Monday, April 29, 2013

Liebe Familie,
So although this week was really great, the end was sort of a series of awkward moments. Did you know there is no word for awkward in German? Anyway...
Monday night, we taught a less active in our ward. It was such a powerful lesson. We talked about desire. The spirit was so strong. We made so much progress with her and finally realized what our focus with her should be: the temple. We all got so excited as we started discussing making plans to get her to the temple. We were contemplating meeting with her a lot less frequently for the last few weeks. She just really did not seem to be making any progress, and our GML thought we were wasting our time. But now we have a goal. She is totally going to the temple. And maybe we get to go with her?...
Thursday night, we had dinner with this older gentlman and his wife who are in our ward. They are powerhouse members. She has something wrong with a vein on her arm. She has to get the fluid from it drained every second day. Because the nearest temple takes at least 6 hours to travel to, they haven't been able to go to the temple since her condition developed - 30 years ago. I have been complaining that I haven't been able to go to the temple for the last 9 months, but that is nothing. I have been thinking a temple in Wien would be so great for a while now, but here is another reason why. When there is only a two hour trip to the temple, a day trip is a possibility. Also, it would serve the members in Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, and so many other lands whose nearest temple is so far away. I never realized just how blessed I was to have so many temples so close.
He told us how he was found door-to-door. I started thinking about what that one person meant. He has like 7 kids. They are all in the gospel now. His sons served missions, and we have the baptisms from their missions. Plus the people that those people affected. And those kids are also now raising righteous families. It so cool to think about the influence that one can have. Anyway, they are really great, and they served us Schnitzl! They watched us as we drove away, so we couldn't leave the note we usually do to thank people for feeding us. So, we came back the next day to deliver the note. We pulled up and noticed the grandkids in the front yard. We didn't see him, so we prayed they weren't watching from the front window. They weren't. They were in the neighboring yard watching the kids play. They said, ''Hey, it's the sisters! Hi, Sisters!'' I just waved, kept walking up to the mailbox by their front door, stuck the note in the mailbox, waved again, and walked away. It was so awkward! You can't just hand a thank-you note to someone in person. That creates another awkward moment. Oh well. As I am always reminding my companions, this is the one phase of our lives where we have something to blame our awkwardness on. So, embrace the awkward! 
The awkward moments continued the next day. But first. We met with Gordana. She is just about the sweetest lady I have ever met. She is from Serbia and can't read German. They have lived here for about 20 years, though. So her 15-year-old daughter who joined us for the lesson can read German. Anyway, we started out wanting to talk about the Plan of Salvation. We got to Adam and Eve, and we turned to 2 Nephi 2 to answer her questions. I asked if she still had her Serbian Book of Mormon (she was a former investigator). She told me she never received one! So, I gave her daughter the German one we had, and asked her to read to her mom. Then, they asked who this Nephi guy was. So, I explained the story of the Book of Mormon. When I got to the end, with Moroni burying the plates, they asked how Joseph Smith found them. So we got to share the story of the resoration. As I quoted the first vision, the spirit was so strong. It was so cool! I got as far as two personages, and they both excitedly said, ''God talked to him?!'' I  nodded and said, ''And Jesus, too!'' Then they leaned forward some more and asked what they told him. I told them more of the story. At the end, I concluded with my testimony. I told them that I had also prayed and received an answer that that story is true. The daughter asked in amazement, ''Wow. Did you see God, too?'' I smiled and told her, ''No, it was just a warm feeling in my heart. But I know that it's true.'' They were both so excited and had so many questions. They didn't want us to leave. Then Gordana asked us again if she could have a Serbian Book of Mormon. We told her we had one at home, but we would bring it next time. Then her daughter thanked us again and again for her Book of Mormon. Her mom told her she better read out of that book. We were just beaming after that lesson. The spirit was definitely there. 
We didn't really want to leave, either, but we had to get on to our next awkward moment: the ward dance. Yup, our ward has an annual dance. And the missionaries are supposed to attend. It was good, though, because we met a lot of potential potential investigators. But all of that Babylonisch music was weirding us out beyond belief. And we weren't allowed to dance, so that was weird for others that we were at a dance, but we were chilling in the hall. But the buffet was excellent. 
