Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week 8

Guten Tag! 

Am I alive?! I have no idea.....It is so true when they say the days are so long but the weeks go by quickly. Sometimes to make it through a day I just tell myself that I have to make it through this one hour. 
Time is very strange. 

A lot has happened this week and I'm going to try my best 
to remember the good stuff. 

Here in the Frankfurt mission instead of calling us "Greenies" they call us "Goldens." It's a nicer way to say...."they don't know a dang thing." When I'm introduced at church as a Golden the people are like "Oooooh." I'm still making my way through the German language. Sometimes we go to an appt. and literally all I can do is say the prayer. It can be frustrating at times. 
I'm learning to be very patient with myself. 

Sister Kearl and I waiting for a train!
I've been able to meet a lot more of the ward members! I am so impressed by them. The ward is so small and some people have to travel up to 2 hours to get to the church each Sunday. It really is a sacrifice for them. There's only one young women and maybe a couple young men. you can tell these members come to be spiritually edified and not for a social experience. 

We are so spoiled in Utah with the ward house just a minute down the street and then we still struggle to get to church every Sunday! The Dortmund ward is so humble and I'm loving to get to know the members. I'm grateful they are so patient with my German! 

The ward mission leader interviewed me this week for the ward blog. Here's the link if you want to take a look. I can barely understand all of it but there's a picture! Hollah! 

Special Times...
This week on the way to an appt we were walking with the elders down this road. I was kind of having a hard time that day and as I was walking I was thinking to myself "how am I going to do this for 18 months....or how will I ever learn the language?" It was rather pathetic. But then as I was thinking that I totally biffed it and face planted on the ground. 
Leaves in the face and all....

...Now this wasn't a graceful fall at all. My skirt was up and there was leaves in my hair. Oh my goodness so embarrassing. I think God has a pretty good sense of humor. I banged up my knee pretty bad so now every time I pray I am reminded of it. When I was laying on the ground in the dirt I realized that I shouldn't be complaining because it could always be worse. 
Oh my life is so special.....

Where we play soccer Saturday mornings. I hate playing soccer but at least it is beautiful!
We've been teaching a lot of less active members. People are very stubborn here and set in their ways. But they are also very loyal to what they believe is true. Sister Kearl and I are trying really hard to get better at contacting. We ride the trains everywhere and it usually takes 
about an hour to get to an appt.

One day we split with the elders and started street contacting. I was with Elder Weidmann who doesn't know any English so I had no idea what were doing. You have to be totally shameless when you contact people so we were just going for it. We ended up giving out a Book of Mormon within the 20 minutes that we were doing worth it!!

As a district we have also turned to singing on the street. Elder Kent has a gutair and Elder Schmidt and I like to sing. So we were basically street musicians for a while. Again totally shameless.

Street musicians
There's a lot of Turkish people here. Sister Kearl and I were in the sketchiest part of town Friday night and I'm pretty sure it was like a Turkish community. Our appt. fell through and it's starting to get really dark early. So we finally found a train stop. We were about to get off the train when this young Turkish man was staring at my name tag. He said "Hmmmm.....Sister Madsen.......House Party?" and I was like "Hmmmm.....nein danke.......Das Buch Mormon?" hahaha! So creepy! 

Pretty area in Dortmund. We attempted some street contacting here....
I've decided I need to find new ways to cope with my stress so I was reading this booklet thing they give missionaries called "adjusting to missionary life." Yes I was desperate. The book talks a lot about how prayer and scripture study really help with stress. I always thought that was good but never really helped with my stress. 

Then the next morning during personal study I was reading in D&C 50 and in verse 24-25 it says: 

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you."

I was thinking about when we study and pray we are receiving light from God. And when we have light there cannot be darkness. In fact we "chase the darkness from among us." I think for me, my negative thinking and stress is my darkness in my life right now. I've noticed that I feel the most peace when I have study time in the morning. I can truly testify that reading the scriptures and praying can help us deal with the stress in our lives. I have seen it happen in my own life. 

It's absolutely beautiful this time of the year!
All is well here in Dortmund. I'm stretching every day and at times it is really hard. But I am learning so much about myself and my Savior. 
My relationship with God grows stronger every day as I am dependent on him in everything I do! 

Love you all and miss you dearly! 
Email me if you get a chance!

Sister Madsen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 6 & 7

Here I am sitting in the stake center (also our ward building) in Germany and typing this. It is so surreal that I actually am here. Also, warning, this is a German keyboard and the Z and Y are switched, so if I make a mistake, I'm sorry! This past week has been the most ridiculous week of my life! 
I had to make a list of things to write home about because
I knew I would forget something. 

