Friday, July 22, 2016


There are tender mercies and then there are blessings that fall out of the sky just when you need them.  I don't think the two things are the same.  

This morning I drove about two hours to pick up the JOY-ous surprise I have for the girls when they get back from camp tomorrow (no, it's not a puppy...) and on my way home, my sister in law, Meg, texted me about the shooting in Munich and asked if I had heard anything from Savannah.

All the way home, I tried not to think about the details I didn't have, and I tried not to worry.

"Of course she's fine..."

"It's Friday, surely there would be no reason for her to be in Munich and certainly not in a mall at 6:00 on a Friday night..."

When I got home, I took care of the JOY-ful priorities but kept an eye on my phone, waiting for an email from Savannah's Mission President saying that everything was fine.  

I was a tiny wreck for a couple of hours, but with a house guest and no information, there wasn't much I could do but try to just keep it together.  

I snuck in the bathroom for a minute and said a prayer that ALL of the missionaries were safe including President Kohler and his family.  The mission home is in Munich.  And according to the news I kept reading, the shooter/s had not yet been captured.  
Note to self: Stop reading the news!  

The prayer worked and I instantly knew that Savannah was fine.  But I still wanted to know?  I just wanted something certain before I let myself go about the rest of my day.  

When I checked the Missionary Moms FB page, I found this...

Is it weird to say that I could totally feel the power of that collective prayer at 12:40?  I have no idea how many of the moms even saw that FB post or were participating at that time, but I know at least two of us were, and I felt the strength and comfort of those united efforts.  And then 20 minutes later, at 2:00 Birmingham time, 1:00 Utah time, and 8:00 Munich time, this email came from President Kohler...  

I honestly can't even express how much love I have for that Mission President and for all of those missionaries.  My sister in law said in her text, "I can't remember if Savannah is in Munich or not...hopefully not."  But really, even if she wasn't, I would have worried about ALL of the missionaries anyway.  I have no idea how it's possible to love people so much and feel so connected to people I've never even met before.  But I do and I the missionaries, their moms, and to the people in the areas where Savannah has served for the past 9 months.  My heart breaks for the people who were in that mall today and for their families.  And I know the missionaries there will be heartbroken, too.  I hope the Spirit is able to comfort their hearts tonight and in the coming days.  

How grateful I am for the power of prayer, for the collective efforts of missionary moms, and for the awesome missionaries serving in the Alpine German-speaking mission and around the world.  I have an absolute testimony that Heavenly Father is aware of not just those of us who happened to be praying today, but of every single person affected by the crazy terrorist acts that seem to be happening so much more frequently around the world lately; every worried, lonely, or breaking heart.  He has the ability to calm and sustain all of us.  And He has this all under control.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Not Waiting

When the people you love are all off doing things without you for the entire week, you can choose to sit at home and watch movies and mope around...or you can get the heck out of the house and do something else.  

Craig and McKay are having the most amazing week fishing in Idaho and Montana with Grandpa and the uncles and a couple of cousins.  

The girls are at the most perfect Girls Camp I have ever seen with the nicest YW President I have ever met.  I had the chance to drive one of the van loads of girls up on Monday morning and when we stopped for lunch, instead of checking and checking and checking for emails from my missionary, I decided to put the phone down and do what my missionary would do and just CONNECT with the person sitting right in front of me.  And oh, was it worth it!  She was delightful.  She was refreshingly forthcoming about the details of her life and I laughed hysterically and cried all in the same 20 minute conversation.  That's a sure sign of a riveting new friendship.  I am so looking forward to working with her in this new calling.  

And so while everyone else is doing super fun things, I decided to go to Scottsboro, AL to visit my family.  I have an aunt and uncle who live there and four cousins.  My mom happens to fly in to visit them a couple of times a year from Hawaii, and guess what...she's here this month!  

The great thing about NOT WAITING is that the days still go by, only it feels like they go a little faster and a little more enjoyably because I haven't been sitting around counting them.  It's still been the same number of days since I dropped people off at the airport and at Girls' Camp, and I still have the same number of days until they all come home.  But this time I have tons of stuff to TELL them when they get back, instead of just doing that thing where I listen to all their adventures and marvel at how awesome their lives are.  

My life has been pretty awesome this week, too.