Transfer calls came, and Sister Smith and I are both staying in Neumarkt another transfer. We were both pretty excited, especially because there is so much work that we are just starting. Also, our new GML is pretty cool. He wants to start a missionary class. And why not? We have family history classes - classes for work for the dead; why not classes for work for the living? Members have so much potential, but they don't realize all that/what they can do. A great example of this is Abish in the Book of Mormon. Ammon did a lot of good teaching the king. But it wasn't until Abish started running around talking to everyone that Ammon was really able to help the kingdom. It is the same today. We can only do so much without the members. This class will be so great! 
That should suffice for this week. I hope you are all doing well! Be safe and make good choices!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, April 22, 2013

Liebe Familie,
I don't have a lot to say this week as this week was a little uneventful as far as stories are concerned. 
Bobi is finally back from Romania. We were so excited to see him again. We have had a really cool lesson for him planned for a really long time, and we are so excited to finally give it. We want to teach him about the priesthood and about how he can have that same priesthood power. The priesthood is so powerful. Bobi knows it, too. My first lesson with him, he was telling us how he wanted to fly to Salt Lake City to be baptized by the prophet. He also got very upset when he heard that the prophet had been to Romania and no one had bothered to tell him. He thought that something like a prophet visiting Romania was a big enough deal that people should have advertised it more than they did. That has been another cool thing to see here - some people just get gospel principles. Prophets are incredible men! We should take it more seriously when they speak to us. And we should tell everyone we know that he will be speaking to us. Anyway, we want Bobi to know that he can have that power, too. He can bless his family so much with that power. 
This Friday was a little different. In an attempt to get to know the youth better, we will start attending Seminary once a week. Seminary starts at 6:00. So, we had to get up an hour earlier. This year's topic is the New Testament, and we were studying 1 Corinthians 15 this morning. The teacher wrote the names of Cain, Judas Iscariot, Hitler, Laman, and Lemuel on the board and asked, ''Which of these men will not be resurrected?'' The combination of names was a little interesting, but the next day we had a little trouble teaching this very concept to another investigator.  
Later that morning, we sang at an old folks' home in Straßwalchen. We sing two hymns to two groups there once a week. First of all, the old folks' homes here are Taj Mahals. Second of all, there is one particular woman who we particularly like seeing. Although we always feel so good after we leave, this woman definitely makes us excited to come back. She just says, ''Schön schön schön'' after every song. After our last song, she always says, ''Schön schön schön, Danke!'' Then she asks us if we are coming back next week. We love to sing to her because she is so grateful. She makes us feel as though we are the highlight of her week. Maybe we are. But whatever the case, we thought about how Heavenly Father probably feels when he blesses us. He wants to bless us so much more when we thank Him. Then, when it's time to hand out blessings again, He is more ready and willing to bless us first because we thanked Him last time. President Uchtdorf reminded us of another reason to show our gratitude when he said, ''The happiest people I know are ...those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. They are the ones who, thread by daily thread, weave a tapestry of gratitude and wonder throughout their lives. These are they who are truly happy.'' 
Schöne Woche noch!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, April 15, 2013

Liebe Familie,
It was a week like no other. On Tuesday, we had Zone Training. As per usual, we were spiritually fired up and remotivated to work with ALL of our might. After Zone Training, we had an Austausch with the Wels sisters. I took Sister Hammock back to Neumarkt with me, and Sister Smith went to Wels with Sister Judd. Sister Hammock and I taught English class that night and studied: nothing too spectacular. The next day, we did some more Area Book finding, and then we drove to Mattigohofen to visit Gordana. She is from Serbia and is so sweet. This was only my second time meeting with her. We taught about how she is a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. We gave her President Uchtdorf's talk called ''You Matter to Him'' at the end (last time she had talked about how she had searched so long for the truth, that she had practically given up. She also told us how much she loved astronomy: it fascinated her beyond belief. We really felt that this talk would speak to her). She also told us more about what she believes. She told us she doesn't think that any Heavenly Father who really loves us would have a hell. She said that doesn't seem fair that you have the really righteous people in a state of paradise, and then everybody else, the good, the bad and the ugly (but not the perfect!) have to be in hell for eternity. She told us there had to be another option. That was especially neat because just last week, we had an investigator who had a hard time with three kingdoms as it only speaks of two in the Bible. We will talk about the Plan of Salvation next time with her. Anyway, after this appointment, we got on a train to Vöcklabruck to await the arrival of the sisters in Wels so we could tausch back. Meanwhile, in Wels, the phone was lost on the train ride back (presumably). They spent the night making phone calls with the neighbor's phone trying to figure out how to re-obtain it. It was not to be found. The next morning, they went to a member's home and dug in her garden, unearthing remains of her dead pet rabbits and a potato. Sister Smith was very ready to come back:] 
