Thursday, November 21, 2013

Week 11

I think the build up to P-days are better than the day itself.

This is my friend Elaura and I on one of our last days in the MTC.
I was hosting one wednesday and she came off the bus so I got to host her.
So glad we were in the MTC at the same time :)
Sister Kearl and I cleaned this morning and then we both just slept in our beds for like 2 1/2 hours. So exciting.....I know. We were getting ready today and she had her ipod playing and then a song started playing and I was like "I think that's my mom singing." Yep sure enough!! It was my mom. I think it was a Kenneth Cope song. Sister Kearl was like "who would've thought that my future companion's mom was on my ipod all this time." haha! Look at that!

Last P-day we went to my very first German Castle. It was the Burg Altena about 45 min from Dortmund. It reminded me of Harry Potter. It was huge! Everything was closed in it though. Apparently everything is closed on Mondays in Germany. What the?! We went with a few other elders from our zone. It was fun even though I had to hike up there in a skirt....
....special times!

Made it to the castle!
The Group!
This week we also had zone training. It was good to see some of the missionaries that were in my MTC group. I was glad to see they were still alive haha! We talked a lot about how we have been sent to Germany for a reason and it wasn't just random. I've been thinking about that lately. Sister Kearl and I weren't going to go to the castle last Monday because the trip was put together last minute and we had other plans but we decided to go. I am so grateful I went! I was reminded how BEAUTIFUL Germany is. Looking around me, I felt so grateful to be serving here! 
I know I am here for a reason. 

View from the castle.
So German people are very interesting. I love them to death! But they are hilarious. There's this lady in the ward.....let's just say she reminds me of the principal in Maltida.......such a stereotypical German woman! haha She offered to take Sister Kearl and I home from an appt she was at also. We were a little nervous because let's be honest, we were afraid.

The drive home was the scariest thing of my life. she kept swearing and swerving everywhere. She would talk to us and if we didn't answer immediately she would get mad at us and start talking to us in German. (I've noticed a lot of Germans are like that. If you don't immediately respond to a question they automatically assume you don't understand or you are stupid. It's just the best feeling in the world......) anyways......I was super grateful she drove us home but I was even more grateful to be out of her car.

Setting up.
Sister Kearl, Sister Vermillion, and I at the street display.
This week I also had my first street display. We did it on Family History. We passed out balloons that said "Ich liebe Familie" so precious....... It was so cold! but I had a good experience :) It was neat to see a sea of people with our red balloons walking around. 

Just singing on the street.
Street display
I've decided that I am sick of German food. So the bread and chocolate are good but that's about it!! Everything tastes the same and it is always like cabbage, potatoes, and some kind of meat. They have no spices here either. Cooking has been kind of difficult. New goal: don't count chocolate as a meal! haha! Oh boy......I want cafe rio and corn dogs.....'Merica.......

Apparently, it's a big deal when a missionary eats his or her first Döner...
(some turkish thing....kind of like a pita). So this is me eating my first one!

The gang watching me eat my first Döner.
Can I just brag about my companion for a second.......I LOVE Sister Kearl. I have seriously been blessed with the best companion!! We will just start talking about random things at night and then look at the clock and it's10:30 pm and we're like "I guess I'll just write in my journal tomorrow haha." She is so sweet and will just make me crepes for breakfast. That's fine! It can be really stressful out here but it is such a relief to have a companion you can get along with! It's interesting that you can tell with other elders and companionships when they don't get along. I am so lucky!!!

I love my companion :)
She shared a quote with me yesterday: When you pray for other God listens to you and blessed them and sometimes when you are safe and happy remember someone has prayed for you. I love that! I fell very blessed! I am so grateful for all the prayers said in my behalf. I can really feel the power in my service as a missionary. I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately (if you haven't noticed- there's a lot of time to think on your mission haha). Sister Kearl and I were on a train and we were late for an appt and we were lost. We prayed that the next stop would be the right stop for us. 
It ended up that it was! I was thinking.....
...if we didn't pray that would have happened anyways. 

So why pray? 

I have been reading "Jesus the Christ" (oh my goodness....changing my life....if you haven't read it...start right now - shamless plug) and Talmage says "though the sun shines and the rain falls alike upon the just and the unjust, the righteous man is grateful for these blessings; the ungodly man receives the benefits as a matter of course with a soul incapable of gratitude." Deep stuff......but I've noticed that as I have been praying more than I've ever in my life that I am more aware of the blessings in my life. I am more aware of how God makes things happen for me. I am more grateful. It has truly been an eye opening experience. Prayer is an amazing gift. 
We can pray to God no matter how rich, educated, or worthy we are!

