Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Liebe Familie,
This week was super hot. It got up to 36 one day, and with the humidity, a daily shower was not enough. We only have one fan in our apartment (and they don't really believe in air conditioning here), and we just moved it with us throughout the house. Since we are opening the area, we are spending a lot of our time finding. We have awesome tan lines on our feet and necks, and such. But it cooled down a little more the day before yesterday, and we have been enjoying every second of it!
We were blessed for staying outside and talking to everyone, as gross as we looked. At the end of the day on Tuesday, we were walking back to Bahnhof. It was hot. We were gross. We had walked all over Freiberg am Neckar all day, and no one wanted to listen. But, as we are promised in Ether 12:6, as long as we just talk to one more person, we will be blessed for it. We were across the street from Bahnhof and could have easily enough said, ''Here we are! We don't need to talk to that guy! We can go sit on the bench and rest until the train comes. We deserve it - we have been walking and talking all day long. We smell worse than a couple of pigs, so probably no one wants to touch us with ten-meter poles right now, and we quite frankly don't blame them.'' But I felt strongly impressed to talk to this one last guy. I went up to him and told him that we were talking to people about Jesus Christ, and asked him if he believed in Jesus Christ. He said that he for surely did. I asked him if he wanted to develop that faith. I have asked others that question before, but they more often than not say that they have enough faith and do not need to get any closer to Jesus. But this man excitedly said, ''Yeah!! How?!'' I introduced the Book of Mormon, and when he found out it was free, he just about lost it with how excited he was. I asked if we could meet sometime so we could talk more about this book. He gave us his phone number and address and entered our number into his phone right away. We made an appointment for the following Friday, and wished him a pleasant night. He said he was so excited to get home and start reading in the book.
The next night, we were waiting by Bahnhof, and he walked by. He called out to us, and we looked over. He said, ''See you Friday!!!'' We were pretty stoked because we thought that we had for surely found a legit guy.
Friday night came, and we went to his apartment. He was watching for us, and waved out of his window as we got to the building. By the time we were getting ready to cross the street, he was downstairs, ready to greet us. HE led us back upstairs, we sat down, and he just had the biggest smile the whole time. We started with a prayer. Then he showed us how far he had read in the Book of Mormon. He had already read all of the testimonies. He asked who the Gentiles were, and we explained that. He understood and then sat back to listen to whatever it was that we had to say. We started working our way through the the first lesson, with the point that God is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us. He told us about his family - how his wife had left him and taken his two daughters, and the only time they visit him is to ask for money. He asked why so many bad things happen to him, even though he is trying to be so good. We opened up to 2 Nephi 2 and talked about opposition, agency, learning, and growing. He loved every scripture we read. He was so excited when we got to Joseph Smith, especially when he found out we have a prophet today. He just kept staring at the picture of Thomas S. Monson. He really felt the spirit. At the end, we promised him again that his Heavenly Father loved him.  He said, ''Not me.'' He went on to explain how his parents emotionally abused him when he was younger. I shared a personal experience of someone who had had similar things happen to him, and how I had seen the healing power of the atonement in his life. I promised Bernie that he could be healed. He is so excited to continue meeting with us. We taught him how to pray at the end, and in his prayer he thanked the Lord for sending us and for the good feeling he had. He needs the gospel so badly and is so ready for it. We were so thankful to have found him! And it only happened because we talked with one more person.
We had a ward party on Saturday, and Sister Smith and I made some new friends in the ward. They are three girls who are all 8 years old. But they think we are so cool, and we had the funnest time playing with them. Amely came up and sat by me in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, and was just so excited to be there. She was craning her neck to see Sister Smith's nametag, and then I heard her whisper, ''Sister Smith...Sister Smith. I can remember that!'' A few minutes later, she craned her neck to see my nametag. I took it off and handed it to her so she could read it easier. She did a little happy dance as she held it, and then she put it on her shirt and held it there. I handed her the magnet, and she excitedly put it on. Then she asked if she could wear it for the rest of the day. I told her she could wear it until the end of church. She was just so excited! She put her cardigan back on and said, ''Look! I am just like Sister Reid! I can be a missionary, too!'' She excitedly went off to primary, and I had to go to Relief Society. After church, she met us in the Relief Society room to give me back my nametag. I asked her if she liked being Sister Reid, and she said that she loved it. I told her that next week she should go to Relief Society and I will to to Primary so we can properly switch places. She nodded excitedly, but then stopped and said, ''But then I won't get candy!'' Dang it. Oh well:] She asked us to make copies of our nametags for her and her friend Madlene so they could cut them out, and we could all be missionaries at church next week. She also asked her mom to invite us over next week so we can play with her. We love our new little friends:]
I hope you all have successful weeks!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Monday, June 17, 2013

Liebe Familie,
Sister Smith and I are safely in Ludwigsburg. It was a bit of a struggle to get here, but we are here!
