Monday, February 13, 2017

Hi

Liebe Familie und Freunde,

Another week has come and gone! They're getting faster I think...

Highlights of the week:
Donnerstag (Thursday) was Donut Tag! We went out to get donuts and smoothies with our cute new friend, and then took a walk down along the Donau and talked about the gospel. It was so great!



On Sunday we got to teach Relief Society. We taught from the teachings of President Hinckley about happiness and optimism! It was so fun, and everyone loved it! I loved studying all about positivity the whole week, and being able to help these sisters in our branch. This is really such a great place to be serving!

Sorry, I don't have a lot to say lately and I can't be bothered to be creative and funny anymore haha, but I wanted to share something I learned this week...
I read the CES devotional by President Nelson this week, and in it he challenges the young adults to study all about Jesus Christ. To read the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, and to learn all about the doctrine of Christ, the teachings of Christ, and the things He did and said.  I was just PUNCHED by the Spirit when I read that!  It was a little overwhelming because I already have so much to do, and I didn't really know where to start, but as I read the things President Nelson promised, and as I prayed for help, I was able to start reading the Old Testament this week with a focus on the things Christ did and said.  And I only made it to Genesis 2!!  There is so much feasting going on over here, it's not even funny!  But my testimony of the Savior has just sky rocketed. Since I've been on my mission I have learned so much more about Him, and His gospel, and I have come so much closer to Him and to my Heavenly Father.  I know that this church is true, and I know that Jesus Christ really is our advocate, our best friend, and our Redeemer. 

Love you all so much and have a wonderful week!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell



And also this came today...  

Hi! I'm Sister Campbell! Your daughter's companion right now! I


 just wanted to write that sis thunell is awesome! Really she is such an inspiration and such a great example for me, and it's only been two weeks together! We are literally the same person which is super cool because I haven't met anyone else like that before (: 

She is a spiritual giant and she blows me away every time she shares an insight. She has a heart so big that it's indescribable! When someone she loves or cares for comes to mind, she immediatly serves them or does what Christ would do! I have no doubt she is who she is because of you guys! Thank you! 

I love being her companion and am excited for what the next few weeks hold! You guys also sound awesome! She always talks about you  (: 

-Sister Campbell (:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Foggy Lessons

I'm not a big fan of foggy or rainy days.  I prefer sunshine and clarity.

So I was more than a little disappointed to wake up to yet another day of this...



This kind of weather motivates me to do nothing good, to procrastinate, to sulk, and to spend way too much time taking my mental and emotional temperature, which is never a good thing.  

But after dragging myself out of bed at 5:00am, going through the morning routine with the kids, and then coming home to a dreary, cold, too quiet house, something outside a different window caught my attention.

I tried to get a video of them, but they were too small and too fast to catch...but in the middle of those foggy, half naked trees in my backyard, two of the happiest birds on the planet were singing and chirping and flying around in circles like this was the best day of their whole little lives.  

Isn't it weird how looking out a different window and watching something find total joy and happiness can change your whole perspective?  

I still feel a little bit dull and lifeless today, and I'm not sure there will be much running around happening, but because of those little birds, I did turn on some music and sing a little.  And I did make my bed and run a brush through my hair.  And that's a better start to this day than the one I had planned.

So...Thanks, happy little birds, for sprinkling a little sunshine into my foggy week!  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Rat Hunting

Guten Morgen liebe Familie und Freunde :) 

This was a week FULL of changes, some lasts, and lots of firsts!  It's crazy to think that I only have two and a half months left on my mission!  Time is just flying, but my motivation has spiked, and I feel like this is gonna be the best two and a half months of my whole mission!  My last few days in Solothurn were full of goodbyes, and I definitely miss it a ton. Especially Sister Multamäki!!!  