Sometimes it's freezing and you wear tights and leggings and socks and
your grandma shoes and you don't even care what you look like.....
Love you all!! Thank you for your prayers and emails! It means a lot to me :)
Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Sister Madsen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week 10

Another week and I'm still alive! 

I've been here almost four weeks and I'm still surprised by how many people smoke here. Holy cow! It's crazy. If I come home smelling like cigarettes don't be alarmed. Every once in a while Sister Kearl and I will smell something pretty jankety and we're like that's probably special.

The view to our walk to get groceries this morning.
So beautiful!
We met with a lot of the members this week. We have the primary program this sunday and we are having a street display this saturday about Family History with invites to the program the next day. Our ward mission leader made these huge old fashioned photos of families with the faces cut out so people can take pictures with their faces in them. So funny. I will send pics next week. Our GML (ward mission leader) is funny. He told me that my mom emailed him and was like "take care of my little angel." and he looked at me and was like "not so little....very tall." haha!

Nutella is so much better here. I have an addiction.
This has just been one of those weeks where everyone has made fun of my German. Ok....thank you. We were at a member's home and the dad served his mission in England so his English is really good. He was talking to me in the German and I was kind of slow to respond because I was thinking...obviously. And he was like "should we be speaking in English." so sassy!! I was like "Nein....I must practice." Then while I was saying the prayer his daughter accidentally stabbed him in the eye with a pencil and he had to go to the hospital. I'm not going to say it was a coincidence but.......

My Nutella facial hair. Out of was a long day.......
This week we had our weekly district meeting in Siegen because two of our elders in our district live there. It's about a two hour train ride away. Sister Kearl and I had an important apt. back in Dortmund right after our meeting. But our train was late and it took for ever to get there.

We left our apartment at 8 am, got to Siegen at 12, went to the meeting for 15 min, and then turned around to head back to Dortmund. We got on the train and then we got a text from our apt. and she had to cancel. We got back to apt at 4pm. So it was just an 8 hour adventure for a 15 minute meeting. I feel like that kind of stuff happens a lot. It's kind of hilarious! Learning to go with the flow.....

One of the member's dogs....I'm obssessed.
Yesterday at church bishop's wife came up to me with some sheet music. She wants me to sing the descant for this song some women are singing next week. I was like "ok I will try." We practiced after church and it is so high! So hilarious! And it makes even more hilarious when it is in German.
Well I'll let you know how that goes. 

I don't know it's name. I just call it "Hund" haha!
Sister Kearl and I stumbled upon a new Mormon Message.
It's by Elder Holland and I really like it:

I was reading a talk by Elder Scott and it was about getting answers to our prayers. He said we should be grateful for when God doesn't immediately answer our prayers because it gives us an opportunity to grow and learn. I've never thought about it that way before. I'm trying to be more grateful for the opportunities when I'm not necessarily being led by the hand. It means that the Lord trusts me to make a decision and to learn from it.

It's really hard as a missionary because you always think you are going to get these huge revelations about who to talk to or what road to take. But sometimes we just have to take the first step on our own.
And it is comforting to know that he won't let us go down the wrong path for too long :)

Sunset view outside our apartment window.
I love you all! Thank you so much for the emails! It is so great to hear from you and sorry if I don't get back to you right away! It is so comforting to have support back home. Oh and thank you Joni Sherman for my first piece of real mail in Germany! Elder Kent was like "Sister Madsen, did Elder Weidmann give you your letter?" and I was like "No! Elder Weidmann, Wo ist meinen Brief?!" It may have taken a while to get to me but I got it!
Thank you! It made me smile :)

Love you and think of you often!
Sister Madsen

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 9

I am currently sitting in the JAE (YSA) office in our stake center writing this email. It is approximately 16:00 (trying to get used to this military time thing...) and it's almost dark outside. What the?! Since we've had daylight savings it gets really dark early. Around 5:30 pm it looks like it's 10 pm. Good thing I brought some Vitamin D......

Last night Sister Kearl and I were talking and I realized that today is my 2 month mark. Holy cow where did the time go. We each read our journal entry from two months ago. Mine was my first day in the MTC and hers was her first day serving in Dortmund.

