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

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