But Ulm is great, too :) It's super nice to be back in the land of cheap prices, and people who actually speak real German!  Ulm is the smallest area I have served in. Our branch consists of about 14 active people/families!  On Sundays we meet on the second floor of an office building, and church is only two hours long because we don't have enough people to fill Sunday School callings!  But as small as it is, I can just SMELL all the potential boiling in the air!  I am so excited to get to know this little area, and all these amazing people here!  My companion is Sister Campbell.  The list of our similarities could go on and on.  Hawaiian moms who were adopted, oldest child, two sisters and one brother, bold personalities, etc.  We also have lots of differences too, so it should be fun getting to know her.

Story #1 from the week: Sister Campbell told me that there was a giant rat in our Keller my first day here, so I thought it would be good for comp bonding if we went RAT HUNTING!! She wasn't too thrilled about the idea, but as soon as I got all dressed up in my rat-hunting clothes, she joined along. We grabbed some weapons (a broom and an umbrella), a flashlight, and snapped some pictures, and then we were off!!  Rat hunting is actually harder than it sounds, or there just wasn't a rat down there, because I poked into every little nook and cranny and saw NO glowing red eyes. Oh well, it was a good experience!

Story #2: We met up with a potential investigator one night, and got to know him and tried to teach him a little bit about the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. He seemed super interested, we just had a bit of a language barrier problem. I was definitely feeling the spirit during the lesson, and I hoped he was, too! So we made a return appointment for next week, and then he walked us down the street before we parted ways. I literally have no idea what even happened because it was so fast, but all of a sudden he had hugged and kissed both of us, and was going for Sister Campbell's face again! So we just started shoving and running away!  I was half laughing and half crying because I was so confused, but I guess he wasn't actually interested in the gospel.  Darn it.

Story #3: We have an investigator here who is the cutest thing ever!!  She has had a super rough life, but little by little she is starting to believe in and trust God.  This week she asked us if we could call her every night to help her say her nightly prayers.  So at 9:15 every night we call, and first we say a prayer, and then she says a prayer.  She has the most innocent and pure heart, and it is so amazing to see the DESIRE and LONGING she has to get to know Heavenly Father.  It has been the best part of my day every day here so far :)

This week I have been worrying a lot about going home.  It's coming up soon, and I don't have very specific plans, and I'm scared of being "trunky" on my mission.  But I have found lots of comfort in reading the scriptures.  I've noticed that a lot of the time I don't receive answers in the scriptures based on the words I am reading.  I find answers BECAUSE I am reading!  When I am doing the things that Heavenly Father has commanded me to do, and I am in a place to be able to receive personal revelation, He pours it out to me!  It's a cool thing to experience, and I hope that when you read the scriptures this week you pay attention not only to the words you are reading, but also to the things you are thinking and feeling. 

Schöne Woche!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell

Monday, January 30, 2017

Background of Sunshine

Hello everyone! 

This has been another week full of some crazy ups and downs, but the one thing that has stayed constant for me is my background of sunshine. Happiness is something that I have really come to be SO GRATEFUL for! It is something that I definitely used to take for granted. But now, no matter how dark or gloomy my days get, I can always see the little rays of my background of sunshine peeking through! It's the best feeling ever! And I know that those little rays of sunshine come from my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

This week we did a spiritual thought with Karyna's little boys (she's our super awesome investigator who is getting baptized soon) and we talked about how we can all be Jesus's Sunbeams this week! We sang the primary song "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," and then drew pictures of how we can be better sunbeams! So I would invite you all to think of how you can be a better sunbeam this week :)


Transfers also came this week, and I'm going to Ulm in Germany! This will probably be my last area, so I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for me! It's sad to leave beautiful Switzerland, but I guess it's time to move on! 


I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Constant Motion


Usually on Sunday nights, Craig and I compare calendars and make a list of the things that need to occur during the week for us, for the house, for the kids, for our callings, for his job, etc.  I like knowing what to expect and having a plan.

But lately, every Sunday night I look at that calendar and think, "Oh good, this is a pretty easy week," and then the following Saturday night, I look back at the week and think, "Holy cow!  It's a good thing I didn't know last Sunday that all this was coming, or I wouldn't have gotten out of bed."

