Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Year in Review

Liebe Familie,

One year ago today, I sat in a chair, weeping. President Gleason, the stake president, looked me in the eyes and said that he released me as a full-time missionary. I wept harder. I loved my mission more than anything. I was so grateful that I had been called to serve a mission. I couldn't understand why my Heavenly Father loved me so much that He gave me that opportunity. I wept as I considered the blessing my mission had already been in my life. I wept as the realization sunk in that that chapter of my life had come to a close.

As I reflect on this past year, it certainly has not been easy. I have indeed been dragged to the lowest of lows as the Lord has continued to shape me into the person He knows I can become. I learned a lot on my mission, but I have continued to learn and grow as I have come home and attempted to make this most difficult of transitions. Everyone talks about how difficult missions are; they are difficult and, thus, deserve the attention. However, no one seems to talk about how difficult coming home is. Coming home, having life fall into place, and having eternal bliss seem to be the expectation. If one is not always as happy as a fourth-grader at a Halloween party, that person is almost expected to "fake it 'till ya make it," find a nice Pinterest quote to get through the day, and keep feelings pent up until an improvement is made. I felt alone and confused so much, and, thinking I was the only one who felt this way in my struggle to come home, crawled back into my shell, expecting that the empty feelings I had would just go away with time. It seemed for awhile that no matter how hard I tried, nothing was working out. Failure was all around me; from classes, to friends, to work, eating worms seemed like the only logical next step on many occasions (though, I must assure you, no worms were ever consumed).

In a speech at BYU in 1982, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave an address called "The Inconvenient Messiah." He explains his title thus: "I wish to speak this morning of the demands of discipline and discipleship, of the responsibilities we have to face when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. In the Savior’s life and in ours, Satan counters such discipline with temptations of an easier way, with an offer of “convenient Christianity.” It is a temptation Jesus resisted, and so must we. Life was very inconvenient for him, and, unless I miss my guess, it will often be so for you and for me when we take upon us His name."  I suppose I thought that by serving a mission, life would be made easier upon returning. While I certainly have received blessings, I have become a greater threat to Satan, and he will try even harder to break me down. Later in the speech, Elder Holland said: "If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived."

On another occasion, Elder Holland said, "I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge that God loves us. He is good. He is our Father, and He expects us to pray and trust and be believing and not give up and not panic and not retreat and not jump ship when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path, and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, 'I told you it’d be OK, I told you it’d be alright.'"

I'm still not entirely sure why life needs to be so hard so much, but I do know that He sends tender mercies along the way to remind that He is there, and He still hears our prayers. 

As I plodded through my trials, I found another quote from President Monson in which he said, "To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility." This is so difficult to do! When trouble comes, being discouraged is so much easier. I think that a lot of times, we think that because we're doing good or because we've done good, things will just work out perfectly, and we will beat every Goliath that stands in our way. That's the blessings of keeping the commandments, right? 

In Doctrine and Covenants 90:24, we are promised, "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another." That's it. Three simple things we need to do in order to have everything work out: search diligently, pray always, and be believing. However, I think we too often skip over the prepositional phrase "for your good." In so doing, we forget about and lose hope. Preach My Gospel says, "Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom." Danielle, one of the first investigators I taught on my mission, once said something that I think Jesus Christ likewise says to us, "I haven't lost hope; I hope you haven't, either."

In 3 Nephi 9:13, Christ is talking to the Nephites right before he comes to visit them. He asks, "[Will] ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (emphasis added) He doesn't say that He will; He says that He may. He'll do what is best for us to become the best we can be and ultimately have joy.

In March 2013, Elder Bednar gave an excellent CES Devotional about trusting in the Lord. It was called "That We Might 'Not... Shrink' (D&C 19:18)." In it, he asks a question: "Do you have the faith to not be healed?" We must likewise determine if we are going to keep trusting in the Lord, even when "for awhile, the harder [we] try, the harder it gets."
In the October 2011 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson said, "May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe. ...[In] reality, we are never alone when we stand with our Heavenly Father."     

This year included a lot of setbacks, rejections, and other disappointments. Yet, I am at peace. I know that I am where my Heavenly Father needs me right now. I know that He loves me and is guiding me along the path that is right for me. Just as my mission didn't go as planned, so has the past year not gone as planned. Yet, I know that everything has happened for a purpose. As much as it sometimes hurt, I am so grateful for the things I have learned and experienced since returning home from my mission one year ago. While I recognize that life will continue to be difficult, I also know that He is there, and He will never leave my side as long as I "search diligently, pray always, and [am] believing." 