I drove on a BRIDGE this week...over water!  TWICE!  Once by accident and once by choice!  Who knew there was SO much water in Alabama?  I drove 6 hours all over Alabama and I have 4 more hours of driving left to do before this week is over.  I took long ways and back roads and played extended versions of stuff and sang really, really loud.  I hung out a TON with my mom!  I also hung out with my cousins and met their cute families and held a super fat, super adorable baby.  I had lunch with the Chief of Police (who happens to be my uncle) and his amazing wife.  I bought furniture for my house and hauled it inside all by myself...very creatively.  I learned how to make Hawaiian food that I never bothered to learn how to make when I lived at home and ate it every day of my life.  I survived living with two giant dogs and five cats for three whole days (unfortunately Zyrtec can only do so much, though, and after 72 hours it was time to go back home and breathe my animal free air...)  

I took a few pictures...but some things I just saw and they were breathtakingly beautiful and I didn't bother to capture them.  I just had to enjoy this beautiful part of the world all by myself because there wasn't a place to pull over and shoot it or a spare minute to blog about it or post it anywhere on social media.  

So instead of doing what I usually do, and sitting here writing and reflecting on my life, I just decided to LIVE IT this week.  And that was a good thing...much, much better than sitting and waiting for people to get home.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Winter Has Returned

Hello all! 

Apparently the middle of July is when it gets cold again here, because this week has been FREEZING! I had to unpack all my winter clothes! But luckily it wasn't cold enough to snow! Besides the chilliness, this week has been another good one! :) 
We stole a lot of stuff from the Elders' apartment.  A piano, an American flag blanket, pillows, pans, and we dragged it all across town so we got a lot of strange looks.  And we're wearing sweaters and scarves because it's basically winter here.  

Tuesday we had Zone Training, and I was actually super nervous about doing it in front of the AP's and the office elders, and the whole rest of Munich Zone, but it turns out we are all just plain old, normal missionaries! Just with different responsibilities! So it went fairly well, first time doing an entire Zone Training in German! We talked a lot about doctrine, principle, and application, and how we can answer application questions (like "why do you not watch R-rated movies?") with doctrinal answers ("because we love the Lord and we are going to be obedient to His commandments!") instead of application answers ("because they don't make you feel good inside")! And then we flipped it and applied it to us as missionaries! Why do we do früsport? (That morning exercise stuff, don't know what it's called in English). Not because we need to be healthy and fit, although that is a reason. Not because it wakes us up more and gives us more energy, although that is a reason. It's because we love the Lord, and we will do anything He commands us to do! You can apply this to your life too. Why do you do home teaching or visiting teaching? Why do you magnify your calling to the best of your ability? Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our love for the Lord, and our decision to be obedient :) doctrine! We used the example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and how they buried their swords as an act of pure love for the Lord. They didn't do it because their captains told them to, or because they just didn't feel like killing anyone anymore. They did it because they had repented, finally understood the atonement, and decided that they loved the lord more than their sins!  So, decide now to love the Lord more than anything :)

After Zone Training on Tuesday, we headed back to Augsburg with the Elders in our district and we had a super fun missionary workshop night with the YM in our ward! Sister Abram and I put a giant list together of all the super cool spiritual thoughts we could think of, and while some of the boys went on splits to go finding with the elders, we sat down with the others and blew their minds with our spiritual magic tricks, and showed them the missionary "Hello" video (parody of Adele's song) because that's literally how missionary work is sometimes haha. 

The boys really had a blast that night, and they helped us find some new people to start teaching! So it was definitely a success! 

On Friday we cleaned the church! We were supposed to have a couple other people come help us, but it ended up just being Sister Abram and I cleaning the entire building for about 4 hours. At home I hated cleaning the church. It was always a dreadful Saturday morning when we had to wake up early and wipe down windows and chalkboards and vacuum the carpets. But now I feel really bad about that, because I LOVE cleaning the church! It was crazy, I had such a different perspective as I was cleaning this time. First of all, I had four hours of some deep thinking time, something that does not happen very often on a mission, and I was just thinking how grateful I was for the opportunity to clean the HOUSE OF THE LORD. I mean, it's not the temple, but it's close enough! It's still His house! And even though everything was basically already clean, we still spent four hours re-cleaning and perfecting because that's how we feel about our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We love them enough to serve them with all our hearts, might, mind, and strength! It was a cool little eye opening experience for me :)

