Monday, January 28, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week was so crazy busy, but it was awesome! The biggest piece of news is, of course, that Wanni got baptized on Saturday!! Getting there was an adventure and a half, but it was such an amazing day!
To start, we had FHE with Binod, Nita, Sarita, and Om on Monday night. I love FHE with them. Sarita taught the lesson, and it was so neat to see how excited she got! She bore such powerful testimony of the importance of tithing. And we were sitting right there to help her out. That has been one of the many blessings we have seen of teaching Binod and Nita. Sarita and Om have been to church so much this past little bit. They are remembering why they first loved the gospel, and are embracing it with open arms once more. Sarita's excitment is so wonderful:] After the lesson, we played UNO with them. I love playing UNO with them, too! For example, Sarita stood and directed traffic, while Om had no clue what was going on (he would put in the wrong card almost every turn, hoping no one would notice. He was laughing the whole time:]), and everyone is trying to juggle the baby. It is just the funniest thing to watch. Sister Schulze had never played UNO with them before, and she was just dying, watching the show unfold.
The rest of the week was just crazy, though. Wanni wanted to get baptized in the building of Wien 3, which really complicated things more than it should have. The problem was there were two other baptisms in that building the same day, and we were struggling coordinating the water and guests. But, as was pointed out, these are the sorts of problems we want to have on our missions: too many people are getting baptized on the same day:]
Wednesday, we had district meeting in Wiener Neustadt. So we had to travel out there, then hurry back to Wien so we could meet with the Relief Society President before hurrying off to our appointment with Binod and Nita. But, we discussed ideas for visiting teachers for Wanni, which was really good. Wanni was so excited when she learned about this program. She thought it was great that everyone is visiting everyone every month. She nodded her head and told us that was definitely a good idea. I'm glad she thinks so! :]
Again, having Sarita living with Binod and Nita is a blessing. That night, we discussed their baptismal program. Binod, not entirely sure what was needed, started to ask what certain things on the list meant. Sarita just grabbed the list and took charge of getting the assignments made. It was the best when she said, ''Two Witnesses... Me and Om!! That was easy!'' Then she saw our faces and said, ''Wait, can we do that?'' We laughed and explained that they have to be Priests. She looked so disappointed that she couldn't be a witness, as she would be really good at that job, and said she would figure out someone else. And Sarita really did take care of everything. We called her this morning to see how things were going, and she reported that she had everything figured out except the musical number. We suggested Csaba (his major is the clarinet), and she said she would call him right away. That was a nice contrast to what happened last week concerning passing the buck...
Friday, I got sick. But it was good because Sister Schulze was on the phone all morning trying to figure everything out with the building for the next day while I slept. That afternoon\evening, I was able to spell her off and finish getting things figured out. The problem was, there was a chain of about four people calling each other trying to coordinate the building, as opposed to people just calling the people with whom they needed to speak. So finally around 7:00 that night, we got to the root of the problem, and were able to make the necessary phone calls to ensure Wanni could still get baptized the next day. It got so frustrating that at one point, both Sister Schulze and Elder Johnson said, ''Why don't we just baptize her in the Donau?'' So, all week long, we were running (well, riding public transportation) around, meeting\speaking with everyone and their grandma, trying to get the whole thing scheduled. But, everything got cleared up, and Wanni got baptized in a warm font the next day!
Wanni's baptism was really great. To say the least. For starters, she sent her dad a copy of the program a couple of days before the baptism to tell him that it was actually going to happen. He told her, 'Congratulations!!' Wanni was so floored that her dad had had such a huge change of heart. She still can't believe it. But, as we remind her, and she knows it, her Heavenly Father really loves her. She doesn't understand why or how He loves her so much, but she knows that He does.
We had a great turn-out, although it wasn't in our building, and there was a confusion concerning the time. I played the musical number at Wanni's baptism, ''I Am a Child of God.'' Although it wasn't the best I had ever played, Wanni was crying (and she said it was because she liked it so much, for the record).
After she came up out of the water, she looked up for the nod of approval, and then said, ''I did it!!'' It was about the cutest thing ever.
Her confirmation the next day was incredible, too. She was told that she has the gift of recognizing truth. How cool is that? And, the best part was when she was told, ''Don't worry about your family. Their hearts will be softened, and the will turn to Jesus Christ as they see your example.'' I kept waiting for the ''as long as you...'' or something like that, but it never came!! That was definitely the coolest promise ever!
