's crazy how hungry you can get when you do absolutely nothing all day. 

I love you all, I miss you, and I pray for you all daily. 

oh also, I'm not sure what the others do to relieve stress here, but since I can't cry I just floss while everyone else cries or gossips. Anyway, last week I flossed so much my permanent retainer started to come out so I just ripped it the rest of the way out.... They set an orthodontist appointment for me on Thursday, but I am actually terrified because I don't know why but I haven't met a single British person with good teeth...or nice teeth... It's nothing against them as people, but Brits all have absolutely terrible teeth and I'm worried they'll ruin the only thing going for me. jokes. But really I'm worried about my teeth but hopefully it will all go well

Talk to y'all next weeeeeeeeeeek.

Please send pictures because I like to see what is going on with you all! Oh and if any of you have questions or need clarification on anything, please just ask and I can either answer more in the group email next week or just write you baaaaaaaack. sure sure love ya!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The One With All the Sheep...

So, we are taught in the scriptures to feed His sheep... but here we just eat his sheep. Literally every meal is lamb. and not only is it lamb but it's lamb from Christ's time on earth I swear. It's really rough because nobody can eat it, it's that bad. And we have it like every other day. Sister Hunter describes it as tasting the way sheep smell. Ya know like if you were out on a farm and you saw a sheep and went up and licked it? That's how we feel the lamb here tastes, not that we know from experience, it's just a guess, but I would say it's probably pretty accurate. 

I'm going to give a rundown on the food because honestly, food is so important, like let's be real here. Breakfasts usually consist of yogurt (I couldn't even tell you what kind of yogurt it is because in reality it's honey with a some yogurt mixed in..) or cold cereal (frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, or rice crispies [which by the way the rice crispies are not like real rice crispies because they too are covered in 3 layers of sugar)) So basically breakfast is 1000% sugar and there is no way to get around it because the things that should be healthy are actually coated in sugar. And all of the actual meals never have fruits or vegetables in them or with them... We have a salad bar but the salad option is kale and let's be real- nobody wants to eat kale. so as far as nutrients go.. there are none. So I don't think I am going to accomplish the goal that the MTC president had of gaining weight in the MTC since I appear to be doing the opposite. 

Our teachers are extremely nice but as it turns out one of the boys in our district grew up with his father and grandparents always speaking German to him so he's basically fluent and the teachers keep expecting us to be at his level of understanding and speaking and whatnot, because he said he didn't know any German... but he's like fluent. So it's been stressful and hard to get the teachers to see that we are not at his level and that the rest of us haven't even been speaking German for 2 weeks so we need some patience and understanding. (because they really do expect us to be fluent too which is basically impossible if we are being honest.)

I've had some absolutely amazing experiences here, there is so much love. So last Wednesday we got some new missionaries-all of them are going to England missions but lots of them are ESL (English Second Language) so lot's of them are trying to learn/master their English, which is pretty cool. With those new missionaries we got a senior couple! The wife is from Switzerland and her husband is from Austria! It's been so cool to have them because they've told us so much about where we'll be going, and about the people, and they've spoken to us in German (and I've been able to understand a lot of it!) Also, on Sunday I gave a talk for our Sacrament meeting which was stressful for many reasons, 1) I wasn't told I was going to be speaking until about 10 minutes before Sacrament 2) It was supposed to be in mission language 3) nobody would understand me, the only people that would understand what I was saying was the couple from Germany, which means I actually had to say real things and watch my words... 4) I was going after another fluent german speaker who should have been in the 3 week program not the 6 week. Anyway the fluent speaker spoke in English which threw me off a lot. BUT, I gave my talk and the Senior Couple came up to me after and told me that it was really good and they understood everything I said, and that I did really good, especially for someone who has only been speaking German for like....9 days. So that was really cool. 