Saturday we had an appointment with an investigator, Herr Mach, and he's so cool! Sister Abram and I both agreed that we had never followed the Spirit more exactly, or relied on it so much in any other lesson on our missions so far! At the end I invited him to make a decision right then whether or not he was going to attend church, and then pray to ask Heavenly Father if it was the right decision. Well, he did and he told us that he got the answer that he shouldn't come this week, but next week...haha  So I guess we will see him next week at church!  Sometimes the Lord answers in mysterious ways ;) 

We also met with another investigator who has very serious depression. It's hard meeting with her because we get so depressed for the rest of the day because of her, and she always attacks us with questions of why all these bad things are happening to her and that we don't know how she's feeling. At one point I got so frustrated and emotional that I had to pray to not let anything wrong slip out of my mouth. After that I felt the spirit so strongly that I looked her dead in the eyes and said, "You're right. We have no idea what you are going through. We don't know what you want from us or what you need right now, but you know what? There is ONE person who does. And that is Jesus Christ. And the second you let Him in and accept what He has done for you, He can make your burdens feel lighter, and eventually even take them away. So stop fighting everything and accept His help." There was a long silence after that, and I felt kind of like Joseph Smith after he called those guys fiends, but then she started crying and I could literally see her heart soften a little. We still don't know what to do with her, but I showed her how to cut a watermelon in a cool way after that, and she liked it!

Sunday was awesome, and I've decided to learn Spanish through German for all my new Spanish friends in this ward! They don't speak any English or any German, so I have to squeeze my brain really hard and then out pop things like "como estas" and then I feel really cool :)  We also got to got to PV (Primary) for the third hour! Sister Abram and I got to talk to the kids about the Kirtland Temple, and the Swiss Temple, and holy poop I miss having children in my life so much. They were so funny and cute! And I'm now best friends with the whole 9-10 year old boys class. Yes, we even have a secret handshake. After church we went to visit our less active family, and had the most awkward lesson of my life. We planned these super fun games about the gospel for the kids to play, and had scriptures and videos and stickers to go with it, and no one participated and then at the end they all started crying, and the parents were just sitting there. So yeah we just scooted out of there real quick and maybe we will try again next week...haha. 

All in all this has been a great week, full of blessings and happiness and lots and lots of missionary work! 

Chocolate cookies and hot chocolate!  #iloveamerica #thanksmommy 

I love you all! :) have a great week!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Updates from this Week

Phew!  I feel like this week has been so LONG!  

Here are all the many, many things I haven't already posted about according to the pictures on my phone...

Morning Walks
I've discovered that I really like to walk in the mornings!  Well, I already knew that, but I've been too busy being overwhelmed by the tragedy of moving to bother to walk outside my front door.  So this week I decided to stop complaining and do something different.  I've logged 63,000+ steps on my FitBit for the week and listened to a giant handful of Conference talks.  And it's great!  It's a super empowering way to start the day, it makes me feel better in my clothes, and if that dang internal alarm clock is gonna wake me up at 5:41 every morning, I might as well do something productive with that time, don't you think?

Yep, we've totally been sucked into the Pokemon vortex and we're loving it!  Emma and I have totally enjoyed running around (carefully, while being completely aware of our surroundings...) catching Pokemons everywhere.  We even accidentally ended up in this beautiful cemetery one night at dusk because it was a HUGE PokeStop.  I'm sure the interest will wear off soon, but it's pretty fun right now.  #gottacatchemall 

Thunell Mancampment 2016
There is always some kind of annual fishing adventure in the summer for the men in Craig's family.  Previous week long Scout Camp commitments, limited vacation time, and long distances from Utah haven't always made it easy to get there, but after last year's adventure in Alaska, he committed that wherever two or three Thunells (and some fish) were gathered, he would make every effort to be there.  

This year, Craig thought it was probably about time he started included McKay in these adventures.  After all, despite my efforts to convince myself and everyone else that he's still 8 years old, he's going to be THIRTEEN next month...!  The other nephews started going on these man trips at about this age.  McKay's 12 year old cousin, Ethan, is also making his first appearance on the river this year, too.  Both boys were thrilled to be included!

