Date

December 12, 2016

Area

Bruck an der Mur - Austria

Companion

Elder Wilkerson

Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?

Freunde und Familie:

This week has been a mixture of different emotions and activities, but I don't know if I've ever felt the spirit stronger. It's been so much fun and I'm absolutely loving it here, but I think Austria has officially fried my brain! My German is at the end of its capabilities and I struggling just to form simple sentences right now. I would normally write a paragraph in German, but I can't concentrate on that right now. 😋 There is a lot to talk about this time, so I'm going to jump right into it all.
First off, I want to express the wonderful time of year this is! I have said it before, but Christmas is always such a wonderful time! We have the wonderful privilege of celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. But not only that but also his life and purpose here for us, but I'll expound on that later. Also, it is a time when people from all different backgrounds can come together and share a commonality. Even people who aren't really religious celebrate Christmas, so it's easy to relate to others right now. This time is when we come closest to reaching "peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

So the first big news then! This last Friday we received.... drumroll please... TRANSFER CALLS! 😄 It was actually a funny situation to be honest. We had gotten back from another wonderful day and we're eating dinner and all was going well. Elder Wilkerson went to use the restroom and I walked in to the other room. As I did so, I heard a buzzing sound. I recognized it as our phone and dug around to find it. When I pulled it out, I looked and saw we had 12 missed calls! All had been from the zone leaders trying to get a hold of us! 😖 We quickly called back and apologized for the delay. They said they had transfer calls ready and had our new places. The suspense slowly began to build as they pulled out the sheet. I went first and... guess what? I'm staying in Bruck an der Mur! 😆 I'm super happy and ready for another wonderful transfer here. Elder Wilkerson was then called out, and his location. He is actually not staying, but going to a small area in... ready? SWITZERLAND!!! 😄 He's so excited and cannot wait to see what it's like. The best part? He will be finishing the training of an Elder from my MTC group; Elder Irvine the Irish, ginger one. 😅 I'm so excited for him, but also a little worried because Elder Irvine can be a handful sometimes.

Also, as I'm sure you were able to figure out, I am getting another trainer for this next transfer. His name is Elder Sorenson, and so far all the other missionaries that would know him seem to think he's a great guy, so I'm super stoked about that. It will be strange and weird not having Elder Wilkerson, but that's part of a mission, companions come and go. This will be a good experience and one that will help me grow even more important sure, so I'm looking forward with faith. 😊
Now, let's get to the biggest part of this email. WE HAVE ALMOST MISSED SO MANY BUSES AND TRAINS!!! I have done more running after Straßenbahns and trains and buses than ever in my life. It's not that we ever forgot, well maybe a couple times, but we just never seemed to have good luck. In Graz, there are bus stops and Straßenbahns that arrive at the same time, so when one comes your running off and over to the next. Forget working out in the mornings man, I'm having a hard time catching my breath throughout the day! 😅

On the topic of late busses, we also had the problem when we were in Salzburg for Christmas Conference. First off, we almost missed our train to Salzburg! It was literally just getting ready to leave as we climbed on board. Once there, the collective hoard of missionaries almost missed the bus to the church. We got it, but then had a hard time fitting all of us in along with the other passengers. We got there in one piece, and the Christmas Conference was amazing. I'll talk about that soon. After the conference, we realized that we would have to leave quickly to make the next train. However, someone started running the wrong way to a different bus stop. Like sheep, everyone ran after him. Once afterthought the he put however, we realized our mistake and had to book it back to the hehe church, and then go the other way to the right bus stop. We made it in time and the bus took us to the Bahnhof. At the Bahnhof we realized that we had just a few minutes to get to our different trains. We literally looked like a movie scene running through that Bahnhof! 😂 Everyone made it to our trains, but I heard that one sister completely biffed it on the way. She ok, but it was still a crazy experience.

On the topic of Christmas Conference, I want to share what Pres Kohler spoke about. He talked about the two biggest events of Church History, and how we can celebrate both at the same time. As I'm sure you guys know, the 23rd is the birthday of Joseph Smith and the 25th is the birthday of Jesus Christ. We forget about Joseph Smith's birth in the light of Christ's. Every year his birthday is upstaged, and Pres Kohler spoke on how we must also remember Joseph Smith during Christmas. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ, but what does his birth really mean? He was born, that's great but so was I. He said that when we celebrate Christmas, whether we realized it or not, we have been celebrating the Atonement. What made Christ's birth so special? Why was he different than anyone else? It was because of the Atonement. "For this purpose came I into the world." Because of his atoning sacrifice, he became the Savior of the world. That's what makes him special! His birth was just a prelude to the glory of the atonement. He challenged us to remember the Atonement as we celebrate Christ's birth.

I am so grateful to you all for all that you have done for me and the love and support. It's been great hearing from people, but it's not as many as it should be. Come on guys, we can do this! I want to hear your amazing experiences and all the fun you guys are having! I love you all so much and am excited to celebrate Christmas this year. Haben Sie eine schöne Woche, und ein Frohe Weihnachten!

Mit Liebe:

Elder Mühlestein
Alpenländishe Mission
"Wir sind Junger Jesu Christi" - 3 Nephi 5:13

Picture 1: My family
Picture 2: A more accurate picure of my family
Picture 3: Just a selfie




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