We had a really cool family home evening on Sunday night as well. Elder Lipp (the married senior missionary) had something planned for us that was actually way cool. (Some of these facts may be wrong, I'm being a lazy bum and I don't want to get out of bed to find my notes about it so this is what I remember...) Apparently in like 1976 Spencer W. Kimball gave a prophesy about the German Speaking Areas (Germany, Austria, Switzerland..MY MISSION). The prophesy contained information about those areas having more than 100 stakes. (Right now there are about 20 stakes I think he said) but anyway, the prophesy said that because of missionary work the amount of stakes was going to dramatically increase in the future. Which is way cool. So now all of us 11 missionaries going to the mission are determined to do our part so that we can be contributors to the amazing work in German speaking countries. To finish off family home evening President Bunker had everyone share their favorite scripture and why it was their favorite, I have like 40 new favorite scriptures ­čśŐ.
So I'm just going to leave a list of some really great ones, so you can edify yourself & enjoy.
2 Nephi 25:26 (This one is just a classic, but it's a classic for a reason, it's seriously a great one.)
Alma 37: 36-37
Moroni 6:4 (don't you want Christ to be the author and finisher of your faith? Such a great line.)

I love this gospel, I love my savior. I love this opportunity and privilege to serve and teach his children. I am honored to be called of by God to bring his sheep back to him (not to eat them). I hope you all know that I really do believe in this gospel, and I know that Christ is my savior. Through Him, we can do all things. 


PS. Sister Hunter, Sister Lau, and I make the best trio. We are the only companionship so far who hasn't had issues... Except for the fact that Sister Lau was originally in another companionship.. but since we've been a trio we have been the dream team.❤ (even though Sister Hunter and I kind of scare Sister Lau with our craziness and love for life...all in good fun..)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The One With All the LOVE

Hallo everyone! 

This last week has been absolutely wonderful! I have loved it so so so much! It's been so crazy too, they have such high expectations for us missionaries but it's been amazing.
Our first day the let us take it easy since for most of us it felt like we had been on a plane for 100 years. Seriously though it was the longest day of my life. Until day two of the MTC. There was so much love when we got to the MTC it is such a wonderful place to be. You can just feel the spirit and Christ's love radiating from everyone here. 

Everyday has been pretty much the same, lots of classes and lots of German. Also, everyone here just cries their eyes out and I really don't understand. So. many. tears. Everyone is overwhelmed by the transition and I'm only overwhelmed by everyones emotions. I keep getting asked how my adjustment to the change is but nothing really feels different. Yes, we have 16 hour days that are hard and that we are learning new languages, yes I am thousands of miles away from home, and yes I am away from my family. But I feel like this hasn't been a huge transition, I don't know. Everyone is taking it way harder than I am, and maybe I'll get to that point too, but for now I am great. The MTC President & his wife said that their goal is for every missionary to gain at least 10-15 pounds while in the mtc. That shouldn't be too hard considering the fact that I ate 2 pounds of sour watermelons within the first two days (not a joke they were gone by Friday morning) and now I don't have any. I'm not sure what to do with myself. All of the food here has been really interesting... not that it's bad, but it's not good either...and I can't stop eating. They do have croissants in the mornings sometimes that are INCREDIBLE. 

It's crazy to think that back in November Sister Hunter and I were talking about being companions and talking about being on missions...and now we're companions and on missions!! I absolutely love Sister Hunter, we get along so great and we just have so much fun all of the time. I have become especially grateful for Sister Hunter and the friendship that we continually establish because it has made this 1000 times easier... All of the missionaries here are so loving and happy to be here. It's a wonderful atmosphere. It's crazy how much you can get to know someone after just a few days here.

This has been the best place to be because EVERYONE has accents. It's so hard not to mimic all of the different accents. It actually became such a habit that one of the sisters from Finland asked where in Sweden I was from (European accent + Swedish last name= swedish me?) It's just so fun to listen to everyone talk, I could just sit here and listen to them all day. Our teachers all have the best accents and I get distracted by their accents way to easily. 