Wanni is so wonderful and so happy. Being a part of her conversion process has been truly incredible! I told her that you guys pray for her (you said that you pray for the people I teach, and I thank you for that), and she said to tell you thank you very much. She knows that she would not have gotten baptized had it not been for all of the prayers in her behalf.
This next week will be ba great one, too! I am so so glad to be here serving my mission! This is an incredible work of which to be a part!
Alles Liebe!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, January 21, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week, we had Zone Training. The Graz sisters came into town, stayed at our place, and had a lot of fun:] After interviews on Tuesday, we had planned to have Sister Holmstead and me go visit Bright while Sister Schulze and Sister Jaynes visited Temi. It was a wonderful plan! We could get two lessons done at once! We only forgot one thing. Bright and Temi are friends. Who talk to one another. As most friends do. So, Bright called Temi Tuesday afternoon to chat, and Temi mentioned that we were coming over that night - at 7. Bright also said that she had plans to meet with us - at 7. Oops. So Bright went to Temi's house and called us. I tried to explain that we had extra sisters in town, so we could, in fact, meet both of them at their houses at 7. But Bright was already at Temi's house. So, the four of us went to Temi's house. It was a fun lesson as we explained the steps we needed to take to return to Jesus Christ. Bright bears such powerful testimony, so she was awesome to have there. Unfortunately, we also had to eat (what we think was) horse that night. It didn't taste bad, but it was like chewing on an old boot. I complained to Elder Escher about it, who assured me that if cooked properly, horse meat is fantastic. He is having his mother mail him some so I can try it again and give horse meat a fair chance. Not only did I have to eat horse meat, but I have to eat it again! But it was a really great lesson, and we were able to make out an appointment with Bright for the next day. We were also able to give her a copy of the talk we wanted to discuss so she could read it and be prepared.
The next day was Zone Training, which is always wonderful. We get all pumped up and excited to talk to everyone we see, even though it is below zero and the wind and snow are blowing:]
After Zone Training, we went to Bright's house. We were served chips and Almdudler, an excellent food choice:] We discussed ''The Atonement'' by Elder Bednar. It is also so neat working with Bright. She loves the gospel so much, and just lights up whenever she learns something new. She fell in love with this talk. She showed us the last page and said, ''I really liked this page.'' The whole page had been hi-lighted yellow. :]
After Bright, we went to Binod and Nita's house. Binod was unable to attend as he had been delayed at work. But Sarita was there! We talked about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. We discussed how much care is put into temples, and how they are the cleanest buildings - both spiritually and phyically. It was really neat watching Sarita light up as she excitedly explained what she also knew about the purity of temples to Nita. Sarita and Om are preparing to go to the temple so they can seal their family together. Nita said she would read the pamphlets with Binod. They are such a treat to meet with each time! They feel the spirit so strongly and have such a great desire to follow Jesus Christ.
On Friday, we had no appointments. We decided we would go try to find some former investigators\less-actives, and then plan in the night when it's dark. We wanted to go by on the Cardenas family first. We wandered around the streets around their house for probably an hour trying to find their street. It was cold, windy, and snowy, but we kept going. After awhile, we practically walked straight to their house. We klingeled and said we were the sisters from the Church of Jesus Christ, and she buzzed us in. We came up, and the mother was very excited to see us. A few minutes later, the daughter came home! She had so much interest, and was able to help translate for the mother. It was neat to see that that was why we had had such trouble finding this place - it wasn't time to go over yet! They invited us back for this week, and they said they have a couple of other family members who will want to meet with us! It was awesome:]
The hugest miracle(s) of all happened on Saturday. On Saturday, we met with Wanni. At the previous lesson, Wanni had had a few questions about revelation. So Sister Schulze and I thought it was necessary to spend a lesson on revelation. We also thought we should point out that you need to have specific questions in mind when you pray. We taught about Oliver Cowdry with translating the Book of Mormon. We discussed how you have to study it out in your mind first, then ask God if it's right. We told her that instead of praying, ''Let my dad let me get baptized,'' to exercise some faith and pray, ''I want to get baptized. I think my dad will be ready at some point by the end of the month. Please help me to know when I should ask him.'' And Wanni said something incredible. ''I will ask him right now!!'' she said. Sister Schulze and I could not believe our ears! We suggested that we get down on our knees and pray for the spirit to be with her so that she might know what she should say. We did, and Wanni offered the prayer. We got back into our chairs, and Wanni said, ''I will send him a message. When I call, he doesn't answer - he is a very busy man. But, if I send him a message, Heavenly Father will make sure he reads it when he's ready.'' She pulled out her phone. She said, ''I should say...'' (and I can't remember what she said.) She thought about it for a few seconds and said, ''No, no, no!! That isn't right!''  She thought for a few more seconds and said another idea. She waited, then said, ''Yup! That is what I should write.'' It was so neat watching her listen to the spirit concerning what she needed to say. Sister Schulze and I made some more suggestions of things to write. She took some, but not others, considering carefully which ones her dad needed to hear. She then said, ''You know, if my dad says I can do the baptize, I could get baptized this Saturday!'' We closed the lesson and walked Wanni to the door. Then we sent SMSs to all of the elders in Wien, Wiener Neustadt, and the sisters in Graz. We asked them to get down on their knees and pray for Wanni. At least 16 missionaries had gotten on their knees and prayed for Wanni. We were a little nervous for the rest of the day, yet we felt at peace that everything would work out.