Monday and Tuesday nights were spent gathering not just fishing/camping gear for Craig and McKay's trip to Montana (via Logan) but also gathering stuff for Megan and Emma to take to Girls' Camp which will happen during the time that the boys are gone...and none of us know the secret locations of things in Craig's well organized garage (nor do we want to go randomly poking around in there for things like mess kits and sleeping bags...because, um...spiders and other large bugs and also the world's largest salamander live in that garage...ew!)  So by late Tuesday night, two large but separate piles of outdoor stuff had been assembled on the basement floor.  

On Wednesday morning, Craig and McKay packed all of their worldly fishing belongings into their bags to take on their flight to SLC scheduled to leave at 6:55 that night.  Craig worked a 1/2 day at the office and came home to continue working/packing until it was time to leave for the airport.  (He's kind of meticulous about his travel procedures and something about throwing in a 12 year old companion had messed up his groove, so he was slightly more flustered about this than usual.)  

Wednesday evening, we had a quick dinner all together at home, and then I started the drive with the boys to the airport (except I let Craig drive so I could catch a few Pokemons on the way down  ...I'm not obsessed, just a maximizer of opportunity!)   About halfway to the airport, Craig received a text from Southwest Airlines that the second leg of their trip from Chicago to SLC had been cancelled due to weather.  So we pulled over in a nearby church parking lot (which also happened to be a coincidence, I promise!) and called to check flight availability.  There was nothing available from BIRM to SLC until 11:00 the next morning!  

I have to tell you, I was not at all disappointed about that news because I've been having some separation anxiety about this trip, and 6:00pm is NOT my favorite time to drop people off at the airport and come home to a half empty, almost dark house.  I was not-so-secretly thrilled that my boys were staying in town an extra night, so I texted Megan on the way home and told her to set up the Ticket to Ride game so we could play as soon as we got back!  I found it a funny dichotomy all night that one person's disappointment is another person's source of rejoicing and comfort.  Fortunately neither of them was super disappointed about playing games, sleeping one more night in their own beds and starting over at a decent hour the next morning because I had a hard time withholding my celebratory glee.

On Thursday, there was plenty of time for me to wake Craig up at 5:41am and drag him out on my walk around our hillacious neighborhood for an hour, shower, reorganize bags, have breakfast, and get both boys and all their fishing gear to the airport before the girls even woke up for the day!  oh, teenagers...

Craig and McKay have had a great couple of days in Utah and will drive to Montana this afternoon after church to spend a week on the river solidifying family bonds and also catching a bazillion fish.  

LOTR/The Hobbit Marathon
Megan and I have successfully completed all three Lord of the Rings movies and all three Hobbits!  Emma is only content to stay and watch with us for a little while because she doesnt love them as much as we do.  Oh, I can't even tell you how much I love those Tolkien stories.  (The Hobbit movies are my favorite.)

Well, I didn't have anything else to do while we were watching all those movies!

Robert and the Puppies
The girls met a super nice, really cute friend at Youth Conference.  He is just a friend, I've been assured, but they've both been texting him quite a bit since getting home from their Nauvoo trip and he's only here for the summer visiting cousins so they wanted to try to get together one last time before he goes back to Washington next month.  Yesterday, we drove an hour to meet him and his family in Oxford, AL.  

After I met him and confirmed that he was not an ax murderer, the kids went to a movie while I drove around and took pictures (those are coming later...that place was awesome!) and then we drove Robert back to his aunt's house where we met his ENTIRE family!  They were so nice and invited us to stay for dinner, and had we not been an hour away from home at 6:45pm, we probably would have stayed.  But, they did manage to talk us into staying long enough to see their two week old PUPPIES!  Oh, it's a good thing those puppies were too little to bring home with us because I know a couple of girls who had a really hard time putting them back.  Yes, ok, one of them was me!  Sheesh, they were cute!

New Life
And we checked McKay's little plants for the first time in awhile and they've all sprouted and look like they're turning into viable vegetable plants.  Now all I have to do is replant them in a larger container and move them to the back porch so they can get some sun and start becoming that organic salad I've been craving!  