Our last few days in Neumarkt consisted of meeting with a few people one last time, getting the area book ready, and packing! It was very busy, but we got everything accomplished and made it to Bahnhof in one piece!
Elder Nelson came to town this week! We had the opportunity on Tuesday to make another trip to Munich to see him. The Salzburg, Munich, and Stuttgart zones had the opportunity to be taught from him. We also were taught from Sister Nelson, Elder and Sister Soares, Elder Kiron, and Elder Fingerle. It was so powerful, and we learned so much! We also got to shake all of their hands (all of the listed people were the recipients of our handshakes - we did not shake all hands - only the right ones). It was also fun to see other missionaries I hadn't seen in awhile. :]
It was really crazy, though, on Thursday, because there were two of us with six suitcases. Normally on transfer day, one missionary has not suitcases, so you have four arms for three suitcases. We got to Bahnhof 45 minutes before the train would leave and had 10 minutes to spare. We struggled getting the suitcases all the way down the two flights of stairs, then all the way back up the other two at the train station. A man watched us as we struggled with the remaining suitcases, and I may, or may not, have had some un-Christlike thoughts. But I repented when I got to the top and he said, ''I would help you, but my knees are really bad. Why do you have so many suitcases?'' We told him we were moving to Germany. Sister Smith talked to him while I printed the tickets. He asked her why we were moving, and she explained how we are missionaries and we have the possibility every six weeks to move. He asked for what church we proselyte. We told him, and he pointed across the street (at our church), and asked, ''That one?'' We nodded excitedly, and he said, ''So you are Mormons...'' He then explained how that morning he had had some questions about Mormons. He asked a Catholic priest who told him we believe in Scientology, live on farms with other mormons, and brainwash our kids. He asked us if that was true, and we cleared up his confusion. He asked us other questions about what we believe, and was very excited to learn that we are quite normal people. We didn't have any pass-along cards with us, so I wrote down the website of the church and told him if he had further questions, that was a good source to learn about what we believe and who we are. The train pulled up, and he hurried into the train to get someone to help us with our suitcases. He then stayed with us until his stop. He talked to us more and told us he had visited the Adventisten church awhile ago, as they have a lot of good things. But he said they didn't have all of the truths and were crazy to think the Sabbath has to be celebrated on Saturday - so, he wouldn't get baptized. Then they started being mean to him and kicked him out of their church if he wasn't going to be a member. I told him, ''I'm not just saying this because it's my church, but if you visit our church, you will feel very welcome, and no one will be mean to you because you aren't a member. In fact, they will be very friendly.'' He got very excited and asked when we had church. We told him, and he repeated it, making a mental note. He then said, ''You know, it's weird. Just five minutes before I met you, I was wondering what Mormons really believe. Then I met you!'' He was so cool, and hopefully he comes to church and the Neumarkt (now) elders can help him.
We had other missionaries to help us at all of the other stations, so that was good. We missed our Umsteig in Munich because our train from Salzburg was 15 minutes delayed due to high water, and we only had a ten minute Umsteig. We pulled into Munich, and other missionaries helped us off the train and told us we had about 20 minutes until the next train left. They brought us into the center area with the other suitcases and told us to wait there while they figured out which Gleis the train was on. Then, they would come back to help us. We waited about 15 minutes, and they never came back. So I realized I would have to figure it out myself. I looked at the board and found a train headed to Stuttgart in... I looked at my watch and saw that it was to leave right then! I looked down at the Gleis, and the train pulled away. So we had to wait ANOTHER hour for the next train to leave! But we bought pretzels, and all was well.
We got into town, and the Ludwigsburg elders were waiting to greet us. They helped us get to our apartment and tote our suitcases up the three flights of stairs. The ward went all out for our apartment. It is very cute, and I will send pictures next week. The elders quorum picked out the bedsheets and toilet seat. The toilet seat is a picture of a cow standing in a field staring at the guest of the WC. We felt like we were still in Neumarkt with the cow:] One of our beds has Barbie bedsheets, and the other one is Disney princesses. Sister Smith does not like pink, so that was really funny:] I sleep on the Barbie bed. The ward was giggling themselves silly on Sunday when they were asking about them. They kept telling us they had other sheets for us, but we really didn't care. There are house plants everywhere, so that has been nice - we both love plants! And it has been fun having the closest thing to a pet we can have. We have a great neighborhood to run in, and we get to see the Ludwigsburg palace everyday on the bus as we get into town.