The next day at church, Wanni was a few minutes late. Sister Schulze was a little nervous that perhaps it had something to do with the message she had sent her dad yesterday. I was a little nervous, too, but I still felt oddly at peace. Wanni came in later, with her cute little grin on her face. She sat by Sister Shulze. She told Sister Schulze that her dad said, ''Wanni, you are old enough now to decide for yourself. Think about it, but if that is what you want to do, then go ahead.'' Wanni could not believe the miracle at all! She asked, ''Why? Why? Why would my dad change his mind? Just a few weeks ago, when I mentioned the church, he said to stop going to church and reading in the Book of Mormon. But now, he says I can even be baptized???'' We told her we had had 16 missionaries (and a joint teach from the previous week) praying for her. Also, she was willing to put ALL of her trust in the Lord. She had enough faith to know that her Heavenly Father would help her out, and she acted on that faith. Wanni will be baptized this Saturday, January 26 at 7:00. That was truly a weekend of miracles!
Binod and Nita are also progressing so well towards their baptism. I am so thankful I have this opportunity to help Wanni, Binod, and Nita make the necessary covenants to return to live with their Savior. 
Sister Stephanie Reid

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Liebe Familie,
I feel like I say this every week. But, yet again, this week was crazy, but good!
So, in October, Elder Cox and Elder Carter found a woman named Clara. She comes from South America and lives very close to the zone leaders. They gave her to us, as she speaks better English than German. We started teaching her, and she was awesome! She just soaked up everything we taught. Every lesson with her, the words were just placed in our mouths. She progressed so well so quickly. She mentioned in the second and third lessons that she would have to leave soon to go do rehab on her knee, but she didn't know when that would be. We invited her to General Conference; she was very excited. But she never showed up. For the next two weeks, we tried contacting her, but to no avail. In November we decided that she had probably gone to rehab. We remembered her saying the rehab was about 9 weeks. We calculated when we could start contacting her again and didn't worry about her for a few months. On December 17 (the date we had selected to retry contact), we went vorbei her house and tried calling again. No answer. Then, on the weekend of New Year's, Elder Cox called and said that they had seen Clara on their way home. She said that she was back, and that she wanted us to come back over again. We got the call at night, so we called the next morning. No answer. For a week, we tried to get in contact again. I was so upset that we might have actually lost her this time. Sister Schulze and I went vorbei last Sunday, and still no answer. We said we would call the next day, and then put her in the Lord's teaching pool for a time. We called the next afternoon and spoke with CLARA!!! She was so excited to hear from us. She said she was in the hospital, but to please come by.  We learned which hospital and said we would come the next day. We came by, but the receptionist said that no one by that name was in that hospital. We went by on her house again. No answer. We tried again a few days later with the phone. Her sister answered!! Her sister said that Clara was in the hospital and had just gotten out of surgery. She said the surgery went well, but that Clara was sleeping. She also said to please come by, but tomorrow. We asked for the hospital and room number this time. We went the next night after English class and found her!!! I was so excited!! She was asleep, so she couldn't join in my enthusiasm. But we found her! We left her a note and said we would come back on Thursday. On Thursday when we came, we stepped out of the elevator, and Clara was rolling her way to greet us in the hall! We were all so excited to see each other. Clara said that she was home for a few days. But then she was chopping wood, and a tree fell on her leg (the same leg which had had the knee problems requiring rehab earlier. But the tree fell below the knee, so at least that wasn't messed up). That was why she was back in the hospital. She showed us pictures, and it looked awful. But Clara was smiling the whole time. We chatted for a while, shared a couple of scriptures, and Clara asked us to come back this week. I cannot describe the feelings of excitement when we finally found her again. The gospel was made for people like Clara (although she will need four elders to help her be baptized with her bad leg, and all). We are so excited for her!
