Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Liebe Familie,
This week was pretty dang amazing.
On Tuesday, we met with Danielle. She is doing so well! She told us she is glad she waited until now to get baptized. Before, she always had a little anxiety, or something. But she said for the first time, she is genuinely excited for her baptism! She feels ready. It was a good lesson to us to see that the Lord really does have His own timetable. We often don't understand why things can't happen when we want them to, how we want them to. But, the Lord knows what is best for us. Now, the baptism can be a much more positive experience for Danielle! And we have time to prepare a really great baptism gift for her! We will have everyone write their testimonies (on colored paper, of course) while she is changing. Then we will put them in a binder for her (with a picture from her baptism on the front). We also gave papers to people who will be out of town, but who really meant a lot to her. Also, Danielle will be in England with her parents for Christmas. So, we are making an Adventskalendar for her with talks and spiritual thoughts to read each day until the end of the year (we couldn't stop two days before the end of the year, now could we?). Danielle is doing so well, and we are so excited for her to finally be baptized!
After Danielle's appointment on Tuesday, we visited Binod and Neeta, a couple from Nepal living with some less-actives in our ward. We taught about prophets and Christ's earthly ministry. And do you know what? We also set a baptismal date with them that night!! We set it for the 30. December, and they were very excited! Also, the inactives have become more and more active as we have been meeting with their roommates. They have been so excited to help their friends learn about the gospel, and it's helping them remember why they got baptized. So that has been fun to see, too!
We had my first Zone Conference this week, so that was nice. After Zone Conference, when we were all pumped up to talk to people, Sister Leben and I found a toll guy named Gerhardt. We struck up a conversation on the Straßenbahn, and he was so cool! He is in his 60s, and he said he had been part of the Vienna Christian Group, but he didn't like them as they demanded too much money from them. He said they were too aggressive. We gave him a card as we got out and asked him for his number. He said he would call us on Monday and left. Normally, I would think, ''Well, hopefully other missionaries find him later.'' But, Sister Leben and I both thought, ''I actually think he will call!'' He did not call on Monday. He called that night!! He said he got home and could not stop thinking that he needed something we had to offer. So he visited the website on the card, saw a picture of the temple, felt the spirit, and wanted to meet the next night. He had many questions for us the next night, but he is so cool. He will visit his parents for Christmas, so we can't meet for a few weeks, but he said he will read in the Book of Mormon and call us when he gets back. Mensch. He is so cool. Unfortunately, since he speaks German, we will have to give him to the 2nd ward elders, but we are still glad we could help!
Things with the companions are still going well! Sister Stewart is so great at finding little acts of service everyday. And Sister Leben helps me with my German and tells us jokes every night before we go to sleep. The three of us have a lot of fun together!
That's all for now! I can't wait to see you guys next week! Have a great week!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, December 10, 2012