Elder Robert D. Hales said, "Yes, 'weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.' Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord saying, 'Thy will be done.'"

I close with the words to the hymn "How Firm a Foundation." 

"How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word! 
What more can he say than to you he hath said, 
Who unto the Savior… for refuge have fled?

In ev'ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand… so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous… omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee… thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume… and thy gold to refine.

E'en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still… in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

Last Sunday, during the bearing of testimonies, I flipped to this hymn, and the words touched me deeper than they ever had before as I considered their meaning. I pulled out my journal and wrote most of the above thoughts. I love my Savior, and I am excited for what lies ahead.

Alles Gute im neuen Jahr,


Monday, January 20, 2014

The Last Melon: the Pursuit of Happiness

Liebe Familie,
New Year's Eve brought a miracle for us! We were watching the Hobbit with a bunch of YSAs at the YSA Center, and this one guy, Khan, walks in with a friend - who wants a tour! His name was Mike. Sister Ackerman and I were summoned, and we started showing him around. We started with the chapel and explained a simple church service. Guys. Mike has been through the discussions with the 7th-Day Adventists, and J-Dubs, and a few others. But he always quit because something wasn't right.  We got in the elevator to go look at some classrooms, and Khan said, ''I'm sure you have noticed there are no crosses in our church. This is because we celebrate the resurrected Lord, not the dead one.'' Sister Ackerman and I just looked at each other with excited smiles - Khan was such an awesome little missionary! But wait! It gets better. At the opening of the next floor is a picture of Jesus in the Americas, so I pointed to it and also added my testimony to that of Khan. Then I asked Khan if he had talked to Mike about the Book of Mormon before. That was when I noticed that Khan had a Book of Mormon in his hand, ready to give to his friend!! So ready, in fact, that he had written his testimony in it! He handed it to Mike, and we explained what the Book of Mormon was. Mike was very curious and very excited. We shared Moroni's promise. Then Mike asked us how we had learned if theses things were true. So we went in a circle and shared our stories. Mike has investigated a lot. So he already knew what to do. He knew that by reading, praying, and studying, one DOES receive answers that way. So when we all testified that that is what we had done, he said he knew we knew. We seriously talked for about an hour. Mike told us that he was new to the city, that he had no friends outside of work friend, Khan. He had asked Khan what he was doing for New Year's. Mike said, ''I'm going to my church! Do you want to come?'' Mike explained that he was wary - he had had a lot of bad experiences.  Khan told him, ''You don't need to worry. My church is warm and welcoming, like a home. And the people there are like a family.'' Mike said, ''I can see what Khan is talking about.''  