Life in Alabama is getting better.  I feel like I'm getting a little more used to it everyday and I find something new to like about this place every week.  I'll be happy when everyone is back home again and when routines starting the fall, but for now, there is still much to be grateful for.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Divine Intervention

The craziest thing happened last Sunday at church...stuff like this always happens to me, and I'm convinced it's because I would otherwise never, ever choose to climb out of my safe little box...and apparently there's some meaningful stuff outside this box.

...first, I have to do that thing where I give you ten times more backstory than you actually need...

On the very first Sunday we arrived at our new ward, we were literally thronged by people.  Everyone in the building introduced themselves to us.  I was completely overwhelmed just with the length of time it took to get to the building, so meeting people and processing things like Girls' Camp was not really falling into my radar that day.  Someone nice, and very focused on her calling, introduced herself to me with the intent of confirming 1) that I knew about Girls Camp, 2) that my girls would be attending, and 3) that I would be willing to help if she needed me to.  

Um...yes, yes, and sure...

I think she asked me if I was planning on going to Girls Camp, and of course you're laughing that she would even ask that question, but she didn't know me at all, so she couldn't have known that in any kind of universe where there is a choice about that sort of thing, I would NEVER choose to go to Girls' Alabama.  Has she seen the size of the bugs in this state??  I did not ask her that.  I just politely told her I was not planning to go to Girls Camp, but I would be happy to help with preliminary things, or even a mid-week drive up to camp with ice cream to save the girls from the heat.    

That was the last time I talked to her.  

Girls' Camp is next week.  

Flash forward to this Sunday which was a really, really great day.  I was feeling super confident.  I looked pretty good in whatever I was wearing, although I can't think right now what that was.  And I was tanked up pretty heavily on the Spirit.  So just before Sunday School, I saw that same sister sitting across the room and thought, "I haven't even crossed paths with her since 6 weeks ago, and since I'm responsible for 20% of the girls going to camp, I should probably see if she needs any last minute help."  I had in my head that she might need food, or supplies, an extra driver, a mid week ice cream mom (I really like that job...)

Well, the good thing was she was thrilled that I offered, which made me happy.  Lately, it feels like most of my efforts to act on inspiration and do nice things have fallen a bit flat... After her initial glee, though, I'm not sure exactly what happened...

She did indeed need help with something.  

It turns out, though, she isn't the WARD Camp Director like I thought.  She's the STAKE Camp Director.  So when she started talking about "pillow presents" for the girls, and a spiritual thought, and how she had the contents of the goodie bag but not the actual "spiritual" part of it yet, and that's where she could really use my help because she knew nothing about how to use Power Point...I was totally lost.  Power Point??  She mentioned that so far she had collected mini flash lights, Q-tips, and some other little things that I can't remember, and she wanted to tie all of those into something related to the Holy Ghost and how the girls needed to have their eyes and ears open so they could see the gifts of the Spirit??...or something like that.  She was a little hurried and vague.  So I came away from our five minutes together understanding that she needed me to find a quote related to all of her stuff, make it cute, and print it out to be inserted in little bags...for 100 girls! by next Sunday!

Seriously...I do not know how these things find me.  When I walked across the room to talk to her, I was prepared to volunteer to go to the store later this week and buy ice cream sandwiches and Otter Pops for the 10 girls in my ward...

I did have the presence of mind to ask if there was a budget for this project, which I typically would never think to do.  I still don't know what it is, though, because she just told me to print them out and then she would pay for them.  ???

Sunday night, I was too busy agonizing over a kindness talk and then going to a fireside.  Monday I was a mess.  And Tuesday I spent the day trying to get kids registered for school (which still has not happened) and Craig and McKay ready for their fishing trip (more on that later...)  And then yesterday, I started to feel the weight of this responsibility. 

I procrastinated in bed for a few hours in the morning, and then finally made myself go for a late morning walk.  And somewhere in the middle of a hill in the blazing 10:00am Birmingham heat and humidity, listening to Sister Marriott's lovely, honey-coated, southern voice, I got a tiny bit of inspiration.

