Still Sunny in Austria!

We have actually had sunshine! Constant sunshine for a day and a half! It’s a miracle!!!!
We have actually had a pretty crazy and slightly stressful week…On Tuesday we went to Salzburg where we had Zone Training and that was an exciting little trip. Afterward we went on our austaush (switching companions for twenty-four hours) So I went with Sister Smith’s companion for a day and Sister Smith went with Sister Judd for a day. Sister Smith and I are in the same Zone, so that’s cool. Not the same District because of the distance, but still, it’s pretty cool. I was definintely grateful for Sister Judd at the end of the twenty-four hours. 😀 
But when I got back to Wels, well actually we met up in Vöcklebruck we found out that our phone was lost. It probably was left on a train on Tuesday. So that caused some understandable stress. Last week we were really excited because we had appointments every single day of the week, but unfortunately because we lost our phone we had some difficulty. We were going to go to an appointment with West on Wednesday night but we couldn’t make it because of how late we were getting on the train because we were making phone calls on the Neumarkt Sister’s phone. 
So a little thing about Austrian Zugs, you buy your ticket off the train at a little automated ticket station and then you present your ticket and your vorteils card to the person that comes by and stamps it. Sister Judd had forgotten to purchase the ticket to go home, simply because of the craziness of it all, we usually call the office and have our tickets ordered, but the tickets were never purchased. So we’re on the train, completely oblivious to this little fact and when the ticket checker man comes by he looks down at the ticket and our vorteils cards and I can immediately tell something is wrong. I’m thinking, “Oh my goodness, there’s something wrong with my vorteils card!” But actually we only had a ticket to Vöcklebruck and not back to Wels. Oops.
But he was SO nice! Usually it’s about a forty or fifty euro fine for not having a ticket, but he was just saying, “You can buy a ticket from me!” We were confused at first because we weren’t sure if we were going to have to go with him or what was wrong, I was just so lost and confused. But I understood what he was saying, I just didn’t know if he was going to make us pay or if we were going to be arrested or something. 
It was all good though, we paid for the ticket and he asked where we were from and he was super nice! He thought I was Norwegian because of my name, and I guess I look Nordisch. Okay. Cool. I’m not going to argue with that. 
We’ve decided that we’re going to carry something with us every time we go on a train in case we see him to say thank you for it. We were just so grateful!
Oh, have I told you that the people here have the hardest time with my name? It’s really funny. They stare at it and get really close and try to sound it out. They’re all like Sister Ha-ha-hamm-hammock, but they don’t pronounce it ‘ick’, but ‘ock’ and they ask if that’s correct and I’m like, yep, that’s right, but they just keep trying so hard. It’s really funny. 
Anyway. So with the phone thing we just figured that we’d get a phone by Saturday because the Weidmans were going to Münchin for a conference meeting thing and they could bring the phone to us. So we made lots of phone calls from payphones. Thank goodness there are a lot more of those in Austria than there are in America. But here’s the thing about pay phones. You have to have coinage to use them. Which isn’t a problem, they have euro coins and two euro coins and it won’t take anything smaller than a ten cent coin, but that’s cool. Except, when you run out of coins and all you have are two cent and five cent coins you are trying to get information from a member and the phone turns off. 
That’s what happened yesterday. We got our phone and we were all excited becuase we’re going to have this phone and we won’t have to hassle with things anymore, only to find out that the SIM card was never activated.
So we were calling a member to see if they knew the address of another member who lived closer to us, but the phone hung up right as she was telling us where Antwi lived. 
We finally just knocked on our neighbor’s door and asked to use their phone and we called Antwi and he came by and was trying to get the phone figured out and he was going to the website on the card and trying to figure out how to activate it, but guess what? No dice. 
Antwi is from Africa and so he has three phones. One for his everyday use, one to call his mom in Gana, and one for some other purpose that we don’t know what it is. So we are currently using the SIM card for the third phone because he’s so nice. We’re going to make him banana bread. Well, actually, let’s be honest, Sister Judd is going to make him banana bread. I might eat whatever’s put in front of me now, but I don’t cook. 
But I really am just so grateful for Antwi and for his willingness to help us. Oh, I actually left out an important detail. The card that we have can only be activated by one person, who is currently on vacation in America…till Friday. So we’re going to be using Antwi’s SIM card till Friday. But he was saying to us, “There’s 900 minutes on there, you can use. Make lot’s of phone calls, cause I need those minutes to be gone before I can get a new one.” I don’t know what the purpose is, but we’re grateful!
I got the package this week. It came on Wednesday, but I couldn’t go get it from the post office till Thursday! I wore the skirt on Friday! It fits really well! I’ll send a picture home of it today! 
I also got the debit card! Thank you so much for sending it!!!! But I have a funny story that goes along with that too! 😀
So, according to Austrian law you’re supposed to anmeld (register) within three days of arrival. Well, I couldn’t anmeld until the papers to do that came from the church because when you’re on a mission you’re supposed to have that information to tell them why you’re living there. So we wait for a few days, it doesn’t come, we call the office, they tell me it hasn’t been sent because my passport copy had never been sent in. I told them that we’d sent it along with everything else when they needed it. Well, turns out they accidentally put it in another packet that they sent to me so we had to send that back to Germany because the copy they’d taken of it when I got to Germany had been on the President’s computer and he’d gone to Switzerland. Finally, last week we call them again and say, “My thing still hasn’t come and it should’ve after all this time.” They woman says, “Well, I’ll decide after another week if we should send another one cause I would have to type it all out again.” And this is a week after they told me to wait another week. And I’ve been illegally living in Austria for three weeks. Then five minutes later I get another call and it’s the same woman and she tells me that because I never sent the passport photo from when I was home they never sent it, but now they had it and she just forgot to send it again and that I would have to wait because of the passport. I explained that I had sent it and that it had been their mistake for putting it in the wrong packet and so yeah…that was frustrating because it wasn’t my fault. We had sent everything in. But anyway, that’s not really important. 
When I went to go anmeld I had to take my passport, well, I always have my passport in my backpack, but I pulled it out and low and behold, my debit card is tucked away safely in my passport. STUPID! 😀 
But thank you very much for sending the letter with the new one. 😀
I really appreciate it! 
So I’m legally registered to live here in Wels, which is a good thing. But now I know what it’s like to be illegal. 😀 Your daughter, the criminal. It’s actually not that exciting, but it’s funny. 
When I went to anmeld they asked me if I lived with anyone and I told them Sister Judd’s name and the lady looked at her computer and was very confused, and then I realized I had to pronounce it the way that the German’s would say it. It was pretty funny.
She spoke to me in English at first, but I spoke in German and it was better for her. But when she asked me what city I was born in she handed me the paper so that I could write it out because she didn’t know how to spell it. It was interesting to be on the other end of understanding. 
But I’m beginning to understand more and more as things go along. 
Oh, in our ward a couple of the members call me the tall one and Sister Judd the small one. It’s pretty funny. 
We are teaching a woman name Sonja and she’s hilarious, she is always laughing and just is hysterical. She also makes fun of me in German and I can only understand her half the time. She also thought I was seventeen. And she didn’t realize that we have first names.Well, she knew that we had first names, she just thought that they were the ones on our badges. So our last names are our first names. 
I wish I could have recorded her reaction to that. 
It’s also really weird here, cause the culture, when you hug someone, especially older women, you touch both cheeks and kiss and it’s just surprising. The first time it happened I was so confused. But it’s all okay. 
In the MTC they make this huge effort to drill into you that you only use Sie (formal you) with everyone. But most of the investigators and the ward members and the young women and everyone pretty much, unless they’re older than you, will use du (informal).
Leo, on the phone one day, I was talking to him and I kept sietzing him, and he said to me, “Du, you can say du” But he said it auf Deutsch. 😀 I gave the phone to Sister Judd shortly afterward and he said to her that he was going to ask me the next time he saw me if I would be more comfortable if he Sietz me. Yeah, I’m fine with the du, it’s just hard for me to remember, it’s getting better and easier though. As a general rule I use Sie until they use du.
We have our interviews with President and Sister Miles this week, on Thursday, so that’ll be good. Just life is just so crazy. 