We taught the tripod lesson - that you have to read, pray, and come to church in order to find answers to questions and keep a firm foundation on Jesus Christ. I asked Mike if he would come to church on Sunday with Khan. Mike said he would absolutely come. Khan said he didn't know if he could come; he had to work. Mike lit into Khan for about five minutes about how he needed to reorganize his priorities, that Sunday is the Lord's day, and he should, therefore, go to church. He told Khan to talk to his boss and do what was necessary to get Sundays off. After this, we decided it was time to head back down. Sister Ackerman asked if we could pray before we went back down. Mike confessed that it had been a long time since he had prayed. I asked Khan to pray. Khan thanked God for the wonderful day, for Mike, for the spirit, and other wonderful bold things. After Khan said, ''Amen,'' Sister Ackerman and I thanked Khan for his beautiful prayer. It had not been five seconds after the amen, and Mike started praying!! He said, ''Heavenly Father, It has been a long time since I have spoken to you. I am so sorry. But, I hope you can tell me what to do. I need to know. Is this church thy church? Should I join?'' He closed in the name of Jesus Christ. We went back downstairs to finish the Hobbit. Mike read his Book of Mormon for the last hour of the movie. Can you believe that miracle? Khan just invited his friend from work to a get-together at the church, and it turns out his friend is this golden investigator who had been searching for so long, he had almost given up hope. 
We went to Theresienwiese (where Oktoberfest is held) at midnight, and it was like a war zone! Sister Ackerman got hit in the back by a firework, and it cinged her coat! But it was so loud and so cool! These people take their holidays very seriously. And Mike clutched his Book of Mormon the entire time:]
Yesterday in church, half of the kids in primary were investigators/kids of investigators. It was so crazy and so good at church! I couldn't believe how blessed we were. 
A few weeks ago, we sat in a bus. We were en route an appointment, and a little boy sat across from us. We asked him: ''What do you want for Christmas?'' He was hardly ten years old, but he nevertheless said, ''I want my family to stay together.'' That was it. Above all else, he wanted his family to stay together. We asked him if he liked to read. ''Absolutely!'' he said. ''We have a book about Jesus Christ. It's priceless. Would you like it?'' ''I love books about God! Yes, of course!'' We showed him 3 Nephi 11, where Jesus Christ comes. ''I will start reading there tonight! Thank you so much!'' Then he got out of the bus.
I have been thinking about desires. I thought about a less active in Neumarkt, and how her heart's desire was that her family all to church come, and eventually in the temple go. In Mosiah 18:8-11, we read about the desires of the people of Alma on the Waters of Mormon, and how they clapped in the hands because of their joy. I made a lot of thoughts about that, about desires and motivation and the biggest desire of mankind is. At the end, I came to happiness. We do what we do, because we believe that it will bring happiness. The only true happiness is only to be found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when one lives by and applies the principles and doctrines from the Master.  We were at the Arnold's home this week. It was a bit of a girl's night (sorry, Brother Arnold), but he said something very wonderful.  He said, ''You can't have a good relationship with anyone until you have a good relationship with God.'' So how do we develop this relationship?
President Thomas S. Monson said the following: ''To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves.  No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowman. Service to others is akin to duty - the fulfillment of which brings true joy.''  
He also said: ''You can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.''
Everyone is searching for happiness in one way or another.
''[But] this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.''   -John 17:3
When one does that, one will be happy everyday. 
''We are all searching for happiness; we hope for it, we think we live for it, it is our aim in this life. But do we live so as to enjoy the happiness we so much desire?''   -Brigham Young