It's pretty much constant motion around here.  The days are filled with unexpected and unscheduled things that take up our days before I even have a chance to put them on the calendar or document them on Instagram.  They're good things and necessary things, and things that bless our lives, but they're mostly things I don't have a chance to plan for.  I'm getting better at being spontaneous, though.  I'm more relaxed about the condition of my house.  I don't feel obligated to stay up and wait for missionaries to come home or to entertain house guests 24 hours a day.  And I almost always have a pantry and outside fridge stocked with water bottles and plenty of extra food.  (Thank you, Stephanie, for that little life tip.)

Last Monday morning, my neighbor texted at 6:00am, "I'm available for lunch or shopping or just hanging out at either of our houses any day this week.  Call me and let me know when you're free."  She NEVER initiates social things.  And she almost never wants to leave her house.  Craig said, "She's missing you.  You should find some time to visit her."  So I found a space between some doctor appts for the kids and I let her take me to Olive Garden for lunch.  It turned into a great afternoon.   

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from a random 801 number saying, "I'll be in Alabama...tomorrow!"  I let that one wait for a couple of hours before I finally gave in and texted back, "Great!...um, I'm sorry I don't recognize this number.  Who is this??"  It was one of the sister missionaries who had finished her mission and gone home, but was coming back to Birmingham for a funeral.  That weekend, I squeezed in a pick up from the airport, and two houseguests from Saturday to Tuesday.   Craig had the great idea to let them borrow our van, so fortunately, I didn't have to spend those three days driving them all over the mission.

In a typical week, people need rides, visits, and dinners.  There's usually a missionary dinner in there, a trip to the temple, and a random youth activity at our house.  On Sundays, we either pick up someone for church or have early morning meetings and lessons to plan.  After church, we either make visits to old people or have someone coming over for dinner.  The kids have their school things and work things...and there's that cute missionary whose emails I can always count on sometime between 4:30am - 11:30am on Monday mornings.  

Between the scheduled things, and the unexpected things, we are in constant motion around here.  

But somehow, at the end of every week, I look back and I'm amazed at all the things we've done.  And I'm even more amazed that even though there's a steady stream of activity, it never feels frantic.  And I'm not stressed out, crying, or curled up in a heap in some closet.  

This week, even after All State band auditions (including daily after school rehearsals for Megan and McKay which meant a whole lot of juggling schedules and driving back and forth to the HS for me,) two different auditions for two different kids at two different high schools at the SAME time...one of which was almost 3 HOURS away...
Even after an impromptu going away dinner party for the Bishop and his wife last night...  
Even after two different kids had doctor's appointments that took an extraordinarily LONG time...
Even after VTs who like to chat for 2 or 3 hours...
Even after a dishwasher installation on Thursday, a microwave that decided to die on Monday, and two overflowing trash cans that someone forgot to take to the curb last Friday...

I still managed to go to lunch and a movie with a friend, sit down at the table for dinner with my family 5 out of 7 nights, watch the latest episode of This is Us, do some family history, have a handful of conversations with my husband, take a few pictures, complete the MONSTER level of Wordbrain, and do a little pre-Spring cleaning.  

The point is that even though my days are filled to capacity, somehow there's still enough time to do the things that make me feel productive, fulfilled and happy.  Remarkably, the constant motion has not turned into constant chaos.  Somehow, with the increase of all that is required and requested of us, Heavenly Father has also managed to increase our capacity to manage it all.  Divine compensation.  And for that, I am extremely grateful.
'The promise to you and me in the last days is not that the power of God will be poured out on us to do whatever we think is best, but to do what is God’s will. And the promise is that after seeking him and serving his children with unwearyingness, we will come to know his will. The promise is not just that I will have the power to do what’s on my list of tasks, but that I will know what to put there. On those occasions when I have known what should be there, I’ve found myself glancing at it as a source of joy, not of anxiety." - Henry B Eyring

Monday, January 23, 2017

Jesus is Alive!

