Monday, September 3, 2012

Liebe Familie,
Ich bin in Österreich! Könnet ihr daß glauben?
My last week in the MTC was good. We finally got to hear from an apostle! Neil L. Andersen came. It was so great to hear from a prophet. It was also neat to get to know Elder Andersen’s personality a little better. He reported on President Monson’s birthday, and as such, he talked about what President Monson would teach us if he were there. He had 10 points that were common phrases of President Monson, and he expounded on them. He talked a lot about trusting in the Lord, that the Lord knows what’s best. It was such a great talk, and the spirit was so strong.
Elder Moon broke his finger on Thursday during basketball, and they wanted to keep him for six more weeks! He had a small hairline fracture, and the doctor wanted to send him to a specialist. For a broken finger! It was the most ridiculour thing on the planet. Our branch president and first counselor are both radiologists, and even they had trouble finding the crack. Elder Moon had to call his mom on Saturday to tell her he might not be flying to Deutschland on Tuesday. Elder Moon received a blessing from his companion, and we had a district-wide (including other elders from our zone) fast for him on Sunday. On Sundays at lunch, Wednesdays at lunch, and Wednesdays at dinner, we get ice cream. Sunday’s lunch would be our last time eating ice cream in the MTC, and that was sacrificed for Elder Moon. I think the Lord understood how upset and distraught we all were over missing our ice cream, because the next day, the doctor practically had no idea what Elder Moon was talking about when he went in to receive the final word. It had been this huge ordeal (of which even the president of the MTC was aware), and then all of a sudden, he had no clue what was going on. So Elder Moon flew with us to Deutschland!! Fasting and the priesthood work, people. Period.
Tuesday morning was crazy, but good. We left the MTC at 8:00, and headed to the Salt Lake airport. We got all checked in, and then Sister Perkins, Elder Gochnour, Elder Gochnour, and I headed to Cafè Rio. We were so excited for our last Mexican food for 16 (or 22) months, and the fact that it wasn’t MTC Mexican food. It was sooooo delicious!!
We flew on a little plane from Salt Lake to Seattle. In Seattle, I called Dad, and then it was time to board our plane to Amsterdam. The Seattle airport was a little weird because at the MTC, everyone smiles at you as you walk past. In the Salt Lake airport, not as many friendly people, but still a lot of people greeting us, and such. But in Seattle, nothing. One woman stopped us to ask us where we were going (she had served her mission in Thailand), but everyone else gave us funny stares. We all commented on what an odd adjustment that was. :)
The flight to Amsterdam was good. It as an 8 ½ hour flight. We all tried so hard to sleep on the plane, but it didn’t really work. Elder Aardema couldn’t sleep, either.  I commented how he even had an empty seat by him, and he asked if I wanted to switch seats. I said maybe later, as I didn’t want to take his nice window seat. After another failed attempt at sleeping, we both ‚woke up‘ at the same time, and he asked again if I wanted to switch seats. I nodded, and slept much better in his seat. He still had trouble sleeping, and decided to wander. While wandering, he ran into a lady who asked him where he was from, usw. He told her he was from America, and she said that she had just come from America. She said ,‚Why aren’t there churches open during the week in America? I looked and I looked, but I could find nowhere to pray.‘‘ Elder Aardema explained how we don’t have to pray in church, and he started quoting scriptures from the Book of Mormon. She was very excited/interested and wanted to know more. He excused himself and went back to his seat to get a Book of Mormon and mark the parts with the answers to her questions. He could not find her again until after the plane landed, when she stood up only two rows in front of him! I woke up for the last little bit of the flight, and Elder Aardema told me all about it, and about how frustrated he was that he couldn’t find her again, but that he knew why he hadn’t been able to sleep: he had something to do. It was so cool!
We had an hour and a half layover in Amsterdam because we got out of Seattle faster than expected. It was good we had, because the Amsterdam airport was huge! It took almost half an hour just to walk from where we landed to where our take-off gate was! And we had to clear customs, too. Elder Putkonin got felt up, but I was okay.
We freshened up in the bathroom, then it was off to Munich. We walked on the pavement to get on our tiny airplane. Elder Moon and I both stopped on the stairs and looked out at Amsterdam. It was so unreal that we were boarding for our last flight to our actual mission.
This flight was quite enjoyable, seeing the European countryside. Elder Aardema was finally able to sleep, and I looked out the window the whole time. It was only an hour flight, and the Austrian family next to me was laughing at us missionaries‘ excitement. They were very friendly, though!
We landed in Munich, and the APs were on the other side of the glass waving so excitedly. We picked up our luggage, and the mission president, his wife, and the APs flocked to greet us. Sister Miles threw her arms around me, and the others excitedly shook my hand. Elder Carter was so excited to meet me. My mission papers went in from Cedar City, where he is from, and he was excited to have more represenatation. He apologized profusely that he did not remember me, but hoped I would forgive him. I laughed and explained that although I did live in Cedar for three years, I was not in high school with him. We do know a lot of the same people, though, so that was neat.
We loaded our suitcases and backpacks, were given Bücher Mormon, the APs took us to Bahnhof, and we were instructed to place one. Sister Graf is from Germany, and was in the Preston MTC. She stuck with Sister Perkins and me. I picked where to sit. Sister Perkins sat and smiled, and Sister Graf and I talked to this middle-aged woman. She was very polite. At first she was apprehensive of the Book of Mormon. But after more chatting, she asked ‚,Where is my book?‘‘ when she was getting off the train. It was so cool!
After that, I don’t remember a whole lot, as I was very jet-lagged, and they made us stay awake. We were alotted a 20 minute nap at one point, but other than that, awake!
I was assigned to Wien IV with Ssiter Stewart. It’s an international ward, so we teach lessons in English, sometimes with interpreters. We have to work very hard at our German, since we don’t have as many opportunities as the other missionaries to practice, but it will be okay.
Sorry this letter is so long, and I will write more later!!
Viel Glück! Ich liebe euch!!
Sister Stephanie Reid 

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