First, it occurred to me that the Camp Director didn't mean she needed a Power Point presentation.  She just meant she didn't know how to do graphic stuff on her computer.  Well, I don't really know how to do those cute printable things either.  I could make some cute scrapbook thing, but for 100 girls that would take FOREVER!  Nope...that wouldn't work.  What I DO have handy, though, is an arsenal of General Conference quotes and an equally huge gallery of pictures I've taken.  So...all I needed to do was find a quote and match it with a relevant picture!  Brilliant, huh?!  Um...have you met my IG?  I do that every day of my life!  

Just instead of using the quote as the caption under the picture, I needed to figure out how to add it as the text on the picture itself.  I have a million editing apps, how hard could it be??  Guess what.  It's not hard at all.  I tried it in PhotoShop, but the fonts aren't as cute, and they don't wrap themselves, so I gave up and found another app and just did the whole thing ON MY PHONE!  

I struggled for awhile trying to find an exact quote that would cover all those obscure items that sister had already purchased.  I couldn't find anything.  I also couldn't reach her this week because her work schedule is quite hectic.  So, I just stopped trying to do it on my own, and decided to say a prayer.  I didn't know what that Camp Director envisioned for this handout, but the Spirit did.  So I asked him to tell me.  And then as soon as I got up and went back to my Mac, I found the perfect Conference talk with the perfect quote...
“If we will open our hearts to the refining influence of the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a glorious new spiritual dimension will come to light.  Our eyes will gaze upon a vista scarcely imaginable.  We can know for ourselves things of the Spirit that are choice, precious, and capable of enlarging the soul, expanding the mind, and filling the heart with inexpressible joy.”  - Joseph B Wirthlin
And the perfect picture came instantly to my memory because it just looks like a glorious and scarcely imaginable vista, don't you think?...

And then a few minutes of editing...and POOF!  Done!'s the best part.  At Sam's, the first time you order prints, the first 50 are FREE, so I ordered 100 prints of that picture up there, picked them up two hours later, and it cost...

wait for it...

$7.50!!  Amazing, huh?  

Who even cares if there's a budget or not.  I'm not even going to tell her.  I'm just going to hand her 100 finished handouts on Sunday that she can add to her little goodie bags and hopefully she can check one more thing off her Girls Camp list.

I hope they're what she wants.  I could spend a lot of time between now and Sunday worrying about that part of this exercise a whole lot, and I could do that perfectionist thing where I think of a million things that aren't perfect about those handouts, and try to fix them.  

But they're done.

Emma, who is always more practical than emotional reminded me that most of the girls are just going to throw them away anyway.  Sad, but true.  Something about knowing that little detail makes me so happy I didn't sit around all day cutting and gluing tiny little flashlights onto cardstock.  And it will remind me not to try and fix 100 handouts that are already finished!  Perspective is a good thing.  

Since everything was done in a fraction of the time I thought I would be spending on it, the girls and I went to all those little stores I've wanted to visit for weeks to look for furniture!  And then we grabbed dinner and came home to watch movies.  Lord the Rings/Hobbit marathon!

Hooray for the Spirit expediting my time!  Hooray for big things becoming so much easier than I expected!  Hooray for editing apps!  And hooray for the beginning of a responsibility-free weekend with my girls!  

I can do harder things than I ever think I can do.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Just a tiny email from Savannah yesterday morning when I woke up saying that all was well and she would be going to Neuschwanstein for p-day with the other missionaries in her district.  Of course she was going to Neuswchwanstein.  That's what I would do if I were anywhere in the vicinity of that thing.  Really.  Even I would do that.  It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.  

She said in that same email that she would be available to email all day depending on her wifi connection.  Well, that's where my downfall happened.  You can't really say something like that to your mother who's been waiting all week to hear the details of your life and not expect her to get her hopes up.  Sometimes I'm a little slow.  If I had thought about her day more than I was thinking about my own, it would have occurred to me that she would spend the majority of her time on trains and hiking and that neither of those things is conducive to emailing your mother.  

But I waited and hoped anyway.  And as the morning wore on with nothing from her, I went from grumpy to sad to grumpy again and finally landed on sad for the majority of the day.  
By 12:00 Birmingham time (6:00 Augsburg time) when it was well past when my head had estimated I would get to hear from her, and I still hadn't even gotten her general email, the crying started.  At least I didn't panic.  I've stopped rehearsing tragedy...with Savannah.  I was mostly just really, really sad that my window was closing.  At 4:30, I finally got three emails from her.  The general one that I posted yesterday.  A short, but happy one acknowledging the email I had sent her about the callings Craig and I had just received in church over the weekend.  And a super short one with a quick answer to a question I needed an answer to.  That was it.  At 10:30 Augsburg time, there was no opportunity for a response, although I responded anyway, and no reason to wait for a conversation.  