The next day, we went back to Salzburg to apply for Sister Smith's visa. Last week, we had gone, and it was not good. I accidentally used the wrong word at the start and told them I wanted to confirm her visa. The man told us we needed an appointment for that. I didn't think we needed an appointment to apply for a visa, but I made the appointment and left. Then I called another missionary to have her look up the word for 'to apply for.' She did, and it was quite different from the word I was using. I went back, with this new word and told him we needed to apply for her visa. He stared at me, and said we had an appointment for that next Thursday. I thought it was still weird, so I wanted to talk to someone else. I waited in the hall for her. Then this man came out, and he got very frustrated that we were still there. Then he got someone who speaks English to come and tell us that we were ''not allowed to make an appointment with someone else. When [we] make an appointment, that appointment is fest and does not move.'' We left as the man came back through the hall and glared at us. We both prayed all week long that we could love him, and that he would forgive us. We got there on Thursday morning and handed him the paperwork as he asked for it. He asked for her birth certificate. We looked through everything to discover that we had left this vital document back home. Prayers work, people. Had they not, he wouldn't have said (in German), ''Bring the Birth Certificate with you when you come to pick up the visa. I can get the whole process started without that document. It is unnecessary to make another appointment.'' It may not seem like that big of a deal, but he would not have done that if we hadn't been praying for him to forgive us. 
Friday was great, too. Well, our first appointment wasn't that good. We found this older couple in the area book, and we made an appointment with them. We drove to their home (if that is what one can call it). They had a quarter-mile long driveway lined with cars, car parts, wood posts, and other garbage. He met us outside. We had to step over and around all of the chickens to get into the house. We walked in. There were cats everywhere. I have no idea how many cats there were. But I counted at least 15. There were so many stacks of books and papers and other garbage, that there was barely room for three chairs on the ground. Their upstairs was blocked with garbage; it was inaccessible. These guys were the definition of hoarders. It smelled awful, and the cats were climbing all over everything. But they needed that many cats for their rat problem they have to have. They were still at the same place spiritually as they were three years ago when the missionaries dropped them. We decided it would be wasting our time to return. So, we only had to endure that once. I wanted to take a picture, but 1) I wasn't sure how to do that, and 2) I am not sure that would have given it justice.
Later, we met with a less active in our ward who is honestly less active because she forgets. She has very good intentions. It was the first time that Sister Smith and I were able to meet with her. We talked to her about family prayer (we found this excellent talk from Elder Groberg. I think you should read it, too. Although I know you are already doing it, it's still a great talk to reinforce the importance of family prayer). At the end, we asked her if she would come to church on Sunday. She thought about it and realized that she hadn't been to church in about two months. Then said, ''That is no good. We must go this Sunday.'' And she did! It is her and her 11-year-old daughter at home, and her daughter ran into the church. The LA sat by Sister Smith in Relief Society and Sunday School and really enjoyed herself. She even bore her testimony!! We also might get to help her paint her house!
Yesterday, I went to Young Women's while Sister Smith remained in Relief Society. We are really making a push to get to know the youth better and help get them excited about missionary work. We will also occasionally come to the youth activities and we will attend seminary once a week. The youth here are so strong. They have to deal with so much every day, and yet they remain so strong. We are way excited to get the members in this ward (in particular the youth) more involved in the missionary effort. 
Sister Stephanie Reid

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week was a little rough, but it turned out well. I guess these sorts of weeks just have to happen sometimes. 
We met with Ying this week. She is from China, is about 22, and was baptized in October of last year. She is so funny! We taught a great lesson about how much her Heavenly Father loves her. Then she fed us pie, and we helped her with her English homework. She really appreciated us coming, and we were so glad that we could finally meet with her. 