Guten Tag! 

Just another foggy day here in Switzerland!  This week was awesome.  I don't think I've worked harder, or been more exhausted, my whole mission.  Or my whole life!  

Monday evening started the downpour of miracles for the week. We had an appointment scheduled with a little family we found last week while dooring, but sadly they weren't home. So we decided to do some more dooring! One of the very last doors we knocked, a big scary man answered. Your typical biker/thug looking guy, with scary music coming out of his apartment. We smiled cheerfully and told him that we were there to share a message about Jesus Christ, and we had a video to show him if he had time. His face stayed stone-cold, and he just stared at us intimidatingly, so we just quickly pressed play and hoped that the video would touch him somehow. Well, his face just melted into a puddle of wonder and hope, and he asked us what exactly our message was. We had a great 15 minute conversation, and made a return appointment to teach him more the next day. Right before we left he said, "Wait! Do you have like a book or something that I can read more about Jesus Christ?" We smiled and said, "Yes. Yes we do!" We have met with him three times since then, and he has SO many great questions, and so much desire to learn all he can!

Tuesday and Wednesday I was in Bern on tausch with Sister Puckett, from my MTC group! She is such an awesome missionary, and it was so fun to work together. We did lots of finding, and LOTS of talking! It was great. Some highlights from the rest of the week:

-Sister Multamäki and I have managed to find basically all the Finnish people in Solothurn, and one of them invited us over to make Finnish food with her! So yum!

-We did an Ausstellung in Biel with our whole district and the French elders, and it was FREEZING but pretty successful!

-I've been having pretty bad headaches for about a week now, and I mentioned it to a lady in our ward, and she decided to give me a foot-reflexology foot massage to see if that would help! I was just sitting there thinking, "Wow I'm getting a foot massage in Switzerland. This is the life!"
-It was American day for district lunch on Tuesday, and Sister Rasmussen and I made chili dogs for the district! No one knew how to each them, and everyone was confused...haha #europeans

This week I finished reading the Book of Mormon for the 4th time on my mission! I was studying with the theme of Jesus Christ, and holy cow has my testimony of Him grown! He is our Friend, our Counselor, our Healer, and our Master. I know that He lives! I know that He loves each of us PERFECTLY and that He is our light, life, and direction. He is my Brother and my Redeemer, and I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that through Him I can return to my Father in Heaven, and live with my family for eternity! I'm also grateful for the opportunity that I have had for these last 15 months to wear His name on my chest EVERY SINGLE DAY! And that I will be able to continue doing that for these next 3 months, and continue bearing my witness that I KNOW HE LIVES! I will love Him and follow Him, and be fierce in my testimony of Him, because He has given me everything.

Love y'all!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Kids Using Tools

I had the world's dumbest photo assignment for my CSM calling this week...at least that's what I initially thought when they gave it to me.  (...and I'm totally gonna be struck by lightning for saying that, I'm sure.)

Kids Using Tools

Seriously, don't you think that's dumb?  First of all, I hate taking pictures of people.  And second, how in the heck am I supposed to stage a photo shoot of a toddler using a table saw?  

That's where my head was for the first few days of the week.  Grumpy.  Frustrated.  Uninspired.  And procrastinate-y. And then a seres of unexpected events and fantastic timing all conspired into what was perhaps the best-staged photo shoot I've ever actually done...and I didn't even have to leave my home!  
  • Yesterday, the second of my two new barstools finally came in after a handful of shipping delays.  
  • This morning, McKay finished all of his Saturday jobs in record time, rearranged his bedroom furniture, vacuumed the whole house, and then happened to be wandering around moping about how bored he was because it was raining.  
  • He likes putting stuff together, especially when drills are required.
  • The rain stopped and the sun was pouring in my bedroom windows.
After all that, the obvious thing to do was to have him put together that barstool while I inconspicuously took pictures of him in that amazing light!  

