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!!

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