Also, this week, on Tuesday, I called Binod to set up an appointment for the following night. He said, ''I have been thinking, and I am going to get busy in February with my new job.'' That is usally not the thing we want hear. However, he continued with, ''I think that I should be baptized this month. Will you please help us to be ready?'' I told him we could discuss it the next night. So, we have set a new baptismal date with Binod and Nita. They will be baptized on the 2. February (no, it's not in this month, but Binod wanted to be baptized on a Saturday:])!! We made a plan to teach them that is actually reasonable and achievable this time. Binod and Nita are just so excited for their baptism. They love learning and know that this is the way to follow Jesus Christ. They got very excited when we taught the Plan of Salvation and said that they must be baptized so they can go to the Celestial Kingdom. :]
We had our last lesson with Danielle this week. She flies out tomorrow. She is doing so well. She gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday (that was awesome), and she came as a joint teach for Wanni. She said word-for-word what Wanni needed to hear. I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet and help Danielle. She is so cool. And in a year she can go through the temple!! And I get to come:] I am so excited for all that lays ahead for her!
That should do it for this week. It finally snowed today, so we need to buy new boots for Sister Schulze today. Anyway, have a great week! 
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, January 7, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week was so crazy, but so wonderful!!
On Monday, we celebrated Sylvester by Liz and Csaba, and the Family Perez. Csaba is a music student (his instrument is the clarinet), and Liz is his wife. Csaba comes from Hungary, and Liz comes from Serbia (or another country that starts with an S; I always get them all mixed up (the countries, not Liz and Csaba)).  They were married in December 2011, and they are about the funniest couple I have ever seen. Csaba is a really good cook, too. The elders and us were invited for lunch. We just talked all afternoon. At the end, Elder Johnson asked Csaba to play us a song. He said he would if I accompanied him. So, I played a song out of my new piano book, and he played along. Csaba thinks I'm really good at the piano, so that's nice:] Then, we (the elders and us) went to the Perez family's house. They live outside of Wien, but the fireworks were still impressive. We played games with their kids (who are our age), and at midnight we did fireworks. The fireworks here are insane!! Danielle said around her house (she lives in the center of town), it sounded like a warzone. Elder Escher was a little disappointed with the fireworks we saw, but Sister Stewart, Elder Johnson, and I were quite impressed. We then melted lead and dropped it in water (I also think this tradition is illegal in America). Then, you interpret what shape it is, and this predicts how your year will be. I got a monkey. But the monkey said, ''Don't trust liars.'' I will be sure not to do that this year.
We returned home a little before 3 am (Brother Perez drove us home as we were not allowed on public that night). Our mission president still wanted us getting 8 hours of sleep, so we were able to sleep until 11! That was weird, but lovely! 
Binod and Nita fed us momo to say good-bye to Sister Stewart. Binod is really good at making momo. That guy is full of random talents. Anyway, they are both doing really well, and are as excited as ever to keep learning about the gospel in preparation for their baptisms!
We gave Danielle her binder with the testimonies, and she loved it. She called it her ''happy book.'' She also gave us thank you cards and Victoria's Secret body spray to thank us for teaching her. She is so happy and so excited about her baptism. She really does know she made the right choice, and that her Heavenly Father is watching out for her. She is also excited to visit the DC temple for baptisms when she moves home in a couple of weeks. And she asked Sister Stewart and me to be there when she receives her endowments in a year. She is just so excited! It's neat to be around her.
Thursday, Sister Stewart got on a train to Göppingen, and Elder and Sister Strong became my companions. Sister Strong is new to Vienna, so she asked me to show her where the malls in town were, as she had had trouble finding them. So, we went shopping. She doesn't really like shopping, but she seemed to have a good time. And let's face it; she was with me - how could she not?
I got to see Sister Holmstead and her golden before we picked up Sister Schulze, so that was great, too! I absolutely love Sister Holmstead with all my heart. 