Last meal at the MTC....or so we thought....
So let's start with leaving the MTC.....

We had to report to the travel office at 3:30am. So my companions and I woke up at 2 so we could finish packing and weigh our luggage. We waited at the travel office for an hour until the bus came to take us to the Front-runner. We took the Front-runner to the airport and 
checked in our baggage. 

Just chillin at the airport...for 5 hours...
One of my suitcases weighed 67 lbs. Let's not talk about it.....We sat around for about an hour and then boarded our plane which was headed to Dallas (where we would have a 4 hour layover). We sat on the plan for like 30 min and then they said something was wrong with a warning system or something like that. So about 45 min later (I was totally sleeping on my little flip down tray) they announced that the flight was cancelled and that we would need to go pick up our luggage and find another flight. Oh the joys of being a missionary and having no way to call anyone. 

On our way to Germany
Special times....Well our travel leader called the MTC and they were trying to find a different flight or something.  About 5 hours later....we found out that we would be going back to the MTC for the night. We were so close to leaving!!!! We hauled all our luggage onto the trax and headed back to the MTC where they found us some random room to stay in for the night. We were required to go to the devotional. By this time we were all zombies! Barely awake! Luckily, the devotional was Elder Oaks. That was pretty cool. Too bad I could barely stay awake.

...the next morning we reported to the travel office at 4:30 am and we took all our luggage back onto the Front-runner and checked in for our flight. 

On the Front-runner to the airport the second time!
I got to see Mckenna Gordon in the airport. She was leaving that day from her mission to go home! Oh my! It was so good to see her! Our plane made it to our stop to Atlanta (Thank goodness!!) and we had about 10 minutes to get on our flight to Frankfurt. 

The flight was barely full...YAY! So Sister Hamner and I totally spread out for the 9 hour flight. It was about 3 in the morning on the plane and Sister Hamner and I looked around and everyone was asleep. We could barely sleep. We felt like Rocket Man...when the monkey takes his sleeping chamber and he is awake for 8 months! hahah!! 
We literally got 30 minutes of sleep on that whole flight.....

My first meal in healthy! I look tired....
We landed in Frankfurt, made it through customs, got our luggage, and was greeted by our mission president, his wife, the APs, and all the trainers for that transfer. They just grabbed my luggage for me and we took a bus to the mission office. Since we arrived a day later than we were supposed to, the mission had about 5 min with each of us to interview us. 

President Schwarz is so nice! 
He doesn't know very much English but he can understand pretty much all we say. He said he spent all night talking to our pictures to figure out which trainer we should have. He is so funny! We spent about 4 hours at the mission office and found out our trainers and area. 

My trainer and I . Sister Kearl!!
My trainer is Sister Kearl from Colorado. She has been on her mission for about 7 months. She is so nice!! I think we will really get along. 

This is the only pic I got on my first Sunday.
We were assigned to Dortmund which is a pretty large city in the northwestern area of the mission. We had to take a 5 hour train ride from Frankfurt to get there. I was pretty dead on the train! We were about an hour away when Sister Kearl got a phone call that our apt had flooded. What the?! So we took my luggage and we stayed at the District Leader's apt. 
That was weird. I don't think many sister missionaries can say they've slept in an elder's bed.....

Outside our apt.
Our study area. I like our apt. It's kind of small but really nice.
There are 6 missionaries in Dortmund. There's the zone leaders: Elder Kent and Elder Ogden and then the other elders: Elder Weidmann and Elder Schmidt. We see them a lot. We all attend the same ward. Elder W and Elder S are both native German speakers. Elder S got here the same day as me. He does a lot of translating for me since his English is pretty good. He reminds me a lot of Thomas who stayed with the Assmus family. 

Breaking boards in the Dortmund zone.
The next morning we had zone training with about 30 missionaries. I felt bad because I was falling asleep. I blame jet lag. We did this activity where we wrote the things that are holding us back on a board and then we karate chopped the board in half. Totally broke my board. Strength of a tiger! 

Later that day I had my first appt. with an inactive member. She was really nice and was very patient with my German. I'm trying to get used to sparkling water because that is what everyone drinks and offers you. 

The Karate Kid...Broken board. Hollah!
The next morning was Saturday morning. And every Saturday morning a bunch of the missionaries and members and investigators play fußball (soccer). Oh my....I am so bad at soccer but is was fun! A bunch of little German kids were making fun of me! They kept asking if I was American.....I wonder why? 

Later that day sister Kearl and I went on a little adventure to find a member who just moved in. Sister Kearl isn't very confident in her navigating skills and of course I have no idea what to do. So it ended up taking us 1.5 hours to get there. Of course she wasn't home and then 1.5 hours to get home. 
3 hour adventure! It was fun though to kind of see the city. 

