Monday, September 24, 2012

Liebe Familie,
Last P. Day, we visited Schönbrunn. It was so gorgeous!! We just wandered around the gardens. It was a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold, we didn´t even need a light jacket! But it was great:] It was a good thing we did that last Monday, though, because the weather took the official turn fort he worst on Wednesday. I really think summer is over now. Time to break out the scarves, boots, coats, and tights!
We taught Danielle three times this week! She texted us Monday morning and asked if it would be okay if she fed us dinner. She is so sweet! So, we had dinner, and then taught the lesson. I clarified her question on polygamy. We read the scriptures in Jacob 2:27-30 and D&C 132:37-38. When we opened up to Jacob 2, she said, „I´ve read this one before. It´s why I started having the questions in the first place.“ We had her read all the way through verse 30, explaining what the phrases meant, and she said she hadn´t read past verse 28 the first time. When I was done presenting the scriptures on why it happened, and why we no longer practice it, I asked if that made more sense. She responded that this stuff won`t matter once she knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet – after that, everything else will fall into place. She is correct, but it helps to clear up hang-ups so her heart can be open to receive the revelation. We taught about the restoration, and watched the movie. After the movie, we asked her how she felt. She then explained that her boyfriend (who happens to be a member of the church) told her to pay attention to how she feels when we talk to her, when she reads in the Book of Mormon, etc., as that is how the spirit talks to her. She then concluded with, ``I think the spirit is telling me that it´s true.´´
On Wednesday, she fed us dinner again. She made fajitas. She had to look so hard to find tortilla shells, and such! And she said the cheddar cheese was found in the exotic cheese section. Who knew! We taught the Plan of Salvation – she had a lot of questions, but really seemed to understand and accept it. We also gave her a soft baptismal commitment, and she responded that that was obviously the next step.
On Saturday, before the adult session of stake conference, we met with her again. We showed her the baptismal font (ours is definitely the prettiest one I have ever seen.) and talked to her about the importance of setting a date, so we have a goal. She turned us down flat on that one. She said her parents are not as understanding as she thought they were, and that she wants them to be supportive. She also said that if they still aren´t accepting in another year, she will have to move forward without them. But for now, she doesn´t want to ruffle too many feathers. She still wants to keep meeting with us, but we just can´t set a date. And that is completely understandable. So, Sister Stewart and I are praying a lot that her parents hearts will be softened. That is a big decision, and it would be hard to not have her parents´ blessing.
Mom was saying that she has a student that doesn´t speak English or German, and she has a hard time communicating with her – she can´t even tell her to sit down. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Sister Stewart and I teach English classes at the institute. Sister Stewart´s class is the people from Austria who would like to learn English. I got the people from Iran who are here waiting for their American visas and need to learn English as part of the application. So, I also have to teach two lessons every week where I don´t speak any language that the people in my class teach. For example, on Thursday, we spent about 15 minutes trying to clarify the meaning of ít´ in the sentence „Who is it?“ I had told them Tuesday that „it“ was the pronoun you use when it is not a boy or a girl. Then on Thursday, we were talking about question words, and I said that we use „who“ for people. They were all so confused, and it took that long for us to communicate what they were confused about, and then for me to explain why we used „it“ in that case. So hard sometimes, but so good! I gave them another Book of Mormon on Thursday, and I found a Farsi Gospel Principles book in our church! So now, I can teach them a spiritual thought in their native tongue. It is so great how that book just happened to turn up when it did… :]
We also met with Peter this week. He is from England and a Deacon in the Catholic church. He is so cool. He hates the organization of the Catholic church. He is planning on attending General Conference, and was apologetic when he realized his schedule did not permit him to attend the Saturday morning session (which is aired Saturday night).  We explained that that was okay, that the important one was the Sunday morning session (which is aired Sunday night). He then looked at the schedule for Sunday, and promised to go to all three sessions.  We laughed a little as we commented that that was quite the marathon, and he said, „Well, look, there are hour and a half pauses between sessions for food, and such. I can do it!“ He carries that last Conference addresses Ensign with him, and he just loves what we teach. Problem is, the Catholic church is his livelihood. But, we keep plugging along with him, and maybe eventually we will figure something out for him. At our next appointment, we are thinking of having the stake employment specialist sit in.  
Sorry that was quite long, but I hope you made it through!
Ich liebe euch!
Sister Stephanie Reid:]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Liebe Familie,
This week was most excellent. :]
At English class, I gave away seven Books of Mormon this week. My class is getting so big, and the Iranian people are so genuinely interested in our church. I am so excited to see what happens with them. I would say the biggest problem is the language barrier – they all don’t speak English or German, the only two languages I pretend I can speak. But, we have a guy in our ward whose mother is Iranian, and she spoke it in the home. He is married to a woman from France (and I think he was raised in France, too), so we all assumed he was French all this time. He is the ward clerk, so he saw our teaching record, and the comment on the side of the language barrier problem. Then he told us his family history and said he is more than willing to help us as much as he can. He came to the JAE center on Tuesday night to meet a couple of the people. And his wife is coming this Tuesday or Thursday to meet the mothers. The mothers were complaining that since their children don’t go to school, they don’t have a lot of friends. The French family’s kids are home-schooled, so they can totally be friends with each other! Isn’t it amazing our intricately the Lord takes care of us?
Wednesday was pretty great, too. We had our Filipino lesson, and this time Dolores brought a friend, too! We reviewed Ether 12 from last week, and talked about where the Book of Mormon came from. The best part was after we read the first paragraph of the introduction, and we were talking about why that was important. Sister Banban and Sister Dalit had both commented (in Tagolag and Engish), and I said (in English) that I loved how it said that the fulness of the gospel was contained in the Book of Mormon. Then Dolores said, ‘Exactly! If more churches used the Book of Mormon, there would not be so much confusion on the earth.‘ Dolores is great!! We are so stoked about her and her friend!!
That night, we had our first lesson with Danielle. We were very nervous, but so was she. :] We taught the first lesson. She believes so much, but she has a few hang-ups: polygamy and the need for such a long apostacy. We are going to try to resolve those concerns tonight, so news on that next week. I think the bigger concern will be her family, though. They are very active Lutherans who are not thrilled that she is meeting with us. She feels that she needs to continue, but we can see that she isn’t just going to peace on her family. But, Danielle is great, and I am sure something will work out so that they will be supportive of her baptism. We are very excited to continue teaching her!
We had Sisters Konferenz this week. All 24 sister missionaries in our mission came to Munich for a few days. There is no direct train from Graz to Munich, so the Graz sisters had a sleepover with us Wednesday night, and we traveled together to Salzburg Thursday morning. We missed our train out of Vienna because we read the board wrong and were standing on the wrong platform! About the time we realized it, the train doors locked, and we were stuck  at West Bahnhof. But, another train was headed to Salzburg in an hour, and there was another train leaving Salzburg for Munich an hour after we were to arrive in Salzburg. Our train ended up being delayed 45 minutes, so we had to run when we got to Salzburg, but we made it to Munich!! We were the last ones, but it was okay.
We went on a bike ride on Friday. We rode through Englischer Garten. It. was. gorgeous!! Think Mary Poppins. It really looked like something out of a musical. Mensch. We also got to see a lot of cool historical sites/buildings as we rode through downtown Munich. So much fun!
Yesterday, David, Wanni, Danielle, Sister Constante, and one of our Persians came to church!! It was so great!
After church, we met with David. Mariusz, a native of Poland from Wien II who sat with David in church to help with translation, stayed for the lesson. His German is way better than his English, so the English-speaking sisters taught in German for it to be translated into Polish. Oh, the joys of serving in the international ward. :] But David is great, and he is still on track for his baptism!!
I think that is about everything for this week! Good luck with school and work and such!
Ich liebe euch!!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, September 10, 2012

Liebe Familie,
This week was so great!! So many wonderful things happened; it is hard to narrow down what to write about.
First of all, we have an investigator with a baptismal date!!! Elder Bassett and Elder Moon, in Wien 1, met David. David is about 27 and comes from Poland. He doesn´t speak much English, but speaks even less German, so they gave him to us. We taught the first lesson to him with Elder Bassett and Elder Moon. We had to speak very slowly so he could understand, but at the end, we asked him to be baptized. He thought about it for a moment, then asked, ‘’When?`` We set the date for the 29 September, and he asked what time. So, not only do we have a baptismal date, but we have a time! We are so excited for David! And, we have a guy in our ward who served his mission in Chicago, Polish-speaking. What a blessing he has been. He came to our second lesson with David to help translate. David understood so much more, and it was neat to hear him express his feelings (as he had had a hard time with that in English). We are so so so excited about David!
That was on Wednesday. Earlier on Wednesday, we had an appointment with a less-active. She is a widow whose children are inactive, so she doesn’t have a lot of support. She is Philippino, and likes having translators at our lessons. So the other 3 Philippino sisters in our ward are at our lessons. This week, Sister Dalit brought a friend. We all thought she was a member because we were teaching about Faith and Tithing, and Dolores was over there bearing her testimony the whole time. Then at the end, she said, ‘’I don’t belong to any particular faith, but I know how important faith in God is.’’ Sister Banban then said, ‘’I thought you were baptized Catholic…’’ Dolores retorted, ‘’That is not a baptism. For baptism, you have to go under the water. ‘’ I said, ‘’Yeah, you do!’’ Long story short, we have a new investigator. :)
Thursday was also great. We had my first meal appointment. It was lunch with the Hirschmanns. Every week, they invite the missionaries in their ward and the sisters over for lunch. The Hirschmanns are great. They are an older couple, and Sister Hirschmann has a big ordeal every week about who sits where. Then, when you are assigned to your seat, you do not move. After dinner, we always sing songs, and I played the piano. They got so excited when they learned this, and they just belted all of the songs as loud as they could.  We told Brother Hirschmann during dinner that we thought he could be one of the three Nephites because he is so old and wise, and he nodded and smiled and said, ‘’Yeah, that is right!’’ So, I have now met two of the three Nephites.
That night, we went to visit Bright, another less active. We felt impressed to prepare a lesson on the First Vision. Bright had a friend there who was not a member. Apparently we have given her a Book of Mormon before, but she thought Mormons were weird, and did not read it. But this time, she was ready for the message. She was very intrigued. When we started explaining the Book of Mormon, I felt impressed to share 2 Nephi 25:26. Until this point, the lesson was for Bright, but I also felt that her friend, Temi, needed to read it. She did, put the book on the coffee table and said, ‘’You guys believe in Jesus?’’ We nodded and told her that we do. Sister Stewart started to bear testimony, but Temi cut her off and said, ‘’I thought you worshipped Joseph Smith and Mormon. But this says here that all you do is for Jesus. You talk of Him. You preach of Him. Everything is for Him.’’ Yes, we have another new investigator. :)
I also ate my first Dönner this week. Wow. They are just as good (if not better) as everyone has been saying they are. My goodness. No words to describe them.
We teach English at the YAE Center every Tuesday and Thursday. We have been having a couple of Iranian families that have been coming. We have been trying to locate Persian Books of Mormon for them because they want some, and our apartment is out. We had a joint teach with Wien 3 on Saturday night, and they had some, so they brought them along. We were standing at the Bahnhof waiting to meet up with Kevin, holding these Persian Books of Mormon, when a man walked past, stopped, turned around, and asked, ‘’What language is that?’’ We told him it was Persian, and he asked if he could see the book. As he looked at it, he explained that he was raised in Iran, and he didn’t understand why we would be standing there with Persian Books of Mormon. After a little more discussion, he asked if he could borrow the book. We told him he could keep it, and he was floored. We gave him an English one, too, so he could compare the translations if there was a question. We don’t have a new investigator because he lives in Zwettl, but the elders in St. Pölten do! And that is where Jake’s friend, Houston, is serving! So that is exciting for them!
Yesterday at church, David, Bobby, and Carmy all came!! That was so exciting, especially for David because he needs to attend three times before his baptism, and we had exactly three Sundays! Also at church, a friend of a member in our ward, Danielle, came. Danielle is in her mid-20s and works at the UN building. She had been once before, and I had no clue she wasn’t a member (especially considering she bawled in Relief Society when she read a scripture). At the end of sacrament meeting (the third hour), she came up to us and said, ‘’Um, I want to learn more.’’ She is going to be such a golden investigator, and we have our first appointment with her on Wednesday!
Oh, and I got J-Dubbed for the first time. That was interesting.
The Lord really is helping us in this work!! Things are going so well here!! I am so grateful to be here.
I hope things are going well there, too!  
Ich liebe euch!!
Sister Stephanie Reid :) 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Liebe Familie,
Ich bin in Österreich! Könnet ihr daß glauben?
My last week in the MTC was good. We finally got to hear from an apostle! Neil L. Andersen came. It was so great to hear from a prophet. It was also neat to get to know Elder Andersen’s personality a little better. He reported on President Monson’s birthday, and as such, he talked about what President Monson would teach us if he were there. He had 10 points that were common phrases of President Monson, and he expounded on them. He talked a lot about trusting in the Lord, that the Lord knows what’s best. It was such a great talk, and the spirit was so strong.
Elder Moon broke his finger on Thursday during basketball, and they wanted to keep him for six more weeks! He had a small hairline fracture, and the doctor wanted to send him to a specialist. For a broken finger! It was the most ridiculour thing on the planet. Our branch president and first counselor are both radiologists, and even they had trouble finding the crack. Elder Moon had to call his mom on Saturday to tell her he might not be flying to Deutschland on Tuesday. Elder Moon received a blessing from his companion, and we had a district-wide (including other elders from our zone) fast for him on Sunday. On Sundays at lunch, Wednesdays at lunch, and Wednesdays at dinner, we get ice cream. Sunday’s lunch would be our last time eating ice cream in the MTC, and that was sacrificed for Elder Moon. I think the Lord understood how upset and distraught we all were over missing our ice cream, because the next day, the doctor practically had no idea what Elder Moon was talking about when he went in to receive the final word. It had been this huge ordeal (of which even the president of the MTC was aware), and then all of a sudden, he had no clue what was going on. So Elder Moon flew with us to Deutschland!! Fasting and the priesthood work, people. Period.
Tuesday morning was crazy, but good. We left the MTC at 8:00, and headed to the Salt Lake airport. We got all checked in, and then Sister Perkins, Elder Gochnour, Elder Gochnour, and I headed to Cafè Rio. We were so excited for our last Mexican food for 16 (or 22) months, and the fact that it wasn’t MTC Mexican food. It was sooooo delicious!!
We flew on a little plane from Salt Lake to Seattle. In Seattle, I called Dad, and then it was time to board our plane to Amsterdam. The Seattle airport was a little weird because at the MTC, everyone smiles at you as you walk past. In the Salt Lake airport, not as many friendly people, but still a lot of people greeting us, and such. But in Seattle, nothing. One woman stopped us to ask us where we were going (she had served her mission in Thailand), but everyone else gave us funny stares. We all commented on what an odd adjustment that was. :)
The flight to Amsterdam was good. It as an 8 ½ hour flight. We all tried so hard to sleep on the plane, but it didn’t really work. Elder Aardema couldn’t sleep, either.  I commented how he even had an empty seat by him, and he asked if I wanted to switch seats. I said maybe later, as I didn’t want to take his nice window seat. After another failed attempt at sleeping, we both ‚woke up‘ at the same time, and he asked again if I wanted to switch seats. I nodded, and slept much better in his seat. He still had trouble sleeping, and decided to wander. While wandering, he ran into a lady who asked him where he was from, usw. He told her he was from America, and she said that she had just come from America. She said ,‚Why aren’t there churches open during the week in America? I looked and I looked, but I could find nowhere to pray.‘‘ Elder Aardema explained how we don’t have to pray in church, and he started quoting scriptures from the Book of Mormon. She was very excited/interested and wanted to know more. He excused himself and went back to his seat to get a Book of Mormon and mark the parts with the answers to her questions. He could not find her again until after the plane landed, when she stood up only two rows in front of him! I woke up for the last little bit of the flight, and Elder Aardema told me all about it, and about how frustrated he was that he couldn’t find her again, but that he knew why he hadn’t been able to sleep: he had something to do. It was so cool!
We had an hour and a half layover in Amsterdam because we got out of Seattle faster than expected. It was good we had, because the Amsterdam airport was huge! It took almost half an hour just to walk from where we landed to where our take-off gate was! And we had to clear customs, too. Elder Putkonin got felt up, but I was okay.
We freshened up in the bathroom, then it was off to Munich. We walked on the pavement to get on our tiny airplane. Elder Moon and I both stopped on the stairs and looked out at Amsterdam. It was so unreal that we were boarding for our last flight to our actual mission.
This flight was quite enjoyable, seeing the European countryside. Elder Aardema was finally able to sleep, and I looked out the window the whole time. It was only an hour flight, and the Austrian family next to me was laughing at us missionaries‘ excitement. They were very friendly, though!
We landed in Munich, and the APs were on the other side of the glass waving so excitedly. We picked up our luggage, and the mission president, his wife, and the APs flocked to greet us. Sister Miles threw her arms around me, and the others excitedly shook my hand. Elder Carter was so excited to meet me. My mission papers went in from Cedar City, where he is from, and he was excited to have more represenatation. He apologized profusely that he did not remember me, but hoped I would forgive him. I laughed and explained that although I did live in Cedar for three years, I was not in high school with him. We do know a lot of the same people, though, so that was neat.
We loaded our suitcases and backpacks, were given Bücher Mormon, the APs took us to Bahnhof, and we were instructed to place one. Sister Graf is from Germany, and was in the Preston MTC. She stuck with Sister Perkins and me. I picked where to sit. Sister Perkins sat and smiled, and Sister Graf and I talked to this middle-aged woman. She was very polite. At first she was apprehensive of the Book of Mormon. But after more chatting, she asked ‚,Where is my book?‘‘ when she was getting off the train. It was so cool!
After that, I don’t remember a whole lot, as I was very jet-lagged, and they made us stay awake. We were alotted a 20 minute nap at one point, but other than that, awake!
I was assigned to Wien IV with Ssiter Stewart. It’s an international ward, so we teach lessons in English, sometimes with interpreters. We have to work very hard at our German, since we don’t have as many opportunities as the other missionaries to practice, but it will be okay.
Sorry this letter is so long, and I will write more later!!
Viel Glück! Ich liebe euch!!
Sister Stephanie Reid