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