The emails have gotten shorter over the last couple of transfers.  Savanah and I don't have two hour email "conversations" like we used to on p-days.  And I definitely don't get as many details as I would like.  I think that's how most of the rest of the missionary moms live for 18-24 months, but I have been horribly spoiled for the first half of this mission, and I miss it.  

But, look at her!  Isn't she doing exactly what we (and the Lord) sent her out on this mission to do?  She's not writing home because she's busy and loving the work and her mission so much!   And good grief, she's so happy and positive, I want to bottle this experience for her and be able to hand it to her on those days down the road when she can't remember it.  

I know all that stuff.  I know she's where she's supposed to be.  I know she's doing far better things in Germany than she would ever be doing here at home.  I wouldn't dare even ask to trade her missionary experience for more of the little trivial things I want. Except...sometimes on Mondays when it's supposed to be my turn to talk to her, and my window is smaller than expected or nonexistent, I sometimes think for a second that it would be really nice to just have her home again and to have a real conversation with her.  How grateful I am that there's no possible way to do that.  How grateful I am that she would never come home anyway, even if I asked...which I never would.  How grateful I am that of all the billions of things she could be doing, this is what she wants to be doing.  Everyday.  For 9 more months...can you even believe she's nearly halfway through this 18 months?  I cannot.  

And guess what I also realized on Monday, which incidentally did not make me feel any better...this isn't going to change next April when she comes home.  She'll be here with us for a little while having breakfast and sleeping in her bed and whatever else, but after a week or two of that she'll be off to the next thing...whatever it is...BYU? a job? Alex? he comes next September...and then marriage and a family and a life.  And two sisters and a brother will be right behind her doing the exact same thing!  

...and isn't that the goal of motherhood??  What have I been doing for 19 years anyway but helping to turn helpless babies into independent, functional, happy, productive adults...

But, if all these little birds are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing and they're just about ready to detach from me and this house and successfully fly out of this nest...

...and if I have spent the better part of the last 20 years filling the measure of my creation as their mother, putting all of my energy into the nest and the little birds in it, and learning to love even the mundane parts about staying at home and being their mom, which I totally have, btw...

...then what am I supposed to do with all this extra time I seem to be acquiring while they try out their wings and eventually fly away?  

Savannah talks all the time in her emails about "juicing" everything she can out of her experiences.  I'm not sure I know how to juice anything out of anything but being a mom.  I didn't even really learn to love this job until 2010 when these kids all started turning into teenagers.  And now that I really like all of them so much, they seem to need me a whole lot less and they're looking for ways to fly away.  What a ridiculous career choice...

Everything else I've chosen to do with my life thus far, except for the mom part, has just been for the in-between times.  Hobbies and pastimes to occupy the times when they were napping, or at school.  Stuff to do while I've waited for them to come home or waited for them to find me and need the next thing.  What do I do when they're not looking for me as much?  

I have a friend who is having another baby because she wasn't sure what to do in this waiting time.  My sister-in-law is selling her house and moving to Las Vegas because she wasn't sure what to do during the waiting time now that her kids have all left the next permanently. 

I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to sit here until I'm 70 and wait for them to call or text or email.  

I'm definitely not supposed to have another baby.  Maybe there was some divine intervention behind that hysterectomy...Someone may have anticipated this weird lonely/desperate/useless place of transition that I would be in and that I might have some crazy idea about using my last ounce of uterus energy for something ridiculous like having another baby.  (It's not ridiculous for my friend who has the perfect family and is the perfect age and disposition for one more baby.  And it's not ridiculous for anyone else who actually wants to have another baby.  But for someone who only likes them when they're babies and then again when they're teenagers, but not those middle years; and for someone who is entirely selfish; and for someone who is approaching 50, it would be completely and totally ridiculous to have another baby.)