We also met with Daniel and Christina this week. They had one of those thumb-drive things with internet on it, but it was out. So we had no Google Translate to help us this time. We read Alma 40 together, and I would pause every once in awhile to slowly clarify what was happening. It turns out Daniel speaks better German than we thought! We were able to carry on a decent conversation, and he would translate what I was saying (or at least the idea of it) to Christina. That was so exciting. They really are doing so well. We will do more skype lessons this week, and hopefully we can get them to come to church on Sunday. We have a less active in our ward who served her mission in Romania. We are also going to try to get her involved in the teaching. It would be super if we could reactivate her and baptize Daniel and Christina at the same time! That may be just what she needs anyway, to go through the basics of the gospel again and remember what she once felt and knew. 
We were also privileged to meet with another less active at her home this week. Until this point, we had only chatted at church. But that was an AWESOME lesson! Especially because she had had joint and muscle pain for the past month at least. On Sunday, she had mentioned it in passing to a brother in our ward. He asked if she wanted a blessing, and she thought it couldn't hurt. She said she felt a little better after the blessing, and her pain was manageable without medication. But she said the next day, her pain was completely gone. And she hadn't had any pain since then. She then bore her testimony of how powerful the priesthood is. We talked about faith and hope with her, and discussed how because of her faith and hope in the Savior, are these sorts of miracles possible. She is really progressing so much, and we are so excited for her! Also, she came to General Conference with a stallwart member in our ward! She was so excited the whole time she was there and was just beaming.  I really love working with less-actives and watching the happiness and light enter back into their lives. It is so rewarding. 
We had General Conference this weekend again! I cannot believe it is already 6 months later! These last six months FLEW! But this General Conference was another winner. I am stoked that Cedar City will be receiving a temple! We had troubles with the buses, so we were a little late getting to the Saturday morning session, but I listened on the Handy (another elder put his phone by the speaker). It was great riding on the bus and listening to General Conference. Also, the people sitting across from us were from England. So, Sister Smith contacted them and got some good experience with contacting. At first, I was a little frustrated to start out in an English-speaking ward. But the more and more I reflect on that experience the more and more grateful I am for it. Among all of the many lessons I learned there that could not have been learned any other way, one of the most important lessons I learned was how to teach, talk to people, etc. I was on Austausch last transfer, and my companion mentioned that when she was training, she would always say, ''I just don't know what to say.'' Her trainer would say, ''What is it you would like to say? I can help you.'' Then she would respond that she didn't even know what to say in English. The Lord really does know what is best for us. And although a lot of times, in the moment, we just cannot understand why we have to deal with this ridiculous, frustrating, or difficult problem, there really is a purpose for it. I was reading a talk from last General Conference during my personal study this morning, and I found a wonderful quote. It is from Elder Daniel L. Johnson, of the Seventy. He says, ''Our discipleship will be developed and proven not by the type of trials that we are faced with, but by how we endure them.'' I really liked how simple that idea is, yet how hard it is to grasp sometimes. It all boils down to our attitude, and how much we are willing to turn to the Lord during these times. One of my friends who is on a mission in Russia just sent me a letter, and she said, ''You can never fall lower than your knees.'' 
I love you all and hope you are doing well! Bis nächste Woche!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, April 1, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week was so wonderful:] It had its own challenges, as it was a Feiertag, and the Austrians take their holidays very seriously. We would call people to meet with them, and everybody would say, ''Sounds great, but I am on vacation right now. Call me back next week.'' Or ''Everybody else is on vacation right now, so I have to work a lot of extra shifts. I honestly do not have the time this week to meet. Call me back next week.'' By Wednesday, we realized that our calling people was just wasting our and everybody else's time. But, we still had a lot of cool things happen this week.
Monday was cool because we saw some of the Sound of Music sights. They would probably be a lot cooler-looking if the plants weren't all dead, but then again, the gardens have their own kind of beauty in the winter. We also went into the Cathedral again, and the man at the front said that Mozart was baptized in that Taufbecken. We were pretty impressed. Also, we were impressed that they knew that. We may not know where he is buried, but the people around here sure do know where he was baptized. Anyway, it was a lovely, but cold day.