Okay, so do you know what a Durndle is? Look it up, I saw one and I was thinking, that’s pretty awesome, I think I want to get one of those…yeah, until I saw the price. You buy the pieces separately usually, but when they’re all added up together, they’re about 1300 euro… 😀 I actually saw a full one that was on sale for 60 euro, but it’s just not worth it! They’re so awesome though! On Easter  a lot of the ward members wore theirs. It was pretty cool to see them in their traditional attire. 
Sister Judd was saying that when her parents come to get her she’ll probably get one with her mom so that they can have matching ones. I think she was just joking, but I’m not sure. 😀 

To answer your questions for this week, there are about eighty people in our ward, it’s an interesting dynamic. There are a lot of older couples, but still a couple of families, and there are a few young women. But just the culture of the ward is different here. Yesterday, one of the ward members, Val, she’s hysterical, was responding to someone who said that she doens’t always get what she asks for when she prays, and Val said, “Well, why do we even pray at all if we know we aren’t going to get what we want?” Val is a character. I think she’s from England and she has two kids and her husband is in the bishopric and she’s not afraid to say whatever comes to mind. She also likes to stir things up a bit. 😀

But last week the sunday school teacher just came right out and said that his father was mean and even after the thirty two years that he’d been alive his father didn’t know him all that well, and his dad is sitting in Sunday school listening to this. He looked humiliated. 

We work with the young women and the relief society. Sister Judd and I switch off between who goes where each week. People here are really big about letting their kids choose if they come to church or not, so if they don’t want to come, then they don’t. 

My favorite food that I’ve tried are the wheat patty things that are really interesting and shouldn’t be good. But also Rot Krau is really good, really sweet. I have eaten everything that’s been put before me and I have liked some of it, not all of it, but a good portion. You’d be surprised at  what I will eat now. 😀
Study time for me is really important cause it’s a time when I can read the scriptures and I can spend about half the time reading for me if we have a lesson to prepare for, but if not then I can read for the entire hour. I think it has built my testimony so much. But my passion for reading the scriptures and for Jesus the Christ has seeped into my personal time as well. During meals I’ll read them because they’ve just become so important to me.
It’s interesting to see what you begin to look forward to as you’ve gone through two and a half months of your mission.
Sometimes the time moves really quickly and you just wonder at the end of the day where the time went and you feel like you just left your apartment and you realize that you did so much during the day.
But some days you go through and you just wonder when it will end. Those are the days where you begin to count how many transfers you have left and the days that you get depressed cause you realize that you’ve only been on your mission for two and a half months. But thankfully those days don’t last too long. But anyway…yeah. 
It’s good here in the mission field, it really is, but the work will never be easy.


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