Outside our apt in Dortmund
The next day was Sunday! I was excited to see what the ward was like. Sister Kearl told me that we were teaching Young Women's but in the whole ward there is only one young woman. She didn't show we got to be in nursery because they didn't have enough people. The little German kinds are so cute! That lesson was about the only thing I understood the whole day! 

Later in sacrament the Bishop asked me to bear my testimony. I was kind of nervous because my German isn't very good yet. But after church everyone came up and told me my German was actually really good. 
That made me feel good. They might have been lying.....
...but I like to think that Germans don't lie. 

The church building
Later that day we went to a member's house for dinner and guess what she served us?! Yep on my 4th day here I ate cow tongue!! It is so gross. It's just kind of chewy and looks exactly like a tongue. Elder Schmidt was being such a girl about it and almost puked! The lady was just laughing her head off at us. Well now I can say I've eaten cow tongue.....

Yep...cow tongue.
Needless to say....this week has been very strange. We found out this morning that our apartment has a gas leak...special. I'm definitely learning to go with the flow. It's been a learning process. I have never prayed so much in my life before. I am scared to death and I don't know anyone or how to speak to anyone. It's been really hard but I have learned so much about myself. I just pinch myself everyday because I am in Germany!!! Holy Cow! 

Hole in our bathroom (from trying to fix the flood's fixed now...)
Germany is so beautiful especially since it's fall. It smells like an old house and cigarette smoke everywhere. The chocolate and bread is delicious. Good thing we walk a lot. I feel like I'm in a Bourne movie when the police car alarms go off. I've decided that it's just really quiet here. People kind of keep to themselves. I'm learning to love Germany! There's a lot of work to be done. The ward is so small and there are not very many members in the Frankfurt mission. I'm excited to work! 

The walk to church.
Love you all!! Hope all is well! Remember that God has a plan for you! I am learning to rely on the Lord so much! Read Matt.11:28-30!

Sister Madsen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 5

Hello my friends and family!!! 
Another Pday is here! 

Temple walk on conference Sunday.
Wasn't conference lovely?! 
It was such a nice change of schedule here at the MTC. I wish I could have gone with you all up to Park City to watch it. But I sat in metal chairs for basically 12 hours! Yay! I am going to have one tough booty by the time I get home from my mission. Luckily one of the elders found an old Daily Universe and we did some sudoku puzzles during break. Oh contraband!! 

My favorite talk was by President Uchtdorf and it's not because he's from Fatherland! I like how he said, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!" What great advice! Some other favorites....President Eyring, Bednar, Holland and of course Oaks (I love the way he speaks and thinks). But can we just talk about the Motab on Sunday morning?! Seriously the best music! The song: O Divine Redeemer (I think?) LOVED it! And the family choir was hilarious. The whole MTC was cracking up when the kids were yawning or looking at the camera. And that fly on that man's nose. I died!!!! I would have opened my mouth and just swallowed it.....
...he had so much self control. 

Me & Sister Alcazar…Highland buddies!
Well I only have one more week here at the MTC! We leave Tuesday morning for Deutschland! I think I'm going to drink a whole bottle of benadryl and try to sleep as much as I can.
Oh sleep sounds so good right now.....

I'm so excited to get to Germany! I can barely put grammatically correct sentences together but I don't even care! I'm just going to smile and wave as soon as I get off that plane. 

Our teachers initiated project "Himmelwoche." So basically since it's our last week they call it heaven week. They had us make a bunch of language goals for our last week and have us step it up. I was like you mean....."Höllewoche" ....hellweek. haha! I think I'm funny.....

Sometimes I make art at dinner time....
I'm trying to learn as much as I can before I leave the MTC. My companions and I are getting so much better at teaching lessons. We'll come out of a lesson and not even know how we said what we said. 
We have been so blessed with learning the language! 

Districts A and B at our temple trip!
Sorry this letter is kind of short this week...we have a lot to do before we leave next week. My companions and I had to make a trip to the DMV today because my one companion needs a licence. It took FOREVER but while we were waiting outside for the shuttle and man walked by and practically threw $5 at Sister Fowlke and he told us to go buy ourselves a drink. haha! We couldn't really accept it but he ran away! haha!
We were like " offerings!" Special times....

My friend, Sister Robertson! She left the other day for Taiwan (I think....)
We were in the same freshman ward at BYU. Love her!
I miss you all so much! I can't wait to call you, mom, at the airport!! It will be nice to hear your voice. Thank you, Chandler, for your letter!! I bawled!! I read it to my district and they were like "how old is he?....he is so mature!" Chandler- you are going to be the greatest missionary and such a great friend to your companions! I can't wait to hear where you will serve! I see elders here that are just barely older than you and I just imagine you as a missionary. It melts my heart. 