First, he just needed some good background music...so I let him borrow my phone.  How to Train Your Dragon but the Michigan Pops, because what else would you listen to if you were  putting furniture together?  





In less than an hour, he transformed that box of random pieces and parts into this...

Sheesh...I love that kid so much!  He's the most industrious teenager I've ever met.  

And without even knowing it, McKay helped me not only complete that dumb photo assignment, but actually love it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Winter Wonderland

Hello everyone! 

This week was crazy busy! It has also been snowing non stop the whole week, so we are living in a winter wonderland here! 


Highlights of the week:

-Sister Multamäki learned how to pray in English! She asked me to say a prayer first, and then she would try after me, and wow, I cannot pray in English anymore. It's embarrassing. But she did great! :)

-We had a tausch with the Zollikofen sisters, and I brought Sister Rasmussen back to Solothurn with me for a couple days! We stayed super busy with appointments the whole time, and then we ended our tausch with an appointment at a member's house eating Chinese food!
-We also had Zone Training this week, and Sister Multamäki practiced for a long time trying to make it good. It was a really great Zone Training, and I learned a ton!
-We met some new Finnish people here that we will hopefully start teaching this coming week! (Perks of having a Finnish companion.)
-We had a lesson in French with one of our investigators. We brought the Elders from Biel with us, because they both speak French, and I have realized that I can understand more Finnish than French...haha.


Something I have been thinking about lately is goals. Everyone always makes so many goals and New Year's resolutions at the beginning of the year, but by this time, or maybe in a few weeks, they all start to fizzle out. Sometimes it's like that on a mission too. We make goals as missionaries for the week for how many new people we want to find, lessons we want to teach, etc., and by the end of the week sometimes we have forgotten what our goals even were! Sometimes goals can be frustrating and demotivating if we don't achieve them. But I've learned on my mission that goals are more of an eventual motivational end point, rather than something that absolutely has to be achieved within a certain amount of time. If we make the goal to be more disciplined or diligent, and then forget, or get lazy, then that doesn't mean we have to just stop trying! If we make the goal as missionaries to teach 12 lessons, and we only hit 4 by the end of the week that doesn't mean we give up! Goals are something that always have to be reevaluated and carefully decided, with the help of the Lord. What goals do you have this year that will bring you closer to Him? Don't give up, every day is a new day. Have faith, work hard, and keep an eternal perspective!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bridges

For as long as I can remember I've been afraid of bridges. Especially bridges over water.  And I don't love tunnels all that much either.  Mostly, I like to be on long stretches of level surfaces with 100% visibility in all directions that don't overlook anything or have water anywhere near them and don't go underground.

That's the way I like my life to be, too.  Unobstructed, flat terrain.  100% visibility.  Free of any difficulties and uncertainties.

Unfortunately, in order to get to the good stuff you have to travel across a few scary bridges and through some long, dark tunnels.  That's not my favorite part of road trips...or mortality.  

While we were on the Great Christmas Road Trip of 2016, we had to pass over a handful of bridges, and through two or three excruciatingly long tunnels.  Those weren't my favorite parts of the trip.  

But because I knew this was waiting on the other end...


...I made myself close my eyes and press forward. (Wait, not while I was driving...don't worry, my eyes were ALWAYS OPEN while i was driving.) 

This afternoon, I drove 2 hours to my uncle's house in Scottsboro to pick up my mom who's visiting from Hawaii.  She's staying with us for the weekend.  I took a different route there than the one I took last July when she was here and surprisingly, in the last 10 miles of the trip, I came around a corner, and found myself not only on an amazing and expansive overlook, but also overlooking a giant lake, and headed straight toward a bridge.  A huge one.  Over that giant lake.  Nothing but water as far as I could see...

I didn't even know there was a lake there.  I didn't even know it was coming it until I came around that corner, until my entire GPS turned blue and all the streets disappeared.  That's an unsettling feeling.  