German learning....they spoke so much German that at the beginning that it pretty much just all went over my head and I was kind of freaking out. But it's gotten to the point where I can usually understand some of what they are saying. Sometimes they switch from German to English and we don't notice and we get so excited to finally understand some of what they are saying.. That feeling goes away once we realize it was in English and we should have understood all of it. It's such a cool experience learning a language though. We actually have to ask permission to speak in English, which is funny because nobody can remember the phrase of how to ask. (Darf ich Englisch sprechen?). EVERY TIME we want to say something in English we are supposed to ask. It's really helpful, but also we don't speak Deutsch so it's like every 5 minutes that we have to ask...

This probably won't sound like me to you guys but probably one of my favorite parts of the day (aside from snack time at night) is physical exercise time. It's crazy how much I really do love it. I guess it's probably the sitting in desks for 13 hours a day and not getting outside or doing much. One of the teachers here actually asked what sports I did before this because he thought I was so athletic. I laughed so hard. When I told him I never played sports and I hate exercise he was genuinely confused. But hey, I love it now...ish. 

As for spiritual stuff.. EVERYTHING is spiritual. But I'll just share one of the experiences and thoughts that I have had since coming here.
In the last email I wrote I talked about the lady on the flight from Atlanta to Manchester. She kept asking questions about the mission like "So you get to go home whenever you want and see your family?" and I was like "no, we get to skype them twice a year though." and she was like "You can't go see them?? You can call them every night though right?" and I was like "no... We can skype them twice a year on the approved dates though, and we can email them once a week." and she was like "you can't call them?? You email them?? Can't you text them whenever?" and I again said, "no.. We can email them once a week, we don't have phones or anything to text with." and then she was like "don't you love your family? You're going to be away from them for 18 months and you're totally okay with that?" And thats where the "WHAT AM I DOING??" thoughts came from. But I tried to explain that I knew this was the true church and it's what I need to do, I love my family and I will see them again, but this is what I needed to do for now. And then I mildly freaked out about what I was doing with the next 18 months of my life. Sunday we had the best sacrament meeting ever. Every talk was on eternal families and marriage. THAT is why I am here, that is why I am away from my family, that is why I am trying to learn a language that I have never in my life wanted to learn. I KNOW that I can be with my family for an eternity. I KNOW that. 18 months is not that long when you think about eternity. So many people do not know about this gospel, they don't know that they can be with their families forever, they think this life is all they have. How sad is that? I want to share this glorious message and bring families together. I am so grateful for this knowledge and this privilege to serve.

All of the missionaries that were here when we got here left for their missions today, except the 3 that are here learning Greek.. So there are 17 missionaries here now. IT'S SO COOL. I miss everyone who left because I really do love them so much and felt so close to them, but it's so cool that they are now on their way to where they need to be. Also it's basically just the people that I knew from back home + the few I met at the airport that are here and we are just a happy family here. We have more missionaries coming tomorrow but there is only 25 coming so it'll still be a small group for the rest of our stay here. 

Being here with all of the Europeans kind of makes us Americans feel pathetic. Everyone speaks at least 3 languages. We are all struggling to learn a second, and we really aren't very good at our first... But I guess that's how it is in like every country except America. 

Enjoy the most awkward picture with my wonderful newly found second cousin Elder Richardson who told me I looked like his grandma and was so embarrassed he went to the teachers for guidance on how to fix it and then never heard the end of it, and probably won't for the rest of our Alpenlaniche missions. poor kid. The other Elder is one of the ones Sister Hunter and I were friends with at home, Elder Pickard. He left this morning with Elder Walton (who wasn't around to take a picture with us) for the Alpenlandische mission, so we'll see them again in a few weeks. crazy. 

Hopefully I figure out better organization and form for my future emails so they make more sense and are a little less rant-ish but we'll see if that happens. 
By the way, I can read my emails as I get them, or at least whenever I feel like checking my email. So keep sending all your fun emails. I have loved hearing from you all. I'm sorry if I don't respond, I really do love you all, I just don't have a lot of time to write. I hope all is going good in your lives, I pray for you daily.

Remember who y'all are, make good choices, and love one another.


Sister Lundskog

(not Schwester, because I am not a nun, even though sometimes I may feel like one.)