I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to spend the rest of my life waiting for all these birds to come home from wherever they are so that I can feel fulfilled and purposeful again.  

I spent the first 10 years, before I liked this mothering thing, waiting for Craig to come home from work, from school, from callings.  That wasn't the best choice for either of us, and it's probably not where I want to go again.  

So what do I do?  And what exactly am I waiting for? I made a list yesterday while I was sitting in my closet crying about Savannah and crying about how much I hate waiting.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Little Piece of Hawaii in Germany


Mensch this week has been the CRAZIEST! But so so so awesome! The last couple days in Graz were a blur of saying goodbye to all my Austrian best friends, getting all packed up, and then traveling to Wien, Salzburg, Munich, and then AUGSBURG!  I had to say goodbye to all the missionaries going home this transfer along the way, and that was hard too because I have become such good friends with all of them!!  But, so ist das Leben

Augsburg is AMAZING. We live in a little old German cottage type of thing (it's so freaking cute) and our landlady, who lives right above us, is HAWAIIAN!  This German cottage is decked out about as Hawaiian as you can get. Aloha signs, flowers, drift wood, sea shells, leis, it reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa George's house, only more Hawaiian. I LOVE IT SO MUCH! 

Our landlady's name is Maile and we had an instant connection the second we saw each other's fat round Hawaiian faces. So yeah, definitely a tender mercy!! She even bought us ukeleles so we could learn and then teach her how to play. She's literally the best. And every other night she knocks on our door at 10:39 with pizza she ordered for us, or dinner she made for us. GAH...JUST LOVE HER. She's not a member, and not really interested, but that will change soon ;) My companion, Sister Abram, is THE BEST. She is literally EXACTLY like Bethany, so another little "piece of home" tender mercy for me :) she is so obedient, and adventurous, and bold and such a good missionary. We get along super well :) she goes home at the end of this transfer so we are living it up while we can and I'm juicing everything I can out of her!

So two days after I got into Augsburg we got to go to Munich for interviews and training with President Kohler! That was such a great day, and President Kohler is really the best :) We are so close to Munich in Augsburg, only like 45 minutes! Such a change from being 6 hours away! I really love Germany. I loooovedd Austria, but Germany really has a different feel to it! So I'm super happy here :) this week has been full of appointments, finding, and getting unpacked and settled into my new home, and it's been great! Next week it gets even crazier, and I'm so ready for it!! 

Just a couple more highlights from this week:
We met a less active family who is the CUTEST! They have three little kids, and have been members for 20 years, but they were offended by some members about five years ago, so they have stopped coming. They are so adamant that the ward is evil and they hate the members now, so it's gonna be hard getting them to come back. This reminded me of a talk by Elder Bednar from General Conference, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them." You should all read it because it's super good! Being offended is a personal choice. So choose to be happy, to think positively about others, and be as the Savior was and forgive 70x7!!

Sunday was probably the best Sunday of my mission because now that I can actually speak and understand German, I was able to be myself and talk to members and get to know them without having to follow my companion around everywhere and have her translate for me :) the members here are so nice, and so awesome! And the church building is so cute and homey. 

I had to give a talk, my first talk in German since the MTC, and it was a little nerve-wracking, but Heavenly Father filled in the gaps for me :) 

Today we went to NEUSCHWANSTEIN for pday!!  It was quite the adventure! We went as a district, so with four other elders, and there was a lot of missing trains, getting on the wrong connections, wandering around lost in some tiny German villages, and hiking up giant mountains in the sticky heat to get to that thing! It was pretty cool to see it though :) 

Personally, I think the Disney version is a little more fun, but it's probably one of those generational things, like how I like John Mayer's version of Free Falling better than Tom Petty's.

This week my testimony has grown even stronger that Heavenly Father really does know us so personally, and he knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He knew I would love Augsburg and Sister Abram, and He knew this was the little kick in the pants I needed to motivate me. He knows my potential, and all I need to do is give my all to him and trust in His ways :) which is sometimes a bit harder for us "stubborn-plan your whole life out-I'm always right" kind of people.  But He loves us anyway :) which I'm very grateful for! 

I'm tired, Germanized, motivated, a little bit sweaty (air conditioning doesn't exist in Europe), and a whole lotta happy! :) 

Love you all so much!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell