Monday, November 26, 2012

Liebe Familie,
This last week was ever so excellent! We picked up three new investigators and had a day of miracles! Not too shab... :]
We teach English classes every Tuesday and Thursday. The vast majority of the people who come are people from Iran. They are Christian or Zoroastrian, and are seeking assylum. For them, Austria is a momentary stopping-point on their way to America. In order to assist the visa process for America, they need to learn English. So, in addition to the other classes they are all signed up for, they attend our classes as an extra boost. They love being there. One woman was supposed to fly out three weeks ago, but didn´t have the proper signatures at the ready, and the seats on the plane got bought. She told us, "I don´t mind. Now I have more time to spend with you! We are so grateful we have this place to come to." They are some of the coolest people I have ever met. Anyway, there was one woman, Anita, who started attending last week. After her second class, she told us, "There is something different about this place. You are all so happy, beautiful, and energetic. I want to know why." Sister Stewart and I started teaching her. We taught her twice, and yesterday, she brought her husband, son, and three friends to church with her! They stayed for all three hours. We have two people in our ward who speak Persian natively, so that was super helpful. Anita is so cool, and we are excited to keep teaching her!
Wednesday, we went to Wiener Neustadt for District Meeting. It was at the Ehepaar Thurn´s apartment. The bishop in the Wiener Neustadt ward and his wife wanted to make us missionaries a Thanksgiving feast. So, we had what they thought was Thanksgiving food. We had chicken (understandable, as turkey is incredibly expensive here) (I like chicken better anyway), Rotkohl (perhaps they confused this with cranberry sauce?), what was supposed to be stuffing (not entirely sure what that was), Almdudler to drink, and muffins. It was very tasty, but it was certainly like no other Thanksgiving feast I have ever eaten!
That night, the elders, Sister Stewart, and I met with Brown. He is a less-active in our ward with whom we have lost contact for the last two months. Then, he called us a few days ago and said, "I miss you people! When can we meet?" Sister Stewart and I were there to introduce Brown to the elders so they can start working with him. He is a hoot and a half (I think he actually qualifies as two hoots - for example, when we were meeting with him, we asked him if he had been praying. He said, "Yes, when, for example, I see a bunch of snakes. I say, ´Lord, deliver me from the snakes!´" Not sure where he is seeing these snakes in Austria, let alone Vienna, but glad to know he didn´t stop praying entirely:D). And he came to church on Sunday! It is so rewarding helping the less actives come back to church!
Friday was a day of miracles. First of all, we had four appointments (a miracle in and of itself), and second of all, none of them fell out (you have no idea what a miracle that is)! We met with Joy, the woman who just showed up at church last week. Apparently, she met with the sisters last year. She stopped meeting with them for one reason or another. She recently lost her job, and remembered how good things were when she was meeting with the missionaries last year. So, she decided to come back. She is from Nigeria and is so cool and so spirited! We also met with Wanni, and she is doing well as always! Then we met with Sarita, a less-active in our ward. She wants to do FHE, but does not know where to start. Sister Stewart and I went over to do FHE with her. We taught a lesson and played UNO with her and the married couple with whom she and her husband abide. After the closing prayer, Sarita said, ´´They have something to tell you.´´ The couple just smiled. So Sarita said, ´´They would like you to start teaching them!´´ They excitedly nodded their heads. We gave them Books of Mormon, and they invited us to Adrika (Sarita´s baby)´s Rice Ceremony this week. We ended the evening by meeting with Bright, another less active in our ward. She just got back from Italy, and is doing really well. She loves when we visit, and wants to come to church, but she has a crazy work schedule. So we continue meeting with her and strengthening her. Oh, and I bought my first Christmas present this day, too! I bought the game of Harry Potter Lego. I had a lot of fun putting it together, and Sister Stewart and I have had fun playing it!
Well, I best let yáll go! Have a wonderful week! 
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, November 19, 2012

Liebe Familie,
Transfer calls came on Friday, and Sister Stewart and I will remain in the Vienna International Ward for yet another transfer. So, no news there:]
We met with Danielle twice this week, on Monday and Wednesday. Monday, we had dinner and FHE with the bishop and his family. That was a hoot and a half (it could have possible qualified for two hoots, but I have no access to the hoot scale, so I am not the authority on what items are required to bump events\people to the next level of hoots)! The bishop is Filipino, and his wife is from Wales. They have three children with English accents. I could listen to them speak all day. Danielle absolutely loved them! We talked about receiving answers to prayers. It was very wonderful! Danielle drove us home (did I mention she takes notes during our lessons, too?) and talked about how much she appreciated and learned. On Wednesday, we had a JAE with us who served in the St. George mission. Danielle was able to list a bunch of reasons to get baptized. Then she said, ''But, on the other hand...'' and paused. She could think of no reasons! The only reason is honestly that she needs the courage and conviction to be baptized. She has gone to the states to be with her significant other for Thanksgiving, so we will see her again the first weekend of December. Hopefully her flame (or a member of his family would be fine, too) will be able to say something that will make her not want to wait any longer. So, we will keep praying for her, and see her when she gets back!
We also met with Wanni twice this week! She is, likewise, so close to baptism. She also knows it is a step she needs to make, but is concerned that her dad isn't standing behind her. Her mother encourages her to come to church; she knows that God loves Wanni, and wants her to continue to feel that love. But her father thinks it is a scummy idea, and Wanni doesn't want to cause contention in the family. But she is so excited to continue to learn more. We also started a sticker system with her. She gets one sticker for every day that she reads, another one for every day that she prays, two stickers when she meets with us, and three stickers when she comes to church. She LOVES the stickers! And that is slightly an understatement. She also told us that before she started meeting with us, she was depressed and apathetic all the time. But now, she is happy and excited about life! Wanni is so cool and so close!! 
David finally came back to church! Yes, he was in church on Sunday! It's a good thing the Lord helped Sister Pingree and me to run into him last week. We had lost all contact with him before then. This week, he called us on Thursday and asked if we could meet. We had appointments all day, but tried to schedule something for the next day. Unfortunately, I think David works a temp job, because he never knows his schedule until practically that day. And we also need to coordinate with the elders so we can pass him over (passing over investigators is always so awkward). But at least we have contact with him again! That is a HUGE step!
Yesterday, a woman named Joy came to church. Although Sister Stewart and I are still trying to figure out the beginning of this story, Joy showed up yesterday morning when the German-speaking ward was starting for church. She stayed through all three hours before someone told her they speak English at 1:30. So, she stayed for our three hour block, too!!! She is so cool! I got her number, and we are going to try to meet with her this week. She is from Nigeria and is looking for work, so she doesn't know how free her schedule is, but she is very cool.
Well, I am sure y'all have things to get to, so I will end this epistle. The Christmas markets opened on Saturday, and although it is getting cold, the town is so festive and fun! This will be another great transfer:]
Ich habe euch Lieb!
Liebe Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, November 12, 2012

Liebe Familie,
On Wednesay, we had our Austausch of the transfer. This time, I stayed in Vienna, and Sister Stewart went to Graz. It was so crazy running the show! But, I did not get Sister Pingree and myself lost, I did not lose any investigators, and the apartment did not burn down in flames! But, really, it was a day of miracles!
We left for Mürzuschlag after English class Tuesday night and made the tausch. Sister Pingree and I got on the train back for Wien, and Sister Holmstead and Sister Stewart waited for the next train to Graz. Sister Pingree is my grandma:] We got home with the intention of hurrying and planning and then going to bed. Originally, Sister Pingree was going to go with me to district meeting, we would go finding in Wiener Neustadt in the afternoon, and then teach Danielle that night. But district meeting got moved around 5:00 Tuesday night because the elders in our ward had scheduled an appointment during district meeting that they couldn´t move (it´s a long story, but it was very important that they met with this investigator). So, district meeting got moved to Saturday (as that was the next day we all had free), and I had a blank day to fill! Just a half hour later, one of the cute little Filipino sisters in our ward called and asked if we could meet on Wednesday (this is the group of 70 year old women with whom we meet every week). The day had just opened up, so we scheduled the appointment for 1:00. There was still some time in between Danielle and the Filipino appointment. I didn´t just want to go finding, but every person I called was too busy (or wouldn´t answer her phone). When Sister Pingree and I were planning Tuesday night, I presented this problem to her. She told me that they had had an investigator in Graz who had moved to Vienna just a week ago. She asked if we could meet with him to introduce him to the elders and make sure he is still alive. I, of course, agreed that was a good idea. She called Aref, and he had time to meet. We then contacted the elders of the ward he would attend and arranged with them. It was one miracle after another coordinating that, ps. It was incredible how I could not get that time filled until we were filling it with the correct activity.
So Wednesday, we met with the Filipinoes. Sister Pingree is 6 feet tall, and the Filipinos are no more than 5 feet tall. She was so excited to meet them, and they absolutely loved Sister Pingree. They kept asking questions like, ''What is your shoe size?'' It was so funny! And the less-active sister was so strengthened (as always).
Then we left to meet Aref. He is so cool. He was born in Afghanistan. When he was 6 months old, the Taliban bombed his house, killing his family. He does not know if he has siblings, or not. He was a slave to a man for awhile. He treated him very badly. Everyone kept telling Aref that man was not his father and that he needed to escape. He finally did, and walked to Iran. In Iran, he learned about Christianity. There was a group of people who met secretly to learn about it (this has turned out to be such a blessing for so many reasons - the teaching has been so much easier since he knows what ordinance are, for example). The government learned about it, and they came one day during a meeting killing everyone in the house. Aref was safe because he hid in a cupboard that was not checked. He then fled to Greece. He learned Greek (he can´t read it, but he understands it very well - they have him listen to conference talks in Greek quite often). I can´t remeber exactly what he did here. But one day, he needed to leave. So, he took a giant sleeping pill, got in the trunk of a car, and two days later woke up in Austria. Sister Pingree and Sister Holmstead found him giving away pass-along-cards to people as they were underway, and they heard him say, ''Taufe, taufe.'' He had been given the card with Jesus being baptized on it. They turned around, and got his information. He understands and speaks okay German, but they have the Persian to English dictionary at the lessons to look up the big words. We met him at the JAE center. We told him he could come here to read the Book of Mormon (he hadn´t had a chance to read since he got to Vienna being that he has Muslim roommates). It is so incredible to meet these people that go to such measures for Jesus Christ. Aref is also investigating the Catholic church. He knows one of these two churches is true, he just doesn´t know which one. The Wien 2 Elders are white washing right now, so they have a little more time than most missionaries. They are doing a great job of taking care of Aref. And it definitely put Sister Pingree at ease to see that he was alive (a very real concern) and had someone to take care of him.
We met with Danielle that night. Danielle loves Sister Pingree (Sister Pingree had taught her another time) (let's face it, who doesn't?). We watched Elder Holland´s talk ``Safety for the Soul.`` Danielle committed to finish the Book of Mormon by Thanksgiving. She also opened up so much to us at the end of the lesson. We are finally uncovering that iceberg. The entire lesson, the Lord was definitely putting the words in our mouths. Sister Pingree and I both walked out and commented how that was not us teaching that lesson.
Though it is hard to express in words, it truly was one miracle after another that whole day!
Saturday when we went to meet with Danielle, she told us she had been feeling very frustrated and emotionally drained a few days prior. So, she started reading in the Book of Mormon. About 20 minutes in, she felt this calming peace, and she didn´t feel sad anymore. So, she kept reading. She adjusted her goal; she resolved to read the Book of Mormon before church yesterday. Which she did! We didn´t have a chance to chat too much about it, so stay tuned for next week when we learn the results!
Yesterday, in church, we were learning about food storage. Sister Picard told the story of the ant and the grasshopper. She was so excited because it is originally a French story, and she is from France. Then Sister Appiateng finished the story for her by saying, ''That is not the end of the story. After the ant tells the grasshopper he may dance all winter long since he sang all summer long, the grasshopper starves to death because he did not have the food in his food storage. So the ant takes the grasshopper, and the ant has even more food storage!!'' Everybody lost it! Then Sister Appiateng's sister, the teacher, said, ''That ant was not very charitable...'' It was about the funniest thing ever! It took a few minutes to get the class calmed back down again. And that is advantage #24 of having Africans in your ward - stories with endings like that are not told in traditional wards:]
I think I have rattled on enough. But things are going so well! We meet the coolest people and see miracles everyday (somedays they are harder to find than others, but they are there). The Lord is truly helping us in this part of the vineyard!
Ich habe euch Lieb!
Sister Stephanie Reid
P.S. Come March, we will receive 26 sister missionaries in that transfer (we have 24 now). It is amazing to see how quickly we are being affected by President Monson´s announcement!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Liebe Familie,
Well, another week has come and gone. Although this week was a little slower (presumable due to the mid-transfer blues, low temperatures, or a combination of the two), it was still full of miracles!