The ward is awesome, and we already have some friends in the primary (President was saying it was the biggest in the mission!). This week, we will be doing a lot of finding, but we have a lot of great goals to do that! We are so stoked to get going!
Have successful weeks!
Sister Stephanie Reid

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Liebe Familie,
Yet again, we had a week with many things to keep us on our toes!
Last Monday, we had our last Austausch of the transfer. We tausched with Linz, and it was really great! Sister Smith went to Linz, and Sister Schönherr came here. Sister Schönherr is from the near of Dresden, and speaks beautiful German. It was so beautiful to speak to her:] We mostly did finding, and we found a lot of awesome people! 
Wednesday, Sister Smith and I went to Munich for Zone Leader Council, and it was definitely a meeting to remember. The Wednesday night portion was normal and lovely. President did a really powerful presentation, and a lot of other missionaries were crying at the end. Sister Smith commented to me, ''I felt the spirit, but is it bad I didn't cry? I just don't cry...'' I agreed and told her I really didn't know how to cry. How ironic... The next morning, we had the business part of the meeting, and everything was normal and good until the assistants turned the time over to President at the end. That was not what was unusual. He usually wraps up these meetings with words of wisdom. What WAS unusual was what he said. We were to receive our transfer calls the next morning, but President said, ''Do you know what we are going to do now, Elders and Sisters? We are going to get our transfer news!'' He then proceeded to hand out the papers with where everyone was going/if they were staying. He told us not to read ahead, as we were going to find out together. The last people, of course, to receive their news was my comp and me. We will be leaving Neumarkt, and will be opening a new area in Ludwigsburg (a suburb of Stuttgart)! Then it was time to sing the closing song, and, let's just say, there wasn't a lot of singing coming from Sister Smith or me. She started crying, and that made me cry. I was very frustrated because I inherited quite a mess when I got to Neumarkt. They had not had an investigator in Sacrament Meeting for at least three months, for example. I had five weeks to get to know the area (we happened to have a five week transfer), and then I got my golden. It has taken us the last two transfers, but we now have an investigator with a baptismal date, and two more who are really close! We have also had excellent sacrament meeting attendance, and we just got a few really cool families found. I was super frustrated because I felt like President was not pleased wtih my work (our numbers were very low for the first little bit. Although we were working hard, it wasn'T showing, becasue we were practically building from ground zero) and, hence, a whitewash was necessary. However, it is elders who are coming in, for one thing. And this ward has been screaming for elders. We also have a few investigators who really will do better with elders. And, why would he have us open a new area together if he was disappointed with our work in Neumarkt? He obviously saw our capabilities, and wants us to do it again. So, I am a lot more accepting of the idea now. This week has been stressful getting everything set up for that, but all will be well! It was just embarrassing crying in front of so many other missionaries. They just caught us in the shock of the news moment!  
We have been having a lot of problems with flooding around here lately, and our original plan was to go to Passau on Saturday (they got hit pretty badly) and help with the clean-up. But, with our news of transfers, we had to stay in town to get things ready so the transition is as smoothe as possible. These have been a stressful last few days, as the preparation necessary for the this transfer is not like most. But it will be good. And I'm glad Sister Smith and I are staying together. We get along and work really well together. 
We go back to Munich tomorrow to meet Elder Nelson and learn from him, and then we have one more day to get everything ready! 
Alles Liebe and viel Erfolg! 
Sister Stephanie Reid
P.S. We were kind of in a flash flood yesterday! But we were safe:] The hail and rain were huge and coming down so fast! Full-on rivers were coming down the road after only a few minutes! We took cover under a bridge and waited it out. It was so crazy, and neither of us had cameras with us!! (I had one, but my battery was dead, and Sister Smith didn't have hers with her) But, I took a video in my head.   

Monday, June 3, 2013

Liebe Familie,
A lot of crazy (wonderful) things happened this week!