Sister Kearl and I on halloween. Halloween is kind of lame in Germany.
And if people dress up it is super creepy....not my favorite.....
 This week flew by! Last p-day we were going to visit a castle but it was rainy and windy so we decided to play Risk at the church. Yipee! The simple pleasures of a missionary.....I have never played risk so I wasn't too excited. Especially since Elder Schmidt was explaining the rules in German. ok......but guess who just totally dominated the game?! Me! No one thought I would win but I totally crushed everyone. They didn't think I had a strategy but my strategy was not to have a strategy. Genius! (I totally didn't know what I was doing.....beginner's luck perhaps?) 

That night Elder Schmidt continued to teach me how to solve a Rubic's cube. My life long goal is to figure out how to do it! And I am so's a process....maybe by the end of this transfer I will be able to do it!

The Dortmund Ward missionaries.
Sister Kearl, me, Elder Schmidt, Weidmann, Kent, and Ogden.
This week I also applied for my Visa and Anmelded which is pretty much registering in the city of Dortmund. We went to the Stadthaus which is like the DMV but 500 times worse!!! We waited in line for 1 hour just to get a number. Then we waited another 2 hours to meet with someone and then it took an 1 hour to figure everything out. But I have applied for a Visa. Yay!

Walking to the post office
On Sunday this old man in the ward just handed me a Chinese restaurant card and said "zwolf uhr." haha! I was like, ok. Apparently every transfer he takes all the Dortmund missionaries out to lunch at this Chinese buffet. So hilarious! We went today and it was actually pretty good. They had sushi! Hollah! But it was not very good. 

Elder Weidmann and Sister Kearl had a contest to see who could eat more ice cream. Sister Kearl had 14 bowls of ice cream (like a boss) and Elder Weidmann had 13! My companion totally proud! But this man is so precious. Tonight he is taking the whole ward out to dinner. 
Ok.....that's fine!

Halloween night messing around with some crutches.
Another sister needed them so we were carrying them around all night.....
I also had my first austausch (split). I went to Herne (about a 30 minute train ride away) to be with one of our sister training leaders Sister Bauer and her companion came to Dortmund to be with Sister Kearl. It lasts for 24 hours. It was weird being away from my companion and I may have woken up in the middle of night totally disoriented....special panic moment. 
But I learned so much. 

Sister Bauer is super chill and has been out on her mission for almost a year. We went and taught a lady and her son. She pretty much was a self-referral. She called the church a couple of weeks ago and asked to meet with the missionaries. When we met with her we told her that we picked a baptismal date for Nov 23 for her. She was totally excited about it! Her son was still unsure about getting baptized but he wanted to learn more. A couple days later I got a call from Sister Bauer and she said that they called and said they wanted to move the baptismal date to Nov. 30 so that her son could get baptized too. What?! So happy for them! 

Split pic with Sister Bauer.
I am quickly learning that I don't really do that much as a missionary except invite people. The Lord has people prepared and ready to accept the Gospel. The sisters in Herne didn't really do anything exceptional to get this lady and her son baptized. They were spiritually prepared before hand to receive the gospel and the sisters were just there to support and give a little nudge. 

We have an investigator we are teaching. We've met with her only a couple times. But this last time she said that she prayed and received her answer. We were so happy! To be honest our lesson before hand didn't go so well so we were a little nervous. But she keeps inviting us back! I know that it has nothing to do with me. We are just vessels for the spirit.'s beautiful here.....
This is probably the most frightening thing I have every done in my life! I am stretched so much every day! But because of that I am growing more than I could have possibly imagined. I wouldn't trade the tiredness, frustration, embarrassment, nervousness, anxiety, loneliness for anything. I have seen miracles since I've been here. Not just in the people around me but in myself. Oh boy I'm crying like a baby right now.....oh tears.......Being a missionary is so hard but so worth it! Es lohnt sich! 

My study area I decorated this week. I couldn't find the picture of Elder Eyring all week so it looked kind of weird with just President Monson and Elder Uchtdorf. But he has been found! It still looks kind of creepy with just their faces there....I might move them to a different location......
Sister Kearl and I were searching through Mormon Messages the other day and we watched the one by Elder Worthlin "Come what may and love it." He says trust, do your best, and leave the rest up to Him. 
I try to remember that every day when we leave our apartment because really that's all I can do. 

Love you all! 
Thank you for the support and emails! 
It is always so good to hear from you :)

Sister Madsen