This is a pic of our whole zone/branch. This is all the German missionaries at the MTC right now. I think it's the smallest group of Germans they've had for a while!
I love my zone!!
Thank you for the letters and packages! It really lifts my spirits! 
I love you! but most importantly the Lord loves you!
-Sister Madsen

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week 4

Well another week has FLOWN by!
Oh meine gute! 
We have two weeks until we are shipped off to Germany. I should get my travel plans soon so I'll let you know about that! Everyone in my zone is so nervous to get to Germany but I'm just nervous about packing my luggage!! I have so much stuff! The elders always make fun of me because my carry on weighed 50 lbs! I'm not ashamed.....
I'll probably be sending some things home.....

On the bus on the way to Conference Center!
I'm so happy I got to see you at the Relief Society Broadcast. 
Singing in the conference center as a missionary was a 
once in a life time opportunity. 
My companions and I at the conference center.
It was seriously an amazing experience! Songs take on a new meaning when you are a missionary. During rehearsal that morning I was bawling during the song "I'll go where you want me to go." I was like I need to get a hold of my emotions for the broadcast or I'm going to be a 
blubbering mess on the screen. 
Yep in the choir seats
My favorite part was at the end when they just had the sisters stand there while everyone was getting up to leave. I was just looking around (I couldn't find mom yet) but there were a ton of sisters around me who saw their families and they were crying. I just thought of all of us standing there with our name tags on and our families down there. I thought of the sacrifices all these sisters have made to be on missions and the sacrifices of our families. It was a very humbling experience. Then I decided to look up and to the left. 
And I saw my mom and sister waving their arms like crazy. 
I immediately started crying. 
Oh my goodness! 
I didn't know I had that many tears inside of me. 

I found you!!! L.O.V.E.
I feel so blessed to have an amazing support system at home! And mom, I'm glad you had binoculars! I told my branch that you had binoculars and they died laughing. They think you're hilarious.....especially since you sent me a belly dancing skirt and canned pie filling haha!!! After the broadcast the relief society presidency gave us all a hug. Seriously the nicest ladies! 
I will never forget this experience!

This is me in the choir seats and I'm a missionary.....that's fine!
Other than that...things have pretty much been the same here. We are trying to learn as much german as we can before we leave! Yesterday I was on a roll with the language. I'm really starting to get a feel for how the language should sound. I'm not gonna lie I was dominating in class. My teacher pulled me aside and was like "you are the Deutsch MVP." That was something I really needed to hear that day. It's nice to feel like you're on the right track. Our teachers are so great! I think they're going to miss us when we leave.... least we tell them that every day haha! 

Came home one night after a rainy day and my tag was completely upside down!
How did that happen?!
So funny story....yesterday we were teaching our investigator "Olaf" who is one of our teachers. We were just talking about his weekend and he said he went to see the Star Trek movie. We're like "das ist gut" (pretty much how we respond to everything). He said he's a treky (sp?) and it was silent for what seemed like forever and I just lifted my hand and did the "live long and prosper" sign. Our teacher couldn't keep a straight face! He busted up laughing. Oh man funny times.....the problem is sometimes I'm awkward but I don't realize it because I don't feel awkward haha!

Sister Hamner had me put vaseline on my hands and then socks for bed. Never again.....
I can't believe how quickly times goes by! 
I'm so excited to get to Germany and meet the people! 

Sister Briggs (from BYU) and Sister Fowlke and I eating dinner before the broadcast. I spilled ranch on my shirt right before we sang. My life!! and so if you noticed my skirt a little higher than everyone else that's why....
This week we've been studying a lot about receiving revelation and recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes I feel like I need to have these big impressions when I'm preparing or teaching a lesson. But that's not how it works. Our teacher gave us some good advice and I feel like it can apply to your lives. When it comes to receiving revelation if it's a good thing "when it's not a 'no' then it's a 'go.'" It's like the idea that every good thought comes from God! We shouldn't spend so much time second guessing ourselves because if it is a good idea or thought then it is from God. It's like that talk from Elder Bednar when he says "just be good boys and good girls and stop worrying about it." As long as we are living righteous lives God won't let us go astray. READ this scripture: D&C's been a great comfort to me these past few days. As mom always says: God has my back. I know that is true and I feel it every day! 

The Girls
I love you all! I miss you dearly! 
Thank you for the letters and the support. 
I hope all is well!
-Sister Madsen