''But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.''  -Luke 22:32
''We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world.''  -D&C 134:12
''After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.''                              -Joseph Smith

My mission didn't go anything like I planned. But as I served the Lord, and learned to trust in His plan and His timing, I found the greatest happiness.

Bis bald!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Guten Rutsch!

Liebe Familie,
So, we had Christmas this week. :] To recap, on Heilige Abend, we were at Sister Fischer-Ladenbach's house. We went to an old folk's home right before that delicious dinner to sing to a member of the ward. She wasn't in her room - she was in a cafeteria area with about 10 other residents, and we sang to them, too. Then we (the elders, Sister Fischer-Ladenbach, her daughter and granddaughter included) went around and wished each of them individually a Merry Christmas. It was so cool, and they were all so excited. After dinner and the white elephant gift exchange, we went to the Mason's (the senior couple) apartment and played games until it was time to go to the midnight mass. I suppose if one is only going to see one Midnight Mass, this is the one to go to. In short, in 17-something, a battle with Austria took place, and every year, they commemorate it. The people dress in traditional costume, carry torches, pitchforks, the whole nine yards, and march through the streets of Munich behind a brass band. Then we go back into the cold, drafty church for the service. The preacher had a lisp, so that was embarrassing for him, and the brass band continued to accompany the music. We weren't able to stay for the whole service because the buses stop running at 1:30. Quite the interresting night. 
We were at the Arnold's home all day on Christmas, and it was seriously just perfect. I wrapped a wonderful chair for Camille, and she loved opening it and sitting in it. We watched We Bought a ZooElf, and My Best Friend's Wedding. Brother Arnold cooked a fabulous turkey dinner for us. That guy is talented, I tell you what. It was so nice just being able to sit and not have any worries. We also had a Devil's Chocolate (ironic) cake and sang ''Happy Birthday'' to Jesus, which I had never done before. It was really neat, though, to see how good the Arnolds were at helping Camille remember the reason for the season. 
The next day, we were at the bishop's house almost all day. They have a way cool house, and their daughters are about the cutest. Their house is about 80 years old and has a whole half that is not finished. But if they ever finish it, they could have a bowling alley, a basketball court and an excellent (Elder Root suggested) motorcycle restoration garage. Anyway, after we left, we got a call from Chia Ling asking if we had some time to meet with her that evening. We asked the Masons if we could watch a movie at the JAE Center, and they invited us to their home to play games. We arranged to meet her and then go the Masons' together. Underway, she told us about why she had cancelled coming to midnight mass with us a few nights prior and why we hadn't heard from her in the meantime. We had been so worried that something had happened to her. Well, something had. She is working on her PhD and apparently didn't get a good grade in one of her classes. One of the top professors told her that he would work with her. As he worked with her, he tried to use her to get a music therapy program started in Taiwan. After she had coordinated with the appropriate people in Taiwan and learned that that wasn't a possibility, she reported to this professor that that would not happen. On Christmas Eve, he told her that she would be done with the program all together then. She had been emailing all sorts of people for the last two days! Apparently this professor is a pretty big guy in that department, so even transferring schools isn't really going to be an option. She was very distraut. Understandably so. We took her to the Masons' and wound up just talking to her. Elder Mason has a projector, so we watched this talk in Chinese with her and talked about the idea of the current bush discussed in this talk. Elder Mason apparently had a similar thing happen to him while he was working on his PhD, so it was so perfect that he was right there to share his experience and bear testimony that it would all work out. Her visa is good until next October, so we told her that these next 10 months should be very prayerful ones as she considers what it is the Lord would have her do. We talked about how sometimes the Lord lets bad things happen because he has something way better in mind for us. We watched this Mormon Message at the end. 
I have been thinking about repentance and the atonement this week. As President Hinckley once said, ''We honor His birth. But without His death, that birth would have been but one more birth. It was the Redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting. His was a great Atonement for the sins of all mankind. He is the Resurrection and the Life, ‘the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of Him all men will be raised from the grave. We love Him. We honor Him. We thank Him. We worship Him. He has done for each of us and for all mankind that which none other could have done. God be thanked for the gift of His Beloved Son, our Savior, the Redeemer of the world, the Lamb without blemish, who was offered as a sacrifice for all mankind.'' The gift that God gave us makes it possible for all of us to pick up the pieces of the shattered past and create something beautiful. As Elder Shane M. Bowen taught, ''The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infinite. It applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means—total, complete, all, forever. President Boyd K. Packer has taught: 'There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.'” In Doctrine and Covenants 128:22, it says, ''...Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!...'' This morning in my personal study, I found this scripture in section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants. ''Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord....Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion...unto the mountains of the Lord’s house....But verily, thus saith the Lord, let not your flight be in haste, but let all things be prepared before you; and he that goeth, let him not look back lest sudden destruction shall come upon him.''  With the new year approaching, I find it appropriate to share this Mormon Message. It takes a lifetime to achieve perfection (3 Nephi 12:48), but it is possible through little steps everyday. Afterall, isn't that how the Lord has always worked? (Alma 37:6,7) The New Year is a perfect time to start anew. Leave your past in your past. Learn from it. But don't dwell there. Believe in the promise that the Lord makes in section 58 of the Doctrine and Covenants: ''Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more,'' and the first chapter of Isaiah: ''Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'' You really can be made completely clean. I have seen that in my own life and in the lives of those I have met on my mission. A new start is completely possible. It feels so good to be clean. Don't wait one more day for that renewing feeling. Pray and ask your Heavenly Father what you can do to be just a little bit better. Then ask Him for the help to turn your weakness into a strength. (Ether 12:27) It's a new year. Forgive and forget. Said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, ''So how do we make sure that we never ignore or slight or forget His greatest of all gifts unto us? We do so by showing our desire for a remission of our sins and our eternal gratitude for that most courageous of all prayers: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' We do so by joining in the work of forgiving sins.''  And remember that forgiving others most definitely includes forgiving yourself.  Don't be afraid, and don't look back. 

''O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.''  -Mormon 9:27

I love you all! May you have a pleasant transition into the new year:]
Sister Stephanie Reid