We had been trying to plan our Austausch with Linz, but all of this crazy stuff kept happening. We had to change the dates and the times, then the dates again, and then the times again, and again and again. By the time we got to the day of, we finally had everything figured out. But then, Sister Schönherr needed a root canal, and, needless to say, Austausch was just canceled. We are heading out this afternoon for the real one. But it turned out to be wonderful that it didn't work out. We had to go to Raul (the one-year-old grandson of Anita and Bobi/son of Christina and Daniel)'s birthday party. It was interesting - it was just in Christina's apartment, and we had party hats. Some of the neighbor girls came, too. That would have been weird to be on Austausch for, to say the least. Then, later that night, we had an appointment with a less-active in our ward. We have not been able to get her to come to church for the life of us. President and Sister Miles came to our district meeting, and then went on joint teach with us. They came up to Neumarkt at the end of the day for this appointment. It was awesome, because we teach this woman in English, so Sister Miles could participate. We talked about Elder Bednar's talk, ''That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us.'' President and Sister Miles were incredible joint teaches. Then, at the end of the lesson, President asked the woman, ''Sister [Traud], when was the last time you had a blessing?'' She told him, and he asked if he could give her one. The priesthood is real, people. He had no idea all of the things that have been concerning her for the past few weeks and months. Yet, these concerned were addressed in her blessing! She started crying! It was so incredible! She still didn't come to church on Sunday, but she will!
Then, a few nights later, we were meeting with Anita. Bobi is out of town, so it was just the three of us. Anita opened way up to us about how stressed and scared the family of the older woman makes her. She described how stressed she gets sometimes - it sounded a lot like she has panic attacks. She also said she has trouble sleeping in the nights, too. I reminded her about when we talked about the priesthood a few weeks earlier. I bore testimony of the power of priesthood blessings for comfort and peace of mind. I asked her if she would want one. She said that she would love one, but then she asked what she had to do. I told she just needs to have faith that it can help her. She said she could do that:] Sometimes it would be nice to be an elder because we could have just given her a blessing right then. But we came back the next night with a member who blessed her. He explained again in different details what a priesthood blessing is. He then gave her such a powerful blessing. Anita was also bawling at the end of her blessing. It was so cool. Also, we met with her last night, and she told us that she has slept soundly every night since her blessing, and she isn't worried all the time! She told us that she just feels so much peace! If only we can get her married, then she would be baptized so quickly!!!
On Saturday, we agreed to go to church with one of our investigators so that she would come to church with us. Maybe with some people that's a good idea. But it turns out the 7th-day adventists meet for 3 1/2 hours. She drove us there (how sweet), so we couldn't even leave! We were stuck in this awful, boring (almost to the point of tears) place! They had 4 opening songs, three before the opening prayer, and one after. And 3 closing songs. And we sat in these benches not feeling the spirit (quite the opposite thereof, in fact). I cannot describe in words how awful it was. Our church is about that long, too, but the difference is that the priesthood authority was not guiding that church meeting. Then there was a guy on my right who tried flirting with me. That was annoying, too. The (now former) investigator wanted us to have lunch with her and another woman in her congregation, too. I told her that Sister Smith was sick (which was kind of true), and I needed to get her home. But before we could go, a man with a hair lip came up to us and was asking us all these questions about our church. It was kind of weird preaching in an unconsecrated religious facility, and then the man had no interest anyway. So that was annoying because it just turned out to be a waste of time. But maybe not. He said he has a Book of Mormon at home... Anyway, it is incredible that I lived through that morning.
Last Sunday, Sister Smith and I fasted that we would get an investigator with a baptismal date this week. Last night, we had our first official lesson with Linda. At the end, we set a date with her! She is so cool and will be baptized on the 30. June! Sister Smith asked her if when she knew these things were true, would she commit to be baptized. She nodded and agreed. Then, I told her that it's always good to set goals. It shows our faith to our Heavenly Father that we think we can receive an answer by that time. I asked her about the 30. June. I had just barely given her her Book of Mormon a few minutes before that. She paused. Then she said, ''So, I have to read this whole thing by the end of the month?'' I explained that she only needs to read a chapter to receive an answer. I explained again the purpose of the goal, and she nodded and said, ''Yeah! Yeah, let's set that goal!'' It was so cool!!! We are so excited for Linda! She has already been to church enough times, too! We just need to teach her the lessons! 
Also, we had dinner with the bishop and his family after the lesson. We brought the Nachtisch - ice cream and cookies. One of his kids (7) said, ''Es ist immer herzlich willkommen, wenn ihr Eis bringt!'' or ''It is always more than welcome when you bring ice cream!'' That was the cherry on top of a great night:]
The priesthood is really restored. It's always so incredible to have these reminders of its power.
Sister Stephanie Reid