So, we have been teaching a man and wife for a few weeks now. The woman is an American, the man a German. I did not know until last week, though, that she is from... (you will not believe this)... Yakima. Of all places for someone to be from! I could not remember people's last names, though! It was a little embarrassing... I kept thinking, "There is Aunt Linda (who married two guys named Charles), Uncle Wink, Uncle Del, Dean and Shelly, but what are their last names? Then I remembered Uncle Wink's actual first name is not Wink. But that was a few days later (I may be in Europe, but those blonde moments still come). Anyway, if you could write me back with the relatives who live in that area of the country, and include their last names, that would be great. Thanks!
Halloween was this week, but we hardly knew it. Sister Stewart's mother sent her a Halloween package, so we brought Halloween candy to district meeting on Wednesday. The elders saw the candy and said, "When is Halloween?" "It's today, Man." "Oh? Well, I dressed up as a missionary then." "Aw, man! You stole my costume!" Yes, we all dressed up as missionaries, hardy har har. But, really. We saw an ad in the Strassenbahn about how to carve a pumpkin (a glorious example for two reasons of the lack of knowledge concerning Halloween 1) In America, we know how to carve a pumpkin. There are not ads on television, or anywhere else, explaining how ones goes about doing that. 2) The day of is far too late to start thinking about and carving one's pumpkins. But perhaps the ad will help people be prepared for next year), and we saw one little girl dressed as a princess (though we think she might have been a tourist). We met with Danielle that night and made a Halloween Funfetti (instead of multi-colored dots in the middle, they were black and orange) cake (Sister Stewart's mother sent a cake mix as we do not have them in Austria. We also do not have powdered sugar, so it was a good thing her mother also sent Funfetti frosting (this, unfortunately, was not Halloween-themed, and we did not feel like picking out all the sprinkles that weren't orange. But it was still exciting!) for Nachtisch. That was very exciting and fun:] The next day, All Saints' Day, was celebrated. There was nobody on the streets. It was crazy!! But I am glad to hear y'all had a fun time celebrating Halloween :]
We also do not have Thanksgiving here, which means that as soon as All Saints' Day is over (or if you are Mueller, as soon as the temperature drops below 20 degrees on a regular basis), Christmas can be set up! The Christmas markets are being built, little advent calenders and stuffed Santas are in the stores, twinkle lights are being strung around the city, and the feeling of Christmas is here. It will be very fun to be in Vienna at Christmas time! It is so exciting already, and it is only the first week of November!
We taught the little Vietnamese family last night. We just ADORE them! We taught about the apostasy and the restoration last night. When we explained that the people killed the apostles, the mother's hands went up to her mouth, her eyes got big, and she gasped. It was so cute:] We gave them the Joseph Smith pamphlet in Vietnamese on Thursday and asked them to read it before we came last night. We ordered the Restoration video in Vietnamese (oddly enough, we didn't have the Asian languages DVD in Vienna. Weird, right?), but they couldn't figure out how to work their DVD player, so we had to watch it in English anyway! But they kept get excited when it would quote parts that Joseph Smith said in the pamphlet - parts they recognized. We left the DVD with them so they can watch it Vietnamese this week on a laptop, or something, and hopefully understand the whole thing. But at the end of movie, we asked if they would pray about if Joseph Smith was a prophet. The dad said, "I believe it!" The mother nodded up and down in agreeance. They are just so receptive to the spirit. They always get so excited when we ask them about reading and praying as a family because, "We just feel so warm when we do it." We brought stickers to entertain the children, and the parents just love having us over. They want so badly to learn as much as they can about Jesus.  They have accepted the soft baptismal commitment twice because they know that is what they need to do. They are, however, very nervous about church because this is all so new, and they just do not know what to expect. The first time we asked them to come to church, they turned us down because, "We will not know when to stand up and sit down, and we do not know the songs or how to sing very well." We explained that they don't ever have to stand up, and not a lot of people can sing very well, but most importantly, we will be right there with them to show them the ropes. The mother is going to try it out this next Sunday! They are just so teachable. We are loving the progress they have already made and are excited about all of the exciting things that lay ahead for them!
I hope that all is well at home. Have a great week!
Alles gute!
Ich liebe euch!
Sister Stephanie Reid
P.S. You should probably learn how to use Skype. That is how I will be calling home on Christmas. You can practice on Michelle, or something. But please be in good practice so I don't have to pay an arm and a leg to call on the phone home. Please and thank you. :]