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Liebe Familie,
We finally got our Christmas tree decorated! We bought a real one for €15 our first P-Day together, and we kept it on the balcony to keep it fresh. Then on Monday, we finally decided we could bring it inside and decorate it. We love the little Christmas cheer it brings to our living room:]
On Tuesday, we had our Zone Christmas Devotional. The whole zone came together, we had a white elephant gift exchange (I found Bayerisch suspenders that were very fought over - it's always nice when your gift is a wanted one), we sang Christmas songs, we had a potluck lunch, and we listened to a wonderful Devotional from Presidents Monson (via technology) and Miles. It was so wonderful! There is a company called ''Obey,'' and a hat with their logo is what President Miles got:]
We had lunch with a member and her friend, Sabine, on Thursday. The member told us in advance not to push the friend, but if the gospel came up, we could for surely talk about it. We smiled and told her that with us, most conversations find their way to the gospel. But what was cool was that the member just started bearing testimony about the gospel and what a blessing it is in her life. Then she gave her a Book of Mormon and apologized that it wasn't much, but also that it really was the best present she could give her. She bore testimony about how much this book meant to her, and Sabine just gave her a hug and almost cried - she could feel the love this member had for her, and she could feel the spirit her testimony brought. We set up another appointment for lunch for this week, but this time, we are going to make lunch in the church so that Sabine can come to the church and see that it isn't a big, dark, cold place, but a home. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we cannot do hardly anything without the members.  
We experienced another miracle this week on Wednesday. We met with Elena again. I talked about her a little bit this last week, but her husband's heart is softening so much! This week, we came later in the afternoon when the children were home. They just love us. While we were there, the husband came home and actually joined us for the end of the lesson and the closing prayer! It may seem like a small thing, but the fact that this whole family prayed together in their home is huge, people! 
Then yesterday, in church, the elders did this cool thing where they watched this Mormon Message and then had all of the brethren write their testimonies in Book of Mormons and wrap them to give to their friends for Christmas! Meanwhile, a little family from Nigeria walked into the church for the first time and, well, long story short, the elders set baptismal dates with them! The elders first asked about February some time, and then the mom asked if she could be baptized on her birthday - January 16. What?! The Lord truly is hastening His work. We are living in a prophecy being fulfilled. The stone cut without hands is rolling and is filling the earth. 
Sorry this is short, but I love you all and am looking forward to seeing you on Christmas
Sister Stephanie Reid

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week, as per usual, was incredible! We saw so many miracles!
Birko is a beautiful recent convert with whom we eat lunch once a
week. She will be moving to Utah soon, and we wanted to review the
lessons with her before her embarkment. When she was baptized, she
wore one of the temple dresses of a wonderful member of our ward. She
felt like a princess in it, and the member promised Birko that when
she went through the temple, she would give it to her. Well, Birko was
baptized almost a year ago, and she will hit her year mark while in
Utah. She was concerned that since almost a year had passed, and she
would have an ocean in between them, that the promise perhaps was no
longer valid. We talked to the member about it, and she excitedly
looked for the dress, wrapped it, and gave it to us to give to Birko.
We taught her last Monday afternoon about the Plan of Salvation. We
went really in-depth with a few points, and the spirit was just so
strong as we bore testimony of God's love. At the end of the lesson,
we told her about how going through the temple is her next step in
returning to live with her Father in Heaven. So we gave her the
present, and Sister Jaynes took pictures of her face as she opened one
of the greatest gifts she has ever received. She almost cried. It was
such a cool experience, and we are so excited for her and her new
adventure. Also, I will get to go through the temple with her!!
We had our zone training this last week, too. Sister Jaynes and I
taught the part about teaching, and we had a great discussion. We also
learned more about charity and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I just love
zone training meetings so much! I also got to see Sister Smith again,
and we had a sleepover with Augsburg the night before. :]
That night, we went on splits in order to teach Eugen and the English
class. Sister Jaynes taught the English class, and I taught Eugen. I
taught it with a wonderful woman named Svetlana. She is also a
convert, and apparently she had a lot of hardships when she was