Luckily, I was a little distracted by the beauty of the view.  And also a little irritated that I had forgotten my camera on this road trip.  (Note to self: always throw the camera bag in the car.)

But guess what I realized halfway across that bridge?

I wasn't scared.

My hands weren't sweaty.  I wasn't panicked or gripping the steering wheel.  I didn't cry.  And I made it across.  Trauma free.  

There is stuff happening in my life right now that's a lot like that bridge. Changes.  Improvements. Transitions. Stuff that's unexpected and a little scary.  I have no idea how long it's going to take to get across and I can't see all the way to the other side.  Normally that would freak me out and I'd be panicked, worried, crying, or obsessively cleaning something.  

But I'm not.  My hands aren't sweaty.  I'm not hanging on as tightly to things as I might have in the past.  I haven't cried yet.  And I know I haven't made it all the way across, but I feel confident that I will.  

And I bet whatever is on the other side of this particular bridge is pretty dang good. Maybe even better than whatever my imagination has conjured up.  Wouldn't that be the greatest thing?...if the compensatory reward for doing a hard thing was in direct proportion to the amount of courage and sacrifice it took to make it across?  Oh wait, it is.  Because that's how Heavenly Father works.  He gives us challenges, sometimes the same one over and over and over again, to help us build confidence in ourselves, to increase our faith in Him, and to learn to trust His plan.  And then, especially at the end, but also along the way, He pours out His blessings in abundance.  

I know some of the things Heavenly Father has in store for me.  I know that there is a plan and it's not mine.  And I know that this bridge I'm currently on and the ones coming around the corner are designed to help me improve and draw closer to Him.  And I'm super grateful today for that bridge in Scottsboro that reminded me of all that stuff.  

Who would have ever thought I would be grateful for a bridge?  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Glimpses

Our dishwasher has been having problems since Thanksgiving and the home warranty people are super SLOW about getting here to fix it for me, which has mostly been an inconvenience and a bother, but yesterday I had a tiny change of heart.

I don't love hand washing dishes...especially silverware and especially after big dinners.  In the past two months (which have included three major holidays, 8 batches of Christmas cookies, a couple of youth activities and a few get togethers with friends) I have become intimately acquainted with every pot, pan, and serving utensil in my kitchen.  That was not on my bucket list.  :(



But...Heavenly Father or someone else really wise, perfectly placed a window right over the sink which happens to overlook that pretty lake we live on.  Yesterday morning, we had a late start for school so while the kids slept in I washed a few of the previous night's leftover dishes.

...and I happened to look up and notice the amazing sunrise. 

Honestly, there isn't a day that I don't stop to notice the sunrise, but to have the extended opportunity to be standing at the kitchen sink at the very moment this spectacular-ness happened in the sky was pretty amazing.

...especially since it changed to this about 20 minutes later when the kids finally wandered downstairs for breakfast. 

The clouds rolled in and stayed there all day long.  It was cold and grey and kinda dreary, but I was so grateful to have been washing dishes and to have caught that first and only glimpse of the sun's appearance yesterday. 

Stuff is like that around here lately.  Fleeting.  It happens fast and then it's gone before I can catch it.  I see a beautiful thing, but I'm driving too fast to stop and take a picture of it.  Or I have some great inspiration, but I don't have the time to write it down anywhere.  My blogging and journaling have become brief and inconsistent at best.  My IG posts have changed from daily inspiring photography to casual iPhone snapshots of things that disappear in 24 hours.  It's frustrating.  

My desire this year is to stop and catch more of those little glimpses of Heavenly Father's influence in my life.  I think there are a lot more of them in a day than just the ones I happen to see.  I want to acknowledge those moments more often and take pictures of them so they last a little longer, so those glimpses become more than just brief and fleeting.

If a glorious sunrise can make me grateful that my dishwasher is broken, that's a pretty miraculous thing Heavenly Father accomplished in just ten minutes.  What else is He doing that I'm missing?  or forgetting?