Sister Schulze it wonderful, too. She comes from a town outside of Dresden, and has the most beautiful German I have ever heard. She patiently helps me with my German (which she speaks all the time - I really appreciate that!). And she asks for help with her English! It's great that we're both learning together. That's been fun for both of us so far:]
Wanni is really progressing. We found the Gospel Library in Chinese for her on her phone, and she has loved that. She also got really excited when we taught her about fast offerings, and wanted to donate right away. She is so cute and so wonderful. She is so excited about her baptism and prays everyday for her dad (as do we). We are trying to have her ask her dad to help her with family history. If he sees how important family is to the church, perhaps he will be more supportive. He has a huge book at home that he has put together of his family history, so it is probably important to him. Wanni will get baptized someday. We just need her dad to be understanding. But she is so ready to go. 
Wellp, that is all for this week! 
Be safe and make good choices!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Liebe Familie,
Folks, on Saturday, 29. December 2012, Danielle was baptized! And on the 30th, she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! She was just beaming. She was so happy. There are no words to describe the spirit and joy we have felt this weekend.
Christmas was great, too. We spent Christmas Eve with Sister Gomes, a Brazillian in our ward. We had also the elders dabei, the Arthurs (a couple in our ward), and Wanni. We were just a band of misfits, but it was a lot of fun! We learned about Brazillian traditions, which was very cool. Sister Gomes also gave all of us gifts for Christmas. We sisters got hats, the elders got ties, the Arthurs got scarves, and Wanni got a little Christmas ornament that said, ''I love you.'' It was Wanni's first Christmas, so that was neat, too. And, that night, an angel walked us home. At first we thought I had met the third of the three Nephites, but then we realized the more likely explanation was a ministering angel. I am, therefore, still on the hunt for the third of the three Nephites.
Christmas day, we went running, and then opened presents. We went to Mary Ann (a Filipino member of our ward)'s house that night (with the elders again), skyped, and had Raclette. It was so great to see you guys:] By the way, in answer to your question, I thought of another river I have seen. I have not only seen the Donau, but I have also seen the Isar. Also, I think I misunderstood the question on Tuesday when you asked where I am. We live in Vienna, and we work in Vienna. Our area, since we are the international ward, is the boundaries of the Vienna stake - about half of Austria. Although we have to try to leave our area, we usually stay in Vienna. If an English-speaking individual lives outside of Vienna, the missionaries in that area take care of him\her as their ward is much easier to get to. Hopefully that answers your question better. :]
Wednesday, we went caroling as a district to Stephansdom. We caroled our hearts out for 3 hours and learned a lot about how to improve next time. We also took a district picture, which turned into a blessing in disguise. Sister Jovero called us and said she had made too much dinner and wanted to give us some. We had an appointment at the church that night and wouldn't have time to eat. We met her and were very grateful for this tender mercy. We went to the church and ate our food while we waited for 7:00 to come, when Bobby was supposed to show up. When we finished eating, we decided to get phone calls done. While we were in the midst of this endeavor, we received a call from Pres. Miles. A sister in München was being sent home, and her companion needed a companion. Sister Leben was to be on a train by 1:00 the next day. We called Bobby again, who said he couldn't come, left the rest of the dinner for the elders (there was a lot left over), and went home to start packing. Sister Leben boarded the train the next morning at 12:30, and we were very glad to have the caroling picture, otherwise, we wouldn't have had a district picture! And that would have just been sad. Unfortunately, the picture was taken with Sister Leben's camera, so we will have to figure out ways to get copies, but at least the picture exists.
On Friday, the Wien 5 elders, the Wien 4 elders, and we cleaned the church in preparation for Danielle's baptism. I got to wear bare feet and clean the font with Elders Christensen and Johnson. It was so much fun!! And, my housekeeping skills came in handy when the vacuum cleaner clogged. I knew exactly what to do to take the vacuum cleaner apart and solve the problem. The others were impressed:]
And, on Saturday, Danielle was baptized. She was so excited and had this smile that she couldn't hold in. Sister Stewart and I stood on the side of the font as Bishop Jovero baptized her. We gave her huge hugs as she came out, and she was almost crying. We had everyone write their testimonies for her while she changed, and we have put them together in a book for her. That was such a neat day.
On Friday morning, we received our transfer calls. I am staying in Wien for the next 6 weeks, but Sister Stewart is going to Göppingen, a town outside of Stuttgart. I will have Sister Schulze as my companion. She is my great-grandma (my trainer's trainer's trainer). She is from northern Germany and has the most beautiful German I have ever heard (I met her briefly at Sister's Conference). And, Sister Stewart's companion is not done being trained, so I get a step-sister! Woot!
That's all for this week. I hope you all have wonderful New Year's festivities.
Ich liebe euch!
Sister Stephanie Reid