Liebe Familie,

This was a crazy week, but it was good. Sister Stewart and I have determined that anyone's first week anywhere is never a normal one. This week did not disprove our theory in the least.
On Monday, Sister Stewart and I went to Graz. We wandered around THE Weihnachtsmarkt there, and then Sister Stewart headed back to Wien with Sisters Pingree and Kleiner (Sister Kleiner is from Stuttgart, but is serving in Graz because she is supposed to be serving in Wisconsin, but does not have her visa. So, they are letting her start her mission here. This prevents future missionaries sitting at home, twiddling thumbs while they wait for visas. Such persons will hereafter be referred to as 'visa waiters.'). Sister Holmstead and I stayed in Graz that night and were able to get some work done. We went to this place that Sister Holmstead and Sister Pingree have christianed (but most likely without the lengthy process and\or hand signals. So actually, they just nick-named it) the House of Miracles. About half of their investigators live in this building. These are very poor people who are down and out of luck. It is not the best of living conditions, but they are there trying to turn their lives around. They are some of the most humble people, and they are searching for something better. One of their current investigators is trying to quite smoking and drinking. He has asked the sisters to drop by unannounced everyday to check on him. If he doesn't know they are coming, he can't be prepared to not have smoked in the last few hours, or something. This way, he is always on his guard. He is starting to get much better now! So, we visited him, and picked up another lesson while we were there, along with two new investigators (it was as though I was on a mission in the Phillipines!). It was very cool. And they kept complimenting me on my German, so that was nice, too!
Tuesday was great, too. We taught a less-active and made a lot of progress with her. She finally opened up to us, and Sister Holmstead was very grateful for that. We also went door to door inviting people to their ward Christmas party. And we ended up dooring into a former potential investigator! That was very cool. He had been stand-offish before, but that day he was excited to see us. He also gave us the address to where he was moving, and the address of a former investigator. He asked us to come visit them the next day, so we picked up another new investigator that day, too! 
We had ward council that night. I was a little bored, but it was okay because I got a phone call during ward council. Sisters Stewart, Pingree, and Kleiner were teaching Danielle Tuesday night. After dinner and the lesson, she announced a decision she had made the day before. Then, she called me to inform me. ''I just wanted to let you know that I have decided it's time for me to be baptized. So I'm getting baptized on Saturday!!'' she said. I was so very happy for her and came back into ward council just beaming. She said she had felt impressed to read through the interview questions again. Upon reading through them, she realized she knew all of the stuff she needed to be baptized (which is what a told her a week ago:D), so she should just do it already.
Wednesday morning, we switched back. We had district meeting and finding day in Wiener Neustadt, and we found a really cool woman for them!
Thursday morning, we went back to the train station to pick up Sister Kleiner. Sisters Pingree and Holmstead had been informed Monday that they needed to be in Munich on Thursday for Zone Leader Training. But, they said it was unnecessary for three of them to go (travel is kind of expensive here), so we were to watch Sister Kleiner while they went. It ended up being such a blessing in disguise to have Sister Kleiner. First of all, communication was very lacking this week. On Tuesday, Sister Stewart pulled a nametag out of the mailbox that said ''Sister Leben'' on it. She called the mission president to ask what to do with it, since none of us are named Sister Leben. He said we were getting a visa waiter and didn't know why the office hadn't called. It's a good thing her nametag came so we knew to go get her! We had to pick her up during English class on Thursday. But, with Sister Kleiner, we only had to ask one member to go on splits with me to go get Sister Leben from the airport, as Sister Kleiner and Sister Stewart could stay and teach English. Sister Leben comes from northern Germany, and is 24 (?) years old. She is very sweet. 
The next day, Sister Stewart got sick. But, since there were four of us, we could leave two people at home, and two people could get work done. So, in the afternoon, Sister Kleiner and I went by on the Vietnamese family. They are doing well and seem enthusiastic for us to return. That night, Sister Leben and I were supposed to visit Bright, a less-active, at 7. At 5:30, she called to inform us she wouldn't be there. I would normally have been frustrated, but I felt at peace that it was okay that Bright wasn't there. I asked what was wrong, and Bright said she was with her friend, Temi (whom we met my first week here, but she had no further interest) whose husband passed away yesterday. Then Temi got on the phone and asked if we would come. So we hurried to Temi's house and answered her questions about the Book of Mormon and eternal marriage. She was so interested, and we set up another appointment for this week! Also, BRIGHT FINALLY CAME TO CHURCH YESTERDAY!!!!!! 
The Graz sisters stayed at our house Friday night, so we had to borrow extra pillows and blankets from the elders and Danielle (who, by the way, decided Thursday to move her date to the 29th so her male friend can be there). But it was way fun:]
We taught Wanni about fasting on Saturday. She said that the only thing that is keeping her from being baptized is her dad's lack of support (this is especially important as he could cut her off financially if she makes him too upset). We taught her that fasting is another way she can help her dad. She loved the idea so much, that we all fasted yesterday and broke the fast together. Wanni is really making a lot of progress, and her dad is slowly but surely coming around to the idea of Wanni learning about the church! 
Sorry this was a long letter, but as I said at the beginning, it was a crazy week. But, a lot of big things happened, and this will be a great transfer. 
Have fun continuing to prepare for Christmas
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, December 3, 2012

Liebe Familie,
As November has come to a close, I feel the need to begin this epistle with a list. 