investigating the church. She is an awesome joint teach and bears
sincere testimony. Guys. There is a power in the Book of Mormon. It's
changing him. He was all the way up to 2 Nephi 9 by the time we
started the lesson. We are going to have him read it in 60 days as
opposed to 30, though. He said the schedule we had him on was taking
TWO HOURS A DAY to complete! But, he was doing it! He was, however,
exhausted. Just the same, the Book of Mormon is working a change in
him. We mostly answered his questions - he had had a few:] He asked
about why Nephi would write on brass plates and in ancient Egyptian.
He proceeded to give a history lesson about how it is well documented
that paper products were available at that time. And ancient Egyptian
would not have been the language they would have spoken. I told him
about how brass plates would last longer than paper. And the Book of
Mormon is a priceless thing that the Lord wouldn't want to get
destroyed. Then a scripture popped into my head. I told Eugen we would
read a scripture in Moses. He asked which one, and I started to
explain the Pearl of Great Price when he excitedly pulled out his iPad
and explained that he had not only downloaded Preach My Gospel but the
Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price in English and in
German. Who is this guy?? Anyway, we read in Moses 5:6 and talked a
little about it. I told him that it doesn't matter why Nephi wrote on
brass plates; it doesn't matter why it was written in ancient
Egyptian; it doesn't matter that Nephi quoted chapter after chapter of
Isaiah. What does matter is that the Lord commanded him to do that, so
he was obedient, and he did it. A few weeks ago, that would have
started a small discussion, but Eugen is becoming more and more
receptive to the Holy Ghost, and he knew that was right. He really is
so smart, though. A lot of investigators have questions about Nephi
killing Laban, but Eugen didn't! In fact, he used that as an example
to ask another question. He said, ''Nephi had to kill Laban, David had
to kill Goliath...'' Cool, huh?? I had never made that connection, but
Eugen went and made it. He is bomb. We concluded our lesson by talking
about the Holy Ghost. I had another prompting at the end to ask him
why he read the Book of Mormon. Eugen went and bore some testimony! A
few weeks ago, he told us that he wanted to read the Book of Mormon to
learn what it is that we believe, aka knowledge. But this night, he
said, without any hesitation, ''Joy!'' Eugen is so cool! He will make
a powerhouse member in the next little bit. He is changing so quickly.
We could also see evidence of the Lord hastening His work with another
investigator Thursday morning. This particular investigator has had
her husband throwing every anti-Mormon thing at her almost daily for
the past few months. She reported on Thursday that her husband has
stopped. The only thing that is keeping her from baptism now would be
that she still doesn't understand that it is for more than just
membership. But we talked a lot about the covenants, and I think she
has a much greater understanding now.
Then on Friday morning, we met with another cool woman who originally
met missionaries in 2005. She quickly loved it, but her husband was
very opposed to it. He verbally and physically abused her when she
talked to him about it. He said he never wanted to step foot in the
church again, and the children cried. Elena's love and concern for her
family influenced her to decide to stop meeting with the missionaries
for awhile. The missionaries got back in contact with her a few months
ago, and she said she has been praying for a solution. She wants to be
baptized so badly, but she doesn't want to break up her family. She is
Jewish, which is why they came to Germany. Perhaps that was why her
husband was so against it years ago? If she wasn't Jewish anymore, she
may have to leave the country and go back to the Ukraine. But since
they have been here for so long, and the youngest child was born in
Germany, it would probably be okay now. As we wait to here from the
legal department in Frankfurt, we started an English class, and she
called it an answer to her prayers. The whole family comes! We have a
spiritual thought and pray together, and the dad even teaches us some
things! He is very comfortable. He still hasn't been to the church
service, but the kids and mom have, and they LOVE it. Anyway, on
Friday, we watched President Monson's talk from the Relief Society
session of this last General Conference in Ukranian, and she loved it.
We talked to her about baptism at the end. She is still a little
nervous, but she thinks her husband will let her get baptized by the
beginning of February! We think it will happen sooner, but isn't that
wonderful?! What has taken years and years is finally starting to be a
reality for her! She is just so happy.
We also are doing a giant personal touch for our ward for Christmas.
We put baked goods and a note on two members' doorsteps. The note
explained that they had been wichtelt (there is a word for doing an
anonymous good deed in German) as someone in the ward loves them. We
then challenged them to do the same to two members of the ward within
the next 48 hours. We are excited to see the ward bond:]