Tuesday, we had district meeting. It was a very lovely one. Elder Pope, our new district leader, asked Sister Smith and me to talk about how we can apply our purpose as missionaries into our daily work. I thought about the part on page 11 of Preach My Gospel where it says that our success is measured by our diligence. We talked about diligence during our little blurb, and it was very cool. I had found a scripture the day before in my personal study that I really liked. It is in D&C 128:22. It says, ''Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.'' This verse just got me all fired up to do missionary work. This work will is a great cause, and we absolutely should go forward in the work, no matter how discouraged we sometimes may get. It takes courage, but as we have courage, we will attain that victory. You have to allow yourself to be happy; no one can make you. But as you do, the earth sings with you. And we are here because we need to free people from the prisons that are keeping them from eternal life. Anyway, you may not find it as lovely as I did, but I quite enjoyed the discovery of this verse.:]  
We went to Wels again this week so that I could be trained on how to train. That was another excellent meeting, and one I definitely needed. 
While Bobi and Anita are in Romania, Anita has a friend from just outside of Graz who is babysitting Frau Maschka. This friend is also from Romania, but speaks very good German. We gave her a Book of Mormon on Sunday, and we came over Thursday night to see how much interest she actually had in the gospel, or if she just wanted visitors. Nicolette is so cool. And so sweet. She is probably one of the nicest people I have ever met. We really enjoyed getting to know her. We are also super sad that we probably won't get to keep her, since she doesn't exactly live in our area. But we can totally go to the baptism, which we will do. 
Bobi and Anita also asked us to visit Christina and Daniel (their son and daughter-in-law) also this week. The don't speak super good German (until Saturday night, we honestly thought the only German they could do was hey, how are you, please come in, usw), but Bobi said, ''At least read a chapter in the Book of Mormon with them. You need to visit them.'' So, we planned that on Saturday night, we would at least give Daniel a Book of Mormon (we had given Christina one a few weeks prior), and see if we could communicate enough so they would understand we wanted to read, and when not, at least Daniel had a Book of Mormon. We klingeled their home, and Christina answered the door. She was so physically excited to see us, and she just kept saying, ''Please come in, please come in!!'' So, we did. She motioned that she wanted us to sit at the dinner table, and then she served us a pasta dish. It wasn't the tastiest thing I have ever eaten, but beggers can't be choosers. Anyway, we gave Daniel the Book of Mormon, and he thanked us graciously. Halfway through my plate of pasta, Daniel had pulled up Google Translate on his laptop, and was trying to read what the German phrase for, ''Could you come back tomorrow'' was. I said that was fine, but I asked what time. He laughed a little as he tried to think of how to explain it. So I drew a picture of a clock on a piece of paper, and asked him to point to which time we should come over. He pointed between a few times, and I kept trying to repeat back what he asking to make sure I understood. He then got on Google translate again and was trying to tell me to come back an hour earlier tomorrow. But he was spelling a word wrong in Romanian, so it wasn't translating properly. On the translation side, it said, ''One hour sooner. Summer-time.'' I tried not to laugh, but I finally understood. I also wondered what he had misspelled that that was how Google felt the sentence should be translated! Anyway, I agreed then went back to finish my pasta. After that, I started to pack up, but Christina, grabbed her Book of Mormon and motioned that we should come into the living room. So we did, and they flipped through their Book of Mormons, for a little bit, looking at us. I figured they were trying to ask us which chapter we should read. I quickly thought through some chapters, but I decided on 2 Nephi 31. We went around the circle, each reading a verse. They really liked it. Then through Google Translate, we had a conversation about the story of the Book of Mormon. I would flip through the pictures, and write about what was going on. They understood a lot more when I would speak than I thought, but we were still so grateful for the translator. I also explained how the Restoration film fit into that story, and then they really got excited. He also told us about his religious background all on his own (we didn't even have to ask). 
The next day was Easter, and well, it snowed. But Easter was lovely, nevertheless. A member family in our ward invitied us over for lunch spontan, and it was a great feast. We studied a little in the afternoon, and then we went back over to Christina and Daniel's home. Daniel told us about his work, and what they had done that day. Then we asked him if we could get on skype to talk to the elders in Romania. He readily agreed, and the elders taught them a little about the Plan of Salvation. The microphone was really bad, so they had a hard time understanding, but it was still great. I just keep asking myself how we would teach them without modern-day technology. I really am grateful to be a missionary right now, especially in this day and age.
I hope you have a great spring break! Tune in next week for more lovely stories from this part of the field:]
Sister Stephanie Reid