Things That Broke This Month
  • cup
  • my ankle (not really - I only twisted it (yes, again (and, yes, falling down the stairs again (I actually had to admit that was how it happened this time as my usual feats (skydiving, usw.) were not activities in which I would be engaging as a missionary))), but I feel it sort of belongs on the list)
  • handy (only for 12 hours - Sister Stewart incorrectly inserted the SIM card, so we had to go to the Orange store the next morning to have surgery performed - but it is functioning once more)
  • Sister Stewart's necklace
  • Sister Stewart´s pen
  • my twisty-top pen
  • washing machine 
  • front door handle
Yup, this month was pretty great! No, but really. It was:]

This week was very lovely, but the weekend was definitely the most story-worthy part of the week. On Thursday, we started teaching Binod and Neeta, roommates of some less-actives in our ward. They come from Nepal. They said they don´t even know what Nepali people believe, and are very open and willing to learn about our beliefs. We have to take things slowly, but not too slowly. It helps that they live with members and are so open-minded for sure! They are so cute, and we love them already! They even were in church on Sunday, and just seemed to be having a great time! 
The less-active couple has a six-month-old baby. She is the cutest baby. She has dark hair, long, dark, curly eyelashes, and is almost-always smiling. Since she is six-months-old, she can start eating solid food. In Nepal, instead of having baby showers, they have rice ceremonies. And we got invitied. Sister Stewart said that in countries with high mortality rates, they celebrate the birth of the baby after the baby is old enough that they are sure he\she will actually live. When they excitedly asked us to be in attendance, we weren't entirely sure what a rice ceremony was. We knew Adrika would be eating rice for the first time, but that was about it. It was an actual ceremony! We were there on Saturday night, along with a few of their other Nepali friends, and another couple in the ward. They laid out a blanket on the floor. The mother held Adrika. In front of them was a plate with dry rice (an oil lamp atop the mound), a plate with cooked rice (made red with food coloring) and rose petals, and a bowl of rice pudding. Everyone took turns getting on the blanket, facing the baby, putting some red rice on her forehead (and rose petals on her head, if he\she desired), feeding her a bite of rice pudding, and giving her a present. It was very cool, and there was Nepali music playing in the background. Then we all enjoyed a Nepali feast. It was so yummy! And Adrika was just so excited the entire time (she loves attention and will start screaming during lessons if attention is not at least some-what focused on her. So, the rice ceremony was definitely on her list of Top 5 Best Days).
We also did service for the UN Charity Bizarre all day Friday and Saturday. We, along with the other missionaries in Wien, helped set up, helped with parking, and then helped at coat check. During coat check, Elder Johnson joked that we should give out their numbers (the numbers that they give us so we know on what hooks hang their coats) on pass-along cards. I suggested giving them number holders, aka Books of Mormon. But, we did get to do some missionary work afterall! A woman came up to us at one point to get her coat back. Elder Johnson left to grab the coats, I asked the woman where she was from. She said Peru, then she turned to (what I'm assuming was) her husband and said, ''He is from New Jersey.'' I got very excited as he is a man who speaks English - someone the Elders can teach! Elder Johnson returned, and the woman asked where we were from. I told her we were from Utah, and she asked where we had learned to speak German so well. We told her, and also told her we teach German classes twice a week. We wrote down the address of the church and center where the language classes are held, and she was so excited! I asked if we could have her number, so she wrote down her name, number, and address! She was very excited, and she left. So, that was very cool!
Yesterday, Sister Stewart and I met with Danielle again. She is finally back in town! On our way home from her place, we ride the U-Bahn for one stop, then we pick up the Straßenbahn for about 8 stops. Since the U-Bahn ride is only one stop, we usually don't sit and talk to people. But there was someone we had to meet. So, about half-way between the stations, we saw a flash of light out of the window accompanied by a loud bang! Sister Stewart and I thought it was weird, and then the U-Bahn skidded to a halt. Then we thought it was very weird. We waited for a bit. The driver came over the loudspeaker and said there was a problem with the train (no kidding), and to be patient. We decided to sit down. We sat across from a mother and her son. I was about to greet her in German, when she said something to her son in English! I asked where she was from. She said she was from Austria, but she and her husband wanted her son to learn English, so they speak English in the home. We talked for a long time, as the train was broken. She gave us her business card, and told us to call her if we ever needed help with anything. We gave her a pass-along card. I gave her an English one, and Sister Stewart said, ''That one's in English. Here is a German one. Unless, would you like to attend church in English?'' The mother was very excited about the aspect of church in English - this would be another place for them to practice, if nothing else! She asked if they had a program for children, so excitedly explained the format of church, in particular the primary. They were both so excited to come next Sunday! And. We got to walk out of the U-Bahn tunnel! I have always wanted to do that! Definetly an awesome night!
Well, that is all for now! 
May the force be with you.
Ich liebe euch!
Sister Stephanie Reid