''...deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a
second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation;
for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them
all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall
triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.
''Let all the saints rejoice, therefore, and be exceedingly glad; for
Israel’s God is their God, and he will mete out a just recompense of
reward upon the heads of all their oppressors.''
               -D&C 127:2,3

Sister Stephanie Reid

Thursday, December 12, 2013

22 Pages a Day

Liebe Familie,
A lot of good things happened this week! Last Monday night, we visited a less-active girl and her brother. They are in their 20s and are so cool! We brought Sister Mason with us (the woman-person in the married couple who works at the institute), and she was just so cute. They just loved her, and she is so good at making people feel loved. 
We taught our first English class here in Munich on Tuesday night. We had one of our investigators bring her whole family. The kids were so cute, and the dad was cracking jokes and just so comfortable. She is so cool and has been investigating the church for almost 10 years. She wants to be baptized so badly, but her family is very important to her, and her husband isn't too big of a fan. She said these English classes were an answer to her prayers because it will get him in the church, and start softening his heart. It was so cool to see how quickly the Lord worked on him.
We also had Austausch this week, so that was good. I left this time, but we switch with the other sisters who work in Munich, so I went far:] Anyway, it was really good! Sister Jenson is very sweet and service-ready. All of our appointments fell out, so we went all around doing personal touches for so many people. That night, a girl in the ward who turned 8 had a birthday party. We went and helped cut vegetables and keep the girls slightly under control. I wore my glasses that day, and Sister Jenson wears glasses, so Simon (the 2(?)-year-old) kept trying to figure out who else wears glasses. He was sitting at his little table, and I was sitting next to him, and he was eating his carrots and pointing to the other guests and asking, ''Does she wear glasses?'' I would tell him, that, no, she does not wear glasses. He would ask about someone else. I would again reply in the negative. After a few of these, I would tell him that only Sister Jenson and I wore glasses. He would be satisfied with that for a few chews, then he would start asking again if the others wore glasses. Birthday parties are great:] But really, this was a way neat family. And they were also so loving. I did not know them at all before that night, but I just felt so at home. 
Thursday morning, we met with the mom from the Englisch class, and it was so good! She reported that she had read all the of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. And she will start over. She loves it so much. Can you believe it?! She has read all of the triple combination! 
That evening, we met with our 7th-day Adventist friend. We have been trying to teach the Plan of Salvation, and the other day it just hit us that these are just words on a page to him until he gets a testimony of the Book of Mormon. So we decided to commit him to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days! That is a bit of a struggle in English with 531 pages, but in German, it takes a little longer to say things. The German Book of Mormon has 702 pages, and that equals about 22 pages per day. We both laughed a little when the idea came - besides baptism, this was the largest commitment either of us has ever given. But we also both felt so excited. We knew that was what he needed. So we showed him a few Mormon Messages about the Book of Mormon (including testimony from Elder Holland) and committed him.  And do you know what? We talked to him yesterday, and he is on schedule! He has already read through 1st Nephi! He said he is a little exhausted, but he loves the challenge:] 
On Tuesday in our district meeting, we talked about the miracles of Jesus Christ. We were to all think of our favorite miracle in preparation for the discussion. I thought of the story of the lad who had the five loaves of bread and two fishes. The whole crowd needed to be fed. In verse 9 of John chapter 6, it says the following: ''There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?'' I think a lot of times, we want to help so badly. We look at what we have - our strengths, abilities, experiences - at it seems so inadequate to do the job asked of us. And without the Lord, it would be completely inadequate. But he gave all that he had to the Lord. What was barely a meal for him, when given to Him, was enough to feed five thousand - with twelve baskets of leftovers! We are reminded in Alma 37:6 that it is through the ''small and simple things'' that ''great things'' are brought to pass. Later in the chapter, in verses 40 and 41, we are reminded what small things we must do to ensure that miracles are part of our daily lives. There are many small things, but the two that Alma chooses to teach are faith and diligence. President Monson teaches, ''Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more, and then one more after that, until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness.'' Just take each day a day at a time. Or by the hour when necessary. Life is hard sometimes. But it's always possible with Him. Whether His mode of helping us (Mosiah 21:15, Mosiah 24:13-15, Ether 6:7,8 to name a few), as long as we have faith in Him and diligently do our very best, the Lord will help us. 

''Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.''

                                                                                                        ~D&C 78:17,18

Have a groovy week!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Little Rascal

Liebe Familie,
I am in München! München is absolutely wonderful! Sister Jaynes and I are loving being together. She is a few transfers younger than I am, so it's also cool having two ''old'' missionaries together. 
We have a lot of cool things happening here. On Thursday night (transfer day), we met with a guy named Eugen. He is a preacher in a 7th Day Adventist Church. He is way cool. And he kind of has a crush on the joint teach, haha! He is in his late 40s, I would guess. He wants to get baptized, but that would be a lot of changes for him. His entire congregation would be affected. His very livelihood may be affected. Sister Jaynes and I feel that if we strengthen his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he will recognize that his most important relationship is with his Heavenly Father. And when we put that first, everything else always falls into place. 
Friday night, we met with the GML and his family for a Thanksgiving dinner. The Arnolds are Americans. They just have one four year old girl whose name is Camille. She is adorable! She was wearing her snow suit when we showed up because she liked the ''swishy'' sound it makes when she walks. She also was showing us her Lion King book. We asked her if she likes The Lion King. She said, ''No, but I like Simba.'' And I have not eaten mashed potatoes that delicious in such a long time! Brother and Sister Arnold are both converts to the church, so they told us their conversion stories. Sister Arnold was a baptist (can't remember which one...) and actually served a mission for that church. When she got back, she applied for a job at a particular company. Her boss asked why she wanted to work there. She told him that she was really impressed with what she had seen of him. She had noticed there was something special about his spirit, and she wanted to know why. He hired her, and it turns out she was a member of the church. She was his personal secretary, and she loved looking at his pictures of his family and such. In a short time, she was typing his sacrament meeting talks! After a few years, her boss was being transferred. He told her he wanted to take her with him, but he felt like she needed to stay. She told him that she actually wanted to start working in a different field. He gave her a Book of Mormon since she didn't work for him anymore and told her to visit his church. She looked it up and visited it. And loved it. She would go to her baptist church in the morning and then go visit the Mormon church right after that. By the time she got there, she was only there for Relief Society. But she still liked the way she felt. After THREE WEEKS, someone came up to her and asked if she was one of the dental students, and they learned that she was not a member. The rest, as they say, is history. She got baptized shortly thereafter, and she asked her bishop about going on a mission! He encouraged her to get married. She was frustrated because she was 27 and thought that was a silly thing to concentrate on, especially because the only single men in her ward were old enough to be her dad! So she moved to a single's ward and eventually met Brother Arnold. 
Brother Arnold was a little more wild. He was raised near an army base in a town where shootings occured on a bi-weekly basis. He was the stereo-typical I think-I'm-invincible young man.  He literally thought he would never die. He said he did drugs and other things that are not in line with the standards in the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet. He said that when he walked into a room, children would literally start crying. When he was 26, he was riding his mountain bike. He said he never wore a helmet, but he wanted to get into racing, and helmets were required for that. Anyway, he did a particular jump, and the back wheel didn't make it over the hill, causing him to see asphalt on top, then sky, then asphalt, then sky... He lay on the ground. Nothing hurt! That's either really good or really bad. He tried to move. It was bad. Another guy was casually observing and saw the crash. He ran over and asked him if he was okay. Brother Arnold managed to choke out, ''Call an ambulance!'' The guy ran off and after a little bit, he heard sirens. The fire brigade was across the street, and they had been dispatched. Then, he said it was almost like a Xerox machine, but from left to right, he suddenly was able to start moving. He stood up just as the fire fighters got there. They tried to take him to the hospital, but he was walking! So he walked home. The next day, he hurt from head to toe. So he went to the doctor. They did all sorts of x-rays and determined nothing was broken. He said that was the first moment he realized that he was mortal. He knew it was time to change things. He soon learned that one of his friends who used to be a drug dealer and another friend who used to be practicing an alternative lifestyle had recently turned their lives around. He asked what the change was. They answered that they had found Jesus Christ. He determined to see if Jesus could help him, too. He ended up being baptized into the New Apostolic Church, or something, and was a lot happier. He had carpentry and mechanic skills, and he started helping people. He would pull over on the side of the road when someone was broke down. The people would ask why he wanted to help. He would answer, ''I know what it feels like to need to be rescued. And the person who has helped me the most is Jesus Christ.'' He said some people would give him weird looks and just ask him to fix the car. Others, however, would find that fascinating, and he would have the chance to bring someone closer to Christ. After some time, he had the distinct instruction from the Lord to leave where he was living, go to a particular town in Texas, and to leave on a particular date. He was shocked by the specific instructions, but packed up his truck and left town on the indicated date. He arrived and passed out flyars for carpentry, but the going rate was at least a tenth of what he was used to working for, and, not wanting to live 15 to a house, he looked for work as a mechanic. He found work with... a Mormon boss:] He liked it there a lot. One day, he saw a flyar for a stake activity. It had the name of the church on the bottom, and after a few hours, he remembered why the name sounded familiar. This was the Mormon cult! THAT was why he had been sent to Texas - to save the Mormons. To fight your enemy, you need to understand your enemy. So he watched his boss like a hawk. And he went to the church and stole (:D) a Book of Mormon. He started reading it. And he started getting a testimony. He eventually approached his boss and told him he had read the Book of Mormon and was ready to be baptized. His boss said he would have to meet with the missionaries first. Brother Arnold thought that was dumb - he already knew he wanted to be baptized. So, he made the elders do push ups every time they were late. And he was baptized two weeks later. 
Guys. The atonement is real. The atonement can change anyone. As President David O. McKay taught: "One purpose of the gospel is to make bad people good and good people better." I have seen so many times on my mission the change that comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ. This doesn't just apply to the one time to come. But all of us as members need the atonement everyday. I make mistakes everyday! In Doctrine and Covenants 117:13, it says: "... and when he fallshe shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto methan his increase, saith the Lord.'' This change is possible. I know it. They will never leave us in our quest to become gods, to reach our potential.
Sister Stephanie Reid                

And here is an awesome Mormon Message on the topic:]